President Obama has vowed to lead the international effort to combat climate change, and he is not waiting around for congressional approval of his agenda.
The president said climate science is settled, and he will enact major policy through executive actions that will bypass the scrutiny of lawmakers. He claims the planet is warming, making severe weather events so much more common that urgent action must be taken.
Obama rejected skepticism about climate science, saying, "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.'"
Reducing "carbon pollution" is at the heart of the Obama plan. In addition to doubling investments in clean energy technology, the administration will seek to impose tougher emissions standards on conventional, coal-fired power plants.
One of Obama's climate advisers is even publicly embracing the idea of a "war on coal."
Harvard University Center for the Environment Director Daniel P. Schrag told the New York Times, "The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed."
But Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, told WND this approach from Obama should come as no surprise.
"This administration has pursued a war on coal, with the Stream Buffer rule that has gone through a couple of changes," Hastings said. "It would essentially strangle the coal industry."
He also said further crackdowns on coal production and coal-fueled power plants would be economically devastating.
"These jobs are very good-paying jobs. In a sluggish economy, that's the last thing we need to do is to take good American jobs away from Americans. And yet, that seems to be what this administration is doing," he said.
Obama and his allies blame fossil fuels for threatening Earth's climate, but Hastings said that position ignores the benefits of using our own resources and fails to consider the clean technologies already put to use in the energy sector.
"Let's talk about the abundance of coal we have in this country, for goodness sake. And let's talk about the technology. We have proven time and again that we can burn our fuels in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way," he said. "We have proven that over the last half-century, and there's no reason to believe we can't do it again. But to simply say we're not going to burn any coal at all does not make any sense to me at all."
In addition to lost jobs, Americans in many parts of the country could face much higher energy costs as more and more coal-fired power plants risk closure under tighter environmental regulations.
"There's no question that they would go up because at the same time that the president is strangling the coal industry, he is attempting de facto to do exactly the same thing with oil and natural gas production, especially on federal lands," said Hastings, who is among the House Republicans championing the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, a bill that supporters say would create 1.2 million jobs.
Hastings said the bill is in response to Obama closing access to 85 percent of the areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts that were identified for potential energy exploration.
"What we say in this legislation is that this president and future presidents shall offer leases where they know there are known resources. What a novel idea: offering leases where you think you can get oil and natural gas," said Hastings, who noted that additional domestic production is also a positive step away from dependence upon foreign oil.
The chairman said it is possible that increased exploration could mean another disaster like America saw in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, but he said safety standards make such an event very rare and energy companies have already developed faster, more effective response plans in the event of another crisis.