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Illinois Country Living

Jay Bartlett
Jay Bartlett is President/CEO of Prairie Power, Inc.


Climate Change Common Sense
Midwest has always led the way in being good steward

Over the past several months you have probably read other opinions about the effects of a carbon dioxide (CO2) cap and trade legislation on those of us living in the Midwest. Undoubtedly, you have also been exposed to many stories in the media trying to convince you about the future effects of greenhouse gases on our environment. I am not going to try to persuade you in either direction on the science of climate change.

Instead, I believe we should have confidence in ourselves and apply a measure of common sense in formulating the correct course of action. Here is my take on some of the ideas presented in support of cap and trade.

Conservation - I do not believe that Midwesterners need to be schooled on the benefits of conservation or the importance of being careful stewards of our God-given environment. People in the Midwest have harnessed the awesome potential of our environment to literally help feed the world. The same people have also rapidly employed new technologies to ensure the sustainability of our food source and of our way of living. In other words, I don’t believe you need to convince us that lowering our impact on the environment is good. I think we wrote the book on this subject. Where I think we differ from the proponents of cap and trade is only in timing. If we stand by the principles that we have lived by, we will implement effective technologies to reduce impact on the environment as fast as it is practical and affordable.

Jobs - Cap and trade proponents extol the virtues of the thousands of new green jobs that would be created from carbon legislation. I don’t buy it. How can we all be better off if it takes more people in the utility industry to create and deliver our energy? Isn’t that the same as saying if we could just cut farm productivity in half, we would all be better off since it will take twice as many farmers to feed us. Instead, it makes sense to me that rising energy costs would take away one strategic advantage that helped build this country - economical energy. I do not see how increasing the cost of energy could have any effect on precious jobs other than sending more of them across our borders.

World Leadership - I have heard it stated that we must move first to curb emissions to convince the rest of the world to follow our lead. The knowledge the world needs is how to continually curb man’s impact on the environment while continuing to improve efficiencies and growing a robust economy. It seems to me a carbon tax is akin to giving up and saying in effect that we should just lower our standard of living to demonstrate our commitment to lowering green house gases. To me, that seems too easy, and I don’t think for a minute that many other nations will be willing to stifle their own economic growth. My common sense tells me that true leadership would stem most effectively from innovation.

Innovation - The proponents of cap and trade say that raising the cost of energy will lead to new and better technologies out of necessity. It certainly would create the desire for new energy sources, but who is going to pay for the research and development? Common sense tells me that the U.S. will be best poised to take risks, innovate and lead when our economy is robust.

Moderation - moving at a steady and measured pace, a pace that allows the economy to flourish and matches the speed of new rules to the speed at which new technologies are created, is what makes sense to me. I truly believe a moderate approach is the fastest and only effective way to positively impact the world in which we live.

I believe most of us on both sides of the climate change legislation desire the same outcome for our planet. I just do not believe the cap and trade system is going to get us there. Steady application of common sense and moderation will allow us to chart a better course for solving our problems and maintaining our ability to lead the world. I encourage you to please form your own opinions and let your legislators know where you stand.

Jay Bartlett is President/CEO of Prairie Power, Inc. (, the generation and transmission cooperative serving 10 electric distribution cooperatives in Illinois.

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