Perspectives; Thoughts; Comments; Opinions; Discussions

Posts tagged ‘Heidi Heitkamp’

Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court, giving Trump big win


The Senate on Friday confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, giving President Trump the biggest victory of his first 100 days in office. The 54-45 vote caps a bitter political battle that began with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than a year ago and resulted in the Senate triggering the “nuclear option,” breaking Democrats’ blockade and ending filibusters for Supreme Court nominees.

Three Democrats facing reelection next year in strongly pro-Trump states voted for Gorsuch: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

ADVERTISEMENT

But two Democrats facing reelection in 2018 in states Trump won by double digits — Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — voted no, a reflection of Trump’s slumping approval rating among independents and the boiling rage of the Democratic base over his 2016 electoral victory.

Gorsuch will be sworn in as the Supreme Court’s 101st associate justice on Monday. 

Chief Justice John Roberts is set to administer the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony at 9 a.m., and Justice Anthony Kennedy will administer the oath at a public ceremony at the White House later in the morning.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said the fight will leave a scorch mark on the Senate because Republicans employed the nuclear option.

“It will make this body a more partisan place. It will make the cooling saucer of the Senate considerably hotter, and I believe it will make the Supreme Court more of a partisan place,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, argued that the change to the filibuster, which Republicans made with a party-line vote Thursday, would restore the Senate to its tradition of not filibustering judicial nominees.

He praised Gorsuch’s credentials Friday as “sterling,” his record as “excellent” and his judicial temperament as “ideal.” He said he wished “that important aspects of this process had played out differently” but held out hope that “today is a new day” and that Democrats would not hold a grudge as the chamber considers other priorities this year.

“I hope my Democratic friends will take this moment to reflect and perhaps consider a turning point in their outlook going forward,” he said.

Some Democrats questioned whether it was worth getting into a showdown with McConnell over Gorsuch and losing their power to filibuster future Supreme Court nominees. These few dissenters thought it might be tougher for Republicans to change the rules if a swing seat on the court became open later on in Trump’s term, when he might have less political capital.  Democratic leaders, however, disagreed, arguing that McConnell would be just as likely like to change the rules in the future.

Democrats tried to block Gorsuch because they said his rulings tended to favor powerful interests over average people and also because they were still furious over Republicans’ treatment of Merrick Garland, whom President Obama nominated a year ago to fill the vacancy left by Scalia.

McConnell announced immediately after Scalia’s death that Garland would not receive consideration by the GOP-controlled Senate and that the winner of the presidential election should pick the nominee. Democrats argued that decision broke 230 years of precedent and would best be remedied by Gorsuch withdrawing and Trump picking a “more mainstream candidate.”

That proposal went nowhere as Republicans argued that Trump made clear during last year’s campaign that he would pick a judge from a list of 21 conservatives, on which Gorsuch was included.

A CNN exit poll showed that 56 percent of Trump voters said the Supreme Court was “the important factor” in their votes, and 46 percent said it was “an important factor.”

Gorsuch isn’t likely to change the most recent ideological balance of the court as he replaces one of its most outspoken and conservative jurists. He called Scalia a “mentor” at his confirmation hearings and, like his predecessor did, takes an “originalist” approach to the law meant to hew to the intentions of the Founding Fathers and follow legal language strictly. That approach became a sticking point for Democrats, who criticized him for relying on what they called overly literal readings of the law to decide in favor of those in power, such as a trucking company in TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board that fired a driver who refused to stay for hours with a disabled vehicle in freezing weather.

Republicans countered by touting Gorsuch’s academic and professional credentials; his clerkships with two Supreme Court justices, Anthony Kennedy and Byron White; his unanimous rating of well-qualified by the American Bar Association; and his record of deciding with the majority in 99 percent of the cases he heard.

Gorsuch appeared poised to sail through the Senate as Democrats earlier this year were more focused on Trump’s more controversial Cabinet appointees, such as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Democrats had failed to dig up any seriously damaging writings, statements or indiscretions, and even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most liberal justice on the high court, said Gorsuch was “very easy to get along with.”

The lack of strong early resistance angered liberal groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn.Org and the Services Employee International Union, which wrote a stern letter to Democratic senators early last month exhorting them to “do better.” The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group backing Gorsuch, countered pressure from the left by launching a $10 million advertising campaign to bolster his nomination. The National Rifle Association also poured in $1 million to help Gorsuch.

