The EPA Wrecking Ball – Tea Party Nation

The EPA Wrecking Ball – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

The Environmental Protection Agency is using its power to advance the objective of the environmental movement to deny Americans access to the energy that sustains the nation’s economy and is using the greatest hoax ever perpetrated, global warming—now called “climate change”—to achieve that goal.

“This standard isn’t the once-and-for-all solution to our environmental challenge,” said Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, “but it is an important commonsense step toward tackling the ongoing and very real threat of climate change and protecting the future for generations to come. It will enhance the lives of our children and our children’s children.”

This is a boldfaced lie. Its newest rule is based on the debasement of science that is characterized and embodied in the global warming hoax. It will deprive America of the energy it requires to function.

Since the 1980s the Greens have been telling everyone that carbon dioxide was causing global warming—now called climate change—and warning that CO2 emissions were going to kill everyone in the world if they weren’t dramatically reduced. The ball was put in motion with the United Nations 1997 Kyoto Protocols when many nations agreed to this absurd idea and carried forward by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ever since.

The Environmental Protection Agency was created to clean the nation’s air and water where it was deemed that a hazard existed. Like most noble ideas and most Congressional mandates, the initial language was vague enough to be interpreted to mean anything those in charge wanted it to mean. Add in the global warming hoax and you have the means to destroy the nation.

Now it means that the source of fifty percent of all the electricity generated in the United States is being systematically put out of business and please do not act surprised; that’s exactly what Barack Obama said he intended to do if elected President.

This is evil writ large.

Shutting down utilities that use coal, an energy source the U.S. has in such abundance that it could provide electricity for the next hundreds of years, and ensuring that no new ones are built fits in perfectly with all the Green pipedreams about “renewable” energy. Solar and wind presently provide about two percent of the nation’s electricity and, without government subsidies and mandates requiring their use, they would not exist at all.

How stupid is it to not build more nuclear power plants when this form of power doesn’t emit anything but energy?

How stupid is it not to use coal when the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal?

How stupid is it to begin to find reasons to regulate and thwart fracking, the technology to access trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that has been in use for decades?

How stupid is it to cover miles of land, far from any urban center, with hundreds of solar panels or huge, ugly wind turbines that kill thousands of birds every year?

The sun does not shine all the time, nor does the wind blow all the time. In the event of overcast skies or a day without wind, traditional plants—those using coal, gas, nuclear or generating hydroelectric power—have to be maintained as a backup. Take away the coal-fired plants and there were be huge gap in the national grid.

Darkness will descend and Americans will begin to live with blackouts and brownouts that will undermine every aspect of our lives. It’s bad enough when a town or even a city briefly loses power because of a storm, but imagine that occurring on a regular basis because there just aren’t enough utilities generating power!

What kind of people stand by idly while its own government conspires to take away the primary source of energy that everything else depends upon? The answer? You. The answer is the many elected politicians that have done little to rein in a rogue government agency intent on undermining the nation by denying it the ability to generate power with the least expensive source of electricity, coal.

The EPA, an unelected bureaucracy, has just ensured that all Americans, industries, small businesses, and individuals will begin pay far more for electrical power.

Richard J. Trzupek, the author of “Regulators Run Wild” and an environment policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, said of the new rule, “With around 50,000 megawatts of coal-fired power set to be forcibly retired in the next few years—thanks to the draconian policies of Obama’s EPA—this rule ensures that no new modern, efficient coal fired power plants will be built to fill the gap.”

In a triumph of crony capitalism, Trzupek notes that “The big winner will be Obama’s good friend, GE Chairman Jeff Immelt. Since solar and wind cannot fill a 50,000 megawatt baseload gap, the only way to ensure continued reliability of the grid is to build a lot of natural gas-fired plants quickly. And who is the biggest supplier of natural gas-fired combustion engines? GE of course.”

If you think that environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, among many others, are seeking to “protect” the Earth, you are seriously mistaken. They have been among the leading opponents of coal and they have had allies in Congress such as the Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, (D-NV) who has said “Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick.”

