Friday Lightning Round: EPA regulations

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star Panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ELGIE HOLSTEIN, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND: I think there has been a fair amount of scaremongering that says that the only way we can address climate change is through drastic action that is going to increase everybody's electricity bills or ruin the kinds of vehicles they want to drive, and none of that is happening.

MARC MORANO, CLIMATE DEPOT: I think it's served skeptics very well to point out that the prediction that the global warning activists have made have gone belly up.


WALLACE: And the debate over climate change rolls on. Each week we ask to you vote in our Friday Lightening Round poll. And this week you chose EPA regulations. We are back now with our panel. So the EPA has come out with a proposal for tough pollution standards for new coal fired power plans. They are using as their model, this is not that plant, but a new power plant in Mississippi which has begun using this technology. The problem, plant operators say, is it is not ready for commercial use. So, Bill, is this new proposed EPA regulation on new coal powered plants reasonable or not?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It doesn't sound too reasonable. I would say just talking to businessmen and not simply those in the energy industry, the number of people who tell me the EPA is unbelievably overbearing now and is really pushing the boundaries of established law and costing economic growth and costing jobs, I'm really struck by that. EPA is one of those things that's below the radar. It's not legislation but regulations. But I think it's a real issue out there.


CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it is a real issue for the coal producing states for sure. And two of them have big Senate elections this coming November, West Virginia and Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky. He hasn't been doing too well lately, but maybe one way to help him to win would to be put pressure on the coal industry and to have him campaign against the EPA for that reason. You know, we're actually reducing our CO2 emissions due to fracking which was not a government program, but is really where the future lies in natural gas.

WALLACE: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Except that these are liberals in a hurry. You are right that natural gas is outstripping coal and might over time diminish its production. But these guys don't want to wait. They want to kill coal. And by adopting a standard that the owner of the plant, the one that does the carbon capture, himself says is not commercially available now, by making it the standard, the EPA is explicitly destroying the coal industry, knowing it's going to do it, and doing it on purpose.

WALLACE: Next topic, the Winter Olympics in Sochi which officially got underway today amid a backlash of security scares and, according to reporters, primitive living conditions. The question is, is that going to continue to be a big story, Bill, or will the competition take over?

KRISTOL: I hope the competition takes over. I feel bad for some the athletes who are stuck in these bad living conditions. I hope the members of the International Olympic Committee who made the idiotic selection of Sochi are being stuck in the worse hotels with the worst showers --


WALLACE: Why do I think that's not happening?

KRISTOL: Somehow, I think they're living in the best place and all the athletes are five to a room.

WALLACE: Chuck, have you written, you think it's time for the winter and summer Olympics to go kaput.

LANE: And this failure in Sochi shows it. I mean, even if it had been a success, it would have been a failure in the sense that it would have been a showcase for a despotic government led by Vladimir Putin.  Fortunately, he is an incompetent despot. He couldn't organize a showcase.  He could only organize this mess that they have on their hands.

It's not internationally friendly festival. It's an armed camp of 50 thousand security people to protect against threats; it's a muddy armed camp. I think it demonstrates why the Olympics have outlived their usefulness.

WALLACE: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: A spoiler alerted, they have a little bit of trouble and they will tonight in the opening ceremony as we will see it tonight, where one of the Olympic rings doesn't light up. We are so wise on the panel we can actually see into the future.

WALLACE: We have broken the time-space continuum. Let me go because we are not so wise that we can't beat the clock. Winner and loser of the week, Bill?

KRISTOL: Winner -- the Senate Republican conference and they're likely to be the majority in 2015, because they are likely going to take the Senate this November. The loser, ObamaCare. I do think the CBO report, which showed the job loss added to all the health care consequences of ObamaCare really could be -- people could look back at that at a moment when the effort to save ObamaCare took a really stunning blow.


LANE: My winner of the week is the head of the CBO, Doug Elmendorf.  In a city that is completely packed with lobbyists and spin-meisters, we need an honest broker. We need somebody who actually works with data and isn't afraid to say what it shows. And he stood up there and reported this tough report on the health care plan and took on distortions from both sides, I would say, and did a very professional job. He is my winner.

My loser is Mitch McConnell, because there is a new poll out in Kentucky that shows him trailing his Democratic challenger by four points, Alison Lundergan Grimes. A lot of Republicans can run against Obama and hope to win on that basis. Mitch McConnell trails Obama's approval rating in his own state.

WALLACE: And Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Winner is Mary Landrieu, senator from Louisiana. Tough race, and by a series of rather cynical maneuvers in which Senator Max Baucus became the ambassador to China this week, retiring early, she gets the powerful chairmanship of the energy committee, and in Louisiana energy is king. That will help us in her re-election.

WALLACE: And your loser?

KRAUTHAMMER: Loser are Democrats who have been hoping that Republicans would remain suicidal and introduce immigration legislation in the House, which would be a disaster. Instead they wisely decided, the Republicans, they'll wait until next year and that will help to focus the election on ObamaCare and to pass immigration reform next year when the Republicans control the Senate so they will get a better Bill.

WALLACE: Two votes for a Republican Senate. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for an example of Olympic fever run amuck.

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