WASHINGTON (May 29, 2014)—The Government Accountability Office ruled against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s threat to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed pollution standards for future power plants, finding that Congress can’t act until the agency issues a final rule. Both McConnell and Senate Democrats had requested the GAO’s opinion under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which McConnell had sought to use to usurp the agency’s normal process of soliciting public opinion before issuing a final standard. The proposed rule, issued last year and expected to be finalized next year, aims to cut dangerous carbon pollution that causes climate change.
Franz A. Matzner, associate director of Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:
"If Sen. McConnell’s pre-emptive tactic were allowed to go forward, it would open the door to congressional meddling in every proposed health and safety protection and would have politicized a process that should be based on law and science. Blocking critical health protections before agency experts have had a chance to fully consider public input was never the intent of the Congressional Review Act. It would be like judging a race before it has been run. Sen. McConnell should abandon these political antics and let the EPA do its job to protect our children and communities from dangerous climate change."
A host of legal scholars, good government advocacy groups, and health organizations have argued that by trying to block proposed safeguards before the agency has had a chance to fully consider public comments violates the letter and intent of the law.