- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi’s Republican senators are supporting legislation to prevent implementation of new Environmental Protect Agency rules regulating coal-fired power plants.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., would allow states to opt out of complying with the new EPA regulations while preventing the federal government from tying highway funding to a state’s implementation of the regulations.

Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker say in a news release that the EPA regulations could potentially increase energy costs for families and businesses in Mississippi and nationwide.

“Time and time again, we’ve seen the Environmental Protection Agency attempt to implement an agenda that ignores the needs of hard-working Americans. Mississippi families and businesses need reliable, affordable energy. The EPA attack on power plants will endanger both,” said Cochran.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the EPA complied with the law in deciding which areas of the country failed to meet federal limits on smog-forming pollution.

States including Mississippi had challenged the EPA’s finding that certain areas in their states had violated the standard.

“States like Mississippi generate dependable and inexpensive energy in a variety of ways,” Wicker said. “The proposed rule on carbon dioxide emissions would close down 100 percent of our state’s coal-fired power plants, including power plants that have years of useful life remaining that spent billions complying with previous EPA regulations.”

The bill also would allow state governors to refuse to implement the regulations if they determine that the EPA regulations would slow economic growth, decrease the reliability of the electrical system, or increase energy rates.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected challenges from states, industry and environmental groups that claimed the agency was being either too strict or too lenient in determining which areas satisfied federal ozone restrictions.

The Obama administration recently proposed even stricter emission limits on ozone of 65 to 70 parts per billion, below the existing standard of 75 that President George W. Bush put in place in 2008. The EPA has estimated that cutting ozone emissions to 70 parts per billion would cost industry about $3.9 billion in 2025.

Business groups say the latest proposal is unnecessary and would be the costliest regulation in history.

Ozone, the main ingredient in smog, is a powerful lung irritant that has been linked to a range of health problems. Smog is created when emissions from cars, power plants, refineries and other factories mix in sunlight and heat.

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