EPA published its rule on the New Source Performance Standards for power plants — pushing for the facilities to be built with carbon capture technology — last week in the Federal Register. It came out nearly four months after EPA chief Gina McCarthy announced it would be a core element of President Obama's second-term climate change agenda.
Now, as a piece in the GOP's fight against what they call Obama's "war on coal," McConnell will seek to stop the regulations through the Review Act — a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to block regulations from the executive branch.
McConnell and the 40 Republican co-sponsors intend to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this rule.
They believe the EPA regulation in question clearly meets the definition for congressional review under this statute and McConnell is sending a letter the Comptroller General outlining their position.
Normally a rule must be finalized for a congressional review to be sought.
In McConnell's letter to the comptroller general, he say the the EPA's rule limiting greenhouse gases (GHG) from power plants falls under an unusual provision.
EPA issued the proposed GHG rule under a very unusual provision of the Clean Air Act that gives immediate legal effect to the notice of proposed rulemaking.
Despite being a proposed rule, McConnell believes that its publication in the Federal Register has immediate legal impacts on power plants planning to be built. He believes the proposed GHG rule immediately changes the legal landscape for anyone seeking to develop a fossil fuel power plant. He believes that any company that commences construction on a new power plant after publication of the proposed GHG rule will have to comply with GHG limits that did not apply before that time.
Using the congressional review, a senator can force a vote to block a rule within 60 days of it being published in the Federal Register. (The Hill, 1/16/2014)