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Coal plant

A plume of steam billows Jan. 20 from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire. Coal-fired plants like this one are a source of greenhouse gases and of pollution, which would be curbed in the Clean Power Plan being put forward by President Barack Obama. Rep. Elise Stefanik has opposed the plan.

We’re still looking for the “why” in Rep. Elise Stefanik’s recent vote to delay any action in fighting climate change.

In August, President Barack Obama rolled out the most aggressive plan to date — the Clean Power Plan — to fight climate change and set a precedent for other countries in how to reduce their own carbon emissions. The plan accelerates a move away from coal-fired electricity and toward more natural gas and green energy.

But here is the real head-scratcher: While the plan is being hailed as a great step forward in fighting carbon emissions and climate change, the reality is that most states were already on their way toward phasing out coal. Most states were expected to reach the new reductions even before they became mandatory.

So the chest-thumping by the Democrats of this great environmental victory is dubious at best. It’s too bad more couldn’t have been done.

What’s even more puzzling is the fervent opposition by Republicans over something that was going to happen anyway. They recently voted on counter legislation that would block states from being required to comply with the new guidelines — the Ratepayer Protection Act.

That’s what Rep. Stefanik voted for, as did 238 of her fellow Republican colleagues (4 voted no), as a way to block or delay guidelines that were going to be reached anyway.

Rep. Stefanik says she voted to block the new EPA initiative because it would cause electric rates to rise. Since the reductions in coal-fired electricity were going to happen anyway, this seems rather absurd.

What we found even more disturbing was a Washington Post report that, in early 2014, a group of 30 corporate lawyers, coal lobbyists and Republican political strategists began meeting regularly in the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to devise a legal strategy for dismantling the climate change regulations that were coming.

Within minutes of President Obama’s announcement of the new EPA regulations, members of the group announced that they were filing a legal challenge to the guidelines, even though a draft proposal had not been made public.

The Post reported that, “while it is not unusual for major corporations to sue the federal government over environmental regulations, people involved in the effort to craft a legal strategy against the climate change rules said the time, labor and coordination of the effort were unusual.”

Keep in mind that Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell represents Kentucky, a state rich in coal.

This brings us back to Rep Stefanik’s vote.

Rep. Stefanik’s vote appears to be nothing more than choosing her party over the well-being of her district.

Those that live in the Adirondacks saw the impact of acid rain over the past 20 years. Only recently have lakes begun to recover. If ever there were a district where the environment should take precedence, it is the 21st in New York. Rep. Stefanik should be sensitive to that.

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There is really no reason to be opposed to President Obama’s climate change policy, and no reason to pass legislation to allow states to block it. It appears to be all about bragging rights for the next election.

Finally, we’re confused about where Rep. Stefanik actually stands on climate change. When she was running for her seat, she repeated the traditional Republican talking point at the time: “I am not a scientist.”

Then, this past week, Rep. Stefanik joined Rep. Chris Gibson to introduce a climate change resolution, calling for improved environmental stewardship.

“Climate change is a serious issue that we must address,” Stefanik was quoted in the release.

We were encouraged — and somewhat surprised — to hear those words, especially after her vote to block the Clean Power Plan.

Her actions appear to be at odds with each other.

We’re confused and still wondering what comes first for her — party or her constituents.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran and citizen representative Robert Rosoff.


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