A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed two resolutions under a rarely invoked law to render the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) newly finalized carbon rules for new and existing power plants toothless.

The joint resolutions introduced on Oct. 26 by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) under the Congressional Review Act relate to the 111(b) rule for new plants and the 111(d) rule for existing plants. It passed the subcommittee 15–12 along party lines.

One resolution claims that the Obama administration is “pursuing a regulatory cap and trade scheme that will drive up electricity prices, cost jobs, threaten grid reliability, and make our country less competitive globally.” The second resolution seeks to “protect states and their citizens from being required to implement a highly complex, intrusive, and unworkable regulatory scheme that would require states to reorganize their electricity sectors to meet mandatory emissions ‘goals’ set by EPA without Congressional approval.”

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to review “major” rules issued by federal agencies, typically before the rules have taken effect. Under the law, Congress can also disapprove the new rule. It also holds that an agency may not issue the same or a substantially similar rule unless authorized by subsequent legislation.

Since 1996, 43 resolutions have been introduced in the Senate or House of Representatives and just two of those resolutions have passed one house of Congress. Only one rule, the Department of Labor rule on ergonomics (65 Fed. Reg. 68,262), has been disapproved by Congress.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)