Some great news to start the New Year.

Some great news to start the New Year.  Well, kind of.  In late December SWEPCO, the utility building a modern coal plant in southern Arkansas and several environmental groups settled a lawsuit.  This settlement will allow Southwest Electric Power Company to proceed with the building of their Turk plant in Hempstead County Arkansas.  The plant is substantially complete and more than one billion dollars has been spent.  Hundreds of jobs have been created by plant construction and many jobs will continue when the plant is operational.
So why do I say this is kind of good news - several reasons.  This plant which is high tech and uses modern engineering to assure the most in minimal pollution was delayed a number of times by radical environmental groups such as The Audubon Society and The Sierra Club.  The later club has a history of extreme positions and actions that are costly and dangerous.  Example, putting spikes in logging trees meaning loggers could be hurt and equipment ruined when trees are harvested.  Remember the spotted owl?  About 900 sawmills were closed and 130,000 jobs were lost in the Northwest when environmentalists convinced authorities to ban tree harvesting in gigantic areas that were the habitat of the spotted owl.  After mills were closed and thousands lost their jobs, it was determined the continued decrease of spotted owls was not because of logging but because a larger owl was continually dining on Mr. Spotted.
The settlement of this coal plant litigation is full of interesting provisions.  In order to serve Arkansans and some of our neighbors much needed reasonable energy, SWEPCO must pay penalties and take a spanking because of our environmental wackos.  Among those penalties are:  1) A permanent retirement of a coal plant in Pittsburg, Texas
2)  Purchase 400 megawatts of new wind and solar energy, 3) 8 million dollars to The Nature Conservatory, 4) Pay another 2 million to support clean energy and energy efficient policies, 5) Not to expand or build any additional units at the Turk site, 6) Reimburse The Sierra Club and Audubon for two million in attorney fees.
What all this means is SWEPCO, who is trying to provide clean and affordable energy to Arkansans, are treated as criminals and is forced to pay extortion money of at least 12 million dollars plus their own legal costs and related expenses.  The Sierra Club and Audubon should be proud.
If you read the propaganda from The Sierra Club and other similar groups, you get the idea that coal plants are killing thousands of us daily.  In the environmentalist’s own press release they admit the Turk plant is many times better and less polluting than other coal plants in operation.  But that is not enough for them.  They announce they would rather the Turk plant not be built but since they can’t accomplish this, they are forcing SWEPCO to pay ransom money so this company can provide us low cost and clean energy which is what SWEPCO was proposing in the first place.
Also noted in their press release, it apparently is against their policy for The Sierra Club and Audubon Society to receive monies directly from oil companies and coal plant owners.  They must therefore “launder” this money through organizations with clean reputations.  Kind of reminds me of someone who is against theft but has no problem handling goods that are stolen.
Also noteworthy is the press releases, articles and other documents issued by the environmentalists never address the economic issues.  To them it is apparently meaningless that their proposals could increase energy costs by a prohibitive multiple.  This is especially annoying in today’s stagnant economy.
 In the settlement The Sierra Club wants to build more windmills but
The Audubon Society is worried about these giant blades killing birds. Solution – a provision not to build these unsightly giants in flyways or where birds normally congregate.  That is so much better.  Now we can go to bed with a clear conscience.


Some more news to start the New Year:  Unless those nasty Republicans get in the way, our national debt limit is scheduled to increase another 1.2 trillion dollars at the end of calendar year 2011.  This should give us all quite a sense of accomplishment.  This will mean our accumulated deficit or national debt will total 16.4 trillion on December 31, 2012 with no end in sight.  The progressives who love to spend our money actually believe if we can reduce our annual deficit to under one trillion per year, it would be amazing progress.
An analogy would be an individual who has a credit card debt of $20,000 makes a New Year’s pledge not to add more than $1,500 to that by the end of the year.  You see, that is progress because for the last three years he has been increasing his credit card debt balance by $2,000 each year.
Since Nancy Pelosi took over the spending reins in 2006, then aided by Obama in 2008, somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of this debt will have been accumulated.  One word – shameful!

(Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each Wednesday)