Monthly Archives: October 2017

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Pruitt Is Right To Withdraw Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Via The Daily Caller:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is fully justified to withdraw the Obama administration’s expensive and useless Clean Power Plan (CPP). After all, it only controls emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is simply plant food. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Changecites over 1,000 peer-reviewed studies showing that rising atmospheric CO2enhances productivity of forests and grasslands. Commercial greenhouses run at up to about four times the outside level of CO2 to boost plant growth.

Increasing CO2 poses no direct hazard to human health either. Concentrations in submarines can reach 25 times normal atmospheric levels with no harmful effects on the crew.

Yet the CPP refers to CO2 as “carbon pollution.” It is the exact opposite of pollution.

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy admitted that, by itself, the CPP would have an insignificant impact on climate. Its main purpose was to lead the world in the ‘fight to stop climate change’, she said.

That makes no sense. Even if one accepts the dubious notion that humanity’s CO2 emissions threaten the climate, developing countries have indicated that they will not follow our lead. For example, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said in

Duterte can say this with a clear conscience since all UN climate treaties, including Paris, are based on the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) which states:

This stipulation does not apply to developed nations.

Actions to significantly reduce CO2 emissions would require curbing the use of coal, the cheapest power source in most of the world. But that would obviously interfere with development priorities. So, developing countries won’t do it, citing the FCCC as their excuse.

Activists say that there will be important pollution reduction co-benefits to CO2emission control. Yet the EPA’s own data show that total emissions of six major air pollutants dropped 62% between 1980 and 2013 even though CO2 emissions increased by 14% between 1980 and 2012.

Dr. Marlo Lewis, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, concluded in his Cooler Heads Coalition article in 2014, “Air pollution emissions are increasingly decoupled …from CO2 emissions.”

Using climate regulations to reduce pollution would therefore be an expensive mistake.

Trump’s promotion of coal and his concentration on clean air and water is a relief. Thousands of people lost their jobs and saw prices soar as a result of President Obama’s focus on climate mitigation. The Congressional Research Service reported that the Obama administration spent $120 billion on climate change issues.

So what can be done to ensure that the climate scare is not resurrected by future presidents or Congress?

The key is to sway public opinion so solidly against the global warming alarm that no sensible politician ever dare promote it again. According to Dr. Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute, the war will be won when at least 90% of Americans tell pollsters that they oppose the government spending any money at all on ‘climate control.’

Lehr told the 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-12) meeting in Washington, D.C. last March, “We have won the science. [But] the battle is going to go on. The challenge I make to you is to turn the minds of five people in a year. Reasonably neutral, sensible people. But we have still not won the attitude of the whole public and that is what we want to do.”

ICCC-12 provided a blueprint for how to do this. By itself, it’s not enough to show that the science underlying the scare is flawed. It’s not enough to reveal how $1 billion a day is wasted trying to control climate. Or that we should welcome rising CO2 levels to help grow the food billions more humans will eventually need. Or how millions of birds and bats are killed by industrial wind turbines erected to supposedly stop climate change. Or the ruined lives of hundreds of thousands of people who live near wind turbines.

All these arguments, and more, must be used to bring practical people, regardless of their political orientations, to understand that the climate scare is one of the greatest deceptions in history.

See the article here.

Coal and Nuclear Plants Needed to Meet Missouri’s Energy Demands

Via The Kansas City Star:

When I served on the Missouri Public Service Commission, I spent time studying the different utilities that supply electricity throughout our state. And along the way, I learned some surprising facts about our power grid.

For starters, we still depend on a lot of coal-fired power. In 2014, coal generated 83 percent of our electricity. That number declined slightly last year, to 77 percent—but it’s still our top source of electricity. And our one nuclear power plant, Callaway Nuclear Generating Station, contributes a sizable 12 percent, too.

We also maintain a renewable energy component, though it’s admittedly rather small. Renewable resources like hydroelectric, solar, and wind, accounted for 3.4 percent of Missouri electricity generation last year. And we derive additional electricity from natural gas plants.

I’m in favor of our state gathering electricity from all of these sources — in what’s often referred to as an “all of the above” mix. For example, I support modern coal-fired power plants, like KCP&L’s latan 2, that trap emissions of sulfur, mercury, and particulate matter. I also favor expanded natural gas production to help lower electricity costs. And I hope that technological breakthroughs can keep improving the electricity storage capacity for wind turbines and solar panels.

Overall, my focus is: How can we keep reliably and responsibly generating sufficient power to meet our state’s growing electricity needs? Ironically, it’s a question that seems to be percolating through Washington right now, too. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been in the news of late, urging that America act now to ensure each state’s future “baseload” power needs.

It’s not something we think about often, but America has huge energy demands. We simply trust that electricity will always be there when we need it. However, the baseload power that undergirds the nation’s daily operational electricity needs has actually shrunk significantly in recent years. Since 2010, more than 60 gigawatts of coal capacity has disappeared—enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And at the same time, the nuclear industry has had its own troubles, with heavy costs making it difficult to replace retiring nuclear plants.

Perry is proposing that the U.S. adopt a new pricing mechanism that would recognize the value of coal and nuclear plants in serving as the bulwark of the nation’s electric grid. Essentially, coal and nuclear are the only two power sources capable of maintaining lengthy on-site fuel supplies while also generating large, non-stop amounts of electricity for weeks and months at a time.

It’s a controversial notion, of course — keeping coal and nuclear plants in the mix. But it’s also a very realistic assessment of what’s working right now. Environmentalists are no doubt excited about the prospects for wind and solar. But the output of these renewables remains limited, and is also constrained by the need for steady wind and clear skies. Equally challenging is the dependence of natural gas plants on continuous fuel supplies from an intricate spiderweb of lengthy, nationwide pipelines.

Even as technology is yielding new advances in renewable energy — or even higher efficiencies for coal and gas plants — we need to remain focused on what can guarantee sufficient electricity right here, right now. And so, while the bridge to a more diverse energy future is slowly emerging, Perry is wise to take a thoughtful approach to keeping the lights on. It may not seem like a pressing issue, but it’s important to plan for the unexpected times when winter storms or hurricanes lead to unforeseen spikes in electricity demand and even power outages.

Overall, I’m optimistic about Missouri’s energy future. But we should continue to secure the baseload power that supports our current, daily needs.

Terry M. Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Wisconsin Could Benefit from Revisions to Electric Grid

Via The La Crosse Tribune:

America’s energy sector has reached an interesting crossroads.

After eight years of the Obama administration working to dismantle the nation’s coal fleet, the Trump administration has swept into office and upended the apple cart. Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned a study to assess the health of America’s power grid. His subsequent report noted a sizable decline in America’s “baseload” power, and urged steps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Overall, Perry is advocating an “all of the above” mix for the nation’s power sector. And this is an eminently sensible position. But in attempting to shore up America’s power grid, Secretary Perry is facing criticism because he’s chosen to prioritize reliable, practical power generation. Significantly, his proposal could help to preserve 100 megawatts of Wisconsin’s coal capacity — a significant step for a state that generates 56 percent of its electricity from coal.

What’s relevant here is that America’s electric grid depends on a bulwark of baseload power to continuously meet the daily operational needs of the entire nation. For decades, this massive lift has been undertaken by coal and nuclear plants. However, America has lost an unprecedented amount of baseload capacity in recent years. Since 2010, more than 60 gigawatts of coal capacity has disappeared — enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And by 2020, an estimated 80 gigawatts of coal capacity will have been shut down.

No doubt, rising natural gas production and a decade of crippling federal regulations have served to eliminate a substantial portion of America’s coal fleet. And bankruptcies and cost overruns have simultaneously hampered replacements for an aging nuclear industry.

But in response to such a stark problem, Secretary Perry has proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allow some power plants to recover the cost of storing on-site fuel. Such fuel storage allows power stations to run non-stop during extreme weather. Typically, America’s utilities give priority to the lowest-cost energy option for power transmission. But Perry is urging a pricing mechanism that would value these plants for their ability to continually provide power during disruptive events like massive storms and frigid winters.

The bottom line is that coal and nuclear plants still produce 50 percent of the nation’s electricity. It’s a significant — but declining — share of the energy needed to ensure reliable electricity. Thus, Secretary Perry is simply taking a very real-world approach to a burgeoning problem.

Fortunately, other steps are underway to help secure America’s electricity supply. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s has announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which would likely spare the premature retirement of more coal-fired plants that already employ stringent emissions controls while providing 24/7 electricity.

Polling shows that 70 percent of voters favor a diverse mix of fuel sources to maintain grid reliability and affordable power. So rather than simply take coal and nuclear power plants offline, the Trump administration can support a more reliable electric grid by encouraging upgrades to existing facilities. These are important considerations for the coming decades, when an ever-growing nation will look to keep powering its schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

Secretary Perry is right to help ensure a continuation of the reliable and affordable power that undergirds America.

See the article here.

The Clean Power Plan Is Irrelevant

Via Forbes:

Signed under the Obama administration but still not enacted, The Clean Power Plan (CPP) called for a 32% reduction in power sector CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels) but is now in the process of being repealed under the Trump administration. This decision is consistent with American norms because it leaves the future of our power system to the free market, stopping the government from picking energy winners and losers with policy.

In fact, many believe that the CPP wasn’t even legal, justifying the nearly 30 states attorneys general that were suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block the plan. In fact, one Harvard Law expert tabbed the CPP “unconstitutional,” a violation of the 10th amendment and states’ rights, here. The repeal proposal reports that the removal of the CPP would save the country $33 billion, here.

We are seeking emission reductions via more natural gas, more wind and solar, and more clean coal, but the rules must be fair and based on extant technologies: the use of coal under the CPP, for instance, would have required carbon capture systems that aren’t yet commercially viable. Unmentioned, the CPP would strand massive clean energy investments already made: it unfairly disregards the $135 billion spend by the coal industry deploying clean coal technologies since 1990. That matters.

The CPP would have increased electricity prices unnecessarily, most dangerous for our most vulnerable because higher energy costs take away from other critical spending, such as on one’s health. The Pacific Research Institute, for instance, has concluded that the CPP would have raised electricity bills for an African-American family in Ohio by around $410 annually.

