When the EPA lost their case against Michigan in the Supreme Court last month, we talked about how the administration can win even when they lose. They manage this by setting deadlines for regulatory compliance which arrive far faster than a challenge can make its way through the court system. Then, by the time the justices settle the matter, even if the EPA is found to have been in the wrong the states and the energy industry have already spent all the cash, diverted the resources and lost the energy off the grid because they didn’t want to fall out of compliance.
There are still more sweeping energy regulations coming down the pipeline and I was wondering if any of the states would take a cue from the Michigan case and begin telling the administration to cool their heels until their court challenges are heard. As it turns out, we didn’t have long to wait. As the new Clean Power Plan approaches, several GOP governors, including two who are running for president, appear to be ready to make a stand.
As President Obama prepares to complete sweeping regulations aimed at tackling climate change, at least five Republican governors, including two presidential hopefuls, say they may refuse to carry out the rules in their states.
The resistance threatens to ignite a fierce clash between federal and state authorities, miring the climate rules in red tape for years. The fight could also undermine Mr. Obama’s efforts to urge other nations to enact similar plans this year as part of a major United Nations climate change accord.
Republican strategists say that rejection of Mr. Obama’s climate policy at the state level could emerge as a conservative litmus test in the 2016 election. Two of the governors who have said that they might defy the regulations — Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — are among at least four Republican governors who are expected to vie for the presidential nomination.
Other governors who have issued threats over the rules include Greg Abbott of Texas, Mike Pence of Indiana and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
This is pretty much exactly what Mitch McConnell was urging the states to do earlier this year, a move which had the Left tagging him with all sorts of unpleasant labels. But now that Michigan has prevailed against the overreach of the EPA, some spines seem to be stiffening. (And, yes… in the case of Jindal and Walker, the fact that they are in the POTUS bear bit probably juices them up a bit.)
Of course there’s a bit of risk associated with the move. Assuming they do stand their ground and a deadline passes, the EPA can hit them with crippling fines and penalties better suited for Russia and Iran. One assumes that if they prevail in court those penalties would go away, but what happens if you lose? It’s a significant roll of the dice for the states, but I’m guessing at least some of them will take a run at it.
“The E.P.A.’s latest attempt at imposing burdensome regulations represents an unprecedented meddling with Texas in order to push the Obama administration’s liberal climate change agenda,” said Mr. Abbott, the Texas governor, who has met with Mr. McConnell about his effort to ensure that states do not submit climate change plans, and has announced that he will support the push.
Michael Reed, a spokesman for Mr. Jindal, said in an email: “The president’s Clean Power Plan undermines the role of states in the federal Clean Air Act in an effort to realize a radical, liberal agenda that will lead to increased energy costs. While we believe the proposed rule should be immediately withdrawn, we are considering all options to mitigate the damage if it becomes final, including not submitting a plan.”
In a letter to Mr. Obama, Governor Walker wrote that he feared the “staggering costs it would inflict on Wisconsin’s homes and businesses,” and added that absent major changes to the plan, “it is difficult to envision how Wisconsin can responsibly construct a state plan.”
Bold words from one and all. But it will be a while yet before we know if they will all walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. I’d put money on Abbott and Walker going to the mat. Jindal is a possibility, but he’s yet to show me that he’s in it for the long haul. I’d love to be proven wrong, though.