Why Not Whale Oil?

One of my graduate students alerted me to something I really have to share.

Here’s the background.

As regular readers of this blog know, Indiana State Representative Soliday authored a bill that would prevent Indiana utilities from switching from coal to cleaner, cheaper energy– effectively blocking utilities in Indiana from closing any coal-fired power plant unless the closure has been mandated by the Trump administration – which would never happen, given the president’s repeated empty promises to “bring back coal.”

The only exception for closing a coal plant would be if utilities can “prove” to state utility commissioners that it would be in the public interest. That exception was included in the bill to let coal companies oppose closure of a coal plant by dragging the issue through the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the courts. That would cost utilities and ratepayers huge sums of money and further delay the transition to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Inside Climate News reports that if the bill passes, Indiana would become the third state to pass a law aimed at combating market forces that make renewables and natural gas cheaper than coal.

Soliday’s bill is opposed by all five of Indiana’s investor-owned utilities, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, consumer and environmental groups, the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy, and ratepayers across the state. Nevertheless, it passed the House and will now be taken up by the State Senate.

So much for background. Democratic State Representative Ryan Dvorak decided that if Indiana was going to prop up outdated, unsustainable energy sources, why stop with coal? So he offered an amendment–a perfect amendment:

Whereas whale oil provides bright, dependable light that is favored even by lighthouse keepers; and many American jobs have been lost in the decimation of the whale oil industry; a public utility may not sell electricity for the purpose of providing power to harsh, flickering, and toxic light bulbs, when natural and reliable whale oil would serve the purpose of lighting Hoosier homes and businesses.

Wouldn’t it be great if Dvorak’s amendment got a hearing?

Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, also weighed in, asking “How about legislation to replace every car in Indiana with a horse and buggy?”

As the Environmental Working Group has noted, Dvorak’s amendment and Cook’s suggestion make as much sense as the industry-backed scheme to bail out coal on the backs of Indiana residents. It wouldn’t just cost the utilities more money, it would force citizens to pay more for electricity, even when cheaper, cleaner renewable sources are available.

House Bill 1414, introduced by Republican State Rep. Ed Soliday, is “one of the dumbest policy proposals ever,” said Cook. “It would be a disaster for the environment, public health and Indiana’s economy.”

“Rep. Soliday and the other lawmakers supporting H.B. 1414 are turning Indiana into a laughingstock when it comes to energy policy,” said EWG Senior Energy Policy Advisor Grant Smith, an Indiana resident. “The number of states where wind and solar are rapidly becoming a dominant source of electricity is steadily climbing, even as mossback lawmakers in Indiana and a few other states are desperately – and futilely – trying to keep coal on life support.”

And then there’s the hypocrisy of those defenders of the free market, who clearly only defend the market until it threatens the bottom line of their donors and patrons…

Why not whale oil, indeed?


  1. This kind of nonsense explains to me why young people graduate from school and get OUT of here as quickly as they can. Too bad. IN is Stuck in the past. So long young people. Please write from your new homes in the modern world.

  2. My direct contact with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission a few years ago ended badly; for me of course. I contacted IPALCO regarding a sudden drastic increase in my monthly power bill; they argued and suggested I contact the IURC which I did with the result they informed me my monthly statement for the same time period the year before showed the same amount of power usage. The year before had been repeatedly reported in the media as the warmest temperatures since record keeping had begun in 1930; there were days during that time frame that my furnace was shut off. To prove their point they sent, unannounced, an IPALCO worker to test my meter by shutting it off while I was baking a cake. I only discovered he was there when I saw him pass my kitchen window. The end result was I lost my appeal as all customers do.

    “The only exception for closing a coal plant would be if utilities can “prove” to state utility commissioners that it would be in the public interest.”

    The purpose of state utility commissioners is to keep the utilities, which are monopolies, open and running; public interest is merely a term inserted in their their public announcements. And utilities are not going to “prove” anything in the public interest which would cost them profits.

