Bill Murchison

Here's a wish for the new year. When we say we need more energy, may we mean it!

In my own great state of Texas, where the modern oil industry was born more than a century ago, one strains to see honest, open discussion of the energy choices that lie before us. Such as: Shall we allow the construction of 11 new coal-fired plants, or shall we, ah, hmmm ... shall we just turn up the thermostat and think about that one tomorrow?

TXU, the state's major utility, wants to build the new plants because energy supplies, even here, are tightening. The mayors of Dallas and Houston say no way. Environmentalists rally opposition by portraying the proposed plants as foul and dirty, in spite of the utility's pledge to reduce overall emissions by 20 percent.

A recent poll seems to fortify the inference that Texans, after profound experience with messy oil wells and smoky refineries, are content to let lovely countries like Iran call the tune on energy supplies and prices.

Here's the summary of the poll, from the Austin chapter of the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington-based, Rockefeller-funded environmental lobby: "Fast-tracking more dirty coal-fired power plants for Texas is opposed by nearly all Texans. Texans do not want to see their state shortchange the deliberate review that should take place of these needlessly dirty power sources. To say that Gov. [Rick] Perry has no mandate for his plan to rubber stamp these dirty power plants may be the understatement of the year."

For background: EIP commissioned a telephone poll of 600 adults, two thirds of whom supposedly want no new plants. Eighty-one percent supposedly want no fast-tracking of plant permits, a procedure approved last year by Perry.

Note the allusions neatly slipped into the findings: "more dirty coal-fired power plants," "these needlessly dirty power sources." EIP takes as proved the contention that TXU proposes to befoul our state. "Why, these utility guys, we oughta take 'em out and …" That's apparently what EIP would like us to think, while angrily biting the tabs off our Lone Star cans.

Take it a step further: All this rhetorical nonsense points us toward the conclusion that, not only does TXU propose to befoul our state, but, hey, there's no problem. The poll put to responders the option of relying on "conservation" before attempting befoulment. The responders naturally liked that option. Just one problem: the poll's failure to ask "conserve what?" and "how?" and "at what cost?"

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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