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GOP Lawmakers Rally Against EPA's New Coal Plant Rules

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Republicans in the region are up in arms over a new proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency to limit emissions from coal-fired powered plants. 

The new EPA rule would force all new power plants to drastically limit their carbon emissions, but critics say the rule is so stringent that it will block the construction of any new coal fired power plants.

That's because the technology to store carbon from coal plants underground is still being developed. Without that technology -- known as carbon capture and sequestration -- Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) believes Virginia's coal industry will be crippled. 

"I don't think there's any question it's going to cost jobs in my district and it's going to affect Virginia's tax base," Griffith says. 

Right now, the proposal wouldn't cover existing power plants -- only newly built ones. But that's no comfort to Griffith. 

"But we have to worry that after the election when the president is more flexible, he'll apply these rules to existing coal plants," Griffith says. "And that will really be devastating to our economy."

That's why Congress should work to prevent the rules from going into effect, Griffith says. "Nobody elected the EPA. They elected the Congress of the United States," says Griffith. "One of the mistakes that Congress has made is giving too much power over the years to various agencies." 

Democrats and the Obama administration say utility companies have had ample time to prepare for the new rule, which has been in the works since 2009.  Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)  believes it's important that the EPA is taking steps on its own to limit pollution in the region, even in the face of Republican opposition. 

"If they are right about the sky falling, it's because there's so much pollution built up in the atmosphere," Moran says. "At some point my generation has to take the steps necessary to protect the health of future generations, and we haven't been doing that." 

The new EPA rule is still being finalized and it's not expected to be enacted for a couple more months.

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