The PJ Tatler

Republican Senators Gear Up to Fight Obama's EPA

Sen. Rand Paul is looking at using the Congressional Review Act to get Congress to review (link goes behind a pay wall) how the EPA is implementing the cross-state pollution rule.

Sen. Rand Paul appears ready to bring to the Senate floor his plan to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn a contentious EPA rule for power plants.

“I don’t know absolutely but it should be next week,” the Kentucky Republican told POLITICO.

Paul weeks ago said he had already collected more than the 30 signatures from senators required to fast-track his measure with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) to disapprove of EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. But he still hasn’t said whether any Democrats were among those who provided signatures.

Regardless, Paul believes he will get some Democratic support on the floor. “I think we will,” he said.

Under the Congressional Review Act, sponsors are guaranteed a floor vote — meaning they can avoid negotiating with Majority Leader Harry Reid. And filibusters aren’t allowed, so only 51 votes would be required to clear the Senate. The CRA can be used for 60 days after federal rules are sent to Congress.

By using the CRA, Senate Republicans hope to force moderate Democrats to take tough votes on controversial air rules. It also gives the GOP a talking point to counter President Barack Obama’s and Democratic job measures.

Sen. James Inhofe is also going after the EPA, from a different angle (another pay wall).

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is threatening to request an EPA Inspector General (IG) investigation into EPA’s lack of peer review for data underpinning its pending utility air toxics rule and questioning whether EPA’s Dec. 16 legal deadline for the rule gives the agency adequate time to address its advisers’ recommendations for revising the data.

Inhofe, ranking member on the Environment & Public Works Committee, sent an Oct. 31 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson saying the agency’s lack of peer review for its utility air toxics rule undermines it. In particular, the senator attacks a risk assessment EPA conducted to inform its finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” to issue a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard for power plants.

The senator’s concerns echo to some extent criticisms by the Utility Air Regulatory Group and others who warn that EPA’s proposed version of the utility MACT released March 16 contains major data flaws. Elements within industry want EPA to pull the rule and delay its issuance until late 2012, a suggestion that some House Republicans appeared to back at a Nov. 1 House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing on the upcoming air toxics rule.

Inhofe in his letter does not explicitly ask EPA to delay the rule, though he does ask for a reply to several questions over the data by Nov. 15 — one month before the deadline for issuing the rule. He says the agency is “largely non-responsive to requests for information” and warns he will take “all means necessary” to get answers to his utility MACT questions, including requesting an EPA IG investigation into the matter if EPA does not respond.

The Obama EPA fast-tracked these rules, both of which threaten jobs and higher energy prices, for very questionable environmental benefits.