U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt has made it clear - he's no fan of federal government "overreach," especially in Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Whilee thanking the Missouri Farm Bureau for its endorsement of his re-election bid last Friday, the Springfield Republican repeated his warning that adopting the EPA's "Clean Power Plan" (CPP) will be costly.
"In a decade or so, almost all Missourians - if that's allowed to go forward - will see their utility bills double," he predicted. "And a lot of things happen now for families at today's utility bill (prices) that won't happen at double today's utility bills," including "economic opportunity" that helps provide "the kind of good jobs that make stronger families."
The plan - proposed in 2014 and finalized by the Obama Administration last year - is an attempt to control and reduce the effects of what supporters call man-made global warming.
But last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request by 27 states - including Missouri - and other litigants, to stay the implementation of the CPP until the legal challenges against it are settled.
And that ruling has prompted Blunt and others to advise states to slow down their process of developing state plans to meet the CPP regulations.
The issue for both sides is the use of coal in generating electricity.
"I think you could have a significant debate - and, I think, an appropriate one - about the way to use coal more effectively and even cleaner," Blunt said. "I think the estimates are that - at the use of coal we had before people began to have to move away from coal, because of federal regulations - we had about a 300-year supply."
Noting 80 percent of electricity comes from coal, Blunt pointed to "the cleanest coal plants we have, ever, had. They have complied with all of the, increasingly, difficult rules up until now."
Blunt said his concern is the EPA would force power plants to close even while consumers still are paying for them through rates - instead of waiting for the plants to age-out and then be replaced with plants using alternatives to coal.
After the Supreme Court stay last month, Missouri Senate President Pro-Tem Ron Richard urged the Natural Resources department to suspend any work it has been doing on developing the state's answer to the CPP.
"As legislators, we are the ones who should determine the right balance for Missourians, not the EPA," Richard said. "DNR should now suspend any preparations of a state plan implementing the Clean Air Plan until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the rule.
"We should not put added restrictions or burdens on Missouri businesses and consumers that could be considered unconstitutional."
But the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition, an advocacy group comprised of more than 30 organizations, sent a letter to DNR Director Sara Parker Pauley "strongly" urging the department to continue its Clean Power Plan planning efforts.
"The Supreme Court's stay of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rule is temporary and does not overturn the rule or decide its legal merits," the coalition's letter said. "The Supreme Court has previously held that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
"The Supreme Court has also expressly recognized that Section 111 of the Clean Air Act "speaks directly' to EPA's authority to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants."