McConnell: Obama's 'War on Coal' Now Public
By AP/WestKyStar Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama is taking climate change efforts into his own hands, proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Obama will unveil his climate plan Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University. It's Obama's most prominent effort yet to deliver on one of his major priorities. None of the steps require congressional approval.
The linchpin of the plan is the first-ever carbon dioxide emission limits on new and existing power plants.
The White House says Obama hopes to generate enough electricity from renewable energy projects on public lands to power the equivalent of 6 million homes by 2020. He'll set higher goals for renewables installed at federal housing projects.
Obama is also announcing $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in carbon-reducing technologies.
Ahead of the speech, White House climate adviser Daniel P. Schrag reportedly told The New York Times that "action" is needed, particularly on coal.
"The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed," he said. Schrag is a geochemist and the head of Harvard University's Center for the Environment. He is also a member of a White House advisory panel.
Senator Mitch McConnell reacted Tuesday, saying Schrag's comment is "an astonishing bit of honesty" from someone so close to the White House. He added that it encapsulates the attitude that the Obama administration has in regard to states like Kentucky that produce large amounts of energy from coal. He said that attitude toward affordable energy will affect manufacturing and small business.
“Declaring a ‘War on Coal’ is tantamount to declaring a war on jobs. It’s tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today’s economy. And I will be raising this issue with the President at the White House today," McConnell said in an address from the Senate floor.
Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and one-third of greenhouse gases overall, come from electric power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistical agency.
Obama is expected to lay out a broad vision Tuesday, without detailed emission targets or specifics about how they will be put in place. Instead, the president will launch a process in which the Environmental Protection Agency will work with states to develop specific plans to rein in carbon emissions, with flexibility for each state's circumstances.
McConnell said he suspects this Presidential's regulatory actions that leave out the legislative bracnch of government will probably mean there are more beaurocrats exerting their will on the people.
“The message this sends should worry anyone who cares about constitutional self-government. That the President can simply ignore the will of the representatives sent here by the people because he wants to. Because special interests are lobbying him. Because he wants to appease some far-left segment of his base.
McConnell said Obama cannot declare a war on jobs and simultaneously say he cares about manufacturing, because any kind of energy tax would damage the lives of countless Americans employed in energy sectors like coal.
Instead, McConnell said American needs a common-sense approach to making energy cleaner - one that appreciates the current sources of cheaper energy and the jobs it provides.