Thanks to our free market system, we enjoy some of the lowest electricity prices in the world. For example, heavy handed environmental regulation forcing renewables in the European wind power capitals of Denmark and Germany have left them with home power rates in the 40-45 cents per kWh range, compared to just 12-13 cents here in the U.S. And ironically, all the while, our emissions are declining much faster, here!

Indeed, it’s extremely telling that the two states most vigorously defending the CPP, New York and California, have the two highest electricity rates in the country (besides Hawaii), at 45-55% above the national average. Moreover, New York and California have consistently been ranked as the two worst states for business, no doubt hurt by much higher energy costs that strain the budgets of both families and businesses, here.

The CPP can’t be a climate “climate game changer” because models continues to conclude that other nations will be fully responsible for all incremental CO2 emissions, not us. From 2015-2040, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Model reports that global CO2 emissions will rise 12-15% to 36-37 billion tonnes, while U.S. CO2 emissions will actually drop 17-20% below 5 billion tonnes.

Additionally, I’d argue that it’s not possible to prove the reduction in climate change that would result from individual U.S. regulations on emissions because climate change by definition is a global phenomenon, based on world emissions in aggregate. This really means that policies to decrease extreme weather events in the U.S. have to take into account decisions made in other countries, decisions made outside of our own control – like coal usage in China and India. These are undeniably unknowable.

Don’t be duped: The New York Times reports that “Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world.” And Politic0 headlines “Why China is no global leader.” This is why the CPP is based a theoretical reduction of 0.03 [degrees Celsius] in warming by 2100, here.  

Continuing, as for reducing U.S. emissions, the free market is  obviously already working quite awesomely. Our power sector emissions continue to uniquely decline, in contrast to other sectors (see Figure). In fact, we have the fastest declining CO2 emissions of all nations. Thanks largely to natural gas surging its share of power from less than 20% to 33% over the past 12 years, we are already 70-80% on the way to meeting the CPP goals anyways. Let our electric power system continue on its journey!

The purposed health benefits of the CPP – and how those benefits were derived at – are highly problematic. As I have shown, for instance, a simple scatterplot questions the link between coal and its CO2 emissions and asthma, here. And there seems to be some serious “double counting” going on under the promoted CPP benefits, here. That’s mostly because the emissions of criteria pollutants NOx, SO2, and PM have been regulated for decades, but they are erroneously counted in the claimed benefits of the CPP.

But, let me conclude with the most important thing to remember, one that is unsurprisingly ignored. Wealth (i.e., having more money) is the basis of our health, not our drastically improved air quality, here. Horrifically, we still have 50 million Americans living in poverty, and globally some 6 in every 7 humans live in undeveloped nations. Tragically, these people have now become  a complete afterthought. And that’s no wonder: it’s far more difficult to find real solutions to worsening poverty today than it is to formulate regulations based on predicted benefits far down the road.

I guess that’s my biggest problem with our environment-energy discussion continuing to be led by tenured academics, privileged lives in the cozy Ivory Towers of Harvard, Cal Berkeley, Stanford, and even the Climate Institute of…you fill in the blank. Their jobs are never on the line. Unless they do something really, really dumb, these researchers will never actually lose their jobs when the policies their careers are based on promoting are enacted and costs increase for their respective employer.

In very stark contrast…you might.

See the article here.

Don’t Overlook Coal’s Continued Importance

Via RealClearEnergy:

Contrary to popular opinion, coal is still critically important to meeting our nation’s energy needs. Coal is America’s number one source of electricity, accounting for 32 percent of electricity production, and it generates more than half of the power in states with heavy industries like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado and Utah.

Coal is also the leading supplier of electricity globally. Nothing else can match it for abundance, reliability and cost. From Germany to China, it remains the electricity sector’s workhorse. What’s more, coal is essential to maintaining America’s grid security – to provide reliable energy in times of outages or natural disasters. This point was echoed last month by Energy Secretary Rick Perry in his proposed rule to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure coal is recognized for its resiliency and reliability in how the wholesale energy markets are priced.

Here in the U.S., government regulations – implemented before President Donald Trump took office – hamper the use of coal, while solar and wind power are heavily subsidized and get most of the media attention. To be sure, our energy future depends on having an affordable supply of low-carbon energy. But renewable energy, despite its growth in recent years, is still decades away from becoming a primary source of power. Solar and wind combined, even with help from federal tax credits and state mandates for renewables, supply only seven percent of the nation’s electricity. This illustrates how difficult it will be to meet environmental goals of policymakers and why we must find a way to make better use of the resources and infrastructure already at hand.

This is one of the key energy issues that Congress needs to address as it considers new legislation to fund research and demonstration projects on carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS). The goal of CCUS is to develop an economically competitive way to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal or natural gas plants in order to meet emissions regulations as well as use the carbon to make useful products like petrochemicals and plastics and then sequester unused carbon safely underground.

CCUS technology is a key piece of the energy puzzle. A technological breakthrough in the U.S. could be shared with other countries that have large coal resources and growing demand for coal power. Some pilot CCUS systems are being demonstrated in the U.S. and Canada. But developing affordable technology will take time. For now, there are other coal technologies available for commercial use that, if deployed globally, can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the entire global coal fleet by around 20 percent.

Consider advanced ultra-supercritical coal technology. Coal plants with this technology operate at an efficiency rate of 45 to 50 percent, whereas conventional coal plants have efficiency rates of up to 38 percent. With supercritical coal technology, less fuel is used to produce the same amount of energy. Environmentally, a one percent improvement in the efficiency of a coal plant results in a two to three percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. And its deployment also reduces other greenhouse-gas emissions as well as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

Think about it: If the global coal fleet can reach a level of just 40 percent efficiency from its current 33 percent, annual carbon emissions could fall by 2 billion tons. That reduction would be equivalent to all of India’s annual emissions – a not insignificant way that coal can meet the challenges of today’s more rigorous emissions standards.

What’s important to recognize is that this improvement in carbon mitigation could be achieved with coal technology that’s already commercially available. In other words, both environmental progress and economic growth can be achieved with the use of advanced coal technology.

The reason for coal’s continued importance is clear. Electricity is the most efficient energy source. Concerns about carbon emissions should not be permitted to muddle what remains the essential point: We need to recognize the critical contribution of coal to energy supply now and in the future. An affordable, reliable supply of energy must remain the focus of our energy policy.

Matthew Kandrach is President of CASE – Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a free-market oriented consumer advocacy organization.

See the article here. 

Trump is Taking the Right Steps to Ensure our Energy Future

Via Penn Live:

America’s energy sector has reached an interesting crossroads. After eight years of the Obama Administration working to dismantle the nation’s coal fleet, the Trump Administration has swept into office and upended the apple cart.

Earlier this year, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned a study to assess the health of America’s power grid. His subsequent report noted a sizable decline in America’s “baseload” power, and urged steps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Overall, the Trump administration is advocating an “all of the above” mix for the nation’s power sector. And this is an eminently sensible position. But in attempting to secure the nation’s power grid,Perry is now facing criticism because he’s chosen to prioritize reliable, practical power generation over political expediency.

Significantly, America’s electric grid depends on a bulwark of baseload power to continuously meet the daily operational needs of the entire nation. For decades, this massive lift has been undertaken by coal and nuclear plants.

However, America has lost an unprecedented amount of baseload capacity in recent years.

Since 2010, 66 gigawatts of coal capacity has disappeared–enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And by 2020, an estimated 80 gigawatts of coal capacity will have been shut down.

No doubt, rising natural gas production and a decade of crippling federal regulations have served to eliminate a substantial portion of America’s coal fleet.

And bankruptcies and cost overruns have simultaneously hampered replacements for an aging nuclear industry.

But in response to such a stark problem, Perry has proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allow some power plants to recover the cost of storing on-site fuel. Such fuel storage allows power stations to run non-stop during extreme weather.

Typically, America’s utilities give priority to the lowest-cost energy option for power transmission.

Perry is urging a pricing mechanism that would value these plants for their ability to continually provide power during disruptive events like massive storms and frigid winters.

Coal and nuclear plants would benefit from such a revision–since they maintain lengthy fuel supplies, and can typically remain in operation despite weather challenges.

In contrast, natural gas plants can falter during interruptions in pipeline service.

And much-touted solar panels and wind turbines are particularly vulnerable to storm impacts–and only function when the sun shines and the wind blows.

The bottom line is that coal and nuclear plants still produce 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.

It’s a significant–but declining–share of the energy needed to ensure reliable electricity. Thus, Perry is simply taking a very real-world approach to a burgeoning problem.

Fortunately, other steps are underway to help secure America’s electricity supply.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s has announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which would likely spare the premature retirement of more coal-fired plants that already employ stringent emissions controls while providing 24/7 electricity.

Polling shows that 70 percent of voters favor a diverse mix of fuel sources to maintain grid reliability and affordable power.

So rather than simply take coal and nuclear power plants offline, the Trump administration can support a more reliable electric grid by encouraging upgrades to existing facilities.

These are important considerations for the coming decades, when an ever-growing nation will look to keep powering its schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Perry is right to help ensure a continuation of the reliable and affordable power that undergirds America.

Terry M. Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Perry’s Angry Critics

Perry’s Angry Critics

October 25, 2017

It was the 17th century English playwright William Congreve who claimed “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Congreve never met the renewable fuels industry.

Wind and solar proponents, feeling scorned by Energy Secretary Perry, reacted with righteous anger to his request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Corporation (FERC) allow utilities to recover the reliability value of competing baseload plants. The Secretary, they said, was meddling in the energy market and showing raw favoritism. And the renewable industry will have none of government meddling and favoritism.

If there are persuasive, credible criticisms of the Secretary’s proposal, these aren’t among them. And if anyone could make them credible, it isn’t the renewable industry.

The government has frequently intervened in the power generation market and has often shown favoritism. More recently, it has moved to euthanize older coal plants with regulations, and shower renewable fuels with production and investment tax credits. When state governments meddled in the market by guaranteeing renewables market share with portfolio standards, where were the indignant complaints?

