In an effort to derail the EPA Cross-State Air Pollution rule, Senator Rand Paul (R – KY) has turned to an obscure procedural move to expedite a vote to block the rule altogether. On September 8, Paul introduced S.J. Resolution 27, which deconstructs the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule entirely.
The Cross-State Air Pollution rule, curbs sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution from power plants and prevents neighboring states from damaging the air quality in the “tailpipe” states. It is slated to go into effect in January 2012.
Senator Paul submitted his resolution to block the Cross-State rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA gives Congress to permission to review “major” agency rules and provides members the opportunity to block the measures through a streamlined process. Under the CRA, Paul can expedite review of the Cross-State rule and bypass committee review, by getting at least 30 senators to sign a petition to bring the resolution directly to the Senate floor for an up or down vote. If brought to the floor, Paul only needs a majority of the Senate—51 total—to approve his resolution.
Since its enactment, usage of the CRA has been relatively obscure—only one rule has been successfully revoked under such a means. A similar measure to delay the Cross-State rule—the TRAIN Act—has already succeeded in the House, making the Senate an important safeguard in protecting national air quality.
The White House recently indicated that it would veto a similar measure in the U.S. House that sought to block the Cross-State rule.