Will Alexander save desperate Dems in the War on Coal?

With the pending vote on Senator Jim Inhofe's S.J. Res 37 coming any day, Democrats are deeply concerned that a centerpiece of President Obama's regulatory War on Coal is about to go down in flames.  The only way Democrats can prevent that outcome is by having multiple vulnerable in-cycle Democrats join Obama's War on Coal, against their own political interests.

The only Senate Republican who has publicly sided with Obama in support of the disastrous Utility MACT regulation that would cripple coal-fired power plants and therefore imperil the U.S. economic recovery is Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, and we've exposed him to his constituents in a hard-hitting TV ad.

The outcome of the vote, which is not subject to filibuster, is on a razor's edge.  But Senator Alexander, who is under the mistaken impression that this economically devastating regulation will make his mountain retreat slightly more picturesque, refuses to back down.

Instead, according to sources on Capitol Hill, Alexander is poised to make a desperate attempt to get himself off the hook politically, thwart Inhofe's resolution and give Obama's War on Coal a green light. The ploy is a phony amendment, reportedly being offered with Arkansas's Mark Pryor that would extend the timeline for the Utility MACT rule from four years to six.

The amendment would not and could not pass, because it will surely be filibustered by Barbara Boxer. Inhofe's resolution needs 50 votes and has a good chance of getting there; the phony Alexander amendment will need 60 and be dead-on-arrival.  And even if by some miracle it could pass, the Alexander amendment would accomplish little -- delaying a disastrous rule is hardly a victory, and most plants will close rather than attempt expensive retrofits no matter how many years they are given.

After West Virginia, no state is hit harder by Obama's War on Coal than Kentucky.  It's time for Mitch McConnell to enforce some party discipline and explain to Alexander that this vote and this issue are far too important economically for phony political amendments and games that would pave the way for Obama to accomplish his goal of making electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" and making it so that "if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them."

If Alexander does offer the amendment, neither he nor anyone who votes for it should be let off the hook politically if they fail to vote for the only real vehicle that can put the brakes on the War on Coal, the Inhofe Resolution.