A nice, reasonable disagreement. Maybe some bitter debate — firmly grounded in facts. Too much to ask?
At least, that’s how it seemed listening to our own Sen. Chester Crandell’s peculiar remarks on carbon dioxide, global warming and the smoke from coal-fired power plants.
The Heber Republican grilled an expert witness testifying against a bill intended to prevent the federal Environmental Protection Agency from requiring expensive anti-pollution controls on the Navajo Generating Station.
Now, we understand the thrust of the bill. One could have a vigorous, enlightening, fact-based argument about the EPA’s effort to coerce the coalition of utilities that owns the power plant into paying the steep cost of reducing pollutants. The massive coal-fired plant provides jobs on the unemployment-plagued Navajo Reservation and provides the power needed to pump Colorado River water into the Central Arizona Project and on uphill to Phoenix and Tucson.
The power plant probably contributes to the increase in haze in the Grand Canyon, probably increases breathing problems for some people in the region and undeniably adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Reasonable people may differ on whether cleanup costs exceed the likely benefits — and even whether the states should play the leading role in such regulation.
But it certainly doesn’t help your argument when you climb aboard the trolley to crazy town — as Mr. Crandell seems inclined to do now and then.
For starters, he said that if scientists disagree it proves the science is bogus. Mind you, surveys show that about 97 percent of climate scientists agree that average temperatures are rising due to the steady increase in greenhouse gases planet-wide — and that humans have probably caused much of that increase. But Crandell suggested that unless every single scientist agrees, then it just ain’t true.
Next, he made a vague reference to some research that shows that in controlled conditions increased concentrations of carbon dioxide both enhance plant growth and reduce their need for water. Never mind that things like drought and dry soils will likely offset any such growth inducing effect.
Nope, Crandell skipped right past any hint of nuance. Instead, he declared that we’ll all likely starve to death if we don’t increase carbon dioxide levels.
Alas, far too many lawmakers seem perfectly willing to twist the facts to fit their preconceptions.
But as Mark Twain advised: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”