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Opinion: Like Don Quixote, Coal & Oil stooge Scott Pruitt will fail in his fight against windmills

Industry pawn Scott Pruitt, posing as the administrator of the “Environmental Protection” Agency, announced yesterday that he will end implementation of the Clean Power Plan, a course of action which will cause an additional 3,600 deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks and 300,000 missed days of work or school per year, according to his agency’s own estimates. Pruitt also suggested that solar and wind subsidies should be cut, but failed to propose ending any part of the $5.3 trillion annual global subsidy received by the large, polluting fossil fuel industry which has underwritten his political career.

Pruitt’s “reasoning” for these changes is because he does not want the government to “pick winners and losers.” But, apparently, he is fine with government picking winners as long as it’s the same historically-winning fossil industry (with 4 of the top 10 companies by revenue worldwide) which has been bribing him to do their work for decades. And he’s fine with picking losers as long as it’s the industry which he continues to quixotically fight against in his quest to eliminate green energy and worsen public health. However, the only loser in this quest will be him.

In the classic novel Don Quixote, the title character is a deluded old man, stuck in the wrong time period, endlessly fighting battles against imagined enemies based on an outdated code of valor which does not reflect current social or technological understanding of the world around him. From this story we get the word “quixotic” – describing the undertaking of a task which is unrealistic and unlikely to succeed.  The most enduring image of Don Quixote is an old man on a horse, leveling his lance and charging at a group of windmills on a hill, which he mistakes for a group of evil giants.

And this word can be used as accurately here as it has ever been. Scott Pruitt, a deluded man who has spent his life fighting losing battles against imagined enemies, who doesn’t understand the world and technology as it currently exists, is quite literally “tilting at windmills.” At those devices which provide clean and cheap power which is abundant, sustainable, natural and renewable. Those devices which capture wind, which we as humans have used for centuries to enhance industry, transportation and agriculture.

In this fight, he is riding on the steed of tens of thousands of dollars stolen from the taxpayer for private jet travel, much like the recently-deposed Health & Human Services secretary Tom Price.  His lance and armor are the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars of fossil fuel industry bribes he’s received over his political life, and the $25,000 which he recently misappropriated to build a soundproof booth for secret communications with his industry bosses.

But like the tragic hero Don Quixote, time has passed Pruitt by. Coal is dead.  New coal plants are not being built, and old coal plants are being shut down. Solar projects are being built at record-breaking low prices. The electric cars we cover here have higher customer satisfaction numbers than gas cars from traditional automakers and are outselling other cars in their class in both the new and used market.

Whatever Pruitt’s motivation here, his quest will fail. He may desire power, and if so then he will have some momentary political “power,” insofar as it allows him to get a few private jet rides on the taxpayer dime. He may desire fame, and if so then he may gain some fame, though his name will be attached to infamy, corruption and impotence, and eventually will likely not be remembered at all.  He may desire money, but his money will come temporarily, from the same industry which has been bribing him all along, only until the oil dries up and the coal stops being mined, which will both happen sooner than he expects.

Even Pruitt’s allies in the fight against public health, the big automakers, seem to acknowledge that the fight only delays the inevitable. They’re making large (though tardy) investments into EV technology, they’re announcing new EV models, and they will presumably soon be bringing those EV models to the road. These companies may still be lobbying to keep the status quo, but they finally see the writing on the wall. Despite the US’ announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the rest of the world, from China to Europe and even US states and industry, will continue to charge forward with or without the failed “leadership” of the current occupier of the EPA administrator’s office.

And the doddering old knight will sit on the ridge of the hill, on his crumbling horse with his rusted lance and armor, as the sun sets and the windmills continue to purr away, softly propelling us forward into the green energy future.

Update: The proposed repeal has gone up for public comment.  Feel free to tell them what you think.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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