Green obstructionism

If you believe the Sierra Club is preoccupied with destroying Southern Nevada’s quality of life, don’t feel picked on. The anti-capitalist, green extremists are waging a legal war against affordable energy and economic growth from coast to coast.

Following an edict from the Church of Global Warming, the environmentalist group is part of a coalition that’s trying to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants near Ely, about 200 miles north of the Las Vegas Valley. This campaign follows the Sierra Club’s challenge of the widening of U.S. Highway 95 through urban Las Vegas, which delayed its completion more than a year and added millions of dollars in cost overruns.

But 28 other states are suffering the wrath of the greens, who are meddling and suing to block at least four dozen coal plant projects that are vital in meeting nationwide demand for electricity. Bruce Nilles, the Sierra Club attorney, said the group spent about $1 million on its anti-coal campaign last year and hopes to spend about $10 million this year.

“Our goal is to oppose these projects at each and every stage, from zoning and air and water permits, to their mining permits and new coal railroads,” Mr. Nilles said. “They know they don’t have an answer to global warming, so they’re fighting for their life.”

Utilities “don’t have an answer for global warming” because there is no answer. Contrary to what the Sierra Club and its congregation believe, debate about whether the planet is in the midst of a long-term warming trend and its possible causes and effects has not been settled. There is no “scientific consensus” that building new, more efficient coal-fired power plants will hasten the apocalypse.

But if a few judges say otherwise, the Sierra Club might be able to get the government to mandate what the market thus far will not: huge investments and subsidies for wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Today and for the foreseeable future, renewable energy sources simply aren’t cost-effective in meeting consumer demand, nor can they provide the consistent baseline needed for periods of peak usage.

Coal, meanwhile, is the country’s cheapest, most plentiful and most efficient energy resource. To insist that coal no longer be a part of our energy portfolio is beyond unreasonable — it’s suicidal.

Nevadans, who already pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country, will double their power consumption within seven years, according to Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. Scratching the coal-fired generating stations near Ely and replacing them renewable sources of equal capacity — assuming it could be done, at all — would triple local power bills. No one can afford that.

But there’s hope for folks already squeezed by rising energy costs. Twenty-two new coal-fired plants are under construction in 14 states, and at least 15 more projects are nearing final approval despite the Sierra Club’s best efforts.

Here’s an idea for Sierra Club members: If you want costly renewable energy projects so badly, why don’t you pay for them?

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