Outdated coal industry ruins air, environment

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:35 PM

Joe Andrade


Senator Hatch’s current Hatch dispatch email to constituents suggests that he neither heard nor read Obama’s recent energy and climate speech. Referring to the Hatch dispatch paragraph titled: “President Obama’s Dangerous Proposed Energy Measures”

There’s nothing dangerous about Obama’s proposed energy measures. Coal-fired power plants indeed produce massive quantities of CO2, toxic particulates, mercury, and other pollutants. The managers of coal-based energy facilities are well aware of these challenges and impending changes. Many firms have prepared for the transition. Those that have not should not be propped up, subsidized, or otherwise protected by Senator Hatch and his political and business friends gazing backwards rather than forward.

The senator’s official bio says that thehe and Elaine Hatch are the proud parents of six children, 23 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.The senator’s progeny and the rest of us are already feeling the consequences of runaway global warming, drought, air pollution and environmental degradation, much of that due to coal combustion.

The senator has been supportive of innovation, entrepreneurship, science, and technology. New technologies become available and disrupt existing technologies and businesses. We no longer expect jobs making buggy whips, typewriters, or rotary dial telephones. That is the nature of science, invention, capitalism, and entrepreneurship. The existing coal-dominated electrical power industry in Utah is a vestige of 19th and mid-20th century economics and thinking. It is literally an economic and technological dinosaur.

The technologies and fuels to replace coal are here. They are competitive, cleaner, and will produce jobs, far more jobs than the retirement of coal energy will eliminate. A simple carbon fee and dividend (revenue neutral) bill will remove the externality subsidy (meaning free pollution) enjoyed by coal and other fossil fuels and level the energy playing field, permitting free market capitalism to disrupt, innovate, and transform the energy industry.

Southern Utah’s Mike Noel once said I am trying to eliminate jobs for his 18 grandchildren. I am trying to eliminate some of those jobs, and replace them with better, cleaner, healthier, more responsible jobs. We want jobs that don’t contribute to the deterioration of our environment and our health. Begin with a carbon fee and dividend plan.

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