WASHINGTON — An ambitious plan by President Barack Obama to bypass Congress and impose new regulations for power plants was met with criticism from some lawmakers as costly for Colorado’s consumers and destructive to the economy nationwide.
“Ultimately the president’s mandate will raise energy costs, stunt economic growth, and kill jobs,” said Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents the 3rd Congressional District.
“With an agenda like this, it’s no wonder the president doesn’t want to have a conversation on the future of American energy, but instead wants to force what amounts to a back-door energy tax on the American people with no questions asked,” Tipton said.
Rep. Cory Gardner, who represents the 4th Congressional District, said he is concerned about the president’s over-reaching plan and will not support it.
“He wants to impose strict regulations on U.S. power plants without any regard for the job losses and skyrocketing utility costs that would ensue,” Gardner said.
Obama announced his defining new policy on climate change during a speech Tuesday to hundreds of his supporters at Georgetown University.
The president said he will order the Environmental Protection Agency to create new rules limiting greenhouse gases from power plants to further eliminate the use of coal, a decision that Republicans predict will increase electricity costs that will be passed on to ratepayers.
In Colorado, 66 percent of the electricity created comes from coal.
“It’s tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today’s economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
Obama’s announcement of the first federal rules for global warming would set limits of coal-fired power plant emissions and encourage the development of electricity through wind, solar, natural gas, and nuclear sources.
It includes billions of dollars in new government loan guarantees to develop these and other “clean” fossil fuels.
Obama said the government would also create new plans for the nation to prepare for the effects of climate change, including the construction of building and transportation systems to withstand flooding from rising oceans and to protect against forest fires and drought.
The president signaled that he would approve the proposed XL Keystone pipeline if it is shown not to “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution, prompting confidence among environmentalists he would kill the proposed project.
However, the State Department determined earlier this year that the Canada-to-Texas pipeline would not have a negligible effect on global warming.
The pipeline proposed by TransCanada is expected to significantly boost the U.S. economy, but has been delayed by the Obama administration for five years.
The company announced in a statement they were “pleased with the president’s guidance to the State Department, as the almost five-year review of the project has already repeatedly found that these criteria are satisfied.”
“If Keystone XL is not built, it’s clear that the oil will move to market by truck, rail and tanker, which will significantly add to global greenhouse gas emissions,” TransCanada said.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said the president’s announcement amounts to a green light for the pipeline’s approval.
“The standard the president set today should lead to speedy approval of the Keystone pipeline,” said a Boehner spokesman.
Obama saved his harshest words for climate change skeptics and anyone who questions the cause of global warming and its effects on the environment.
“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”
Obama said “no single weather event is caused solely by climate change,” but blamed global warming for too much rain that creates floods, for not enough rain leading to droughts, and for sparking forest fires. He said his plan would combat rising seas and stabilize the severe weather patterns.
“Mountain communities worry about what smaller snow packs will mean for tourism — and then, families at the bottom of the mountains wonder what it will mean for their drinking water,” Obama said.
“All weather events are affected by a warming planet,” Obama said. “We know that the costs of these events can be measured in lost lives and lost livelihoods.”
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said he agreed with Obama’s plan and blamed an increase in carbon emissions and the warming planet for Colorado’s recent forest fires.
“Global warming is one of the defining challenges of our time, and how we handle the issue will have profound implications for the planet we leave our children,” Udall said.
“This is clear in Colorado, where rising temperatures and ongoing drought have exacerbated recent wildfires that threaten entire communities and our critical water supplies,” Udall said.