Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe stumped with Montana Senate hopeful Rep. Denny Rehberg Tuesday, as part of his bid to take back the Senate and roll back environmental regulations that he says will damage the economy.
The two campaigned together at the J.E. Corrette power plant in Billings, which has announced it will have to close down in April 2015, when a new regulation on emissions from the Environmental Protection Agency is set to take effect. The plant said it would be too expensive to keep operating under the new rules, which are called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Rehberg’s Democratic opponent, voted in favor of the standards.
Speaking to The Daily Caller in a joint phone interview with Rehberg, Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, explained that he was in town to help secure a Republican majority in the Senate to prevent such regulations.
“I had legislation to stop it, we only lost it by three votes, and three of the senators from three of the largest of the coal states — that’s Ohio, Missouri and Montana — all voted against my effort to stop them from killing coal,” he explained. “In other words, they voted to kill coal.”
That, Inhofe said, seemed “inconceivable” to him, and so he planned to stump in all three states.
Montana was the sixth largest coal producing state last year, and Rehberg hit his Democratic opponent for voting against the interests of Montanans.
“Sen. Tester had been warned before the vote on Mr. Inhofe’s legislation: He was warned by the plant owners, he was asked by the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and Montana Farm Bureau, to support Sen. Inhofe — don’t support the EPA bureaucrats from Washington, D.C. on this rule or it may jeaopardize this plant,” Rehberg said.
“He voted with the EPA bureaucrats — not the people of Montana,” Rehberg continued. “As a result, the Corette Plant will lose 35 jobs and $10 million dollars out of our economy. At a time when we should be putting people back to work, at a time when we should be building our economy, these policies are going the wrong way.”
“It’s disheartening to see a federal government stepping in and doing something that’s going to hurt the economy of the state of Montana and having my own U.S. senator voting against the best interest of the people of Montana,” he added.
Rehberg added that the impact of the plant closing went beyond jobs — it would also hurt the people who rely on the plant for electricity.
“The energy that’s created in this one plant alone is 100,000 houses. That’s the entire county of Yellowstone turning it’s lights out because of one plant,” he said.
Rehberg noted that he broached the subject in his final debate with Tester on Saturday.
The latest poll shows the race to be a dead even tie.