Rep. Mike Simpson believes that the earth’s climate is changing and that human activity plays a role, but he is skeptical of going after coal-fired power plants aggressively as a way to address it.
Simpson, R-Idaho, told the Times-News editorial board Wednesday that while we should be cognizant of the effects of carbon emissions moving forward, he was more skeptical about moving quickly to get rid of the coal plants that provide almost 40 percent of America’s electricity. Wind and solar energy won’t produce enough electricity to meet the country’s needs, he said, and addressing climate change needs to be weighed against the economic costs. Nuclear energy, he said, is a good source of power but also carries risks with it.
“Those people who say, ‘Yeah, we need to get rid of these coal-fired power plants and replace them with wind and solar’ – it’s just not going to happen, because it’s not that dependable,” Simpson said.
Eventually, Simpson said, coal plants will likely wear out and be replaced by other types of power, their death encouraged through a mix of government pressure and market forces. He also wondered, though, how much difference U.S. action would make to the global climate, saying that China is building coal-fired power plants more quickly than the U.S. would be able to stop using them.
Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced new rules requiring states to cut carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030. Sixteen states — mostly Republican-run ones, but a handful of more Democratic ones with large coal sectors, too — are preparing to sue to block the rules. Idaho actually has the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the country, and is the only Republican state on the lowest-polluting list.
Simpson also said his office has gotten a good number of calls from people concerned about the Syrian refugees who are expected to be resettled in Twin Falls come October. He said he has talked to the State Department about the vetting process for refugees, and that, while their answers make him confident, he has talked to other people about it whose answers make him less confident. Simpson said it would be a good idea to have someone from the federal government who is involved in the vetting talk to the City Council to address some of the public’s worries.