Friday, October 02, 2015

A defender of horses and a major critic of Obama's Clean Power Plan won't seek re-election

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
A House Republican who has been a champion for horses' welfare and one of the most vocal critics of President Obama's greenhouse-gas regulations, announced he will retire at the end of 2016. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky's First District has repeatedly lobbied for stronger legislation against soring horses for shows and played a role in suspending horse slaughter in the U.S.

Whitfield, who was also the architect of the House Republican strategy to kill the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, said "his enthusiasm for fighting policies he opposes is waning," Jean Chemnick and Jennifer Yachnin report for Environment & Energy Daily. The 72-year-old lawmaker, who has been in office since 1995, told reporters on Wednesday, "It was just time. I just didn't have quite the enthusiasm I think you need against the major problems the country still faces."

Whitfield "shepherded two bills through committee and onto the House floor that would effectively kill the existing power plant standard," Chemnick and Yachnin write. "Whitfield's bill in the last Congress would have barred EPA from basing rules for new power plants on technology that has not been widely deployed in this country, like carbon capture and storage. It would have made an existing source standard contingent on congressional approval. This year's effort H.R. 2042, would allow states to opt out of the now-final Clean Power Plan."

"Both cleared the Republican-controlled House easily," Chemnick and Yachnin write. "But while Whitfield coordinated them closely with sympathetic senators—Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the lead sponsor of a companion to Whitfield's 2013 bill—the Senate has been slow to act. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has introduced a bill that is roughly similar to Whitfield's opt-out measure, but it is unclear whether it will receive a vote."

"When Republicans regained the House majority in 2011, Whitfield hoped the committee would find a way to reopen the Clean Air Act to give cost-benefit analyses more weight in EPA's decision to move forward with new rules," Chemnick and Yachnin write. "He said at the time that he expected some Democrats to back a revision. But recently, he says, even minor policy items have met with major Democratic pushback."

Whitfield told reporters, "I just think it's time for a new face with new ideas." Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who lost the Republican governor primary in May by 83 votes, has already announced he will run for Whitfield's seat representing parts of Western and Southern Kentucky. Comer is popular in the area and has already been declared the clear favorite. (Read more)

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