The hearing came in advance of the EPA's release of rules limiting carbon emissions on new coal-fired power plants. The rules are expected to be released Friday.
McKinley and other Republicans expressed serious concerns that the rules, and other EPA actions, will cost jobs and contribute to higher energy costs.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., asked McCarthy what authority the EPA has to act on greenhouse gas regulations, when Congress has failed to pass cap-and-trade bills and other carbon regulations.
"We are not doing anything that Congress has not said we have an authority to do," McCarthy said.
A 2007 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court authorized the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, passed in 1970.
Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., criticized McCarthy and President Obama for failing to appreciate the consequences of potential EPA rules on coal-producing states.
"Over 151 coal mines have been closed," Whitfield said. "What are the special plans in the president's action plan that help address the people who are losing their jobs because of these policies?"
McCarthy did not have information on any specific plans, but said, "We have to be sensitive to the economic actions of our policies."
McKinley sharply criticized Obama for his decision to no longer finance coal power plants abroad through the U.S. Import-Export Bank.
"One of the biggest moral responsibilities for the United States should be to help emerging nations out of poverty. The most abundant, affordable source of power is coal" McKinley said, saying that many African countries can generate only enough energy to power one 60-watt light bulb per person per day. "This president must not prevent people around the globe from attaining affordable energy."
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.