Washington Week Ahead: Obama unveils clean power plan

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, August 2, 2015-The Obama administration plans to release its final “Clean Power Plan” rule on Monday, which imposes the first ever limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants - a cornerstone of the president's agenda to combat climate change and accelerate the development of  “clean energy.”

The plan, which would require sweeping changes to the country's electricity industry, demands that power plants cut their carbon dioxide output by 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Congressional Republicans have criticized the plan - first proposed in 2014 -as an “unlawful power grab” that would have disastrous consequences, and are gearing up for legislative efforts to fight the rule as various industry groups prepare to file lawsuits against the EPA, which will be charged with implementing the rule. But Democrats insist the EPA plan to expand the government's power under the Clean Air Act is essential to combat the impacts already being felt from global warming.

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The EPA regulation is aimed primarily at coal-fired electricity generation, which is the source for about 40 percent of the electricity used by Americans and provides hundreds of jobs in rural areas. Butnatural gas is the second largest source of electric power in the United States after coal, as well as the largest cost in manufacturing commercial fertilizer used to grow crops, notes USDA's Economic Research Service.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate is in session this week before heading home for the month-long August recess, while House members are already back in their districts for the break.

The upper chamber is unlikely to make progress on country-of-origin labeling (COOL) legislation until September. The House last month voted overwhelmingly to repeal the meat labeling law, but Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts has run into strong, bipartisan resistance to the idea of full repeal.

Other agricultural issues still unfinished in the Senate include reauthorization of school nutrition standards and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Later this week, Fox News and Facebook will host the first 2016 Republican presidential primary debate. The televised, two-hour debate scheduled for Thursday at the Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena,will feature the 10 top candidates in the polls, but Fox has yet to finalize all of the finalists.

Also, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the start of the 16th annual Farmers' Market Week, which began Sunday and will run through August 8.

Other events this week include:

Monday, August 3

The International Sweetener Symposium continues at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in New Mexico. The symposium ends Aug. 5.

The National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit begins today in Seattle, Washington, and continues until Aug. 6.

4 p.m. USDA Crop Progress report

Tuesday, August 4

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will visit Arcadia Farm in Alexandria, Va.

The American Society of Horticultural Science Conference begins today in New Orleans and ends Aug. 7.

Wednesday, August 5

3 p.m. USDA report on Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data

Thursday, August 6

10 a.m. Senate Judiciary Committee holds a business meeting to consider S. 1814, a bill to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities.” Dirksen 226

Fox News and Facebook host the first televised GOP presidential debate in Ohio.

Friday, August 7

USTR will hold a public hearing to gather information on South Africa's eligibility for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) preference program.

 
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