Will a Republican save Obama’s War on Coal?

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Published June 12, 2012

| FoxNews.com

As I wrote here on Fox News Opinion, the states in the Eastern region are headed for a significant spike in electricity prices thanks to Obama’s disastrous regulations, foremost among them Utility MACT.  The Midwest, even more heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants, will be hit even harder.  A reprieve could come in the form of Senator Jim Inhofe’s S.J. Res 37, which would overturn Obama’s most expensive anti-coal regulations. 

Indeed, with the vote on the Inhofe Resolution coming any day, Democrats are deeply concerned that a centerpiece of President Obama’s regulatory War on Coal is about to go down in flames.  The only apparent way Democrats can prevent that outcome is by having multiple vulnerable in-cycle Democrats join Obama’s War on Coal, against their own political interests.

The only Senate Republican who has publicly sided with Obama in support of the disastrous Utility MACT regulation that would cripple coal-fired power plants and therefore imperil our fragile economic recovery is Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, and he has been exposed to his constituents in a hard-hitting TV ad being run by my group, American Commitment.

The outcome of the vote, which is not subject to filibuster, is on a razor’s edge.  But Senator Alexander, who is under the mistaken impression that this economically devastating regulation will make his mountain retreat slightly more picturesque, refuses to back down.

Instead, according to sources on Capitol Hill, Alexander is poised to make a desperate attempt to get himself off the hook politically, thwart Inhofe’s resolution and give Obama’s War on Coal a green light. 

The ploy he plans to use is a phony amendment, reportedly being offered with Arkansas’s Mark Pryor that would extend the timeline for the Utility MACT rule from four years to six.

The amendment would not and could not pass the Senate, because it will surely be filibustered by California Democrat Barbara Boxer. 

Inhofe’s resolution needs 50 votes and has a good chance of getting there; the phony Alexander amendment will need 60 and almost certainly be dead-on-arrival. Even if by some miracle it could pass, the Alexander amendment would accomplish little — delaying a disastrous rule is hardly a victory, and most plants will close rather than attempt expensive retrofits no matter how many years they are given.

After West Virginia, no state has been hit harder by Obama’s War on Coal than Kentucky. It’s time for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to enforce some party discipline and explain to Alexander that this vote and this issue are far too important economically for phony political amendments and games. Does he really want to pave the way for Obama to accomplish his goal of making electric prices “necessarily skyrocket” and make it so that “you can build a coal plant… but it will bankrupt you”?

If Alexander does offer the amendment, neither he nor anyone who votes for it should be let off the hook. Constituents should make clear that, regardless of any sham amendments that might be offered, senators will be held accountable for how they vote on the only real vehicle that can put the brakes on the War on Coal: the Inhofe Resolution.

Mr. Kerpen is president of American Commitment and author of “Democracy Denied.”

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http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/12/will-republican-save-obamas-war-on-coal/