EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – AUGUST 13, 2008
By Rich Trzupek
Your name is Bruce Nilles and this is your job: you kill coal boilers.
You work for the Sierra Club. You are Director of their National Coal Campaign, which is dedicated to stopping people from burning another pound of coal. Ever. Starting….. NOW.
You don’t distinguish between coal projects. There is no need. There is no such thing as a “good coal project”. Who cares about the details? If fossilized carbon is being converted into carbon dioxide, you are against it.
You’re happy to talk to any developer about their coal project. You’ll listen patiently to the so-called benefits of the project. But, at the end of the day, you’re going to oppose it. That’s just the way it is.
Your name is Bruce Nilles. This is your job.
You may worry about the coal miners and boiler workers and railroad employees and all of the other people employed in the energy business, but you try not to worry about them for very long. They can do other things. They should be doing other things, instead of helping to poison America.
It’s a beautiful thing being Bruce Nilles and having this job. It doesn’t require a lot of thought, for one thing. Not that you’re an idiot. No. They don’t hand out law degrees to just anybody. Or, perhaps they do, but that’s immaterial. You are a pretty sharp fellow. Everyone agrees on that point.
But really, anybody could do this job. You have to learn to ask one question – “is this project a coal plant?” – and, if you get an affirmative reply, you have to learn only one response: “I hate it”.
Because your name is Bruce Nilles. This is your job.
Gone are the days when you might have to carefully evaluate emission rates and control technologies. You aren’t required to think about new rules that will force emissions lower, or consider the pros and cons of replacing an old, badly performing plant with a new, cleaner version. When it comes to coal plants, you simply don’t care.
And God knows that you never, ever have to worry yourself about evaluating global warming. That train left the station years ago. The planet is getting warmer and we are causing it. End of story. And if some right-wing apostate wants to talk about the composition and agenda of the International Panel on Climate Change, or points out all of the errors in “An Inconvenient Truth” for the umpteenth time, or asks you why the temperature on Mars has gone up over the last couple of decades too, well he can just save his heretical breath. Global warming is here and we are causing it. Most of all, it’s coal that’s causing it.
Which is why you’re Bruce Nilles and you have this job.
“Hard day at work today honey?”
Not too bad. Not too bad at all.
“Uh-oh, somebody stopped another project today!”
You got it babe. 700 megawatts in Kentucky – right down the toilet.
“I’m so proud of you snook ’ems!”
Well – time to start dinner. I picked up a new bag of Kingsford on my way home. I’ll fire up the grill. Sure works up a fella’s appetite, shuttin’ down coal plants.
It’s great to be Bruce Nilles. It’s great to have this job.
You can take a moment and proudly browse your organization’s website, where all of your victories are listed. Sixty seven proposed plants stopped. Dead. Over 35,000 megawatts of cheap new power – gone. Plants that would have made natural gas and petroleum from coal – poof! Not on your watch baby. Not here. Not now. Not ever.
God but it’s a great time to be alive, you might say to yourself. It’s a great time to be alive and to be part of the Sierra Club in 2008, because you can package any initiative – any at all – and so long as you wrap it up with a ribbon that says “Fight Global Warming” – people will buy it.
You’ve got a crisis and there’s nothing like a crisis to keep the donations rolling in. It’s just freakin’ beautiful.
You have a crisis because you’ve told people there is a crisis. Who are they going to believe? Your organization exists to save the planet, for crying out loud. Those other guys? If they question global warming, they’re “deniers”, funded by Exxon-Mobil. If they point out that air quality has continued to improve over the last 40 years, and yes – even in the last eight – well then they are nothing but apologists for an evil administration that is trying to destroy the planet. It’s a simple strategy. And, it’s so very effective.
Perhaps, once in a while, you might think it would nice to take some credit for all of those emissions reductions and air quality improvements, to tell people: “good job, we’ve made wonderful progress thanks to you,” but you can’t do that. If you didn’t have a crisis, people wouldn’t be so quick to write those checks, and you need those checks. A fella has to make a living, after all.
Some people might look at over 300 years of coal reserves and see the potential for an energy future free of foreign influences. Some people might think that coal to liquids technology is the best, and ultimately cheapest, way to make oil and gasoline in the modern world.
Not you. You look at all that coal and you see black death. You see pure evil, in the most abhorrent element God ever dared to create: carbon. You see a battle to be fought, and to be won. You see another power plant to stop dead, in its dirty tracks.
You are Bruce Nilles. This is your job.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx