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When Will Obama Issue Greenhouse-Gas Rules? When Will Obama Issue Greenhouse-Gas Rules? When Will Obama Issue Greenhouse-Gas Rules? When Will Obama Issue Gre...

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Energy / INSIDERS POLL

When Will Obama Issue Greenhouse-Gas Rules?

  President Barack Obama speaks during a 'Lawyers for Obama Luncheon' fundraiser, Friday, March, 16, 2012, at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama speaks during a 'Lawyers for Obama Luncheon' fundraiser, Friday, March, 16, 2012, at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

photo of Olga Belogolova
March 18, 2012

President Obama is going to issue controversial rules on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants only after the November presidential election, a narrow plurality of National Journal’s Energy and Environment Insiders predict.

The rules, which would limit greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, have been pending since last November, when the Environmental Protection Agency sent them over to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review.

The Obama administration has since been under pressure from Republicans and some conservative Democrats, who have been pushing the White House to kill the pending climate regulations. Last month, more than 200 lawmakers, including 14 Democrats, urged OMB acting Director Jeffrey Zients to stop consideration of these regulations;  they argue that the rules will drive up energy prices and threaten job growth.

 

Still, at a House hearing last month, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the agency remains hopeful the rules will come “early this year.”

National Journal’s Insiders aren’t so sure. Although nearly 40 percent of Insiders said that the administration would wait until after the presidential election to issue the new rules, nearly 30 percent said the rules would still come this month. Amid lawsuits from environmental organizations, EPA had initially said it would propose the rules in July of last year, but the agency has asked the court and environmental litigants for a series of short-term extensions.

Many Insiders contended that the White House, in weighing the political implications of issuing these rules, will “wait for a less turbulent political environment to move forward”—after the November election passes.

“OMB is going to hold on to the [regulations] until after the election. No matter what the [regulations] say, they are going to send shock waves through the important Rust Belt states. To release [them] earlier would be a certain self-imposed wound,” one Insider said.

Some Insiders maintained that Obama already handed a victory to his environmental base when he rejected a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in January and will not feel pressured to issue the greenhouse-gas regulations until after the election.

“The White House may think punting on Keystone was a big-enough bone for environmentalists and they don't have to do anything else for them before the election,” said one Insider. “And delay avoids providing grist for the ‘War on Coal’ mill.”

Twenty-one percent of Insiders said that the rules would come this summer, while 12 percent said they could be issued at some point in between.

In a poll conducted by National Journal in September, just after Obama shelved stricter environmental regulations for ground-level ozone until at least 2013, nearly 40 percent of Insiders said it was “somewhat likely” the White House would put off even more environmental regulations. They predicted that greenhouse-gas regulations would face the most scrutiny. 

Most National Journal Insiders—60 percent—agreed that this time around, issuing the greenhouse-gas standards for power plants ahead of the election could be politically damaging for Obama, while 38 percent argued it would be a good political move. 

When will the EPA release greenhouse-gas standards for power plants?

(34 votes)

  • This Month  29%
  • This Summer  21%
  • After the Election  38%
  • Other (please specify)  12%

This Month

“That doesn't mean they will be done before the election!”

“Yes, but only for new plants. The administration will defer standards for existing generating plants until after the election.”

“With the Senate rejecting a Republican-led attempt to thwart EPA's boilers rule, the Obama administration will deal from a position of strength and issue the long-delayed new source standards.”

“Great rules are like great wine—they take time.”

“If Obama wants to shore up his [environmental] base, he should propose the GHG standards before the election and show he's not afraid of a Republican nominee. Since it would be a proposal, the administration can always moderate its stance—much like it did in the tailoring rule between proposed and final.”

“They seem committed and willing to move ahead, understanding that the forces of darkness will throw a lot at them. Politically, leaning into the criticism is much better than running from it. It inspires the base, and may even help with independents in several of the swing states.”

