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Clean-air rules assailed as too much, too little

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm •  Published: July 29, 2014

DENVER (AP) — Hundreds of people across the country lined up Tuesday to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that its new rules for power-plant pollution either go too far or not far enough.

The agency is holding hearings this week in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington on President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point. The rules are intended to curb global warming.

Coal mines, electric utilities, labor unions, environmental groups, renewable-energy companies, government agencies, religious and civil rights organizations and others sent representatives to the hearings.

Some endorsed the proposals, while others said they were a timid response to a huge problem or an unwarranted attack on the coal industry and its employees.

John Kinkaid, a Moffat County, Colorado, commissioner, told the EPA in Denver that the rules would devastate his area, home to a major power plant.

"Energy is the lifeblood of our economy," he said. "Moffat County deserves better than to be turned into another Detroit, Michigan."

Retired coal miner Stanley Sturgill of Harlan County, Kentucky, traveled to Denver to tell the EPA that coal-fired plants are crippling his health and the public's. Sturgill said he suffers from black lung and other respiratory diseases.

"The rule does not do nearly enough to protect the health of the front-line communities," he said. "We're dying, literally dying, for you to help us."

In Atlanta, Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward and a former Commerce Department official in the Clinton administration, said the benefits of fighting climate change — and the extreme weather it is blamed for — outweigh the potential costs. "Over the past four years, American factories have been disrupted by typhoons in Thailand, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, droughts in Texas, tornadoes in Kentucky, falling water levels across the Great Lakes and flooding in the Northeast," he said.

Others at the Atlanta hearing said the rules could raise electricity prices and cause job losses without significantly curtailing global carbon emissions. As U.S. utilities switch to natural gas, more U.S. coal is being shipped and burned overseas.

With only five minutes each to address the EPA, scores of advocates in Denver staged rallies for or against the proposed rules.

"They're basically trying to shut down coal, which takes away my job," said Mike Zimmerman, a foreman at the Twentymile Mine in northwestern Colorado, who attended a rally sponsored by Americans for Prosperity.

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