Michael Barone And Energy Policy – We are addicted to coal so get over it

Apparently Mike Barone believes the tautology that we use a lot of coal now, so we always will. He believes that politicians are gutless when it comes to environmental damage. We shall see.


Michael Barone

Obama Cap-and-Trade Will Meet Coal-Fired Energy Political Opposition

By Michael Barone

Posted: March 25, 2009

By Michael Barone, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Bill Galston at the New Republics blog provides some clear thinking on the prospects for the Obama administration’s cap-and-trade legislation. His conclusion: ain’t gonna happen. Galston notes that national polls show that on the question of balancing economic against environmental considerations, voters have switched and are now more concerned about the economy—as in holding down utility costs—and less concerned about the environment.

And, as Galston points out, a cap-and-trade system would substantially increase the price of electricity produced by coal. Nationally, we get 49 percent of our energy by coal (these are 2006 figures, from the 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States), but reliance on coal varies widely by state. The following table may help you to understand the political implications. It shows the percentage of electricity produced by coal in each state above the national average and the number of Democratic senators and representatives from each of those states.

% of electricity produced by coal in each state above the national average senators representatives
Alabama 55 0 2
Colorado 71 2 5
Delaware 69 2 0
Georgia 63 0 6
Indiana 95 1 5
Iowa 76 1 3
Kansas 73 0 1
Kentucky 92 0 2
Maryland 60 2 7
Michigan 60 2 8
Minnesota 62 1 5
Missouri 84 1 4
Montana 60 2 0
Nebraska 65 1 0
New Mexico 80 2 3
North Carolina 60 1 8
North Dakota 93 2 1
Ohio 86 1 10
Oklahoma 50 0 1
Pennsylvania 56 1 12
Tennessee 65 0 5
Utah 89 0 1
West Virginia 97 2 2
Wisconsin 65 2 5
Wyoming 94 0 0
TOTAL 26 96

Do the math. That leaves only 32 Democratic senators from less-than-average coal-reliant states and only 157 Democratic House members from less-than-average coal-reliant states. Now I’m not saying that every member from such states will vote against cap-and-trade, but I think an awful lot would. And I don’t think many Republicans are going to vote for cap-and-trade. In his press conference last night, Barack Obama seemed to accept the Senate Budget Committee’s Democrats’ decision to jettison the money for cap-and-trade and expressed a wistful hope that something might be done later. But even in better economic times, the numbers tend to work against any such proposal.


More tomorrow.


Leave a Reply