  3. The Koch’s own the GOP politicians in Indiana, so it will be hard for them to vote this bill down. What’s most hilarious is the Libertarian Charles Koch supports totally free markets — no government interference whatsoever, until he needs the government to subsidize his business.

    Sadly, all the corporations in the USA feel the same way…it’s why we have lobbyists in every statehouse and Washington, D.C.

    Socialism for the Rich = Fascism

    Why doesn’t Soliday just tell the coal industry to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

    Watching the demise of this great country is like watching the transformation of a mentally ill man into a killer (Joker), or from a tragedy to a comedy.

    Profits over people.

  4. They could burn more coal if the legislature also prohibited the use of insulation in all buildings. Maybe that’s the next energy frontier.

  5. Under the heading of be careful what you wish for: If Dvorak’s amendment does get a hearing, it might just pass. Remember that Republicans don’t care about saving endangered species, unless those species have a ton of money to give for their re-election.

  6. Todd,
    I feel you brother.

    It is a dark time Todd, maybe a darker time in the history of this country than ever before. This time we’ll probably give the civil war a good run for its money.

    The sycophants that want to ingratiate themselves to their Messiah, just fight and crawl over themselves to latch onto his teet!

    Somehow they must feel that HE produces some sort of gratifying and ingratiating life-sustaining Milt, er milk, LOL.

    The lack of shame is awe-inspiring, for these supposed men of Faith, Trump can provide nothing, absolutely unequivocally nothing. But they still scramble to be his BESTEST lap dog! Is bestest even a word? If it isn’t, then it’s even more appropriate as a description!

    This absolutely, and without a doubt, proves that they don’t believe the trash that they spew, because if they did, they wouldn’t try to latch onto that teet.

    This is a Time that has happened before in history, the most recent was Fascist Germany. And the allure of their own Messianic Messiah, Hitler, made them conduct themselves in the same way.

    You definitely can’t say they were misled, because in Germany, they knew what they were doing was wrong, even if they claim to be religiously faithful, they still knew what they were doing was wrong and in conflict with their beliefs.

    When you associate with and throw your lot in with the stupid, and with the evil, you become stupid and evil! No matter how one would try to justify it, and no matter how they “(dost protest too much),” willful ignorance and complete capitulation will not save them from histories damnation so to speak. Or maybe the ridicule of history? But that is assuming but mankind survives this onslaught.

  7. John S.

    “You definitely can’t say they were misled, because in Germany, they knew what they were doing was wrong, even if they claim to be religiously faithful, they still knew what they were doing was wrong and in conflict with their beliefs.”

    But still, 60% of the Protestant churches in Germany, mostly Lutheran, VOTED to be NAZIFIED. At present, I suggest here in the U.S. you would find 40% of the Protestant churches, mostly Baptist, would vote to be NAZIFIED (IF THEY COULD ONLY GET AWAY WITH IT THRU DONALD TRUMP).

  8. Unless the Senate controlled by Republicans votes this down Coal is King and Profit over all, at least for the coal industry. It is difficult to comprehend just how backward Indiana is. Personally, I think the fix is in favor of coal. Will Holcomb be smiling when he signs on to this, or will it be a quick signing, with smiles all around???

    I saw an interesting program on PBS Nova Program recently. According to the program from all sources the conversion of fossil fuels results in a worldwide production of 12.5 Billion tons of carbon dioxide into the environment. This would be equal to a pile of carbon 4 miles across, and a mile high.

    As a comparison in the same Nova program, all the earths volcanoes produce 300 million tons of carbon per year.

    The narrator made the point, that a gallon of gas produces 5 pounds of carbon. If the average car gets 25 MPG, every 25 miles the car would as the narrator put it lay a 5 pound carbon turd.

    The Trumpet of course wants to reverse President Barack Obama’s goal for car manufacturers to achieve roughly 5 percent annual increases in vehicle fuel efficiency through the 2026 model year.

    The Trump administration proposed in August 2018 freezing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels through 2026, erasing the increases the Obama administration enacted, but officials will not finalize that proposal.

