As a member and customer of Clarke Electric Cooperative, Inc., I was alarmed by a CEC Manager Bill Freeman’s suggestion that “Co-op costs would go up with the addition of renewable energy, promotion of energy efficiency programs, and Cap and Trade legislation.” I expect my utility to consider the true cost of dirty coal energy, including health costs and birth defects.
Using fear and speculation to rally customers like me to lobby Iowan’s Congressmen against Cap and Trade and renewable energy legislation is not new. Electric utilities and oil and gas companies have spent nearly $80 million dollars lobbying Congress in the first quarter of 2009. These companies are lobbying to get a Cap and Trade deal that would give away carbon permits free of charge to existing polluters. Permits to emit carbon must be used for public benefit, not private windfalls. Mr. Freeman, with facts to the contrary, speculated that lawmakers “would not use carbon revenue money to address climate change, but pay off the debt on bailing out other businesses on the verge of collapse.” This revenue is targeted to stimulate renewable, non polluting energy technologies and create new green jobs.
Mr. Freeman questioned the goal of Congress to reduce US emissions of carbon dioxide roughly 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels asking “How does that offset China’s coal plant pollution?” Cap and Trade legislation is actually encourage China to reduce emissions to compete in world trade by giving advantages to less polluting countries:
1: US companies with technology to clean China’s power plants, reduce emissions of cars, or offer alternative, cleaner sources of energy have a bright future in China.
2. The negative pollution impacts from coal on China’s farming could increase the demand for agricultural imports and reduce Chinese polluted foodstuff exports.
3. Asthma drugs and drugs for non small cell lung cancer see higher demand in China.
4. China recently released a report stating “every 30 seconds, a baby is born with defects form pollution. Coal-rich Shanxi Province, with large-scale coal and chemical industries, has the highest rate of birth defects. Coal-fired power plants emit tons of mercury pollution which has been shown to cause brain damage, mental retardation, and other developmental problesm in unborn children and infants.
Coal plants are the largest source of man-made mercury pollution in the US. On November 21, 2008, the ENS reported the US emitted 20 tons of toxic mercury into the air in 2007. The Centers for Disease Control found six percent of American women have mercury in their blood at levels that put a fetus at risk of neurological damage.
Mercury’s harmful effects that may be passed from the mother to fetus include brain damage, mental retardation, incoordination, blindness, seizures, and inability to speak, according to federal Agency for Toxic Substances.
Utilities to make larger profits, hide the true cost of coal fuel energy, including health costs and birth defects. Cap and Trade, addition of renewable energy, promotion of energy efficiency programs to address concerns about climate change, and proposals such as renewable portfolio standards will seem like a bargain.
Phyllis Mains, PO Box 169, Van Wert, IA 50262