House panel approves climate rule resolutions

A House committee on Tuesday approved two resolutions to overturn the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants. 

The Congressional Review Act resolutions, sponsored by Rep. Ed WhitfieldEd WhitfieldOvernight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science Lobby firm hires Republican who resigned after ethics investigation Kentucky Republican to resign from House MORE (R-Ky.), are meant to block the Clean Power Plan rule limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants and a similar rule for new plants. 

“The [CRA] can be invoked to prevent a rule that exceeds an agency’s statutory authority or prevent a rule that is likely to be unworkable or that would do more harm than good,” Whitfield said during an Energy and Commerce subcommittee mark-up on the legislation.  

“In the case of EPA’s carbon dioxide regulations, the two resolutions of disapproval would prevent all of these things.”

Republicans and coal-state Democrats have long opposed the Clean Power Plan, which looks to cut power sector emissions by 32 percent by 2030. During the mark-up on Tuesday, Republicans repeated many of their long-held objections to the rule, warning that it could raise electricity rates and make the power grid less reliable. 

They said President Obama went too far in enacting the power plant rules, equating them to a failed push to get cap-and-trade legislation through Congress during the president’s first term. 

“We would not be doing this today if it weren’t for the administration showing it is unwilling to work with us on this important issue,” Whitfield said. 

Democrats, though, lambasted the effort, repeating warnings from scientists about the impact of carbon emissions on climate change and calling on Republicans to craft their own plan addressing the issue rather than undoing Obama's rule. 

“At a time when doctors are warning us to do much, much, more to protect or children from climate change, we are here trying to undo the work of the very agency that is most responsible for protecting our air, our water from harmful pollutants,” Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said. 

Whitfield introduced his resolutions after the Obama administration finalized the climate rules last month. Several senators have done the same, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pledged to bring the bills to the floor for a vote soon. 

If they reach his desk, Obama is certain to veto any resolutions against his climate regulations, something Whitfield himself has acknowledged as likely.

But Republicans said Tuesday that the CRA resolutions are important, nonetheless. 

“It’s still a useful exercise because it shows the will, as expressed by the majority … that the American people are not happy with President Obama’s climate change policy,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said.