Under the Dome

TV ads target Sen. Burr over EPA’s carbon emissions plan

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr
Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

UPDATED A pair of TV ads aimed at U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, for his opposition to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants was launched on Monday by a national group.

The League of Conservation Voters says it is spending about $100,000 on two TV ads airing on satellite across North Carolina. The ads urge viewers to tell Burr to vote against any bill that would stop or delay the EPA plan.

“Sen. Richard Burr voted repeatedly to let polluters dump unlimited carbon pollution into our air,” one spot says. “Leading to more asthma attacks in children.”

Last year Burr said the EPA plan was comprised of “aggressive regulations” that would cost jobs and disposable household income without reducing carbon emissions. Asked for a comment on Monday, Becca Glover Watkins, the senator’s communications director, responded with a statement:

“This ad is centered on claims about an EPA rule that has not even been finalized yet. Senator Burr listens to North Carolinians to inform him on the issues for North Carolina. Our state is a leader in transforming its energy sector with the passage of the Clean Smokestacks Act in the 1990s and has already reduced CO2 emissions by nearly 20 percent. One-size fits all federal regulations from Washington will only hurt North Carolinians, substantially raising the cost of heating and lighting their homes. The Clean Power Plan proposes regulations that are outside the scope of the Clean Air Act, directly regulating consumers for the first time. This will not only be intrusive and costly, but will make it more difficult for North Carolina to continue to lead on this issue.”

An affiliated group called Climate Action N.C. will hold a rally Thursday in Raleigh to call on Burr, Gov. Pat McCrory and state legislators to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

It’s an issue the General Assembly is wrestling with now. The EPA rules, expected in August, will require states to develop plans to reach goals to reduce carbon emissions or else the federal agency will write them for them.

A bill in the North Carolina House would have established a stakeholder group to write the state plan. But a Senate committee rewrote that bill last week to stop the state’s environmental agency from preparing any plan until legal challenges are resolved.

The McCrory administration, which opposes the EPA plan, says North Carolina needs to prepare a limited plan to prevent the federal government from dictating one to the state.

The full Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

The League of Conservation Voters disputes opponents’ argument that the EPA plan will increase utility costs. It and other environmental groups say could reduce costs by an average of $10 a month on home electricity bills.

Burr is seeking re-election next year. So far, no Democratic opponent has emerged.