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Republicans describe Obamas energy plan as "Un-American"

Leading Republicans were using phrases like “anti-American” and “war on American energy” to describe President Obama’s new plan to combat climate change, escalating the rhetoric even before the President’s Georgetown University speech outlining his program.

“President Obama’s anti-American energy plan will increase the price of energy and hurt job creation,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., tweeted.  Bachmann is a longtime climate change denier who has defended the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Obama plans to instruct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit and reduce emissions from coal-burning power plants, which are the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.  As with the Romney campaign in 2012, Congressional Republicans have come to the defense of coal.

“Obama administration says we need a ‘war’ on American energy:  GOP thinks energy is the gateway to prosperity,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a tweet.

Actually, domestic energy production is at an all-time high:  The substitution of low-cost, low-pollution natural gas — once described as a “prince of fuels” by analyst Daniel Yergin — has cut into America’s carbon dioxide emissions.  It has, however, cut into coal companies’ business.  The industry is looking to use West Coast ports to export coal, mined in Wyoming and Montana, to fuel power plants in China.

But Republicans are digging in to defend coal.  “It’s time we stand up for energy and American jobs:  Tell President Obama to stop the war on coal,” said a Tuesday statement by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Opponents of the President have seized on a quote in the New York Times from Daniel Schrag, director of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment, who told the NYT it is time America wages a “war on coal.”  Schrag sits on a White House advisory panel.

“Is Obama climate change agenda just cover for a ‘War on Coal’?” asked a headline on the Fox News web site.  Fox serves as a megaphone for the Republican Party, and has set out to encourage climate change doubt in its news reporting.

Boehner, too, accused Obama of putting a lump of coal in the coal industry’s stocking.  “282 coal plants in 32 states closing under Obama administration rules:  That’s like shutting off all electricity in 11 states,” opined the House Speaker.

Actually, coal plants are shutting voluntarily.  Washington State has one coal-burning power plant near the city of Centralia.  Under a 2011 agreement with the state, its owner — Canadian-based Trans-Alta — will reduce emissions and phase out coal in favor of burning natural gas.

Bill Burton, ex-White House spokesman and co-founder of the 2012 Obama “SuperPAC” chortled over the Republicans’ advocacy for coal.  “The GOP is killing itself on climate,” Burton tweeted.

The Obama program was getting some advance praise, from expected as well as unexpected quarters.

Washington’s “green” Gov. Jay Inslee was singing the President’s praises.  Inslee is coauthor of a book, Apollo’s Fire, that calls on America to make a national commitment to clean energy development comparable to the 1960′s Apollo Program that put a man on the moon.

“Every day, Americans see the impacts of climate change in increasing droughts, wildfires, dangerous storms, ocean acidification and more,” said Inslee.  “Elected leaders have a moral obligation to take on this challenge.  While Congress dithers, President Obama has put forward a smart, practical and cost-effective set of policies to reduce carbon pollution and save energy costs, improve our competitiveness and create jobs in America’s energy future.”

And, from the world of professional sports, came enthusiastic words from the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

“Being one of the leaders in environmental stewardship among professional sports franchises, the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers take great pride in applauding the President’s remarks,” said Justin Zeulner, senior director of sustainability and public affairs from the team.

“As a recent signatory of the Climate Declaration, we believe addressing climate change is not only essential for the health of our planet and children, but will result in a healthy economy.”




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