Amid Rising Pressure, EPA Defends Its Coal Regs Outreach

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.
National Journal
Alex Brown
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Alex Brown
Nov. 1, 2013, 11:31 a.m.

Nearly a dozen sen­at­ors ad­ded their names Fri­day to calls for the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency to make it­self a big­ger pres­ence in coal coun­try as it gath­ers pub­lic feed­back on new power-plant reg­u­la­tions.

“As your reg­u­la­tions will likely have a sig­ni­fic­ant neg­at­ive im­pact on the use and de­vel­op­ment of coal, and the live­li­hoods and en­ergy bills for folks across rur­al Amer­ica, it only makes sense that you should ac­tu­ally go to the areas that will be most im­pacted by your policies,” wrote the 11 Re­pub­lic­ans who af­fixed their names to an open let­ter to EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy.

They’re not the first to raise this com­plaint. A House res­ol­u­tion to force the agency to vis­it the coun­try’s most coal-de­pend­ent states garnered 18 back­ers last month. Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have also called for EPA to spend more time in coal coun­try.

The agency is con­duct­ing listen­ing ses­sions for new reg­u­la­tions that would cut back on emis­sions al­low­ances for new coal-fired power plants, stand­ards some in the in­dustry see as over­reach. (The ses­sions’ loc­a­tions don’t de­lib­er­ately skirt coal coun­try; they’re tak­ing place at EPA’s re­gion­al of­fices.)

Still, late Fri­day the agency fi­nally re­spon­ded to the grow­ing pres­sure. “EPA is con­duct­ing un­pre­ced­en­ted and vig­or­ous out­reach and pub­lic en­gage­ment with key stake­hold­ers and the gen­er­al pub­lic,” said Janet Mc­Cabe, head of the agency’s clean-air of­fice, in a state­ment. “In pre­par­ing the guidelines for ex­ist­ing power plants, EPA lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing Ad­min­is­trat­or Mc­Carthy, has been meet­ing with in­dustry lead­ers and CEOs from the coal, oil, and nat­ur­al gas sec­tors. We’ve been work­ing with every­one from gov­ernors, may­ors, Mem­bers of Con­gress, state and loc­al gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials — from every re­gion of the coun­try — to en­vir­on­ment­al groups, health or­gan­iz­a­tions, faith groups, and many oth­ers.”

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