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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 2nd, 2014
05:53 PM ET

EPA official defends new carbon plan ... from Democrats

(CNN) – President Barack Obama is using his executive authority to take his strongest action yet against climate change – proposing new EPA regulations.

An Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Monday would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30%.

Republicans have come out against the proposal, as have Democrats.

Energy committee chair Sen. Mary Landrieu, an endangered Democrat up for re-election this year, said in a statement Congress, not the EPA, should set emission standards.

To critics, it appears that Obama is using his executive authority, because the administration cannot get the proposal through either the Republican-led House, or the Democratic-led Senate.

"We're doing this because Congress did pass the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Air Act is perfectly appropriate and in fact its our responsibility at EPA to manage dangerous pollution," said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

"We regulate every other type of pollutant from these power plants, including all the toxins: mercury, arsenic. But the one we don't is carbon, and it is time to do that now that we know how dangerous a changing climate can be, and how costly inaction can be," said McCarthy.

Politicians in coal producing states are very wary of the new proposal. Democratic Kentucky Senate candidat Alison Lunder-Grimes calls it "the President's war on coal."

"I will fight to make sure that coal has a long-term place in our national energy policy, that we actually have the funding to implement clean coal technology, and we restore coal to its rightful place as a prime American export," Lunder-Grimes told a crowd of supporters.

McCarthy said the proposal "actually generates investments in coal."

"It allows states to chose to make them more efficient, and it actually projects that coal is going to remain a significant source of energy generation, even in 2030," says McCarthy.

For more of our interview with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, including her comments on the Key Stone XL pipeline, check out the video above.

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