| WASHINGTON, June 18
WASHINGTON, June 18 Rising public support for
action on climate change bodes well for federal regulations
announced this month to limit pollution from power plants, four
Republican former chiefs of the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency said on Wednesday.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a subcommittee chairman on the
Senate Environment and Public Works panel, arranged for the
officials to address a sharply divided committee that frequently
clashes over the existence and causes of climate change.
"We all feel strongly that something should be done (about
climate change) and we should get on with this," said William
Ruckelshaus, the first EPA chief, who served under EPA founder,
President Richard Nixon, and again under Ronald Reagan.
He told reporters after the hearing that Republican
lawmakers who have obstructed climate legislation in the past
will inevitably need to respond to growing demand from the
public for limits on pollution.
Ruckelshaus pointed to polling - the latest by the Wall
Street Journal/NBC News - showing a majority of Americans
support the EPA's crackdown on carbon emissions.
"The poll is indicative of what seems to be a shift in
public opinion on this, and once that turns into a demand for
action, something will happen," he said.
Ruckelshaus, Christine Todd Whitman, William Reilly and Lee
Thomas wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 2013 urging the
United States to take action to cut carbon emissions rather than
just dealing with the impacts of climate change.
At the hearing, they faced questions from Republican
senators who have accused the EPA of overreach. In the audience
were many coal miners bused in from Ohio, West Virginia,
Virginia and Kentucky by coal companies Murray Energy Corp and
Arch Coal Inc.
Whitman said that despite the EPA having been repeatedly
sued during her time at the helm, companies required to meet new
efficiency standards were often able to exceed their mandates.
She noted appliance maker Carrier, which ramped up the
efficiency of its air conditioners at the EPA's behest: "Not
only did we not see a loss in jobs, or loss in dollars, we saw
this whole industry achieve new levels that we didn't think were
The officials said EPA's latest proposal, to slash power
sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, was a
reasonable starting point.
The plan was entered in the Federal Register on Wednesday,
kicking off a four-month comment period.
One of the miners attending the hearing, Monty Baker, told
Reuters the hearing was less contentious than what he sees in
television advertising, and that he learned a lot from both
Baker, a manager at one of Murray Energy's mines in Marshall
County, Ohio, wanted to attend because he worries EPA rules may
not "take into account some of the towns that will be gone" if
the pollution crackdown closes coal mines: "We need both sides
to act together."
(Editing by Ros Krasny and Eric Walsh)