The massive coal-fired plant in Boardman, Ore., is just four years away from being shut down for good – at that point, Oregon coal production will be no more, after the state became the first in the nation to completely ban coal power.
The mandate, signed into law earlier this year, was the result of an environmentalist-fueled push by the Democrat-controlled legislature. Under the plan, coal production will end once the Boardman plant shutters in 2020 – utilities would still be able to buy coal power from out of state for another 10 years, until a 2030 deadline to end coal use entirely.
But the phase-out already has groups warning that residents are headed for big rate increases and brownouts.
The great thing about being an environmentalist? You have no accountability for your actions.
Coal, although declining in market demand, is still a major supplier of power. It’s responsible for one-third of electricity in Oregon alone. If rate increases and brownouts occur because of environmentalist rules making coal illegal, environmentalists get to say, “Well, that’s profit-making capitalism for you.” Of course, the environmentalists have interfered in the profit-making market. Public utilities are not private sector entities; they are government-protected monopolies. If you want lower prices for energy, you liberalize and open up the market for energy, not constrain it as environmentalists do.
Environmentalists put some industries out of business, which maintains demand for fewer sources of power. Economics 101 tells us that this will raise the costs of power, since shrinking supply while maintaining demand always increases prices. No worries for the environmentalists. They still get to claim they only care about the environment, and they can turn their attention to minimum wage laws, free health care or free college tuition. (Interestingly, environmentalists are virtually always socialists.)
“This is basically a wind mandate,” said the Cascade Policy Institute’s John Charles, while suggesting alternative energy sources won’t be able to meet the state’s needs. “There’s no way wind can physically power the grid because days, weeks on end, wind produces zero.”
The problem? Wind power cannot survive in a free market. Even by shutting down coal, wind will probably not survive. It’s minimally effective as a means of energy. How do we know that? Millions have not flocked to it. Wind power would not need protection by the government, and it would not require politicians to shut down competing industries, if mass numbers of people really wanted it.
When Steve Jobs first launched the iPhone, millions of people flocked to this new kind of technology. They did so willingly. It has literally and visibly changed the culture as we know it. Markets tell us what works and what does not. Consumers are not infallible, because nobody is. But consumers, exercising their choices in markets, bring us closer to the truth, and certainly faster than any other means available. And certainly quicker and more effectively than self-anointed stewards of the environment who have nothing on their side other than government coercion propped up by voter naiveté, neurotic guilt for living in a prosperous society, or just plain ignorance.
Being an environmentalist means never having to say you’re sorry. It also means never having any accountability for anything. Environmentalism is nothing more than urban religion for sophisticated elite progressives, along with the hapless independents they usually get to go their way. Some poor sap in Oregon looks at the beautiful mountains, trees and birds and thinks that by eliminating coal, these trees and birds will all somehow be safer. When it comes time to endure the brownouts or higher costs of heat, air conditioning or fuel, this love of nature will suffer a setback. Why? Because when you’re uncomfortable or poor, nature isn’t such a pretty or glorious thing.
Environmentalism only works as an urban religion when you’re well off and comfortable. The minute those things disappear, you’re back where the pioneers were when Oregon, like all of pre-industrialized America, was nothing more than a wilderness. It’s easy to long for the wilderness when you’ve never had to live in one.
Environmentalism is a destructive force, not a productive or progressive one. Environmentalism seeks to control, outlaw, eliminate, wipe out and ultimately restore the planet to its natural state, a state completely hostile to human needs and interests. If you sign on for environmentalism in the name of protecting human life as we know it, then you’ve signed up for the wrong cause. In the battle of man versus nature, environmentalism is unequivocally on the side of nature.
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