American Elephants


Reckless Endangerment of the American People: by The Elephant's Child

The workhorse of the American power system is the coal-fired electricity plant. President Obama said early on that he intended to bankrupt the coal industry. He has no substitute for the power it produces, except wind and solar, which produce a miniscule amount of the nation’s energy and require full-time backup from a conventional (coal-fired) power plant for the frequent times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine (night). The Wall Street Journal reported:

At an unusual gala ceremony on the release of a major new Environmental Protection Agency rule yesterday, chief Lisa Jackson called it “historic” and “a great victory.” And she’s right: The rule may be the most expensive the agency has ever issued, and it represents the triumph of the Obama Administration’s green agenda over economic growth and job creation. Congratulations.

The so-called utility rule requires power plants to install “maximum achievable control technology” to reduce mercury emissions and other trace gases. But the true goal of the rule’s 1,117 pages is to harm coal-fired power plants and force large parts of the fleet—the U.S. power system workhorse—to shut down in the name of climate change. The EPA figures the rule will cost $9.6 billion, which is a gross, deliberate underestimate.

Under the Jackson rule, you claim vast benefits for children’s health — the conventional Democrat line “it’s for the children,” to get unwitting public approval. In this case, she claims “billions of dollars” of health benefits like less asthma and a possible cure for cancer. This is unadulterated road apples.  The medical profession does not know the cause of asthma. They can treat it, but they do not know the cause.  Lisa Jackson claims that she does. The rest of the claimed benefits—the Wall St. Journal says 99.99% — come from “double-counting pollution reductions like soot that the EPA regulates through separate programs and therefore will happen anyway.”

These people are adhering to a political ideology without the slightest understanding of the real life consequences of their political rulemaking. They are economically clueless, and so lacking in understanding of the results that it is quite breathtaking. As baseload coal power is retired or idled, the reliability of the electrical grid will be compromised — as every neutral analyst expects.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is charged with protecting reliability, but they seem to have backed off in the face of EPA determination.” One FERC economist wrote in a March email that “I don’t think there is any value in continuing to engage EPA on the issues.”The EPA told Congress repeatedly that it had “very frequent substantive contact and consultation with FERC.”

The EPA thinks it is worth spending billions each year to reduce already miniscule amounts of mercury in the outside air. (So why are they trying to force mercury-filled CFL bulbs into everyone’s homes)? It is a power grab, pure and simple, and the economic harm is vast.  The Wall Street Journal noted that:

The EPA also took the extraordinary step of issuing a pre-emptive “enforcement memorandum,” which is typically issued only after the EPA determines its rules are being broken. The memo tells utilities that they must admit to violating clean air laws if they can’t retrofit their plants within the EPA’s timeframe at any cost or if shutting down a plant will lead to regional blackouts. Such legal admissions force companies into a de facto EPA receivership and expose them to lawsuits and other liabilities.

Any benefits to the environment are negligible. The reckless EPA is a disgrace, and the  Congress needs to rein this agency in. The White House will not.




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