Will Obama's Climate Initiative Become the Obamacare of Regulations?

EPA's new Clean Power Plan Rule has taken on a political life of its own, with coal states adamantly opposed, helping those who allege that the administration is waging a "war on coal." We also look at the basis of the rule in the 1970 Clean Air Act.

2 minute read

June 7, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Opposition to EPA's Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule, released June 2 (posted here), has been swift, particularly by states that are most reliant on coal power plants for electricity, and those where coal mining is an important part of the economy. And they have found help with powerful Washington lobbying groups.

"In at least eight states, lawmakers have approved symbolic anti-EPA resolutions based on a model approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that has shaped controversial state measures on issues like Stand Your Ground gun laws and opposition to Obamacare exchanges," writes Andrew Restucciaenergy reporter for POLITICO Pro. In fact, coal states have among the least amount of cuts to make, as noted in the article posted here.

Kentucky has gone even further, enacting a law this spring that could block the state from complying with EPA’s rule. West Virginia and Kansas have new laws taking aim at the regulation one way or another, and states like Ohio, Louisiana and Missouri are considering similar measures.

Reuter's Valerie Volcovici explained in an earlier article what was behind ALEC's efforts.

"Although ALEC resolutions will not change state law, ALEC and its industry supporters are hoping these resolutions will discourage governors and impede EPA action," said Aliya Haq, who tracks such bills as special projects director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Also in Politico, Leon G. Billings, who served as staff director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution from 1966 to 1978, explains the historical basis for the Clean Power Plan rule, rooted in Section 111 of the 1970 Clean Air Act. He disputes the assertion by some that President Obama used his executive action to authorize EPA to draft the rule.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy confirms the soundness of the new rule in response to a question from PBS Newshour host, Gwen Ifill on their June 2 show (see video below): "Do you worry that the Supreme Court or Congress could shut you down on this?"

Oh, the Supreme Court has spoken on this issue a number of times and told us it’s perfectly appropriate — in fact, our responsibility — to look at carbon as a potential pollutant in the Clean Air Act.

We did the endangerment finding. It’s done...So, we’re pretty safe in that regard.

This is an act that Congress passed, that gave to EPA, and gave us both the responsibility and the authority to address pollution that endangers public health. Carbon pollution is that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 in Politico Pro

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