Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overreach may help Republican candidates get elected to the Senate in 2018, according to a new report by the conservative group America Rising Squared.
The report found that EPA regulations have hurt states where Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018. These states include West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
President-elect Donald Trump won every single one of these states in the 2016 election, so America Rising Squared believes Democrats in these state are vulnerable.
Democrats will have 25 Senate seats up for re-election in 2018, while only eight Republican seats will be challenged. If the GOP can pick up eight Democratic seats, they would garner a filibuster-proof Senate majority.
EPA rules have hurt West Virginia the most, according to America Rising Squared, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin could face a tough re-election.
Manchin suggested during election night in November he could defect to the Republican party. Manchin is a conservative-leaning Democrat who has repeatedly clashed with other Democrats over coal power and environmental regulations.
Coal is a critical industry in West Virginia and much of the state blames coal job losses on EPA regulations enacted by President Barack Obama. America has 83,000 fewer coal jobs and 400 coal mines than it did when Obama was elected in 2008. Trump won the state of West Virginia by 41.7 percent of the vote.
The Democrat’s situation in Indiana isn’t much better, as one-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is facing a tough race for re-election in 2018 and could also be hurt by EPA regulations. The EPA harassed local industries in Indiana and caused the state’s electricity prices to soar. Donnelly is a relatively weak candidate, as well, only winning 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic wave year of 2012.
Missouri’s two-term Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill could also face serious problems from the EPA. Missouri was heavily affected by the EPA’s “Waters Of The United States” rule and was the state most harmed by EPA bureaucratic red tape. In the 2012 elections, McCaskill faced a relatively weak opponent and could be vulnerable to attacks based on her association with Obama’s EPA.
Another vulnerable Democratic seat in a deep-red state is in Montana. Two-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester was re-elected with only 49 percent of the vote in 2012. Montana went heavily for Trump in 2016. The state has suffered through a scandal where the EPA released a farmer’s personal data, had the agency attempt to appropriate 99 percent of state land, and has been heavily targeted by the agency’s regional haze rule.
North Dakota’s one-term Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is also increasingly vulnerable from her association with Obama’s EPA. The agency’s Clean Power Plan has been called a “draconian mandate” for the state and power prices in the state could sharply rise as a result. EPA regulations on North Dakota are so strict, the state would be unable to comply with the EPA’s regional haze rule even if it shut down all industry.
Heitkamp was elected with only 50 percent of the vote in 2012 and faces what could be harsh competition from a wide slate of Republican state politicians.