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Democrats brace for climate rule fallout
Pollutico ^ | June 1, 2014 11:08 PM EDT | Darren Goode and Andrew Restuccia

Posted on 06/01/2014 8:34:06 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum

The major climate rule that the Obama administration is unveiling Monday is a political gamble for the president’s party — but some Democrats see the risk as manageable, and the cause more than worth it.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rule, meant to cut greenhouse gas pollution from thousands of existing power plants, poses obvious dangers in November for Democrats in coal country and other energy-rich states, as well as regions where many voters dislike federal intrusion. It also poses unknown risks in 2016, when states will have to seek EPA approval for their plans to comply with the rule. But the regulation is also President Barack Obama’s best hope for a legacy on climate change, and it offers the U.S. a chance to take a leading role in the global response to the problem.

Its lasting political impact may come down to how effectively EPA carries it out — if, for example, the agency can avoid the kind of troubled rollout that plagued Obamacare’s debut.

“Sure, it’ll have some impact in certain regions,” said former Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, which houses 6 percent of the nation’s coal reserves and was the second-largest oil-producing state last year. “The question that is going be answered, and which is going to make people nervous, is exactly how EPA is going to make compliance decisions.”

But he and other Democrats, to varying degrees, think the risks are overstated.

“I don’t buy these doomsday scenarios some are trying to paint for Democrats,” said Heather Zichal, who until last year was Obama’s top energy and climate adviser. “I can’t find a single race where I think this proposal going forward is going to mean that the Democrat doesn’t get elected.”

(Also on POLITICO: Obama to seek 30 percent cuts in carbon pollution)

In the 2014 races with the rule’s most obvious political implications, Democrats like West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall and Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes have wasted no time in denouncing the regulation. Others, like Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.), routinely vote for legislation attacking EPA rules and support other energy-friendly causes, like the Keystone XL pipeline.

The big unknown: Will that insulate them from GOP attempts to tie them to Obama’s so-called war on coal?

On the other hand, EPA supporters think the rule could help Democrats in some close races in which climate change is becoming a more potent issue, such as Michigan’s Senate contest. They may get a boost from the months-long publicity barrage that environmentalists plan to launch supporting the rule.

(PHOTOS: Climate skeptics in Congress)

And some candidates may be able to seek middle ground. For instance, Dorgan said Democrats can pair the public’s overall belief that climate change is a problem with the message that “we do need to produce energy and use all of our fuel sources in a smart way, and we can all work together to make that happen.”

Governors’ reactions will also be important, given the importance of the state compliance plans, said Paul Bledsoe, a Clinton-era climate aide. “Right now, sadly, it looks like a fairly partisan landscape,” he said.

(PHOTOS: Keystone XL activists march in D.C.)

The reaction from electric power companies could also make a difference politically, including those that have already made significant investments in nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy, which could go a long way to helping states comply.

“Is a state governor going to step out there and say, ‘We can’t do this,’ if a utility says, ‘We can get it done?’” Zichal asked.

Here’s a breakdown of where EPA’s rule could make a difference:

1. “War — on coal” races

Kentucky Senate: It would be hard to be more anti-EPA than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who routinely gives speeches attacking Obama’s climate agenda as a “war on jobs.” But Grimes is trying: She used her May 20 primary victory speech to blame both Obama’s regulations and McConnell for the decline of the state’s coal jobs.

McConnell responded in his own victory speech that Grimes is “Barack Obama’s candidate” and sought to tie her to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose “coal makes us sick” remark continues to be a durable McConnell talking point. And the most recent polling suggests McConnell received a slight post-primary boost.

Even in private fundraisers with environmentalists and other liberal donors, Grimes has stayed on message that she is a “pro-coal Kentuckian.” But McConnell will continue to pummel her on the issue.

“It’s the biggest single problem that she has right now,” said Al Cross, a columnist and former political reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal who teaches at the University of Kentucky. But Grimes is still defining herself with voters and can “talk about coal in ways where you can find some common ground … not so much to persuade people but to stanch the losses,” he said.

One indication of how concerned Kentucky lawmakers of both parties are about the climate rule: The Legislature unanimously passed a law this year requiring the state to limit electricity cost hikes and discourage switching away from coal when complying with the EPA rules. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear signed it in April.

