Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Speakers pointed out the deficiencies of former President Obama’s clean power plan at an EPA hearing in Wyoming on Tuesday.
Speakers square off in Wyoming over Clean Power Plan repeal during final of four meetings
Heather Richards 307-266-0592, Heather.Richards@trib.com
Updated Mar 29, 2018
Miners, politicians and local business owners spoke of coal like they would an old friend, a Wyoming character both dependable and indispensable.
Biologists, environmentalists and students, on the other hand, listed coal’s sins. The industry is dying, they say, and they aren’t mourning.
After tears, speeches and emotional pleas, a Tuesday hearing on the Clean Power Plan in Gillette ended much as it began, with two sides that don’t agree.
The Gillette meeting was the final of four public listening sessions held from West Virginia to San Francisco. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were more Wyoming opponents of the Clean Power Plan than supporters.
Supporters of the plan argued that climate change is real and that coal is a dying industry that exacerbates global warming. Some questioned the effectiveness of the Clean Power Plan in achieving climate goals, wondering if it was worth the economic distress. Opponents of the regulation pointed to coal’s history of driving affordable electricity and jobs in places like Gillette.
Don Curtis, a manager at coal giant Peabody Energy, said his family was lucky. He and his wife have good-paying jobs in the coal industry, but both the family’s coal jobs and their private businesses in coal country were at risk from the Clean Power Plan.
“I feel it is a cost America cannot afford,” he said of the plan’s likely effects.
Meanwhile, another Wyomingite said between the Clean Power Plan’s protection of the environment and the state’s desire to hold onto the coal economy, continuing to embrace coal was the greater risk.
“Given our state’s reliance on fossil fuels, the Clean Power Plan will have consequences,” said Shannon Anderson, a lawyer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council. “But the plan also creates opportunity for coal mine reclamation jobs, renewable energy and diversifying our state’s economy and tax base.”
Telling proud people who have helped maintain US prosperity for decades that a mad scramble to win government handouts and find alternative means to feed their families is an “opportunity” – yeah, that will win hearts and minds.