When the smoke clears after the November mid-term elections, probably the most divisive battle between the entrenched Obama Administration and the party crashing Tea Partiers will be fought over the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon emissions in January. Ironically, the right is now being led by liberal Democrat Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, who is urging coal miners in his state to “get mad” over EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s unilateral effort to enforce a national climate plan.
A forerunner of this pending drama could be seen this week as the Obama Administration once again postponed its effort to tighten Bush Administration standards on ozone in an obvious attempt to avoid election blowback. Even as the administration shuffles its feet, Republicans are charging hard, with Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, calling the ozone review part of the President’s "anti-industrial policy" and top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee listing it as one of the costliest new regulations being issued under the Clean Air Act.
The battle over ozone is nothing compared to what carbon regulations are going to inspire. Implementation plans are usually drawn up by the states but the EPA has already pre-empted this by saying it will substitute its own plans in those states that have not come up with anything yet. Texas is suing, saying that the law gives them three years to comply.
If EPA prevails, any new building projects will require extensive review to make sure they are not adding to a state’s “carbon footprint.” Whole state economies may be at stake. Meanwhile, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is leading a bi-partisan effort in the Senate to postpone the EPA effort. But Murkowski is locked in a bitter write-in campaign election after being defeated as too moderate by a Tea Party rival in the Republican primary.
As one nuclear energy observer opined: "Just think, all this could be avoided with nuclear energy, which promises clean air, adequate power and economic prosperity all at once. Instead we’ll have to wait to see the carbon debate blow up after the election."