The world's biggest coal company has a message for you: Line our pockets, or line the pockets of anti-American zealots Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. For good measure, the likeness of Russia's Vladimir Putin is included, though the State Department might not include him in the same category. (But, hey, Russia is still scary, right?)
The scare-mongering is outlined by Dion Lefler in today's Wichita Eagle: Peabody Energy, the world's biggest private coal company, and Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which plans to build two new coal-fired power plants, bought out ads in major state newspapers under the guise of Kansans for Affordable Energy.
The ad shows the smiling faces of three dictatorial leaders -- Russia's Vladimir Putin, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad --above the question "Why are these men smiling?"
The ad's answer: "Because the recent decision by the Sebelius administration means Kansas will import more natural gas from countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran."
(That's Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is pushing an energy agenda that would promote natural gas and wind power, at the expense of coal.)
Problem with the ad's logic is the United States imports no natural gas from these countries, and unless Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a terrorist, importing natural gas isn't going to do much to fund rogue regimes.
The United States could use an honest debate about coal, which is both plentiful and cheap, but which comes with huge environmental costs: Landscape-obliterating mining, asthma-inducing smog, mercury-contaminated fish, acid rain. Oh, and global warming. No energy source produces so much greenhouse gas pollution.
Technology may be the answer (two other companies, NRG and Powerspan, plan to install smokestack scrubbers that will strip carbon from power plants, a promising development). Scare-mongering most certainly will not.
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