Energy & Environment

Senators dare Obama to veto climate rule bills


A bipartisan group of senators opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new climate rule for power plants said Tuesday they’ll push forward with resolutions to undo it despite a certain veto from President Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) led a group of members in introducing two Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions against new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions on new and existing power plants. On Tuesday, he called the rules an “arrogant, single-handed messianic goal to deal with worldwide climate.”

{mosads}The climate rules are deeply unpopular among most Republicans and coal-state Democrats, who have warned that they will drive up energy costs and hurt energy industry jobs. McConnell has said he will call up the CRA resolutions — which would undo the regulations by a majority vote in Congress — to give members a chance to stop the rules.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) introduced House versions of the resolutions on Monday. 

Obama, however, has promised to veto anything blocking the climate rule, something not lost on members pushing the resolutions. 

“Even if the president vetoes these resolutions, as we recognize the likelihood that he will, passing them will send a clear message to the world that the American people do not stand behind the president’s efforts to address climate change with economically catastrophic regulations,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said during a conversation with members on Tuesday.

The senators’ resolutions come after the Obama administration published the Clean Power Plan climate rules in the Federal Register last week. The move set off a string of lawsuits and the long-promised effort by lawmakers to block it legislatively.

“I pledge to register my displeasure through multiple channels,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said. “This legislation, I think, is the most public way to express not only my frustration, but the frustration and concern of my state regulators and my state utilities.”

But Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the move, even if it dies on Obama’s desk, will put senators on the record for or against the regulations.

“We’re going to have a vote, and the vote’s going to take place, and I think our leader is correct when he says that the president will veto this,” he said. But the resolution “forces accountability by people who are answerable to the public.”

Green groups defended the Clean Power Plan on Tuesday, with the Sierra Club calling the CRA resolutions a “futile political ploy by the coal industry and their allies in Congress to derail common sense standards to protect our most vulnerable communities against carbon pollution.”

Sara Chieffo, the League of Conservation Voters’s vice president of government affairs, added: “This is just another dirty attack on the Clean Power Plan by big polluters and their allies in Congress, and we are confident it will ultimately fail.”

McConnell’s office has said he’ll schedule votes on the resolutions soon.

“Our options to stop [the Clean Power Plan] are quite limited,” McConnell said. “We do have the possibility of a CRA. The weakness of that, obviously, is that even though we can pass it through here with a simple majority, [Obama is] likely to veto it. … We’re here today to stand up for our people.”

Tags Clean Power Plan Climate change Heidi Heitkamp Mitch McConnell Shelley Moore Capito
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