EPA hearings turn Denver into political stage

DENVER—People walking by Union Station in Downtown Denver were treated to an unusually high level of political drama.

There were petitioners, mobile billboards and free ice cream.

The cold treats came courte of an environmental group, a compliment to a warming climate and a handy way to get people on a mailing list.

Most people had no idea all this was happening because of a two-day hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is crafting new rules aimed at cleaning up power plants.

Hundreds of people signed up to speak for and against the proposal inside the regional EPA office in downtown Denver.

Even more people used the EPA's hearings as a platform to campaign both on the clean energy issue and races in the November elections.

Supporters of the EPA plan argued that Republican candidates are going to end up on the wrong side of the push for clean energy.

"Coloradans have a long history of being very environmentally conscious as well as promoting clean energy and putting investments into solar and wind," argued Abby Leeper with the left-leaning group NextGen Climate Colorado.

The group set up a mock power plant on the street, casting Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner as a friend of polluters.

In fact, a hired actor playing "Mister Polluter" invited people to have their picture taken with himself and a cardboard cutout of Gardner.

Republicans begged to differ with the idea that they are on the losing side of this issue.

They cast the proposed EPA rules as a threat to people's electric bills and to jobs for coal and oil producers.

"You've got an opportunity in November to take Colorado a different direction," said Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who headlined an anti-EPA rally sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group.

He told members of the crowd, many of whom were coal miners from Western Colorado and neighboring states, that his grandfather used to shovel coal in a power plant.

That doesn't mean he opposes green energy outright. When asked if society needs to get away from fossil fuels eventually, Bueaprez told 9NEWS, "sure, eventually. And that's why many of us, myself included, talk about real 'all of the above' energy plans."

To opponents of the EPA plan, 'all of the above' means allowing greener energy sources to work their way into the power market, rather than trying to speed that up with government policies.

However, supporters of the EPA who worry about climate change argue greener power can't wait.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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