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N.D.’s choice: Burn coal, or watch electric bills soar

CRYSTAL, N.D. — Facts are stubborn things, and a recent letter from Douglas Perkins left a few out (“Coal industry already gets tremendous financial breaks,” Page A4, March 12).

Bowing down before the god of “climate change,” we are asked to scrap reliable and affordable fossil fuels and switch to intermittent sources. Wind and solar are the recipients of massive subsidies (with some of the money being borrowed from China), without which they are not economical.

But our state’s coal industry doesn’t rely on government subsidies or mandates. Instead, coal is the generation source of choice and provides $100 million to the state and local governments in taxes every year.

Judging by countries such as Germany and Australia, which have tried to revolutionize their energy systems, we can estimate that the cost of intermittent sources would triple our electric bill. Power would become a luxury, and many of us would live in energy poverty.

If energy costs increase, public health decreases. The poorest of the poor might get government subsidies to pay for high-priced energy, but the middle class will be saddled with another expense — and to what benefit?

China and other countries are using coal to lift their people out of poverty. Coal presently is the major source of electricity in North Dakota. We enjoy clean air and cheap power. In fact, according to the EPA and the American Lung Association, our air is among the cleanest in the nation.

Thanks to coal, when we flip the switch, the lights shine and furnaces run. Our homes are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and we can still afford to buy food and clothes.

Climate science is in its infancy. Global temperatures have not risen for 17 to 22 years, based on different methods of taking the earth’s temperature. The predictions of gloom and doom are based on models that predicted temperatures warmer than they are now. Why should we believe their predictions 80 to 90 years from now, when they haven’t been right for the past two decades — even with 20 years of observation?

In North Dakota, we have a choice: Freeze or live. I, for one, much prefer to live and watch the economy grow, families prosper and people live longer with a quality of life unsurpassed in the world.

Coal-based electricity is one of the large factors in this successful standard of life. And based on our state’s abundant reserves, it looks like we have another 800 years to fret.