The U.S. Senate on Thursday blocked two key bills proposed by Republicans that would have thwarted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from promulgating rules they say are unrealistic and would harm the economy. One measure was Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) resolution to disapprove the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), and the other was Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) bill that would have required agencies to get congressional approval for federal rules that cost more than $100 million.

Lawmakers defeated Sen. Paul’s resolution, S.J.Res. 27, 41–56. The resolution would have blocked the EPA from implementing the rule it finalized this July, which seeks to reduce smog and particulate-forming pollution from power plants in 27 U.S. states. The Senate needed 50 votes, rather than the 60 usually required to overrule a regulation, to pass the joint resolution that would have blocked CSAPR.

The White House had threatened to veto the measure had it been passed by the Senate. Six Republicans voted with Democrats against the resolution, and two Democrats joined Republicans in voting in favor of it. Republicans who voted against the resolution: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), and Mark Kirk (Ill.). Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) voted to overturn the rule.

Sens. Manchin and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) last week introduced a new bill in the Senate that seeks to extend compliance deadlines for the CSAPR and Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule.

Sens. Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), meanwhile, are floating a new measure that would delay—not nullify—the EPA’s CSAPR rule by an additional year.

“Tennesseans admire much about our Kentucky neighbors—their bluegrass, basketball and distinguished United States Senators," Alexander said on the floor last week. “But we don’t want Kentucky’s state income tax. And we don’t want Kentucky’s dirty air. And North Carolina residents have made it perfectly clear through their lawsuits that they don’t want Tennessee’s dirty air blowing into their state.”

The Senator urged lawmakers to cosponsor his legislation to “clean the air up and do it in a way that helps utilities provide electricity at the lowest possible cost.”

On Thursday, after the Senate voted to defeat Sen. Paul’s measure, it rejected by a vote of 40-56 a bill authored by Sen. John McCain (S.1720) that would have required the EPA to get congressional approval for federal rules that cost above $100 million. McCain said that the measure was directed at EPA greenhouse gas regulations and mountaintop removal oversight.

Sources: POWERnews, U.S. Senate, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. John McCain