— West Virginia’s 3rd District: Rahall has likewise tried to distance himself from the EPA rule, saying in a floor speech Thursday that “the only real question is where on a scale from devastating to a death blow the new rule will fall.” He promised to “look at any and all options to block this proposed rule from being finalized.”

But he’s still taking a bashing from the National Republican Congressional Committee and conservative groups tied to brothers Charles and David Koch, which have focused on Rahall’s support for past budget proposals that included a carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy.

Rahall has long said he opposes a carbon tax, and he has regularly voted for pro-coal legislation in the Republican-led House. Those included a bill he co-sponsored, which the House passed in March, that would block a separate EPA climate rule for future power plants.

After watching his victory margin shrink to 12 points and then 8 points in his past two reelections, Rahall is one of the NRCC’s top seven Democratic targets this year and faces probably the toughest fight of his three-decade-long House tenure. He’s the only member from coal country on NRCC’s list of Democratic targets, all of whom represent districts that voted for Republicans in the last three presidential elections.

— Montana, Virginia and West Virginia Senate: It’s unclear whether the races to fill these Democratic-held coal-state seats are going to be close. Republicans running for open seats are favored in Montana and West Virginia, while Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has so far avoided being tarred with the “war — on coal” label. Warner was one of seven Senate Democrats who wrote to Obama asking him to reconsider his climate proposal for future power plants.

The Virginia race hasn’t drawn any interest from climate activist billionaire Tom Steyer and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, two big green forces that helped Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election.

2. Other energy states

Louisiana Senate: Landrieu is an outspoken supporter of her state’s oil and gas industries, has drawn loyal support from oil companies and can tout backing from Republican shipbuilder Boysie Bollinger. Republicans’ main criticism is that she’s powerless to thwart the agendas of fellow Democrats Obama and Reid. And EPA’s rule won’t counter Obama’s unpopularity in the state, which could hurt her.

Alaska Senate: Sen. Mark Begich has voted against efforts to undermine EPA regulations, making him one of a small number of Senate Democrats whom green groups will help in his reelection effort. Obama’s approval rating in Alaska is also among the lowest in the nation. But Begich is an ally overall of the state’s oil and gas interests, and just hosted a visit from one of the industry’s most powerful leaders, American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard.

This race is one of three this year that the Koch-backed American Energy Alliance has targeted — including $526,000 on TV ads attacking Begich for votes cast on a carbon tax, which he says he opposes. If the alliance runs a new round of paid media in the race, it will focus on EPA, an official at the group said.

Colorado Senate: The AEA has targeted Democratic Sen. Mark Udall with a $405,000 TV ad campaign focused on Keystone — and, as with the Begich race, would focus on EPA if it does another round of paid media. Udall has consistently voted against undermining EPA rules and has faced accusations of being wishy-washy on proposed local fracking bans. He’s also on a short list of candidates whom Steyer and Democrats green groups are trying to help.

Udall could gain from the potential for the EPA regulations to aid the state’s natural gas industry, as well as Colorado voters’ concerns about climate change — an — issue on which Republican challenger Cory Gardner is perceived as weak.

Pennsylvania governor: The EPA rules aren’t popular in coal-heavy western Pennsylvania, but the state as a whole is a burgeoning natural gas producer, and coal is a less persuasive issue in swing areas like the Philadelphia suburbs. Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett are far apart on climate change, though that issue hasn’t played prominently in the race so far. Steyer included this race on his short list of those he is targeting this year.

3. Anti-big — government states

Georgia, Arkansas and North Carolina Senate: Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Sens. Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Kay Hagan in North Carolina face electorates who generally don’t lean favorably toward government intervention, making the EPA rule a potential problem.

Pryor has sought to downplay the issue by joining Warner, Landrieu and four other Senate Democrats in signing the letter to Obama questioning the EPA’s rule for future power plants. He also signed a letter with Warner, Begich, Walsh and Landrieu asking EPA to at least double the public comment period for the existing-plant rule.

Hagan sent her own letter separately to EPA asking the same, while blasting Republican challenger Thom Tillis for denying climate change.