Considering the source of these criticisms, they are more likely to bring smiles than agreement. Government largess is to renewable fuels what water is to fish.

(more…)

EPA Rides to the Rescue of Sustained Electricity in Florida

Via The Orlando Sentinel: 

Floridians, like all Americans, are accustomed to powering their lives with electricity that is abundantly available, reliable and affordable. The impact of recent hurricanes has reminded us how much our lives revolve around that all-important supply of power. Life without electricity means no air conditioning, no cellphones, no computers and no ability to pump gasoline — just to name a few. The absence of available, reliable and affordable electricity means inconvenience for all and economic hardship for many of Florida’s most vulnerable.

For these reasons, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration should be applauded for their decision to roll back the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration mandate for electricity producing power plants to reduce CO2 emission by 30 percent by 2030. This unsustainable plan was nothing more than a regulatory way to get around Congress’ refusal to adopt a “cap and trade” scheme in 2010. In effect, it was a takeover of our nation’s electrical power grid via federal regulation, something that has always been under the authority of the states.

With this action, Pruitt is saving the country from implementation of the CPP, which would be devastating for consumers and our nation. The plan would have forced Florida and 46 other states to systematically limit the kind of power plants we rely on for our power and force us to shift to other energy sources — ones that as yet remain as untested as they are unreliable.

While the EPA’s estimates have been repeatedly shown to underestimate the cost of the CPP and exaggerate the benefits, an independent study has found that Florida’s electricity prices face an 11 percent average annual increase, with a peak year increase of 15 percent.

An annual update to the Energy Cost Impacts on American Families study indicates that, indeed, Americans spend a significant amount of their incomes on energy. Data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Energy Information Administration show that 40 percent of American families (51 million households) take home an average of $1,643 each month and spend 17 percent of that on energy bills.

The news is even grimmer for the most vulnerable Americans. According to the same study, the poorest 25 million families spend a whopping 22 percent of their monthly income on electricity and gas. American families should not have to balance their ability to keep the lights on against cutting back on other basic necessities. For many families, though, CPP would have made that stark choice ever closer to becoming a reality.

This disturbing news clashes with the fact that the United States is home to some of the most abundant energy resources in the world. Our country is quickly becoming a major producer of oil and natural gas. Coal, long a staple in the national energy mix, has seen substantial investments, totaling upwards of $122 billion by the end of the year, to make its use cleaner. Since the 1970s, coal has become 92 percent cleaner to use.

And yet, despite the good news, national average electricity prices have continued to creep up, consuming more and more of family budgets. Since 2005, prices have climbed by 33 percent when adjusted for inflation.

What drives these prices ever upward? There are many factors, but some of the blame can rightly be placed on the shoulders of the politicians and bureaucrats in our nation’s capital. Unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have been incredibly busy in recent years churning out regulations that have cost the economy and consumers billions of dollars. CPP is perhaps the most visible and devastating.

In the battle to protect America’s energy resources, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, along with other states’ attorneys general, pushed back against federal overreach by suing the EPA over the CPP. Very much to their credit, they secured an unprecedented delay from the Supreme Court while they work for a total overturn. Now, that day is here thanks to the leadership of Pruitt and the Trump administration.

Ensuring available, reliable and affordable electricity should be of utmost concern to policymakers, both in Washington and in Tallahassee. The decision to roll back CPP makes providing such electricity sustainable, and that helps us all. Today, when you flip on your light switches or adjust the thermostat on your air conditioning, remember to say, “Thank you.”

See the article here.

Coal Industry Tells FERC the Last 7 Years Was a Catastrophe it Must Now Fix

Via The Washington Examiner:

The coal industry claims the last seven years was a catastrophe federal grid regulators under the Trump administration are now bound by the law to fix by supporting Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s grid plan.

“In the last seven years, 101,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity has retired or has announced plans to retire,” read joint comments by the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity representing the coal industry.

One megawatt equals the electricity demand from between 750 to 1,000 homes.

“This catastrophic pace of retirements has caused cascading effects throughout the coal industry and industries that support coal, like railway and barge transportation, not to mention coal producing communities.”

The comments were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday night as the deadline for groups to make their case for or against Perry’s grid plan approached at midnight.

“The country is at a crossroads, and urgent Commission action is required before the value provided by critical baseload generation capacity is lost forever,” the groups wrote.

Perry’s proposed rule would change the rules of the FERC-overseen electricity markets to ensure coal and nuclear power plants receive payments for being able to keep the grid stable during severe weather incidents like hurricanes.

“Our members are substantially interested in preserving baseload electric generation that has the systemic and economic resiliency attributes that coal can provide, such as the ability to host fuel on-site,” the joint comments read.

Any “large-scale blackout could result in billions of dollars in economic impact, and risk injury or death,” the coal groups noted.

Perry’s proposed changes to the FERC-overseen markets would provide payments to power plants based on their ability to keep a 90-day supply of fuel on site. Perry argued this attribute makes coal and nuclear plants resilient to major power outages and therefore must be compensated.

The groups argue the coal plants have been harmed by unfair market subsidies being provided to the wind and solar industry. These unfair advantages make FERC legally bound to give them the market relief they seek, they argue under the commission’s cost oversight authority.

“Baseload coal-fired generation facilities are essential to reliability and resilience, but have not been able to recover their costs of operation through the existing restructured administrative markets,” the groups argued, referring to coal as a baseload plant because it provides electricity 24 hours a day.

“These issues have been compounded by the fact that much new generation, particularly renewable generation, receives significant extra-market subsidies at both the federal and state level – an advantage that has worsened the economic plight of traditional baseload coal-fired generators.”

“As a result, the past several years have seen an unprecedented wave of retirements of coal-fired and nuclear generation capacity, and many more facilities are at risk of closure in the coming years, unless the Commission takes immediate action,” the coal groups wrote.

The coal groups argued FERC must use its authority under the Federal Power Act, which gives it the ability to intervene in the markets if it can show that electricity rates have increased unreasonably or have unfairly favored one group over another.

“[I]t is critical that the Commission make such a finding, and direct [regional transmission operators it oversees] to modify their tariffs to ensure that existing coal-fired generators are able to fully recover their operating costs,” the groups wrote.

Such action “will ensure that the essential reliability, resiliency, and long-term price stability benefits of existing coal-fired generating facilities can be saved,” they explained.

“Without action by the Commission to remedy these tariffs and market structures, the electric system will devolve to lose the value of fuel diversity and end up overwhelmingly dependent on intermittent renewable and natural gas generation,” the comments read.

“If that happens, essential reliability, resiliency, and long-term price stability benefits of coal-fired generating facilities, and other generation with fuel on-site, will be lost for good. For the sake of the nation’s consumers and suppliers, the Commission cannot let that happen.”

The Nuclear Energy Insitute’s comments, also submitted ahead of the midnight deadline, voiced similar concerns as the coal industry.

NEI is the lead trade group for the nuclear power industry, which faces premature retirements of its power plants due to market factors such as low natural gas prices. The low price of natural gas has made it attractive for utilities to switch from using coal to using natural gas to produce electricity. This switch has also made it hard for nuclear power plants to compete in the FERC markets, which favor the lowest cost generation resource in order to keep electricity prices low.

But the nuclear industry argues it has been the failure of the market, not its success, that has undervalued its power plants.

“The current failure to value important attributes of nuclear generation, including those that significantly contribute to grid resiliency, has prompted retirements of well-functioning, highly-efficient, and environmentally-valuable nuclear plants,” said Maria Korsnick, the nuclear group’s president and CEO, in sending NEI’s comments to FERC.

“While we may not see the impact of a less resilient grid until another emergency challenges the delivery of electricity to this nation’s citizens, neglecting to address this problem today could lay the groundwork for serious breakdowns in electricity service tomorrow.”

Both the coal and nuclear industry appear to be aligned in their support for the Perry grid plan. Meanwhile, a broad coalition of natural gas, oil industry, and renewable energy groups submitted joint comments rejecting the Perry plan as unnecessary and an affront to the free, functioning markets that FERC oversees.

They argued “there is substantial evidence showing that electric systems that lack, or are transitioning to lesser reliance on, coal and nuclear resources are nonetheless operated in a manner that is both reliable and resilient,” according to coalition’s comments. Furthermore, any “outages caused by disruptions of fuel supply to generators appear to be virtually nonexistent.”

Therefore, FERC’s proposed rule would “prop up uneconomic generation that is unable to compete … and that is not otherwise needed for reliability,” the coalition argued.

Finally, the proposed rule “has not been shown to be just and reasonable and cannot be adopted by the Commission.”

The coalition included renewable energy groups that included Advanced Energy Economy, American Biogas Council, American Council on Renewable Energy, the Energy Storage Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the American Wind Energy Association.

It also included oil and natural gas industry groups like the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and the Natural Gas Supply Association. Power utilities were represented by the Electric Power Supply Association and large manufacturers were represented by the Electricity Consumers Resource Council.

 See the article here.

Why Coal and Nuclear Aren’t Going Anywhere

Via The Washington Examiner:

Americans have a strong pragmatic streak. And they undoubtedly took notice recently when two devastating hurricanes knocked out power in much of the Southern United States. News channels focused on the harsh conditions that followed after families were left without power for days on end. It’s understandable, then, that a subsequent poll found 85 percent of voters saying the U.S. should act to protect the diversity of its electric grid against such disruptive events.

Storms aren’t the only cause of power grid disruptions. But they help to illustrate why the time is right for Washington to rethink the overall viability of the nation’s power sector. Thankfully, the Trump administration seems to be taking the challenge seriously as it looks to ensure sufficient, reliable electricity for the next generation of Americans.

What’s really at issue is “baseload” power — the electricity generation required to meet the nation’s daily needs, particularly during peak periods. And there’s an emerging problem, since baseload power has been declining in recent years.

For decades, coal and nuclear power plants anchored America’s baseload capacity. But rising natural gas production and a decade of successive federal regulations have served to eliminate a substantial portion of America’s coal fleet. At the same time, bankruptcies and cost overruns have burdened potential replacements for an aging nuclear industry.

