Christine Harbin Hanson

This past week the Environmental Protection Agency held a series of regional hearings throughout the country—in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Washington. EPA representatives heard from the public about the job-killing rules on power plants it proposed in June, which would force states to impose draconian restrictions on carbon emissions by 2030.

Although the regional hearings drew many high-profile speakers including members of Congress and state governors, what was more remarkable was the high number of everyday Americans that testified. People at the grassroots level are increasingly concerned about what the new rules will mean for their wallets and their well-being. Hundreds of Americans for Prosperity activists and our coalition partners, together representing millions of Americans, rallied in the shadow of the Colorado state house in Denver and on the steps of the EPA building in Atlanta. Together, Americans called on President Obama's EPA to stop its power grab.

Many were coal miners, concerned that regulations will cause energy production — as well as the jobs that they support — to go overseas to countries like China that do not enforce these rules. Many miners drove long distances in order to weigh in, from states as far away as Wyoming and Arizona.

Others focused on how this rule would impact economic growth. A representative from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) talked about how small businesses are hard-pressed to shoulder higher energy costs during these lean times. Hotel owners also rallied, concerned that this proposed rule would reduce visitors to mining towns and hurt the local economy.

Federal overreach by the Obama administration is nothing new. But when it comes to the President’s EPA agenda, the President says he has no problem going around Congress and disregarding the will of the people to force greater burdens on the American middle class. In fact, the EPA would unilaterally decide which states will get hit hardest by the power plant rules.

We heard concerns from families, too. In Denver, a single mom took the podium. She said that the EPA’s proposal would mean bigger electricity bills and a tighter family budget – a simple concept, but one that politicians and bureaucrats seem to have difficulty comprehending. Everything from putting gas in the car to buying groceries could become harder.

Polling data among registered voters reflect this opposition at the grassroots level. A recent survey from the American Energy Alliance shows that the majority of American voters oppose EPA’s recently proposed power plant regulations after they learn about the sweeping impacts the rule would have on jobs and economic growth. Before receiving any information about the regulations, no less than 57 percent of voters in any state supported the regulations. But after listening to arguments both for and against the new rules, fewer than half of respondents in each state supported them. The survey looked at registered voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, and North Carolina.

What this poll shows is that the more people learn about the impacts of the new proposed rules on power plants, the more they turn against them. Folks may be initially open to the rules when they first hear the Obama administration’s vague claims about how this latest ream of top-down EPA red tape will improve the environment, but their support evaporates when they learn more about the rules and the harm they will do to the economy.

Given this growing grassroots opposition to the proposed rules and the harm they will inflict on fragile local economies, lawmakers should seek ways to push back on this federal takeover of the energy market. At the state and local level, too, elected officials should stand up against President Obama's EPA and protect American prosperity and access to affordable energy.


Christine Harbin Hanson

Christine Harbin Hanson is the federal affairs manager at Americans for Prosperity, a nationwide grassroots organization. Follow her on Twitter at @HarbinHanson.