It became apparent Monday,  when several Democrats who were on the fence came out against his nomination, that Gorsuch would not win confirmation unless Republicans moved to eliminate the filibuster. By Monday evening, 42 Democrats and one Independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), had announced they would block the final vote. McConnell announced the next day that he had the votes to trigger the nuclear option. 

Vice President Pence presided over the vote. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who recently underwent back surgery, missed it.

– Updated at 12:47 p.m.

Senate goes ‘nuclear’ to advance Trump Supreme Court pick


The Senate voted Thursday to move forward with Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination after Republicans took a historic step that lowers the vote threshold for high court nominees to a simple majority.  Senators voted 55-45 to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination, setting up a final confirmation vote for Friday. Thanks to a procedural move that changed Senate rules earlier Thursday, a simple majority was needed to move forward.

Democrats had successfully blocked Gorsuch’s nomination from getting 60 votes earlier, prompting Republicans to employ the “nuclear option,” which effectively ends filibusters for all Supreme Court nominees. Democrats tried to delay the rule change vote by offering motions to postpone a vote and to adjourn the chamber, but both fell short as Republicans stayed unified.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) voted with Republicans to allow President Trump’s pick to move forward.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans defended the party-line vote on the nuclear option, saying Democrats were to blame for blocking Gorsuch, who they believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) argued that Democrats should “come to their senses.” 

“The truth of the matter is that throughout this process, the minority led by their leader has been desperately searching for a justification for their preplanned filibuster,” he said ahead of Thursday’s votes.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added that the current stalemate was part of a decades-long Democratic effort to “politicize the courts and the confirmation process.” 

“The opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man that nominated him and the party he represents than the nominee himself,” he said. 

Republicans hinted for weeks that Trump’s nominee would be confirmed one way or another. McConnell confirmed during a leadership press conference that he had the votes to go nuclear if needed. Republicans appeared resigned to the tactics, arguing if Democrats won’t support Gorsuch — who received the American Bar Association’s highest rating — they won’t allow any GOP nominee to join the Supreme Court.

But Democrats made a last-minute pledge for Republicans to back down and change the nominee, an argument that never gained traction with GOP senators.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “When a nominee doesn’t get enough votes for confirmation the answer is not to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) during an eleventh-hour press conference blasted the GOP tactics, saying it “is just wrong to pack the court through this stolen seat.” 

“That’s why it’s so important that we still in the few hours that we have left hopefully stop this really crime against the Constitution,” he said. 

Progressives groups also stepped up their attacks heading into Thursday’s vote, warning that Republicans will be to blame for going “nuclear.”  The People’s Defense — a coalition of roughly a dozen progressive groups led by NARAL Pro-Choice America — released a digital ad campaign targeting Republicans in Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Nevada and South Carolina, warning them that “history is watching.”

Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Dean Heller (Nev.), among those being targeted by outside groups, are Republicans’ two most vulnerable incumbents. Schumer echoed that from the Senate floor on Thursday, saying that Republicans “had other choices. They’ve chosen this one.” 

“The responsibility for changing the rules will fall on Republicans and Leader McConnell’s shoulders,” he said. 

Democrats remain deeply bitter of Republicans treatment of Merrick Garland, whom former President Barack Obama’s nominated to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. GOP leaders refused to give Garland a hearing or a vote. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued that the current stalemate over the Supreme Court dates back Scalia’s death and “what we’re facing today is the fallout.” 

But the hardball tactics drew skepticism from both Republican and Democratic senators, who held around-the-clock negotiations to try to prevent the rule change but ultimately failed.

Told that by a reporter that some people think the Senate will function better without the filibuster, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) fired back: “Whoever said that is a stupid idiot.” 

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) also warned that without the need for 60 votes to break a filibuster, Trump might easily appoint Attorney General Jeff Sessions or EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to the Supreme Court in the future.

“Partisanship should give way to patriotism,” said Bennet, who backed ending debate on Gorsuch’s nomination earlier Thursday but voted against it in the second vote. “If we go down this road we will undermine the minorities ability to check this administration and all those who follow.”

