by Max Brantley
Relying on information in the Hope newspaper yesterday, I mentioned that PSC Chairman Colette Honorable would be moderating a panel at a coming conference in Hope on "Making Clean Coal Technology a Reality." I commented that that seemed sort of a political statement by a member of a state panel that is hearing objections to coal-fired power generation by "clean coal" -- a public relations term -- or any other coal.
She asks a correction. She says, despite what a Hope newspaper account erroneously said, she's actually moderating a panel "What to do about Greenhouse Gases."
Noted. Answer to her panel's question: Don't burn coal in power plants.
Honorable is honorable, I hasten to add. I've known her several years and think a great deal of her. But I'll repeat what I told her. I'm not sure it's a good idea for PSC commissioners to lend their high status and neutral position to elevate a public relations stunt put on by the electric power industry and the coal lobby, as this one is. If you need any more information about how balanced this session will be, see Stephens Media today for its story about how the Sierra Club was barred from participation.
Torture the timber, strip the land, dig the coal. Just don't expect me to call it perfume.
I also meant to say initially that this "conference" is a byproduct of SWEPCO's recent purchase of the UA community college branch at Hope for $1 million. No reason the Hope branch shouldn't have a corporate owner, like the UA's Walton-Tyson branch.
PS -- I'm told Ken Smith of Audubon Arkansas will be on hand to be available to anyone who might appreciate a fuller picture of coal's impact on the environment. I hope the power company lobby, which is putting on this dog-and-pony show, doesn't arrest him or move him, a la the Bush jackboots, to a Free Speech Zone over around Lake Greeson.