The numbers are actually somewhat worrying. Coal still produces almost a third of America’s total electricity generation and nuclear adds another 20 percent. But many now look to natural gas, along with renewable platforms like wind and solar, to drive future power generation. The simple fact, though, is that coal and nuclear still account for a very sturdy 50 percent of America’s energy mix.

The Trump administration seems to grasp the ramifications of this point — and what the loss of more coal and nuclear power could mean for a stable grid. Just weeks ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry issued a fairly comprehensive report on the state of America’s power sector. What he concluded is that the nation must necessarily continue to draw electricity from a diverse mix of sources.

This is a smart notion, since wind turbines and solar panels remain frustratingly intermittent — because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. But despite lavish subsidies and mandates, wind and solar only generate a very negligible 6 percent of total U.S. electricity. There’s also the boom in natural gas to consider, however. But even this expansion of natural gas now poses complications. That’s because the United States is not only transitioning to a greater reliance on natural gas for power generation, but also simultaneously gearing up for large-scale exportation of liquified natural gas, or LNG.

Ramping up natural gas exports could mean a real shift in market dynamics. Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm predicts that the U.S. may start sending roughly 40 percent of its natural gas production offshore in the next three years. When that happens, U.S. consumers could see a real spike in gas prices as they begin to compete with gas-hungry consumers in Europe.

There are also logistical considerations. Gas-fired power plants depend on continuous pipeline service for their fuel supplies. But as the recent hurricanes demonstrated, pipeline chains are vulnerable to weather disruptions. When one factors in the dual challenge of potentially volatile gas prices — along with the slow growth of wind and solar — coal and nuclear emerge as logical options. Not only can they provide dependable baseline power, but they can also help to balance inevitable price fluctuations caused by greater LNG exports.

Perry is right to conclude that America should follow an “all of the above” energy strategy when it comes to the nation’s power sector. Meeting the ongoing demands of baseload power is an evolving challenge. It would be shortsighted, then, to overlook the contributions of coal and nuclear power in addressing America’s evolving electricity needs. Anything less would mean a failure to plan for the ongoing complexities of future power needs.

See the article here.

Commentary: America’s Electrical Power System is Under Stress

Via The Salt Lake Tribune:

Serious stresses are building within the U.S. electrical power industry. The further loss of nuclear and coal generating capacity that may occur in the near future depends on whether the federal government and regional electric grids recognize and correct chronic defects in the electricity market. These issues have now resulted in over-reliance on natural gas and renewables.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recognizes the problem and has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to keep the nation’s struggling nuclear and threatened coal plants open. Perry proposed supporting these plants for contributing to the resilience and reliability of the electric grid as is done through solar and wind subsidies.

All fuels carry some level of risk, but a diverse mix of energy options – coal, nuclear, natural gas, renewables, availability, demand management and energy efficiency improvements – is the core strength the U.S. electric supply. This fuel and technological diversity serves as insurance against sudden spikes in electricity prices or supply disruptions in the system. As with a financial portfolio, risks are always reduced with a diversified mix of electrical energy assets.

Serious stresses are building within the U.S. electrical power industry. The further loss of nuclear and coal generating capacity that may occur in the near future depends on whether the federal government and regional electric grids recognize and correct chronic defects in the electricity market. These issues have now resulted in over-reliance on natural gas and renewables.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recognizes the problem and has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to keep the nation’s struggling nuclear and threatened coal plants open. Perry proposed supporting these plants for contributing to the resilience and reliability of the electric grid as is done through solar and wind subsidies.

All fuels carry some level of risk, but a diverse mix of energy options – coal, nuclear, natural gas, renewables, availability, demand management and energy efficiency improvements – is the core strength the U.S. electric supply. This fuel and technological diversity serves as insurance against sudden spikes in electricity prices or supply disruptions in the system. As with a financial portfolio, risks are always reduced with a diversified mix of electrical energy assets.

In the U.S. electric power supply sector this diversity is now at risk. Since 1995, 80 percent of all new generating capacity built in the U.S. has been gas-fired. Coal and nuclear power, the only other two electric sources that provide “base-load” power, represented only 6 percent of that total. As a result, large parts of the U.S., from California and New England to Florida and Texas, are over-dependent on natural gas.

Federal regulators need to address this problem and should direct utilities to support coal and nuclear plants for their costs and the power they produce. These fuel-secure power plants are indispensable for the reliability of the electric grid, especially in severe meteorological conditions (e.g., hurricanes) and are needed economic and national security. In Utah, coal accounts for 76 percent of the state’s electricity generating capacity. Fortunately, Utah is now examining the role that small, state-of-the-art, modular nuclear plants could provide.

For some time there has been something seriously wrong with the markets in which coal and nuclear plants operate. These electric markets, mainly in deregulated states, don’t value the base-load capacity that can be dispatched when needed. Nor do they provide value for fuel diversity or recognize the clean air value of nuclear plants.

The Energy Information Administration forecasts a need for 339,000 Megawatts of new generating capacity by 2040. Natural gas plants will account for most of this additional generating capacity. U.S. reliance on gas will increase even further if more coal and nuclear plants are shuttered.

A combination of no-growth in electricity demand, excess generating capacity, low natural gas prices and interruptible supplies could endanger integrity of the U.S. power grid. Changing the system to recognize the value of nuclear and even coal power will take time, but electricity is a commodity too essential to ignore. If ever there were a time for an honest reassessment of the nation’s electrical energy security, it is now.

See the article here.

Baseload Power the Right Focus

Via The Columbus Dispatch

America’s energy sector has reached an interesting crossroads. After eight years of the Obama Administration working to dismantle the nation’s coal fleet, the Trump Administration has swept into office and upended the apple cart. Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned a study to assess the health of America’s power grid. His subsequent report noted a sizable decline in America’s “baseload” power, and urged steps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Overall, the Trump Administration is advocating an “all of the above” mix for the nation’s power sector. And this is an eminently sensible position. But in attempting to secure the nation’s power grid, Secretary Perry is now facing criticism because he’s chosen to prioritize reliable, practical power generation over political expediency.

Significantly, America’s electric grid depends on a bulwark of baseload power to continuously meet the daily operational needs of the entire nation. For decades, this massive lift has been undertaken by coal and nuclear plants. However, America has lost an unprecedented amount of baseload capacity in recent years. Since 2010, 66 gigawatts of coal capacity has disappeared—enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And by 2020, an estimated 80 gigawatts of coal capacity will have been shut down.

No doubt, rising natural gas production and a decade of crippling federal regulations have served to eliminate a substantial portion of America’s coal fleet. And bankruptcies and cost overruns have simultaneously hampered replacements for an aging nuclear industry.

But in response to such a stark problem, Secretary Perry has proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allow some power plants to recover the cost of storing on-site fuel. Such fuel storage allows power stations to run non-stop during extreme weather. Typically, America’s utilities give priority to the lowest-cost energy option for power transmission. But Perry is urging a pricing mechanism that would value these plants for their ability to continually provide power during disruptive events like massive storms and frigid winters.

Coal and nuclear plants would benefit from such a revision—since they maintain lengthy fuel supplies, and can typically remain in operation despite weather challenges. In contrast, natural gas plants can falter during interruptions in pipeline service. And much-touted solar panels and wind turbines are particularly vulnerable to storm impacts—and only function when the sun shines and the wind blows.

The bottom line is that coal and nuclear plants still produce 50 percent of the nation’s electricity. It’s a significant—but declining—share of the energy needed to ensure reliable electricity. Thus, Secretary Perry is simply taking a very real-world approach to a burgeoning problem.

Fortunately, other steps are underway to help secure America’s electricity supply. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s has announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would likely spare the premature retirement of more coal-fired plants that already employ stringent emissions controls while providing 24/7 electricity.

Polling shows that 70 percent of voters favor a diverse mix of fuel sources to maintain grid reliability and affordable power. So rather than simply take coal and nuclear power plants offline, the Trump Administration can support a more reliable electric grid by encouraging upgrades to existing facilities. These are important considerations for the coming decades, when an ever-growing nation will look to keep powering its schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Secretary Perry is right to help ensure a continuation of the reliable and affordable power that undergirds America.

Terry M. Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Trump Administration Right to Focus on Baseload Power

Via The Troy Daily News:

America’s energy sector has reached an interesting crossroads. After eight years of the Obama Administration working to dismantle the nation’s coal fleet, the Trump Administration has swept into office and upended the apple cart. Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned a study to assess the health of America’s power grid. His subsequent report noted a sizable decline in America’s “baseload” power, and urged steps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Overall, the Trump Administration is advocating an “all of the above” mix for the nation’s power sector. And this is an eminently sensible position. But in attempting to secure the nation’s power grid, Secretary Perry is now facing criticism because he’s chosen to prioritize reliable, practical power generation over political expediency.

Significantly, America’s electric grid depends on a bulwark of baseload power to continuously meet the daily operational needs of the entire nation. For decades, this massive lift has been undertaken by coal and nuclear plants. However, America has lost an unprecedented amount of baseload capacity in recent years. Since 2010, 66 gigawatts of coal capacity has disappeared—enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And by 2020, an estimated 80 gigawatts of coal capacity will have been shut down.

ubt, rising natural gas production and a decade of crippling federal regulations have served to eliminate a substantial portion of America’s coal fleet. And bankruptcies and cost overruns have simultaneously hampered replacements for an aging nuclear industry.

But in response to such a stark problem, Secretary Perry has proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allow some power plants to recover the cost of storing on-site fuel. Such fuel storage allows power stations to run non-stop during extreme weather. Typically, America’s utilities give priority to the lowest-cost energy option for power transmission. But Perry is urging a pricing mechanism that would value these plants for their ability to continually provide power during disruptive events like massive storms and frigid winters.

Coal and nuclear plants would benefit from such a revision—since they maintain lengthy fuel supplies, and can typically remain in operation despite weather challenges. In contrast, natural gas plants can falter during interruptions in pipeline service. And much-touted solar panels and wind turbines are particularly vulnerable to storm impacts—and only function when the sun shines and the wind blows.

