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CEO Column: I Hope You’ll Visit

Global warming is an important concept to the electric utility industry. Reaction to this concept has set actions in motion that will all but eliminate coal-fired electric generation, an affordable, reliable and proven resource. These actions will also increase your cost of electric service.  
Some of you have disagreed with my articles on global warming and have let me know.  A recent note said, “Isn’t the fact of global warming a reason to pause in endorsing the coal industry? Is the almighty dollar always the bottom line? I do not think it is right to use this publication (Alabama Living) to promote that, and I am willing to pay MORE for clean energy for future generations.”
Unfortunately, not everyone is willing or able to pay more for electricity.
While I differ with the recent note on multiple points, the implication that I should not deny global warming in this publication is the most troubling. It is a restriction on my right of free speech. And, many others are now attempting to restrict free speech if it questions the science and economics of chasing a low-carbon energy dream.
Restricting speech or punishing opposing views is not new. Galileo Galilei was convicted by the Catholic Church in 1633 for stating that the earth orbited the sun. He was put under house arrest for the remainder of his life. After 350 years the Church finally admitted that its conviction was in error.
As the scientific case for a global warming catastrophe becomes more doubtful, models created by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the world’s presumed climate change authority) project that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will have minimal impact.  Specifically, those models indicate that CPP will reduce global temperatures by only 0.03 degrees and will reduce the rise in sea levels by a depth equal to the thickness of only a couple sheets of notebook paper. This is hardly the type of return we should get for billions of dollars.
The global warming movement is now focused on silencing and punishing people who disagree with the climate change “consensus view”. The leading advocate of the cause is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) who has called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to charge those who are behind a “coordinated strategy to spread heterodox views on global warming.” The senator encouraged the DOJ to utilize the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to target climate skeptics as the scapegoats for an insufficient U.S. policy response to climate change.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated in recent testimony that the matter has been referred to the FBI “to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for what we could take action on.”  Additionally, Mrs. Lynch told the Committee that DOJ has discussed a civil action against the fossil fuel industry for expressing doubts about the dangers of climate change.
Other U.S. senators and state attorneys general have threatened legal action and subpoenaed oil and gas companies to release information related to climate change science, as well as lists of organizations which they have funded.  This coordinated effort is intended to suppress the First Amendment Right of Free Speech for anyone who denies that global warming is an impending danger of catastrophic proportions.
These attacks, funded by our tax dollars, are perpetrated on industries that provide oil to move billions of vehicles daily to take people to work, to shop for the necessities of life, to go to the doctor for health care; to move transportation fleets to bring groceries and goods to markets; and to keep our military mobile to protect our shores. The attacks are on industries that provide electricity to improve our quality of life in countless ways: to provide heating, cooling and hot water, to refrigerate and cook our food, to energize televisions and computers, to power our hospitals and emergency rooms, and to electrify commercial and industrial businesses. In short, these companies and their products and services provide the foundation of our entire modern life and economy.
These companies and their people have done much to build and serve our advanced and successful society, yet they are being vilified, bullied, and threatened with civil lawsuits and criminal charges by the likes of Mr. Whitehouse and Mrs. Lynch. These companies and their people—contributors to our way of life—are hardly the gangsters, mobsters and racketeers that RICO was designed to control. No damage has been done, but the global warming proponents demand that the voices of these companies and their people be silenced.  
I will continue to express my disagreement on expensive and fruitless efforts like the Clean Power Plan. If Mr. Whitehouse and Mrs. Lynch put me away, I hope you will visit.
I also hope you will have a good month.

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