    The administration’s 2018 proposal would have resulted in average fuel efficiency of 37 mpg 2026, compared with 46.7 mpg under rules adopted in 2012.

    The Trump administration’s “preferred option” would have hiked U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels per day by the 2030s but reduced automakers’ regulatory costs by more than $300 billion.

    In November, California and 22 other states challenged the administration’s decision in September to revoke California’s authority to set stiff vehicle tailpipe emissions rules and require a rising number of zero emission vehicles. They also vowed to sue when the administration finalized the new requirements.

    Major automakers – including General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – backed the administration’s effort to bar California from setting tailpipe standards.

  9. I would strongly suggest that our objective in the weeks to come should be directed at the 40%, in order to explain to them that this is not Germany where the Jews were less than 1% of the population. Thus, why in the world would you want to follow such a national calamity that happened upon Germany in the ’40s?

  10. Please, don’t give Trump any hair-brained ideas — I can just hear him calling for more whaling ships to be built!

  11. This kind of stuff at the local, state and national level combine to cause massive distrust of and turning away of attention from government/politicians as something that works for the people. It is the #1 reason why people don’t vote and is growing stronger. That leaves voting to fanatics from either end of the political spectrum. We are now seeing that already in the DEM primaries.

    On paper, the system could work. Change the people and you get the progress of the late 20th Century like Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights laws, etc.. Were they perfect, no. We have always been an “imperfect”union. But the “union”part is shredding away…

  12. Partisan politics can’t effectively deal with the problem of Donald Trump. We are seeing that now. Our only chance is to defeat Trump at the STRUCTURAL LEVEL of the political spectrum. That’s his ACHILLES HEEL.

  13. I’m all for calling them all out Marv. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s interesting how they will argue with you even when it’s obvious they are completely wrong, not just to me and everyone else, but to themselves also. They tie themselves into various knots to justify their efforts. They somehow feel that if they give to charity, or supply a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or operate a homeless shelter, they are absolved of all their transgressions.

    They stand in the public square and make pronouncements of piety, they pray for the glory of themselves to be noticed, instead of beseeching their God to request a better life for their fellow man.

    It’s so very unscriptural and un-Christian and or un-Jewish also!
    So it really is not about faith, because they have no faith! It is about power, self-glorification and self-aggrandizement. The hypocrisy is just so awe-inspiring and mind-boggling, you would think there would be some shame involved, but there is none!

  14. John S.

    “I’m for calling them all out Marv.”

    Unfortunately, magnificent Germans like Hans Litten and Hans Oster waited for the middle and late ’30s to take action. But then it was too late, the guns were already out. We’re getting very close to that point. Pretty soon it will be suicidal to speak out.

    See “Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand” by Benjamin Carter Hett (Oxford University Press, New York, 2008) and “The Oster Conspiracy of 1938” by Terry Parssinen (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2003).

    “Hans Oster was a man after God’s own heart,
    of irreproachable character, great lucidity,
    and iron nerve in the face of danger.”
    ~Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Historian

  15. The structural level where the Trump administration NEEDS to be controlled is at the state level where these foolish and dangerous bills are passed by Republican majorities with little or no opposition. The state level controls are where not only the utility/monopoly decisions regarding coal usage and hazardous waste disposal decisions are made but the gerrymandering and the Electoral College where presidential decisions are in their control due to control over voter registration and purging. There will be more repercussions if Soliday’s bill is passed than the local coal issue.

    Primary elections are vital; never more vital than in this presidential election year which will decide the saving or destruction of our cities and states and our nation. The Indiana coal situation will help decide energy, environmental and health decisions. We are fortunate we do have Primary Elections but too many people ignore them and aid the continuing Republican control. Trump is telling New Hampshire Republicans to “crossover” and vote for the weakest Democratic candidate; his message is being heard in every other Republican state…including Indiana.