The bottom line is that coal and nuclear plants still produce 50 percent of the nation’s electricity. It’s a significant—but declining—share of the energy needed to ensure reliable electricity. Thus, Secretary Perry is simply taking a very real-world approach to a burgeoning problem.

Fortunately, other steps are underway to help secure America’s electricity supply. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s has announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would likely spare the premature retirement of more coal-fired plants that already employ stringent emissions controls while providing 24/7 electricity.

Polling shows that 70 percent of voters favor a diverse mix of fuel sources to maintain grid reliability and affordable power. So rather than simply take coal and nuclear power plants offline, the Trump Administration can support a more reliable electric grid by encouraging upgrades to existing facilities. These are important considerations for the coming decades, when an ever-growing nation will look to keep powering its schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Secretary Perry is right to help ensure a continuation of the reliable and affordable power that undergirds America.

Terry M. Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Terry M. Jarrett is an attorney with Healy Law Offices, LLC in Jefferson City, Mo., and a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission. Jarrett has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

EPA Chief Pruitt: Obama ‘Increased Burden’ on Coal Mining Industry

Via Fox Business:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt lashed out at the Obama administration on Tuesday for waging a war on the coal mining industry and defended the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“I think the better discussion is not to put artificial targets, like we did in the Paris [Agreement], that the past administration, with their own regulations, failed miserably to achieve, but to focus on what we’ve already done to reduce our CO2 footprint, and then export that technology to places like China and India”, Pruitt told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”

The Paris Climate Accord, signed by President Obama and 194 other nations in 2016, limits nations’ emissions of greenhouse gasses in an attempt to mitigate the effects of global warming. The earliest that the U.S. can leave the agreement is Nov. 4, 2020, which is the day after the next presidential election.

Pruitt also lauded the decision to repeal Clean Power Plan, a signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants passed by Obama, which he called a “war on coal.”

“It was a real war,” he said. “And the president said the war is over. And that’s what I was there to announce to those folks there. As a regulator you shouldn’t engage in any war in any sector of the economy.”

Last year, U.S. coal production reached a record low since 1978, but 2017 has signaled a turnaround for the industry. The nation’s coal output fell about 10% in 2015 and 17% in 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration. But during the first eight months of 2017, production levels rose by 14%.

The Trump administration’s’ decision to roll back the Obama-era policy could save 240 million tons of annual coal production, in addition to protect more than 27,000 mining jobs and the nearly 100,000 indirect jobs that rely on coal.

Restrictions put in place by President Obama’s administration not only hurt an already depressed coal industry, but failed to improve the environmental outcome that it purported to save, Pruitt said.

“From a mining sector perspective,” he said, “They would say to you it’s not just competition in the marketplace, it was the availed purpose by the previous administration to place burdens and restrictions on them that did not improve environmental outcome, but increased burden.”

See the article here.

Montana PSC Praise EPA Actions to Repeal Clean Power Plan

Via Daily Energy Insider:

Members of the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) recently issued statements applauding U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

“The EPA’s Clean Power Plan was all pain no gain for Montana,” Commissioner Tony O’Donnell said. “The draconian emission’s reductions specified in the plan would have created substantial hardship for Montana families in the form of higher electricity rates and lost jobs without achieving any meaningful reduction in global C02 levels. I applaud Administrator Pruitt for putting an end to this misguided and failed experiment.”

Commissioner Roger Koopman additionally praised the rollbacks and questioned the climate science the Clean Power Plan was based on.

“Pulling back the Clean Power Plan is exactly what we need right now, while we lower the emotions and decibel levels of this discussion,” Koopman said. “In final analysis, we may discover that the altar upon which the previous administration was prepared to sacrifice our security and quality of life was grounded on fundamentally false assumptions about the sources and net effects of CO2.”

Commissioner Bob Lake said that while the decision by Pruitt would be beneficial for coal plants, their future was still uncertain.

“It’s too early to tell what effect this decision will have on the market for coal power, but the Clean Power Plan was a major factor driving the accelerated closure of coal plants in the West,” Lake said. “There are many challenges ahead for the coal industry, but this decision will ensure that generators of all fuel types have the opportunity to compete to serve customers without the thumb of the federal government on the scale.”

See the article here.

Trump Cuts Clean Power Plan, Boosts America’s Prospects

Via Brietbart.com:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a notice in the Federal Register that it is rescinding former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). This action serves as further evidence the gridlock in the Washington, DC swamp has not slowed President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back ineffective and extremely costly climate programs and regulations.

The EPA’s decision was not unexpected. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said the United States faces numerous problems more important than climate change, and he pledged to eliminate environmental policies hampering economic growth and domestic energy development, targeting the CPP by name. As part of Trump’s March 28 “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” executive order, Trump directed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review CPP and rescind or revise it, if necessary, to promote the wise development of natural resources, unencumber energy production, and increase jobs.

The EPA based the decision to rescind CPP on three main principles: CPP is inconsistent with the 1970 Clean Air Act; CPP violated states’ authority to decide the best mix of power generation within their borders and eroded longstanding federal/state partnerships necessary to achieve environmental improvement; and enforcement of CPP would have had a devastating effect on jobs and raised energy costs for consumers—all while having virtually no effect on climate change.

CPP was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s effort to move the United States away from the use of fossil fuels, beginning with coal, to fight climate change. CPP would require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, on average.

To comply with the plan, states would have to force utilities to shutter dozens of coal-fired power plants prematurely. The Energy Information Administration projected CPP would result in $1.23 trillion in lost gross domestic product (GDP), in 2014 dollars, from 2020 to 2030, with an average annual GDP loss of $112 billion. Estimates indicate CPP would boost people’s electric bills 11–14 percent per year and cost more than 100,000 jobs in manufacturing and other sectors annually.

Despite these substantial harms, the Obama administration acknowledged in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on July 9, 2015, that if the United States met CPP’s emission reductions targets, it would prevent, at best, one one-hundredth of one-degree Celsius of temperature rise by 2100. Talk about all pain and no gain!

Twenty-seven states, led by West Virginia, and several industry groups and trade associations challenged CPP’s legality in federal court. In February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of ordering a nationwide stay on implementation of CPP before it went into effect, pending the outcome of the legal challenges.

CPP would have dramatically raised energy costs in United States, harming the poorest among us more than the rest and putting U.S. industries at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. By rescinding it, Trump is doing what he promised to do and what any president should do: putting America first. Bravo!

Having said this, unless Trump wants these gains to unravel, he has at least one more step to take. Environmental groups and some state government officials have already announced that if the CPP rescission is finalized, they will sue to block the Trump administration’s action to keep CPP on the books. In truth, this presents a problem for Trump.

CPP and the other climate regulations imposed by the Obama administration were justified based on the EPA’s determination carbon dioxide poses a threat to human health and the environment, a concept known as the “endangerment finding.” Relying on unsubstantiated projections produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the EPA determined carbon dioxide emissions from cars and industry threaten human welfare.

To solidify his CPP action and other climate deregulatory efforts, Trump must direct the EPA to reconsider the endangerment finding by forcing the agency to demonstrate—through independent, validated research—carbon dioxide emissions are toxic (they aren’t at any foreseeable levels) or that global warming is causing measurable amounts of sea level rise, increased hurricane numbers or intensity, the spread of disease, or other harms attributable directly to carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. If the EPA can’t directly link such problems to U.S. carbon dioxide emissions (it can’t) or can’t show that such problems can be dramatically reduced by cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions (they won’t), the EPA should withdraw the endangerment finding.

Withdrawing the endangerment finding would eliminate the legal justification that has been used to impose a wide range of climate regulations. In the process, it would also end radical environmental activists’ ability to use the courts to impose policies on an unwilling public—one whose elected representatives have repeatedly rejected climate alarmism.

See the article here.

Repealing the Clean Power Plan will benefit all Americans

Via The Washington Examiner:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to repealthe so-called Clean Power Plan is the most notable step President Trump and his team have taken to date to end the Obama administration’s unlawful and economically destructive war on affordable energy.

Although there is no shortage of policy reasons to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which promises lots of economic pain for no discernible environmental gain, Pruitt is proposing repeal chiefly because the plan exceeds the legal authority delegated to the agency by Congress.

The EPA issued the Clean Power Plan under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d). The EPA’s consistent regulatory practice over the previous 45 years, the statutory text, and the legislative history all compel the conclusion that the EPA’s power is limited to setting emission standards that facilities can affordably meet through technological or operational modifications.

The Obama administration refused to accept that limitation. It wanted big reductions in power plant emissions of carbon dioxide like those in the cap-and-trade schemes that Congress had previously rejected. But CO2-capture technology cannot be retrofitted at a reasonable cost onto current fossil fuel power plants. So the Obama administration reimagined Section 111(d) to authorize the EPA to set emission standards too stringent for any existing coal or natural gas power plant to achieve, while allowing the owners to comply by reducing output and investing in new renewable generation instead.

This obvious government favoritism punishes owners and operators of coal and natural gas power plants. In addition, the EPA interfered with states’ authority to manage their respective power sectors. This is why the Clean Power Plan is really a clear power grab. Congress never gave the EPA the authority to transfer wealth from politically disfavored power generators to special interests or to restructure state electric power sectors.

Three bizarre consequences further highlight the Clean Power Plan’s illegality. First, although Section 111(d) deals solely with “existing” facilities in specified industrial source categories (in this instance, fossil fuel power plants), compliance would supposedly be achieved by investing in “new” wind and solar facilities outside the source category.

Second, the plan’s “performance standards” are actually nonperformance mandates, compelling owners of fossil fuel power plants to produce less power or simply shut down. Third, the plan imposes tougher emission standards on existing sources than the corresponding and prerequisite new source ruleimposes on new sources, which flouts common sense. As the repeal proposal explains, “the costs of controlling emissions from existing facilities will ordinarily be greater than those for control of new sources.”

