6th District Candidates Both Oppose EPA Proposal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The Obama Administration’s proposed regulations for coal-field power plants drew critical responses from both the Democratic Party challenger in the Ohio 6th District race and the incumbent Republican congressman she is trying to unseat.

The regulations, announced Monday in Washington, aim by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels and cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25%.

The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the program. The proposal also includes a “a flexible timeline for states to follow for submitting plans” to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, due in June 2016, with the option to use a two-step process for submitting final plans if more time is needed.

"Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment -- our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs."

Jennifer Garrison of Marietta, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, for his 6th District seat, was quick to disagree. She contends the coal industry provides “jobs and affordable, reliable energy to consumers, businesses and manufacturers” and charged that the Obama Administration’s proposal goes “too far, too fast.”

Said Garrison in a statement released by her campaign, “Unlike most of the politicians in Washington from both parties, I've done a lot of work in the public and private sectors on energy issues. To me, this is not some abstract policy. It's about people's jobs and their families,” she said. “We’ve recently lost a major employer in our region, Ormet Primary Aluminum, due to energy costs, and I do not want to see any more families or employers leaving the region.”

Johnson, in a statement posted on his congressional website, said his district has six coal-fired plants, and disparaged the proposal as ”a de facto cap-and-trade plan that would have detrimental effects on the coal industry” across Ohio and the country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated the rule will cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs” and adversely affect the economy, he noted.

Johnson joined 177 members of Congress in sending a “bipartisan letter” to the EPA's McCarthy asking her to extend the comment period on the regulations so power plants can assess how it will impact the industry. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, praised the EPA proposal, and described as “reasonable” the proposed 30% reduction in power plants’ carbon pollution by 2030. 

“This proposed rule does not require specific actions from individual power plants, but rather is allowing a comprehensive approach that states can tailor to their economies depending on where they get a majority of their electricity,” Ryan said. “Not only are these regulations beneficial to the environment, estimates also show that they will result in $55 to $95 billion economic benefits over the proposal’s lifetime.”

Ryan also touted the health benefits attached to the proposal. “The high levels of pollution we see today directly affect the health of millions of Americans; estimates show that this proposal will prevent 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 asthma attacks,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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