McConnell: Wait and see is still ‘most responsible approach’

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Senate’s top Republican yesterday told governors to continue their “wait-and-see” stance regarding compliance with the Obama administration’s carbon rule for power plants.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has long urged states to take such an approach, otherwise referred to as “just say no,” and not submit implementation plans for the program. He argued in a letter to governors last year that U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan would not hold up in court (E&E Daily, March 20, 2015).

In a letter to governors, McConnell said the Supreme Court’s decision last month to freeze the program while litigation plays out shows that his earlier advice to states was warranted.

“‘Wait-and-see’ remains the most responsible approach today,” McConnell wrote.

Under the Clean Power Plan finalized last year, states are required to craft plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The Supreme Court’s stay was the first time the high court has ever frozen a regulation before a lower court has ruled on its merits.

McConnell claimed that the Obama administration’s strategy was to hope that states were far enough along in developing their Clean Power Plan compliance plans before litigation over the program was resolved.

He argued that the administration took a similar tack with its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants, which are also still mired in litigation.

“President Obama’s desire to unilaterally reshape your state energy policies around his own ideological view rather than an evidence-based one is well-known,” McConnell wrote, “but what is surprising is the fact that he thought he could do so without getting legislation through Congress.”

Several states have said they would continue their planning activities related to the program despite the Supreme Court stay; EPA has said it would help any state that wishes to do so (Greenwire, Feb. 18).

McConnell said he believed the Clean Power Plan would ultimately be struck down. He was one of more than 200 lawmakers who filed an amicus brief supporting opponents of the program with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

In his letter today, McConnell noted that, despite what the courts decide, Obama will not be in office long enough to put the program in place thanks to the Supreme Court’s stay.

“Moving forward,” he wrote, “I hope that each of you will consider taking advantage of the relief granted by the Supreme Court and keep in mind that many of us in Congress stand ready to help you as you fight for the best interests of your states.”