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VIEWPOINT Common sense or lack thereof BY A N T H O N Y J. A H E R N AS SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED for 40-plus years in the energy field, I am pleased that the public is more aware today than it was decades ago that energy enables our everyday lives and that there are consequences to energy use — both good and bad. Given the essential role of energy, the central question, then, is how to strike the right balance between the good and bad aspects of energy produc- tion and use. The past few decades have given us a rich history concerning many as- pects of energy: how it can be produced and used, and the trade-offs be- tween command-and-control regulations compared with markets. The energy business is a big business, and for more than just the companies that produce and use it. It is big business also for advocacy groups and politi- cians. Much has been happening even just the past half-dozen years. The great surge in U.S. natural gas production has turned energy markets upside down, not just in the U.S., but also internationally. The rapid expansion of wind and solar production in Germany and Spain has turned their electricity markets upside down. This has come with great increases in consumers’ electricity bills, concerns about the long-term viabil- ity of their energy-consuming firms and questions about the future reliabil- ity of electricity. The European Union’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not played out as planned. Billions of dollars were spent with “almost zero impact” on Europe’s emissions, according to a USB Investment Re- search report. Europe clearly forged ahead of the U.S. with its renewables and GHG ini- tiatives. The results have not been what were expected. Will the energy ex- periences of Europe be a factor in shaping U.S. energy policy? If so, how? The answer to that question will depend on whether we demonstrate common sense, or a lack thereof, in addressing the many and varied energy issues. Unlike many other issues, energy can be impolite to politics, since physics and chemistry cannot be made to bend to political will, at least not for very long. The response of the public can play a key role in the outcome of this de- bate if the public is willing to weigh in. We need an informed public urging our policymakers to move forward using common sense. If we work to- gether, we can make this happen. Volume 56, No. 2 December 2013 Contact us: www.countryliving.coop Anthony Ahern John Howley Rich Warren Magen Howard Chris Hall Bernice Mattison Nikki Heath Adam Specht Margie Wuebker Chip Gross President & CEO Dir. of Comm. Managing Editor Associate Editor Art & Prod. Manager Publications Coord. Graphic Artist Comm. Specialist Food Editor Outdoors Editor COUNTRY LIVING (ISSN 0747-0592) is the official publication of Ohio Rural Electric Co- operatives, Inc. With a paid circulation of 294,786, it is the monthly communication link between the rural elec tric cooperatives in Ohio and West Virginia and their members. Subscription price: $4.30 to $6.50 per year to co-op members; $12 per year to nonmem- bers. Nothing in this publication may be re- produced in any manner without specific written permission from Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. All rights reserved. Alliance for Audited Media Member National advertising representatives: NATIONAL COUNTRY MARKET, 800-NCM-1181 State advertising representatives: Sandy Woolard 614-403-1653 Tim Dickes 614-855-5226 The fact that a product is advertised in Country Living should not be taken as an endorsement. If you find an ad- vertisement misleading or a product unsatisfactory, please notify us or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Section, 30 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215, or call 1-800-282-0515. Cooperative members — Please report any change of address to your local electric cooperative. Periodicals postage paid at Columbus, OH and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to editorial and advertising offices at: 6677 Busch Boulevard Columbus, OH 43229-1101 Telephone — 614-846-5757 Serving on the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Board of Trustees are George Brake, chairman; Dennis W. Schindler, vice chairman; Jack Schmidt, secretary/treasurer; Stephen Huff, Paul Berridge, Thomas McQuiston, Robert McCort, Donald McCracken, Jack L. Kitchel, Daniel McNaull, Robert E. Wise, Shirley J. Stutz, David Corbin, Barry Jolliff, Warren Taylor, James R. McConnell, Gene McCluer, Mitch Headley, John Saxton, Edward P. Sanders, Harold E. Cooper, Larry Weirich, Jeff Wilson and David P. Miller. Anthony J. Ahern, president; Kurt Helfrich, counsel. www.ohioruralelectric.coop 2 COUNTRY LIVING • DECEMBER 2013