WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Kentucky congressman pressed federal EPA administrator Gina McCarthy for answers during a Wednesday congressional hearing on what will happen to workers who lose jobs due to President Barack Obama’s climate action plan.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, said President Obama mentioned during his climate change speech at Georgetown University this summer that there would be help for impacted workers.
“Do you know specifically what plan is in effect? He (Obama) talked about a specific plan to address the concerns of these people who lose their jobs,” subcommittee Chair Whitfield said.
Administrator McCarthy told the congressman she didn’t have details of the plan but assured him that she and the federal EPA are “sensitive to the economic consequences of our actions.”
Wednesday’s hearing focused in part on the EPA’s soon-to-be-released revised proposal setting emission limits on newly constructed coal-fired power plants.
McCarthy and Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told members of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee there’s a future for coal but it will be a different future.
“The DOE has issued a draft solicitation for 8 billion dollars in loan guarantees for advanced fossil energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions,” Moniz said. “In addition the DOE has already committed 6 billion dollars on clean coal technologies. All with the goal of enabling the use of fossil fuel in a carbon constrained world.”
But opponents of the EPA plan say the restrictions will make it nearly impossible to build future coal-fired plants. They are also concerned about new regulations due out on exiting plants next summer.
California Congressman Henry Waxman told Secretary Moniz Wednesday Republicans in the U.S. House have been obstructing progress on climate change when there’s an urgent threat to the environment with global warming.
“How much time do we have?” Rep. Waxman asked Moniz. “Can we afford to wait to act?”
Moniz said it has to be a long-term commitment and action has to come soon.
“But we have to act in this decade because the CO2 problem is cumulative and every ton we emit you can check it off against our children and grandchildren,” Sec. Moniz said.