Taking on the Environmental Protection Agency may be the way to boost your political career.
Consider this: In the past few months, we have seen several high-profile candidates around the country win election after bad-mouthing the agency. Forget that now just about every Republican member of the House of Representatives is a climate change skeptic, which is a big thing to ignore, and look at states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas where big jobs have been awarded to politicians who have big problems with the EPA.
West Virginia elevated Joe Manchin from governor to senator. Kentucky elected Tea Party champion Rand Paul to join Manchin in the U.S. Senate. And in Texas, Rep. Joe Barton not only got re-elected after apologizing to BP for its oil spill, but he came close to chairing a major House committee and is rumored to be under consideration to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison when she steps down. All of these politicians have filled the airways and newspapers with heated anti-EPA rhetoric in the last two years, and all are at the top of their political games.
But there still may be room for one more rising star from the GOP’s EPA-bashing wing, and once again that person comes out of Texas. Gov. Rick Perry is enjoying the first days of his third term as Texas governor, something that has never happened in the state’s history. Not only did Perry win his third term in a landslide, but he has been a major thorn in the side of the EPA. Texas was the lone state that refused to comply with the EPA’s plans for issuing greenhouse gas permits. The state wanted to issue its own permits, a plan that was struck down just days ago by a federal appeals court.
Still, that isn’t keeping Perry from backing down. The governor maintains that the court's recent decision will cost the state jobs. This tactic has already played well in the aforementioned dirty energy states, and it’s likely to play that way in Texas, which has more oil refineries, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants than any other state. Texas is also the national leader in both industrial pollution and production of greenhouse gas emissions.
Thus, Perry is continuing with lawsuits against the EPA because it may be good for his state’s dirty business portfolio as well as his political one. The National Review has already used Perry’s EPA battles to frame a possible bid for president in 2012. About his continued legal fight with the agency, Robert Bryce writes, “The fight may not be over in time for the 2012 presidential elections, and he very well may lose, but no matter what happens, he can count it as a political victory. Given that Perry is angling for a shot at the White House in 2012, and given the fiscal problems his state faces, that’s just what he’s hoping for.”
Perry is a favorite of the Tea Party, and if he decides to run, he will be the movement’s only viable alternative to challenge Sarah Palin. He speaks well when both scripted and unscripted, he keeps the jobs he was elected to do and he spends more time working than making reality television shows.
But he has also done another thing that Palin has, and that's write a book. Like former presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama, Palin, John Kerry and George W. Bush, Perry has written a book. Perry’s "Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington" outlines what looks to be a platform for running for president. It’s anti-federal rhetoric takes several jabs at the EPA.
Clearly, this game plan has elevated other politicians to high-profile jobs. Perry may be hoping it can elevate him to the highest job in the land.