Where does Begich stand on EPA carbon rules? Staff declines comment on hot-button amendment.

On Wednesday night, the Senate Appropriations Committee scuttled a politically problematic vote that would have included an amendment that blocked the EPA from finalizing proposed carbon emission limits for power plants.  The amendment was to be offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to a funding bill for the Energy Department and water programs. Sen. Mark Begich is a member of the committee. He’s been under fire for his alleged support of carbon taxes and regulations.

Heather Handyside, a Begich spokesperson, declined to say how Begich would have voted on the amendment or if he supported it. “We won’t comment on what might have been,” she said. She also said that neither Begich nor anybody else on the committee had seen the amendment’s language.

Don Stewart, a spokesperson for McConnell, said that all Republican members had the amendment, as did the Democratic chair. However, Stewart said that if Begich didn’t see it, he would be “happy to send it to him.”

It’s been widely reported that had it been offered, the vote would have put Begich and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the other red-state senator up for reelection, in the uncomfortable position of either bucking the Democratic party and voting against rules offered by Obama – the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda — or risk having the issue being used against them in an election year.

The EPA is not popular in Alaska, and neither are carbon taxes and restrictions. Alaska won’t be hit as hard as other states by the new rules, but the state’s power plants and coal industry will be affected. Further, the issue is symbolic of the kind of federal overreach that Republicans have been campaigning on. Republican groups, including Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers’ funded group, have smelled blood and have run a series of ads accusing Begich of supporting a carbon tax, something that Begich has consistently denied. Reporters, and bloggers, including this one, have run to his defense. 

However,  look deeper and it’s hard to tell where Begich really stands on any of this. In 2008, his campaign website said that he supported “national legislation…to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 through a cap and trade system.”  Cap and trade is a free-market mechanism to limit carbon emissions lest a tax, or fine, is imposed. It was not an unpopular position in Alaska then. Sens. Ted Stevens, who he was running against, and Lisa Murkowski both supported cap and trade. Since, it’s become more politicized and Begich has since said that he doesn’t support a national policy.

Further, Begich has yet to come out against Obama’s new EPA rules. And he has voted at least six times against bills, amendments and resolutions which would block the Obama rules and the EPA from regulating those emissions.

Begich even voted against such a resolution in 2010. The resolution, much like McConnell’s amendment, would have blocked the EPA’s regulation powers. It was offered by Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


10 thoughts on “Where does Begich stand on EPA carbon rules? Staff declines comment on hot-button amendment.

  1. Dave

    I have, and he has declined to answer. He was too busy making robo-calls for Nic Moe to be concerned with local state issues.

  2. Crystal J.

    This story saya a lot about the way Begich conducts himself as a public official. He played games like this when he was mayor and that resulted in tax hikes and a deficit when he left the office of mayor. It is hypocrisy and gamesmanship that I can’t stand. He knows a lot of the public doesn’t pay attention and he capitalizes on with lies and hypocrisy. Most of the media allows him to get away with it.

  3. True Blue Democrat

    I support Mark Begich. He strongly supports the carbon tax and has told me such. Mark cares about our environment and supports the EPA. Sure, that makes some Alaskans bristle but our planet will survive longer.

  4. AK Outdoorsman

    I agree with Alaska Cod Piece : Begich is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Senator, you can’t have it both ways. Take a stand now. Quit hedging and playing politics. Either you are or you aren’t. Your record on this issue appears to be a daily flip-flop. You should be embarrassed. Take a stand.

  5. Alaska Cod Piece

    I hope Begich has the courage to come out and say he supports the limits on carbon emissions, like he did with finally saying he was opposed to Pebble Mine.

    He can’t say he recognizes the ocean acidification and atmosphere dangers caused by increased carbon emissions — as chairman of the senate oceans committee, no less — and then squirm out on supporting cleaner air/oceans measures. It is what his constituents want and expect him to do. He can’t have it both ways.

  6. Jon K

    Where does Begich stand on repealing SB 21? What does he think about the state having an ownership stake in the pipeline? Why does he think the EPA should be able to usurp the state’s right to make land use decisions for state land? There are a lot of unanswered questions.

  7. Eddie

    The word that best describes Begich is “LIAR”.
    The liberal, biased media is either biased or too lazy to call Begich out. What I like about this blog is that you tell it like it is and are fair. Keep up the good work.

  8. Jay

    This article captures the true persona of Mark Begich. He is either pathological or so full of BS that he wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in the face. Just like his support for veterans – – sometimes it’s there, sometimes not. That’s exactly the way he’s treating the carbon tax issue. We need a senator that will stand up for Alaska and someone who understands that Obama is a huge problem for Alaska.

  9. Northern Observer

    Surprised? I’m not. Senator Begich’s entire political career has been one of illusion, bait and switch, double talk and hypocrisy. He wiggles, shucks and jives on most issues that are controversial. The best indicator to show that he does not fight for Alaska is his 97% voting record in support of President Obama.
    Begisb is bad for Alaska.

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