Senate confirms Carson to lead HUD


waving flag disclaimerAuthored

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ben Carson to be President Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The final vote was 58-41. Carson needed a simple majority to be approved.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Warner (Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) joined all Republicans in backing Carson. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) did not vote.
The former neurosurgeon wasn’t a top target for Senate Democrats. But Carson’s nomination and lack of government experience has divided the caucus.
Top Democrats — including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) — voted against Carson’s nomination earlier this week.

ADVERTISEMENT

But red-state Democrats, including Manchin, Donnelly and Heitkamp, voted with Republicans to support him.

Republicans have rallied around Carson’s nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted ahead of the vote that he would be confirmed with bipartisan support. “[He] can begin bringing much needed reforms to the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” he said from the Senate floor.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) also urged his colleagues to support Carson. “Once Dr. Carson is confirmed we can begin working on several important issues under HUD’s jurisdiction,” he said.
Carson easily cleared the Senate Banking Committee in late January, picking up the support of liberal senators elizabeth-lieawatha-warrenincluding Brown and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren defended her committee vote amid backlash from progressive outside groups, writing on a Facebook post: “Yes, he is not the nominee I wanted. But ‘the nominee I wanted’ is not the test.” Warren didn’t vote for Carson during the Senate’s procedural vote on Wednesday, and she voted against him again Thursday.
Carson’s nomination has been largely free of controversy. Senators only questioned Carson for 2 1/2 hours during his confirmation hearing, in contrast to more controversial picks — including Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who faced hours of intense grilling. Democrats have voiced public skepticism about Carson’s qualifications, noting that the onetime presidential candidate also previously questioned whether he was fit to run a federal agency.
“Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water,” he said in November, on the heels of rumors that he would be considered for Trump’s Cabinet.
Carson, a conservative Christian, also received some criticism for suggesting that LGBT Americans don’t deserve “extra rights.” picture2
But neither impeded his nomination. Crapo thanked Brown from the Senate floor for being willing to work with him to get Carson to the Senate floor for a vote.  It is unclear how Carson will shape the agency. He told lawmakers in his confirmation hearing that he wants to have “listening sessions” with housing officials around the country. He was also noncommittal about upholding an Obama-era rule that beefed up a fair housing law.

Senate confirms Perry for Energy secretary


waving flag disclaimerAuthored

Senate confirms Perry for Energy secretary / © Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department — an agency he once pledged to eliminate. Perry, the former Texas governor and a two-time Republican presidential candidate, was confirmed on a 62-37 vote.

The Senate confirmed Perry after only a few hours of debate on Thursday afternoon, moving unexpectedly quickly on the final cabinet-level member of President Trump’s energy and environment team.
During a Republican primary debate in 2011, Perry listed the three federal agencies he would abolish as president but famously forgot the Energy Department, quipping, “oops.” But after Trump nominated him to lead the department in December, Perry said he had reconsidered the importance of the agency, which supports energy research and oversees the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

ADVERTISEMENT
“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said at his January confirmation hearing.
“In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
Republicans supported Perry’s nomination, applauding his support of the Texas energy sector during his time as governor and saying his experience in Austin means he can effectively lead a $30 billion, 14,400-person department.
“He will hold his employees and contractors accountable. We know that he will be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said during floor debate on Thursday.
“I think that he will work to continue to break down the research silos that have really frustrated the department and work to find ways that there can be greater collaboration — greater working together — and I’m also confident that he will pursue policies that will ultimately provide us with more stable sources of energy.”
solid-foundation-600-wlogo
Democrats said they are concerned about Perry’s views on climate change and his support for climate research in the department. The Trump administration has previously hinted at potential deep cuts for the Energy Department, something Democrats contend Perry will struggle to resist.
“I take Gov. Perry at this word that he has been briefed on all the functions of the Department of Energy and that he does not believe it should be abolished, as he once articulated,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said.
“But, as I said, his testimony leaves a lot to question about whether he will fight for these essential programs in a Trump administration who have already tried to target these agencies and programs to be defunded.”
The Senate confirmed Perry after only about three hours of debate on Thursday, moving his nomination quicker than any other energy or environment official in Trump’s cabinet.
Senators confirmed Ryan Zinke to lead the Interior Department on Wednesday. Scott Pruitt became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in February.
Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), voted with all present Republicans to back Perry.
GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) was not present.

