Telling Half the Story

As you might expect, the editors of the Wall Street Journal are vehemently opposed to the EPA’s recent ruling on emissions by coal-fueled power plants. In today’s editorial they take an interesting tack—that in this new policy the administration is stranding Democrats from “energy-producing states” in favor of “green liberals” from coastal states:

This will have far-reaching implications, especially for Democrats in energy-rich states and especially this year. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton would never have dreamed of rolling out this EPA regulation five months before an election. Mr. Obama is willing to risk it now because his second term is winding down and he wants to put in place as a much of a legacy as he can. But he’s also gambling that money from green liberals like Mr. Steyer can help stave off the loss of the Senate in energy states.

What strikes me about the charts that accompany the editorial is that they only tell half the story and that the position of the coastal states can only be described as cognitive dissonance. Of course Washington, DC, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, and California don’t have as much “carbon intensity” as Wyoming, West Virginia, or Louisiana. DC and California import most of their energy, gas, and water. They also don’t depend on manufacturing to employ their workers or provide a tax base for the spending of their state and local governments. But their lifestyles would be impossible without those carbon-intense states. I wonder what the average commute distance in Los Angeles is compared with the average commute distance in Shreveport.

2 comments… add one
  • Given that the requirements will raise the cost of energy production, won’t the states that import energy end up getting hit financially?

    Coming from a state that clutters its air to meet the energy requirements of other states who look down on us because of our cluttered air this is a sore spot for me. But one way out another I am not sure it can all be as targeted towards production states as the WSJ suggests.

    Of course, states that rely more on coal will be hit harder than other states, but I am given to understand that includes a lot of the east coast.

    What will be interesting is what we do if and when natural gas production falls. Seems a lot of our current thinking on coal overlooks that our coal reserves are a lot more abundant5 our natural gas ones. I guess the assumption is that by then we will be up and running with renewables to fill that gap. I would probably take the other side of that bet.

  • michael reynolds

    The average commute in Los Angeles is all a function of how you measure. In distance? Eh, a couple miles. In time? Anywhere from an hour to three days, depending on traffic.

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