Thursday, October 30, 2014

LCV-Backed Susan Collins Still Won't Comment on Obama's EPA Carbon Regulations

I have criticized the League of Conservation Voters' endorsement of Susan Collins in past diaries. The single most important vote that Collins will cast on the environment is her vote for Majority Leader. She will be voting for Mitch McConnell, and that should disqualify her from support.

So, for that matter, should her support for the Keystone XL pipeline in my opinion. She has a lifetime score of 67% with the LCV, which is only impressive if you are grading on a curve.

On Monday, Republican senator Susan Collins and her Democratic challenger former executive director of ACLU Maine Shenna Bellows faced off in a debate.

In one of my favorite moments of the debate, Bellows attacked Collins for her overstating her pro-environment record:
BELLOWS: The League of Conservation Voters rated you a D. It’s the strongest score of any Republican in the US Senate, which demonstrates the stakes and what could happen if Republicans were to gain control of the Senate. But it’s still a D.
Bellows then went on to note that Collins still has not made any statement on Obama's proposed carbon regulations. If she is such a pro-environment candidate, shouldn't she have something to say? 
Collins began by going back to a prior point of debate about a bill she introduced in 2011 (the EPA Regulatory Relief Act) to exempt biomass boilers from the Clean Air Act. In other words, she began by not answering the question.
COLLINS: So it appears that my opponent still would have imposed those original EPA regulations on biomass boilers industrial boilers that schools, hospitals, our wood mills all rely on. That’s just irresponsible. And EPA modified them because they knew they were far too expensive and in some cases not technically possible.

Here's how the LCV describes the House companion bill to what Collins proposed:
[T]he so-called EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011....would indefinitely delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators, which act as small, in-house power plants and emit toxic air pollution including mercury--a potent neurotoxin especially dangerous to pregnant women and children--and cancer-causing dioxins.  These facilities are the nation's third largest source of mercury emissions.  Every year these standards are delayed would mean up to an additional 8,100 premature deaths, 52,000 asthma attacks, and 5,100 heart attacks.
Then when Collins got to Bellows's actual question, she still didn't really answer:
As far as the president’s new regulations on carbon pollution, I have voted repeatedly to allow EPA to regulate carbon pollution, but these regulations are in the initial stage, and I want to hear what the stakeholders have to say. That’s the way the process works. You get comments on proposed rules, and that leads to better rule-making. And it would be irresponsible to take a position before that process has been completed.
Collins was just defending her prior effort to delay a proposed rule by the EPA. That was intervening during the comment period. Apparently, to Collins, it was okay then, but somehow "inappropriate" now. Susan Collins just doesn't want to say anything so that she doesn't have to irritate the LCV and EDF on one side or her oil and coal baron friends on the others. And that's not leadership. Maine can do better.

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