Some pretty ugly news for coal states like North Dakota today coming out of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A panel of judges has refused to block the Clean Power Plan – an emissions reduction plan that North Dakota officials have said would be devastating for the state – while a group of 27 states challenge it in court.
“The ruling means states will still have to submit their initial compliance plans by Sept. 6 or ask EPA for two-year extensions,” reports Politico.
What does Senator Heidi Heitkamp have to do with a ruling in a federal appeals court?
Remember that one of Senator Heitkamp’s first votes upon being elected to what was then a Democrat majority in the Senate was to gut the filibuster for judicial appointments. That Heitkamp has, since Democrats were made the minority party in the Senate by the electorate, voted for a while bunch of filibusters is a fact which shouldn’t be lost on you readers.
Anyway, once the 2013-era Democrat Senate majority cleared away the filibuster, President Barack Obama was able to pack the D.C. Circuit court with four new appointees since 2013.
And guess where all of the lawsuits filed by states and industry interests against the myriad regulatory excesses perpetrated by agencies like the EPA, up to and including the Clean Power Plan, are heard?
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Senator Heitkamp’s direct impact on energy policy in Congress is generally favorable for North Dakota. Usually she will vote to protect our state’s very important oil, gas, and coal industries from excessive federal regulation.
Her indirect impact, however, is another matter. Whether it’s voting to nuke the filibuster so that Obama can pack the courts with judges who will favor the sort of regulatory overreach Heitkamp opposes, or supporting presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton who implement regulatory overreach from the office, Heitkamp is an oblique sort of enabler.
The only reason why Heidi Heitkamp was elected to the Senate in 2012 is because she didn’t side with Democrats nationally on issues like oil and coal regulation. If she had, she would have lost in a landslide. But those who voted for Heitkamp as a pragmatic Democrat willing to buck her party on those issues should keep in mind these indirect impacts on policy outcomes.
Because they’re real. And they’re not good for North Dakota.