If politically correct attitudes, such as those in the U.S., Canada and Europe, prevailed in Australia, Abbott would have never been elected. He is viewed by the mainstream press as a conservative politician from a bygone era. He is a climate skeptic. He is also an Anglophile whose gaffes have made him a target for left-leaning comedians.
When the liberal party in Australia unseated former conservative Prime Minister John Howard, who led the country from 1996-2007, conservatives began to align their strategies with those of the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. They revised pro-market labor laws, making it more difficult to fire workers. Apologies were offered to indigenous people for western transgressions. Immigration policies were relaxed. They began to embrace Rudd’s global warming agenda.
Rudd proposed a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. He also was quoted as saying that climate change was the “great moral challenge of the modern era.” Abbott held firm and argued that cap-and-trade would penalize Australia with little or no environmental benefit. Shortly after the Copenhagen summit on climate change failed, Rudd imploded and he was replaced by his own party with Julia Gillard. Abbott held steadfast. He opposed the big spending policies and sky-rocketing debt and supported tougher immigration policies. Ultimately, he convinced voters that he would not waste taxpayer dollars. He did the opposite of everything conservatives around the world are considering today — aligning themselves more with the left.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., President Obama plans to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they are built with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that has not yet been demonstrated on a commercial basis. As this edition of Coal Age goes to press, he is proposing another rule on emissions from new power plants, a key measure of his climate-change agenda. Speculators say that it will limit CO2 emissions to 1,000 lb CO2 per megawatt-hour. This would effectively eliminate coal because that level is half of what the best available coal technology can do without CCS.
President Obama has also nominated Ron Binz as the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In Binz’s power generation utopia, he believes that coal and gas generation can be reduced form 51% to 9% and 16% to 3%, respectively, and replaced with renewables. He wants to make this happen and he’s not worried about costs or the collateral damage it will cause to the American economy. According to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, his overriding motivation is to make carbon-based energy so expensive it will have to be phased out of the U.S. energy mix.
It’s time for politicians from coal states to wake up. They need to take a cue from Abbott and explain the situation to their constituents. Otherwise, Americans will be further penalized by a climate-change policy that will have little or no additional environmental benefit.