Green lobby discolors air issue

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 20, 2011
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At an April hearing on the regional haze issue involving coal-fired power plants, a Sierra Club representative said, “Now is the time to put health before profits.”

This is the kind of clueless anti-business, anti-consumer remark we expect from environmental zealots, who continue to frame this issue through the lens of false choices. In their view, it's good health vs. bad health, clean air vs. dirty air and government good vs. corporate greed.

But that isn't what this is about. It's about visibility — the ability of animals to see each other at federal wildlife refuges. Haze linked in part to coal-fired power plants might (but doesn't always) reduce visibility. For this, the Sierra Club and its Environmental Protection Agency sycophants want to make utility ratepayers shell out billions of dollars to install coal scrubbers.

For those in the dark, profits are the reason for-profit companies exist. It's why they invest earnings in improving capacity to meet changing needs, such as a growing demand for power. Coal may be dirty. Profits aren't.

Regardless of how the state's largest utilities make power — with coal, natural gas, water, buffalo chips or fanning the air with palm leaves — they must have a return on investment or they'll cease operations.

Utilities and state environmental officials proposed a sensible compromise with the EPA: gradually converting to cleaner natural gas in lieu of installing scrubbers. The EPA said Nay! The Sierra Club said Yeah!

And then they powered up another victory for hazy, autocratic policymaking.


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