Littwin: Colorado is not Kentucky

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE news is now official. The Obama administration has proposed new rules that will significantly reduce carbon emissions, with coal-producing power plants clearly the big loser.

The question is: Who will be the winner?

OK, if you trust the science, the human race basically stands to come out slightly ahead — and maybe better than that if American action spurs other action around the world. But we’re not talking only about climate change. We’re talking about the possibility of political change.

And let’s face it, the most obvious truth in the great climate-change debate is that it’s not really about climate change at all. It’s mostly about politics, which is why the proposal is so controversial.

It took only a few hours for Senate Republicans, generally described as gleeful, to announce they would launch robo-calls in four states with vulnerable Democratic incumbents, including Colorado. I think you could guess the script. Toss in something about a “radical” plan, a prediction that electricity bills would “skyrocket” and, of course, the certainly that, like all Obama plans, this “radical” plan would be a job-killer.

[pullquote]The EPA’s new proposed carbon emissions rules likely won’t play in Colorado political races the way Republicans are hoping they will. Colorado is not Kentucky. The rules give the states flexibility, and Colorado already has its own ideas at work.[/pullquote]

This got some reaction. In Kentucky, for example, Democratic Alison Grimes, issued a statement opposing the proposed rules. In Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu was against the rules well before they were announced.

In Colorado, the idea is to link Mark Udall — who vigorously supports the proposal — with Barack Obama as a pair of overreaching, coal-hating, environmental activists.

There’s one problem. Actually, there are a few problems. But the one big problem is that, in Colorado anyway, I’m guessing the Republicans are the ones overreaching. Colorado is not Kentucky. The state legislature already passed a law in 2010 that was not unlike the new proposed rules on coal-powered plants. The EPA rules give the states flexibility, and Colorado already has its own ideas at work.

In fact, we’re already well on our way to meeting the would-be federal standards, which still have to survive the court challenges that are certain to come. Jobs have not been killed. Prices have not skyrocketed.

And then there are the results of an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Monday, which may not make Cory Gardner gleeful.

The poll, taken before the announcement, shows that Americans overwhelmingly want the government to do something about climate change — and, get this, that Americans would be willing (again, overwhelmingly) to pay more to see it happen.

That’s Democratic Americans. Independent Americans. Even Republican Americans.

That’s coal-heavy states. And states not so coal heavy.


Here are some numbers to consider: 70 percent of those polled said they wanted the government to require power plants to cut emissions; 70 percent said they agreed that states should be required to limit greenhouse gases within their borders; 63 percent said they would approve of a plan even if it raised their energy prices $20 a month.

These are huge numbers. And that last bit about a willingness to pay more is stunning. And then there’s this: More people want the government to do something about global warming than actually say they “believe” climate change — or “global warming”; the poll used both — is very serious.

This is not complicated. One easily identified group that doesn’t think climate change is a problem is Tea Party Republicans. A recent Pew poll put the Tea Party number at only 25 percent. That means, of course, that House Republicans are similarly opposed.

Which brings us back to Colorado. If Republicans are sending out robo-calls to Colorado independents, Udall is spending his time blasting Cory Gardner for being anti-science. Actually, we don’t know what Gardner thinks. He hasn’t said. In 2010, he said, “I think the climate is changing, but I don’t believe humans are causing that change to the extent that’s been in the news.” And that’s about it.

That sounded a lot like what Marco Rubio said recently in semi-announcing his plans to runs for president. Rubio would then say he was being misinterpreted and that he’s not anti-science. You can see the problem for Gardner, who, it would seem, has to say something now.

There was a time when the politics were different. In 1970, the Clean Air Act passed through Congress nearly unanimously. As recently as 2008, John McCain was saying that global warming was our greatest environmental challenge and was in favor of cap and trade – yes, both of them. According to a piece in Vox on how Republicans have moved right on climate change, even Sarah Palin, back when she was McCain’s running mate, favored cap and trade.

Obama has clearly taken a political risk in going the regulation route in bypassing the Republican House. He didn’t have any choice. If he wanted to move ahead on climate change, this was his only chance.

For Udall, though, it’s a different matter. His real problem is not coal regulations, but the probability of a local-control fracking initiative, which has caused a rare split in Colorado Democratic politics. Governor John Hickenlooper has called for a special state legislative session to resolve the issue. My guess is that Udall must be happy to see the conversation change.

I wonder if Cory Gardner can say the same.

[ Image by Don O’Brien. ]


  1. Yep, the big fight is going to be local control…we on the local level are tired of having to fight to keep what we have, and not to be sacrificed to the “gods of profit”…Clean air and water is not for sale…

  2. Don’t tell that to the 6200 people who are employed in CO coal industry. Better not mention it to the employees of Warren Buffets’ BNSP railroad who annually move billions of tonnes of coal thru the state.

    If you can shut down coal production and fracking, we’ll begin to look a hell of a lot like Kentucky

  3. Ruth, perhaps those people can be put to work bailing out the major cities across the world that will be underwater by 2100.

  4. Ruth, you need to chill out. ALL the previous predicitons of how EVERY single inprovement demanded in the past would cost tens of thousands of jobs have NEVER turned out to be even close to accurate.

    Ford said that seat belts would put them out of business. GM bitched like crazy about the milegae improvements we have in every car now. Every utility that had to change to clean up things since the 1960’s has sworn that they would be out of business as a result. NONE of them are. This is the same childish nonsense they pull EVERY time the government demands a change. And they have NEVER folded up and shut down as a reult of regulations. EVER.

