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I received a big, glossy mailer recently dinging Robin Carnahan for allegedly supporting cap-and-trade energy policies that would “increase energy costs.”  I’ve got some news for the “special interest group,” Crossroads GPS, that paid for the mailer. AmerenUE, the utility that supplies my electricity, is trying for its second rate increase this year. Add to that the fact that gas prices right now are between $2.50 and $3.00, down from a high of $4.00 in 2008; who knows where they’ll be next year. And it’s not happening because of cap-and-trade.

While AmerenUE’s current effort to gouge the rate-payers probably reflects structural and regulatory problems, I’m willing to lay odds that more and more rate increases will continue to come at regular intervals for the same reason that gas prices will continue to be highly volatile: growing energy scarcity.

You’ve heard of peak oil, the point where oil availablity will peak and begin to decline? If so, you know that some energy experts think peak oil production is imminent, while others believe that we have have already reached it.

Now you’ve got peak oil heading down, say hello to the arrival of peak coal. Richard Heinberg, author of Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis,  contends that:

… several recent reports suggest that coal reserves, which have shrunk dramatically during the past century, may still be overstated. Coal prices are likely to rise precipitously during the next two decades due to transport bottlenecks and higher transport costs, falling production trends in many current producing regions, and the lack of suitable new coalfields.

Scarcity means higher energy prices. There’s no way around it. Over the next decades energy will go sky high right here in coal-dependent Missouri unless we can make the transition to non-carbon energy sources.

Of course, if we plan to make that transition, we need to get cracking – and that’s just exactly what the energy legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed to do, wean us off coal and oil while subsidizing those most vulnerable to the resulting higher energy costs and inevitable dislocations during the transition. I want to make sure you got the part abut subsidies; just about the only folks who really have a bone to pick with cap-and-trade are oil and coal company CEOs and stockholders, especially since the new energy economy will also create new jobs.

So the question remains, why are the Crossroads GPS folks so hot and bothered by this? Need I remind you that Crossroads GPS is one of the offspring of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision? Currently, it isn’t required to disclose it’s donors, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess who might be defraying expenses.

Just stop and think about who will make out like a bandit if we don’t make the transition to non-carbon energy and prices soar as resources become more scarce. What you want to bet that there’s some big coal and oil money behind these misleading mailers that are trying to convince us that Robin Carnahan is on a mission to destroy Missouri and that cap-and-trade is her chosen means?

* Link added in paragraph 3.