McConnell: If GOP unites, we will win


waving flagAuthored

McConnell: If GOP unites, we will win / © Greg Nash

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a clear and simple message for his party: Success depends on unity.

In an interview with The Hill, the Senate majority leader said he has told his GOP colleagues not to expect any help from Democrats on an array of legislative priorities.

ADVERTISEMENT

In contrast to past years, when McConnell had to face down rebellions from conservative colleagues — most notably Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) — the entire Senate GOP conference appears to be on the same page. How long that lasts remains uncertain, however.

“The only way you can achieve success in an environment like now, where there’s not much bipartisanship, is for us to have our act together and to work out our differences among ourselves,” McConnell said Friday.amen

During former President Obama’s administration, McConnell said he had to contend with “individuals” in the Senate and House who “just really enjoy the publicity associated with doing something the vast majority of Republicans didn’t agree with, and it was a great headline producer.”no-more-rinos-2

After a highly unusual and charged election year, McConnell is looking forward to making new laws in 2017. Against the odds, McConnell preserved his GOP majority in November and now has a willing partner in the White House. The relationship between President Trump and McConnell was tenuous at best throughout 2016. But times have changed. McConnell, who refused to answer questions about Trump in the fall, last week compared him to President Andrew Jackson, the nation’s first populist commander in chief.

Ten Senate Democrats are running for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won last year. McConnell is expecting that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer(D-N.Y.) will pull out all the stops to keep them from defecting on big votes.

“We’re not anticipating much Democratic cooperation here,” he said with a laugh.

He says most Democrats are “not interested” in working with the GOP on legislation to repeal and replace parts of ObamaCare and to overhaul the tax code. As a result, Republicans are looking to pass those bills on party-line votes under a special budgetary process that protects them from filibusters. 

“When you’re taking that path, you better have your people all lined up, because if you can’t get your own guys together, particularly in the Senate, you can’t get where you want to go,” he said.

Republicans have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time in a decade, and they know they have a limited amount of time to enact major legislative initiatives such as comprehensive tax reform, which was last accomplished in 1986. At that time, Democrats and Republicans worked together to revamp the tax code. McConnell, who was a backbencher back then, said such a bipartisan endeavor is just not possible now — it’s “a different era.”

Despite the high stakes and the pressure, McConnell seemed comfortable and at ease throughout The Hill’s interview. He stayed on message and calmly dodged questions about policies Republicans have not yet decided on.

McConnell in 2015 became majority leader, his dream job ever since he worked as a junior aide to late Sen. Marlow Cook (R-Ky.).

The Senate electoral map looks quite good for Republicans, who have only eight seats up for reelection in 2018, while Democrats will have to defend 25.

But McConnell, 74, says anything can happen, chuckling over the brimming confidence of Democratic colleagues last year who thought they were a lock to win back the upper chamber. Before the election, media outlets were publishing profiles of Schumer, assuming he would be the next Senate majority leader.

“I sat here and observed on a daily basis my soon-to-be counterpart, Sen. Schumer, giving interviews on his agenda, measuring the curtains,” he recalled with a wry smile.

McConnell, who has a reputation as one of the shrewdest tacticians on Capitol Hill but sometimes draws criticism even from GOP colleagues for being too focused on politics, says he’s now entirely focused on governing.

“Rather than becoming consumed about what might happen in 2018, we need to try to succeed,” he said.

McConnell, an institutionalist who reveres the Senate, said Republicans don’t work for Trump. He pointedly noted that the Senate decides its own rules when asked about pressure from the White House to strip senators of the power to filibuster Supreme Court nominees.

Over the years, conservative groups have taken shots at McConnell on a variety of issues. But they have no complaints about his decision to not vote on Merrick Garland, Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee. Now, late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat will be filled with a conservative. Trump is scheduled to announce his pick on Tuesday (UPDATE: Tonight).

Trump and McConnell are both dealmakers, but they don’t see eye-to-eye on trade, Russian sanctions and other matters. What’s more important than their differences, McConnell said, is their shared desire to cut tax rates, simplify the tax code and reverse what he calls the “rampage” of overregulation under Obama. He says regulatory excess is the chief culprit responsible for the nation’s tepid economic recovery and scoffs at the Democratic narrative that frames Obama as a savior who turned around a national economy severely damaged by former President George W. Bush’s mismanagement.