The LCV Action Fund endorsed Hagan, in part because she has voted against efforts to dismantle EPA regulations. She has tried to balance that by touting her support for Keystone, fracking and offshore drilling.

Florida governor: Many voters in the state’s interior and Panhandle share the South’s sensibilities against federal intrusion — while even South Florida, with its big population of liberal former Northeasterners, includes retirees worried about high taxes and electric bills. That could pose obstacles for Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, though he’s been leading in recent polls.

Then again, low-lying Florida is also one of the states most vulnerable to hurricanes and rising sea levels, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been on the defensive over his opinions on climate change. In 2011, he said he’s not convinced that “there’s any man-made climate change,” while lately he has cautioned that “I am not a scientist.”

Steyer is targeting the state, too, focusing on Hispanic voters in low-lying South Florida and the politically crucial Interstate 4 corridor, along with voters troubled by soaring flood insurance premiums.

Another sign of the dynamics at play here may be the recent flak that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio took after expressing doubt about the human influence on climate change. Those remarks earned a “high level of Latino pushback,” including letter-writing campaigns both in Florida and nationally, said Mark Magaña, president of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change and Green Latinos.

4. The outlook for 2016

If Obamacare provides any guidance, the climate rule’s political perils could increase as its implementation approaches. That could make 2016 a crucial year: States will probably have to submit their compliance plans by July of that year, and EPA will have 120 days to accept or reject them — butting up against November.

By then, it may be clearer which states can easily meet the rule’s burdens, which will have trouble and which may refuse to go along.

For any state that refuses or doesn’t submit a plan deemed acceptable, EPA can step in and impose its own program. While that sounds superficially like Obamacare’s federal exchanges, EPA has plenty of experience in evaluating states’ pollution programs and taking over those that fall short.

Meanwhile, Democrats will face a much more favorable Senate electoral map in 2016. Most of the races where EPA may be a factor that year involve Republican-held seats in Alaska, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois and Indiana — at the very least, Democrats won’t lose ground there. But EPA may also come up in the race for Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s seat in Colorado.

Two potential gubernatorial races to watch out for that year involve Democrat-held seats in West Virginia and Montana.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: c02; energy; epa; kingobama; obama
UN Agenda 21.
1 posted on 06/01/2014 8:34:06 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Nothing but Flowers
2 posted on 06/01/2014 8:40:45 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Let me guess. This bombshell is coming to us via Executive Order.

I looked for info on the internet and couldn't fine anything about it.

3 posted on 06/01/2014 8:45:43 PM PDT by OldNavyVet (Looking forward to November elections.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

No mention of coal in Wyoming?


4 posted on 06/01/2014 8:47:59 PM PDT by B4Ranch (Name your illness, do a Google & YouTube search with "hydrogen peroxide". Do it and be surprised.)
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To: All
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5 posted on 06/01/2014 8:50:04 PM PDT by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: OldNavyVet

It’s one of those “We already have established what kind of woman you are. We are now only haggling over the price” things.


6 posted on 06/01/2014 8:58:24 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Republicans need to run on abolishing the EPA and ALL of it's mandates
7 posted on 06/01/2014 8:59:36 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY - 86-44)
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To: Chode

We need a pro-God movement, the whining of the atheists and agnostics notwithstanding. Then the jillions of details will begin to get taken care of themselves because... and dig dis... God is real.


8 posted on 06/01/2014 9:04:41 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Sickos destroying America for their fantasies. Note we are the SECOND biggest co2 producer. Even if this global warming nonsense were true, China is increasing co2 so what Obama is doing is meaningless. Pure kookiness.


9 posted on 06/01/2014 9:05:10 PM PDT by Williams
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
If you belong to an electric cooperative, please go here and send the EPA a message.
10 posted on 06/01/2014 9:08:12 PM PDT by upchuck (Support ABLE, the Anybody But Lindsey Effort. Yes, we are the ABLE!!)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Obama just killed the Democratic Party’s chances of winning in 2016. Power bills will soar, and the GOP has just gotten its signature issue for Hillary’s run.


11 posted on 06/01/2014 9:08:21 PM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Oh, this will go over big. A big, steaming turd, which will drop right in the lap of each and every Dem who runs in 2014 and 2016. Watch them scramble, like cockroaches when you shine a light on them, running away from this.

