Recent editorials published in Nebraska newspapers

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 9, 2014 at 9:01 am •  Published: June 9, 2014
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North Platte Telegraph. June 8, 2014.

Heineman wants to enter lion's den

Not long ago, we wrote on this page that we understood Gov. Dave Heineman's decision not to seek a seat in the United States Senate.

While Heineman was considered a shoo-in if he ran, we expressed the opinion that a governor — who is used to being the chief executive of a state — would find the Senate a difficult place in which to work. Under the "leadership" of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, life as a Republican senator is probably the very definition of hyper-partisan frustration.

Over the years Heineman has served as governor, we have been generally supportive of his efforts to cut taxes, make government more responsive to the needs of the state and make the state more attractive to those businesses that might choose to start here or relocate to Nebraska. In short, Heineman has fought the good fight for our state.

That said, we were perplexed in recent days that Heineman would now seek the presidency of the University of Nebraska.

While Heineman's education at West Point is without doubt an impressive achievement, his lack of a master's or doctorate degree, and lack of formal experience in the higher education system, would seem to count him out as the president of a significant university system.

That, however, isn't our main problem with Heineman's application. More significant is the fact that in his role as governor, Heineman has found himself at odds with many in the university system over important issues like Medicaid expansion, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who graduate from state high schools, embryonic stem cell research and providing benefits to same-sex couples.

If the governor was looking for even less political consensus than at the Unicameral — where overrides of his vetoes long ago ceased to be front-page news — he could not have picked a better destination than the university system. How an outspoken Republican without an advanced degree fits into the ultra-liberal setting of a modern American university system is uncharted territory. Campus politics can be every bit as bitter and complex as anything Heineman experienced in state government, and he would face it with far fewer conservatives in his corner.

Heineman has said that he would give up partisan politics and simply carry out the wishes of the Board of Regents, and we suppose that is possible.

What the state would be giving up, however, is one of the few politicians who was willing to speak his mind about important issues.

Given the challenging situation he would face on campus, we would all have been better off had he instead accepted the challenging situation of serving in the United States Senate. At the very least, he would have accounted for a reliable Senate vote for the conservative beliefs of most Nebraskans.

It is far less clear what he could accomplish serving as president of the university system.

Our View: He should have run for Senate.

___

Lincoln Journal Star. June 8, 2014.

Battle over carbon will rage on

The Lincoln Electric System is looking quite savvy now that the Obama administration has unveiled plans to order power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent.

Last year, the LES board negotiated a long-term contract to triple the amount of electricity it gets from wind.

The purchase of 100 megawatts of wind energy from the Arbuckle Mountain Wind Farm in Oklahoma means that about 23 percent of the electricity sold to the utility's retail customers will come from renewable sources.

At the time, LES administrator and CEO Kevin Wailes pointed out that adding more wind energy to the publicly owned utility's mix of sources would provide a hedge against costly emission controls for coal-fired power plants.

The announcement by Gina McCarthy, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, was hailed by environmental groups as an important move against global warming that fuels drought, heat waves and superstorms.

But there's reason to wonder if the rules will stick. The new regulations will face legal challenges from the coal industry, for one thing.

And Republicans seem to think they can find political advantage in opposing efforts to slow global warming. The reaction from Nebraska's congressional delegation showed the political challenges the plan faces. Rep. Adrian Smith said the costs of retrofitting power plants would be "disastrous for manufacturing, agriculture and especially low- and middle-income Americans who can least afford huge increases in their electric bills."

Since the new rules are being implemented administratively, rather than enacted by Congress, they could be rolled back if a Republican president is elected in 2016.

In a better world, people would take seriously the increasingly dire warnings by an overwhelming percentage of scientists of the ruinous impacts of global warming.

Just in the past few weeks, two separate studies by groups of scientists concluded that the melting of large glaciers in Antarctica is unstoppable, and that a large increase in sea level is inevitable.

With Congress mired in dysfunction, the EPA's new regulations mark the most significant effort in years by the United States to show leadership in the battle against global warming.

It might not be much. It might not last. But at least it's something.

In the meantime, work to help the nation adapt to a warmer world should continue at a brisk pace. Even if the EPA regulations go into effect exactly as planned, Americans will still need new tools to cope with climate change.



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