NO! Coal provides the engine of our nation’s electrical power and oil provides the energy that fuels our transportation and is the basis for countless products that enhance and improve our lives every day.

We are witnessing the destruction of the nation by the environmental movement and the EPA has just provided you with the most dramatic example of that plan.

© Alan Caruba, 2012


PATTERSON: Obama kills coal – as promised – Washington Times

PATTERSON: Obama kills coal – as promised – Washington Times.

Higher electricity prices will most affect those who can least afford them

By Matt Patterson – The Washington Times

“If someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Candidate Barack Obama, 2008.

Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned. This week, the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency released a set of proposed rules designed to target greenhouse gas emissions. If enacted, these rules would virtually destroy the coal industry – just as President Obama once promised he would do.

Under the proposed rules, new power plants will be required to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity; coal plants average 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt. As Jordan Weissmann writes for theAtlantic, “Natural gas plants already meet this requirement. But if a utility wants to burn coal for electricity, it will need to install carbon capture technology – and that’s really expensive.”

Carbon capture and storage technology allows carbon-dioxide emissions to be stored in the ground instead of being released into the atmosphere. But the technology is, for many coal-energy producers, prohibitively pricey. Even assuming new coal plants are actually built under this regulatory regime, to whom do you think those new expenses will be passed on to? That’s right – energy consumers.

Rich people will be able to pay those extra costs, though they may gripe about it. But middle-class households will see a rise in their energy bills that will put them in even greater financial distress than they already are under in this abysmal “recovery.” Poor and working-class people will be especially hurt, of course, as is almost always the case when wealthy pencil-pushers hatch a brilliant plan to “save the planet.” Among the pencil-pushers is EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who crowed: “Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy.”

Will coal-power producers try to forge ahead with new facilities under these proposed regulations? Doubtful. Remember, this is an industry already groaning under the weight of a slew of new regulations imposed by the Obama EPA, including emission limits on mercury and sulfur dioxide, “which would require utilities to eventually upgrade old plants or build entirely new ones,” Mr. Weissmann notes.

True, the EPA is taking pains to stress that the new regulations would apply only to new plants. Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, assured lawmakers at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the agency has “no plans” to curb greenhouse gas emissions for existing plants. But no one believes that, not Republicans who grilled EPA officials at Wednesday’s hearing, nor environmental groups who have long sought the death of King Coal.

David Doniger, climate program policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that the Clean Air Act likely will make it inevitable that the EPA will train its anti-carbon guns on existing coal-fired power plants. Just so we know where the council stands, Mr. Doniger promises, “We look forward to reaching an agreement with EPA on a schedule for completing the standard for new sources and developing standards for existing sources.” Doubtless, Mr. Obama’s EPA won’t need much of a nudge from Mr. Doniger’s group.

Unlike his promises to close the terrorist detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, keep lobbyists out of the White House, and oppose an individual mandate for health insurance, at least we know that Mr. Obama was true to his word when he promised to bankrupt an entire industry that employs tens of thousands of Americans.

Well done.

Matt Patterson is the Warren T. Brookes Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and senior editor at the Capital Research Center.

MURRAY: War on coal escalates – Washington Times

MURRAY: War on coal escalates – Washington Times.

Obama emissions rules impose real costs with illusory health benefits

By Iain MurrayThe Washington Times

Faced with rising gas prices, President Obama recently outlined what he calls an “all-of-the-above” energy policy “that develops every available source of American energy – oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels and more.” You may notice something missing there – coal, America’s most abundant and affordable fuel source. The administration’s “all of the above” strategy is anything but.

This shouldn’t be surprising. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said that as president, he would pursue a “cap-and-trade” program to make electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket” and “bankrupt” builders of new coal power plants. He has never recanted those words.

Yet America runs on coal. We have the world’s largest coal reserves – we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal. Coal fuels nearly 40 percent of U.S. electric power generation. New coal plants typically have lower overall costs per megawatt hour than new wind, solar and nuclear power. And all those shiny new electric cars the president is so fond of run primarily on electricity from coal.

