With one stroke of the pen, all wrote off the fuel that has helped make possible a century of economic growth in their cities. They accepted the higher electric rates that utility executives say are certainly on the way as today’s historically low natural gas prices zoom upward while wind and solar power, for the foreseeable future, remain very expensive.
The mayors also agreed, in signing that letter, to condemn the jobs of 555,000 Americans who mine, transport, market and utilize coal, along with their combined annual income of $36.3 billion.
All of this comes less than a year after Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to donate $50 million to the Sierra Club to support its nationwide campaign to eliminate coal-fired power plants.
On many levels, I have great respect and admiration for my fellow Republican, Mayor Bloomberg. Elected in the dark days just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he helped rebuild the city both physically and emotionally. In that and other roles he has followed a course of pragmatic progressivism, addressing public concerns on social – and environmental – issues with a common-sense approach that recognizes economic realities.
So I am surprised and very disappointed that he would lead his mayoral colleagues in demonizing a valuable American energy resource, assuring higher utility bills for Americans still strapped by a slow economic recovery, and wiping out one of our oldest industries.
My personal commitment to cleaning up and protecting our environment runs deep. I’m proud of the progress America has made these past 40 years from a land of smoggy skylines and dead rivers to one that is getting cleaner by the day.
But I also understand that our environmental ideals must be balanced with recognition of our economic challenges, both short- and long-term. We can’t build a stronger economy and create the millions of jobs we need if we’re paying sharply higher utility bills and killing a half million good-paying jobs in the process.
Numerous polls show that the majority of Americans share that pragmatism. I thought Michael Bloomberg was among them, until I saw that letter to the EPA Administrator.
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