American Elephants

The EPA Is Conducting A War on Coal And A War On Your Pocketbook! by The Elephant's Child

Coal is the cheapest source of fossil fuel for electricity generators, usually about half as much per Btu as the next cheapest fuel, natural gas, and according to the latest energy forecast from ExxonMobil, the cheapest form of electricity will remain goal-fired generation units, with a total cost of about 6¢ per kilowatt-hour. So, naturally, the EPA always on the lookout for nice things to do for the American people, is trying to shut down all coal-fired electricity generation.

It is astonishing to consider the amount of damage done by putting ideology before science, ideology before inflationary costs on the American people, and ideology before common sense.

The EPA , policymakers and the media are focused on the amount of carbon dioxide that coal-fired plants emit. Discredited Climate Scientist James Hansen back in a 2009 opinion piece for The Guardian declared coal “the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet,” adding for good measure that “the trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.” Dr. Hansen is always up for modest exaggeration.

The Sierra Club, once a conservation-minded group intent on protecting the Sierra Nevada mountains, is now a radical environmental group, intent on preventing nasty things like energy, pipelines, and currently — coal, with their “Beyond Coal” campaign. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, always ready to ban anything useful, has donated $50 million to the campaign.

The EPA’s proposed new rule bans new coal-fired electricity generation. It results directly from a fear of climate change. They claim that greenhouse gases “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.” The rule would cap the amount of CO2 that new fossil-fueled electricity generation units can emit, at 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour. That would rule out coal-fired units, which emit about 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. (Natural gas-fired units emit about 800 pounds per megawatt-hour.) The EPA claims that it has the authority to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act and therefore doesn’t need congressional approval to impose the ban.  The EPA claims that it has the authority to pretty much do whatever it wants to do under the Clean Air Act.

The climate, of course, is always changing. The earth has been cooling for the last decade. And last Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Committee of the US House of Representatives held a public hearing on a bill to prohibit the EPA from issuing final rules imposing emission standards for CO2 on public utilities unless and until Carbon Capture and Storage is proven to be technologically and economically feasible. The most significant testimony came from Doctor John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville. In his written testimony he summarized the significant scientific issues involved.  The five point summary can be paraphrased:

  1. There is nothing unusual about current extreme weather events.
  2. The climate models are not supported by observations, and Arctic ice conditions are not meaningful unless discussed in light of Antarctic ice conditions.
  3. Recent research showing biases in surface data make the surface data sets of limited value.
  4. The claimed consensus reports are murky and climate science funding is highly biased.
  5. CO2 is plant food and increased CO2 benefits humanity.

Even if the EPA succeeds in banning new coal-fired generation of electricity in the US, it will leave global coal demand and CO2 emissions almost unchanged. Coal fuels about 40 percent of global electricity production.

Within the next three to five years, more than 200 coal-fired electric generating units will be shut down in 25 states due to EPA rules. The EPA is clearly waging a war on coal and on affordable electricity prices and on jobs. The EPA continues to ignore the damage caused to the economy by their regulations. They claim that they have no requirement to consider the effect of regulation on employment or inflation. The most affected states include Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Only last week, Alpha Natural Resources, a coal company announced layoffs of 1,200 workers and eight coal mines to be closed.

These are not random events, but the direct result of the Obama Administration’s regulatory war on coal. Obama lies about job creation, claiming that his policies have created 4.5 million jobs, which is false — because he knows that jobs are a major concern of the American people. He claims that he has a jobs program that the nasty Republicans won’t pass, but it isn’t a jobs program and it won’t create jobs.  What is even worse is that he seems either unconcerned or unaware of the massive job-destroying effects of the actions of his administration.

But that’s not important, he is offering food stamps for all.


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