My guess is that there will be a LARGE political and legal fight over this, and the idiot will be out of office before any “real” immediate damage is done.

However...

I don’t think that anyone has really considered how much long-term damage has been done here. Power plants and large infrastructure projects are planned,built, and operated on multi-year, multi-decade scales. What company will EVER embark on such a project when they now know that disaster for them will always lurk no more than four years and one idiot away?

It really will be easier to set up shop in another country.


12 posted on 06/01/2014 9:11:59 PM PDT by The Antiyuppie ("When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.")
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To: Zhang Fei

“Power bills will soar,”

What do you mean, “will”?


13 posted on 06/01/2014 9:13:53 PM PDT by The Antiyuppie ("When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.")
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To: All
"The Environmental Protection Agency’s rule, meant to cut greenhouse gas pollution from thousands of existing power plants, poses obvious dangers in November for Democrats in coal country and....."
...and anyone in the United states who wants to stay warm....
14 posted on 06/01/2014 9:17:36 PM PDT by LegendHasIt
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To: The Antiyuppie

Power bills, groceries, gas, insurance premiums, taxes—everything has gone up in the last few years, except job openings.
And one scandal after another. Way to go, Barry!


15 posted on 06/01/2014 9:19:26 PM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
That could make 2016 a crucial year: States will probably have to submit their compliance plans by July of that year, and EPA will have 120 days to accept or reject them

What happens if states refuse to comply? Many will sue. A few will sue and resist. Chaos in implementation is pretty much guaranteed.

16 posted on 06/01/2014 9:19:33 PM PDT by irv (Live Tea or die!)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
That could make 2016 a crucial year: States will probably have to submit their compliance plans by July of that year, and EPA will have 120 days to accept or reject them

What happens if states refuse to comply? Many will sue. A few will sue and resist. Chaos in implementation is pretty much guaranteed.

17 posted on 06/01/2014 9:19:34 PM PDT by irv (Live Tea or die!)
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To: Zhang Fei
Obama just killed the Democratic Party’s chances of winning in 2016. Power bills will soar...

Sadly, I don't think the average voter will make the connection. Even as we speak, food prices are rising dramatically. Much of that is due to the Fed's inflationary maneuvers.

But not 1 food shopper in 50 will make the connection.

18 posted on 06/01/2014 9:23:49 PM PDT by Leaning Right (Why am I holding this lantern? I am looking for the next Reagan.)
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To: Leaning Right
"But not 1 food shopper in 50 will make the connection." And to 23 out of that 50 it won't matter, because the taxpayers pay for their food, one way or another.
19 posted on 06/01/2014 9:29:58 PM PDT by LegendHasIt
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To: LegendHasIt

For a dole denominated in dollars, a few will make a connection.


20 posted on 06/01/2014 9:34:31 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Williams

And most of the carbon that has ever graced the earth’s atmosphere is now somewhere on the ocean floor anyhow.


21 posted on 06/01/2014 9:36:11 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Democrats will lie about it. The hits won’t come until after the elections.


22 posted on 06/01/2014 9:37:54 PM PDT by Organic Panic
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To: The Antiyuppie
What do you mean, “will”?

Whatever your power bills are today, they will double. You ain't seen nothing yet.

23 posted on 06/01/2014 9:50:48 PM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: Leaning Right
Sadly, I don't think the average voter will make the connection.

It will stare them in the face every month. Power bills will double. Thousands of dollars a year in additional utility bills per household represent something the GOP can trumpet in every ad in the run-up to the election. You think our power bills are high? Germans pay triple our rates because of similar cockamamie schemes. The difference is that German pols all agree on the need for them. The GOP has been screaming about idiocy of these schemes since way back when. We are talking an Australian-style landslide.

24 posted on 06/01/2014 9:57:49 PM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: Williams

“Sickos destroying America for their fantasies. Note we are the SECOND biggest co2 producer. Even if this global warming nonsense were true, China is increasing co2 so what Obama is doing is meaningless. Pure kookiness.”

What he is doing is deliberate. Significantly increasing the cost of energy and lowering even further the middle class’s buying power. More workers working for marginal income go on the dole, where the government foots their energy bill, which further increases taxes on those still producing products and services, moving them closer to marginal income levels, etc. etc.


