Act Could Stop Certain EPA Rules

Several contentious EPA regulations could be targeted.

Published on: Dec 3, 2010

GOP lawmakers say they want to use the seldom used Congressional Review Act to upend a host of Environmental Protection Agency rules. The legislative tool essentially allows Congress to veto recently completed agency regulations. The law lets sponsors skip Senate filibusters, meaning Republicans would not have to negotiate with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for a floor vote or secure the tricky 60 votes typically needed to do anything in the Senate.

A spate of contentious EPA rules that are soon to be finalized could be prime targets, including the national air quality standard for ozone, toxic emission limits for industrial boilers and a pending decision about whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste. Representative Fred Upton, R-Mich., the likely incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, says they're not going to let EPA regulate what they've been unable to legislate.

The Congressional Review Act does come with certain complications. The plan includes direct attacks against the administration's policies, would face White House opposition and difficulty getting the two-thirds vote needed in both chambers to overcome a veto. Also it might look bad politically to be seen as simply undoing environmental regulations with no replacement or direction.