DENVER – Protestors converged on an Environmental Protection Agency gathering here Wednesday, calling for the agency to halt what they called its anti-jobs regulatory agenda.
A crowd of about 100 demonstrators waved signs and shouting slogans like “Hey, hey, EPA, how many jobs did you kill today?” outside the Marriott Renaissance Hotel as EPA officials met inside for a conference on hard-rock mining.
Three uniformed officers from the Homeland Security Federal Protective Service kept an eye on the protest, which was confined to the sidewalk in front of the hotel and remained peaceful, albeit noisy.
“We’ve got to fight these people tooth and nail and let them know we can have reasonable regulations while having jobs in America,” said Jeff Crank, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, which sponsored the protest. “I think they’re a little shocked in there because they’re not used to having our side out like this.”
The Denver rally stood in stark contrast to last week’s “Occupy EPA” march at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of anti-industry protestors called Friday for the EPA to tighten up its environmental rulemaking, crack down on nuclear energy, and abolish the use hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas exploration.
The Colorado demonstrators were also concerned about hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, but for entirely different reasons. The EPA is expected to issue new rules on fracking April 17, which critics fear will increase the regulatory burden on the natural-gas industry and drive up energy prices.
The fracking rules come just weeks after the EPA proposed further limits on newly built coal-fire plants. Protestors said they worry that the Obama administration is trying to circumvent the coal industry in favor of natural gas and renewable energy.
“We’re a big mining state and they’re trying to kill our jobs,” said Leslie Sloan of Denver, who held a sign saying, “No More Red Tape: Stop the EPA.” “They answer to no one–they just do it, and we have no recourse.”
Others said the EPA exemplified the ability of unelected bureaucrats to wreak havoc in communities, especially those that rely on the natural-resources industry.
“They’re an example of government overreach into the lives of citizens,” said Nancy Vasek of Colorado Springs. “We’re not going to stand by and let our children become subjects of the state.”
Dubbed the “Give Red Tape a Rest Rally,” the protest included a bit of political theater: the wrapping of several demonstrators dressed as miners and ranchers in red duct tape.
Sean Paige, deputy director of Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, called EPA regulations “a hidden form of taxation that kills jobs, reduces competitiveness and hinders economic recovery.”
“They’re professional full-time regulators, so clearly they want to regulate,” said Paige. “But clearly the Obama administration is using the tools of the EPA to push through a regulatory agenda that it can’t get through Congress.”
While the rally’s focus was on the EPA, protestors also charged the agency with favoring environmental groups and their anti-growth agenda.
“I know, because I was the quintessential tree-hugger,” said Linda Hoover of Centennial. “I went to law school to become an environmental lawyer. But the whole green movement is about the redistribution of wealth and power.”
No EPA official appeared at the rally to respond to the complaints. The EPA’s Denver media office did not return a phone call requesting comment Wednesday.