“With the Senate rejecting a Republican-led attempt to thwart EPA's boilers rule, the Obama administration will deal from a position of strength and issue the long-delayed new source standards.”

This Summer

“Proposal in [the second quarter] defends against attacks from the left while leaving too little time to finalize the rule.”

“On a blisteringly hot and humid Friday afternoon when nobody is around to complain or (more importantly for them) cover it. It's all about shoring up that base of his.”

“It won't go final until after the election.”

After the Election

“The M.O. of this administration is to make sweeping regulatory changes in a manner that will cause them the least amount of pain — therefore, these expensive regulations will not be rolled out until after the election.”

“The White House may think punting on Keystone was a big-enough bone for environmentalists and they don't have to do anything else for them before the election. And delay avoids providing grist for the ‘War on Coal’ mill.”

“The standards under development apply only to new power plants. But they will inevitably be used as the basis of an accusation that they will be applied to existing power plants. Since explaining the distinction is harder than making the accusation, I would predict that the administration would wait for a less-turbulent political environment to move forward.”

“There's relatively little upside within moving this before the election. On the other hand, not waiting will allow the issue to build into the overregulation and/or allowing ideology to trump economic-recovery narratives, which are both gaining traction among independents. His campaign is most vulnerable in these areas and cannot afford to fan the flames.”

“OMB is going to hold on to the [regulations] until after the election. No matter what the [regulations] say, they are going to send shock waves through the important Rust Belt states. To release [them] earlier would be a certain self-imposed wound.”

“This is a close call. I don't think this will really be a big issue politically, but the less risky option is to wait until after the election.”

Other (please specify)

“Some Friday after 4:45 p.m.”

“Just before Easter; Good Friday on April 6 would be ideal from a public-relations, biblical-reference standpoint.”

“I wouldn't be surprised if they issued a rule in late April or May. The Republicans and the coal industry will howl, but the standards will most likely just codify something that is already happening — the move by the electric-utility industry away from coal and toward natural-gas generation. That move is largely driven by price, but it also brings substantial benefits in the form of lower CO2 emissions.”

 

Will issuing the greenhouse-gas standards before the election bode well for President Obama politically?

(34 votes)

  • Yes  38%
  • No  62%
  •  


National Journal’s Energy and Environment Insiders Poll is a periodic survey of energy policy experts. They include:

Jeff Anderson, Paul Bailey, Kenneth Berlin, Andrew J. Black, Denise Bode, Kevin Book, Pat Bousliman, David Brown, Neil Brown, Stephen Brown, Kateri Callahan, McKie Campbell, Guy Caruso, Paul Cicio, Douglas Clapp, Eileen Claussen, Steve Cochran, Phyllis Cuttino, Kyle Danish, Lee Dehihns, Robbie Diamond, David Di Martino, Bob Dinneen, Sean Donahue, Jeff Duncan, John Felmy, Mike Ference, David Foster, Josh Freed, Don Furman, Paul Gilman, Richard Glick, Kate Gordon, Chuck Gray, Jason Grumet, Christopher Guith, Lewis Hay, Fritz Hirst, Jeff Holmstead, David Holt, Skip Horvath, Bob Irvin, Bill Johnson, Gene Karpinski, Joseph T. Kelliher, Brian Kennedy, Kevin Knobloch, David Kreutzer, Fred Krupp, Tom Kuhn, Con Lass, Mindy Lubber, Frank Maisano, Drew Maloney, Roger Martella, John McArther, Mike McKenna, Bill McKibben, Kristina Moore, Richard Myers, Aric Newhouse, Frank O'Donnell, Mike Olson, T. Boone Pickens, Thomas Pyle, Hal Quinn, Rhone Resch, Barry Russell, Joseph Schultz, Bob Simon, Scott Sklar, Bill Snape, Jeff Sterba, Christine Tezak, Susan Tierney, Andrew Wheeler, Brian Wolff, Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, and Todd Young.

This article appears in the March 19, 2012 edition of NJ Daily.

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