Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky introduced legislation that would block pollution regulations on existing coal power plants.
It's dubbed the "Coal Country Protection Action" and would require the U.S. Labor Department to prove that any restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency will not eliminate jobs, raise utility bills or reduce electricity reliability.
Under President Obama's plan, the EPA plan is seeking to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2030 in order to address climate change and increasingly severe weather patterns.
But McConnell said without emerging emissions-heavy countries like India and China on board, the U.S. alone cannot carbon.
"The president wants Americans to believe that his national energy tax can somehow heal the planet and regulate the oceans," he said.
"Because the point of this whole exercise is sadly obvious: it’s not really about science or global warming at all, it’s about making privileged elitists—elitists who may not feel the pinch of a higher utility bill or the pain of a lost job—feel like they 'did something.'"
Besides certification from the labor secretary, McConnell's bill would also require the following:
- The Director of the Congressional Budget Office certifies to the EPA Administrator that the regulation will not result in any loss in gross domestic product of the U.S.
- The Administrator of the Energy Information Administration certifies to the EPA Administrator that the regulation will not increase electricity rates.
- The Chairperson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the President of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. certify to the administrator that electricity delivery will remain reliable.
Polling by the Sierra Club said most Americans support the EPA putting restrictions on the amount of carbon in the air. The survey also found 58 percent of respondents favor the U.S. moving away from coal and other fossil fuels for cleaner energy sources.
But the federal regulations and potential job losses on Kentucky's coal industry were condemned by many state officials and candidates, including Senate Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is taking on McConnell this fall.
The Grimes campaign pushed back against critics who tie her candidacy to the president and Senate Democrats. In a full-page newspaper ad, Grimes blasts Obama's energy policy as out of touch with Kentucky's values.
"President Obama and Washington don't get it," the ad says. "Alison Grimes does."
McConnell has called on Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold an immediate vote on his proposal.