Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday blocked a Republican attempt to pass legislation aimed at protecting coal mining jobs from the the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon emissions rule.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R ) has warned the EPA rule will kill jobs in coal mining states like his home state of Kentucky. In response, McConnell has proposed the Coal Country Protection Act, which would require the government to certify that the rule does not hurt jobs, GDP or electricity delivery, and that it doesn’t raise electric power prices, before the rule can take effect.
When McConnell asked the Senate to quickly pass his bill on Wednesday, Reid blocked it.
“The rule will not become effective for a long time,” Reid explained, noting that the EPA plans to have the rule take effect in June 2015.
Reid said he would be as “cooperative as I feel appropriate” with Republicans, but said, “at this time, I object.” Reid also held out the idea that Democrats want to use the 120-day comment period to seek their own improvements to the rule, but he wasn’t more specific.
The EPA rule would require electric power plants to trim the carbon emissions by 30 percent in 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The Obama administration is defending the proposed rule as a way to help stop global warming, but Republicans say the rule is a job-killer that will raise electricity prices for middle-class Americans at a time of economic uncertainty.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the proposal is “nuts.”
McConnell’s bill would require the government to certify that the EPA rule doesn’t hurt employment, GDP or electricity delivery, and doesn’t increase the cost of electric power before the rule can take effect.