"The impact of these rules is that companies will sit on the sidelines and opportunities for innovation and job creation will be lost," he said. "Because of these new rules companies won't build that new factory. They won't build that new power plant. And so they won't employ some of the millions of Americans who are out of work. That is why I believe these regulations need to be suspended."
Rockefeller stressed that he believes climate change is an important issue, but said "the lead should come from Congress and not the EPA."
"Congress, unlike the EPA, can craft proposals that reduce greenhouse gases while simultaneously protecting our economy," he said. "Most importantly, Congress is directly accountable to the people whose lives we impact."
He also argued that EPA's approach does not take into account the differences in energy use across the states, and said plainly that coal-generated electricity "will not change anytime soon."
"The fact is, we in West Virginia know and embrace what too many others either don't understand or refuse to see, which is that our nation and countries around the world are dependent on coal," he said. "That is not something that will change when half the globe is struggling to rise out of poverty."
The bill, S. 231, is co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillDem senators: Slash executive pay at pension plans seeking benefit cuts Bill would target retaliation against military sexual assault victims Senate Dem takes on drugmaker: ‘It’s time to slaughter some hogs’ MORE (D-Mo.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonHousing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform On Wall Street, Dem shake-up puts party at crossroads Regulators fret over FOIA reform bill MORE (D-S.D.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Healthcare: Public support mounts for action on opioids Clinton slams convicted ex-coal chief West Virginia Dem defends Clinton support despite coal remarks MORE (D-W.Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).