WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and over three dozen Republican colleagues sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to withdraw a proposed rule that would reduce emissions by coal and natural gas-fired plants. 

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“EPA’s proposal relies on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement.

The agency said reducing the emissions would prevent 1,300 premature deaths and 300,000 asthma attacks in 2030 alone.

But power plant representatives argue that the carbon-capture technology needed to help meet the EPA’s goals is not currently in place.

“They’re advocating technologies that simply are not ready,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “They’re not commercially viable. It’s not going to work and to the extent that we try to deploy those technologies, not only they won’t work, but it’s going to increase cost to our consumers. So, fundamentally that’s why we oppose the rule.”

Matheson said his organization filed comments in opposition to EPA’s proposed rule to regulate power plant emissions. He added the NRECA doesn’t believe that the EPA has the authority to pass this rule.

“We think it completely oversteps EPA’s authority to do this,” he said. “We don’t think they have the authority to do it. We don’t think Congress has given the authority.”

On Capitol Hill, a group of 39 Republican Senators led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who both represent big coal states, wrote the EPA urging the agency withdraw this plan. The group cited the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in West Virginia v. EPA.

In that case, the court ruled that the nation’s main anti-air pollution law, the Clean Air Act, does not give the federal EPA broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The EPA said the new proposed rule is consistent with its “traditional approach to establishing pollution standards under the Clean Air Act.”