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Republicans mobilize to block EPA regulation

Congressional Republicans are already considering measures to block a proposed EPA rule limiting power plant emissions.
The Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana.
The Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana.

Congressional Republicans may not be able to kill a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation, but they can starve the agency of the funding needed to enforce it. That's how two Congressional Republicans say they now intend to stop a proposed cap on power plant emissions from ever reaching fruition.

“We’re going to take a serious look at it,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., last week. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has also indicated that a bill outlining appropriations for the EPA might include language making it difficult to enforce the proposed regulation.

That regulation, which was first proposed at the beginning of this month, would require a nationwide 30% reduction in power plant emissions by the year 2030. That proposal, if implemented, could be the most ambitious executive action against climate change in American history. Republicans have already taken a firm stance against implementation; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, set the tone early on when he called the EPA's plan "nuts."

Blocking funding for the proposed rule isn't the Republicans' only plan of attack. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has introduced legislation that would impose additional requirements on the EPA before it could implement the rule. Those requirements include a promise from the Department of Labor that the rule will not cost jobs and a report from the Congressional Budget Office saying that it won't cause any reduction in GDP.

“Montanans rely on coal to provide good, high-paying jobs, deliver affordable electricity to our families and to fund our schools, libraries and parks. President Obama’s war on coal is a war on Montana’s economy, workers and families,” said Daines in a statement announcing the bill's introduction. “This common sense bill protects Montanans from job losses and increased energy prices that would result from the EPA’s job-killing regulations."