Rand Paul Tries to Stop EPA’s Ozone Cap and Trade

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The Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced S.J. Res 27 on September 8th, a resolution that would force EPA to scrap next January’s EPA implementation of cap and trade under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) entirely. Then on September 12th, Republican House member Stephen Fincher of Tennessee introduced H.R. 2891 in the House, that would delay implementation by a decade.

Can Republicans prevent the EPA implementation of cap and trade to cut ozone pollution?

CSAPR outlaws ozone, nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) indirectly, by making it illegal for it to drift from dirty power plants across state lines into adjoining states. Since air moves across all state lines, the CSAPR rule is an effective curb on coal plant pollution anywhere in the US.

The two states of Kentucky and Tennessee, where these two Republican congressmen hail from, are as dirty as it gets, being over 90% coal-powered. They are two of the 27 states with emission levels that threaten clean air in neighboring downwind states.

This affects the ability of downwind states to attain and maintain compliance with the fine particulate matter national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) set in 1997 and 2006.

The Obama administration recently raised the ire of environmentalists by not further tightening the current ozone NAAQ standards another 5 parts per billion. The 2006 levels are 75 ppb. But considering the amount of new EPA legislation he is asking Republicans to swallow – this is a cap and trade program, after all – that small concession may have been wise: lose the battle but win the war.

It is almost as if the blowup over the ozone rule was a smokescreen to give Republicans cover for their defeat over the CSAPR cap and trade. They could make approving noises over a few parts per billion of dirty air preserved, and enviros could get outraged, and nobody need mention the elephant in the room. Cap and trade.

By current law, in January of 2012, the EPA will begin to implement the new CSAPR cap and trade program. The EPA has for decades quietly administered a successful cap and trade program that has very effectively reduced the pollutants that caused acid rain in the ’80s. This should be no different.

So, can Republicans actually stop the EPA from implementing the new ozone reduction rule with cap and trade? In some rare good news for most of us, not a chance – at least for now.

Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions actually face a very high hurdle to becoming law. The president can (and this one would) simply veto the resolution. To override that veto would take 67 votes in the Senate, and there are fewer than 5 pro “dirty air” Democrats, and only 47 Republicans, in the Senate.

Susan Kraemer
(syndicate this article here)





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