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.
Republican Rep. Steve Daines, who is running to unseat Democratic Sen. John Walsh in Montana, calls the new rules part of a broader war Obama is waging on Montana’s jobs and families. Daines said in an interview,
“The Democratic-led Senate has been complicit in supporting President Barack Obama’s war on coal, and Montanans don’t like it.”
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.
Last year, the administration proposed the first-ever carbon dioxide limits on newly built power plants, drawing fierce criticism from energy advocates from both parties who say the technology to capture enough pollution to meet those standards isn’t yet commercially viable.
Climate activists say the next step — rules cracking down on existing plants — are even more critical to curbing the pollutants blamed for global warming. Unlike with new plants, the Clean Air Act doesn’t let the government regulate emissions from existing plants directly. Instead, the government will issue guidelines for reducing emissions, then each state will develop its own plan to meet those guidelines.