Next Week in Corporate Congress: Pulling Out the Stops to Block Climate Change Rules, IRS Commissioner on the Hot Seat

Flickr photo by astazou
Flickr photo by astazou

The McConnell-Boehner Corporate Congress really hates the new federal rules designed to curb climate change. Really, really hates them.

Holding weekly hearings to lambaste the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (yet another hearing is scheduled for Thursday) hasn’t soothed their ire, so next week, lawmakers in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are going to start down another path – the Congressional Review Act (CRA) – in an attempt to block implementation of the rules.

How does this work? Lawmakers in both chambers will introduce resolutions under the CRA to disapprove of the two rules, which call for new and existing power plants to curb emissions of carbon dioxide.

Who is pushing this? None other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (both of Kentucky) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Like their friends in the fossil fuel industry, they claim that the sky will fall – consumers will not be able to afford electricity, the lights will go off and so forth – if the rules are implemented.

But consumers in their states – Kentucky and West Virginia – will fare quite well under the EPA’s rule for existing power plants, called the Clean Power Plan. A Public Citizen analysis of the rule as proposed found that Kentuckians (PDF) will pay 7.7 percent less for electricity in 2030 under the Clean Power Plan, saving the average household $104 annually. West Virginians’ (PDF) electricity bills will be 9.9 percent lower, for a savings of $160. We’re still crunching numbers for the final rule, which was published in the Federal Register today.

The CRA resolutions are unlikely to get very far, especially since the president would veto them, but their introduction speaks to the influence of the fossil fuel industry over some members of Congress.

The Corporate Congress also will go after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Tuesday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing devoted to that targeting scandal (now almost two and a half years old). Instead of preparing for this hearing, Koskinen should be spending his time on providing clear guidance on what constitutes political activity for nonprofits. (The Bright Lines Project, housed at Public Citizen, offers precisely such a set of recommendations for clarity of the tax code and regulations, and for reducing the discretion of the IRS in determining nonprofit tax status.)