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Senate Mounts Attack On Obama’s Landmark Climate Rules

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/11/2015 Laura Barron-Lopez
ATHENA IMAGE © Bill Clark via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday to block key pillars of President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) exercised a rarely used legislative tool to set up a vote on a resolution of disapproval to strike down the Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon pollution from power plants. 

One resolution seeks to block the administration’s landmark climate change regulations that require existing power plants to cut carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution only needs a simple majority threshold to pass the Senate, which will easily be reached with Republican votes. 

McConnell could also tee up a second resolution to bar another EPA regulation on new source performance standards, which set similar carbon emissions restrictions for new power plants. 

“ The Obama administration is trying to impose deeply regressive energy regulations that would eliminate good-paying jobs, punish the poor, and make it even harder for Kentuckians to put food on the table,” McConnell said ahead of the vote.

The president is sure to veto the resolutions. Two-thirds of both congressional chambers would need to support them in order to override Obama, an effort that will likely fall flat given past voting records.

McConnell first filed the resolutions under the Review Act, which allows Congress to block regulations from the executive branch, a month ago. Republicans are vehemently opposed to the president's carbon pollution regulations, arguing they would jack up electricity costs and hurt coal-reliant states. Roughly 24 states have sued the administration over the finalized rules on emissions from existing power plants.

The regulation on existing power plants is the main component of Obama’s legacy on climate change. Heading into climate talks in Paris later this month, the regulation is the administration’s strongest example of the United States' willingness to lead on global warming.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) defended the regulation ahead of Tuesday’s vote, repeating statistics the administration has touted since releasing it. The amount of harmful emissions that will be cut under the rule should prevent 3,600 premature deaths and 1,700 heart attacks, Reid said. 

“It is the right thing to do and the president will protect this because it’s the right thing for the health of America,” Reid said.

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