President Obama is calling for bold action on climate change. Tuesday, he outlined a plan that includes tougher restrictions on existing coal-fired power plants. The reaction was swift in southwestern Virginia.
The group Environment Virginia is hailing the President's plan as a clear victory for Virginians' health and safety, but the President's critics say the plan will accomplish little, while driving the cost of electricity much higher.
"As a President, as a father and as an American, I am here to say we need to act," President Obama told the crowd as he outlined his national climate action plan in a speech at Georgetown University.
He said the United States should be a global leader in the fight against climate change, and put an end to what he described as "the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants."
"Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in insurance premiums and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief," the President said, "so the question is not whether we need to act."
Critics of the proposal say the economic consequences will affect every American.
"It's going to make the cost of electricity go even higher," said 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith, "and you know you're hurting the working poor, and the poor more than you're hurting anybody else. And that's always lost in these discussions."
The national president of the group Americans for Prosperity agreed, as he gathered with fellow conservatives at the group's regional office in Roanoke County.
"And the idea that you have to choose between a clean environment and economic prosperity is a false choice," Tim Phillips told us in an interview. "You can do both."
We also reached out to Appalachian Power. The utility says the industry can make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions and minimize economic pain, but only if the federal government is flexible, gives utilities a reasonable amount of time and uses commercially proven technologies. Over the next few years, the company says it will achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions as it takes some older power plants out of service.