AUSTIN, Texas -- When in the midst of a Blame Typhoon, with
charges and counter-charges being hurled in all directions, I find it most
useful to consult those two polar stars of utter wrongheadedness, Tom DeLay
and The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
Both good for a chuckle, and both perfect weathervanes for the
wrong direction. When in doubt, Disagree with DeLay, And you'll be OK.
The Journal, in addition to meretricious arguments, vast leaps
over relevant stretches of fact and history, and an awesome ability to bend
any reality to its preconceived ideological ends, also offers that touch of
(SET ITAL) je ne sais quoi, (END ITAL) that ludicrous dogmatism that never
fails to charm.
A column about energy politics by George Mellon in Tuesday's
Journal contained just the right mix of irrelevant argument (he's
very upset that a bunch of nervous nellies want to shut down the
Indian Point nuclear plant, as though this had anything to do with the
frail, undercapitalized transmission grid that caused the blackout last
week), expedient forgetfulness (uh, actually, OPEC had quite a bit to do
with the gasoline crunch of the 1970s) and perfectly delightful nuttiness.
"Millions of Naderites are trying to peddle windmill farms, even though
these inefficient H.G. Wells monsters are already destroying the scenic
beauty of places like Palm Springs and the Dutch coast." (Scenic beauties of
the Dutch coast?)
When Mellon goes on the aesthetic offensive against unsightly
windmills -- as compared to the ever-so-sightly coal-fired plant, oil
refinery and nuclear power catastrophe-in-waiting -- we must snap to
attention. Mellon may be interested to know that in Austin we can purchase
"green energy" from the windmill farm near Fort Stockton in West Texas for
2.85 per kilowatt hour, and that cost is guaranteed not to increase for the
next 8 years. Regular old electricity from Austin Energy, a municipally
owned company, is now undergoing a three-step price increase that will move
its fuel charge from 1.774 cents to 2.796 by the end of this coming January.
Mellon works for our most respected financial newspaper: If the
Journal could get a 10-year, fixed price energy contract at 2.85 per
kilowatt hour, would the Journal take it? Did the price of energy in the
East just spike from $100 to over $1,000 per megawatt hour, or did the
Journal misreport that?
As for the aesthetics of windmills, most people find them
fascinating to watch. Cars pull over by the highway in West Texas so the
kids can watch the things go round and round. The only trouble with the wind
farm out by Palm Springs is that the fools built it in a bird flyway, which
could easily have been avoided.
Clean, cheap, endless energy -- no radioactive waste, no air
pollution, no strip mining, no oil spills and no gas pipeline explosions.
Yet the Bush administration wants to spend billions subsidizing coal, oil,
gas and nuclear power, and leave both wind and solar technology -- with all
their advantages, including cost -- unsubsidized and unhelped. Now, is that
a stupid policy or what?
Every energy source in this country has been vastly subsidized,
including hydropower by government-built dams. If wind power were subsidized
at a fraction of what we already spend with tax breaks, loopholes and
outright corporate welfare for polluting and destructive energy sources, it
would already be the cheapest, not to mention the cleanest, energy source
available. This is not pie-in-sky Naderism (whatever that is), this is right
now, 2.85 cents per kilowatt hour. In New York City, the price for power
generation charged by ConEd hovers around 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Eat
And why do we have such dumb, damaging, self-destructive energy
policies? Do you think it has anything to do with corporate campaign
contributions? Do you think it has any connection to the fact that Dick
Cheney wrote the National Energy Plan??? (In secret, with the advice of oil,
gas and coal executives and lobbyists.) A couple of Ken Lay's suggestions in
his famous memo to Cheney were incorporated word-for-word in the Cheney
As for the always-egregious Tom DeLay, the Exterminator, two
years ago he blocked a program of loan guarantees for upgrades to the
transmission system. Said he of the Democratic proposal, "It's pure
demagoguery." The first thing he did when the lights went out was to blame
the Democrats, of course.
Now, according to The New York Times, the Republicans are
refusing again to pass stand-alone transmission-grid improvements. They
insist on including the rest of the Cheney rip-and-run plan, including
drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and other
economically marginal and environmentally disastrous schemes.
They are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of
economics, the wrong side of technology, the wrong side of progress and the
wrong side of the environment. These free-market fundamentalists are the
people who regularly remind us that being in the buggy-whip business after
the automobile was invented was a no-hoper.
Guys, better, cleaner, cheaper sources of power are now
available. Get your heads out of the sand and your asses in gear, and join
the 21st century. This is not "Naderite" romanticism, you dumb schmucks --
it's already making money.
To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other
Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web
page at www.creators.com.
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