Back in 1992, in his speech to the Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan railed against the "environmental extremists who put birds and rats and insects ahead of families, workers, and jobs."
This was widely seen as an unfair caricature of liberal environmental policy in 1992. In 2012, it's practically a bloodless statement of fact.
The Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, in fact, been doing its best to validate this description, either through policy or highly revealing slips of the tongue. The most recent of the slips comes from EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, who was captured in a video released by the office of Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) telling an audience at Yale University the following:
But know right now, we are, we are struggling. We are struggling because we are trying to do our jobs. Lisa Jackson has put forth a very powerful message to the country. Just two days ago, the decision on greenhouse gas performance standard and saying basically gas plants are the performance standard which means if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision. You can’t imagine how tough that was. Because you got to remember if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can’t do that. But she had to do what the law and policy suggested. And it’s painful. It’s painful every step of the way.
Hear the comments from Spalding's own mouth here:
To Spalding's credit, he at least sounds regretful that the EPA (according to him) absolutely has to drive an entire industry into the ground for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, this video will do nothing to assuage the image of President Obama as an essentially anti-coal President who is using his EPA to try to strangle the industry - an image that has yielded political humiliation for the President in Appalachia, where coal is one of the leading sources of employment.
One almost feels sorry for President Obama's sake that "birds and rats and insects" can't vote...at least, not outside Chicago.