Monday, February 20, 2017

Yes, Congress was spineless enough to approve Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, despite his radical anti-EPA record and the imminent (tomorrow?), court-ordered release of thousands of emails documenting his communications with the fossil fuel industry.  There may not be anything of substance in them, but wouldn't you want to know before you appoint him?

Meanwhile, the Washington Post today reported that two major coal-fired power plants will be closing prematurely.  Sadly, they are not the two Southern Company plants in Georgia and Alabama, but one in Arizona and two in Ohio.  Despite the rhetoric out of parts of Washington and the prevailing opinion in red states, they are closing not because of over-regulation by the EPA and other parts of the government, but simply because the low cost of natural gas has rendered them unprofitable and obsolete.  Times change, technologies change, and as a result, factories, power plants, and jobs have to change along with them.

Sadly, the closings will result in the loss of hundreds, possibly thousands, of jobs in the vicinity of the plants, many of them at the Arizona plant held by Native Americans.  No reasonable person finds happiness in the loss of people's livelihood due to plant closings, and Native Americans are already facing a staggering number of challenges. But the solution to the employment problem is not suffering the continued operation of old, outdated, and polluting power plants, but by creating and maintaining a viable safety net to care for, provide for, and retrain the displaced workers. Job outsourcing, new technologies, and changes in employment are particular problems in America, largely because there is little to no safety net here for American workers.

There is on longer a large number of jobs associated with the horse-and-buggy industry, but rather than insist that we ignore the automobile and retain outmoded forms of transportation for the sake of the horse-and-buggy workers, we moved on and embraced the car, and the buggy workers eventually learned how to manufacture Jeep Cherokees and Chevy Impalas.

So what do you want to do, America?  Continue to live in the past, embrace outdated technologies, and pollute the air for the sake of some anachronistic jobs,  or train our work force for the challenges of the future?  It's our call, but we can't trust Scott Pruitt to make it for us.

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