Democrats in Republican-leaning states have a simple strategy for dealing with President Barack Obama’s upcoming power plant restrictions before the mid-term elections: Fight them, with the White House’s blessing.
The new rules, popular with the Democratic Party’s base, are one of Obama’s highest domestic priorities for his second term.
But they are complicating the lives of Democrats in coal and oil-rich states such as West Virginia, Louisiana and Alaska, where candidates are piling on the president and the Environmental Protection Agency for proposing restrictions that could cost jobs locally.
With control of the U.S. Senate up for grabs in the
November congressional elections, Democrats’ hopes of maintaining their majority could rest on the very races where the new energy rules are unpopular.
So, the White House is turning a blind eye to attacks from within the party, despite the importance of the regulations to Obama’s agenda and post-presidential legacy.
“We understand that there are going to be Democrats in these states that oppose it and are perfectly prepared that that’s going to happen,” one White House official said.
“We don’t agree, but we don’t have a problem with it.”
Despite their casual acceptance of Democrats who criticize the climate rules, the administration was not willing to put off releasing the regulations, which are due out on Monday.
And strategists inside and outside the White House were preparing to combat the onslaught of criticism from industry, Republicans, and even fellow Democrats.
The EPA rules will establish mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.