The Atlantic lifts to national prominence Arkansas Public Service Commission Chair Ted Thomas for calling out Trump administration climate policy at a meeting of utility regulators. He even acknowledges the role of carbon burning and humans in climate change.
It’s remarkable for political reasons. Thomas is a former Republican legislator, a former staffer for Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Republican political consultant and a PSC appointee of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Quotes, with emphasis supplied:
* “In the past three weeks, to me as a Republican appointed by a Republican governor, I’m not reassured by the progress the Congress and the administration are making,” Thomas said at a meeting of electricity regulators. “If they don’t get it together, we’re going to have a different administration in four years, and that’s when folks might wish they had the Clean Power Plan.”
* I talked to Thomas last month in anticipation of Trump reviewing and weakening the Clean Power Plan. “I have a unique position that I think is in the center, that is almost solitary,” he told me. “In that, A, I offered a declaration in support of the litigation against the Clean Power Plan; B, I publicly criticized Senator McConnell’s ‘just say no’ strategy; C, I think that carbon emissions are correlated with global temperature increase, and humans are causing enough of it that it’s a public policy problem; but D, I also think that identifying a problem isn’t enough. You have to identify a solution and have a straightforward problem about what it costs.”
* Thomas’ best way of avoiding carbon risk is looking into any other fuel source and diversifying, he said. Arkansas is also making policies now for multiple fuels in case any non-gas, non-coal option suddenly catches on. “When these things flip, when they become economic and people start throwing money at them, we want to be deploying—and not litigating policy for two or three years,” he said.
“The public policy that comes from most of the right is too into fossil fuels, mostly the sellers. I represent the buyers, who are the ratepayers,” he said. “On the left, what you have are policies that are designed to control carbon but there’s never any analysis or support that actually changes the temperature.”
“We’re not pandering to the wind guys, the nuclear guys, the solar guys, the oil guys, the gas guys—which is all you see coming out of Washington,” he added.
I know Ted Thomas. He is no RINO. But he’s smart enough to see things in more than one dimension. Refreshing.