Greens wage letter-writing campaign with Senate vote imminent

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two resolutions that would scuttle the Obama administration’s carbon rules for power plants are on the Senate schedule and could see a vote as early as this week, the sponsors of the measures said yesterday evening.

The resolutions would kill U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants and the agency’s rule for reducing emissions from new or modified plants. Under the Congressional Review Act, they require a simple majority for passage in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced S.J. Res. 23 targeting the new power plant rule, while Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) sponsored S.J. Res. 24 to kill the Clean Power Plan.

“These regulations make it clearer than ever that the president and his administration have gone too far, and that Congress should act to stop this regulatory assault,” McConnell said in a joint statement with Capito yesterday evening. “Here’s what is lost in this administration’s crusade for ideological purity: the livelihoods of our coal miners and their families. Folks who haven’t done anything to deserve a ‘war’ being declared upon them.”

More than 100 green groups yesterday called on members of the Senate to reject the two resolutions, warning in a letter to each senator that eliminating the rules would undo health and economic benefits. The resolutions, introduced under the Congressional Review Act, would also prohibit EPA from issuing any similar curbs on carbon dioxide from power plants in the future.

“This means that Americans would continue to be exposed indefinitely to carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change,” the organizations wrote.

Opponents of the rules in both the House and Senate are hoping to use the resolutions to send a message to the international community that Congress is not on board with the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. Nations will meet in Paris starting Nov. 30 to hash out a new international climate accord.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is preparing to vote tomorrow on its versions of the resolutions; the committee is likely to send the measures to the House floor on party-line votes (E&E Daily, Nov. 16).

In their letter, the 116 environmental organizations called the resolutions an “extreme assault on public health, the clean energy economy and modernizing our energy sector.”

“The Clean Power Plan puts in place commonsense limits on power plant carbon pollution, developed with the input of thousands of stakeholders, and provides the flexibility states need to develop their own plans to meet pollution reduction targets,” they wrote. “Blocking these commonsense safeguards puts polluter profits before the health of our children.”

Among the signatories to the letter were 350.org, Earthjustice, Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Sierra Club yesterday also continued its individual campaign targeting senators on the power rules, launching print and radio ads calling for Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt (R) and Claire McCaskill (D) to oppose the resolutions.

The radio ads will air on local channels in the St. Louis market, while the print ad will run in the African-American newspaper St. Louis American. Both feature the Rev. Rodrick Burton of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church.

Blunt is a co-sponsor of both resolutions.