Was it just coincidence that a new cap and trade bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate a day before the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new crackdown on coal-burning industries?
Of course not.
The EPA's news release was intended to provide political cover for coal-state senators who support cap and trade.
New emissions limits on greenhouse gases will be established in July 2011, the EPA revealed. They will affect only larger industries, including power plants, that the agency said are responsible for 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
That is perfect timing for coal-state lawmakers who last year claimed they had no choice but to enact some sort of cap and trade bill.
It was a choice between emissions limits approved by Congress or more strict rules coming directly from the EPA, they claimed.
Congress does not have to allow the EPA to require new limits on use of coal. The EPA was created by an act of Congress, and it can be restricted or eliminated by Congress.
Still, look for some lawmakers who support President Barack Obama's agenda to make the argument again this year that it is either a harsh cap and trade bill enacted by Congress or a harsher set of rules from the EPA.
Bills to limit the EPA's ability to force new limits on coal-burning industries have been introduced in Congress. Lawmakers could stop the EPA's current plan by approving such legislation or something like it.
And those officials tempted to use the EPA announcement as political cover should understand that voters aren't buying it.