Mr. Obama’s cap-and-trade program crashed on a shoal of popular hostility. Recognizing that, as he put it, he had to find another way of “skinning the cat,” the president decided to circumvent Congress by directing regulatory agencies to implement his green agenda.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found a perfect proxy for coal – the mercury that only coal-fired power plants emit. In December, the EPA issued its 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which imposes stringent new controls on power-plant emissions of mercury, acid gases and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). According to the EPA, utilities will have to spend $9.6 billion in 2016 alone to comply.

This enormous cost will increase everyone’s power bills. That might make sense if the pollutants subject to the rule posed significant risks to public health. They don’t. The rule is aimed primarily at mercury emissions, but mercury is not a health hazard in the atmosphere. Negative health effects can result when it gets into water and accumulates in the bodies of fish.

The argument goes that pregnant women who eat large amounts of such fish pass on the mercury to the children in their wombs, affecting their intelligence. Yet such an effect has only ever been seen in the Faroe Islands, whose inhabitants eat large amounts of whale blubber containing other harmful substances. A study in the Seychelles, where the diet is much more similar to that of Americans who eat large quantities of fish, found no such correlation. Indeed, the EPA has made no attempt to find any American child whose performance at school has suffered as a result of his mother eating fish.

Even if you accept the highly suspect idea that mercury emissions affect childhood intelligence, the EPA estimates the rule will reduce IQ loss in the children of subsistence fishing households by about 0.002 IQ points – a purely hypothetical benefit too small to be detected. Nonetheless, the EPA has estimated the MATS rule to have an aggregate annual benefit of $0.5 million to $6 million. Remember that the rule’s annual cost approaches $10 billion. The agency does not even attempt to quantify the health benefits of the rule’s reductions in acid gases and other HAPs, which suggests they are too small to notice.

Yet the EPA still claims $33 billion to $90 billion annually in what it terms “co-benefits” – an artful term that refers to accidental unintended benefits. In this case, the accidental benefits supposedly accrue from the reduction in fine particulates from utilities taking action to reduce mercury emissions. Fine particulate matter, however, is already covered by regulations under the Clean Air Act, and 90 percent of the claimed benefits would occur in areas the EPA already considers safe in those terms. As the Economist recently noted, “the EPA routinely claims additional benefits from reducing those concentrations well below levels the current law considers safe. That is dubious: a lack of data makes it much harder to know the effects of such low concentrations.”

The EPA’s justification for the MATS rule is unconvincing. Last month, Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, introduced a resolution to overturn the MATS rule, following the passage of a similar resolution in the House. If the president is serious about having a real “all-of-the-above” energy policy, he should thank Mr. Inhofe.

Iain Murray is a vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

President Obama and the EPA’s War on Jobs | RedState

President Obama and the EPA’s War on Jobs | RedState.

Posted by Ben Howe

For some time now, I and others have been documenting the relentless assault on economic growth by the EPA under President Barack Obama.  I feel like a broken record at times trying to beat this drum and get people to realize that while Obama doesn’t keep all of his campaign promises, destroying the coal industry is one that he has done everything he can to stay true to.

For anyone that paid attention during the 2008 presidential cycle, Obama made it clear that it was his intention to bankrupt the coal industry through regulation and legislation.  Think it’s hyperbole?  Listen to it from the horse’s mouth.

Obama’s dreams of green jobs have run into some snags lately.  The bankruptcy of solar panel company Solyndra, which received half a billion dollars in loan guarantees, is not good for the goal of greenifying our lives.  Objectively speaking, there is one simple reason that companies like Solyndra just couldn’t make ends meet: the prices that they need to charge for their products are simply too high to create true market demand.

However, market demand can also be altered by a lack of choice.  For instance, if there was a cheaper form of liquid that could fuel my car, I’d most certainly gravitate towards it as opposed to the $3.50 per gallon price I’m currently paying for gasoline.

