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Editorial: Gov. John Hickenlooper right to push back on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s call to ignore new coal rules

Gov. John Hickenlooper is right to push back on a request from Sen. Mitch McConnell that states defy new federal pollution controls on coal-burning power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules have become a target for McConnell and other Republicans now that the GOP controls the U.S. Senate as well as the House.

The rules, which aren’t yet final, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels, and each state is charged with developing a plan to meet the goal.

In a letter to governors in March, McConnell urged them to ignore the rules.

It’s not hard to understand why McConnell would call for governors to take that step. He represents Kentucky, the nation’s No. 3 coal-producing state. However, he also contends the EPA’s new rules — which do represent a troubling power grab by the agency — will be struck down by the courts.

The problem is, if McConnell’s reading of the tea leaves is wrong, and the courts allow the rules to move forward, states that had followed his plea and ignored the EPA’s charge to craft a plan would find themselves without a voice in the process.

Colorado, of course, plays a large role in producing energy for this nation. It is the No. 7 energy-producing state overall and ranks No. 11 in coal production.

In relate news, Colorado pair files lawsuit over Wyoming coal protest arrest.

Colorado mined nearly 23 million tons of coal, worth about $900 million, last year, the Colorado Mining Association said. More than 2,000 people work in coal mines or support industries, according to the state Department of Labor and Employment.

And, of course, as all of us in northern Colorado know, this state has lots of experience when it comes to balancing the needs of energy production with the demands of a safe and clean environment.

“In Colorado, we have a longstanding history of investing in our natural environment, with the engagement of local business and civic leaders,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to McConnell this month.

There are lots of questions about the EPA’s new rules. And the rules may not survive a court challenge. Even if that happens, though, it’s in all our interests to have a cleaner environment. And questions about the role coal-burning power plants play in polluting the air will persist.

Colorado must retain its voice in these questions. Simply ignoring the EPA, no matter how much some may want to, won’t accomplish that.

 

This article was from Greeley Tribune, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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