Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a vote soon to block federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.
McConnell filed a resolution of disapproval last week, officially objecting to the new federal rules. The proposed rules are intended to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change by setting limits for coal and natural gas-fired power plants. But the new limits would make it difficult to build a new coal-fired power plant without using some sort of carbon capture and storage technology, which is so far not developed enough to be economical on a large scale.
McConnell has long been an opponent of federal regulations he sees as damaging Kentucky’s coal industry. Here he is in a speech on the Senate floor last week:
“Kentucky is facing a real crisis here,” he says. “The Obama Administration appears to be sending signals that its latest regulation is just the beginning in a new, expanded front in its War on Coal. Already, the Administration’s regulations have played a significant role in causing coal jobs in my state to plummet. These are good jobs that pay more than $1 billion in annual wages to my constituents. And for every miner with a job, three more Kentuckians will hold a coal-dependent job too.”
There are numerous other factors behind coal’s decline too, including diminishing reserves, increased production costs and cheap and abundant natural gas.
McConnell is asking the Government Accountability Office to rule whether Congress can vote to block the measure, even though it hasn’t been finalized; he sent a letter to this effect to the U.S. Comptroller General.
Right now, McConnell’s resolution has been sent to the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which is controlled (as are all Senate committees) by Democrats. But if Dodaro rules that Congress can block the rule before it’s finalized, a McConnell spokesman says the Senator will file a discharge petition to release it from committee and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.