The White House has taken a long time to weigh in on the controversial Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline. But despite successfully putting off a determination on the pipeline that could create political fallout, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency moved forward with the release of regulations to curb carbon emissions from power plants this month.
Opponents of the rule have already started to attack the administration and coal-state Democrats on the climate rule, saying that it will drive up energy costs and kill jobs.
Part of the reason the administration decided to roll out the rule now rather than after the midterms is because the president is in a race against the clock. As his time in office ticks down, he's rushing to enact policies that will shore up a legacy on climate change. And the climate rule is poised to become the centerpiece of that effort.
But where does that leave moderate Democrats faced with tough reelection fights? Will Republicans succeed in tying lawmakers like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Begich of Alaska to the climate rule? Or will they manage to find political cover? If Democrats from energy-rich states are linked with the rule, what will that mean for their reelection bid? Is the rule a liability? Or have predictions of its impact on electoral politics exaggerated?