New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte is at odds with GOP leadership and the vast majority of her Republican colleagues over climate-change policy heading into the 2016 elections.
Ayotte, who is girding for a difficult reelection fight, on Sunday became the first GOP senator to support President Obama’s sweeping regulation that mandates carbon-emissions cuts from the nation’s power plants.
Her announcement arrives as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Republicans are ramping up their legislative and messaging battle against the EPA rules, which seek to cut nationwide pollution from power plants by 32 percent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030.
One reason for Ayotte’s position: beer brewing. Ayotte cited the support of New Hampshire businesses for the plan, including Smuttynose Brewing Company, but also the apparel company Timberland, and Worthen Industries, which supplies adhesives and coatings to a various industries.
“It’s so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future. After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean-energy solutions that will protect our environment,” she said.
While Ayotte is the first GOP senator to flatly endorse the plan, Maine’s Susan Collins issued a lengthy statement in August calling the measure “significant” and said it was better than the draft version, but stopped short of outright support.
The Environmental Protection Agency rule, a central pillar of Obama’s climate-change agenda, lays out state-by-state targets for cutting emissions, and New Hampshire is tasked with a 23.3 percent reduction.
The rule enables states to use a range of options to meet the requirements, such as increased use of renewable energy, improvements in energy efficiency, and emissions trading with other states.
Environmentalists call it an important way to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of unchecked carbon pollution. But major business groups and Republicans argue that the plan will be economically harmful.
Ayotte, who is in her first term, is facing a challenge from Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, and early polling suggests a close race in the offing. New Hampshire will be an important battleground as Democrats seek to regain control of the Senate in next year’s elections.
Ayotte laid out her position in a carefully worded statement, which notes that New Hampshire is already “well on its way” to meeting its emissions-cutting target. Ayotte vowed to “carefully monitor” the implementation of the rule to ensure it provides enough flexibility and does not drive up energy costs in the state.
The announcement from Ayotte’s office points out that it’s not the first time she has broken with GOP leadership on environmental issues.
In 2011 and 2012, she was among a half-dozen Republicans to vote against bills that would have blocked EPA rules to cut smog-forming and toxic pollution from power plants.
But Democrats quickly attacked Ayotte after Sunday’s announcement. The New Hampshire Democratic Party issued a press release calling Ayotte’s support for the EPA rule “hollow.”
Democrats pointed to Ayotte’s vote in favor of a failed 2011 amendment authored by McConnell that would have blocked EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and support for a 2015 McConnell amendment that would prevent EPA from withholding highway funds from states that do not take steps to implement EPA’s power-plant rule.
“While I’m glad to see that Kelly Ayotte is heeding Maggie Hassan’s call for New Hampshire’s delegation to support the Clean Power Plan, it’s impossible to take Ayotte’s hollow support seriously considering that she’s voted to undermine the very efforts she now claims to support,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
This story has been updated.
What We're Following See More »
President Trump added five new names to his Supreme Court short list on Friday, should a need arise to appoint a new justice. The list now numbers 25 individuals. They are: 7th Circuit Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt C. Grant, District of Columbia Circuit Appeals Court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, 11th Circuit Appeals Judge Kevin C. Newsom, and Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick.
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday the Justice Department will revamp its policy for issuing guidance documents. Speaking at the Federalist Society’s annual conference in Washington Friday, Sessions said the Justice Department will no longer issue guidance that 'purports to impose new obligations on any party outside the executive branch.' He said DOJ will review and repeal any documents that could violate this policy." Sessions said: “Too often, rather than going through the long, slow, regulatory process provided in statute, agencies make new rules through guidance documents—by simply sending a letter. This cuts off the public from the regulatory process by skipping the required public hearings and comment periods—and it is simply not what these documents are for. Guidance documents should be used to explain existing law—not to change it.”
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."
"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."