Yael T. Abouhalkah

Claire McCaskill’s dirty views on dirty coal

Updated: 2013-07-02T23:40:29Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama stepped up his needed campaign to combat global warming. The key tactic: Rein in harmful carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Knowing that a divided Congress doesn’t have the ability to pass his plan, Obama last week had announced he would take the action through executive decisions with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But a Missouri senator had cautioned against moving ahead with that plan, implying more regulations could “harm working families.”

“It would clearly be preferable if such an important policy debate was addressed through the normal legislative process. So I’ll be taking a hard look at these ideas and seeking input from Missouri families and businesses.”

Thank you, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Wait. That was actually Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill pressing the yellow light.

What gives?

Unfortunately, this is par for the course for McCaskill, who too often has defended dirty coal for years in Missouri, where 80 percent or so of the electricity is supplied by coal-fired power plants.

Here, for instance, is what McCaskill’s website says about dirty coal:

“Claire knows that rising energy prices are a significant burden on Missouri’s families. That’s why Claire hasn’t been afraid to break with members of her own party to protect Missouri’s coal-fired power plants and fight back against unnecessary EPA regulations. She’ll continue to fight for an energy policy that protects Missouri families from unreasonably high energy costs while promoting new energy solutions that will reduce our dependency on foreign oil.”

And here’s a good look at McCaskill’s views and how they figured in the 2012 Senate primaries.

Of course, regulations for years have gotten the blame for boosting the costs of products — from pigs to cars — even while the regulations have protected the health and welfare of millions of Americans.

So claiming that Missouri families would be “hurt” by higher energy costs misses out on the fact that reducing harmful pollution from coal-fired power plants would greatly “help” them in the long run. Health care costs would decrease and — in something McCaskill fortunately favors — there would be greater pressure on Missouri to pursue cleaner renewable energy.

McCaskill’s wrong-headed views on dirty coal have sometimes irritated many environmentalists, who support many other views held by the senator.

Obama, by the way, has anticipated the stances of people like McCaskill, saying, “The problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity.”

And Missouri does have a problem with dirty coal, as even a pro-coal site pointed out in 2011. At the time, the Institute for Energy Research noted, Missouri has seven plants that could be affected by EPA regulations — including four owned by Ameren.

So is there any hope that McCaskill will change her views and stop supporting dirty coal?

More fortunately, yes. Last week she said this after Obama unveiled his plan:

“Climate change is a real and growing threat to the health and livelihoods of Missourians, and our kids and grandkids. Some of these proposals seem like they may be workable.....”

And, just to close the loop, Missouri’s other U.S. senator won’t be much help on this topic either.

Here is the official stance of Blunt: “Missourians rely on coal for 80 percent of our electricity needs, and Senator Blunt has fought hard against the Obama administration’s attempts to implement a cap-and-trade program, as well as any backdoor regulatory attempts to levy a burdensome and unfair tax on carbon.”

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here