Climate for Compromise

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Climate for Compromise

Akron Beacon Journal – Consider a letter that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown sent to President Obama in late February. The Ohio Democrat praised the Clean Air Act as ”remarkably successful” at protecting ”the health and well-being of all Americans by significantly reducing the emissions of dangerous pollutants, while still ensuring economic growth.” He also warned about ”the unintended consequences of imprudent regulation.” He asked the president to ”re-evaluate” the way the Environmental Protection Agency enforced the landmark law, pursuing reductions in greenhouse gases to combat climate change.

Environmental groups gasped when they read the letter. For all the kind words about the Clean Air Act, Brown appeared to abandon their cause. Was the senator tilting toward industry?

Ever so slightly, was the answer provided last week, as Brown confronted bills designed to throw obstacles in the path of the EPA. He opposed egregious legislation, pushed by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans, including Rob Portman of Ohio, that would have halted the agency’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases. He supported a less extreme measure that would have delayed enforcement of the new EPA rules for two years, albeit permitting the agency to continue its planning.

Here was a pol treading carefully, his re-election bid on tap next year, looking to strike a balance between the environmental and manufacturing sides of his political personality. Industry leaders have argued loudly that EPA action would harm the economy.

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