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 MarkeyWHIP LIST: How many Dems will back Sessions? Confirm Inga Bernstein for the District of Massachusetts FCC takes aim at AT&T, Verizon over 'zero-rating' services 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 McConnellGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills Dems demand second hearing for Trump's Education nominee MORE (Ky.) and Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoSenators introduce dueling miners bills Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' Overnight Tech: Tech listens for clues at Sessions hearing | EU weighs expanding privacy rule | Senators blast Backpage execs MORE (W.Va.), called upon the EPA to add more dates in coal country.