“Obama didn’t have a single year of 3 percent growth, and the statute of limitations on blaming Bush ran out a long time ago,” he said.

Unlike Trump, McConnell rarely talks publicly about the stock market. But it has gone up because of Trump’s victory, McConnell said.

“Everybody I know who watches the market thinks the reason it has been booming is the expectation of regulatory relief and tax reform,” he said.

As partisan as the atmosphere is in Washington, McConnell knows that he’ll still need centrist Democrats to join him for the 115th Congress to be a success. He says that Republicans cannot entirely replace ObamaCare under reconciliation — the special budget process that empowers the majority party to enact legislation with only 51 votes. Some healthcare reforms, such as allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines or other policy changes that have a negligible budgetary impact must be adopted with 60 votes. That means winning over centrists such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who are up for reelection next year.

“[Red-state Democrats] will be necessary,” he concedes.

After spending the past two years playing defense, when Republicans had to defend 24 Senate seats in the 2016 election cycle, McConnell — an avid sports fan — is eager to play offense.

“I’m assuming that each of them will be calculating whether it’s to their advantage to be cooperative or not,” he said of the 10 Democrats up for reelection in pro-Trump states.

“I’m hoping that frequently they will conclude that it’s actually good for them to be helpful to us,” he said.

Who Loses Under EPA’s Clean Power Plan?


waving flagPosted by Photo of Michael Bastasch Michael Bastasch;  08/04/2015

The Obama administration unveiled the linchpin of its global warming agenda Monday: a 1560-page regulation called the “Clean Power Plan.” The goal of the Clean Power Plan is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. The EPA claims the plan will benefit the economy and the environment by reducing asthma attacks, creating jobs in the green energy sector and showing the world the U.S. is committed to fighting global warming. All of this ahead of a major United Nations climate summit this winter.EPA Monster

Put simply, the new agenda is a massive undertaking, and one that’s already facing legal challenges from a coalition of states and the coal industry. There are going to be clear winners and losers with this rule. Red states, fossil fuel companies and even blue dog Democrats stand to lose out — not to mention all the families who will be hit with higher energy bills.

Is EPA Punishing Red States?

The EPA’s cuts to CO2 emissions could cost states billions of dollars in the coming decades. States are forced to find ways to cut emissions based on certain building blocks set forth by EPA. But this could be costly for energy-intensive states, like North Dakota, with grids and economies that rely on lots of coal power, and oil and natural gas production.

There’s another interesting dynamic underlying the EPA’s rules. The Daily Caller News Foundation examined the data and found that red states were among those hit with the biggest, and likely costliest, emissions reduction mandates.

Of the ten states with the biggest CO2 reduction mandates, eight are dominated by Republicans and only two are Democratic. On the flip side, the states with the lowest CO2 reduction mandates are overwhelmingly liberal — six are Democrat and only four are Republican.

TheDCNF looked at which party controlled each chamber of the state legislature and the governorship to determine control. For example, Republicans control both chambers of the South Dakota legislature and there’s a Republican governor. We considered that state Republican. On the other hand, Montana has a Democratic governor but a Republican-controlled legislature. We’d also consider that state Republican since two of the three groups looked at were GOP-controlled.

Republican states were among those that saw the highest increases in their CO2 mandates from the EPA’s proposal to the final rule, according to Politico Pro. Some 16 states had their emissions targets increased by the EPA, but the agency also loosened targets for 31 states.

Politico reported that while North Dakota “enjoyed the lowest emission reduction goal in the proposed rule,” the state “saw that goal more than quadruple in the final rule to 44.9 percent.”

“Other states saw significant increases in their goals as well. Montana’s goal increased by 26.3 percentage points to 47.4 percent. Iowa’s went up 25.4 points, to a 41.5 percent reduction. And Wyoming’s goal went up 25.3 points to a 44.3 percent reduction,” according to Politico.

“On the other hand, 24 states saw their goals reduced. Washington’s declined the most, down 34.6 percentage points to 37.2 percent,” Politico reported. “Oregon dropped 28.1 points to 20 percent, and New York went down 24.7 points to 19.5 percent.”

