EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Column: Thinking about the costs of keeping warm

The state income tax rate, which voters mandated be rolled back from 5.85 percent to 5 percent with a 2000 ballot question, has started rolling again: For 2014, the rate will drop from 5.25 percent to 5.2 percent.

This doesn’t mean much money for each of us, but I always say it’s not the money, it’s the principle: Taxes that are sold as “temporary” should end. However, this year it’s also the money: I am spending my share on a patchwork flannel shirt I saw in a catalog, on sale for $49.

I’ll need this flannel shirt, as local environmentalists who fought to close the Salem coal-fired power plant are now fighting the natural gas powered plant they had always argued should replace it. As we prepare to live in the dark and the cold, counting on emergency generators and wood stoves, it will be nice to have a flannel shirt.

Wait, the EPA wants to control the use of wood stoves because they pollute the air. Proposed rules require manufacturers of wood and wood-pellet stoves to make them burn 80 percent more cleanly than current models -- somehow.

I suspect that using a gas-powered generator doesn’t solve the pollution problem. New-model generators can be run on natural gas, somehow, but that wouldn’t address whatever makes enviro-radicals oppose a natural gas plant on Salem Harbor.

It’s something about “fossil fuels” that upsets them. It is sad that dead dinosaurs, whose species was destroyed by something going wrong with their environment, turned into oil and are now used to damage today’s environment.

Wait. That’s what I was taught, but now that I think of it, this doesn’t make sense. How many dinosaurs would it take to fuel our homes, planes and automobiles all these years of modern civilization?

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