POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Agreement on a big current events project

ED HOLLIDAY

ED HOLLIDAY

My point is Mississippi’s biggest construction project ever is being pushed and praised by our politicians but in reality is financially crippling our state’s future. The Kemper power plant was estimated to cost about $2.4 billion when started. But cost overruns have soared so the total is now over $5 billion. This first-ever experimental power plant will use coal and then place the carbon emissions back into the ground to help the oil industry. Sounds great, but is it really?

So what’s wrong? When Wall Street raises money, if the project succeeds then the risk takers benefit handsomely, but if the project fails then the risk takers take a loss.

Who are the risk takers in the Kemper plant? It starts with the electricity ratepayers in south Mississippi.

Brandon Presley has provided more common sense leadership on the Kemper plant than any other elected leader. He is asking the right questions. The Kemper power plant does not make financial sense for Mississippians. Taxpayers should be shocked that politicians who claim to be fiscal conservatives have plugged into this money-sucking power grid.

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JAMES HULL

JAMES HULL

Doc, I don’t know if you are trying to bait me into defending this boondoggle, but I assure you I’m not biting.

Can anyone say Beef Plant? Kudos to Commissioner Brandon Presley for – as you say – “asking the right questions.”

But rather than talk about where this Kemper County boondoggle is going – or not going as it were – I think it’s important to remember where it came from. It came from Florida, that didn’t want it. The initial funds that went into the Kemper project were literally called the “Orlando Gasification Project.” Florida saw early-on that while this “clean coal,” idea is excellent in principle, in practicality, it just has too many moving parts, so much so that Mississippi rate-payers are now asked to foot the bill.

Like I said a precedent has already been set with the beef plant debacle, which cost former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove a second term. His successor, Haley Barbour, who won partly on harping about the beef plant, was smart enough to get behind this idea in his second term so, he didn’t end up having to defend it in a re-election bid.

But there is one little tidbit about Barbour’s support of the Kemper County project that few people talk about. Consider this post from Wikipedia on the Kemper County Project site: “… funds were moved from Florida to Mississippi in December 2008, after Haley Barbour’s Washington D.C. lobbying firm, the BGR Group, pushed for the reallocation.[36] Southern Company has been a BGR client since 1999, having spent a total of $2.6 million with the firm, according to federal lobbying disclosure documents.[37] However, Southern Company alleges that Governor Barbour did not help them receive any additional funding at all.[38]……The BGR Group website has deleted all connections with Southern Company from its website.[39]”

There is also one more little tidbit that voters in the year’s senatorial election may want to consider while investigating candidates: so-called “fiscal conservative” Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel is a staunch and vocal supporter of the Kemper County project.

Dr. Ed Holliday is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at ed@teaparty.ms. Rev. James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at hullmultimediams@aol.com.