Wednesday, February 15, 2017

4 Major Environmental Rules That the GOP Congress Is Overturning in Massive Gift to Polluters

In the 24 days since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Republican-controlled Congress has already moved to overturn four major rules that the oil, gas, and coal industries spent millions of dollars fighting during the Obama administration. First, Congress eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, which would prevent toxic mine waste from being dumped in streams. Then Congress voted to get rid of a rule that limited bribery and corruption in oil operations around the world. And in the coming days, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote to overturn a rule that limits methane pollution when oil and gas companies drill on public lands and to eliminate a rule that increases public input in public lands management decisions. Congress’s vulnerability to financial influence under the CRA is rooted in the law’s obscure procedure for overturning regulations. Since its passage in 1996, the CRA has given Congress the power to overturn any regulation within 60 legislative days of it being issued by an executive branch agency. To successfully overturn a rule, both chambers of Congress must pass, by majority vote, a resolution of disapproval and then have the president sign it. On a practical level, however, it is only after a change of administration—and only if the new president and a new Congress both wish to undo actions taken by the previous administration—that CRA resolutions become likely to pass. Before this year, Congress had only used the CRA successfully to overturn a single regulation: a Clinton administration rule to establish ergonomics standards in the workplace. For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Paul Ryan, the CRA provides opportunities and limitations that are different than other types of legislation. Notably, the CRA gives the new Congress only 60 legislative days to overturn rules issued by the Obama administration, and those rules must have been finalized within 60 legislative days of the end of the last Congress. According to the Congressional Research Service61 “major” rules and regulations—the U.S. government defines major rules as those that would have an annual effect on the economy of at least $100 million—that the Obama administration finalized after June 13, 2016, are eligible to be overturned by Congress using the CRA. The CRA, however, can be used to overturn any rule—regardless of the scale of its economic benefits or costs—that was finalized in this period. By one lobbying firm’s count, more than 2,300 rules are currently eligible to be overturned under the CRA...more


No comments: