WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Republican leader said on Thursday he would use a rarely used law to try to stop the administration from issuing rules that would limit the amount of carbon that power plants can pump into the atmosphere.
The Environmental Protection Agency's pending rules on emissions from new power plants are a centerpiece of President Obama's climate change strategy.
Senator Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, a major coal-producing state, will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to try to review and potentially repeal the pending regulation.
On the Senate floor on Thursday, McConnell said he will invoke the measure to challenge an EPA rule published in the Federal Register last week. That rule would prevent the construction of new coal-fired plants that do not have specific technology to capture carbon emissions - technology that critics say is not yet available on a commercial scale.
McConnell, who is expected to face a tough re-election fight this year, termed the EPA's actions a job-killer. "These are good jobs that pay more than $1 billion in annual wages to my constituents," McConnell said.
"That's why I - along with about 40 Republican cosponsors, including my friend and fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul - intend to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating rule."
McConnell made the remarks while EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified about the Obama administration's climate plan at a hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
McCarthy defended the agency's proposed regulation, which is now being debated in a public comment period.
"The standards reflect the demonstrated performance of efficient, lower carbon technologies that are currently being used today," she said in her opening remarks.
A CRA has only been used once before: in 2001, to repeal a rule that aimed to curb repetitive motion stress injuries in the workplace. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Stephen Powell)