My hunch is that, for our local Wheeling papers, Joe Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump was one of those “bad news, good news” situations. The bad news for Ogden is obvious: come January, Donald Trump will no longer be president. The good news is that, at long last, Ogden’s Wheeling’s editorial page will have something to criticize beyond Michigan’s Governor Whitmer, the Ohio legislature, and the Jefferson County landfill.
For four years, our local Ogden papers have refrained from any criticism of President Trump. Despite Trump’s racism, nativism, and sexism, local readers have not seen a critical word of the president in any of the papers’ editorials or the local editor’s twice-weekly columns. The best example of the locals’ silence, of course, is the coronavirus which has now killed over 270,000 Americans. (For an obvious contrast, compare Ogden's current silence with October 2014 when the locals published four highly-critical editorials of then-president Obama’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in which a total of two Americans died.)
This weekend, local editor Mike Myer provided us with a preview of columns and editorials to come:
Ask Californians About Going “Green” on Energy
I can't have been the only local reader who found the column, with its defense of coal, attacks upon alternative energy sources, and characterization of those who disagree with Myer as “radical environmentalists,” a throwback to this editor's similar columns during the Obama presidency. But even if we disregard most of the column as a simple repackaging of some of Myer's leftovers from the last Democratic administration, I think it marks the starting point of what promises to be a regular feature of the Ogden editorial page.
Myer begins by noting that President-elect Biden has named John Kerry as his climate change czar and it is not surprising that our local editor is concerned. Myer then warns us of what happens when a state becomes too dependent upon alternative energy sources:
Perhaps you heard about California in August. Remember how the radical environmentalists ridiculed you the last time you asked what happens to solar power when the sun doesn’t shine and how much electricity is generated from windmills when the wind doesn’t blow? The Golden State folks found out. They had rolling brownouts because their power grid couldn’t produce enough electricity to meet peak demands.
Myer tells us that this happened because of California'a increasing dependency upon alternative energy sources rather than fossil fuels. But, as he has done in the past, Myer has rewritten what happened to fit his conclusion. Here is the New York Times story on the blackout:
A report by California energy officials on Tuesday placed blame for rolling blackouts that left millions without power in August on the impact of climate change and outdated policies and practices that failed to adequately take into account hotter weather.
In the 121-page preliminary report to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s three central energy organizations attributed the blackouts — the first in two decades — to a heat wave that increased demand for electricity while reducing the supply of power. Poor planning compounded those problems, according to the report, which was produced by the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Independent System Operator.
The report also pointed to problems in the energy trading market.
If I understand Myer's point, he believes that California ought to have used more carbon-based fuels (like coal) to solve a problem that was caused by carbon-based fuels. (Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.)
But Myer is not done. He then argues that the Biden future must be contrasted with all that President Trump has done for coal in the last four years. (I'm not sure how this is related to the article's title.) Here, his unsourced statistic tells us that “West Virginia coal production was about 79.7 million tons in 2016 but by last year had increased to 93 million tons.” I could not find his WV statistic; I did find the U.S. Energy Information Agency's larger picture:
Perhaps, more importantly (and not mentioned by Myer), is that coal employment is down significantly under Trump. As S&P Global headlined last week:
US coal jobs down 24% from the start of Trump administration to latest quarter
How can anyone argue that Trump has saved coal?
For the past four years, our local Ogden papers never said a negative word about President Trump. On the other hand, Biden is not even president and the attacks have started. Yes, forget that Steubenville-area garbage dump; Ogden's editorial page has a new Democratic president to trash.