OVERNIGHT REGULATION: GOP vs. EPA: Round 1

Here it is, your hump day edition of OVERNIGHT REGULATION, coming at you with the latest regulatory news and tomorrow’s must-watch storylines on the eve of a blockbuster Thursday here in the sweltering swamp.

Without further ado:

 

THE BIG STORY:

In the morning, House Republicans will get their first swing at the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to impose new limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

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The showdown before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the first in what is certain to be a series of hearings on the controversial regulation, comes a day after the rule was formally published: http://j.mp/1jzhnPA

The timing is not insignificant. Thursday marks the first day of a four-month public comment solicitation, a potentially pivotal period in which the EPA and its backers will seek to sell the plan to the country – and critics will attempt to tear it down.

The EPA’s opening statement (at least in terms of congressional involvement) comes from acting assistant administrator Janet McCabe, whose planned remarks surfaced Wednesday afternoon: http://j.mp/1r8xRTP

--Two key quotes from McCabe’s prepared testimony:

1) “We know that coal and natural gas play a significant role in a diverse national energy mix. This plan does not change that.”

The insistence that the climate rule won’t devastate fossil fuel industries comes as Republicans look to make the Obama administration’s “war on coal” a top issue in the midterms. Look for GOPers to push back on the EPA’s claim.

Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) offered some prebuttal in an op-ed penned for Fox News.

“The president’s power plant proposal aims to effectively end coal use in America,” he wrote.

2) “These are not mere words: this is a proposal, and we want and need input from the public.”

Translation: We are open to at least some measure of change in the draft rule. Industry groups already pressing for changes will be watching Thursday’s hearing for clues about how willing the agency is to negotiate the details of the proposal. Proponents of tough new restrictions, meanwhile, will be on the lookout for signs that the administration might water the rule down.

 

ALSO ON TAP FOR THURSDAY:

All three branches of government remain in full swing, the House and Senate tackle a full slate of hearings, the Supreme Court convenes a rare late-term Thursday session and agencies across the federal apparatus churn out regulations.

House Republicans are holding leadership elections following the primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Business groups had an ally in Cantor, and the outcome of the contests will have major implications for both Wall Street and Main Street. Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (currently majority whip) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) hope to succeed Cantor. Meanwhile Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), are vying to replace McCarthy if he prevails: http://j.mp/UMb3ip

The Supreme Court is expected to announce opinions in previously argued cases. The Court’s term is scheduled to end at month’s end, and there are more than a dozen outstanding decisions, including major cases involving presidential recess appointment powers, abortion clinic rules and the EPA’s regulatory authority, among others: http://j.mp/SUOVk3

The House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee are separately marking up legislation that would establish a six-month moratorium on the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s authority to make determinations: http://j.mp/1qtlYdr

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY:

The Obama administration plans to issue 159 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

-The Department of Education will consider new training opportunities for people with disabilities to teach them the skills and knowledge they need to get a good-paying job.

The agency on Thursday will issue a proposed priority to help state agencies improve the job training programs they offer to people with disabilities. According to the Education Department, studies show that people with disabilities suffer from higher unemployment rates than those without disabilities. In 2013, the national disabled unemployment rate was 12.9 percent.

This has been a growing problem since the recession, the agency said. 

"While education and training, labor market information, and relevant job skills are important for all workers, they are particularly important for individuals with disabilities so that they can access more competitive jobs with good wages and benefits," the agency wrote. http://j.mp/1ngtIJE

-The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will loosen the testing requirements for drinking water. Under a new rule, public water systems will be allowed to choose from an additional 21 methods for testing drinking water to make sure it is not contaminated and that it complies with the national primary drinking water regulations. http://j.mp/1lDyAqK

-The EPA will also ease the rules facing three chemicals that it believes do not present a great danger to people's health or the environment by adding them to a list of substances that are partially exempt from reporting requirements. http://j.mp/1ilqt7m

-The Interior Department will consider speeding up the process for a group of Native Americans to apply to be recognized by the federal government as an Indian tribe. The agency would have 180 days to make a decision under the proposed rule. http://j.mp/1nPCgdo

-The Interior Department will also consider changing the system it uses to value oil produced on Indian reservations. http://j.mp/1uD9yxr

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW:

SACKED! The Washington Redskins' logo was benched Wednesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which ruled it is deeply offensive to Native Americans, The Hill's Mario Trujillo reports. http://j.mp/1l2QN5E

GM WOES CONTINUE: Republicans and Democrats both grilled GM CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday at a congressional hearing examining her company's response to the massive recalls this year. "This system failed," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said. "People died, and it could have been prevented." http://j.mp/1uD5nBJ

WATCHING THE WATCHDOG: Republicans and Democrats feuded over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during Director Richard Cordray's semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. http://j.mp/1iHgWTb

NO SCRUB(S): Democrats fought unsuccessfully to stop the House Judiciary Committee from approving a bill intended to repeal unnecessary regulations throughout the federal government. The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome, also known as the SCRUB Act, heads next to the House floor.  http://j.mp/SUwo7l

IT’S OFFICIAL: The EPA published the Obama administration's signature climate rule in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register, kicking off a 120-day comment period. The EPA originally announced the rule, which would cut emissions at existing coal plants, two weeks ago. http://j.mp/1jzhnPA

YELLOWSTONE SNOWMOBILE WARS: The battle over whether snowmobiles should be allowed in Yellowstone National Park is heating up again as the U.S. Forest Service looks to draw up a map of which trails and roads are open to snowmobile traffic. http://j.mp/1vTjPIe

OIL: Russia says its gas supply chain to Europe has not been disrupted, despite an explosion at a critical pipeline in Ukraine. http://j.mp/1jzj8w3

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

730 million: The projected number of metric tons of carbon emissions that will be removed from the air under the EPA’s power plant rule.

100,000: The estimated number of asthma attacks that would be prevented in the first year after the regulation reaches its full force. 

15: The number of years between now and then, assuming the rule is enacted as envisioned.

120: The number of days the EPA is allowing for public comment on the rule.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“I’m ashamed of you. I don’t know how you get to sleep at night, what gets you to work in the morning, except the color green... You’re what’s wrong with this country.”- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to executives from electronic cigarette companies in a hearing about reports the firms are marketing the products to minors.

 

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and @timdevaney.