MINOT, N.D. — I like Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo.
I really do.
Every interaction I've had with him has been pleasant.
But his recent letter to the editor, headlined "The future of coal is dim," was so blithely condescending toward North Dakota's coal workers and their families it borders on parody.
It reads like the sort of words a right-wing satirist might put in the mouth of a Democrat.
Here's Piepkorn on why Coal Creek Station, North Dakota's largest coal-fired power plant, must close, a turn of events that will cost hundreds of North Dakotans their jobs: "Minnesota residents and others across the country aren’t buying it."
What he means is that the left-wing environmental movement has convinced many Minnesotans, and many Americans, that coal has no future. So they've made a political decision to drive coal out of the market with a myriad of policies from expensive regulations to heavy subsidies for coal's competitors like wind.
And how do you suppose a coal miner or plant worker in central North Dakota feels hearing that he or she must lose their jobs so that Minnesota liberals can virtue signal about the source of their power?
It may be a surprise to members of the Democratic-NPL, who don't seem to care much for the part of the state that's west of Interstate 29, but North Dakota is not Minnesota's battery.
Replacing mining jobs and power plant jobs with wind turbines dotting our landscape, and a mess of transmission lines serving those turbines crisscrossing our land, is not a good deal for North Dakota.
But don't worry. Sen. Piepkorn, channeling Joe Biden, thinks we can just teach those miners to code or something.
"The state owes these workers some protection. Perhaps we can fund retraining them to work in new or related energy-related (sic) jobs," he writes.
Problem solved, I guess. We'll just teach the rubes how to do new tricks.
Coal Creek Station closing means more than just lost jobs. Schools will close, too. Businesses in the towns where those workers lived and played will close. The tax base will erode. Communities will be, if not outright destroyed, a faint shadow of themselves.
Maybe that's not a big deal if you live in Fargo, but it's sure as hell a big deal if you live in Beulah.
Earlier this year a mural of indignant, sourpussed adolescent activist Greta Thunberg to be put up in Bismarck (home to many Coal Creek Station employees, as it happens) caused a public uproar so vociferous it made national headlines.
Some of the reactions, particularly the vandalism, were inappropriate and inexcusable.
Still, the anger is understandable. The American left's glib dismissal of oil and coal-based energies, their insistence that we can destroy those industries with political policies and replace them with renewable energy without much change in the American quality of life, is infuriating.
It's a fairy tale, except in this one the people getting eaten by the big, bad wolf are blue-collar workers in places like Hazen.
I wish people like Sen. Piepkorn cared more about places like Hazen and Beulah and Underwood.
I wish the desires of the people who live in those communities mattered as much to people like Piepkorn as those of someone in Minneapolis.
They just don't, and that's pretty terrible.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.