Pollution rule tricky for coal country Democrats

2014-06-03 17:26
The coal-fired Plant Scherer in operation in Juliette, Ga. (John Amis, AP)

The coal-fired Plant Scherer in operation in Juliette, Ga. (John Amis, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama's plan to curb power plant pollution has put Democrats running for office in coal country in a tough spot: Criticize their president, or side with him and become part of what could be a major drag on their region's economy.

Democrats are mounting a hard fight to preserve their six-seat Senate majority in November elections. Many of the toughest battles will be deep in coal country, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Colorado. In those states, Republicans have already been hammering Democratic candidates for ties to Obama and what the Republicans have branded his "war on coal".

In some cases, Democratic candidates have joined that criticism of Obama in the hope of improving their chances.

Kentucky's Democratic nominee for Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said Obama was attacking her state's coal industry and planned newspaper ads criticizing the president.

In West Virginia, Senate hopeful Natalie Tennant promised to oppose Obama if elected in November. And in the House, Representative Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat facing a tough re-election bid, said he would introduce legislation to block the plan.

Even the Democratic chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who also faces a tough re-election fight, questioned the measure's utility.

Obama's initiative aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by nearly a third from 2005 levels by 2030. But it delays the deadline for some states to begin complying until long after Obama leaves office.

Polls show a bipartisan national majority of Americans support limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists blame for climate change, according to a Washington Post/ ABC News poll released on Monday.

Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and 79% of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions, according to the poll. And 70% of all Americans say the federal government should limit greenhouse gases from power plants.

But deep in coal country, such proposals are politically untenable.

Pro coal

In Kentucky, Grimes pledged to "fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry."

Grimes' opponent, the top Republican in the Senate, brushed off Grimes' position as politically driven. Coal accounts for 90% of the electricity generated in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at Louisville's airport.

"I'm not surprised she says she's pro coal," McConnell told reporters. "What else would she say?"

In West Virginia, Tennant vowed to oppose Obama.

"I refuse to accept that we have to choose between clean air and good-paying jobs, when I know West Virginia can lead the way in producing technology that does both," she said.

In Colorado, Senator Mark Udall called the plan "a good start" on dealing with a genuine threat.

"Coloradans have seen first hand the harmful effects of climate change, including severe drought, record wildfires and reduced snow pack," he said.

But he credited his state for taking steps already without federal mandates.

And the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate's energy panel, Senator Mary Landrieu of oil-rich Louisiana, opposed Obama's plan.

"While it is important to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, this should not be achieved by EPA regulations," Landrieu said. "Congress should set the terms, goals and timeframe."

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  environment  |  climate change

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Heyneke unveils his USA plan
Lancaster, Robshaw consider their futures
Foley destroys England's dream
Boks continue upward curve
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.