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“Our office will continue to evaluate our options,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick emailed last night, “in the case that there are not significant and meaningful changes incorporated in the final rule addressing the concerns expressed by Governor Walker and other governors across the country.”
“While we believe the proposed rule should be immediately withdrawn, we are considering all options to mitigate the damage if it becomes final, including not submitting a plan,” added Jindal spokesman Mike Reed.
So far, other Republican candidates have been more reticent to make such provocative pronouncements. Some privately lament the optics of defying federal regulations at the same time they attack Obama for not respecting the rule of law. There is also fear that it could be self-defeating for governors not to submit plans to the EPA because, if they lose in court, the federal government may actually be able to impose more onerous requirements. Finally, it is also unclear whether emphatic resistance — though encouraged by the fossil fuel industry — is a political winner for the GOP at a time of increased concern over global warming.
A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) — who is not yet formally in the presidential contest — said Thursday that the governor is not talking about non-compliance, but that the state filed more than 200 pages of concerns with the federal government and signed onto a lawsuit aimed at blocking the rules. Kasich has clashed with the energy industry in his state because he proposed higher taxes on fracking as part of tax reform.
A spokeswoman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not respond to requests for comment on whether he would defy the EPA. Neither did a spokeswoman for Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor.
Emboldened by last month’s Supreme Court decision calling for further review of EPA mercury regulations, the fossil fuel industry — heavy donors to Republicans — wants states to take on the new rule in the courts. At the very least, that might tie up the regulations long enough for a Republican president to undo them.
Other industry insiders said that they hope the threat of massive resistance from GOP governors will deter Obama from going as far as he otherwise might in the rule-making process. In recent weeks, mining industry lobbyists made a final effort to convince the administration to water down the rules during a White House meeting.