DOWD: Gov. Cooper’s energy dark ages

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference at the Community School for People Under Six in Carrboro, N.C. on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

If you like today’s painfully high energy prices, then you’ll love what North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Duke Energy and the radical Left have in store for you.  

Americans are enduring soaring inflation, declining real wages and a looming recession. On top of that misery, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a regulatory body that manages grid stability, warned that two-thirds of the U.S. could experience rolling blackouts in the sweltering heat this summer as militant environmentalists demand utilities like Duke Energy shut down fossil fuel electricity generation to save the planet from “climate change.” 

Against this dystopian landscape, Duke Energy recently filed proposals with the N.C. Utilities Commission to achieve Cooper’s Clean Energy Plan goal to reduce carbon emissions 70% from 2005 levels by 2030. The centerpiece of Duke’s proposal, which will cost ratepayers a staggering $100 billion, requires shuttering the utility’s perfectly serviceable 8,845-megawatt coal fleet as soon as possible. 

Why the urgency? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just issued its latest doomsday report, with the UN Secretary-General proclaiming “we can only avert calamity by acting in the next couple of months. “ 

Of course, the UN has a long history of crying climate calamity wolf. The first UN environment director claimed half a century ago that we had just 10 years left to act, and the then-head of the IPCC insisted in 2007 that we had just five years left.   

The list of spectacularly failed prophesies from so-called experts is endless, and with each one the end of the world has to be rescheduled. As one pundit put it, “If we do not heed this last chance, I’m sure there will be another last chance in the near future, just like all the previous last chances.”  

But  being consistently wrong doesn’t stop the eco-apocalyptic scolds. Funded by foreign entities to undercut America’s geopolitical standing, anti-energy globalists perpetuate the myth of an “existential crisis” for which the only solution is a complete transformation of our $22 trillion U.S. economy.  

The current pain at the pump was the plan all along. President Joe Biden made it clear from day one he wants to forcibly shift America from reliance upon oil and gas, and he has even celebrated the current gas price crisis for accelerating that transition.  

The plan is working masterfully. Since May of 2021, fuel oil prices have skyrocketed by 106%, gasoline by 48%, natural gas is up 30% and electricity 12%. Who says government can’t get things done?  

Climate zealots know the only way to kill fossil fuels is to make them prohibitively expensive, as then-candidate Barack Obama acknowledged in 2008 when he let slip that electricity prices “would necessarily skyrocket” under his climate policies.  

But the dirty little secret is that there is no economically or technologically viable path to ramp up enough alternative sources to replace fossil fuels when wind, hydro and solar only account for 13% of our current energy mix. Nuclear is the cleanest alternative source but it will be a cold day in hell before the alarmists will allow a new nuclear power plant to be constructed. As Duke Energy executives gamely work to comply with the governor’s mandates, they must know that switching to much more expensive and far less reliable wind and solar is a fantasy, especially on the timetable set out in the governor’s Clean Energy Plan.  

That’s how we know that it’s not really about the environment. It’s about money and power. It’s a means to advance a socialist agenda that could never pass legislatively. We know this because for all the blather about how fossil fuels are destroying the Earth, the forced transition to so-called green alternatives poses an actual danger to the environment.   

According to Foreign Policy magazine, transforming to a “carbon-free” energy future “requires the extraction of minerals and metals, primarily from China, at great environmental and social costs.” Installing enough solar panels to meet demand would result in millions of acres of habitat loss. The use of toxic chemicals like cadmium and lead means spent solar panels, which have a useful life of only 20 years, must be discharged in landfills.  

And those millions of lithium-ion batteries for cars and trucks aren’t exactly biodegradable either. Indeed, producing the batteries for electric vehicles causes significantly more emissions than producing an internal-combustion engine. And let’s not forget that the emissions associated with electric vehicles don’t stop on the production line — those electric vehicles then have to be charged using power primarily generated by fossil fuels.  

The climate cult’s war on fossil fuels is really a war on prosperity. Gov. Cooper is intent on abandoning the world’s most reliable and affordable energy system in favor of something far more costly that doesn’t work. His radical climate agenda won’t save the planet, it will only bankrupt our state and destroy our economy. And when that happens, North Carolina voters will know exactly whom to blame.   

Roddey Dowd Jr. is Vice Chairman of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company, a 120-year old U.S. manufacturer of cast iron and plastic pipe and fittings, with seven plants around the country.