Local EPA Hearings Draw Protests, Enviro Supporters

July 29, 2014

Coloradans are expected to turn out in droves this week to let top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials know their views on a controversial climate change rule that would drastically cut back on coal to create electricity.

Numerous environmental groups and some consumer and business associations will be allowed to participate in the formal hearings held from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday at the EPA’s regional headquarters in Denver.

Meanwhile, some environmental groups will stage outside protests in favor of the rule to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by replacing coal-fired electrical plants with nuclear energy, natural gas, and some forms of renewable energy.

Pro-coal supporters are also planning a rally beginning at noon Tuesday to protest what they describe as an EPA power grab that will kill jobs, especially in Colorado where more than 60 percent of energy is generated by coal-fired plants.

“The EPA has chosen ideology over common sense policies and in the process is threatening to destroy tens of thousands of jobs and drive up the cost of energy,” Dustin Zvonek, Colorado state director of Americans for Prosperity AFP, said in a statement.

“Our activists are looking forward to making it clear that they expect Congress to rein in the EPA, stop these regulations from being implemented, and stand up for sensible energy policy that creates jobs and keeps energy prices low,” Zvonek said.

AFP is cohosting the rally with other organizations at Lincoln Park with scheduled speakers to include Bob Beauprez, who is running against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, Michael Sandoval of the Independence Institute, State Rep. Ray Scott from Mesa County, Ray Beck from Club 20, Mary Frontczak of Peabody Energy, and others.

Opponents of the EPA rule predict it would kill 80,000 jobs nationwide in what they say is a questionable quest to slow global warming.

Other hearings will be held this week in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where thousands of United Mine Workers are expected to hold a massive protest. The comment period on the proposed rule expires in a few weeks, and then is expected to be implemented as planned by the Obama administration.

Conspicuously absent from the rooster are major coal-producing states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama and Virginia where the 30 percent reduction is expected to hit hardest on already sagging economies.

Colorado’s hearings are expected to draw attention to the highly contested Senate race between Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, and Democratic incumbent Mark Udall.

Gardner released a statement Monday criticizing Udall’s support for the proposed rule the Democrat once described as a “good start,” and urged the senator to rethink his position.

“We have a duty to protect our environment, but it can be done responsibly and at the state level,” Gardner said. “Sen. Udall should reconsider his decision to privilege unelected federal bureaucrats over the people of Colorado.”

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