Bill Murchison

The most scandalous aspect of the coal-plant controversy is the refusal -- yea, the inability -- of coal-plant foes to describe just how they'd go about providing for Texas' large and growing energy needs at a time of shrinking natural gas supplies and deep opposition to nuclear power. We hear about "conservation." We hear about wind power, solar power; we sometimes even hear about coal gasification. We never hear coal-plant foes explain how that's going to happen, and what it would mean and cost. Coal gasification, for instance: The technology is (at present) expensive and still under development. Wind? A nice little supplement, but a major source? Show us where and how much.

What a huge help these polltakers are in addressing energy needs -- living proof that it's easier to tear something down than to build it. Ironic that the money and inspiration for this disinformation campaign should come from the Rockefellers -- who were never known, in days of yore, for tender feelings toward the environment. Or much else.

That's where we are as 2007 begins -- nursing fantasies of pleasant, morally enriching solutions to the latest energy crunch; unruffled, for now, by the power of overseas exporters to determine how much we'll pay for energy.

Texas, being Texas, likely will get its coal plants eventually. But I ask you, Texas: If Texans must wrestle this hard with rock-bottom questions such as how we keep the lights on, what does that say about the nation's capacity to engage in the same wrestling match? Nothing particularly cheerful, I'd venture.

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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