  16. First, a digression. The Trumputincan financial plan for the Obama Recovery Economy that they inherited is, despite the ability to pay all of the bills today, to borrow to pay some of them so people like Trump can pay substantially lower taxes. In other words to pass to our children a negative inheritance.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is part of that plan. Every pound of fossil fuel that we burn today leaves behind in the atmosphere 1 1/2 to 3 pounds of waste carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for a very long time. In fact there are still some carbon dioxide molecules in our atmosphere today from the very beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. That inventory invisibily stored in the “overhead compartments” traps more solar energy here. Since energy stored here is what creates all weather, and all of our civilization is built according the local weather (and sea level which is very unintuitive but an as real as sunshine effect of energy stored here), our waste pile in the sky will cost our children and theirs ad infinitum plenty all to pay for our energy consumption today. What will make this action on our part sting even more is that we don’t have to do it. It’s a choice just like the choice to empower Trumputincan politicians was. We know both better than to burden our children and how to end it.

    Vote blue no matter who.

  17. JoAnn – you have described only the beginning of how the GOP will try to change the DEM primaries at all levels. BEWARE

  18. Lester; the “beginning” is where all problems and all solutions start, the foundation of every official in the Trump administration had their “beginning” at their home city and state level. You don’t build a house starting with the roof.

  19. JoAnn – we only wish it were a “house” where people in peace and sharing – it is a castle fortress with alligators in the moat…

  20. Lester; evidently you have forgotten that the current residents controlling that fortress with alligator filled moat were put there by the decision of red STATE Electoral College members controlled by red STATE controlled gerrymandering.

  21. Interesting old article some one just alerted me today.

    It explains a lot:
    The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

    When Stalin purged many of the Red Army’s most competent officers in the late thirties it made the Soviet Union itself far weaker—in particular, more vulnerable to a Nazi invasion—but what mattered to Stalin was eliminating internal rivals to his power.

    The author makes a point about George McGovern and the 1972 election. McGovern was not only opposing Nixon, McGovern was also opposing the Democratic Elite such as Daley the Elder. McGovern had his own issues with his VEEP selection.

    Could McGovern have won if he’d been fully supported by the status quo powers with the Democratic party? Impossible to say. But they didn’t want to take any chances: they preferred to make sure he lost the election, because his winning it would have meant newcomers would dilute their power within the party. That’s the Iron Law of Institutions in action.

    Further reading from Wiki:
    The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It asserts that rule by an elite, or oligarchy, is inevitable as an “iron law” within any democratic organization as part of the “tactical and technical necessities” of organization.

    According to Michels all organizations eventually come to be run by a “leadership class”, who often function as paid administrators, executives, spokespersons or political strategists for the organization. Far from being “servants of the masses”, Michels argues this “leadership class,” rather than the organization’s membership, will inevitably grow to dominate the organization’s power structures.

    By controlling who has access to information, those in power can centralize their power successfully, often with little accountability, due to the apathy, indifference and non-participation most rank and file members have in relation to their organization’s decision-making processes.

    Michels argues that democratic attempts to hold leadership positions accountable are prone to fail, since with power comes the ability to reward loyalty, the ability to control information about the organization, and the ability to control what procedures the organization follows when making decisions. All of these mechanisms can be used to strongly influence the outcome of any decisions made ‘democratically’ by members.

    The Trumpet has “purged” like Stalin those disloyal to him, without the fatal consequences of a Stalinist Purge.

    As Michels points out the Institutions leadership class controls what procedures the organization follows. This why the the DNC changed the rules to let Bloomberg into the debates. It all makes sense.

    I totally loved this from the Counterpunch article: >> It’s why the insufferable MSDNC bully Chris Matthews (the Ted Baxter of cable news) lost what little composure he has when Sanders’ campaign co-chair Nina Turner accurately called Bloomberg “an oligarch”<<< Ha, Ha.

  22. Those who consider themselves in opposition to the current fascist movement in the United States and around the world, we’re so completely oblivious to the incremental changes that these operatives were concocting, it seems to have taken them all by complete surprise.

