House Republicans almost to a person perceive President Barack Obama's speech on climate change as a formal declaration of an administration "war on coal" and are already planning a counteroffensive.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax shortly after Obama unveiled his plan for federal action to cut coal production and limit carbon dioxide emissions, Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas spelled out his own legislation to ban federal funding to the Environmental Protection Agency for regulating greenhouse gases.
"The president has declared war on coal," Poe said, explaining the reason for his measure, officially known as the Ensuring Affordable Energy Act, which he introduced in February in anticipation of Obama's coal offensive.
"And it will put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work. I would say to him, "If we get rid of coal, what are we going to replace it with?'"
Referring to his home turf in the Lone Star State, Poe pointed out to Newsmax that "Southeast Texas is the energy capital of the world."
Moreover, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee and a former prosecutor and felony judge, the congressman from Texas' 2nd District is specifically concerned by the president's repeated insistence he will use executive orders and federal regulations to secure his agenda on coal and climate change.
In his inaugural address, State of the Union message, and his climate change speech at Georgetown University last week, Obama said he would take precisely those executive actions if Congress doesn't act.
"He's issuing an edict in the way of an emperor and trying to secure a manifesto without the support of the legislative body, which has already rejected his cap-and-trade philosophy," said the Texan, recalling how the Congress rejected cap-and-trade legislation when it was in Democratic hands under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "He doesn't respect the will of Congress."
Poe introduced the Ensuring Affordable Energy Act in the last Congress and reintroduced it again in this session. "We so far have 30 co-sponsors — five in the last hour." Conceding that all of the co-sponsors were fellow Republicans, Poe said: "We had some Democrats last year and we'll have some this year."
Any counteroffensive on the administration's plan for coal seems certain to have the support of the House Republican leadership and the pivotal player on energy in the House, Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan.
"Energy from American resources like natural gas, oil, and coal is affordable now and emissions have declined," Upton told Newsmax.
Upton said Obama's energy action "would have a major impact" on his constituents. The Sixth District takes about an hour and a half to drive through and many of my constituents have long commutes. We also have manufacturing and other industries that need affordable electricity — that includes a balance of generating sources from coal, gas, nuclear and renewables.
Upton said that "taking away our ability to safely and responsibly use our more affordable energy sources, whether our coal or oil sands from our neighbor Canada, would drive up the cost of everything from food to manufacturing to gasoline."
"To see it go away now at a time when our energy abundance is spurring a manufacturing renaissance and becoming the envy of the world would be a big mistake," he said.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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