Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on 16th January that he and at least forty other Republican Senators would file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new coal and natural gas power plants. EPA finally published its second version of the proposed rule on 8th January.
Sen. McConnell also wrote a letter to the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office asking for a determination that his resolution of disapproval complies with the CRA. Final rules, not proposed rules, are subject to Senate and House votes under the CRA. McConnell argues in the letter that the proposed rule falls into a special category because any power plants that begin construction after the proposed rule was published on 8th January will be subject to the rule when it becomes final. Thus, the proposed rule is in a sense already final. If the comptroller general agrees with McConnell, then under the provisions of the CRA McConnell and his Republican colleagues can force a floor vote and the resolution will pass if it gets a simple majority.
There is clear majority support in the House of Representatives to block the EPA rule. This week, the Energy and Power (sic) Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up a bill that would block the proposed rule for new power plants and send the EPA back to the drawing board. H. R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, passed the subcommittee by a vote of 18 to 11. The bill’s chief sponsor is the subcommittee’s chairman, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).