Coal Runnings

McCaskill votes for harsh regulations on coal despite touting anti-EPA cred

June 21, 2012

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) voted yesterday for massive new regulations on the coal industry despite claims on her website that she is not afraid to buck the party line to protect her state’s coal-fired power plants.

McCaskill was one of 53 senators to vote down an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe that would have scuttled the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations to cut mercury and other toxic emissions at coal-fired power plants.

The EPA estimates the regulations will cost nearly $10 billion a year, and Republicans and energy industry officials predict the rules will lead to the closure of plants around the country.

In Missouri, where 81 percent of the state’s energy comes from coal-fired plants, the cost of compliance could raise consumer electricity bills by as much as 23 percent.

That is the sort of thing McCaskill would normally be against, according to her website.

"Claire knows that rising energy prices are a significant burden on Missouri’s families," McCaskill’s website states. "That’s why Claire hasn’t been afraid to break with members of her own party to protect Missouri’s coal-fired power plants and fight back against unnecessary EPA regulations."

McCaskill touts her fights against the EPA under the "accomplishments" section of her website on energy issues.

"Claire advocated for delaying the implementation of damaging new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations against power plant emissions," her site states. "The EPA regulations would result in unfair and burdensome rate increases for states like Missouri that generate most of their electricity from coal."

EPA estimates the value of the regulations could reach $90 billion per year from reduced heart attacks, asthma, and other health benefits, but a group of Republican senators, all of them doctors, wrote a letter saying the EPA’s estimates are wildly inflated and do not take into account the health effects of unemployment and poverty.

The National Mining Association said McCaskill’s vote was a vote to increase electricity bills for her home state.

"Her's was a very disappointing vote," said National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich. "By favoring what the White House admits is the costliest power plant rule ever imposed, she has inexplicably helped to lock in higher electricity prices for Missouri's households and businesses at a time when both are struggling in a weak economy."

A spokesman for McCaskill did not return a request for comment.