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Gina McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington April 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts) Gina McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington April 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)  

GOP: EPA Lied To Congress About Delaying Major Climate Rule

Documents reveal that Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy may not have told lawmakers the truth when she said new climate rules were published in a timely manner.

The EPA published its so-called New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for power plants in early January, more than two months after it was submitted to the Federal Register. Furthermore, the EPA announced the standard, which would effectively ban coal-fired power plants, in late September.

Republicans have alleged that the delay in publishing NSPS was politically motivated, arguing that the Obama administration’s actions will push the finalizing of the costly rule until after the elections this fall.

“Based on this sequence of events, it appears that the delay in the proposal’s publication may have been motivated by a desire to lessen the impact of the President’s harmful environmental policies on this year’s mid-term elections,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe wrote in a letter to McCarthy.

Inhofe wants to know why there was a delay. Did it originate within the EPA or within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget?

“EPA follows routine interagency and internal processes to ensure that formatting, consistency, and quality control issues are addressed before any rule package is published in the Federal Register,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia told Politico. “This is a normal part of the rulemaking process, and the time needed for these procedures varies for each rule.”

Purchia added that the government shutdown in October meant the “agency lost a significant amount of time.”

While the EPA is pleading innocent, Inhofe’s letter points out that the EPA released its draft NSPS on Sept. 20, 2013, but did not submit the document to the Federal Register until Nov. 25 — 66 days later. The rule was not published in the Register until Jan. 8, 2014.

This information directly contradicts statements made by McCarthy before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Jan. 16.

“Senator, I will assure you that as soon as that proposal was released, we had submitted it to the Federal Register office,” McCarthy responded to a question by Inhofe during the hearing. “The delay was solely the backup in the Federal Register office, and we frequently asked when it was going to come out and how quickly, because it was available on our web page. We wanted to start the formal public process.”

NSPS has been a thorn in the side of coal state Democrats for some time now, as they struggle to tow the Democratic party line on global warming and environmental issues while also representing coal interests in their states.

Several prominent Senate Democrats have called for the Obama administration to scale back its coal plant regulations and look for other, less onerous ways to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and fight global warming.

“Such a requirement is unprecedented under the Clean Air Act and will have the unfortunate effect of preventing the construction of new coal plants or the upgrading of existing sources,” wrote Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana in a letter to President Obama last year. “We urge you to consider an alternative approach.”

The EPA says that its rule is necessary to lowering U.S. carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. Environmentalists have also backed the rule and made a large effort to support NSPS.

This is not the first time the Republicans have accused EPA of delaying major rules for political reasons. Inhofe made similar claims after the 2012 election that the Obama administration held back major regulations or political reasons.

Inhofe released a report in 2012 detailing the ways the White House was pushing back the publication of major regulations that might have hurt Democrats in 2012.

“President Obama has spent the past year punting on a slew of job-killing EPA regulations that will destroy millions of American jobs and cause energy prices to skyrocket even more,” Sen. Inhofe said in a statement on his 2012 report. “From greenhouse gas regulations to water guidance to the tightening of the ozone standard, the Obama-EPA has delayed the implementation of rule after rule because they don’t want all those pink slips and price spikes to hit until after the election.”

In December 2013, more than a year later, The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration delayed key environmental and Obamacare regulations until after the 2012 elections

The Post reported that former officials said “the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his re-election.”

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