Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic Senate candidate in North Dakota, made a late-Friday assault on President Obama’s anti-coal energy policy and officials that deserves another look.
“You’re wrong on energy,” Heitkamp said she would tell the president. “You’re headed in the wrong direction. You made bad decisions . . .You promised that you would promote clean coal technologies, that you would be a champion of coal, and you haven’t done it.”
Heitkamp also called for Obama to fire Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Do not sit in a small room, with a small group of advisers, and decide (energy policy),” the AP quotes Heitkamp as saying to explain why she would like to see Jackson ousted. “You have to have a broad dialogue.”
Jackson, whose position in the White House strengthened when chief of staff Bill Daley left earlier this year, is unlikely to move. Heitkamp’s decision to attack the EPA in her election is understandable, though.
The EPA doesn’t like to talk about it’s opposition to coal-produced energy, but EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding let Americans in on the secret.
“Lisa Jackson has put forth a very powerful message to the country,” Spalding told Yale University during a March 30-31 forum. “Just two days ago, the decision on greenhouse gas performance standards, and saying basically, ‘gas plants are the performance standard, which means that if you want to build a coal plant you’ve got a big problem.’
Spalding went on to say that the EPA’s official-though-unstated position is that “we just think those [coal] communities should just go away.” At least he acknowledged that it would be “painful” for the communities that depend on those coal jobs.
Heitkamp isn’t the only Democratic politician who has to fight Obama in order to win votes. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., won’t commit to voting for Obama in the upcoming presidential election. “[M]any West Virginians believe the last 3 1/2 years haven’t been good for us, but we’re hopeful that they can get better,” Manchin said to explain his reticence.
Of course, it’s an open question whether Heitkamp and Manchin are just posturing in a harmless way. Manchin opposed the repeal of Obamacare, while Heitkamp supports the law.
Heitkamp and Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., are competing in a close race to replace the outgoing Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in an election that has major ramifications for whether Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
At the direction of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Conrad has failed for three years to produce a budget for the Senate to vote on and pass, despite the legal requirements that they do so.