The energy industry-funded Western Wire celebrated yesterday with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman the decision by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan–a plan Colorado was already well on the road to complying with, but Coffman nonetheless fiercely opposed:
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) welcomed Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency would sign papers “to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.”
Under Pruitt, the EPA argues the Clean Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s regulatory authority.
“The EPA’s decision to repeal this rule clears the way for a new rule making process that addresses the legal deficiencies in the old rule and thoughtfully considers input from various stakeholders, including States,” Coffman told Western Wire via email. “The goal should be a federal-State partnership that gives States a meaningful role in setting achievable emission standards without dictating how States manage their power grids. Colorado has been a national leader in establishing clean energy standards, and we continue to prove that the States can develop and implement sound environmental policy within the bounds of the law.”
Coffman sparred with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who challenged the legality of Coffman’s participation in the lawsuit against the Obama-era rule. The Colorado Supreme Court declined Hickenlooper’s petition.
Because of renewable energy standards passed a decade ago as well as a major agreement to replace numerous coal-fired power plants in Colorado with natural gas power production, Colorado was already on course to meet the standards established by the Clean Power Plan. That’s why the decision by Attorney General Coffman to join the lawsuit against the administration in 2015 was broadly perceived to be a political stunt.
Of course, that was before Donald Trump became President! Now the lead attorney general in the lawsuit Coffman joined without the Governor’s consent is the head of the EPA, and the Clean Power Plan is headed for the history books at the federal level. Don’t expect Coffman to suddenly become a champion of tougher state standards, either–one need look no farther than her threatening local communities who try to enact drilling protections that exceed the status quo to see both ends of the pro-industry squeeze play. It’s a lot like the duplicitous arguments from state legislators who tried to repeal the Connect For Health Colorado insurance exchange this year, saying it wouldn’t be a problem because the federal exchange would continue to operate–except for the small detail of Republicans in Washington simultaneously working on the repeal of the federal exchange.
In short, the only people this situation should make happy work for the fossil fuel industry, who readers already know wield a disproportionate amount of influence in Colorado politics. Despite that heavy influence Colorado remains a leader in moving toward a clean energy economy, and is more likely to remain so now with further progress among the states becoming even more uneven. Continuing that record of progress versus rolling back Colorado’s model renewable energy standards is set to be a key issue in next year’s gubernatorial elections.
If that’s Cynthia Coffman’s long-term angle, she’d better hurry up! With Walker Stapleton having dedicated his campaign to supporting oil and gas industry, the people most likely to reward Coffman’s unswerving fealty could get taken off the market.