While we are all squawking about high gasoline prices, there is an energy misdirection going on.
Sabre rattling by Iran has security specialists sitting on the edge of their seats and speculators seeing the resulting reduced-fuel future. Short of a quick military strike that would squelch Iran’s threats, there is little that America can do to stem the rise of the global commodity costs—though history tells us an announcement of increased drilling in the US would have a positive impact.
While we are all looking at gas prices, there is another dramatic energy price increase going on that is totally optional; one that is within the President’s power to completely reverse.
Coal-fueled electricity generation is the lowest cost. Yet, due to cost-increasing regulations, coal-fueled power plants are being shut down at an alarming rate—killing jobs, raising rates, and putting the reliability of the electrical grid at risk.
Environmental groups are cheering, while local governments are left to grapple with the lost tax revenue. On February 29, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, penned a post celebrating the 100th closure of a coal-fueled power plant: Chicago’s Crawford plant. He also boasts that the group’s efforts have prevented 166 new coal-fueled power plants.
The closure of two units at the Salem Harbor Station in Massachusetts could halve the plant’s workforce. Salem Harbor Station is also the city’s biggest taxpayer. Mayor Kim Driscoll addressed the problem of the loss of the $4.75 million tax bill: “It's a big chunk of change when you're looking at we still have the same number of kids in school, we still have the same number of calls for police and fire, we have the same number of parks and resources that need to be maintained and kept up.”
In Chamois, Mo., jobs at the power plant are “the best thing going.” Mayor Jim Wright doesn’t want to see the Central Electric Power Plant shut down. He says: “Coal’s coal. If you are going to dig it up and ship it to China, you might as well burn it right here.”