WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers and industry groups are vowing to fight President Barack Obama's climate change plan and its first-ever emission limits on new power plants. But they're finding their options are limited — at least in the short term.
Although the emission rules are just one component of Obama's plan, critics are looking for an early win to show they have the fortitude to fend off other sweeping actions Obama plans to take, like pollution standards for existing plants.
Environmental Protection Agency officials say they've spent tremendous energy examining potential pitfalls and ensuring the rule holds up to scrutiny.
"Our best defense is to do it right," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Monday. "We think that it will stand the test of time."
The rules would require new coal-fired power plants to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide. No U.S. plant has done that, largely due to the cost. Opponents say that makes the rule ripe for challenges.
A look at the options:
For Obama, the upside to using his regulatory powers is that no vote from Congress is needed. But if lawmakers don't like a regulation, they can pass a resolution to block it. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, whose state of Kentucky is a major coal producer, says he'll do just that.
The Congressional Review Act provides for expedited Senate consideration with a simple majority vote. And the Republican-controlled House would have little difficulty passing it.
Still, it's incredibly tough to do. Since the act was established in 1996, it's only been used successfully once.
Even if Republicans could muscle the resolution through both chambers, it's nearly impossible they could override Obama's certain veto.
Lawmakers could use amendments to other bills to undercut the regulation, or try to starve the EPA of funds. But Democrats who control the Senate would work to block those moves.
The Supreme Court has already ruled the EPA has authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate greenhouse gases. But that doesn't mean the EPA won't get sued.
"The chances for legal action are 100 percent," said Jeffrey Holmstead, the EPA's former air and radiation chief under President George W. Bush.
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