    I remember talking about this years ago, before Barack Obama was ever thought about. The travesty that took place between George Bush and Al Gore. Everyone was focusing on some huge crash at the start of the millennium, but they didn’t pay attention to the political chicanery that was going on. That was a test track on how to steal elections, and it worked very well. I can go back and look at blog posts where we were discussing the same thing that Marv and I have been conveying, the parallels in history.

    Fast forward to 2011, and looking through old files, all of the commenters and all of the bloggers talking about the demise of the Republican party. That basically they were done and going the way of the Whigs!

    Now, everyone is surprised and running for a cover, because what was a dormant pupa has suddenly emerged as a predatory dragonfly. And everyone asks the question, how?

    Barack Obama warned that elections have consequences, he knew what was happening, he had information that everyone else did not have. And he knew the main thrust of the opposition was to change the structure of the supreme Court. Basically to rubber stamp all of the lawless actions that they have been taking now.

    All of the most progressive liberal minded people that I blogged with at the time, laughed at that idea. They focused on everything else but that. It was like a red flashing warning sign, but everyone was colorblind and it must have looked green!

    So here we are again, oblivious to Oblivion. Fascism is stronger than ever, there is no rhyme nor reason on conduct of those people who supposedly have a high moral standard. So that tells me, nothing good is going to happen in the near future. It’s absolutely broken and like I said before, and like history shows, there is not going to be a fix on this without a lot of misery and blood being spilled eventually.

    Will this be an exception to the rule? I doubt it, did you ever try pulling a groundhog out of its burrow? I’ve seen a Mastiff trying to pull a groundhog out of his burrow, eventually she was successful, but she also was torn to shreds. The fascists have burrowed deep into the states, and they have a presence across the entire 50. It was a long slow slog from the 30s, but when fascism, the same fascism the try to extinguish the Jewish peoples off of the planet, came in contact with the KKK, and the southern racist culture, it was like a panacea for them, oh they knew how to bide their time while everyone else was singing kumbaya.

    In 2011 when everyone crowed about the demise of the Republican party, it just set up everyone else to be sniped, and if this isn’t a killshot, it’s pretty close. That’s why I’ve decided and had decided before this, mankind and his governmental shenanigans don’t have the answer, men will always brutalize his fellow man, because there is badness in man’s heart all the time.

    History emphatically bears this out, and if you watch the same movie 1000 times, the ending will not change!Is there a lot of angst right now? Absolutely, because a lot of people are afraid, and then you have those who are just too stupid to be afraid. In the end, everyone will try to hide under the same Rock!

  23. And…the horse or horse and buggy aren’t bad, either. Just think of all the gas and lawnmower maintenance you could save by letting your horse graze on your lawn. And then, there’s the manure–saves on garden fertilizer. We could put all of those out of work blacksmiths back to work making horseshoes. We could convert all of those Blue Indy stations into liveries, where you could rent a horse and/or buggy if you only need one for a short period of time.

    And, if we’re killing whales for their oil, why not bring back the whale-bone corsets while we’re at it? Saves on buying Spanx and leggings, getting liposuction or tummy tucks and ribs removed for that slender waist look. They say the blubber is good for skin moisturizing, too.

    Maybe some Indiana pol should suggest these things, since we’re going retro here.

  24. John S.

    “a lot of people are afraid, and then you have those who are just too stupid to be afraid. In the end, everyone will try to hide under the same Rock!”

    It’s overwhelming cognitive dissonance. What we BOTH say won’t make a dent. I’ve been a participant on this blog for over 5 years. I’m sure of that.

    The problem is COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.

    By Elizabeth Hopper
    Updated November 19, 2018

    “Psychologist Leon Festinger first described the theory of cognitive dissonance in 1957. According to Festinger, cognitive dissonance occurs when people’s thoughts and feelings are inconsistent with their behavior, which results in an uncomfortable, disharmonious feeling.

    Examples of such inconsistencies or dissonance could include someone who litters despite caring about the environment, someone who tells a lie despite valuing honesty, or someone who makes an extravagant purchase, but believes in frugality.

