Commentary and Opinion

MORRIS: Government overreach at all-time high

March 8, 2014

MorrisHave you stopped to think lately about all the government intrusions into your life? I wouldn’t recommend doing this often, because it will make you sick. We are obviously all so stupid, we need to look to those really smart folks in Washington and in our own Statehouse for all the answers. We surely can’t be trusted to act responsibly without constant intervention.

This awesome power in Washington has been abused by both Republicans and Democrats for several decades. However, I submit that President Obama and his allies have taken the abuse to a new level. When the separation of powers gets in the way, there’s always the power of the pen.

Your health care has been hijacked and taken hostage by the federal government. The IRS can target you and make your life miserable. The anti-gun activists want your guns. You have no privacy, and chances are the NSA is listening in on your next phone call. The list of intrusions is endless. But nowhere is the overreach any greater than in the climate/energy arena. The federal government loves to pick winners and losers in this category, and the “winners” are typically money-losers.

You can’t buy a decent 100-watt lightbulb anymore. You’re being encouraged to buy a car like a Nissan Leaf, but I recommend you hang onto your SUV with the 5.7-liter Hemi engine. With the stroke of the Obama pen, your SUV might be illegal to produce in the future. With a Nissan Leaf, you can’t navigate the deep snow of Indiana winters like the one we’ve just suffered through. And a Leaf won’t pull your boat, or drive more than about 90 miles on a charge.

New EPA regulations will ban the sale and production of about 80 percent of the wood-burning stoves in America today. I wonder how that’s playing in our northern states where a good number of people use wood stoves as their main source of heat.

Look at the EPA’s “war on coal.” The EPA appears to be trying to regulate coal-fired electric power plants right out of business with tougher standards that most likely can’t be met. It’s playing out here locally. You’ve got the Sierra Club, in bed with the EPA, lobbying for years to shut down IPL’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant. The Sierra Club likes to characterize IPL as the big, bad utility that cares nothing about the environment or our health.

On the Indiana Sierra Club’s website, in bold print, is this: “Coal companies shouldn’t have the right to wreck our climate for their profit.” That message plays well to the activist populace, but it’s worse than unfair.

IPL is one of the most caring and supportive corporate citizens in the city. IPL donates a significant amount of time, money and resources to many philanthropic causes. I know many IPL execs, and they are good people who care about their fellow man. Do you want to see your electric bill double, triple or worse? Then buy into the fantasy that wind and solar alternatives can reliably and affordably replace a coal power plant. Supplemental power—OK—but not a reliable and affordable replacement.

IPL has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce emissions by a significant amount at the Harding Street power plant and elsewhere. To the best of my knowledge, IPL is meeting current emission regulations set forth by the EPA. The company has also invested in natural gas, wind and solar energy sources to help ease the dependence on coal. IPL is a very good corporate citizen and it’s working in all our best interests to provide safe and reliable power at affordable prices well into the future.

Now before all you activists get ready to tee me up, I’m not a denier. I believe we should all be good stewards of our environment. But that has to be achieved with balance. We must weigh what’s good for our health and our environment, but we can’t forget the benefits provided by whatever practice or industry is being regulated. And there’s the rub. Proper balance means something vastly different to opposing sides of any issue.

I’m just getting warmed up, but I’m out of space. Here’s a final thought. Cast your votes carefully in 2014 and beyond, and please be mindful of giving away too many more of your rights. Before too much longer, you won’t have any left.•

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Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send email to gmorris@ibj.com.

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