Republicans may have found an unconventional argument against tightening regulations on coal-fired power plants: think about the manatees.

The connection between manatees’ well-being and power plants was raised at a hearing last week.

It turns out, in Florida, the endangered manatee population enjoys the warm water that is discharged from the state’s Big Bend Power Station; in fact, a manatee viewing center has been created near the plant. But the power station may have to partially close over new regulations, which could mean no more warm water for the treasured sea cows.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, pressed the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service on the issue at last week’s hearing. Now, his committee plans to send letters to both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to committee spokesman Parish Braden.

The letters will say that if such a change negatively affects an endangered species — like the manatees — there should be further investigation, under the Endangered Species Act.

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