Before drawing too many conclusions, it’s worth noting that red states are likely being hurt the most because they rely more heavily on coal for their energy needs. These states also tend to be major energy producing states, like North Dakota, Wyoming and West Virginia.

States that rely too much on coal will have the toughest time complying with the Clean Power Plan because burning coal emits much more CO2 than burning natural gas. The EPA says it bases its reduction targets on what’s “achievable.” The agency sees coal-reliant states as having much more work to do when it comes to reducing emissions than states relying more on natural gas and green energy, as many Democrat-controlled states do.

The fact is that far more states saw their emissions targets reduced from the EPA’s proposal last year. Even so, states are still going to have a tough time complying with their targets no matter what since the Clean Power Plan essentially forces them to restructure their electricity markets and regulations.

Is This An Attack On Fracking?

The Clean Power Plan has also been seen as an attack on natural gas-fired power, which has been made economical due to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale. The oil and gas industry is worried the EPA’s rule ignores the role natural gas can play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions — when burned for electricity, natural gas emits less CO2 than coal. The Financial Times reported that the “US shale gas is the unexpected loser from President Barack Obama’s climate plan, as the White House abandons its previous enthusiasm for natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal.”Indenification of Obama

In recent years, the U.S. has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas thanks to hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water, sand and some chemicals deep underground to unlock hydrocarbons trapped in shale formations. But industry leaders fear EPA could harm the industry. “With the reported shift in the plan, we believe the White House is perpetuating the false choice between renewables and gas,” Martin Durbin, president of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, told Oil and Gas Journal. “We don’t have to slow the trend toward gas in order to effectively and economically use renewables.”EPA-Chopper-590AEA

Reports have come out, mainly with support from environmentalists and green energy backers, declaring the Clean Power Plan downplays natural gas’ role in reducing U.S. emissions. Instead, reports indicate the EPA is focusing on boosting green energy instead of gas. “With or without new regulations, gas will continue to grow as a critical source of clean energy, but EPA’s rule does more harm than good,” Howard Feldman with the American Petroleum Institute told OGJ.

Major natural gas producing states have also been hit with steep emissions targets mandated by the EPA. Texas, the country’s largest oil and gas producer, must reduce power plant emissions 33.5 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. The state gets twice as much energy from natural gas as it does from coal.

Democratic-led Pennsylvania is also being hit with tough emissions reductions mandates from EPA. The state must reduce emissions 34.9 percent by 2030. Pennsylvania is now the country’s second-largest natural gas producer thanks to fracking in the Marcellus Shale. The state even gets 37 percent of its electricity from nuclear, while coal and natural gas each provide slightly less. EPA-torture-600-AEA-378x257

Blue Dog Dems Backstabbed By Obama

What’s probably most interesting about energy states being hit hard by the Clean Power Plan, is that many of them also sport Democratic lawmakers who are now put in a tough position.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp called the rule a “slap in the face,” according to Politico Pro. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin criticized the rule for being “utterly unrealistic.” Both of these lawmakers opposed the rule since its proposal, but now their states are some of the hardest hit.

North Dakota and West Virginia were initially given some of the smallest state emissions reductions targets by the EPA. In June 2014, the EPA said North Dakota would only have to reduce emissions 10.6 percent and West Virginia 19.8 percent by 2030. Now these states have to make much deeper cuts than the EPA initially told them. “Our President and his Administration think our country can do without coal, and they are dead wrong. They are in denial,” Manchin said in a statement condemning the rule.

Montana Democrats, who originally supported the rule, are now reeling after the EPA announced the state would have to reduce emissions even more than was initially proposed by the agency last year. Montana now has one of the highest CO2 emissions reduction mandates of any state. Montana’s Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock complained that the EPA “moved the goal post on us,” saying that while “we need to address climate change” but added that “how we do so has to work for Montana.” The Montana’s AFL-CIO branch actually planned a press call in support of the rule, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, but it was cancelled after the union found out the EPA had increased the “reduction requirement.” The group called it a “gut punch.”

Even Democratic Sen. Jon Tester was cautious in his statement on the Clean Power Plan’s release, not condemning it but also not celebrating it being finalized. Tester told the Chronicle he needed “more time to review it to ensure it works for Montana and creates healthier communities and a stronger economy.”
freedom combo 2

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: