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When Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announced carbon dioxide emission standards for new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act last September, the opposition was already poised for reaction. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:
“The president’s decision today is an escalation of the war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is an escalation of his war on jobs and the Kentucky economy,” Mr. McConnell said. “I will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating E.P.A. rule.”
The proposed emissions rule was published Jan. 8 in the Federal Register. That began the required two-month public comment period before the rule can be finalized. Nebraska officials immediately asked a judge to nullify it. And McConnell moved swiftly, too. On Jan. 16, he filed a resolution in the House Senate to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act.

The act was designed to give Congress 60 days to repeal a rule after it is finalized. But McConnell wants a repeal before finalization. That's the first time this has been tried. He told colleagues on the House floor that he had sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, who runs the Government Accountability Office, asking if a repeal-in-advance is an appropriate use of the CRA.

John H. Cushman Jr. writes about the grounds for repeal at Inside Climate News:

One of the latest and most powerful objections to the rule raised in the past few months by Republican Congressional leaders has already caused substantial hand-wringing during the Obama administration's internal deliberations. The rule's opponents assert that the agency violated Energy Policy Act of 2005, or EPAct, when it based its claim that CCS [carbon capture and sequestration] is a viable technology largely on recent pilot projects that were financed partly with government subsidies.

"The Energy Policy Act of 2005 clearly prohibits EPA from considering certain federally funded projects when setting the standards," said Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who brought up the objection again at a hearing on Jan. 16. "And yet three such projects form the majority of EPA's discussion regarding new plants."

McCarthy has said the EPA is "comfortable" with the emissions standard it's proposing. "Our understanding of the reading of the EPAct is that we can't solely make a determination on the basis of EPAct-funded facilities," she said, adding that the rule wasn't determined on that basis alone.

You can read more analysis below the fold.

It's no surprise, of course, that opposition to the proposed emissions rule would spring forth. The rule has been in the works for a long time in large part because the EPA wanted to make it airtight enough to withstand the powerful interests who ignore climate impacts from coal's CO2 emissions. As Ryan Koronowski reports:

McConnell’s bill, technically a Joint Resolution of Disapproval, has 41 cosponsors who have together taken $3,236,069 from the coal industry, and $25,989,935 in total from the fossil fuel industry. 29 of them deny the reality of climate change.
Cushman is no doubt right in his assessment that McConnell's repeal effort is a long shot that President Obama would veto if it ever made it to his desk. But the attacks on the proposed final rule will no doubt flourish in other forms before a resolution comes about.

And if you think the fight over the rule for new power plants will be fierce, just wait until the proposed rule for reducing emissions at existing power plants is unveiled. Although there is no deadline, the administration has said the existing plant rule could be announced as early as June.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 01:16 PM PST.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos, Climate Hawks, Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, and Daily Kos.

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