Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is the PSC itself in a fantasyland?

The day the most recent Herald-printed letter from PSC commissioner Brian Kalk came out the same day of news of a PSC employee who had put up anti-Obama posters in his workplace at the PSC. The next day the Herald had an editorial entitled "No place for partisanship at N.D. PSC", then today there was a letter from Dan Sylvester calling out the commissioners for their poor leadership and suggesting they resign. Plenty here in this episode on which to opine...

First, the issue of the posters. According the Herald news article there was one with a little girl giving the finger with text, "Thanks, Obama. You’ve spent my lunch money, my allowance, my inheritance, 35 years of future paychecks, and my retirement. You (expletive)." Another had a picture of Obama and text, "Peace Prize. Just like welfare and socialized medicine. You don’t have to work to get it." If that was something passed around in email or shared at the water cooler among like-minded friends in the office whose political leanings would make them enjoy it, that would be quite fine with me. Slapping the things up on the wall however gets well into, if not flies past, the gray area between conversation item and PSC philosophy.

That the Herald acted concerned about possible partisanship within the PSC a day after printing another political attack from Brian Kalk was a bit rich. I have no problem with the PSC commissioners being political like most any other officeholder. But when it comes to public statements like a letter to the editor, I would expect the partisanship to be toned down rather than, say, basically accusing the President of a "Chicago style" shakedown to get some sort of emissions-limiting legislation passed. If the Herald really want to put some pressure on the PSC leaders to not allow strong partisanship to permeate the organization, why not avoid publishing contributions like Kalk's latest? Or if they still insist on publishing, why not call them out for their rhetoric on the editorial page?

I essentially fully agree with the sentiments of the Sylvester letter. I see no point though in calling for Cramer, Kalk, and Clark to resign since that will go nowhere. But in general it seems their PSC puts very high priority on delivering profit mostly through fossil carbon while caring nothing about climate and the environment. Hopefully this episode can help nudge North Dakota more toward a PSC that leads away from rather than directly toward a dirty, hot dead-end of unabated fossil fuel dependency and that does not try to convince us that it would be too expensive to avoid wreaking havoc on the enviroment and climate.

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