Coal: The Republican answer to global warming

Rep. Newberger’s latest bill supporting coal has now passed out of the Job Creation and Affordable Energy Committee and is in Ways and Means, the last committee stop before a vote on the House floor. With 34 authors ( including 8 DFLers) it appears to be a priority for House Republicans.

Last June the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule requiring each state to submit a plan detailing how the state will significantly reduce carbon emissions in its energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota’s designated agency for developing the plan, has convened a large (137 member) group of interested people from very diverse baackgrounds to develop a plan. By all accounts the process is public and transparent. An Xcel representative testified that Minnesota is farther along in its planning than most states.

Members of the group agree that EPA’s proposed target for Minnesota does not give Minnesota the proper credit for the huge reductions in carbon that we made between 2005 and 2012. PCA and others have asked the EPA to reevaluate Minnesota’s fair share and I expect EPA will. In any event we will still need to do significantly more to achieve our fair share. Since we don’t have coal or gas resources in this state we can also continue to be a leader in reducing carbon with efficiency and renewable energy.

Rep. Newberger’s HF 333 allows either the House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed or to veto any other plan that might be developed. Neither Rep. Newberger nor the Republican caucus have an alternative plan for reducing carbon so the veto bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather the bill is designed for gridlock.

Speaking for his bill, Rep. Newberger said that the federal requirement to reduce carbon dioxide from the energy sector will negatively affect every American. He expressed no concern that global warming will affect every American.

At this point it is fair to say that the Republicans are pretending that global warming isn’t real. If one pretends that global warming isn’t real, then it is not necessary to do any problem solving and that is what is happening in the energy committee.

In addition to pretending that global warming isn’t real, the Republican caucus is touting coal as a prefered energy source even though Minnesota does not have a coal resource.

By all measures, efficiency is a cost effective way to reduce carbon pollution. Wind, too, is cost effective. Xcel has testified that it is using wind to produce electricity as a hedge against fossil fuel cost increases. Now solar is quickly becoming cost effective.To the extent that efficiency, wind and solar will be our strategies for reducing global warming gases, coal and oil will be worth less and those industries are fiercely fighting back.

More on solar later. It is what is frightening big oil and big gas the most, not just in Minnesota, but nationally.