State Republicans criticize Obama’s stance on coal, oil

Two Colorado Republicans chastised President Barack Obama for his stance on coal mines and Guantanamo Bay after the president’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., meanwhile, didn’t mention the president in post-speech comments, but pointed to progress since the Great Recession and commended a Greeley business owner who attended the speech for her “entrepreneurial can-do spirit.”

Such traits “will allow us to continue to lead the nation and grow our economy so we can improve the lives of many working families who are still struggling,” Bennet said.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District trails the rest of the state in the economic recovery, said the president would do well to visit his district.

“I would invite him to visit Craig or Delta,” Tipton said in an interview. “They have lost good-paying jobs and are struggling right now.”

Both communities in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have been hard-hit by coal-mine closures. Arch Coal, a major coal supplier and employer on the Western Slope, declared bankruptcy on Tuesday, before the speech.

“The president talked about significant government interference in the marketplace that will most likely imperil jobs on the West Slope of Colorado,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Obama said he would “push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.”

Bennet’s office noted that he had introduced legislation with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to help power plants and industrial facilities finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage equipment.

Bennet also said the government must move to keep Americans safe.

“That means moving aggressively to defeat ISIS, continuing to hold Iran accountable, and deterring North Korea from further hostilities,” Bennet said.

Obama said he hoped to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but Tipton and Gardner noted that he had just signed a budget deal that contained a provision prohibiting him from spending any money to move the terrorists held there into the United States.

Transferring those inmates to the United States could create a focus for terrorism inside the country, said Tipton, noting that he sat next to the police chief of San Bernardino, California, where 14 people died last year in a terror attack.

For the president to “downplay the threat of terror, and the metastasis of terror, is irresponsible,” Gardner said. “I hope the president will obey the rule of the law that he signed.”

Obama’s call for Congress to work with him ran counter to his previous comment that he had “a pen and a phone,” Tipton said, calling the address “a damage-control speech.”


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Coal and oil are not in the future as by necessity, the world moves towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Why don’t our area’s elected officials see this?  Technological advances are disruptive. When automobiles were invented, it put buggy whip manufactures out of business, sure as the sunshine. But time and technological advances also present a wide spectrum of opportunities. Why not look at this side of the coin for a change is western Colorado and start preparing vigorously for the future, rather than wringing our hands over the past?

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