But the billionaire and former New York City mayor has jumped right back into the political arena, spending millions targeting attorneys generals in four states who are opposed to the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping regulation put forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Obama administration.
“These four attorneys general are trying to stop the president from doing something that I think is terribly important,” Bloomberg told the New York Times last week of the TV attack ads in Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan. “I want the public to know what they’re doing.”
The commercials have already started in Florida, aimed at Attorney General Pam Bondi, who last month joined a group of elected officials in 27 states who have filed a lawsuit trying to block the Clean Power Plan from being implemented.
The ads are hard-hitting and personal. Here’s the 30-second spot that goes after Bondi:
In no surprise, Bondi hit back at Bloomberg.
“Florida has a great and conscientious track record of improving its air quality and protecting its environment,” Bondi said in a statement. “Now a billionaire bully is attacking Florida, and 26 other states, for having the audacity of defending their citizens against the EPA’s heavy-handed and unlawful regulations, which will drastically increase Floridians power bills — something this billionaire clearly cares little about. This bully wants to defend the federal government; we want to protect the people we serve.”
More could be coming.
Called the cornerstone of the the Obama administration’s environmental legacy, the Clean Power Plan marks the first federal measure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing power plants and sets up new regulations for future plants.
Under the details of the CPP — which runs 1,609 pages — power plants must cut greenhouse gas emissions 32 percent by 2030 and states are required to come up with their own, individualized, emissions reduction plans and targets starting in 2022.
Critics say it’s an overreach by EPA and will cause utility prices to skyrocket.
EPA officials say the regulation is well within the agency’s purview and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said earlier this year, “for every dollar we invest in the plan, families will see $7 in health benefits.”
The CPP was officially put on the books in late October, but a group of states that recently expanded to 27 has joined in a lawsuit to keep the plan from being enforced.
The attorney general of West Virginia, one of the country’s biggest coal-producing states, is heading the litigation filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“The lawsuits filed last week against the Clean Power Plan will not stop the decline of coal, given its unpopularity and increasingly unattractive economics,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “But when Attorneys General put the coal industry’s financial interests ahead of their constituents’ right to breathe clean air, we want their constituents to know about it — and these ads will help make sure they do.”
But there’s some question about whether Bloomberg’s political spending might hurt, instead of help, his cause.
“Memo to Michael Bloomberg: If you want to help Virginia Democrats, stay home,” wrote Washington Post contributor Peter Galuszka the day after the election, adding that voters in one of the hotly-contested Senate races did “not take kindly to a New York boo-bah telling them what they should do with their guns … They do not want the nanny state.”
But Bloomberg is an enthusiastic supporter of steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and earlier this year formed the Clean Energy Initiative, a program that hands out grants to help states implement the CPP.
Koster joined the fight against the CPP last month, saying the regulation could cost Missouri ratepayers $6 billion. He is running for governor next fall.
“While a double-digit electric bill jump might not affect someone with Michael Bloomberg’s bank account, it would devastate seniors on fixed incomes, working families and small businesses across the state,” Andrew Whalen, Koster’s committee director in his run for governor, told the New York Times.
Bondi and Schimel are up for re-election in 2018. Schuette is in office through 2018 and cannot run again for AG because of term limits.
“You’ve got another limousine liberal telling all the rest of us we’ve got to tighten up our belts when we’ve already pulled it in a few more notches,” Schimel told radio station WTMJ in Milwaukee Monday morning.
“This is an out-of-state billionaire who first tried to take away your Big Gulps and now wants you to pay higher utility bills and put your job at risk,” John Sellek, director of public affairs for Schuette, told Michigan Live. “Next, he’ll be coming after your trucks and SUVs.”
“The lawsuits filed by these attorneys general are an assault on communities making progress across their states,” said Carl Pope, former executive director at the Sierra Club and now a climate adviser to Bloomberg.
Here is the ad targeting Schuette:
Here is the commercial aimed at Schimel:
And here is the spot slamming Koster: