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INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence is urging U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and the other members of Indiana's congressional delegation, to use their "power of the purse" to deny funding for implementation of stricter power plant pollution standards.

In his letter to the lawmakers released Thursday, the Republican governor warns that "higher electricity rates, lost jobs and lost business growth" are sure to follow if the state is forced by the federal government to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent over the next 16 years.

"In Indiana, we recognize that we need all forms of energy to power our economy, and, at the same time, we know that coal is a crucial Hoosier energy resource that should continue to be promoted," Pence said. "Hoosiers know that coal means jobs and coal means low-cost energy."

Pence claims in his letter that the state's coal industry employs 28,000 Hoosiers. However, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the National Mining Association both put the number of Hoosier coal miners at less than 4,000.

A Pence spokeswoman did not return a telephone message requesting the source of Pence's coal jobs data.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency insists its Clean Power Plan, announced in June and aimed at improving public health and the environment by reducing pollution from the largest emitters, sets reasonable standards states can meet with minimal extra cost.

"We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment -- our action will sharpen America's competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House is expected to deny EPA the funding necessary to implement its Clean Power Plan.

However, that decision likely will be reversed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, setting up a potential showdown between the two chambers ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the new federal budget year.


Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.