Manmade global warming is a farce

This month, President Obama laid out an ambitious environmental agenda in a cornerstone speech of his Presidency. Specifically, President Obama listed a number of new initiatives his administration would champion. The most significant component of the speech is the increased regulations of emissions from existing power plants.

The arrogance of the Obama administration to drastically alter our energy policy without any Congressional oversight is outrageous on its own, but when that policy change is based on an unproven social crisis it is even more galling. Many of us believe we may be experiencing a trend in climate change, and also believe that energy conservation and efficiency are laudable goals. However, many of us do not believe in manmade global warming or that our insignificant activity is somehow affecting the climate. I beg our citizens to study both sides of this debate as I have for the last 10 years. America loves nothing more than a good social crisis to fret about; however, when the government changes policy on dubious science and a political agenda, ratepayers will suffer.

We as Americans should keep the door open to all forms of energy, so we can be the most competitive, strongest, most free nation in the world.

The implications of these proposed regulations affect all Americans, not just those who mine or burn coal, and they could prove especially detrimental to our economy and way of life here in Wisconsin.

We’ll have to wait to see how the President’s plan materializes in the coming months, but I am fearful about the outcome of any changes that might undermine the role of coal in our energy mix. While the President, pundits and environmental groups have cited environmental concerns and tapped into the ethos of an uptick in recent extreme weather to justify the newly proposed regulations, they seem to have disregarded many of the “real world” concerns that would accompany coal’s departure from our energy mix, including increased electricity prices and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

The implications for Wisconsin, specifically, are manifold. Wisconsin relies heavily on coal to fuel our electric needs: over 60 percent of our electricity comes from coal. That’s true for families, small businesses, and the like — but most importantly for the manufacturing sector that drives our economy and is heavily dependent on the reliable and inexpensive energy coal affords. States that use coal as a larger share of their electricity generation have cheaper electricity rates, and here in Wisconsin, our manufacturing sector and all businesses need unobstructed access to coal-generated electricity to fuel our broader economy.

While it’s certainly a worthy endeavor to build a diverse energy portfolio, there’s no question that coal will continue to rein supreme for many generations to come. We have several centuries’ worth of coal in the United States, and unlike other energy sources — like natural gas — coal has a decidedly stable price that allows Wisconsin businesses to plan, hire and invest accordingly. Such stability and predictability helps keep our economy on track as we continue to rebuild from the tumult of the past few years.

The coal industry has been working to improve and invest in America’s most reliable energy source for decades. To date, the industry has invested over $100 billion developing clean coal technologies, building new, cleaner power plants, and working to install emissions-reducing controls on existing coal plants. At the crux of the President’s proposal are power plants already in existence, whose emission controls must be updated to comply with new standards currently being developed in Washington. Any new standards facing these existing plants must be fair and sensible.

Coal maintains an interesting identity. On the one hand, it is on the cutting edge of clean energy technology. Yet, on the other, coal’s abundance and affordability continues to fuel America as it has for centuries. Here in Wisconsin, coal must remain a critical part of our energy mix to keep the manufacturing sector — not to mention businesses, families, and communities across the state — healthy and thriving.

Mark Honadel is the State Representative for the 21st Assembly District, which includes South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and a part of Franklin. He serves as the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.

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