Jake Tapper Takes on EPA Head Over New Climate Change Regulations, Lack of Dem. Support

CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on his The Lead with Jake Tapper program on Monday, June 2 and used the opportunity to hit the Obama official over new regulations aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. 

Throughout the discussion, Tapper grilled McCarthy over the lack of Democratic support for the new regulations and how “You can't get anything through Congress on this and not just the Republican House but also the Democratic-controlled Senate?” [See video below.]

The CNN host began his questioning by wondering “Even Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources who’s up for re-election this year says that it should be Congress and not the EPA setting these emission standards. Why can't the White House even get the Democrats on board here?” 

Despite McCarthy attempts, Tapper continued to press his guest over the lack of Democratic support for the EPA regulations:

And you know that those in coal-producing states are very wary of this new proposal. Democrat and Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes she calls this a war on coal...What's your message to people in states like Kentucky? 

As the segment concluded, Tapper called out the EPA Administrator one last time, this time for the Obama Administration’s decision to play politics with the impending Keystone Pipeline: 

Speaking of all of the above energy strategy, we've been waiting for the president to make a decision about the Keystone Pipeline for years now. It seems obvious that he's waiting until after the midterms. 

Kudos to Tapper for conducting a tough interview with McCarthy rather than using the segment to promote the Obama Administration's climate change agenda.

See relevant transcript below. 


CNN

The Lead with Jake Tapper 

June 2, 2014 

4:37 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead," I'm Jake Tapper. Now time now for "The National Lead." The Washington air is thick with controversy today over the Obama Administration plan to bypass congress and force American power plants to slash their carbon dioxide emissions in the name of fighting climate change. The aim is to cut CO2 emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year of 2030. Coal-powered plants will be hit the hardest because they emit more carbon than other plants. But despite Republicans and many coal country Democrats arguing the contrary, the head of the EPA still insists this seismic shift will not hurt our economy. And EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joins me now. Administrator McCarthy thanks so much for joining us. 

GINA MCCARTHY: It’s great to be here, Jake. 

TAPPER: So the president is going it alone here to, a degree, even Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources who’s up for re-election this year says that it should be Congress and not the EPA setting these emission standards. Why can't the White House even get the Democrats on board here? 

MCCARTHY: Well, I think we have to see -- have people get a chance to take a look at this proposal because, really, it represents action that we need to take to protect public health but it offers flexibility to the states and, I am sure, as someone who has worked for the states for the years, that states will have an ability to reduce their carbon pollution in a way that’s going to be practical and affordable that’s entirely consistent with the diverse energy supply that will grow jobs and help them grow their economies. 

TAPPER: But isn't the whole reason you have this proposal because you can't get anything through Congress on this and not just the Republican House but also the Democratic-controlled Senate? 

MCCARTHY: Jake, the reason we're doing this is to protect the public health of our kids and to protect the next generation and to keep our communities safe. We're doing this because Congress did pass the Clean Air Act and the Clean Air Act is perfectly appropriate. In fact, it’s our responsibility at EPA to manage dangerous pollution. That's what carbon is. We regulate every other type of pollutant from these power plants, including all of the toxics mercury, arsenic. But the one we don't is carbon and it is time to do that. Now that we know how dangerous a changing climate is and how costly inaction can be. 

TAPPER: And you know that those in coal-producing states are very wary of this new proposal. Democrat and Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes she calls this a war on coal. Take a listen. 

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES: I don’t agree with the president’s war on coal. I will fight to make sure that coal has a long-term place in our national energy policy. That we actually have the funding to implement clean coal technology and we restore coal to its rightful place as a prime American export. 

TAPPER: That's a Democrat. What's your message to people in states like Kentucky? 

MCCARTHY: Well, she may be happy to know that if you take a look look at this proposal and what it does for coal, it actually generates investments in coal. It allows states to choose to make them more efficient and it actually projects that coal is going to remain a significant source of energy generation even in 2030. So we agree with an all-of-the box strategy. We know that we have to accommodate a diverse energy mix the only thing that EPA did was to identify opportunities to work with states to find plans that work with them in their own energy supplies. That doesn't matter if you’re a heavy goal or a heavy natural gas there are opportunities for you that we can work on together. And that's the challenge with this rule. 

TAPPER: Speaking of all of the above energy strategy, we've been waiting for the president to make a decision about the Keystone Pipeline for years now. It seems obvious that he's waiting until after the midterms. What is the official explanation for the holdup? 

MCCARTHY: Well, the official explanation is the correct one, which is that there is a question about the exact layout of the pipeline and he's already asked the agencies to be prepared when decisions get made to clarify that to submit our comments and we're ready to do that. But it really wouldn't be appropriate or consistent with the way the law acts to ask us to make a comment without having that pipeline route defined. But we're looking forward to that and we know that the state will make a decision when all of the facts are there for them to make it. 

TAPPER: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, thanks so much for joining us.

MCCARTHY: Great to be here Jake, thanks. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.