Clearly I’m talking to myself. The IPCC must be a figment of my imagination. Bill McKibben is the name of a guy I went to high school with whom I’ve dreamed up into some major national figure, and in some terrifying “I am the Cheese”-style twist, I relive a fantasy of climate activism every time I ride my bike around the parking lot of the asylum.
I have to be insane, right? If I’m not, that would mean that Gary Pierce, one of the Corporation Commissioners in charge of Arizona’s energy future, came out swinging in favor of coal, the most deadly, destructive energy source on the planet.
It would mean he doesn’t know that coal kills 13,000 Americans every year, many of whom live in Arizona. It would mean that he didn’t know that a complete assessment of the true costs of coal put it up at 26.89 cents/kWh (the most recent calculations put wind at 8.6 cents/kWh and solar at 14.4 cents/kWh). And it would mean he doesn’t know that the National Academy of Sciences recommends that we cut our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 to avert catastrophic climate change.
But these numbers are publicly available, and Commissioner Pierce is a smart man.
So maybe these aren’t his thoughts. Maybe they’re from someone with a long history of squashing legislative attempts to address climate change.
The No Climate Tax! Pledge is a project run by the Koch Brother-funded Americans for Prosperity. It has collected over 400 signatures from federal and state political officials, promising to oppose “any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
We know that Gary Pierce spent several years in the Arizona House of Representatives, where he served as a member of the Rules, Environment, and Federal Mandates and Property Rights committees, as well as the Majority Whip. In that position, he could directly influence the tax policy of Arizona, and this pledge would have made sense. However, he didn’t make the pledge until he was running for re-election to the commission in 2010.
Is Pierce’s pro-coal essay an effort to keep his pledge? Unfortunately he was unavailable for comment.
One thing that is certain: Americans for Prosperity is based in Arlington, Virginia. The fact that an out-of-state organization holds my commissioner’s loyalty, rather than the people of Arizona, is what’s truly insane.