25 posted on 06/01/2014 10:03:01 PM PDT by Blue Collar Christian (Vote Democrat. Once you're OK with killing babies the rest is easy. <BCC><)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Fine the countries with active Volcanos. YEA!


26 posted on 06/01/2014 10:12:02 PM PDT by MaxMax (Pay Attention and you'll be pissed off too! FIRE BOEHNER, NOW!)
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To: Zhang Fei

If the sheeple stop being sheepish, that is... if they are willing to let Democrats and liberals dictate to them what life is to be like, as though the latter were God, the former deserve the hell they will be sent to (on earth if not in eternity).


27 posted on 06/01/2014 10:38:37 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: irv

Sounds a lot like the Obamacare debacle.


28 posted on 06/01/2014 10:49:27 PM PDT by funfan
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To: Zhang Fei

Hillary is in there with the French nuclear power repubs and progressives.

Amazingly, one can see this “pro-nuke” effort oozing to the top in the democrat enviro operatives. Who were, in the 70’s completely opposed to nuclear power (3 mile island, etc. Karen Silkwood,etc... the 70’s radicals). Now all of the sudden I’m hearing rumblings about supporting it. The 3rd way for Hills.


29 posted on 06/01/2014 11:20:17 PM PDT by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
The dubious notions you have to believe if you support EPA regs:

1) that the Earth is undergoing warming, not natural "climate change"but an unnatural transformation.

2) that warming and/or climate change is exclusively caused by actions of mankind, not part of the natural order of the universe as normal as the ice ages, not the product, for example, of solar activity but specifically by CO2 emissions.

3) that global warming and/or climate change can be controlled, eliminated, even reversed, by the actions of men.

4) that global warming/climate change is undesirable rather than beneficial.

5) that both the undesirable consequences of global warming/climate change are universal with no beneficial consequences for anyone.

6) that if there are beneficial consequences to some their interests should be dismissed in favor of the interests of those who are harmed.

7) that the benefits of reversing global warming/climate change warrant the economic cost.

8) that the consequences of global warming/climate change are so severe as to warrant depriving mankind of liberty.

9) that government intervention is necessary to stop climate change/global warming.

10) that the government as an institution is sufficiently apolitical, efficient enough, and not too corrupt an instrument to control climate change/global warming.

11) that international consensus can be achieved that all nations, or at least a sufficient number of nations, will agree to act in concert to halt climate change/global warming.

12) that nations will not act selfishly to gain relative economic advantage by cheating on regulations to control, for example CO2 emissions.

13) that cheating by rogue nations will not render useless sacrifices of conforming nations.

14) that efforts to impose sanctions on rogue nations will be successful or, if failures, will not lead to war.

15) that submission by the United States to international norms to reverse global warming/climate change will not diminish American sovereignty.

16) that loss of American sovereignty, if any, is a small price to pay for reversing climate change/global warming.

17) that regulations necessary to achieve the steps outlined above are constitutional.


30 posted on 06/01/2014 11:22:19 PM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: nathanbedford

Ah, what’s science and reason and law when we can have a good panic???


31 posted on 06/01/2014 11:44:34 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

What’s the odds any republican getting in the WH would eliminate the EPA? Be pretty simple for the House to stop funding it yet they don’t.


32 posted on 06/02/2014 2:20:08 AM PDT by maddog55 (I'd be Pro-Choice if we could abort liberals.)
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To: Zhang Fei

“Obama just killed the Democratic Party’s chances of winning in 2016. Power bills will soar, and the GOP has just gotten its signature issue for Hillary’s run.”

You’re assuming the electorate will reconcile itself to reality. What the regime will do is suggest federal subsidies for those who face higher fuel prices, then successfully castigate the GOP for not going along. Our dumbed-down, low-info masses will lap it right up.


33 posted on 06/02/2014 4:42:59 AM PDT by ScottinVA (Obama is so far in over his head, even his ears are beneath the water level.)
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To: OldNavyVet
Let me guess. This bombshell is coming to us via Executive Order.

Nope. It comes to us via Supreme Court ruling. How nice. *spit*

34 posted on 06/02/2014 2:44:18 PM PDT by houeto (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate)
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