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Obama Vetoes Resolutions Aimed at Derailing Clean Power Plan

President Obama vetoed a pair of joint resolutions the Republican-controlled Congress passed in a symbolic attempt to derail the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP).

On Friday, the president issued pocket vetoes of Senate Joint Resolutions 23 and 24. The former said Congress officially disapproves of an EPA rule governing greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified or reconstructed power plants, while the latter said Congress disapproves of an EPA regarding carbon emissions from existing power plants (see Daily GPI,Nov. 18).

Vetoes of both resolutions were expected, and it does not appear Republicans have enough votes for an override. Both resolutions passed the Senate by 52-46 votes on Nov. 17, and both cleared the House on Dec. 1 -- with S.J. Res. 23 winning passage on a 235-188 vote, and S.J. Res. 24 passing 242-180. The former was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); the latter, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

"Power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in our country," Obama said in a memorandum explaining his veto of S.J. Res. 23. "Although we have limits on other dangerous pollutants from power plants, the carbon pollution standards and the CPP ensure that we will finally have national standards to reduce the amount of carbon pollution that our power plants can emit.

"The carbon pollution standards will ensure that, when we make major investments in power generation infrastructure, we also deploy available technologies to make that infrastructure as low-emitting as possible. By blocking these standards from taking effect, S.J. Res. 23 would delay our transition to cleaner electricity generating technologies by enabling continued build-out of outdated, high-polluting infrastructure."

In a separate memorandum, Obama said S.J. Res. 24 "not only threatens ongoing progress toward cleaner energy, but would also eliminate public health and other benefits of up to $54 billion per year by 2030, including thousands fewer premature deaths from air pollution and thousands fewer childhood asthma attacks each year."

Both houses of Congress formally adjourned last Friday and will reconvene on Jan. 4.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to certify that the agency did not break any laws by using social media to promote the CPP as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) opined that it had done to promote its controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule (see Daily GPIDec. 21Dec. 15).

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