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Karl's Column - Environmentalist Alert

by Carolyn Binder

  Not long ago, I wrote and spoke on the matter of cost to the Michigan economy if the Renewable Fuel Standard should be eliminated.  More and more, recently, The Environmental Protection Agency has been threatening to tinker with renewable fuel developments - - and here we’re talking about ethanol.  You may recall my reference at the time to Bill Knudson’s treatise, contending that elimination of the renewable fuel standard from the Michigan economic picture would show a 260-million-dollar loss in economic activity just from the lower corn prices that would result; and another 173-million dollars loss by way of reduced ethanol production - - and then another slash by way of 288 jobs lost in the ethanol industry, and in the general economy.

That’s probably not going to happen, and if it doesn’t, it’ll be at least in part because of authorities like the MSU Product Center where Knudson works, and the awareness among the John and Jane Q Publics that such work raises.

Some times, these environmentalists get hold of something pretty big, like Renewable Fuels, and they get awfully close to shaking something loose that’s not good for any of us, including them.  Just the other day I read a big long story out of the Associated Press, regarding an assault on wind farms, because those big fans, while generating a lot of electricity without doing any damage to the environment directly, nevertheless are being blamed for birds flying into them and getting killed. Indiana and Ohio have some pretty big wind farms, as you can see along  I-80, and along I-65.  There’s no campaign at the moment, that I know of, to shut down those installations so the birds can fly unimpeded, but that could become an issue.  And then there’s the proposals for wind farms in Lake Michigan, for which studies even now are underway.  Those big fans don’t require a whole lot of wind to keep them turning, and it seems like there’s always some wind coming off The Lake.  At least we don’t have to worry about those big machines endangering the fish, do we?.

Although, wait a minute!!  Don’t you remember a few years ago, when an energy project promising a great stride forward was brought to a screeching halt by, of all things, an obscure little fish called the snail darter.

Who knows how many commercial endeavors, some of them no doubt potential profit-makers have been derailed, or even abandoned by the shortsighted endeavors of those we paint broadly with the term “Environmentalists.”

We used to say - - we even used to believe - - no matter the wildness of any proposal it’s not something that will get past Congress. And now the Senate Majority Leader proposes to abandon the long-standing Senate rule requiring a supermajority vote for approval, in favor of, in some circumstances, just a straight majority vote for approval.  In SOME circumstances now, but - - what if that proves to be a slippery slope to total, all-encompassing simple majority on everything?