Republicans target Obama rules on methane, coal

AP News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2017 2:16 PM
Republicans target Obama rules on methane, coal

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders said Wednesday their top regulatory targets will be President Barack Obama's rules to reduce methane emissions and to lessen the environmental impact of coal mining on the nation's streams.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he expects swift action on the two environmental rules, arguing that they limit the nation's energy production. He said Congress will seek to invalidate the rules starting at month's end.

McCarthy said the process won't be completed quickly, but likens the effort to "draining the bureaucratic swamp that undermines the will of the people."

Obama has pushed for rules to protect air and water as part of his focus on curbing global warming. He argues that the regulations enacted have benefited the economy more than they have cost. He has also said his administration's use of regulatory authority is also a reflection of the GOP's unwillingness to work with him on legislative solutions.

Republicans will also seek to repeal regulations implementing an education reform bill that some state officials have complained erodes local decision-making, McCarthy's office said.

Industry groups have already filed suit to block Obama's regulations designed to reduce methane emissions, and other major regulations are currently tied up in court.

But GOP leaders hope to bring about a more certain verdict through the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used process that requires a simple majority of both chambers to approve a joint resolution of disapproval and the president's signature to make a regulation invalid. The Congressional Research Service estimates that rules submitted on or after June 13 are subject to disapproval by Congress.

The resolutions can receive expedited consideration in the Senate on Jan. 30. Various resolutions will be introduced that day, and the House will begin considering some that week, McCarthy's office said.

Lawmakers have successfully used the act only one other time to quash a new regulation. Generally, they cannot get the two-thirds majority necessary to overcome a presidential veto, but under a President Donald Trump, they'll have a limited window to test his campaign promises to repeal various Obama administration regulations.

Before the House goes after specific agency rules, McCarthy says it will tackle the regulatory process itself to give Congress more control. He said that, "unlike the bureaucracy, we are accountable to the people."

Business groups are lining up to support the effort with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying the work done in the House over the next several weeks "is a step in the right direction toward bringing greater accountability, transparency, and integrity to federal rulemakings."