Enviro groups, Pence on different sides of climate change speech
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org June 25, 2013 4:19PM
Gov. Mike Pence
Updated: July 27, 2013 6:34AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Environmental groups throughout the state praised President Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives announced in a speech Tuesday, but the response from the Statehouse was much cooler.
Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, warned that the president’s move to increase emissions standards will raise electricity costs in Indiana.
He said the country should have an “all of the above” strategy using coal, wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas.
“The president’s proposed carbon dioxide regulations will have a significant and detrimental impact on states like Indiana that rely on coal for reliable, affordable energy,” Pence said.
“These regulations will increase the cost of electricity on Hoosier families and businesses at a time when our economy can least afford it.”
Environmental groups from Indiana, on the other hand, praised the president’s speech.
Nicole Barker of the Save the Dunes Council said she found it interesting that Obama warned communities to prepare for changing weather patterns and higher temperatures.
“This is going to be a big legacy issue for Obama,” Barker said, “so people are watching with bated breath to see what happens with these big issues.”
The Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter chairman Steve Francis like what he heard.
“President Obama is finally putting action behind his words,” Francis said. “We applaud him for taking a giant step forward toward meeting that goal.”
Jesse Kharbanda of the Hoosier Environmental Council said the president’s approach through the EPA shows the national importance.
“The emerging EPA rule is more flexible and more sophisticated than some Indiana politicians are characterizing it to be,” Kharbanda said.
“The rule should be welcomed rather than resisted because it’s the long-delayed spur the coal industry needs to decarbonize.”
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., called Obama’s plan unreasonable and said it would “damage Indiana’s economy and hike electric bills for all Hoosiers.”
“Once again President Obama is circumventing Congress and the will of the American people to implement policies that have already been rejected,” Coats said. “Imposing a backdoor energy tax and unrealistic regulations on coal power plants is a recipe for disaster in Indiana and across the country. Instead of encouraging job creation and an economic recovery, President Obama is empowering unelected Washington bureaucrats to implement regulations that will result in significant job losses and skyrocketing energy costs.
Coats said the utility industry has spent more than $100 billion in capital investment for air pollution controls resulting in significant declines in emissions. On June 13, Coats joined a bipartisan group of the Indiana congressional delegation in a letter to President Obama highlighting the importance of coal-fired generation to Indiana and urging the administration to abandon a proposal of imposing a one-size-fits-all carbon regulation on power plants.
But by committing to new energy standards for federal buildings and producing clean energy on public lands, Jodi Perras of Indiana Beyond Coal Campaign said, “the president is stepping up to reduce the climate-distrupting pollution that is threatening our economy and endangering our communities, farms and families with extreme heat, drought and more frequent severe storms.”
NIPSCO representative Nick Meyer said the move to protect the environment and build a sustainable future is important.
“Because of this, we have diversified our own energy mix by adding renewable sources and natural gas-fired generation,” Meyer said, “and we continue to invest in technologies that dramatically improve air quality.
“While new federal rules and customer programs focused on the environment provide a number of benefits, we want to be sure those decisions are balanced with the cost impact to customers.”