THE BLOG
08/21/2014 02:25 pm ET | Updated Oct 21, 2014

Does EPA's Proposal to Cut Biodiesel Portend Administration Caving to Big Coal?

Is a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to cut biodiesel -- an environmentally friendly fuel that burns significantly cleaner than regular diesel made from oil -- a sign that the Obama administration is waving the white flag on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Just over a year ago, in June 2013, the White House came out with their three-pronged climate change plan. President Obama even said he would use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the nation's power plants, which accounts for roughly one-third of all the domestic greenhouse gas pollution in this country. And it was just two months ago when President Obama was saying that he was willing to bypass Congress and use his authority under the Clean Air Act to work to reduce Greenhouse Gasses.

But instead of sticking with their "No Bad Emissions" strategy, we recently saw the White House and the EPA bend to Big Oil. Reuters reported that The Caryle Group and Delta Air Lines, who own two Philadelphia area oil refineries, met with Vice President Biden and other key Obama administration players to make sure their interests were protected. Low and behold, now we see the EPA slashing quotas on the amount of biodiesel oil refiners are required to blend into the nation's fuel supply.

While cutting biodiesel may be good news for Big Oil -- because it allows them to sell more dirty fossil fuels -- it is bad news for the environment. Instead of allowing the biodiesel producers to reach full capacity for 2014, the EPA is potentially requiring them to produce the same amount as 2013. The biodiesel industry is young and growing. By stifling these companies, the EPA's proposal threatens an industry that the EPA itself says is reducing greenhouse gas emission by at least 50 percent!

How does this set a precedent for Big Coal? Well, if you give to one, what is to stop you from giving to the other? And, seeing as the precedent has been set that the White House is standing tall on climate change only until it's swayed by big lobbying interests, can we now expect them to make concessions to Big Coal? After all, Big Oil got something with just a few well-timed, well-placed meetings to the vice president, who just happens to have a key political ally in the area where these refineries operate, which also just happen to employ citizens of his home state of Delaware, which it would be nice to win, should he run for president in 2016.

Now Big Coal is going to want their cookie and it's not like they don't have the money to push for it. While it's not exactly the $81 Million in lobbying dollars big brother oil is spending, nearly $11.8 Million in 2013 is nothing to sneeze at. Or ignore.

It is no wonder Big Coal wants to fight the EPA's proposal to force coal power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationwide by 2030. It would mean coal producers have to spend billions of dollars to find ways to produce energy that releases fewer toxins into the air. But if there ever was a good reason to spend money, making sure the air we breathe isn't hazardous to our health seems like a good one.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning and influential watchdog group in our nation's capital, has demanded an investigation into whether or not the Reuters story is true, and that Big Oil unduly influenced these proposed biodiesel regulations put forward by the EPA. I hope we find out that the Obama administration has simply made a mistake on biodiesel, and will ultimately raise their levels to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. If not, that means the White House caved to Big Oil and might be about to do the same for Big Coal.