Dems’ secret desire to ram cap-and-trade through the back door

Deneen Borelli Director of Outreach, FreedomWorks
Font Size:

From health care to energy independence, Barack Obama seems determined to drive our economy and our liberties over a cliff in his effort to remain faithful to the progressive agenda.
Falling poll numbers and off-year election losses in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts appear to have been no deterrent.

It is this full-court progressive push that has spurred tea party activists to action. Their frustration over a lack of true representation cuts across political boundaries, giving tea parties a political diversity likely never before seen in American politics.

While Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have no qualms about offending the electorate, some of their colleagues have felt the tea party heat and are being more subtle—if not deceiving—in dealing with constituent anger.

With cap-and-trade legislation nearly dead in the Senate, the Obama administration now hopes to ram climate regulation through the backdoor.

Apparently heeding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s advice to “never allow a crisis to go to waste,” the Environmental Protection Agency last December issued its “endangerment finding” that carbon dioxide is a threat to human health and the environment.

Why call this vital gas—one which we exhale—a threat? In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant if it ruled them a public health threat under the Clean Air Act.

Voila!—a stalled legislative branch is taken out of the equation.

No matter how they are implemented, greenhouse gas limits will, in Obama’s own words, cause energy prices to “skyrocket.” They will reduce business output, destroy jobs, raise consumer prices and shift energy production overseas. Coal states will suffer more than others.

This puts Democrats from coal country in a quandary. While many of them want to remain true to progressive principles, they cannot ignore the fact that these EPA regulations will devastate their states’ economies.

But these concerned progressives seem to prefer talk to actual action.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to EPA Director Lisa Jackson this past February, asking for an explanation of how and when the EPA will implement these regulations and if it might see fit to spare industries in their states.

Jackson indicated a willingness to help, but said she still would push ahead on things such as clamping down on drivers. Rockefeller now has legislation to defer enforcement until after November’s elections.

These senators are pointedly ignoring the bipartisan resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res. 26) from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to block EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gasses. The moderate Murkowski suggests, “We should continue our work to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation, but in the meantime, we cannot turn a blind eye to the EPA’s efforts to impose backdoor climate regulations with no input from Congress.”

Not surprisingly, Obama’s EPA welcomes Rockefeller’s softball approach. EPA spokesman Adora Andy said, “It is important to note that Sen. Rockefeller’s bill, unlike Senator Murkowski’s resolution, does not attempt to overturn or deny the scientific fact that unchecked greenhouse gas pollution threatens the well-being of the American people.”

The White House is seizing the power granted by the court’s ruling to enact regulations the Senate will not pass. And the only relief these liberal senators seek is to keep the heat off them until after the next vote.

Judging by EPA’s preference for Rockefeller’s bill, it’s possible his legislation was offered to protect the agency’s endangerment finding while also reducing momentum for Murkowski’s effort. The fact that Murkowski has put her proposal on hold to watch the outcome of Rockefeller’s bill only adds credibility to this line of reasoning.

In the past, superficial acts such as strongly-worded letters and legislation that only stalls harmful regulations may have been sufficient to pacify constituents’ concerns.

But times have changed.

Amid high unemployment and a concerned electorate, senatorial legislative maneuvers are outdated.

The fact that 20 U.S. governors and over 100 business groups have expressed support for Murkowski clearly demonstrates a strong preference for meaningful action over stall tactics.

Progressive elected officials such as Rockefeller may prefer business as usual but this mindset is the catalyst for tea party activists and other Americans who are no longer politically asleep.

Freedom-loving Americans will not be fooled when progressive lawmakers try to advance their agenda over the will of “We the People.”

Deneen Borelli is a Fellow with Project 21, a network of black conservatives and initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a national public policy group based in Washington, D.C.