Meet the Republican Senator Who Wants to Fight Global Warming

Facing a tough re-election bid, GOP lawmaker stakes out a moderate position on power plants.

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This story originally appeared in the Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) came out in favor of the Obama administration’s effort to cut carbon pollution by power plants on Sunday, bucking Senate leadership that has worked to derail the emissions plan.

The Obama administration announced final regulations on emissions from both new and existing power plants in August. Dubbed the Clean Power Plan, the rules are part of the administration’s larger push to curb emissions that cause climate change. The Clean Power Plan has faced opposition from many conservative politicians.

In supporting the rules, Ayotte cited the work her state has already done to reduce emissions.

“After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment,” she said in a statement on Sunday. “New Hampshire is already well on its way to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan through positive steps it has already taken. I will carefully monitor implementation of the plan to make sure there is sufficient flexibility for New Hampshire to meet its goals and that the plan does not have an adverse impact on Granite State energy costs.”

Ayotte noted that her state is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a partnership of Northeastern states to reduce their emissions, and “is on track to meet its goals.” She also pointed out that New Hampshire-based businesses such as beer maker Smuttynose and apparel company Timberland support the power plant plan.

While Ayotte has received a mediocre rating from environmentalists since entering the Senate in 2011, she has taken a moderate stance on climate change. She was one of just five Republican senators to endorse an amendment earlier this year stating that climate change is real and “human activity significantly contributes” to it.

Ayotte is up for re-election in 2016 and expects to face a tough challenge. New Hampshire’s popular Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, announced earlier this month that she intends to run against the incumbent senator.

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