Obama climate plan: praise for energy future, criticism of failed agenda
President Barack Obama’s planned executive order to combat global warming united him with both of Colorado’s senators and environmental organizations. U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and energy industries sharply criticized Obama’s announcement that he would order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to draft new rules governing carbon emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired ones.
The president’s announcement “can bring us closer to an energy future that safeguards public health, protects Colorado’s agricultural and tourism-based economies and begins to address dangerous climate change,” Sen. Michael Bennet said.
Sen. Mark Udall called global warming “one of the defining challenges of our time” and said he saw the announcement as a call to action “for Congress to finally take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse-gas pollution and invest in a balanced approach to securing our energy needs.”
The president’s announcement undermines efforts to obtain energy from a variety of sources, however, Tipton said.
“Instead of working with Congress to encourage responsible production of all of our domestic energy resources, the president has once more drug out his failed energy agenda in the form of an executive fiat to impede the development of proven energy resources with increased regulations and red tape,” Tipton said in a statement in which he said Obama was seeking “a back-door energy tax on the American people with no questions asked.”
Much of the initiative seems to be aimed at coal-fired plants and the Colorado Mining Association said it would have “significant adverse consequences” for the industry in Colorado.
Colorado still relies on coal for more than half of its electricity generation, Colorado Mining Association President Stuart Sanderson said, noting that largely rural communities that rely on federal coal lease money would stand to suffer most if coal mining is curtailed.
Dealing with climate change requires a look at the front-end of natural gas production, Bob Arrington of the Western Colorado Congress said.
Obama has a “nice, compact outline” on his effort, Arrington said. “I do think there are a few little flaws in there,” such as paying too little attention to methane, or natural gas.
If you’re going to do something about (global warming) you’ve got to approach it from all directions,” Arrington said.
The burgeoning natural gas industry, however, should get credit for reduced emissions from the United States in recent years, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director David Ludlam said.
“Forcing Americans to choose between clean air and prosperity is a false choice,” Ludlam said in an email. “Healthy communities are prosperous communities and natural gas is the foundation for both.”
The president’s announcement was lauded by environmental and sporting organizations.
“Hunters and anglers realize how important energy is, and we support tapping renewable sources and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. We just want to make sure it’s done thoughtfully,” Kate Zimmerman of the National Wildlife Federation. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of poorly planned oil and gas development that has threatened some of our most cherished wildlife and wild places.”
Obama’s proposed restrictions are “futile because new growth in Chinese emissions will render all U.S. carbon dioxide cuts moot within a few short months,” said James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, who asserted that “restrictions are unnecessary because global temperatures have remained flat for the past 15 years.”