Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced this week that he will bring his resolution to block the Utility MACT Rule to the Senate floor for a vote on Wednesday, 20th June. Senate Joint Resolution 37 is a privileged motion under the Congressional Review Act, which means that it requires only a majority of those voting to pass.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Utility MACT (for Maximum Achievable Control Technology) Rule requires steep reductions in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. A new study by my CEI colleagues Marlo Lewis, William Yeatman, and David Bier shows that the rule will have miniscule health benefits and enormous costs. Electric utilities will be forced to close many coal-fired plants, which will raise electric rates for consumers and manufacturers and threaten electric reliability in major areas of the country. Op-eds by Lewis and Bier summarize key findings of their study.
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) have announced that they plan to introduce a bill to extend the time utilities have to comply with the rule from four years to six years. Their bill has no chance of passing because sixty votes would be required. It is meant to provide cover for several Democrats engaged in tight re-election races. They can vote against the resolution of disapproval (which could pass with fifty votes), but then explain to voters that they support another measure to make the rule less onerous.
Alexander and Pryor’s mischief means that Inhofe’s resolution is likely to be defeated. Note that Alexander, a Republican, is helping Democrats get re-elected.