| WASHINGTON, June 12
WASHINGTON, June 12 Environmental Protection
Agency chief Gina McCarthy said on Thursday that newly proposed
rules to slash carbon emissions from U.S. power plants will cut
electricity bills after 2030 by forcing power plants to become
Speaking at a forum on energy efficiency in Washington,
which she likened to "preaching to the choir," McCarthy took
issue with critics' claims that the EPA's clean power plan will
cause consumer electricity prices to skyrocket, in part by
forcing older coal-fired plants to close.
The rule, subject to a 120-day comment period, will steer
investment toward renewable energy and energy efficiency
companies, she said.
"I think we are going to help energy efficiency and
renewable energy to get the kind of private investment we know
(the industry has) deserved for a very long time," McCarthy
The EPA's guidelines, unveiled on June 2, proposed cutting
overall U.S. carbon pollution from the power sector 30 percent
by 2030 from a 2005 baseline. Each state has been assigned its
own target to reduce the rate at which it pumps out carbon per
megawatt of energy produced.
The proposal calls on states to draw up their own plans to
achieve the reduction using measures ranging from making power
plants more efficient, switching from coal to natural gas,
ramping up zero-carbon energy, including nuclear, and using
mechanisms such as carbon trading.
McCarthy said public opinion polls taken since the rollout
showed that a bipartisan majority of Americans support the
federal emissions curbs and would be willing to pay for it.
A poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News
published on June 2 found that 70 percent of respondents
supported mandatory federal limits of greenhouse gas emissions
for power plants.
In that survey, 57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of
independents and 79 percent of Democrats supported state-set
curbs on carbon emissions.
McCarthy said the regulation would create business
opportunities that would benefit "the consumers we care about
and the public we serve," and turn them into "believers of what
we are going to do on climate change."
Other surveys suggest the EPA regulations could be more of a
problem for Democrats in November's midterm elections.
A poll published on Thursday and conducted by the National
Mining Association, a lobbying group, focused on eight states
that are major producers or users of coal.
It found that 55 percent of respondents were more likely to
oppose a candidate for the U.S. Senate that supports the new
The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies, a firm often
used by Republican candidates. Among the poll questions, it
asked registered voters whether it was more important for
President Barack Obama to focus on climate rules or on job
Rich Nolan, NMA vice president of government affairs, said
the group would use results in its message to coal communities
heading into the elections.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and G