THE PLANK NOVEMBER 7, 2007
In case anyone was wondering how ugly the climate policy debate could get in the coming months and years, here's one hint. Last month, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied air-quality permits to two proposed coal-burning plants because of concerns about CO2 emissions. It was the first time permits had ever been denied for those reasons.
Well, the coal industry didn't like that one bit, and this week, a group called Kansans for Affordable Energy—which is partly funded by Peabody Coal Company and Sunflower Electric Power Corp. (the company whose permits were denied)—ran this ad in newspapers across Kansas:
Nasty and misleading. Nice. By the way, Peabody Coal—the world's biggest coal company—is playing an interesting role here. Unlike Exxon, which had an about-face on global warming last year and pledged to stop funding a few (though not all) denier groups, Peabody hasn't softened its stance on climate change one bit. Its CEO, Gregory Boyce, still dismisses all talk of global warming, and told BusinessWeek that the coal industry doesn't need to change or adapt to the inevitable crackdown on carbon emissions. Indeed, at this point, Peabody's main strategy appears to be a) persuading the Air Force (and Congress!) to massively subsidize liquid coal fuel technology—a disaster from a climate-change perspective—and b) declaring that critics of coal are objectively pro-terror.
P.S. I've written about this before, but achieving "energy security" isn't necessarily the same thing, obviously, as dealing with climate change (since the former can, in theory, be met by using lots of coal, liquefied coal fuels, drilling in the Alberta tar sands, etc.) The Kansas ads are a rather nasty example of the former being used as a cudgel against the latter, which is something to watch.