Monday, May 13, 2013

An Ill Wind Blowing

As the Beltway media continued blathering on this weekend about the ridiculous Benghazi baloney, we looked ahead at the forecast for a ninety degree Tuesday for our Nebraska office and had a thought similar to the one Greg Sargent of the Washington Post had last Friday afternoon.

Maybe it's time we talk about climate change. Again.

Last Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Mauna Loa, Hawaii science station confirmed the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere just recently passed the 400 parts-per-million range - a higher level than has ever been recorded in history. As Steve Benen astutely noted, "The last time the planet topped 400 ppm, there were no humans. What's more, there has never been an increase comparable to the accelerated increases we're seeing now."

Of course, if you're like some members of our staff, your immediate reaction - after a stunned expletive or two - won't be just to toss another pointless idea into the wind. You're probably wondering what can actually be done about the problem.

At least in Nebraska, something can be done to fight one of the causes of climate change.

Carbon-based fossil fuel power generation, around the world, is one of the biggest large-scale causes of man-made carbon pollution today. Whether it's coal or natural gas generated, neither method of power generation is as clean as wind power - a resource Nebraska has year-round, in virtually every kind of weather.

Sadly, even though Nebraska is one of the top five windiest states in the country, state tax and business laws haven't kept pace with the brisk growth of the wind power industry.

Recently, Omaha resident Warren Buffett recently decided to make a huge investment in wind energy, through his MidAmerican energy company. But Buffett poured $1.9 billion into wind farms in neighboring Iowa, not Nebraska, because of the backward-looking laws in his home state. With new, more efficient wind power generation systems - like SheerWind's Invelox system - Buffet's investment could make a very comfortable return while lowering the carbon levels Iowans are generating to power their lives.

Nebraska's legislature has finally started to get with the program on changing its dated and ineffective wind energy tax laws by pushing towards final passage of LB 104. That wasn't soon enough, though, as Facebook already chose to put a multi-billion dollar data center in Iowa, because of Iowa's wind power advantage.

There are those who are continuing to fight against LB 104, like extremist Republican state senator Charlie Janssen and Gov. Dave Heineman. That's in addition to private power interests who claim that their corporate short-term profits will be hurt by the new tax incentives given to wind power companies. We don't doubt that's the case - though we point to the carbon data from NOAA to note that short-term profits for a select few (who are already wealthy) mean nothing if there is no long-term for the human race.

With that idea in mind, we hope you'll contact the Nebraska Legislature today - especially if you're a Nebraska resident to help push forward wind power in Nebraska. If you live outside the state capitol of Lincoln, call the Nebraska Legislative hotline, (800) 742-7456 and leave them a brief message, telling them you support LB 104.

When the phone lines and e-mail boxes of legislators get stuffed, they likely won't be simply turning your messages into paper airplanes - and you may just help do something about climate change.