Although most people don’t like bureaucratic power grabs, they typically like job-killing regulations even less. The Obama EPA projected relatively small job losses and electricity rate increases from the Clean Power Plan, but outside experts disagree. The Heritage Foundation estimated the plan would reduce annual employment by 479,000 jobs in 2027, reduce cumulative GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars between 2020 and 2030, and reduce cumulative household income by more than $10,000. NERA Economic Consulting estimated rate increases of 11 to 14 percent from 2022 to 2033.

However, the economic impacts of the first plan compliance period are almost beside the point. The plan is a framework empowering the EPA to continually tighten the regulatory screws for decades to come. So, it’s not the first compliance period targets, but the prospect of increasingly draconian curbs on coal and gas power plants that makes the plan toxic to the domestic energy renaissance on which U.S. industrial competitiveness depends.

The Obama EPA claimed the Clean Power Plan would deliver up to $95 billion in climate change mitigation benefits by 2030, but that’s flimflam. The EPA’s own climate model estimated the plan would avert less than 0.02 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2100 — too small an amount to have any discernible impact on weather patterns, polar bear populations, or anything else people care about. The climatic effects in 2030 would be even smaller.

The Clean Power Plan is an unlawful power grab that forces American consumers to endure higher electric rates, fewer jobs, and a less competitive economy — and all for no detectable climate benefit. In pursuing repeal, the administration has clearly made the right call.

Marlo Lewis Jr. is a senior fellow in energy and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

See the article here.

Costly Power Plan No Longer Threatens State’s Economy

Via The West Virginia Gazette-Mail:

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, just did a big — though little-known — favor for states like ours that use coal to generate electricity.

His decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan lifted a massive regulation from our state’s economy, sparing our industries and households from the effects of a weakened power grid, higher power prices and lost jobs.

The Clean Power Plan is a prime example of good intentions gone awry. The idea, hatched in the Obama administration, was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. But the solution was to force into retirement many of the power plants that supply more than 95 percent of our state’s electricity — and without delivering any significant environmental benefits.

 This is one early retirement plan that wouldn’t work for West Virginia. That’s because fewer coal plants mean less reliable electricity. Together with the struggles of nuclear power, the result would have made our electric grid precariously dependent on natural gas-fired plants and intermittent energy sources (like wind and solar) to provide affordable, round-the-clock electricity.

Earlier regulations have already shut down enough power plants nationwide to supply electricity to 40 million homes. The Clean Power Plan would have shuttered many more. Altogether, about one-fourth of the entire coal fleet would have closed by 2020, with the great majority of these plants forced off the grid by regulations. That would leave coal state power grids close to threadbare and more vulnerable to storms and outages.

Granted, these are low-probability events, but they are high-impact events too. Ships seldom sink and planes rarely crash. But when they do, our concern is with the impact, not the probability.

The Clean Power Plan was based on wishful thinking about the ability of renewable power to fill the gap left by coal plant closings. Despite the growth in wind and solar energy, they still supply only 7 percent of the power Americans use. And even when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, it’s not always possible to carry renewable power from sunny and windy regions to parts of the country where it’s needed.

Worse, the Clean Power Plan would have raised electricity costs. The Supreme Court stayed the regulation, faulting Obama’s regulators for ignoring cost impacts. Estimates vary, but some economists concluded that constructing new infrastructure to replace the retired coal plants would cost $64 billion — that’s 64,000,000,000 dollars.

And that would have come on top of rising wholesale electricity costs that utilities would eventually pass on to consumers. The decline of coal-based power plants would lead to further declines in coal production, contributing to as many as 225,000 lost jobs — from the mines and plants to the railroads, barges and ports. The loss of these high-wage jobs would have been especially damaging in coal-dependent states like ours, where roughly 43,000 jobs rely on coal.

Environmental activists are hammering Administrator Pruitt for his decision. But the most surprising fact about the Clean Power Plan is how trivial its environmental benefit would have been: a reduction of 0.018 degrees Celsius. The plan would have had a much bigger impact on the economy than it ever would have had on climate change.

The Department of Energy is trying to forestall further weakening of the nation’s power grid. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to assign higher values to coal and nuclear power plants in recognition of their resilience and reliability. That should help to reduce further closures of power plants that can quickly and constantly generate power when needed.

Activists now claim the recent hurricanes that wracked our shores show the effect of climate change. But these storms also dramatize the vulnerability of our power grid.

Improving the environment is a worthy goal, but let’s do it without making grid reliability worse and sacrificing peoples’ jobs.

See the article here.

A Costly Power Plan No Longer Threatens Colorado’s Economy

Via Colorado Politics:

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), just did a big — though little-known — favor for states like ours that use coal to generate electricity. His decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP) lifted a massive regulation from our state’s economy, sparing our industries and households from the effects of a weakened power grid, higher power prices, and lost jobs.

The Clean Power Plan is a prime example of good intentions gone awry. The idea, hatched in the Obama administration, was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. But the solution was to force into retirement many of the power plants that supply more than 55 percent of our state’s electricity — and without delivering any significant environment benefits.

This is one early retirement plan that wouldn’t work for Colorado. That’s because fewer coal plants mean less reliable electricity. Together with the struggles of nuclear power, the result would have made our electric grid precariously dependent on natural gas-fired plants and intermittent energy sources (like wind and solar) to provide affordable, round-the-clock electricity.

Earlier regulations have already shut down enough power plants nationwide to supply electricity to 40 million homes. The CPP would have shuttered many more. Altogether, about one-fourth of the entire coal fleet would have closed by 2020, with the great majority of these plants forced off the grid by regulations. That would leave coal-state power grids close to threadbare and more vulnerable to storms and outages. Granted, these are low-probability events, but they are high-impact events too. Ships seldom sink and planes rarely crash. But when they do, our concern is with the impact, not the probability.

The CPP was based on wishful thinking about the ability of renewable power to fill the gap left by coal plant closings. Despite the growth in wind and solar energy, they still supply only 18 percent of Colorado’s electricity. And even when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, it’s not always possible to carry renewable power from sunny and windy regions to parts of the country where it’s needed.

Worse, the CPP would have raised electricity costs. The Supreme Court stayed the regulation, faulting Obama’s regulators for ignoring cost impacts. Estimates vary, but some economists concluded that constructing new infrastructure to replace the retired coal plants would cost $64 billion. And that would have come on top of rising wholesale electricity costs that utilities would eventually pass on to consumers. The decline of coal-based power plants would lead to further declines in coal production, contributing to as many as 225,000 lost jobs — from the mines and plants to the railroads, barges, and ports. The loss of these high-wage jobs would have been especially damaging in coal-dependent states like ours, where almost 13,000 jobs rely on coal.

Environmental activists will hammer Pruitt for rolling back climate change action. But the most surprising fact about the CPP is how trivial its environmental benefit would be: a reduction of 0.018° Celsius. The CPP would have had a much bigger impact on the economy than it ever would have on climate change.

The Department of Energy is trying to forestall further weakening of the nation’s power grid. Energy Secretary Perry has asked federal regulators to assign higher values to coal and nuclear power plants in recognition of their reliability. That should help to reduce further closures of power plants that can quickly and constantly generate power when needed.

Activists now claim the recent hurricanes that wracked our shores show the effect of climate change. But these storms also dramatize the vulnerability of our power grids. Improving the environment is a worthy goal, let’s do it without making grid reliability worse.

See the article here.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry Moves to Preserve the U.S. Electrical Grid

Via Polizette.com:

Over the past decade, scores of coal-fired and nuclear power plants have closed, leaving the country at risk

Americans often take their daily electricity for granted. And it’s only when storms knock down power lines that we realize how much we rely on it.

Unfortunately, there are real, growing concerns about the long-term sturdiness of America’s electricity grid. That’s because a decade of heavy-handed federal regulations, along with a wave of competition from natural gas, have combined to dismantle a sizable number of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.

The numbers are actually somewhat disturbing. More than 60 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity has disappeared since 2010. That’s enough electricity to power 40 million homes. And overall, this loss is slated to rise to as much as 80 gigawatts by 2020.

Coal remains underappreciated, even though it still provides more than 30 percent of total U.S. power generation. In fact, coal and nuclear plants combine to supply a steady 50 percent of overall U.S. electricity demand. Essentially, they buttress the “baseload” power generation of the United States — the power needed to continuously meet the nation’s daily operational needs.

The problem now is that, with many of America’s coal-fired power plants being dismantled and nuclear plants being retired, the country has lost an unprecedented amount of baseload capacity in a relatively short span of time. This poses a significant, long-term problem for a nation that has rapidly surpassed 325 million in population.

Thankfully, the Trump administration is taking action. Earlier this year Energy Secretary Rick Perry undertook a study of the overall viability of the nation’s power grid. And his conclusion was that the United States must maintain an “all of the above” energy strategy in order to meet its growing needs.

This is smart policy, since natural gas prices have historically been volatile. And gas-fired power plants also remain tied to lengthy pipeline delivery chains. Coal and nuclear, by contrast, maintain plentiful on-site fuel supplies — leaving them less vulnerable to weather disruptions.

Committed environmentalists are vehemently opposed to coal and nuclear, of course. But their wholehearted embrace of wind turbines and solar panels overlooks the troubling intermittency of both forms of power generation. Not only are wind and solar reliant on windy and sunny days, but they are particularly vulnerable to weather extremes.

Secretary Perry has done his due diligence, and found that coal and nuclear provide a very sturdy foundation for continued baseload generation. And in response, he’s now calling for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to assess a “reliability” value on power plants. Doing so would reward coal and nuclear for their long-term sturdiness — and thus help to ensure ample, ongoing supplies of robust power to secure the nation’s grid.

This doesn’t suit the wider interests of the American people, though. So Secretary Perry should be commended for taking a realistic approach to a potentially troubling situation.

It’s worth considering, too, that today’s coal plants are 90 percent cleaner than 30 years ago, thanks to advances in high-tech systems that trap emissions of sulfur, mercury, and particulate matter. And these coal plants can become even more efficient if utilities are given the chance to invest in newer technologies that achieve greater thermal efficiencies and burn less fuel per kilowatt-hour.

