Republicans hitting Begich over new EPA climate change rules

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be launching robo-calls beginning on Tuesday that target U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s alleged support for cap and trade. (Listen to the recording of the call here.)

The RNSC’s effort is on the heels of the Obama Administration’s EPA announcement that the agency is proposing new sweeping rules to target coal plants and cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. If passed, much of that reduction will be done through a cap and trade plan that will be left up to the individual states.

“It’s not surprising Mark Begich stands by Barack Obama’s costly regulations, because he supported the same cap-and-trade energy tax plan as Obama,” the robo-call will say. “A cap-and-trade energy tax could have killed almost 6,000 Alaska jobs, and reduced disposable income for Alaskan households by more than $1,200.”

The numbers are questionable, as is the charge that Begich supports cap and trade at all. It’s something that he’s consistently denied, and the record is fuzzy.

But what is true is that if the regulations take effect, cap and trade will be a major compliance tool used by states elsewhere. Alaska has an alternative program, so it won’t be used here. But the state’s power plants and coal industry will be affected by the rules.

What’s also true is that in 2010, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is highly critical of the rule, offered a resolution to stop the EPA from promulgating such regulations. The resolution needed 51 votes. She got 47 votes for it. Begich voted against it. In fact, he gave it a thumbs down on the Senate floor.

A statement by Begich’s press secretary at the time said that he didn’t vote for it because nothing was going to happen immediately. “Some regulations will not go into effect until 2016,” the press secretary wrote. At the time, Begich seemed sure that lawmakers could formulate an energy policy that would make the EPA rule moot.

The draft proposal will now be subject to a 120-day public comment period and will not be finalized until at least June 2015. States will have to submit plans by June 2016.

The issue is likely to haunt Begich throughout the campaign, as well as other Democratic Senators up for reelection in red states.

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9 thoughts on “Republicans hitting Begich over new EPA climate change rules

  1. Jon K

    This is from a 2011 DNR report highlighting some of the state’s efforts to displace diesel:

    * Since 2008, the State has appropriated more than $460 million for home energy efficiency rebates –the program has produced an average 33.3% improvement in home energy efficiency with over 21,500 Alaskans participating in the program
    • The Alaska Legislature has mandated that 25% of the state’s public buildings be energy retrofitted by 2020 and created $250 million revolving fund to finance that work

    * The Alaska Legislature has created a renewable energy fund to help foster renewable energy projects throughout the state and appropriated over $150 million for 133 renewable energy projects

  2. Jon K

    There are regional plans that are looking at displacing diesel. I agree that we study an awful lot. But we also have results. Check out what communities from Kotzebue to Unalakleet to Kodiak to Tok have done to displace diesel. The situation isn’t nearly as bleak as you think. Nome is moving forward with geothermal. The state also heavily subidized efforts to get test for geothermal at Mt. Spur and in Naknek. Some communities, with the state’s help, are also moving forward with more solar and biodiesel.

    The state’s performance isn’t perfect, but we spent a tremendous amount of time and resources to get communities off of diesel. We should be proud of the efforts to improve efficiency and the efforts to displace diesel. Some of these projects have failed. Some have succeeded. The point is there are a lot of folks making things happen. Stop being so cynical.

  3. Lynn Willis

    You can’t have “many comprehensive plans”. You can have only one comprehensive plan otherwise the plan is definition, comprehensive. After all this time with no comprehensive state energy plan I appreciate that we have funded organizations to employ Alaskans to study and study and study and study and maintain employment to further study some more. But to what end? Without a decent blueprint you cannot build anything – and we have no blueprint as far as state energy policy is concerned. I didn’t see any articles in the web sites your referenced specific to my point of trading current mobility fuel and space heating fuel emission levels for less total emissions, saving of public funds, and less total environmental impact of a dam, by generation of electricity for space heating by using coal and use of CNG/LNG as a mobility fuel. .
    The BNSF railway and other consumers of diesel fuel are seriously looking into CNG fuel to replace diesel. Is there any such activity in Alaska? We won’t even demand that some government vehicles switch to CNG to increase demand from Cook Inlet.
    But wait, we want increased demand for Cook Inlet gas so what do we do? We offer to fund a couple of pipelines from the North Slope with no guarantee that gas from those lines will be cheaper to consumers than imported LNG.. This puts the state in direct competition with the Cook Inlet producers who we subsidize already; however, its’ all good because we employ people to study these issues.
    We won’t even consider shipping Cook Inlet gas to Fairbanks. I bet you the goofy LNG trucking scheme into Fairbanks from the North Slope will use trucks powered by traditional diesel. fuel.

  4. birchstick

    This statement will be disputed furiously but a cap and trade scheme and a tax are two different things. But a robot can say anything.

  5. Lynn Willis

    If we had a comprehensive state energy plan maybe we could seriously contemplate what is the most practical and economical source of energy for various uses in Alaska that would minimize concerns for exceeding harmful pollution levels. For example, if we were to support the use of CNG (compressed natural gas) as a mobility fuel.and also began to use electricity as a primary source of space heating instead of stove oil, perhaps we could then use state-of-the-art coal based electrical power generation with certainly no net gain in emissions, a significant savings of now dwindling state dollars,.and support of Alaskan jobs. . .
    But we won’t do anything like that; we will continue to burn diesel and gasoline as mobility and space heating fuels while at the same time we build a very expensive dam with no purpose for flood control or a water supply only to generate electrical energy with no idea of what to do to support our coal industry.

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