WASHINGTON (ABC/KATV) - It's being called one of the most aggressive actions ever by the federal government on climate change. The Obama administration has proposed a regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030. Those power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the country, releasing about 30 percent of the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency said that by 2030, the average American electric bill will be 8 percent cheaper. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed the plan would shrink the economy by an estimated $51 billion, cost 224,000 jobs each year, and add to consumer energy costs.The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation said it was disappointed by the announcement. According to Duane Highley, president and CEO of AECC, the reduction in the use of coal to generate electricity could also reduce the reliability of electric service. "This past winter's experience highlighted many reasons why power generation should not put all of our reliability eggs in the natural gas basket," Highley said, citing gas plant failures, pipeline freezes, and wholesale natural gas supply disruptions. U.S. Senators from Arkansas are also weighing in on the proposal. Republican Sen. John Boozman, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, "President Obama's proposed regulations for power plants will hurt Arkansas families, farmers and businesses, without providing any significant benefits." He continued, "The President's policy will drive industry overseas, hurting American workers and creating foreign factories that emit far more than we would."Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor said in a statement released Monday, "I have serious concerns that the EPA's proposal will undermine the affordable and reliable electricity Arkansans currently enjoy. I will continue to speak with Arkansas stakeholders to gauge how this rule could impact our state's economy and jobs," Pryor said. Boozman and Pryor were both a part of a bipartisan group of senators asking the EPA for a 120 day public comment period for the proposed rules.
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