North Carolina's poorly conceived Coal Ash Commission is off to a rocky start. To begin with, Guvnor Pat is suing Tillisberger because Pat doesn't get to appoint enough of his cronies to the commission.
And in case you missed it, the person appointed to fill "science seat" on the commission isn't all that strong on science.
Herbert Eckerlin is one of the commission members. He has been an engineering professor at NC State for nearly five decades. In the early 1980s, he built the Solar House, which later became the NC State Solar Center. He was also a treasurer at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.
But as a man of science, Eckerlin is outside of the mainstream on at least one topic: global warming.
When he presented at the North Carolina Energy Policy Council in September, he had this to say:
“Unfortunately global warming is not an issue that we can prove or disprove. A little history may be helpful. Between 1950 and 1970 we went through a period of global cooling. Between 1970 and 1998 we had global warming. Over the last 15 years global temperatures have stabilized, while CO2 emissions in China and India have increased dramatically, and U.S. emissions have declined. These recent trends don’t match the global climate model, and we don’t know why. Perhaps the model has to be refined and updated. Furthermore, the CO2 reductions in the U.S. are not sufficient to offset the increases in CO2 emissions in China and India. What to do? More research is needed.”
Eckerlin’s opinion on global warming runs counter to the most recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
I wonder if Prof. Eckerlin agrees with other scientists that coal ash is not a good thing to have loose in the environment?
In a statement to WUNC, a spokesman for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said that Eckerlin’s comments on global warming are “outside the scope of his responsibilities as a Coal Ash Commissioner.”
[Professor of Climate Sciences at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment Dr. Drew] Shindell isn’t so sure.
“If he’s going to go ahead and make statements about other issues like water quality and such, and things that he doesn’t know, then I think the state will be poorly served.”
The state is very likely to be poorly served by the coal ash commission, so maybe it doesn't matter all that much that the commission's "science seat" is filled by someone who refutes settled science.
Then again, maybe it does.