Clock ticks for Obama's power plant rules
WASHINGTON — Within weeks, President Obama's administration is set to announce unprecedented emissions limits on power plants across the country, much to the dismay of many Democratic candidates who are running for election in energy-producing states. Fearful of a political backlash, they wish their fellow Democrat in the White House would hold off until after the voting.
But Obama can't wait that long.
Unlike the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose review the administration has delayed, probably until after the November elections, the clock is ticking for the power plant rules — the cornerstone of Obama's campaign to curb climate change. Unless he starts now, the rules won't be in place before he leaves office, making it easier for his successor to stop them.
So even though the action could bolster Republican attacks against some of this year's most vulnerable Democrats, the administration is proceeding at full speed. Obama's counselor on climate issues, John Podesta, affirmed that the proposal will be unveiled in early June — just as this year's general election is heating up.
“Having this debate now will only injure Democrats,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist. “Democrats are in trouble. The best thing when you're in trouble is to avoid further controversy.”
To be sure, Americans generally support cutting pollution. A Pew Research Center poll late last year found 65 percent of Americans favor “setting stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change,” while 30 percent were opposed.
But Democrats are fighting most of their toughest races this year in conservative-leaning states that rely heavily on the energy industry, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska and Montana. Already, conservative groups have spent millions accusing Democrats in those states of supporting energy policies that would impede local jobs and economic development.
Never mind that it's Obama's administration — not House or Senate candidates — drafting the rules. Even when Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama on the issue, Republicans say that's evidence that congressional Democrats are impotent to rein in their party's out-of-control president.
Seeking to head off those arguments, some Democrats already are assailing the expected new rules in hopes voters won't lump candidates together with Obama in states where the president is highly unpopular. Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia and a top GOP target, said an earlier Obama plan affecting only new power plants “hinged on fantasy and endangers our economy.”
“Count me as a skeptic, but I expect the EPA's proposal for new regulations aimed at existing plants to be just as far-fetched and unworkable,” Rahall said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Artificial sweeteners possible contributors to diabetes, obesity
- Study ties middle-age migraines, Parkinson’s
- House panel OKs move to split Amtrak, focus on profitable Northeast Corridor
- Snowden: U.S. shared info about Americans
- HealthCare.gov website’s security flaws put users’ personal info at risk
- Door left ajar to boots on ground to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
- White House committed to ethanol, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack says
- Entire Calif. town lost to wildfire as dozen other blazes rage
- Search for missing U. of Va. student shifted
- Holder urges bigger reward for whistle-blowers
- 3,000 U.S. troops to join fight against Ebola with $763M plan