    Experiencing cognitive dissonance can lead people to try to reduce their feelings of discomfort —sometimes in surprising or unexpected ways.

    Because the experience of dissonance is so uncomfortable, people are highly motivated to try to reduce their dissonance. Festinger goes as far as to propose that reducing dissonance is a fundamental need: a person who experiences dissonance will try to reduce this feeling in much the same way that a person who feels hungry is compelled to eat.

    According to psychologists, our actions are likely to produce a higher amount of dissonance if they involve the way that we see ourselves and we subsequently have trouble justifying why our actions didn’t match our beliefs.

    For example, since individuals typically want to see themselves as ethical people, acting unethically would produce higher levels of dissonance. Imagine someone paid you $500 to tell a small lie to someone. The average person probably wouldn’t fault you for telling the lie—$500 is a lot of money and for most people would probably be enough to justify a relatively inconsequential lie. However, if you were paid only a couple of dollars, you might have more trouble justifying your lie, and feel less comfortable about doing so.”

    John, this is an acute problem in the U.S. right now. One way of reducing the dissonance is to deny the strength of the fascist movement in the U.S. when you have been celebrating American democracy for so long. The truth creates too much dissonance so it has to be reduced by denial and anger toward those who continually expose the truth.

    The dissonance problem in my estimation is bigger than the problem of Donald Trump. In the long run, it probably will destroy us, since we will finally take action, if we ever do, when all is lost.

  25. Bam Marv,

    Boom shakalaka!

    Exactly! just like Hitler’s cronies burnt down the reichstag and blamed it on the Communists to destroy that opposition and make them the boogeyman. Parallel that to today, they are constantly shouting about socialism and socialists. Then, look at the night of the Long knives in which Hitler’s cronies took out the opposition in a murderous frenzy that spanned little more than one night. Those were the traitors, the un German Germans.

    Then you had kristallnacht which started the physical action against the German Jews and foretold the near future in Germany.

    And then we have American Manifest Destiny which was so admired by the Germans, they developed their own manifest destiny, “liebensraum” or blood and soil. The right to take land and let the chosen people spread out at the expense of folks already on that land. The American Manifest Destiny decimated America’s first Nations, the German version destroyed most of Europe.

    It was Germany and the German people first, just like this maga garbage, America and the American people first, no matter the cost!

    The reality of it all though was to just get rid of those pesky unworthy inferior peoples and promote the eugenics dogma which was started in the United States and Britain.

    Anyway, this makes my head hurt, LOL! And you are right Marv, I don’t think anything can be said that hasn’t been said.

    King Solomon so smartly said, “there is nothing new under the Sun” and how right he was!

  26. John S.,

    “King Solomon so smartly said, “there is nothing new under the Sun” and how right he was!”

    The reality is that the Democratic Party isn’t going to play a tough enough game to win. That’s why some other VEHICLE must be invented to serve as a countervailing force to bring back some semblance of political equilibrium.”

    Since we’re dealing with a MUTATING POLITICAL VIRUS OF THE MIND, a good example would be: “The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technological Revolution” by Robert Buderi (Simon & Shuster, New York, 1996).

  27. I actually didn’t read that particular book, but it was interesting to find out how they came upon the radar signals! How they were able to use radio waves to spot incoming vehicles.

    my bones tell me that there’s going to be some sort of military involvement on one side or the other, but, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, I’m not Nostradamus, Moses, nor Jesus Christ, LOL.

  28. John S.,

    “my bones tell me that there’s going to be some sort of military involvement on one side or the other.”

    We’ve been involved here in the U.S. for many, many, years in domestic/clandestine warfare but at the sub-surface level. That’s why understanding radar and more specifically SONAR is essential in developing an ANTIDOTE for the VIRUS OF HATRED that has been continually released from its sub-surface platform. Consequently, we have developed P.S.S.I. [Political Sub-Surface Imaging] to assist us in our goal.

    See “James Dobson’s War Against America” by Gil-Alexander Moegerie [his #1 associate] (Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1997).

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