EPA Head: ‘Climate Change...Is One of Most Significant Public Health Threats'

By Penny Starr | September 20, 2013 | 12:42 PM EDT

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the filing of proposed regulations to restrict carbon emissions by new power plants at an event at the National Press Club on Sept. 20, 2013. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Friday discussed the agency’s 493-page proposed regulation that would, for the first time, restrict carbon emissions from new power plants, including coal plants.

“Climate change – caused by carbon pollution – is one of the most significant public health threats of our time,” McCarthy said at the National Press Club.  “That’s why EPA has been called to action.”

McCarthy cited power plants as the nation's worst polluters.

“Power plants are the single largest sources of carbon pollution,” McCarthy said. “New power plants can minimize their carbon emissions by taking advantage of modern technologies.”

McCarthy expressed her commitment to fulfilling the promises President Barack Obama made when he revealed his plan to combat climate change at Georgetown University in June. McCarthy called it the “most important speech” made by the president.

But critics, including Republicans in Congress, see the EPA regulations as a war on coal. The Obama administration, in fact, has spent billions of dollars promoting "green" power from wind, sun and ocean waves.

“The announcement by the EPA is another back door attempt by President Obama to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

In a news release posted on his website, McConnell said the EPA is forcing coal plants to install expensive equipment or else they won’t be allowed to fully operate, something that will lead to higher electricity rates for Kentuckians.

McConnell also announced his intent to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop the EPA from imposing the new regulation by ensuring a vote to repeal it. (The CRA provides a procedure for expedited consideration in the Senate.)

“The president's decision today is an escalation of the War on Coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is an escalation of his War on Jobs and the Kentucky economy. This is another attempt by the President to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines. Sadly, it does not come as a shock given his failed attempt at getting Congress to pass a cap and tax bill designed to hike utility rates and bankrupt the coal industry,” McConnell said.

The proposed rule could become final in one year.