American Elephants

Destroying the Economy Step by Step. by The Elephant's Child

Headline from the Energy Daily NetworkObama Vows Energy will Be ‘Top Priority’ in 2011.  You mean he’s going to put the oil rigs in the Gulf back to work?  Open Alaskan oil fields? Bring in more of our own vast natural resources? Open drilling up in coastal waters?  Stop trying to shut down the coal industry?  No, no, no, no and not a chance.

He wants to invest even more in his useless clean energy agenda:

One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels. We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation. But we’re going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it’s good for our national security, and, ultimately, it’s good for our environment.

Au Contraire, Mr. President.  Americans are being inundated with claims about renewable and alternative energy.  Advocates claim that if we just get rid of fossil fuels, we’ll breathe easier, stop global warming and revolutionize our economy.  Not going to happen.

  1. Solar and wind are not a great advance over fossil fuels. Since solar and wind installations only produce energy part of the time and require 24/7 backup from conventional power plants to prevent blackouts, there is no net “green” energy produced.  Wind turbines produce electricity only about a third of the time.  The sun goes down at night. Both require enormous amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy.
  2. Solar and wind will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They produce small amounts of electricity while our transportation sector is powered by fossil fuel.  Ethanol is more damaging to the environment than fossil fuels, contains less energy, and cannot exist without massive ongoing subsidies.
  3. Electric cars will not reduce the demand for oil. Electric cars have not been sidelined by backers of the internal combustion engine, but by math and physics.  Gasoline contains about 80 times as much energy by weight as the best lithium-ion battery.  The electric motor is more efficient than the internal combustion engine, but batteries remain finicky, short-lived and take hours to recharge.  The electric car will remain the next big thing.
  4. A green economy will not create green American jobs. American turbine manufacturers face the problem of high domestic labor costs.  They will have to compete with China, which not only controls the market for neodymium, a critical ingredient in turbine magnets, but has low labor costs.  Is a job “green” if it is created only by subsidy or mandate?  The ethanol lobbying industry claimed 136,000 jobs for the increased percentage of ethanol, but the Environmental Working Group found only 27,000 at a cost of $446,000 per year.

Yesterday, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a highly regarded federal energy advisory body released an exhaustive “special assessment” of the covert program the White House is pursuing through the Environmental Protection Agency.  The EPA’s pending electric utility regulations will subtract between 46 and 76 gigawatts of generating capacity from the U.S. grid by 2015.  The worst-case scenario would amount to a reduction of about 7.2% of national power generation, almost all of it will affect coal-fired plants— the workhorse that supplies a little more than half of American electricity.

The EPA’s weapon of choice in the battle to destroy the American economy is regulation.  New regulation of mercury and sulfur to coal ash and water intake which cool equipment.  NERC notes that the “pace and aggressiveness” of issuing rules in unprecedented.  These are conservative estimates and don’t include the EPA’s coming carbon “endangerment” rules.

Some plants can retrofit with scrubbers, but Credit Suisse estimated that compliance will cost as much as $150 billion in capital investment by the end of the decade.  That signals a huge rise in electricity costs, which is simply another tax on consumers and businesses, and means more lost jobs. Replacing so much so fast would require shut downs and lead to brownouts and shortages.

This is clearly an effort by the White House to accomplish by regulation what Congress rejected.  This president is not going to allow little things like the separation of powers to get in the way of his ideology. The president’s environmental team inspires no confidence whatsoever.  He is not interested in debating a carbon program on the merits — there are none.  The only way voters can stop the EPA is to install a check in the legislative branch of government on election day next Tuesday.

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