OPINION – It doesn’t matter how many jobs you save, if you can’t breathe the air, none of that matters.
Still, that’s how the two sides are lining up in the wake of Monday’s controversial plan to eliminate carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning power-generating plants by 30 percent by 2030.
In introducing the most aggressive step against global warming, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said: “We have a moral obligation to act.”
Opposition, of course, is lining up.
“We will introduce bipartisan legislation that will prevent these disastrous new rules from wreaking havoc on our economy in West Virginia,” Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, said in a statement.
Rahall’s opposition is based on what he calls a significant loss of jobs that will occur when the EPA regulation is implemented, a charge refuted by the White House.
“What we’ve seen every time is that these claims are debunked when you actually give workers and businesses the tools and the incentives they need to innovate,” President Barack Obama said.
It wasn’t that long ago that a local power-generating operation planned for just across the state line, not far from Mesquite, was run out by residents opposed to yet another coal-powered plant.
Coal was the basis of our energy platform for many years. It served its purpose in the days before we realized just how dangerous it was to the environment.
We had millions of men and boys employed in the coal mines all across the country, toiling in the dangerous, backbreaking work of bring coal from the bowels of the Earth to power our homes, industry, lives.
But, we are long overdue in finding a healthier, more environmentally friendly power source.
We’re depleting our supplies of coal, we’re depleting our supplies of oil, and reasonable minds are well aware of the dangers posed by going nuclear, as evidenced at Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island.
A recent Pew Research Center poll reveals that 67 percent of us believe that there is “solid evidence the Earth is arming,” and 54 percent believe “the effects of global warming have begun.”
This comes just weeks after a panel of scientists disclosed the collapse of a large section of the West Antarctica ice sheet and proclaimed the ensuing melt is unstoppable and will lead to a rise in the sea level of up to 10 feet or more in the coming centuries. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rises in sea level could flood many South Seas Islands and overtake large parts of Southeast Asia. The report goes on to state that about 100 million people live within three feet of mean sea level, with much of the world’s population concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities, making Louisiana and Florida high-risk areas in the continental United States. The inevitability, according to scientists, is that the impact of global warming will make many coastal regions worldwide virtually uninhabitable.
This is but a part of the dangers ahead if stricter environmental regulations are not implemented.
The constant release of pollutants into the atmosphere is eating larger chunks out of our ozone layer; release of pollutants into our rivers, streams, and oceans is fouling the water we need to sustain us; greenhouse gases from unsound agricultural practices are exacerbating the problems.
According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the temperature in the U.S. has increased by two degrees in the last 50 years and precipitation has increased by 5 percent. To the uninitiated, that seems like a small increase, however within the scientific community, these numbers are huge.
That’s why as stiff as these new EPA regulations may seem, they are necessary and long overdue.
Very, very long overdue.
We have, for more than 40 years, talked a lot about how our reliance on fossil fuels – from the gasoline we pump into our cars to the fuels we burn to turn on our lights – makes us vulnerable.
We have experienced gasoline rationing, seen prices soar outrageously during high energy-consuming times, seen rolling blackouts instituted in highly populated areas of California.
Futile attempts at alternate energy sources.
Yes, we have more wind farms, solar panels, and bio-diesel fuels in the energy pipeline than before but not enough, sadly, to stop the assault on nature.
Sales pretty well follow the price of gasoline. When gas prices go up, so do hybrid sales. When they stabilize, hybrid numbers plunge.
In other words, we’re not doing much to preserve this rock we’re all perched upon, and if we keep pushing deadlines for cleaner power further into the future, we will eventually run out of tomorrows and it won’t matter anyway.
We have given the energy industry far too long to develop alternatives to the same old thing with the excuse that it’s too expensive. Doing nothing is too expensive.
The threat of jobs is nothing more than political hyperbole. Dedicating those current resources to new industry will keep those people employed as the transition is made.
It will take courage, of course. The money thrown at our leaders by the energy industry is substantial, but we can no longer place the environment on a back burner.
That’s why as controversial and far-reaching as this EPA mandate is, it is nowhere near the answer to the current environmental crisis.
We need more brave steps forward in returning nature to its most natural state and keep politics, greed, and ignorance out of the equation.
No bad days!
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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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