Obama’s Climate Agenda Divides U.S. Democrats

  • Date: 02/06/14
  • Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

Obama’s emissions policy shines a spotlight on a growing division within the Democratic Party: the disconnect between donors who live in big cities on the coasts and elected officials who have to balance budgets and create jobs in energy-producing states.

When President Obama announces new rules Monday governing carbon emissions from coal plants, some of the loudest cries of opposition are likely to come from members of his party.

The regulations, aimed at combating a rapidly changing climate by implementing state-by-state limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, will shine a spotlight on a growing division within the Democratic Party: On one side are major donors, who take a particular interest in environmental causes and are becoming increasingly important to the party. On the other are candidates from energy-producing states — where regulations on coal-fired power plants could have the most detrimental effects — whose fates will decide control of the Senate.

The rule is one of the most significant steps the government has taken to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

Those candidates — most notably Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and, to a lesser extent, Mark Udall (Colo.) — are on the front lines of the battle for the Senate. Their Republican opponents will almost certainly use Monday’s announcement to attack them.

“Every American’s electricity bills will get more expensive, and we will force-feed those electric bills back to every Democratic candidate,” said Brad Todd, a Republican strategist working for Hagan’s and Pryor’s opponents. “When any politician gets caught making life more expensive for the middle class, he or she is in harm’s way.”

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