Climate Policy Already Headlining 2014 Midterm Elections

Climate Policy Already Headlining 2014 Midterm Elections
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The U.S. may still be more than a year out from the 2014 midterm elections, but Republicans in Congress are already making the Obama administration’s climate policies a key issue for voters.

Republican Representative Ed Whitfield from Kentucky announced this week that he intends to make the President’s climate change policies, specifically stricter standards on coal-fired power plants, a top talking point during the coming campaign season.  Whitfield also announced that he would introduce legislation to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal plant emissions.

The Hill quotes Whitfield as saying, “We are going to mark this legislation up, we are going to get it to the floor, we want to get it over to the Senate, and we want those senators running next year to have to have a discussion with whoever their opponent may be about the future of fossil fuel in America.”

Whitfield wants to force the issue of “restrictive” climate policy onto Democrats who are running in conservative areas of the country, with an emphasis on those running in areas that are entrenched with the dirty energy industry, like his home state of Kentucky, along with West Virginia and the Carolinas.

Representative Whitfield has long been a mouthpiece for the dirty energy industry during his tenure as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power; a position that has earned him more than $900,000 in campaign donations from the oil, coal, and gas industries.

The issue that has Whitfield up in arms is the EPA’s forthcoming rules on emission limits for new coal plants.  Earlier this year, the EPA put forth several new rules to reduce coal plant emissions, with the second half coming early next year.  The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this month to a partial review of the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, a move that could either bolster or completely undermine Whitfield’s efforts.

This is not the first time that Whitfield has taken on the administration’s climate change policies.  After President Obama’s national address on climate change this past summer, Whitfield made the following statement

“The president’s plan to regulate new and existing power plants is not surprising…In 2008, the president stated that he would bankrupt the coal industry.  Over the past four and a half years, his administration has vigorously pursued this goal through cap-and-trade legislation and a swarm of costly new EPA regulations.  The president’s action plan seeks to limit our nation’s fuel choices and make coal-fired electricity generation in this country extinct, despite the fact that coal is our largest source of electricity and one of the nation’s most abundant and affordable resources.”

Representative Whitfield claims that the new EPA standards will force countless coal-fired power plants to shut down, which will lead to rampant joblessness across the country.  This is going to be his talking point in next year’s midterm election, as he tries to dupe the American public into voting for dirty energy by playing on their fears. 

We can expect much more of this spin over the next 12 months. Are you ready?

Climate Policy Already Headlining 2014 Midterm Elections

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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