The League of Conservation Voters is on the air in the state with this ad in support of the EPA’s new carbon regulations. It makes the classic appeal to children, urging people to “support our kids” by telling the EPA what a bang-up job it’s done on these new rules.
But ads urging folks to thank a government agency don’t arise out of nothing, just as the markets in which those ads run aren’t chosen by random tosses at dart boards. The LCV ad is running in Virginia because Virginia is not only coal country, but it is also critical to the President’s re-election plans As I wrote earlier in the week, Mr. Obama’s campaign is already running ads — and has outside groups doing the same — touting his energy record (while never mentioning coal) because he understands that his weakness on this issue could sink him with voters angry at rising gas prices.
The LCV ad plays the other side of the energy fence, placating his base by showing that he still hasn’t forgotten his promise to destroy the coal economy.
But the ad has another intended beneficiary: Tim Kaine. In a conference call this morning, Rep. Morgan Griffith, Del. Terry Kilgore and Virginia Victory Chairman Pete Snyder talked about the potentially devastating effect of these new regulations on Southwest Virginia. But in the course of the discussion, they all wondered why we haven’t heard from Mr. Kaine about the new regs.
I suggest the LCV ad is his response. Not directly, of course. But as we see in this timeline of Kaine’s interactions with the LCV, it’s fairly clear that the LCV has Tim’s back on all matters related to the EPA. They will do the heavy lifting, and take the barbs, for him. And write his campaign checks to boot.
Darn those secretive outside groups and their flimsy television ads making false attacks.
One of the more interesting nuggets to come out of the conference call was Morgan Griffith’s wondering if the EPA’s new regulations aren’t just exporting any domestic coal pollution problems overseas. This Reuters story touches on the matter:
Michael Dudas, a coal industry analyst at Sterne Agee, said the EPA rules, likely to come into effect in a year, will force the coal industry to cut production, but also ramp up exports. Last year exports accounted for about 10 percent of total U.S. coal production of 811 million tons, according to the Energy Dept.
“The U.S. will become a much more important supplier to the world,” he said, noting that demand was high in Asia for both thermal coal, used in power generation and metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel.
So perhaps there’s a sliver of a silver lining for the Virginia coal fields in the new regulations. But exporting the coal also means exporting the nasties it generates to countries that aren’t too keen on regulating pollution at all. So the carbon dioxide will still find its way into the atmosphere and the mercury and other heavy metals will find their way into the soil and ground water — just not here at home.
Think of it as environmental imperialism.
I don’t think the children of those polluted Asian countries will be calling the EPA to thank them for its regulations any time soon.