Thursday, November 8, 2007

Entergy and the PSC: Stupid Is as Stupid Does

The Louisiana Public Service Commission and Entergy have teamed up to confirm Forrest Gump's observation that "stupid is as stupid does."

New Orleans CityBusiness reports that the PSC has granted permission for Entergy to convert a natural gas-powered plant in St. Charles Parish to a coal and coke-fired plant. Coal, Entergy said, would produce cheaper power.

"Penny wise, pound foolish," comes immediately to mind.

So, too, does stupid.

For starters, there's the matter of the link between coal-fired plants and Mercury contaminationparticularly in fish. The Louisiana Wildlife Federation has found extensive Mercury contamination in fish and wildlife in our state. Something like 40 lakes, rivers and bayous in the state have Mercury warnings posted advising that children and pregnant women not eat fish taken from those waters. Louisiana now has a Mercury Initiative that seeks to mitigate the problem and prevent it from getting worse.

So, you can hunt and fish all you care to do so in Louisiana, you just need to think twice about actually eating what kill.

Then there is the matter of coal's role in the production of greenhouse gases and the contribution those gases make to climate change. One of the side affects of climate change is rising seas. Someone might need to tell the members of the PSC that we have a lot of lowlands in Louisiana that are going to be among the first places affected by rising sea levels.

Entergy has a lot of customers located in those low-lying areas. Just as an aside, it should be noted that the high cost of electricity provided by Entergy was a big reason cited by ThyssenKrupp AG for its decision to locate it's steel plant in Alabama instead of Louisiana.

It would be ironic were it not for the fact that the course of action that will result from this PSC vote is so short-sighted and — well — stupid.

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