Column: It's about control, pure and simple

Harry Reid, the mean-spirited Senate majority leader from Nevada, famously opined last year that coal is "killing us." Shortly thereafter, a planned series of coal-fired power plants that were to be constructed out in the middle of nowhere northeast of Las Vegas fell off the drawing board and may never be seen again.

But that's OK - we're going green!

A half-dozen or so solar power plants - lured in part by hefty tax incentives - are planned all around Kingman, leading to comments from any number of people that the power created in Arizona should be sold here. Careful what you wish for.

As detailed in Miner Reporter James Chilton's story Aug. 27 on the green energy push, utility companies can purchase energy from fossil fuel sources for 6 cents per kilowatt hour. Energy produced by wind costs roughly twice as much, and solar power is even more expensive.

So why would anybody in their right mind want to buy this pricey green power? Well, perhaps a court-appointed psychiatrist could evaluate members of the Arizona Corporate Commission who voted to require utility companies to get 15 percent of their power for resale from green sources by 2025. Lucky for Arizona, the Goldwater Institute challenged in court the ACC's right to impose such a mandate on citizens they - the ACC - are in theory supposed to be protecting from the big, bad utility companies. Goldwater lost, but is appealing the decision.

And that leads us to the big picture, where President Obama speaks of the U.S. consuming 25 percent of the world's energy. Actually, he's just parroting what many of us have been hearing for years.

My question: If true, why is this a bad thing? Why is it wrong for a mostly free market system to make available to the public a consistent stream of affordable energy in the form of fuel for our cars and heat and cool air for our homes? Should we try to emulate the Bangladesh model of per capita energy consumption? Sudan? Eritrea?

Well, it turns out, maybe yes - if more support can be drummed up for curbing global warming, a theory that grows more suspect with each passing year. There's plenty of evidence out there that global cooling has been going on since 1998.

That inconvenient truth has slowed down the Cap-n-Trade Express, a bill that's idling in the U.S. Senate and will die once more people figure out what it means - drastically higher energy prices.

"A cap-and-trade marketplace would effectively increase the cost of fossil fuel power to the point that renewable energy would become more competitive," UniSource spokesman Joe Salkowski explained in the Aug. 27 Miner.

That's pretty straightforward - and pretty dumb on the part of our elected leaders. But this isn't about global warming, just like healthcare reform isn't about insuring the few strays who don't qualify for government assistance or making sure those who do qualify are signed up.

This is about controlling your life and living it the way someone thinks you should.

And if this little bit of Cap and Trade control comes to pass and chokes off fossil fuel supplies, we won't have to fret along with Harry that "coal is killing us." Spending $600 a month for an uncertain supply of energy will probably do the trick.