Issue Date: November 21, 2011
Bid To Rebuff EPA Rule Fails
Senate Democrats have rejected a measure that sought to block an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at reducing air pollution from coal-fired power plant emissions that drift across state borders. The motion to void the EPA rule (S.J. Res. 27), offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), was defeated on Nov. 10 by a vote of 41-56 that fell largely along party lines.
The resolution would have nullified EPA’s recently finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The rule requires 27 states in the eastern part of the U.S. to curb emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which contribute to smog and other air quality problems in neighboring states (C&EN, Oct. 17, page 42).
“I think we can have a clean environment and jobs,” Paul said during the Senate floor debate. “But not if we let this Administration continue to pass job-killing regulations.” Paul, who represents a major coal-producing state, said the new antipollution rule could cost $100 billion over a decade.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, warned that the resolution was “just the tip of the iceberg of the Republican Party’s desire to repeal important health and safety regulations.”
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to keep EPA’s rule in place. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) noted that her state has no coal-fired power plants, but is downwind from other states that do. “The health effects from this cheap energy source are borne by the people of Maine,” she said. “It is unacceptable that these costs are simply transferred from one region to another, and that is why I have strongly supported reducing this pollution with cost-effective technologies.”
President Barack Obama had threatened to veto Paul’s measure. The White House Office of Management & Budget issued a statement that said the resolution “would cause substantial harm to public health and undermine our nation’s longstanding commitment to clean up pollution from power plants.”
According to EPA, the rule will produce $120 billion to $280 billion in annual health benefits and cost utilities approximately $2.4 billion a year.
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