Unfortunately for me, no alternative liquid exists that is as cost effective as plain old gasoline, and unfortunately for the green industry, gasoline exists.

In the world of energy and power plants, the big kids on the block are coal and fossil fuels.  They currently power the overwhelming vast majority of the country and despite rumors to the contrary, there’s still plenty of it to go around.  This poses a problem for Obama’s green agenda and unfortunately for him, his Cap & Trade initiative fell flat in the Senate and in this political climate, no one dares bring it up again.

So since that kills his ability to approach this from a legislative standpoint, President Obama has moved to his old standby: Regulatory.

For instance, the EPA’s Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule (MACT) requires all coal-fired plants to reduce emissions of specific toxic air pollutants like mercury emissions.  The problem with this is that it would “require coal-fired power plants to install equipment that in some cases is too expensive to afford and in other cases does not currently exist commercially.

So essentially, borrowing a phrase from President Obama, “If someone wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”  This is not some reading between the lines to figure this out, as noted above, this is the actual words spoken by candidate Obama and the MACT rule is the perfect example of it in action.  The requirements aren’t just onerous, they’re in some cases impossible to meet which of course results in massive fees levied against the company.

So what is the result of this?

Well this one rule could force enough coal-fired power plant shutdowns to equal about 30-70 gigawatts of electricity across the country.  That means that businesses and families will need to move towards more expensive alternatives for energy to keep the lights on.  This explains why the administration was so intent on investing in solar energy to the point of ignoring due diligence in favor of “hurrying up.”  This standard will lead to double-digit increases in rates in keeping with another famous quote from President Obama where he acknowledged that under his plan “power bills would necessarily skyrocket.”   For families that will mean tightening their belts in an economy which they can ill afford to do so.  For businesses, it will also mean tightening belts which means cutting corners and yes, cutting jobs.

But MACT isn’t the only rule with alarming implications.  The EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) will also target coal-fired power plants.  This time it’s to prevent polluted air from crossing state lines.  As is the case with MACT, it doesn’t accomplish this in a sensible way that allows the companies managing the plants to stay in business and continue providing power while implementing the changes.  Again, it’s overly stringent with unrealistic timelines that are designed to be virtually impossible to comply with.

Brian Shaw of the Washington Examiner notes:

This rule will impose onerous new costs on coal-fired power plants, causing many to shut down, and threaten electrical generation reserve capacity all over the country. These reserve margins are needed to avoid power disruption during times of peak demand. Even temporary loss of reserve capacity risks dangerous blackouts.

In terms of job losses, CSAPR is ahead of the game causing job losses even prior to its actual implementation.  Luminant, a Texas energy company, announced a wave of shutdowns and layoffs as the rule’s compliance deadline moves closer.

CEO David Campbell said:

[M]eeting this unrealistic deadline also forces us to take steps that will idle facilities and result in the loss of jobs.

According to Ken Blackwell of the Cincinnati Ohio News, “various outside analysts seem to agree that, at minimum, the 10 major rules that the EPA issued in 2010 could cost the economy at least $23 billion and nearly one million jobs.”

These regulations are onerous and unneeded.  The EPA has studies which have made clear that air pollutants they are trying to regulate pose no risk.

The health benefits claimed by the EPA for these proposed regulations are actually for pollutants that are already controlled through other existing regulations.

Even more galling, the industry was in fact doing quite well at dealing with pollutants in a way that didn’t simultaneously cause blackouts, job losses and billion of dollars:

By 2015, the coal-fired power generation industry will have invested $125 billion in coal utilization technologies that burn coal cleaner and with more efficiency.

Power plant emissions are already down nearly 80 percent since 1970. A coal-fired power facility built today is, on average, 90 percent cleaner than the one it replaces, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Ironically, the ability to build those new plants is next to impossible due to even more stringent EPA regulations.

Both CSAPR and MACT made Eric Cantor’s list of the top 10 job-killing regulations in the U.S.  I know he’s just a partisan right? How can his word be trusted on this?

