Friday, May 15, 2009

indiana says "more please" to dirty coal power

governor mitch daniels's hostility to environmental regulation is well-known, as are his attempts to eviscerate the state'e environmental oversight body, IDEM. (just the other day, he appointed a notorious coal lobbyist as the new IDEM head.) so it's not really that surprising that mitch has an op-ed in today's WSJ assaulting proposed cap-and-trade regulations.

an indy star story gives some pertinent background—more than 90% of indiana's power is generated by burning coal, which gives off more CO2 than any other form of energy—but in typical indy star style doesn't bother to point out that the governor is full of crap.

the governor's op-ed is so riddled with inaccuracies and faulty reasoning that the logical fallacies begin right in the subheading. of course, the op-ed's central premise, that cap-and-trade "would more than double electricity bills in Indiana", is based on a discredited republican talking point. (the real estimate is about a tenth of what republicans say it is, and includes extra costs such as upgrades, new insulation, and so on in addition to what you'd see on your elecricity bill.) when a false premise is the crux of your argument, you might as well toss in some fallacious thinking too, right?

every paragraph brings a new absurdity. i'll leave a point-by-point rebuttal to someone else, but here are few of mitch's greatest hits:

Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers -- California, Massachusetts and New York -- seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies.

as usual, mitch tries to deflect attention away from indiana's terrible economy onto the economies of other states. of course, what's really happening is that those who had the foresight to invest in alternative energies and curbing pollution are finally going to see those investments start to pay off, while those who wanted nothing to do with the environment will now find themselves at the back of the line.

We are told that although China, India and others show no signs of joining in this dismal process, we will eventually induce their participation by "setting an example." Watching the impending indigence of the Midwest, and the flow of jobs from our shores to theirs, our friends in Asia and the Third World are far more likely to choose any other path but ours.

hell, they'll probably come up with newer, even dirtier ways to burn coal, just to spite us! they'll be like, look at us, suckers, our energy is cheap! (cough cough.)

Politicians in Washington speak of a reawakened appreciation for manufacturing and American competitiveness. But under their policy, those who make real products will suffer. Already we observe the piranha swarm of green lobbyists wangling special exemptions, subsidies and side deals. The ordinary Hoosier was not invited to this party, and can expect at most only table scraps at the service entrance.

aww, poor mitch won't get a taste of all that green money coming down the pike. perhaps if, under his stead, indiana had made a true commitment to green energy and protecting the environment, rather than jumping into bed with polluters and deregulators, we would deserve some of that money.

No one in Indiana is arguing for the status quo: Hoosiers have been eager to pursue a new energy future. We rocketed from nowhere to national leadership in biofuels production in the last four years. We were the No. 1 state in the growth of wind power in 2008. And we have embarked on an aggressive energy-conservation program, indubitably the most cost-effective means of limiting CO2.

Most importantly, we are out to be the world leader in making clean coal [...]

my goodness. where to start? (1) indiana's biofuels are made out of corn, which is inefficient and has had a negative impact on the world's food supply. (2) "growth" is a lousy indicator, since going from zero to one represents an increase of about infinity percent. (3) "clean coal" is an oxymoron and we'd almost be better off investing in magical pony locators.

there are legitimate arguments to be made against cap-and-trade regulation. unfortunately, governor daniels chooses not to use them, and instead fills his op-ed with inaccuracies, fallacious reasoning, appeals to emotion, and his trademark condescending attitude. but the most absurd of all is his closing line, where he refers to "we humble colonials out here in the provinces". mitch daniels: humble? didn't anyone at the WSJ edit this thing?

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