Inside the White House’s Last-Minute Blitz for Global-Warming Rule Support

The administration is looking for help as it prepares for a massive conservative backlash.

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
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Ben Geman, James Oliphant and Alex Seitz Wald
May 30, 2014, 2:16 p.m.

In a string of private meet­ings, high-level White House aides are seek­ing broad polit­ic­al sup­port for up­com­ing cli­mate-change reg­u­la­tions, reach­ing out to con­stitu­en­cies that go bey­ond the tra­di­tion­al en­vir­on­ment­al and pub­lic health groups that ad­voc­ate for pol­lu­tion con­trols.

John Podesta, who is a top ad­viser to Pres­id­ent Obama, and White House cli­mate aide Dan Utech have been lead­ing the out­reach ef­fort, the White House con­firmed.

Podesta and Melissa Ro­gers, who heads the Of­fice of Faith-Based and Neigh­bor­hood Part­ner­ships, met with rep­res­ent­at­ives from re­li­gious en­vir­on­ment­al groups Tues­day about the draft En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency rules, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­i­ar with the meet­ing.

There was also a White House meet­ing with labor ahead of the rule’s re­lease. Else­where, seni­or White House aide Ro­han Pa­tel met with Latino com­munity lead­ers, in­clud­ing Latino en­vir­on­ment­al­ists, on Thursday about the reg­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to a sep­ar­ate source.

The draft EPA rules, which are set to be re­leased Monday, are a corner­stone of the White House cli­mate-change agenda. The rules are aimed at car­bon emis­sions from power plants, a ma­jor source of U.S. green­house-gas pol­lu­tion.

Obama will per­son­ally tout the reg­u­la­tions Sat­urday in his weekly ra­dio ad­dress and again on a con­fer­ence call with pub­lic health groups Monday that’s open to the me­dia.

Obama’s per­son­al touch, along­side the private meet­ings, will piggy­back on a massive pub­lic re­la­tions cam­paign from en­vir­on­ment­al­ists, for whom the cli­mate rule is a top ask from Obama be­fore he leaves of­fice.

The White House’s bid for a broad al­li­ance, as well as the fer­vor with which they’ve pur­sued it, re­flects the com­ing back­lash against the rules. Just as the White House has worked to gal­van­ize its al­lies of all stripes, Re­pub­lic­ans, sev­er­al ma­jor busi­ness groups, the coal in­dustry, and oth­er power­ful in­terests are lin­ing up to op­pose the rules, prom­ising they will in­crease house­hold elec­tri­city prices and make do­mest­ic in­dus­tries less com­pet­it­ive.

And the ad­min­is­tra­tion can­not count on uni­form sup­port for the rules with­in the party: A slate of vul­ner­able Sen­ate Demo­crats — par­tic­u­larly from states with power­ful fossil-fuel lob­bies — are ex­pec­ted to come out against the rule. Mary Landrieu of Louisi­ana, who is fa­cing a tough reelec­tion chal­lenge in the fall, has pre­vi­ously cri­ti­cized EPA’s green­house-gas reg­u­la­tions. And Arkan­sas’s Mark Pry­or, who is also up for reelec­tion, has voted in the past to block the agency from en­for­cing such rules. Mul­tiple Demo­crats from ma­jor coal-pro­du­cing states also op­pose EPA reg­u­la­tions.

Podesta pre­viewed the rule for sev­er­al seni­or Demo­crat­ic lib­er­als in House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi’s of­fice on Thursday, Bloomberg re­ports.

The re­cent out­reach is part of a much broad­er EPA cam­paign to shore up sup­port for the rule — or at least de­fuse some of the op­pos­i­tion. EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy has for months been meet­ing with in­dustry and state and loc­al of­fi­cials and oth­ers.


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