Obama Administration

Funding, Regulatory Concerns Stand in the Way of Obama's Environmental Policies

Choking off jobs and businesses won't make anybody happy


Delaware is literally in a tough spot when it comes to air quality. Downwind of the carbon-spewing Ohio Valley and industrial neighbors such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the tiny state has little control over what wafts into its air, whether it's ozone or other toxic greenhouse gases. The state is sometimes called the "nation's tailpipe."

So it would seem logical that Delaware officials, who have been among the most vocal supporters of new air regulations, would be overjoyed by President Barack Obama's plan to tackle climate change. Curbs on carbon dioxide at existing power plants, which account for some 40 percent of man-made emissions in the U.S., are at the center of the president's wide-ranging blueprint unveiled last month, which also calls for boosting renewable energy and natural gas generation.

Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, praised it as a "common sense approach," that "will help address climate change, improve air quality and help Delaware's economy."

The state's top air regulator is more subdued. "It's a cautious time, I would say," Ali Mirzakhalili told Stateline. "We don't know what (the regulations) will look like."

Politicos inside and outside of Washington are using bold adjectives — "courageous," "detrimental," "job-creating" or "job-killing" — to describe the president's plan. But state regulators and others who will play an outsized role in carrying it out are waiting to hear nitty-gritty details about the regulations before passing judgment.

Those stakeholders have issues with electrical transmission, grid reliability and funding that present major hurdles for Obama, who skirted the gridlocked Congress by using executive action.