Dick Armey is a former US Congressman (Republican) who now serves as the chairman of FreedomWorks, a conservative, issues-based organization founded in 1984 that includes “full time staff in ten states and over 800,000 grassroots volunteers nationwide.” (quote from the organization’s “About Us” page). The tag line for the group’s web site is “Lower taxes, less government, more freedom.”
On October 18, 2006, the Star-Telegram (Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas) published an opinion piece by Mr. Army titled, Let’s act energetically. Mr. Armey makes a strong case that Texas needs new electricity supplies in an attempt to gain public support for TXU’s plans to build 11 large new coal fired power plants. Here is an example of the words used to provide the basis of his support for the plants:
Texas has some important decisions to make about energy policy, and those decisions will affect consumers, businesses and the overall health of the state’s economy. ERCOT has made it clear that new capacity is required to compensate for the surge in economic growth and the retirement of older power plants.
Faced with a potential shortage of energy, the state can either adopt the California approach of excessive regulation, which has led to power disruptions and rolling blackouts due to limited capacity, or establish policies that encourage increased energy production while ensuring environmental stewardship. Fortunately, Texas is trying to take the latter approach.
So far, so good. Dick and I agree that having sufficient energy is important for a growing economy. Then he mentions that there are proposals for 17 new power plants including 11 coal fired plants that “will inject more than $10 billion into the Texas economy to produce new plants that will yield lower levels of pollution in the state — in fact, reducing overall emissions of pollutants by 20 percent.”
At this point, I began to get suspicious that there might be a ‘smoking gun’ here since I know that there are also a large number of potential nuclear power plant projects under investigation in Texas that ELIMINATE (as opposed to reducing) emissions if they replace older coal or gas plants.
Then comes the real kicker.
Opponents to the coal-fired power plants hope to promote alternative solutions to the looming energy crisis. Two such options are increased use of renewable energy and “demand management,” or identifying opportunities to reduce the amount of energy consumed.
Although additional research for viable renewable energy is important, the bottom line is that the widespread use of renewable energy is not practical, cost-effective or particularly “Earth-friendly” at this time. Any policy that relies on renewables as a solution to our current energy woes is a false hope that will end up costing consumers dearly. Another alternative — expanded use of nuclear power plants — is even more politically unpopular than coal-fired plants, making this a weak alternative at best.(emphasis added)
Of course, the phrase is a bit weak itself, laying the blame on the political unpopularity (which does not really exist anymore), but it is pretty clear which fuel source Mr. Armey favors when it comes to large scale electrical power production. It is not too surprising then, that his conservative organization has the following statement on its energy issues page:
Energy producers — such as the oil and natural gas industry and the electric utility industry — must be allowed to continue fueling the economic growth that has enabled our country to create millions of new jobs and new opportunities for all Americans.
Of course, like most issues based organizations, FreedomWorks is free to provide whatever “information” it chooses while not revealing the sources of its funds. A good “between the lines” reader, however, can probably guess that FreedomWorks receives funding from the specifically mentioned energy producers.