After some delays, the White House plans to issue an executive order this week that will begin the long, hard bureaucratic slog of unwinding EPA's Clean Power Plan—that's the sweeping Obama-era regulation to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
Our thought bubble: If the White House indeed plows ahead with the executive order this week (and it has been pushed back before), it shows they're not worried about the fallout from the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's high-profile comments Thursday disagreeing that carbon dioxide emissions are driving global warming.
A different playbook: Pruitt's comments cloud the GOP's messaging a bit, because for a while now the more mainstream GOP critics of Obama's rules have made arguments other than science more prominent, like that the rules will hurt the economy and exceed EPA's reach under the Clean Air Act. Whether he meant to or not, Pruitt has put science front and center in the fight again.
"I believe innovation is the key, not bigger government and trying to control the economy and limit the growth of our economy and job creation," Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters in Houston on Friday. Cornyn, to be sure, is skeptical of scientific consensus on carbon's impact himself, but said: "To some extent we are stuck on this whole debate in ways that are not particularly productive."
The half-life of a gaffe:
Speaking of Pruitt's comments environmental lawyers tell me activists will likely use them in legal filings in their battles against the rollback of various climate regulations. "They will be able to use it as additional evidence that whatever the agency's action is, it is based on a profound lack of scientific knowledge," says one veteran Clean Air Act lawyer.