President Barack Obama’s 2012 Strategy: Forsake the Lost Causes, Fool the Rest

by William Yeatman on June 3, 2011

in Blog, Features

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The vote is 18 months away, but the politics of re-election already are having a major impact on the President’s environmental policy-making. In an effort to woo the American Heartland, President Barack Obama is (temporarily) reining in the Environmental Protection Agency. However, in those States where the President has no chance of victory in 2012, the regulatory steamroller proceeds apace.

Politico Morning Energy reported today that the President is signaling that he intends to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s issuance of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. They were supposed to have been issued in July. In essence, these NSPS standards act as the minimum threshold (the “floor”) for all pollution control mandates for greenhouse gas emissions from new coal power plants pursuant to the Clean Air Act. Although NSPS standards traditionally have applied only to new power plants, the Obama administration is interpreting the law creatively, so that it can regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, too.

This rumored walk-back on greenhouse gas emissions is the latest in a series. Last December, the EPA delayed (for the third time) a decision to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. In April, the EPA postponed rules that would have made coal ash, a combustion byproduct, a toxic substance. And last month, the EPA suspended indefinitely an ultra-onerous “Maximum Achievable Control Technology” regulation for hazardous air pollutants from industrial boilers.

What do all these regulations have in common? The Ohio Valley. Each of these delayed regulations is broad-based, and would impact most severely the hydrocarbon intensive industries in the American Heartland. The President needs to win a State or two in this region, so he’s rolling back* regulations that would lead to unfavorable approval ratings in the Midwest during the lead up to November 2012.

[*Of course, these delays are temporary. A second-term President Barack Obama has nothing to lose, so he can pander to his environmentalist base as much as he wants. Each of these regulations would return in full force, were he to win.]

The situation is different in those States where narrower environmental regulations have proven so unpopular that the President has zero chance of winning them in 2012. The President is throwing these States to the wolves.

This was evidenced by the recent testimony of David Hayes, Deputy Director of the Interior Department, before the House Oversight Committee. With blatant disregard for reality, Mr. Hayes basically told Committee Members that it was the oil companies choice not to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, and that the Administration’s bureaucratic foot-dragging in no way has proven inimical to domestic energy production. Clearly, this President does not plan on competing in Gulf States in 2012.

Then there’s West Virginia, which has endured more at the hands of President Obama’s overbearing EPA than any other State. Virtually every single elected official in West Virginia, Republicans and Democrats alike, has objected to the EPA’s crackdown on coal mining, the State’s primary industry. Indeed, the President’s approval rating in the Mountaineer State hovers around that enjoyed by Rich Rodriguez. And because Obama has no shot of winning West Virginia in 2012, the EPA’s machinations continue unabated. Last week, it issued the latest salvo: two “science” documents that demonstrate how saline effluent from surface coal mines in Appalachia “degrades” water quality because it harms an insect that lives for a day, and which isn’t an endangered species.

Dan Fernandes June 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

FDR distributed his New Deal benefits to states he needed to win, and now President Obama distributes his EPA punishmednt to states he has no chance of winning. Two great politicians, in the worst sense.

George Washington June 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

Only 592 days left in Obama’s reign. I’m hoping for change already! 😀

Leshawn Thomas June 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm

According to a recent poll, only 82% of Democrats would re-elect Obama if they could vote today. They voted for hope and ended up with change.

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