Update, November 11, 2011: The joint resolution, S.J. Res. 27, to roll back the EPA's cross-state air pollution rule was rejected by the Senate by 56-41 on November 10.
On Thursday, November 10, the Senate will vote on S.J. Res. 27, a resolution disapproving a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to cross-state air pollution under the Clean Air Act. This joint resolution was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on September 8, 2011, in order to block an EPA ruling that had no legislative branch origination. If 51 votes can be mustered the resolution will be sent to the House for approval.
The EPA’s rule was designed to limit sulfur dioxide emissions and nitrogen oxides in 28 states. It is meant to replace a regulation put forward by the Bush administration that was ruled unlawful by a federal appeals court in 2008. Power plants would be given six months to comply, an impossibility in some cases because the necessary equipment may take up to three years to arrive.
According to the EPA’s own conservative cost estimates, compliance costs for the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) would run close to $2.4 billion per year. However, the cost of investing in scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment could run as high as $120 billion by 2015. Coal-fired power plants currently providing electricity to tens of millions of American households are at risk of being forced to close by this EPA rule. Nonetheless, a White House adviser stated that the President “believes that American families should never be asked to choose between the health of their children and the health of the economy.”
Out in left field is the EPA claim that 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths will be prevented along with 400,000 cases of asthma and 19,000 hospital visits. How can something like this be honestly calculated?
In an effort to discredit the joint resolution, some have called Sen. Paul’s move a long-shot procedural tactic. However, using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) -- used successfully only once since its passage in 1996 -- as a tool to check overregulation by an unaccountable agency that’s out of control and that will cost consumers more and more money is quite laudable and legal. If the American people -- the taxpayers -- see fit to pressure their congressmen to pass more legislation to limit various emissions, so be it. But when overly-stringent regulations continue to come from a regulation-happy federal agency that operates with very little oversight, the process needs to be reined in.
Two Democrats say they will introduce legislation to try and slow down the EPA’s mandates for the cross-state air pollution. A different bipartisan bill, S. 1815, will attempt to regulate for cleaner air “at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers,” says Sen. Lamar Alexander. Both approaches just prolong the inevitable, and change very little.
American families and businesses cannot afford higher electricity rates forcing cutbacks that would affect their standard of living and the viability of businesses in so severe an economy. With several more rulings to come from the EPA regarding coal ash disposal and new air quality standards for particulate matter, rolling back this one regulation would go a long way toward controlling an onerous and rogue agency, setting a precedent that Congress can and will deal with bureaucratic tyranny.
Contact your elected Senators and Representative, telling them you want the EPA regulated and controlled by Congress, and that S.J. Res. 27 is a great place to start.