News from the Super-Shoddy Climate Change Reporting desk: The Bemidji Pioneer broke this story on Tuesday:

Partners for Affordable Energy, which describes itself as “a broad-based coalition of organizations and businesses that support coal-based electricity as a low-cost, reliable, and increasingly clean energy source for consumers, farms and businesses in the Upper Midwest,” is lamenting the fact that Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, particularly its standards for CO2 emissions, would put a stop to coal-fired power plant construction.

Setting any moral judgments aside, that’s what you would expect them to say. It’s not especially noteworthy, but check out how the group justifies their argument:

Unless Minnesota adopts a climate change action plan this session, state law bans construction of any new coal-fired power plants as of Aug. 1, and that scares utilities.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Huh? We need a climate bill so we can build coal plants? On what bizarro planet does that make sense? Turns out:

Minnesota, as well as the nation, needs to move to next-generation power such as wind or solar, but the technology isn’t there yet to provide the baseload energy capacity needed for uninterrupted power through those sources …

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Hmm … reasonable people may disagree about technologies being ready, or more broadly, that there is an entire universe of options for controlling CO2 emissions, but the soundbite certainly sounds thoughtful enough. This explains why we need coal, but what about the climate piece?

New coal technology is also at work, she said, citing a small North Dakota power plant that is sending carbon to dry oil fields in Canada, with the carbon filling in underground gaps and pushing more oil up.

Ah, new technology. Precisely the stuff that we can’t rely on when it comes to renewables will be the salvation of coal. (Note to self: check to see if carbon emissions bear any relationship to the rate of fossil-fuel extraction. Until then, just trust the coal lobby on this one.) After all,

Pierson said clean-coal technologies “is [sic] on the horizon and it is real and we are demonstrating it.”

Once again, technology to the rescue! Just make sure it’s coal technology. Can’t trust anything else.

One last thing. Turns out that climate change will be really disastrous for the Minnesota economy. How do we know? Because:

PAE commissioned its own study with an independent firm, CRA International, which found that a regional cap-and-trade program would adversely affect Minnesota.

Yup, the independent consultant, retained by the coal lobby. Surprise of surprises, they concluded that reducing carbon emissions will be really bad.

Maybe we shouldn’t be shocked by all this. But let’s boil down their argument: We need a climate bill so that we can build coal-fired power plants, which will increase CO2 emissions. Why? Because non-CO2 sources aren’t ready for prime-time. Dealing with the CO2 emissions from coal plants isn’t either, but we’re excited about those technologies, some of which can actually increase our rate of fossil fuel combustion! And why does this make sense? Not because we said so, but because our independent consultant said so.

From a logic perspective, this goes beyond the lengths of even Lewis Carroll’s imagination. We’re through the looking glass, through the wall, and on full-speed into La-La Land. Under what newspaper editorial standards does this crap get reported without any critical comment?