Attorney Gen. Cynthia Coffman fights for jobs, affordable energy and the ordinary people of Colorado. President Barack Obama and Gov. John Hickenlooper would like to stop her.
It is no secret President Obama has a loyal ally in Gov. Hickenlooper. The governor even supports the president's jobs-killing and regressive Clean Power Plan, created to satisfy Obama's disturbing belief that global warming is the country's most damning threat. It is not terrorism or potential economic collapse. It is the temperature.
"No challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change," President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address in January.
The subsequent Clean Power Plan stands to devastate Colorado's coal workers and shutter coal-fired power plants, including two in Colorado Springs, that provide affordable electricity to businesses and households. No longer do states and communities get to decide their energy options, because President Obama has taken over the task.
Hickenlooper should challenge the president, standing up for the burdens these global-warming mandates will impose on Coloradans who create jobs or struggle to make ends meet.
Instead, Hickenlooper has picked a fight with Coffman — the one state official challenging the president's global warming extremism in defense of the people.
Coffman stands among 24 state's attorneys general in suing Obama's Environmental Protection Agency to stop the costly overreach. The suit correctly contends the federal government has no authority to exercise such heavy-handed control over state and local concerns. When, if and how to replace our local coal plants should be a local decision. If Coloradans fear global warming hypothesis, they should set their own course of correction.
But Hickenlooper prefers allowing Washington to make these decisions. So he will ask the Colorado Supreme Court to intervene, hoping the justices tell Coffman only Hickenlooper has authority to challenge federal intrusion.
The attorney general is elected by the public to represent the people and their interests as she understands them. She is not a subordinate of the governor.
The autonomy of our attorney general is not in question. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, acting as attorney general, sued the federal government in a near-successful effort to stop Obamacare. Suthers likewise defended Colorado's same-sex marriage law, against the wishes of Hickenlooper. Throughout Colorado history, state attorneys general have defended constituents against governors, presidents, neighboring states and other branches of government.
Besides, the Colorado Supreme Court has already ruled on the attorney general's autonomy. In Salazar v. Davidson, then-Democratic Attorney Gen. Ken Salazar sued Republican Secretary of State Donetta Davidson against the wishes of Republican Gov. Bill Owens. In the redistricting dispute, the court upheld the authority of the attorney general to act independently in defense of the electorate.
Coffman told The Gazette's editorial board Monday the Clean Power Plan so far exceeds the federal government's authority it stands to "essentially take over the entire power grid." Given the unique characteristics of state energy assets, she believes the plan could have devastating effects on state and regional economies throughout the country.
The plan not only establishes emission standards, it dictates how communities are to meet them.
Thank Attorney General Coffman for taking on Big Environmentalism's threat to hard-working Coloradans who want to keep their jobs and feed kids. Thank goodness Colorado's constitution and supreme court don't vest all power and control in the governor and president.