The PJ Tatler

Team Obama to push back anti-energy regulations in favor of politics; 'Brownerites' at EPA Steam

Certain signs too detailed to mention here indicate that the White House is indeed being run already by the re-elect team, and Left-liberal constituencies are being tossed overboard, for the time being, one at a time. Word is that the greens are next, in the form of one and maybe two of their backdoor cap-n-trade energy rationing regulations being put on the shelf until there is no chance of the costs manifesting themselves too greatly (the uncertainty is already pinching some industries) to the point that they are certain political liabilities.

Plus, word is David Plouffe’s idea is that so long as coal isn’t prodded to finally organize and adopt  a fight-or-die stance, and utilities which might largely sit this one out aren’t encouraged by administration zeal and inflexibility to weigh in, against the re-elect, things look much better for Obama.

Now, in the face of some new evidence, consider this prescient call from the Cooler Heads Digest of May 20th which also provides necessary context:

The 2012 presidential election is starting to bend some of the Obama Administration’s environmental and energy policies. …[One] sign of the Administration’s focus on the President’s re-election is that the Environmental Protection Agency has suddenly started paying attention to the concerns of industry. The timetables for new regulations of coal ash disposal and of surface coal mining in Appalachia have been extended. EPA announced last week that it was reconsidering, but not delaying, some parts of its new Clean Air Act rule for cement plants.  This week EPA suspended indefinitely a similar rule for industrial boilers that it had promulgated in February.  EPA said that it will conduct more analyses and re-open the public comment period for the boiler rule.

EPA is also considering acceding to requests from Congress and electric utilities to extend the public comment period for its proposed Clean Air Act rule for coal-fired power plants. A good excuse for extending the comment period is that a simple mathematical error in EPA’s calculations has been pointed out by the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a utility industry coalition.

The boiler MACT (which stands for Maximum Achievable Control Technology), cement MACT, and utility MACT rules would limit air emissions of mercury and approximately 70 other metals and other substances.  The delays in finalizing and implementing these three rules may postpone the considerable economic damage that each of them will do until after the election.  Environmental pressure groups are naturally not happy with anything that delays shutting down the U. S. economy, but there are rumors that they have been told by the White House to shut up until after the election.

Now we hear quiet lefty grumbling in the pressure groups and on the Hill about the ‘utility MACT’ indeed being postponed, because it is clear that once it is in place power generation facilities throughout the Midwest and mid-Atlantic would be forced off-line. And one source inside the administration tells me, about the rumored ‘utility MACT’ delay, “There is a delay, but only political appointees were allowed in the room when it was discussed. A colleague tells me the Brownerites are furious, so you may be right.”

This delay is being lobbied for by utilities willing to throw our most abundant domestic energy source, coal, under the bus so long as they can pass through the costs of their exotic wind, solar and related gadgets through to the ratepayer with a 10-11.5% taste on top for themselves (which is the current system). The downside is that this would provide an unfortunate reprieve for the administration. They would delay this debacle until a politically less accountable time.

As the greens undergo their well-publicized navel-gazing about how they spent a half a billion dollars and still belly flopped on cap-n-trade, they’re more likely to accept this now than ever. And, if not, so what if the greens scream; the White House is more afraid of the middle class and middle America where plants will soon be specifically identified by utilities as must-shuts under the rule.

So one might as well frame this move in advance for what it is — a way to evade electoral responsibility for what their plans are teeing up. It is an admission that what they’re planning is just too damaging to be allowed to get even rolling before the re-elect is secured, as the one thing they all don’t want is to not be re-elected.