Secretary Perry should be congratulated for tackling the unglamorous, technical task of attempting to secure the nation’s future power generation. Since Americans assume that the lights will always switch on at their fingertips, they should appreciate the complex logistics needed to ensure that this continues.

Terry Jarrett is an energy attorney and consultant who has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy Needed to Fuel Reliable Electric Grid

Via The Philadelphia Inquirer: 

The spate of recent hurricanes that pummeled Florida, Louisiana, and Texas highlights the fragility of America’s electricity infrastructure. Millions of residents lost power for days, sometimes weeks. In tandem with this lost service came troubling disruptions to gas production and key pipelines, driving up energy costs nationwide.

Americans have long been blessed with some of the most affordable and reliable electricity in the world. But these natural disasters serve as a reminder not to take the nation’s power grid for granted. Indeed, a post-hurricane poll found 85 percent of voters saying the United States should act to protect the diversity of its energy grid to minimize such storm impacts.

It’s a sensible strategy, but it comes just as America’s power sector is reaching a crossroads.

Much of the baseload power generation that has long buttressed the nation has been shrinking. Federal regulations and rising natural gas production have reduced America’s coal fleet to a third of total U.S. electricity generation. And the nuclear industry that supplies a fifth of America’s power is struggling to replace aging plants, with bankruptcies and cost overruns impeding new construction.

Coal in particular has long provided inexpensive, robust electricity. And this reliability is one of the reasons Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced a repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Environmental activists remain opposed to both coal and nuclear plants, touting wind and solar power to supplant this sturdy baseload generation. It’s a tall order, though, since wind and solar remain troublingly intermittent —and currently generate less than 7 percent of America’s total electricity. Thus, replacing the 50 percent of electricity now supplied by coal and nuclear energy may be harder than expected.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently unveiled a study highlighting exactly these concerns. Although America’s power grid is secure for now, the study suggests that the nation’s power supply will require contributions from all energy sources. So while it’s helpful that wind and solar are slowly increasing their share, a diverse power mix remains crucial.

The dismantling of both coal and nuclear has many turning to natural gas as the next best option. America undoubtedly possesses enormous supplies of natural gas, with the fracking revolution positioning the United States to become a net energy exporter.

But a shift toward large-scale exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) to the European Union could have surprising repercussions. Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm has predicted that U.S. natural gas exports could triple within three years, sending 42 percent of America’s production offshore. Since U.S. consumers rely heavily on natural gas for home heating and electricity, this tighter market for gas supplies could drive up domestic prices. The Department of Energy predicted as much in 2015 when it estimated that increased LNG exports could “raise domestic prices and lower prices internationally.”

While natural gas has seemed like such a boon for electricity generation, the prospect of heavier reliance on a less diverse fuel mix could hit consumers hard. And higher utility bills could become problematic without a sufficient coal and nuclear fleet to help balance price fluctuations.

Ironically, the move away from coal and nuclear energy could complicate matters further, if many automotive experts are right in predicting a boom in electric cars. In the next decade, the electric-vehicle fleet may jump from 2 million to a whopping 150 million. In that case, the ensuing electricity demand would place huge burdens on the nation’s power grid. The need to ramp up baseload power in such circumstances could help to justify investments now being considered for advanced coal technologies that would increase efficiency while reducing emissions.

The Department of Energy was right to conclude that the nation should follow an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. With natural gas supplies poised for export, wind and solar expanding at a slow pace, nuclear plants retiring, and coal plants being shut down, the country needs a forward-looking strategy for continued reliable electricity. Otherwise, the recent spectacle of power outages and higher energy prices may provide an unfortunate preview of an avoidable problem.

See the article here.

Quinn: Coal Reset

Via The Miami Herald:

The Oct. 11 editorial, “EPA rollbacks are bad for our planet,” is an extreme misrepresentation of a much-needed regulatory reset.

With unprecedented enthusiasm for regulation, the prior administration issued broad, sweeping rules that overstepped the bounds of what the federal government can and should do — duplicating existing regulations, creating jurisdictional confusion among agencies, steamrolling states’ authority, and picking winners and losers in the energy market. Well-intended or not, it was an inappropriate use of authority that the current administration is working to address.

Coal’s critics should have nothing to fear — the market will determine the coal industry’s fate. That’s all we have been asking for: a chance to compete. But, if the industry succeeds, the U.S. can drive real and positive change. Coal will remain one of the world’s leading sources of energy in developed and developing countries for the foreseeable future, and is key to addressing energy poverty.

For those who care about the environment, instead of trying to obstruct the coal industry at home, a more appropriate path would be as a global leader driving the adoption of advanced coal technologies that will continue to reduce emissions everywhere.

See the article here.

Promise Kept: Trump to Roll Back Clean Power Plan

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

“The war on coal is over.” That’s the welcomed verdict from new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who confirmed Monday what we already know — President Donald Trump is a friend of coal. And once again the Trump administration is making good on its pledge to help those coal-producing states that were unfairly targeted by former President Barack Obama.

Pruitt said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, the controversial, job-killing Obama-era rule that set emissions standards that coal-fired power plants could not reasonably meet.

“The war on coal is over,”  Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky. “The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy.”

 Amen. Lawmakers representing southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia have long argued that the Obama-era rules were unrealistic and unfairly targeted coal-producing states like West Virginia and Virginia.

Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay last year that prevented the Clean Power Plan from taking effect following a legal challenge from coal-producing states, including West Virginia.

Ever since the election of Trump last November, the coal industry has seen an uptick in production. A full rollback of the job-killing Clean Power Plan will help in further boosting the industry.

Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, estimates that the new Trump plan will save an estimated 240 million tons of annual coal production and safeguard more than 27,000 mining jobs and almost 100,000 additional jobs throughout the supply chain.

Excellent. Every industry job that is saved, and every new job that is created, helps our regional economy.

See the article here.

Governor Mead Applauds EPA Clean Power Plan Repeal Decision

Via KGAB AM650: 

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is speaking out in support of a decision by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to begin the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan [CPP].

The CPP was first issued in 2014 and would have required states to make big reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, including a 44 percent reduction for Wyoming.

The CPP was the Obama administration’s signature effort at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists say the emissions are a primary factory in global climate change.
But the plan was also considered extremely hostile to the coal industry because coal-fired power plants are a primary cause of carbon dioxide emissions. Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, had long objected to the CPP.

Governor Mead said on Tuesday that the EPA overstepped its authority in creating the rule. Wyoming’s congressional delegation has joined the governor in applauding the repeal of the power plan.

Pruit’s decision is only the first step in repealing the CPP. Once the rule repealing the plan is published in the federal register, a 60 day comment period will begin to allow public input on the repeal.

See the article here.

Pruitt’s Clean Power Break

Via The Wall Street Journal:

The Trump Administration is giving the economy a boost with its deregulatory agenda, and the latest example comes Tuesday when Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt will propose to repeal the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Ending this power grab will uphold the letter of the law and restore cooperative federalism with the states.

The Obama EPA imposed the rule in 2015 to regulate carbon emissions nationwide and force the retirement of coal-fired electric power plants. Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy took creative license by reinterpreting Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which directs the agency to implement the “best system of emission reduction” for pollutants.

EPA had previously applied this provision narrowly to single sources of emissions (e.g., individual power plants), but Ms. McCarthy broke with decades of precedent to dictate a systemic shift in power generation. The Clean Power Plan initially requires new efficiency at coal-fired plants, but over time it impels states to substitute coal with natural gas and ultimately solar and wind.

This usurped the regulatory role of states and contradicted the Clean Air Act text, which says that “air pollution control at its source is the primary responsibility of States and local governments.” The Clean Power Plan would have forced states to scramble to alter their electric-power mix, shutting down coal plants long before the end of their useful life regardless of whether substitutes were on hand and affordable. Higher electricity costs and brownouts were likely.

The Supreme Court stayed the rule in February 2016 after 27 states and 37 electric co-ops sued. In March Mr. Pruitt launched a formal review of the rule, and a draft of the EPA’s new analysis that we’ve seen estimates that rescinding the carbon rule would save $33 billion in compliance costs by 2030.

It also finds that the Obama EPA rigged the cost-benefit calculations. For example, the McCarthy EPA claimed tangential benefits from reductions of other emissions like particulate matter that could have been achieved with less heavy-handed regulation. U.S. social costs were compared against global climate benefits.

Ms. McCarthy also assumed linear health benefits from emissions reductions notwithstanding diminishing returns. In violation of the Office and Management and Budget’s longstanding practice, energy efficiency was cited as an avoided cost rather than as a benefit. This allowed the Obama Administration to low-ball the rule’s cost estimate.

Mr. Pruitt’s proposed rule-making starts the 60-day window for public comments. EPA notes that it hasn’t decided whether it will follow its repeal of the Clean Power Plan with a new rule that regulates greenhouse gases from existing power plants and is considering “whether it is appropriate to propose such a rule.” The decision in part will depend on how well Mr. Pruitt thinks EPA can defend any new rule under the inevitable legal challenges from the environmental left.

But repealing the regulatory overreach of the Obama Administration is the first crucial step that is already paying dividends in less economic uncertainty and more confidence in the reliability of the future electric grid.

See the article here.

EPA Formally Moves to Repeal Major Obama Power Rule

Via The Hill:

The Trump administration formally proposed to scrap the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule for power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the notice Tuesday, arguing that former President Barack Obama’s 2015 rule, dubbed the Clean Power Plan, exceeds the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

He previewed the action Monday at a coal equipment business in Kentucky, framing it as the end of the “war on coal.”

The action formally starts implementing a top campaign promise from President Trump and a request that the fossil fuel industry, business community and Republicans — including Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general — have had for years.

It also begins to tear down the main pillar of Obama’s aggressive second-term climate change agenda, which sought to use executive authority to fight climate change after Congress failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation.

“The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the CPP that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be imposed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court,” Pruitt said in a statement.

“We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate. Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule.”

Environmentalists and Democrats have pledged to fight the rollback, and at least two Democratic state attorneys general have promised to sue the EPA to preserve the rule.

See the article here.

