President Obama is nominating more radical personnel for his second term than he did four years ago, and some of the most aggressive parts of his agenda center on energy and environmental policy, according to a top Senate Republican.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He is vowing tough scrutiny of two top Obama nominees and says the Obama energy policy still suggests the president is fine with Americans paying much more for the energy they consume.
Ernest Moniz is Obama's choice to lead the Energy Department, but some of his recent comments are resurrecting concerns that the Obama administration is seeking to force a transition to renewable energies by making our current energy patterns financially unsustainable. In an interview with the Switch Energy Project, Moniz said the problem is that it's cheaper to release carbon emissions than to contain them.
"Ultimately, it has to be cheaper to capture and store (carbon emissions) than to release it and pay a price. If we start really squeezing down on carbon dioxide over the next few decades. Well, that could double. It could eventually triple," said Moniz in the interview.
"Unfortunately, that's the continuation of the basic position of the Obama administration. The last energy secretary, Secretary (Steven) Chu, had a similar comment right before he was appointed. He said the big problem in this country is gasoline prices weren't as high as they are in Europe and they needed to be," Vitter told WND. "I don't think American consumers, particularly in this really weak economy appreciate hearing that. An all-of-the-above energy strategy should not be all-of-the-above only by putting the price of carbon-based fuels through the roof and really hurting the middle class."
Vitter said a carbon tax is the "ultimate goal" of the Obama administration, but there is very little support for it in either party on Capitol Hill.
Obama has largely been frustrated in his legislative efforts on energy policy, but some of his top regulatory efforts have still succeeded through new regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Vitter said this effort to raise energy costs could be implemented the same way.
"What they have done since the 2010 Republican takeover of the House is to shift to administrative action, go into administrative overdrive if you will, like at EPA, often going beyond their proper authority," Vitter said.
Vitter said Obama has the right to choose who he wants to run the bureaucracy of the federal government, but he said lawmakers have a major responsibility to shed light on questionable policies and tactics by administration officials.
That's one of the main reasons why Vitter is vigorously pressing against the nomination of EPA nominee Gina McCarthy, in particular an effort to get to the bottom of the Richard Windsor scandal. Windsor is the fictitious individual in whose dummy email account EPA officials formed critical policy positions apart from official government servers.
"For me, a lot of the questions will revolve around the complete lack of openness and transparency at the EPA. You mentioned this rampant email scandal. There have also been real abuses of the Freedom of Information Act request when those come from the public. I think there's been a concerted effort at EPA to frustrate the public getting valid information," said Vitter, who added that public exposure of what's happening at the EPA is his No. 1 priority as the ranking Republican on the committee.
Another practice that aggravates Vitter is known as sue and settle. He said the EPA essentially works with liberal environmental groups to have the groups sue the EPA to urge more liberal policies. Rather than take the matter to court, the EPA settles with its supposed agitator and moves policy to a more radical position.
Nominees are also a problem. In addition to McCarthy, Vitter is staunchly opposed to the choice of Thomas Perez to lead the Department of Labor because of what Vitter contends was an unequal enforcement of voting rights laws along partisan lines during the time Perez served in the Department of Justice.
McCarthy and Perez are not the exception but the norm right now, according to Vitter. He said Obama has nominated much more polarizing people to key positions since winning re-election.
"Overall, his new slate of nominees since his re-election are even further left, are even more radical than the first time around," Vitter said.