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Senator McConnell: Federal ID Requirements Disenfranchise People Who Dislike EPA’s Carbon Pollution Rule

by David Arkush

Next week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold field hearings in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., on the carbon pollution rule it proposed on June 2. The EPA calls it the Clean Power Plan. We care a lot about the rule, and you’ll be hearing more about it in the coming year. Also, Public Citizen members, activists and staff will be attending and speaking at the hearings. You’ll hear more about that next week.

Right now, I just wanted to note something odd in this story from The Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky.) is complaining about the ID requirements to get into the federal buildings in which the hearings will take place. The ID requirements mean that some of his constituents won’t be able to attend!

Ahem. Voter ID laws, anyone? It’s really rich to hear a Republican leader complaining about ID requirements in a disenfranchisement-y way. Also, the requirements are from the 2005 REAL ID Act, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president.

The new ID law went into effect on July 21, 2014. Apparently, eight states and one unincorporated federal territory (I’m looking at you, American Samoa!) have failed to update their drivers’ licenses to meet minimum security standards in the nine years since the REAL ID Act passed. Three other states updated their licenses but haven’t required everyone to get a new one.

Someone should ask Sen. McConnell how many ordinary Kentucky citizens contacted him to complain that their driver’s licenses won’t be accepted at field hearings in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C.

Maybe he heard it from someone in the coal industry?

David Arkush is managing director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.