EPA regulatory listening tour back on track

Meetings in Boston and Philadelphia were postponed last week because of the government shutdown that took more than 90 percent of the agency’s personnel off the job. 

The cancellations raised concerns from Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyDem senator criticizes Facebook, Instagram for gun sales Apple, Google enlisted for FCC robocall effort Airlines brace for boost in travel volumes over Labor Day MORE (D-Mass.), who said he feared members of the public would be shut out of the rule-making process.

The EPA is currently developing regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. The action follows its proposed standard on new plants. Together, the two rules represent the centerpiece of President Obama’s initiative to counter the effects of climate change.

“Power plants are the nation’s largest stationary source of carbon pollution, responsible for about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution in the United States,” the EPA said in a statement announcing the new dates.

The Boston and Philadelphia meetings, now set for early November are among a series of 11 meetings planned to solicit feedback from interested parties, in addition to a formal open public comment period. 

"The feedback from these 11 public listening sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines that reflect the latest and best information available," the EPA said.

But the so-called “listening tour” drew fire from Republicans, who said too few dates were scheduled in states that rely heavily on coal electricity. 

The sessions are to be held at EPA regional offices, which oversee large swathes of the country. 

Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGiffords-backed gun control group endorses Toomey, Kirk Republicans say party can’t afford to cut ties to Trump McConnell calls for ObamaCare money to be used for Zika MORE (Ky.) and Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoFidelity denies lobbying for student loan tax break Week ahead: Clinton, Dems to tout green agenda at convention Company announces closure of Ohio coal plants MORE (W.Va.), called upon the EPA to add more dates in coal country.