I have been on the road trying to help at least one state block the clever ploy instituted by the Center for Climate Strategies of enticing state chief executives to outsource their policy function to a privately funded (by fairly radical left-wing groups) global-warming-alarmist outfit–specifically, CCS–typically through various sweeteners (underwritten by said groups) to skirt public-bid requirements for such contracts.
Would that this were true. The item opens:
Big Coal is on a roll in the nation’s capital, winning early rounds this week in what promises to be a long fight over fossil fuels and climate change.
Despite a well-funded ad campaign by environmentalists attacking the industry, and a huge coal-ash spill in Tennessee that has led to calls for more regulation, the industry has received positive assurances this week from President-elect Barack Obama’s nominees that the new administration is committed to keeping coal a big part of the nation’s energy source.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama’s choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, described coal to a Senate panel as “a vital resource” for the country. A day earlier, Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Energy Department, physicist Steven Chu, referred to coal as a “great natural resource.” Two years ago, he called the expansion of coal-fired power plants his “worst nightmare.”
The comments indicated the new administration is trying to steer toward the center in the debate over the costs associated with curbing fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they produce.
Ah, the joys of optimism. Still, we all can acknowledge that these are “just words,” and it will be at our own peril if we forget the countless times that such hedging is offered in the name of Senate confirmation, tone-setting, and other meaningless or at least non-binding contexts.
Further, unless I have missed it, there was no disavowal by either Mr. Chu or Ms. Jackson of the idea of pursuing EPA’s ANPR into actual policy–which would, as then-candidate Obama vowed to do, cause electricity prices to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” coal producers and anyone who tried to burn their product. How very soon we forget.
In fact, we have heard such promises in the energy context as often as anywhere except possibly that of economic policy, which differs in name only given the role of energy in even having an economy.
Consider the following anecdote. In late 2006, I had the opportunity in Warsaw to debate former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, now Member of the European Parliament and chair of the EP’s ad hoc body looking into Europe’s energy future. He is from Silesia, where there is lots of coal in the ground, which is precisely where the greens want it to stay. Although he also was a Solidarity hero and knows about his neighbors to the East, at that time he insisted that he meets with Green Party legislators who assure him that coal has a future role in any energy policy, making my exhibits explaining just where that agenda must head unwarranted.
My caution at the time was that the greens have long mouthed the same things they told him–about anything they know you want and they don’t–when trying to get you to agree to their particular agenda, only to then dedicate every fiber of their being to blocking that which they assured you “has an important role” from attaining said important role. To wit, nuclear power. Now, many of the greens say the same thing about carbon capture and storage, and most anything that would allow us to use our most abundant resources.
Still, as a colleague of mine recently noted about Interior Secretary-designate Ken Salazar (but applicable to this discussion), they support oil shale, nuclear, coal . . . just ask them . . . but they can’t find their way to support any particular shale, coal, or nuclear project.
I have since read that Mr. Buzek has come around, concluding that it is not in fact wise to adopt the global warmists’ agenda. My impression was that this came after looking into the agenda and the greens’ rhetoric (and history) a little more closely. The rather strategically and tactically confused regulated community–including those desperately running around town looking for someone with whom they can negotiate the terms of business’s surrender–should trust actions more than sales pitches. I suggest this threat will only abate when they dare seek to legislate it–a fight you should welcome.