McConnell Amendment to Fight War on Coal Passes Senate

Prevents Highway Funds from Being Withheld from States that Refuse to Submit a Plan to Implement EPA’s New Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Senate tonight approved (57-43) a bipartisan amendment by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would prohibit the withholding of federal highway funds from states that refuse to submit a plan to implement a proposed new EPA regulation. The McConnell amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution would protect states and ensure no highway funds were withheld because of the new demands from the EPA. Federal highway funding has been withheld in the past and used as leverage to force states to comply with mandates from the federal government.

Under the proposed EPA regulation, states are required to submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to dramatically restructure their electricity systems based on EPA’s view on how electricity should be produced and used in each state. Due to the drastic changes required by EPA and because of concerns regarding EPA’s legal authority to enforce this plan, many states have filed suit against the agency to block these regulations. These states, including Kentucky, believe that complying with EPA regulations will wreak havoc on their states’ labor forces and economies. In addition to Kentucky, the states include: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

“Many states, including my home state of Kentucky, have already filed suit against the proposal on the premise that it is not constitutional, and belief that the agency does not have the legal authority to require states to comply with all of its criteria,” Senator McConnell said.  “I appreciate my colleagues for supporting my measure and expressing the belief that highway funds should not be held hostage in the War on Coal.  Governors should not fear losing their critical highway funding nor should they be forced to submit plans that would devastate their own economy.”

Click image to view Sen. McConnell’s floor remarks on the amendment

BACKGROUND: Last week, Senator McConnell called on the Nation’s Governors to reject the EPA’s proposed regulation that requires states to dramatically restructure their electricity systems based on how the agency thinks electricity should be produced and used in each state. The EPA’s demands, McConnell noted, are “far beyond its legal authority.”
In a letter to all 50 Governors, Senator McConnell wrote that he has “serious legal and policy concerns regarding the proposal.” 

Senator McConnell asked the Governors to “carefully review the consequences before signing up for this deeply misguided plan. I believe you will find, as I have, that the EPA’s proposal goes far beyond its legal authority and that the courts are likely to strike it down. All of which raises the very important question of why the EPA is asking states at this time to propose their own compliance plans in the first place. This proposed plan is already on shaky legal grounds, will be extremely burdensome and costly, and will not seriously address the global environmental concerns that are frequently raised to justify it. Moreover, declining to go along with the administration’s legally dubious plan will give the other two branches of government time to address the proposal and will not put your state at risk in the interim. It will provide time for the courts to rule on whether the EPA’s proposed rule is legal, and it will give Congress a chance to address numerous concerns surrounding this latest power grab by the EPA.”

The full text of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s letter is HERE.


Related Issues: Regulations, Coal, Jobs, Middle Class, EPA