Colorado is a Coal State, Mr. President.

June 25, 2013

AFP-Colorado released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s Climate Change Plan, which includes a regulatory initiative aimed at shutting-down active as well as planned coal-fired power plants in the United States. 

“Colorado is a coal state, whether or not some Coloradans realize it,” said AFP Deputy State Director Sean Paige, “which also makes President Obama’s plan to use American coal as the climate change scapegoat an attack on a critical part of Colorado’s economy and energy infrastructure. The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal, and turning our backs on this affordable, homegrown energy source, without even giving cleaner coal a fighting chance, is like folding our poker hand with a pair of Aces.”

Paige pointed out that the U.S. sits atop the world’s largest storehouse of coal, making it the envy of a world struggling to meet growing energy demand. Colorado, too, is blessed with a bounty of coal, making it the 11th highest coal producing state in the country as of 2011. It ranked in the top 8 coal producers as recently as 5 years ago. The state has 10 active mines, which produced close to 27 million short tons of coal in 2011. Colorado also has 14 coal-fired power plants in operation, which reliably and affordably provide more than 65 percent of the electricity used in the state. That reliance on coal is why Colorado’s energy costs are consistently below the national average, which benefits the state’s energy consumers and business climate. The industry is a major employer, providing jobs with good pay and benefits, making it a major engine of the state’s economy. Royalties paid by the industry benefit thousands of Coloradans. Obama’s war on coal thus isn’t just an attack on affordable energy, but an attack on a major driver of Colorado’s economy, without which the state would be hurting.   

Paige took the President to task for embracing a lopsided energy policy aimed at giving preference to pie-in-the-sky energy technologies while discounting the tried-and-true, even while running for reelection on a purportedly “all-of the above” energy record. “The President thinks nothing of squandering billions on green energy gimmickry, like Solyndra, while all-but-ignoring the potential energy security benefits of spending a fraction of those funds seeking clean coal breakthroughs,” added Paige. “There’s only one reason why the President’s energy policy is so unbalanced, which is that the Green Lobby he answers to has taken the crazy position that there’s no such thing as clean coal. This has become a religious crusade, not reasoned or rational public policy,” said Paige, “and the American energy consumer and economy will suffer as a result.”

Colorado is not in the position to shut-down or expensively-retrofit every coal plant in the state, based on the whims of a single President, Paige pointed out. Yet the hardships this will place on Coloradans apparently don’t register in the President’s inside-the-beltway worldview. “This isn’t just a matter of defending a major Colorado industry and energy provider,” concluded Paige. “It’s also about protecting the state’s energy consumers and economy from the body blows this plan will deliver. We hope Congress will reassert its authority in such matters by challenging these Presidential unilateral actions, or that the courts will restore checks-and-balances if Congress won’t.”

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