SWEPCO, the friendly utility that wants to poison the air in southwest Arkansas with one of the last coal-burning power plants to be authorized in the U.S., has another money-making scheme that, I'm told, seems likely to be run through the legislature like you know what through a goose, with similar smelly after-effects.
It's a bill that, in short, will give SWEPCO all of the profit and the taxpayers all of the liability for authorizing a scheme by which SWEPCO and others can inject carbon dioxide underground for storage. Mindful of the pressures on the coal-burners to do something about carbon emissions, SWEPCO and other coal-burners have devised a plan to make a profit on it. We might want to develop ways to store CO2. But do we release those doing it from legal liability. And do we really want in this legislation to declare carbon dioxide a commodity, and not a pollutant, given the other issues attending greenhouse gases?
Complicated science. Huge issue. Long-term impact. So, though the bill has not been introduced, it supposedly has some 60 sponsors and is to be introduced and whipped through a committee days later before any sort of informed study, much less opposition, can occur.
Typical of utility legislation. They don't sponsor those legislative education sessions with wining, dining, golf and propaganda for nothing. Even if this is a thoroughly good idea and thoroughly defensible, the process should be open enough and lengthy enough for debate to establish that.
Here's the SWEPCO fact sheet on the plan, with the utility-friendly bill attached. It is too much to expect the state's environmental regulators to demand a full and fair hearing on this. They have always been SWEPCO enablers. Gov. Beebe? Doubtful, he has a long history of friendly relationships with utility lobbyists.