WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s Democratic senator is criticizing President Obama’s proposed climate change rules, urging revisions to a plan that he says imposes unfair costs and burdens on the state.
In a 22-page letter sent Thursday to the Environmental Protection Agency, Sen. Bob Casey makes clear he supports broad goals of combating global warming and agrees an EPA plan is necessary. But Casey said the carbon emissions target for the state is unreasonably high and could lead to higher electricity prices.
“Our Commonwealth powers the electricity needs of states across the mid-Atlantic. We should be treated sensibly and fairly,” said Casey, the state’s senior senator.
It is Casey’s first formal comment on the issue since the EPA released its proposal in June. His position highlights the delicate balancing act ahead for coal-state Democrats caught in the middle between an Obama administration seeking to move aggressively on climate change and leaders of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress pledging to curtail the EPA.
Pennsylvania’s other senator, Republican Pat Toomey, has expressed strong opposition to the EPA proposal.
Under the plan, Pennsylvania is required to reduce emissions from power plants by roughly 32 percent by 2030 as part of a broader plan to cut greenhouse gases nationwide. The EPA is now hearing public comment and a final plan is expected by June.
In a statement, the EPA said it welcomed hearing from Casey and others during a comment period that ends Dec. 1 and appreciated the senator’s broad support in fighting climate change.
“The actions that states across the country are taking have formed the foundation of EPA’s proposal and have allowed us to draft a plan that is flexible,” the agency said. “We have heard a broad range of questions and suggestions from stakeholders on how the proposed rule could be changed.”
In the letter Casey, faults the plan as impractical. He said Pennsylvania is being tasked with substantially increasing renewable energy such as wind or solar power, even though federal data show that the state is technically limited compared to other states to do so.