“They’re going to regulate us to the point where they’re going to close up the coal mines,” said Delgado, a coal miner from Craig. “In our community, that would close up the town.”
Delgado was one of dozens of miners and family members who rode in from northwest Colorado on five buses to take part in an Americans for Prosperity rally near the state capital to protest the proposed rules.
A few blocks away at the EPA building in LoDo, national environmental groups drummed up support for the power-plant regulations, insisting they are needed to combat climate change. The proposed rules would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030.
Organizers with the Sierra Club handed out free T-shirts with the message “I [heart] Clean Air,” while Climate Reality Project workers offered coupons for free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Petitioners from Conservation Colorado asked passers-by to fill out postcards in favor of the regulations.
At the hearing, state Sen. Matt Jones (D-Louisville) urged the EPA to “stay strong. Most regular people know we have a huge problem.”
“It is far cheaper to act strongly now, and I ask you to do that,” said Jones.
Those attending the AFP rally received red “Stop the EPA Power Grab” tees and stickers with messages such as “Coal/Guns/Freedom” and “Friends of Coal.”
Organizers said Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was invited to participate but declined, prompting AFP-Colorado state director Dustin Zvonek to ask, “Where’s Gov. Hickenlooper? Why isn’t our governor here standing up for Colorado jobs?”
“We’re sick and tired of bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C., driving costs up in our state while driving jobs out,” said Zvonek. “We cannot afford to let Washington do to energy costs what they’re already doing to our health-care costs.”
Hickenlooper’s Republican opponent, former Rep. Bob Beauprez, fired up the crowd of several hundred by declaring, “Barack Obama, these are real Americans and real American jobs!”
Other speakers said the proposed regulations would do virtually nothing to reduce global warming while making energy more expensive and less reliable. Among those participating were state Sen. George Rivera (R-Pueblo) and officials from Club 20 and the Boilermakers Local 11 of Montana.
EPA officials “pay lip service to those affected by having a handful of ‘listening tours’ after they’ve decided which predetermined policy course they should undertake,” said Michael Sandoval, energy policy analyst at the Independence Institute.
The two-day hearing at the EPA building in LoDo, which concludes Wednesday, is one of four taking place this week. The agency is also holding hearings in Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
Hundreds of people waited Tuesday to testify in five-minute increments on the proposal. A final rule is expected to be issued next year.