Editorials

Energy think tank not brainwasher

House Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, one of the coal industry's leading legislative proponents and the architect of much of the energy legislation enacted by the General Assembly in recent years, sits on the Kentucky Climate Action Plan Council.

Republican State Sen. Tom Jensen, another legislative advocate for the coal industry, is also a member of the panel.

The panel's members from the private sector include Joe Craft, chief executive officer of Alliance Resources and the man who spearheaded the drive to raise $7 million for the University of Kentucky's planned "Wildcat Coal Lodge," as well as representatives from utilities and the natural gas industry.

So, why is the General Assembly's Government Contract Review Committee all in a tizzy over the possibility that some "liberal Washington, D.C., think tank" may brainwash the energy panel in ways that could cause it to "destroy the Kentucky coal industry and raise utility rates"? (Quotes courtesy of a statement released by Republican state Sen. Elizabeth Tori, a committee member, as reported in The Courier-Journal.)

Ain't gonna happen, pardon our grammar. No way. No how. Not unless aliens invade the bodies of most of the energy council's membership.

Maybe that's what the legislative committee was afraid of when it voted 6-0 last week to reject the energy council's $200,00 contract with the Center for Climate Strategies to provide the council with technical expertise.

No other explanation made sense. Certainly not Democratic state Rep. Brent Yonts' expressed concern that the consultants were helping the council explore alternative energy sources and look at ways of limiting carbon emissions.

After all, in recent years the General Assembly has enacted several laws offering tax incentives for the development of — wait for it — alternative energy sources.

Most notably, a bill passed near the end of former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration authorized incentives for the development of solar, wind, hydropower, ethanol and biofuels as well as coal gasification.

The same measure addressed — wait for it again — managing carbon emissions.

Best we can tell, if the energy council is exploring alternative energy sources and looking at ways carbon emissions might be managed, it is doing exactly what the majority of both houses of the General Assembly says should be done.

So, unless the six members of the contract committee can come up with something better than cracks about a "liberal ... think tank" and vague fears about alternative energy and carbon emissions, Gov. Steve Beshear's administration should take its chances about the aliens and exercise its authority to enter into the contract over the committee's objections.

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