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Democrats: Obama Can Move Without Congress on Clean Power Plan

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In defense of President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” Democratic lawmakers said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to implement the plan nationally without the approval of Congress.

“The Clean Power Plan is a very important response by the Obama administration to climate change and to take an initial step to deal with this urgency and deal with it under the authority of the Clean Air Act. And that’s what the EPA is doing and this brief is to defend the ability to do that and to protect the American people and protect the public health of the American people,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) on a conference call announcing the filing of a legal brief in support of the Clean Power Plan.

The Supreme Court has issued a stay on the implementation of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, states such as Pennsylvania have vowed to enforce the federal regulations to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. Critics of the Clean Power Plan argue that it would result in higher energy bills for consumers and have a minimal effect on global temperatures.

Grijalva said the Republican effort to aid governors who want to opt out of the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan is a “frivolous” action.

“Part of the defense of the Clean Power Plan rule is the fact that we have to protect communities, we have to protect the public health and take a bold step that’s going to be necessary for the future to come to grips with what climate change is doing and will do to all of us,” he said.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) agreed that the EPA has the authority to enforce the plan and predicted that the court action would be ultimately thrown out.

The only sitting Republican in Congress to sign on to the brief in defense of the plan is Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). She previously announced her support for the plan, which sets state-specific requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

“It’s so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future. After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment,” Ayotte said in October of last year.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who delivers weekly floor speeches in the upper chamber warning of climate change, said the EPA has been very flexible with the plan and that it is “vital” for the protection of the planet.

“I hope with this brief we can come out of the D.C. Circuit with a very strong opinion and with that very strong opinion a 4-4 court will clearly uphold the decision of the D.C. Circuit. And we can go forward and do the people’s business we need to do to protect our planet and our economy from the ravages of an industry that is out of control,” he said.