Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has failed in his bid to overturn key air quality standards that were finalized this summer.
Environmental groups were on edge today as they awaited a vote in the Senate on a Congressional Review Act that would have killed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The CSAR requires 27 states to reduce emissions that are contributing to ozone and particulate pollution in other states.
Paul introduced the Congressional Review Act, a tool created in the 1990′s that allows Congress to overturn regulations, in an effort to strip the EPA’s ability to regulate toxic cross-state emissions from power plants.
John Walke, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote about the consequences of Paul’s CRA:
If a Congressional Review Act vote abolished CSAPR and blocked EPA from reissuing a similar rule, this would make it extremely unlikely that EPA could even reissue clean air standards achieving the same emissions reductions as the weaker Clean Air Interstate Rule; the two rules are substantially similar in numerous respects, including the problems they target; the states, polluters, and pollutants covered; the rules’ underlying modeling and rationale; the legal authority and regulatory structure; etc. The result would be millions more tons of smog and soot pollution from dirty power plants.
The Senate, which has been much more moderate than the House on environmental issues, rejected the CRA by a vote of 56-41. President Obama indicated that we would have vetoed Paul’s resolution if it passed.
After a quick tally of the contributions from the mining and utilities industries to Senators compiled by OpenSecrets.org, we can see the differences in votes based upon the money going to individuals.
Environmental groups are hailing the vote as a major victory for the economy and public health. According to the EPA, this rule will yield between $120 billion and $280 billion in annual health savings, and prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths each year.