Dismissing our energy worries

If you are a West Virginian or Ohioan who read about the debate Tuesday among Democrat contenders for president, you may have wondered why not much was said about climate change, a critical issue for tens of millions of other Americans. Other than hearing former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley promise a “100 percent green” electric grid by 2050 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders class climate change as the major threat to world peace, not much was said on the topic.

But here is the bottom line: Except for ex-Virginia Sen. James Webb, all the Democrat debaters are staunchly in favor of doing away with coal-fired power plants. Electricity would be from much more expensive sources, preferably solar and wind facilities.

Webb seems to understand the terrible cost to Americans of such a policy. Here, in a nutshell, is how the four other candidates feel about climate change:

Hillary Clinton wants to enact a big new tax on all fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas. Much of the proceeds would go to social programs in big cities.

Sanders noted during the debate that he and California Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the original “cap and trade” legislation targeting coal-fired power plants. “The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change,” he says.

O’Malley says “ending fossil fuel use is a public health imperative …” He adds, “We can’t meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy …”

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has proposed few specifics, but he wholeheartedly endorsed President Barack Obama’s new initiative against coal-fired power plants.

Almost undoubtedly, either Clinton or Sanders will be the Democrats’ nominee for president. Both are intelligent, well-informed people. Viewing them as candidates who just don’t understand their climate change policies would send electric bills soaring and would do enormous damage to states such as West Virginia and Ohio is looking at the two through rose-colored glasses.