Well, he’s not alone in this conclusion.  Both rules were included in a list of regulations that are projected to cost over $1 billion dollars annually (that’s each, not together).   Where’s this list come from?  None other than President Obama himself.

The House Must Stop the EPA – Tom Borelli – Townhall Conservative

The House Must Stop the EPA – Tom Borelli – Townhall Conservative.

With unemployment unacceptably high and a new onslaught of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations about to crash into a stumbling economy, now is the time for the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives to end the EPA’s regulatory madness.

In the face of our daunting economic challenges the EPA is advancing new rules under the Clean Air Act that will dramatically increase the compliance costs for coal burning utilities.

The costs of the EPA’s actions against industry and the economy are real. In anticipation of the EPA’s new requirements, American Electric Power (AEP), an Ohio based utility, announced in June it was closing five power plants and will be scaling back operations at six additional facilities. AEP estimated that its actions will cost about 600 jobs that generated approximately $40 million in annual wages.

Naturally, AEP will pass on the additional compliance costs to its consumers, who will bear the brunt of EPA’s burden through higher electricity prices.

AEP had already made great strides in reducing its environmental impact. According to the company, the $7.2 billion it spent since 1990 to reduce emissions from its coal fired power plants cut the annual release of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by 80 and 73 percent, respectively.

Keep in mind the impact outlined above is only for one utility. The total cost for our nation’s utilities will obviously be far greater.

American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) recently estimated that two new EPA rules would cost utilities $18 billion per year and lead to job losses of an estimated 1.44 million job-years by 2020 and boost the average electricity bills by 11.5 percent and about 24 percent in certain areas of the U.S.

Importantly, it’s not just conservatives or industries that are challenging the EPA. Even nanny state New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now challenging the EPA over the agency’s water regulations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bloomberg administration sent a 15 page letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson detailing the tremendous regulatory burden the agency is putting on New York City.

The Journal reports the letter states the EPA is forcing the city to implement federal mandates that is “unnecessarily driving up” water costs, resulting in a 134% increase in water rates since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002.

The story highlights a regulatory requirement to cover a reservoir in Yonkers, New York that will cost $1.6 billion, of which the commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said the public health benefit would “essentially be nil.”

Bloomberg’s opposition to the EPA is noteworthy because, in addition to being a heath crusader known for attacking soda, salt and trans-fats, the mayor is a strong advocate for environmental protection.

In 2008, Bloomberg compared the threat of global warming to the dangers posed by terrorism. “Terrorists kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people,” and “global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody,” he said.

Bloomberg is not the only mayor clashing with the EPA. The Journal story also notes mayors nationwide are complaining about the EPA. Don Plusquellic, the mayor of Akron, Ohio and the former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, described the agency as “rabid dogs coming after cities,” urging Congress to control an EPA “run wild.”

With industry and cities at risk we can’t afford to pay the price of President Obama’s EPA run amok.

The House majority must use its power of the purse to control and defang the EPA.

The House Appropriations Committee FY2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill cuts the EPA’s budget by $1.5 billion, or 20 percent below Obama’s funding level and it also contains riders that delay the implementation of some of the EPA’s harmful rules.

One rider, for example, prevents the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries for one year.

While the left will scream about these cuts, the Appropriations Committee is not going far enough to stop the EPA. With a rogue agency such as the EPA, cutting the budget is not enough – the bureaucrats will simply move money around.

To control the EPA and stop the agency from implementing its war on coal-fired power plants, the House needs to expand its riders to specifically address the EPA’s Clean Air Transport rule and Maximum Achievable Control Technology (or MACT) rules for power plants – the regulations that are making AEP close its power plants.

The House majority must know they are going to get heat from the left because of the EPA budget cuts and its handful of measures to control the EPA. Given our economic condition, there is no time to dither with halfway efforts.

We need the Congressional leadership to take bold steps now to stop the regulatory madness being implemented by the EPA. Let’s hope it is up to the task.