Paul Ryan: 'Climate change occurs no matter what'

Rep. Paul Ryan said the Obama administrations efforts to address climate change won't solve the problem but will hurt the US economy. He said new EPA rules are a classic example of executive branch overreach.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan speaks to reporters in Washington Wednesday.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin questioned the legality of the Obama administration’s proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants Wednesday, saying they are “outside of the confines of the law.”

“Climate change occurs no matter what,” Representative Ryan said at a Wednesday breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington. “The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it. And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can't.”

In June, President Obama laid out Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that would curb coal plants’ greenhouse emissions 30 percent by 2030. The regulations are a part of Mr. Obama’s broader Climate Action Plan, which aims to stem the causes and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The EPA is holding hearings across the country this week to get comment on the proposed rules. Environmental groups have praised the regulations or pushed for even more, while the energy industry accuses the Obama administration of overreach.

In Washington, the proposed regulations are taking a beating from Republicans like Ryan.

Ryan said he supports House Speaker John Boehner’s plans to sue the president for transgressing the boundaries of executive authority in a different instance as well – the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“The president is issuing executive orders and regulations that exceed the parameters of the statutes that gave him the authority in the first place,” Ryan said at Wednesday’s breakfast.

Ryan added that regulations and taxes meant to deal with climate change “won’t even solve the purported problem – all they end up doing is making the US economy less competitive.”

Ryan is currently chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. Though he was coy about presidential ambitions during Wednesday’s Monitor breakfast, as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate in 2012 he is widely regarded as a possible contender in 2016.

During a July speech in West Virginia, Ryan slammed Obama and congressional Democrats for their “war on coal” and their lack of support for energy jobs, according to The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette.

Ryan was in the state campaigning alongside Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), who is running against Democrat Natalie Tennant to replace retiring Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D).

Ryan blasted the proposed EPA regulations in particular.

“The design is to put coal out of business,” Ryan said at Representative Capito’s event, The Gazette reports. “Coal is the secret sauce to giving us abundant, affordable energy.”

“I don’t see a solution here,” Ryan said of the power plant regulations at Wednesday’s breakfast. “I see an excuse to grow government, raise taxes, and slow down economic growth.”

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