To Voters, Obama's Polarizing Climate Plan Pits Environment Against Jobs

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo News asked Americans to comment on President Barack Obama's climate change plan, parts of which he unveiled in a speech on Tuesday. Below are excerpted responses we received.

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Plan is devastating for way of life in coalfields: Living near Roanoke in the coalfields of southwest Virginia, it was difficult to continue to hope for economic recovery in this region after President Obama's recent speech. The cities, towns and communities in the area are dependent on one thing: coal.

Obama's words are a final bell sadly tolling this truth: Our way of life is over. If Obama's proposals go through, it will decimate our already languishing economy.

Obama ignores the dark side to the utopian goal of reducing carbon emissions by destroying the coal industry -- the truth. Renewable sources of energy are incredibly expensive, undependable and inefficient. Few sources of energy are as cheap and reliable as coal. Rapidly changing energy sources will lead to rising energy costs for households and businesses throughout the nation when few can afford it.

-- Lyn Brooks, Roanoke, Va.

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Seeing both sides: I live in a small town in West Virginia -- "coal mine country" -- and home to two coal-fired AEP power plants, with another right across the Ohio River in view. The coal mines, the former top industry in West Virginia, have been closed already, which has resulted in thousands of jobs lost for families in this state. And while a lot of the union and power plant workers have found steady work during plant outages and keeping up with the EPA's new regulations on the scrubbers and more, thousands of workers face the inevitability of losing work around here permanently. One of the two power plants was just recently shut down.

I also know the effects of global warming on this planet. Obama is right that we need to act now. The president is on the right track with creating renewable energy sources in this country, and the only way to attempt to mend the damage caused by global warming, prevent future devastation (and catastrophe), and create jobs, thereby elevating our economy, is to see these proposals through.

-- Ruqaiyya Noor, New Haven, W.V.

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Obama's climate speech lacks sexiness: According to a 2008 report from the United Nations Statistics Division, a U.N. division which ensures environmental sustainability and integrates the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs to reverse the loss of environmental resources, the millennium development goals indicators state that China's annual emissions at 7,031,916 accounts for 23.5 percent of the world's emissions and the United States closely behind with 5,461,014 and 18.27 percent of the world's emissions.

Obama says, "So I know these standards don't sound all that sexy, but think of it this way: That's the equivalent of planting 7.6 billion trees and letting them grow for 10 years -- all while doing the dishes. It is a great deal and we need to be doing it."

Why has it taken so long to get something done?

-- Michael Drentea, San Diego

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The wrong direction: The American people are struggling to survive and we must help them by expanding the economy and giving them new job opportunities. This plan does the exact opposite. Republican critics in Congress are calling his plan a job-killer that will threaten the economic recovery. We are pulling the rug out from underneath the millions who are struggling to survive.

-- Mathew Paul, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

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'President of hope' owes U.S. more on environment: The president said Tuesday at Georgetown University, "As a president, as a father and as an American, I'm here to say we need to act." This San Francisco father and American agrees. Communities, corporations and humanity must change their behavior. Obama's proposed regulations, incentives and renewables permitting are similarly right, though inadequate. They're feasible examples for future improvement.

First change: Learn these ABCs of species survival. Each person, in every way possible, must make the changes indicated. They are vast, like political will for deferred gratification. (For instance: "We won't build pipelines we can't make clean.") They are immeasurably small -- coffee cups re-used, not thrown away to decay and release CO2. These changes are survival imperatives.

-- Robert Gunter, San Francisco

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A solution in search of a problem: President Obama's environmental/green energy agenda has already failed the test of the democratic process. Even when Congress was controlled entirely by Democrats, it recoiled from passing cap and trade. So the president intends to use executive orders and the regulatory process to get his way no matter what Congress or the people think.

The result of all of this, if not stopped, will be a punch in the gut to the weak economy, a loss of jobs, and all for no purpose whatsoever except, as an adviser stated according to the Weekly Standard, to wage a "war on coal."

-- Mark Whittington, Houston

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Leadership when change is needed: Maybe there is hope for humanity after all.

President Obama is finally taking a firm stand on the environment. While unlikely to please everyone, his newly released Climate Action Plan at least promises to break through the political stalemate surrounding climate change, and start us moving in the right direction.

At least as important as the technical solutions Obama offers is the spirit in which he offers them. He refuses to buy into the myth that what's good for the planet is necessarily bad for business.

Change can be difficult, but it is inevitable. It's about time our country began to address climate change in a spirit of leadership rather than fear.

-- Anne Michelsen, Champaign County, Ill.

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Obama emits policy-changing cloud: In his 2008 Democratic nominee victory speech, Barack Obama proclaimed that, generations from now, his win will be remembered as the "…moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal …" That was five years ago.

Apparently, tide-lowering and planet-healing aren't progressing quickly enough for President Obama. On Tuesday, he emitted some foul smoke of his own as he outlined his plans for climate change regulations with or without congressional approval.

Polls indicate Americans are most concerned with jobs and the economy, so Obama shoves his climate change agenda into the faces of 760,000 people who rely on coal for earning their livelihood -- shoves his pet pipe dream into the faces of all of us who will pay higher prices for everything, from electricity to groceries.

Only six months into his second term, this president is in "legacy" mode. Come hell or high water, he's bestowing upon us his lofty footprints.

-- Susan Durham, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

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