Will Congress Disapprove of the EPA’s New GHG Rules?

Republican Representative Fred Upton, who has made headlines with his “flip-flopping” stance on climate change, has recently declared his intentions of leaving behind any moderates that might have supported him up to this point: According to Mother Jones, he aims to overturn the EPA’s rules governing Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse gases.

Photo by WukieGrl. Some rights reserved.

These EPA rules, which began to take effect this past Sunday, were the direct result of the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision, in which the Supreme Court concluded that GHGs fall within the definition of an “air pollutant,” and therefore should be regulated as such. Given the ruling, the EPA now, for the first time, has the authority to regulate GHG emissions under the existing “Prevention of Significant Deterioration” permitting program.

Upton, however, hopes to block the rules by invoking the Congressional Review Act (5 USC 801-808), a notoriously obscure law enacted in 1996. Under the Act, Congress may review – and subsequently overrule – a new regulation within 60 days of its publication in the Federal Register by passing a “joint resolution” expressing their disapproval. However, as Mother Jones points out, the Act has only been successfully used to overturn federal rules once, when Republicans blocked new ergonomics rules from OSHA under the Clinton administration in 2001.

While the outlook for Upton’s crusade isn’t too promising, he still has time to give it a shot – some of the more recent rules issued by the EPA, which establish the regulatory framework necessary for the GHG permitting, have only just been published in the federal register. You can review the documents (public submissions as well as official notices) associated with each action by searching by ID on http://www.regulations.gov:

  • Notice of Findings of Failure to Submit State Implementation Plan Changes for Seven States (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0107)
  • Final Greenhouse Gas Prevention of Significant Deterioration Federal Implementation Plan (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0107)
  • Interim Final Texas Greenhouse Gas Prevention of Significant Deterioration Error Correction, State Implementation Plan Partial Approval/Disapproval, and Federal Implementation Plan (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-1033)
  • Proposed Texas Greenhouse Gas Prevention of Significant Deterioration Error Correction, State Implementation Plan Partial Approval/Disapproval, and Federal Implementation Plan (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-1033)
  • Final State Implementation Plan Narrowing rule for Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permitting for Greenhouse Gases (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517)
  • Final Title V Permitting Programs Under the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule (ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0107)

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