Week ahead: Lawmakers move to block EPA rules

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are taking direct aim at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding votes to overturn some of the most controversial regulations from the Obama administration.

The Senate Tuesday is scheduled to begin floor debate on a bill to overturn the Waters of the United States rule, which would redefine the EPA's authority over minor waterways under the Clean Water Act.

The bill from Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial GOP senators defend Sondland, Vindman ousters: They weren't 'loyal' MORE (R-Wyo.) would additionally give a series of specific instructions for how the EPA should rewrite the rule in a way that covers less water and land.

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Congressional Republicans and business and agriculture groups have assailed the water rule, arguing it gives the federal government far too much power. A federal court has blocked the regulations from taking effect while it works through litigation.

The Senate could also take up a more straightforward resolution from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that would overturn the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will start the process of overturning the EPA's climate change regulation for power plants, also using CRA procedure.

On Tuesday, the panel's subcommittee on energy and power will consider legislation sponsored by chairman Rep. Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldBottom Line Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? MORE (R-Ky.) that would block implementation of two separate EPA rules to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from existing and newly built power plants.

Success is unlikely, as President Obama is nearly certain to veto legislation overturning either one of the EPA regulations.

The House Oversight Committee will work on Wednesday on another controversial Obama administration rule, one that affects coal mining.

The panel's subcommittee for the Interior Department, chaired by Rep. Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Liz Cheney decides against Senate bid in Wyoming Liz Cheney leads GOP field by 20 points in potential Wyoming Senate race: poll MORE (R-Wyo.), will hold a hearing on the stream protection rule, which was proposed earlier this year to better protect streams from coal mining, including the controversial mountaintop removal process.

Also on Wednesday, a subpanel of the House Natural Resources Committee will begin reviewing a pair of bills put forward in response to the major mine wastewater spill in Colorado that was caused by the EPA.

One bill would limit the liability of "Good Samaritan" companies that decide to voluntarily clean up abandoned mines, while the other would create a public-private foundation responsible for finding the best ways to clean up mines.

On Thursday, members of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy will be in town and will meet with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and other members.

Off Capitol Hill, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will speak at a Christian Science Monitor event about the final weeks before negotiators meet in Paris for work on an international climate deal.

 

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