Latest town halls alternating health and energy discussion

The August town halls continue, many now alternating health reform and energy discussions. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is touring a residential development in Durango this morning. He plans to watch Bland Solar Solutions install solar panels on homes and then discuss how he believes clean energy can create jobs in southwestern Colorado. Will he talk about bringing a nuclear power boom to the area? Later he’ll travel to Mancos, where he’ll discuss rural health care.

After lunch today in Fort Collins, U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Bill Ritter will join Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the federal Council on Environmental Quality, at a town hall to talk about Pres. Obama’s clean-energy policies.

Will energy industry-generated anti-cap and trade protesters make a showing?

The UK Telegraph is shocked by what it is witnessing taking place here across the pond:

The oil industry – known to its detractors as “Big Oil” – is moving quickly and aggressively to block America’s first climate change legislation.

The protests moved into a higher gear when the White House last week signalled a sudden retreat over a key aspect of the President’s health care reform proposals: the plan for the US government itself to provide health insurance coverage for those who do not already have it.

It was a sign of weakness on which the oil industry has pounced. “Big Oil smells blood in the water,” said Frank O’Donnell, who advises Democrats on the environment. “The stakes are very high.”

Nuclear power plants and other low carbon emitters are big supporters of cap and trade, knowing it will make them more competitive. But the US Chamber of Commerce, which represents America’s “smokestack” industries and the oil industry, all of which face higher costs, is trenchantly opposed – arguing that it will end with companies moving production and jobs abroad.

The oil sector, which accounts for 40 per cent of emissions but would receive only 2.5 per cent of the permits and faces buying the rest on the open market, is now rallying its forces to kill the legislation off altogether – preying on motorists’ fears of steep petrol price rises.

Spotting the first sign of weakness in a President whose popularity ratings are falling, the oil industry is attempting to replicate the methods of health reform opponents to derail Mr Obama’s plan.

It organised a so-called “Energy Citizens” rally in Houston, America’s oil capital, last week, at which speakers railed against plans to change the country’s gas-guzzling ways.

“Something we hold dear is in danger, and that is our future,” said Bill Bailey, a rodeo announcer who was master of ceremonies. Inside the plus theatre auditorium, the wealthy owner of the Houston Astros baseball team urged more protests. “We need to preserve this way of life,” declared Drayton McLane.

State Rep. Cory Gardner, who is running against Markey to Represent the Fourth District, has apparently received the memo. He’s been tying cap and trade to health reform at many of his campaign stops from early in the month.

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