Environment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a new legal argument that he says will scuttle the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The EPA’s proposal—which hasn’t yet been finalized—will set greenhouse gas emissions reductions for each state. These greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are contributing to climate change. The plan is expected to give states the option of creating individual plans to comply, or to work with neighboring states to formulate a regional plan.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been a vocal opponent of the EPA and the Clean Power Plan. Most recently, he urged states to hold off on submitting individual plans to the government, in hopes that lawsuits against the rules will prevail. In a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, McConnell told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that he believed he had found another legal avenue to oppose the proposal.

McConnell pointed to Section 102 (c) of the Clean Air Act, which requires Congressional approval for any multi-state agreements to reduce air pollution. And that Congressional approval, McConnell said, would not be coming.

“I can assure you that as long as I am majority leader of the Senate, this body will not sign off on any backdoor national energy tax,” he said.

McCarthy responded that she believed the Clean Power Plan was being designed to be flexible and accommodating of states, including those such as Kentucky that still get the majority of their power from coal. She told McConnell she believed the EPA was acting under the authority it was granted by Congress under the Clean Air Act.

“We are going to be producing a rule that will stand its test of time in the courts,” she said.

McConnell replied: “That’s going to be the test. You’re going to have to prove it in court.”

“As we most often do,” McCarthy interjected.

“And in the meantime, we’ve got a grim, grim situation in Kentucky,” McConnell said.

According to The Hill, energy experts are divided on whether the 102(c) argument will hold water in court.

The EPA’s rule is expected to be finalized this summer.