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Elections have consequences.

March 8, 2009

Elections have consequences.

That's what U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker said in Marshalltown several weeks ago when talking with a local group. Perhaps never has that point been driven home more clearly in this community than it has been with the events of this past week.

When Alliant Energy decided not to build a coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown, it wasn't a decision that began with them. It was a decision that began with us - us as a community and us as a nation.

Though Tom Aller said there is nothing different anyone could have done, that's not entirely true.

We elected a president who said he wants to regulate and tax coal power plants out of existence. Given its the cheapest way to provide energy, other than nuclear, we are all going to pay the price for that one.

We've had Democratic governors for more than 10 years now. While Vilsack should be lauded for his emphasis on more power generation in Iowa at the beginning of this decade, it certainly wasn't a policy that continued.

Those governors have the ability to appoint members to the Iowa Utilities Board who can make prudent business decisions. Or, they can support members who lament that trees were cut down to produce the paper for the reports they are reviewing.

Those members can rely on pseudoscience, if not outright science fiction, and somehow feel good about the choices they make.

This power plant was Marshalltown's "Get Out of Recession Free" card and Free Parking jackpot all in one. Now, we're not even going to pass Go and get our $200.

The only problem is we aren't playing with Monopoly money. We were talking $1.8 billion in cold, hard U.S. currency. It's gone.

If the recession is prolonged and drags on for years, this plant was our ticket to a boom when everyone else was in a bust. This was a way to keep jobs and businesses here. Yes, many of the jobs were only temporary, but by the time those jobs left, the recession would likely be over.

If it wasn't, then we're all in trouble anyway. Further, permanent jobs, in the way of plant operators and other businesses hungry for power, would have soon been created.

Any Marshalltown resident who thinks that is a good thing is not rational thinker.

We've heard the arguments - that those of us who are for the plant are worried more about money than our family's safety. Well, right now, we live in the shadow of a coal plant that is far "dirtier" than the one that was proposed.

I can't name one person who has died or gotten sick because of that fact. Neither can they.

The next time, you step into the ballot booth, remember what happens when you choose personality over sound policy.

Remember who stopped jobs from being created in this town.


My cousin Clyde said it's amazing how many people suddenly say they didn't vote for Barack Obama now that the power plant isn't coming to town.


Contact Ken Black at 641-753-6611 or



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