Will EPA Crucify Consumers, Too?

EPA regional administrator, Al Armendariz, was in hot water this past week for his embarrassing Romanic/Soviet slip about how he really feels about petro-capitalism. We lumpen-proletariat of New Mexico are quickly learning that he pretty much feels the same way towards us. Most of the state's electrical consumers get their power through Public Service Company of New Mexico's (PNM) coal-fired, San Juan Generating Plant, located in the sparsely populated, Four Corners region of the state. Since the Obama Administration took power, the EPA and its Region 6, Imperial tribune, the aforementioned Albius Armendarius, have been issuing draconian edicts from on high regarding the forty year old plant and its future.

It's no secret that the greenies in the Democratic Party would like to feed the entire coal industry and coal-fired utility plants to the lions. And as Armendariz' crucifixion comments demonstrate, their way of doing that is unapologetically forceful, apparently similar to their campaign to make gasoline so prohibitively expensive we'll all rush to buy those electrifying Chevy Volts. Except that this campaign is to conversely make electricity so prohibitively expensive from traditional, coal-powered sources that we'll all rush out and buy solar panels or wind turbines for our homes.

Armendariz has been employing EPA muscle and intimidation to force PNM to retrofit the aging plant with green technology that the EPA estimates will cost $350 million, but which the utility company says actually will cost them, and therefore their customers, more like $750 million. Further, PNM says there is technology available that will accomplish the same reduction in pollutants for approximately $75 million, but so far EPA has been unwilling to back off from the more drastic and expensive option.

Recently, two New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission members have proposed a third, less expensive, as well as far more sensible, alternative. Commissioners Jason Marks and Douglas Howe believe that rather than spend hundreds of millions to refurbish old technology, PNM should begin a gradual conversion of the plant to natural gas-powered electrical generation, one generating unit at a time. They say that with the first conversion of a single one of the four electrical generation units, the EPA pollution reduction goal would be met and at a huge savings to PNM and its ratepayers.

This past week, NM Governor, Susana Martinez, weighed in with a letter to EPA in Washington requesting that the agency be willing to compromise and help find that solution which best serves the environment and her constituents. In a Sunday editorial, the Albuquerque Journal (subscription required) questions whether Armendariz will choose to make an example of New Mexicans with his crucifixion tactics or whether the Obama administration will be perhaps more reasonable in an election year.

Reasonable? Obamanero? He who dribbles while home burns? We are asked to believe that an administration that always finds a way to fund the most expensive boondoggle available will somehow this time choose the common-sense, least-expensive option? If you believe that, I've got an as-yet, unused cross I'll let you have cheap. If you're a Democrat environmentalist, I'll throw in the nails free.

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