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IN 1935, Congress and the Roosevelt administration created the Rural Electrification Administration to bring electricity to the remote reaches of America, by providing low-interest loans to companies that would expand into rural areas.

Now, 73 years later, its successor, the Rural Utilities Service, provides such loans. Charleston Daily Mail
Editorial
Monday March 10, 2008
 
IN 1935, Congress and the Roosevelt administration created the Rural Electrification Administration to bring electricity to the remote reaches of America, by providing low-interest loans to companies that would expand into rural areas.

Now, 73 years later, its successor, the Rural Utilities Service, provides such loans.

Unfortunately, this will be brought to a screeching halt as the Bush administration plays global-warming politics. After lending $1.3 billion since 2001 for construction of coal-fired electric plants, the Bush administration has decided to cave in to the Earthjustice law group and suspend further loans.

This adversely affects projects in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Montana.

"This is a big decision," said Abigail Dillen of Earthjustice. "It says new coal plants can't go to the federal government for money at least for the next couple of years, and these are critical times for companies to get these plants built."

This is also a critical time for customers, as coal supplies more than half the electricity used in the United States. The effect will be felt sometime in the future.

Imperiling the availability of electricity in rural America should not come on a faddish whim. Just 30 years ago, some of the same people who were assuring us that global warming is nearly irreversible were saying the same thing about global cooling.

Also 30 years ago, following problems at the Three Mile Island power plant, nuclear energy was demonized. This effectively cut off a source for American electricity, although many other nations rely on nuclear power without problems.

Nearly 80 percent of the electricity in France comes from nuclear power.

In the United States, the amount is less than 20 percent.

Taking coal off the table for electricity would leave the nation without a viable alternative. Natural gas is expensive. Wind turbines are controversial. And after 30 years of research, solar power is still not commercially viable.

The Bush administration let rural America down.

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