Midwest Senate Democrats’ political survival is predicated on tricking their constituents. Surely the average voter in Ohio or Missouri does not want the government spending at historic highs, taxes to increase, or the Environmental Protection Agency to dictate the American economy—yet this is what their Senators stand for.
Ruling the Senate with an iron fist and blocking problematic votes, Majority Leader Harry Reid has largely masked Midwest Democrats’ liberal ideology. But every now and then conservatives bring a bill to the floor that exposes who these Midwestern Democrats really are—California Senators with a twang. This week’s revelatory bill is Senator Inhofe’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) which would overturn the EPA’s Utility-MACT regulation, a deathblow to the coal industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the industry supports.
Costing an estimated $10 billion annually by 2016, the U-MACT wins the EPA’s pernicious accolade of most expensive regulation ever written for power plants. The U-MACT requires coal power plants to spend millions of dollars retrofitting their facilities or shutdown entirely. Unable to afford costly upgrades, many power plants will close their doors causing electricity prices and unemployment levels to rise.
Only requiring 50 votes to nullify the EPA’s regulation, there is a real chance Senator Inhofe’s CRA will become law. The lines are clearly delineated: Senators can side with their state’s job creators or Obama’s out of control EPA; Senators can support the CRA or oppose it.
This puts in-cycle Democrats in the proverbial pickle—they need votes come November but also want to kill the American coal industry. Coming to their rescue, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is planning on introducing a toothless bill with Democrat Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).
Politico has the details:
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) will introduce legislation as early as Wednesday to allow six years to comply with EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants, according to a Senate GOP aide. The Clean Air Act allows EPA to provide three years for compliance with the rule, and for states to add one more (which they've been encouraged to do). A fifth year is possible if there are reliability concerns, but not for cost or any other reasons. The Alexander-Pryor legislation would allow an across-the-board longer compliance time for all utilities.
This new bill, which has zero chance of becoming law, is meant to justify Democrat opposition to Inhofe’s CRA. Nor would it significantly mitigate the U-MACT’s job killing, electricity increasing effects, simply delay them.
The only opportunity the Senate has to overturn the U-MACT, and all of its disastrous consequences, is to pass the Inhofe CRA. The Alexander-Pryor bill is dead-on-arrival rendering its hypothetical benefits irrelevant. Nothing more than a cover bill, the Alexander-Pryor bill’s intent is to blur the lines so clearly drawn by the Inhofe CRA and confuse voters. This can’t be allowed to happen.