    Now, read the freaking article. Itg says that thanks to laws already passed in this state, we are well on the way top meeting those goals even before they are stated. So are you going to blame Obama for the things your own state’s legislature has already done? If so, then it’s clear that you don’t give a damn about those people or their jobs, you just hate Obama more than life itself.

    And that is NOT being patriotic or caring about your country at all, it’s just being a bigot.

    Fact is, this isn’t going to hurt Kentucky, either. They will benefit from it, as the jobs for cleaning up the state have to be filled by SOMEONE, don’t they? This is going to benefit them as their HEALTH improves, too. They don’t tell you this, but their health there is declining dramatically, and coal is one of the biggest reasons. The LACK of regulation is costing the miners their lives with black lung in numbers we haven’t seen for decades, but that isn’t important to you, as long as it’s a black man in the presidency, it’s ALL his fault, isn’t it?

    Get over it, Ruth. You can either be a decent steward of the land, or you can be an American. It’s time this country GREW UP and started cleaning up after itself. We can do it, we just have to stop insisting that the profits of the few are FAR more important than you or your children’s future health and well being.

    But that attitude of yours is stopping every improvement we can make, and it’s just silly. It’s the profits of the 1% you’re protecting, and at the expense of your own health and that of every other living thing on the planet. Pretty selfish of 6500 people who won’t go find another job, isn’t it? Or the 1% who won’t spend a penny of their $2.7 TRILLION in assets (which they stole from US over the last 30+ years) to provide those people with another way to make a living. Especially one that doesn’t kill them.

    Sorry, Hon, you’re barking up the wrong tree on this one.

  5. Mrs. Smith,

    I enjoyed your comment and hope you don’t consider everyone who read it to be as classless and clueless as one person has already demonstrated himself to be.

    Veterans Day-November 11, 2014

  6. Mr Morrison and myself are on the same side of the political fence. But I find his “sorry Hon” remark sexist and pointless frankly. Ruth Smith makes a very valid comment concerning Warren Buffet and the Burlington Northern Corporation.

    I admire Warren Buffet and wondered what his response might be to this issue. It will be interesting to find out.

  7. While I might agree in substance with much of what Will Morrison says above, I’m extremely offended at the condescending and offensive tone with which he says it. His kind of rhetoric is not what will win over hearts and minds. So Will. . . . . chill!

  8. Well said Retiree. I couldn’t agree more.

    For those of you interested in Warren Buffett’s possible reaction to President Obama’s plan here’s a quote from “The Street”:

    “Berkshire Hathaway is well positioned for President Obama’s proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nations power plants by 30% by 2030. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Berkshire Hathaway head, Warren Buffett, become one of the proposals biggest supporters”.

    Here’s the link for those of you interested. Buffett ready for Obama coal cuts as Berkshire Hathaway targets renewables”. June 2 2014.

  9. To all who are offended by my tone:
    If you don’t like my attitude, then don’t parrot Faux Noise nonsense in my face and expect me to treat it like it’s valid. It’s NOT. What do you expect from a “news” organization that has gone to court to prove it’s right to LIE to you? I’m NOT going to glorify that with any respect at all. It doesn’t deserve it.

    Now, as to my tone, It’s no worse than anything I’ve been putting up with from the right (and others) for the last 35+ years. I’ve been called every name in the book, been told to leave the country, told I have my head up my butt, and after all that, many of those same people now talk about how they KNEW years ago that we were on the wrong track as a country. Too bad they were cheer leading for that course, and used me as their punching bag for those years for NOT buying into their delusions. So if you’re gong to expect me to apologize for what I’ve said or how I said it, that’s not going to happen. Ban me from the site, or learn to toughen up. I had to.

    In the future, if you don’t want your little sensibilities ruffled, then just look at who wrote it and move on along. It’s just as likely to be even MORE caustic if I’m not holding back. And if you think THIS is being offensive, you people need to read the things I write on other sites that aren’t afraid of getting the vapors with every sentence. They might blister your eyeballs, and no one on those sites seems to be terribly offended. I would suggest that you just ignore me if I offend you.

    I refuse to sugar coat anything. In fact, I consider that to be one of our biggest problems, everyone is WAY too happy to just cover their ears and run away screaming at the first uncomfortable word or idea. GROW UP. It’s a big, nasty, scary world out there, and some of us have attitudes and opinions that you won’t like. I’ve had to put up with plenty of them, and I still do.

  10. Punching bags and ruffled sensibilities? It appears Mr Morrison is the one offended. Too bad he refuses to listen. He could be so much better.

  11. No, I’m just getting tired of watching everyone ruin their own lives and blame everyone else for their own actions, especially those who have NOTHING to do with it. And maybe YOU would be better if you weren’t so condesending. You want to talk about ME putting others down when you’ve done it with each comment towards me so far. Bad form. Like I said, don’t like my attitude, don’t read what I write.

  12. Sorry Mr Morrison. No one’s “putting you down”. You’re putting yourself down when you could do a lot better. Your a decent writer with a valid point of view that I agree with and support.

    I’m not sure what to make of your comment about “everyone ruining their lives and blaming others for their own actions”. Seems as though your anger gets the best of you. So be it! Have a nice day.

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