10 sentences that show how Obama’s climate change rule makes some Democrats squirm


Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) speaks to members of the news media outside the West Wing of the White House earlier this year. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

The Obama administration is out with a proposed rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030.

For some Democrats in coal country, responding to this rule is easy: denounce, denounce, denounce.

For others, it's not so simple. Take Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), who has carved something of a national profile with Democrats (he's a former DNC chairman, for example) but still hails from a swingy, coal-producing state where he has to watch out for his political future.

Kaine's office on Monday released a pretty bland statement about Obama's proposed rule change. In 10 sentences, Kaine takes no position on the legislation but does offer plenty of vanilla thoughts on the climate change debate.

Here's what his statement says, and what it means (basically):

“Today the EPA proposed standards for carbon emissions for existing power plants."

Translation: Here's what's happening.

"Reducing this carbon pollution is in our national interest, but we have an obligation to do it in a way that makes economic sense."

Translation: I think we should compromise.

“I recently wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to request that the usual 60-day comment period be doubled to 120 days to allow maximum opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to analyze the rule and share concerns and ideas. I am gratified that EPA has agreed to this request, and I look forward to dialogue with Virginia families and businesses about the proposal."

Translation: Here's what I have decided: that we need more time so people can decide — people like me.

“Recent alarming climate trends, including the rise in sea levels in Hampton Roads, demonstrate that we must reduce carbon pollution in energy production."

Translation: We should do something, though I'm not sure this is it.

"That's why I support research investments in cleaner coal technologies, a groundbreaking plan to develop wind energy off the Virginia coast, safer development of natural gas resources and major steps to expand energy conservation and efficiency. These will be some of the innovative options that could count as emissions reductions under the EPA plan."

Translation: Although I'm not sure about this rule, here are some things I do support.

“I've seen how smart environmental rules helped us clean up the James River in my hometown in ways that improved our economy and quality of life. We don't have to choose between a clean environment and economic growth. We just have to make sure that we adopt balanced rules that advance environmental goals by spurring economic innovation.”

Translation: We should do things that will be acceptable to both sides, which might or might not include what the president is proposing.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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