‘War on Coal is Over’

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“The war on coal is over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky. He said no federal agency “should ever use its authority” to “declare war on any sector of our economy.”

For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Barack Obama’s push to limit carbon emissions. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also challenged the rule on behalf of the Mountain State.

Area lawmakers applauded the Trump administration announcement.

“After eight years of radical environmental policies from the White House, we now have a president focused on bringing coal jobs back,” U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said. “President Trump promised to fight for our miners and our way of life, and he is keeping his word. The Obama administration used this rule to pick winners and losers at the expense of West Virginia’s jobs. I will continue to work with President Trump on solutions that will move West Virginia forward, create more jobs and return the EPA to its core mission.”

“For years, the Obama administration waged a war on coal and issued heavy-handed regulations to pick winners and losers among energy industries,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., added. “In West Virginia, our coal miners, their families and entire communities felt the blow of that misguided approach to energy production. It’s refreshing to see how committed the Trump administration is to pursuing a true all-of-the-above energy policy, and Administrator Pruitt’s announcement is another sign that America’s energy strategy is headed in the right direction. “

“From the very beginning, I said the Obama Power Plan was blatant and unlawful federal overreach,” Morrisey said. “I was humbled to have led the state-based coalition that defeated the Power Plan in court through an unprecedented stay at the Supreme Court and am excited that the Trump administration is taking the final step to kill this terrible, job-killing regulation. I believe these actions will help lead to a rebound for coal and will make lives better for coal miners and their families.”

Pruitt rejects the belief of scientists that man-man emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global climate change.

President Donald Trump, who appointed Pruitt and shares his skepticism of established climate science, promised to kill the Clean Power Plan during the 2016 campaign as part of his broader pledge to revive the nation’s struggling coal mines.

In his order Tuesday, Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.

Pruitt appeared at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at Whayne Supply, a Hazard, Kentucky, company that sells coal mining supplies. The store’s owners have been forced to lay off about 60 percent of its workers in recent years.

While cheering the demise of the Clean Power Plan as a way to stop the bleeding, McConnell conceded most of those lost jobs are never coming back.

“A lot of damage has been done,” said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “This doesn’t immediately bring everything back, but we think it stops further decline of coal fired plants in the United States and that means there will still be some market here.”

Obama’s plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.

The Supreme Court put the plan on hold last year following legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states.

Even so, the plan helped drive a recent wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power, as well as state mandates promoting energy conservation.

Trump announced earlier this year that he will pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement.

“This president has tremendous courage,” Pruitt said Monday. “He put America first and said to the rest of the world we are going to say no and exit the Paris Accord. That was the right thing to do.”

Environmental groups and public health advocates quickly derided the decision as short sighted.

“Trump is not just ignoring the deadly cost of pollution, he’s ignoring the clean energy deployment that is rapidly creating jobs across the country,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club.

See the article here.

EPA Moves to Repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan Coal Regs

Via FOX News:

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Ky., casting the previous policy as unfair.

“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”

He said that on Tuesday, he will sign a proposed rule to formally withdraw from the plan.

“It is right for this administration to say the war is over,” Pruitt said.

The decision comes after President Trump in late March ordered a review of the controversial program, which was put on hold more than a year ago by the Supreme Court amid legal challenges from, among others, Pruitt himself.

The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants by having states meet certain targets. Supporters see the plan as a critical plank in efforts to curb global warming, but critics contend it would kill thousands of jobs and take direct aim at the struggling coal sector.

The move to officially nix the program was expected, following Trump’s vow to end what he calls the “war on coal.” Pruitt, however, can likely expect a new wave of litigation from the other side of the debate, as environmentalist groups and allied Democrats are sure to challenge the rollback.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune threatened such a court fight shortly after Monday’s announcement.

“Trump can’t reverse our clean energy and climate progress with the stroke of a pen, and we’ll fight him and Scott Pruitt in the courts, in the streets, and at the state and local level across America to protect the health of every community,” he said in a statement, calling the move “one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate, and the safety of every community in the United States.”

Brune said the EPA is “legally required to limit dangerous carbon pollution.”

The Clean Power Plan is hardly the only Obama policy being challenged or reversed by Trump. Just last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back much of the ObamaCare requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage.

Bloomberg first reported that the administration would propose rescinding the Clean Power Plan, by arguing it exceeded federal law. The next step reportedly would be to ask for public comment on how and whether to curb carbon emissions from these power plants.

See the article here.

Better Late Than Never

Via The Wheeling News-Register:

It is unfortunate for the nation as a whole, not just for energy-producing states, that former President Barack Obama’s war on coal and affordable electricity is being ended after years in which it was pursued with attack-dog tenacity and yes, viciousness. Better late than never, however.

“The war on coal is over,” announced Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday. He explained he plans to sign an order overriding the Clean Power Plan, which the Obama administration had viewed as the killing blow in its offensive against coal mining and use of the fuel at power plants.

Throughout his eight years in the Oval Office, Obama and the EPA used dozens of tactics in their overall strategy. They ranged from irrational limits on mining itself to new restrictions on power plant emissions. Meanwhile, they pumped billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to so-called “alternatives” including solar and wind power.

Millions of Americans, many of whom do not live in coal states, are paying higher electric bills because of Obama’s vendetta. Entire counties in coal states such as West Virginia and Ohio have had their economies devastated.

Many utilities began shutting down coal-fired generating stations in anticipation of new EPA rules. As some in the coal industry have pointed out, mines that once supplied those power plants will never reopen.

In addition, families and businesses that once benefited from low-cost electricity generated at those stations are stuck with higher-priced power generated from other fuels.

Still, Pruitt’s order, backed by several other pro-coal actions by President Donald Trump, is important. It may save a few coal-fired power plants and a few miners’ jobs.

It also allows the nation to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy policy instead of wiping one of our most abundant resources out of the strategy.

Our nation has made enormous strides in cleaning up the air, water and soil during the past couple of decades. There may be more we have to do.

But it was clear early in Obama’s presidency that the rationale behind his war on coal was personal preference and special interest politics, not scientific necessity. Obama had decided to wipe out what he felt was a “dirty” industry, and he was determined to make that happen.

He very nearly did, in terms of using coal to supply electricity. It is never too late to correct a mistake, and that is precisely what Pruitt is doing.

See the article here.

Pruitt, Perry Move to Boost Coal

Via The Washington Examiner:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will sign his proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan on Tuesday, he said Monday morning in the coal-mining state of Kentucky.

He will lay out the financial gain of killing the Obama administration’s climate rules for the coal industry.

“Regulatory power should not be used by any regulatory body to pick winners and losers,” Pruitt said.

The plan, which required states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2030, has been on ice since February 2016, when the Supreme Court blocked it as it worked its way through the courts. He said the withdrawal of the plan would come on Tuesday. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from more than two dozen states and over 100 industry groups challenging the Obama-era rules in September 2016, but has not ruled on the case.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed rule to give the industry incentives for the reliability it provides to the electric grid is working its way through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at a fevered clip.

Those two moves by the Trump administration would provide a major, two-pronged plan to boost coal-fired power plants.

See the full article here.

EPA Document Proposes to Eliminate Clean Power Plan ‘In Its Entirety’

Via Brietbart:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to repeal the agency’s Obama-era climate change program, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), “in its entirety,” according to a document obtained by Breitbart News.

The 43-page document, titled, “Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stations Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” details how the EPA plans to repeal CPP through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This version of the document obtained by Breitbart News remains subject to change through inter-agency review.

The agency contends that the EPA, under former Administrator Gina McCarthy, exceeded its authority to regulate carbon emissions as stipulated by the Clean Air Act. The document proposes to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, and then suggested that they might release an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that will reflect a more thoughtful and modest approach to regulating air pollution given the EPA’s limited statutory authority.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March ordering a review of the Clean Power Plan as well as other environmental regulations. Instead of Obama’s stifling energy regulations, the Trump administration will promote policies that favor American “energy dominance.”

The Obama administration designed the Clean Power Plan to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. Conservatives widely viewed the Clean Power Plan, along with the Paris Climate Treaty, to be part of Obama’s “war on coal.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt criticized the Clean Power Plan earlier this year, calling the regulation, “unlawful.” Pruitt said, “This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in,” he said of the president’s executive order, “and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment.”

Myron Ebell, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) director of Energy and Environment programs and Trump administration EPA transition chair, argued that the Clean Power Plan remains illegal and would do devastating harm to the average American. Ebell said, “In particular, we applaud his action to begin withdrawing the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, including the so-called ‘Clean Power’ Plan. These rules, which are clearly illegal, would raise electric rates for consumers significantly and do immense economic damage to the heartland states where U.S. manufacturing is now concentrated.”

The EPA document declares that they are “proposing to repeal the CPP in its entirety.”

The EPA contends in the document, under former Administrator Gina McCarthy, exceeded its statutory authority under the Clean Air Act to force states and power plants to comply with the Clean Power Plan’s regulation to lower carbon emissions.

Over 150 interested parties sued the EPA, including 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and three labor unions sued the former EPA administration in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the CPP was unconstitutional. A bipartisan group of 34 Senators and 171 members of the House filed an amicus brief arguing that the CPP was illegal and skirted Congress’ authority to legislate on environmental issues.

In February 2016, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the CPP pending further review. On August 8, 2017 the court issued an order holding the case in abeyance for a 60-day review and directed the EPA to file status updates at 30-day intervals.

In March, President Donald Trump issued an executive order which the document cites, which affirms the “national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”

The Executive order also directed the EPA to “immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind, those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.” Subsequently, the EPA conducted a review of its environmental regulations, including the agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The EPA contends that their initial review of the CPP “raised substantial concerns that the CPP is not consistent with the policy articulated in Section 1 of the Executive Order.”

The EPA explained, “For example, numerous States, regulated entities and other stakeholders warned that the CPP threatened to impose massive costs on the power sector and consumers; invaded traditional areas of state regulation over the mix of energy generation within their borders, departed radically from prior regulatory practice and longstanding reading of the statute; and did not adequately ensure the national interest in affordable, reliable electricity, including from coal generation.”

The EPA contends in the proposed rulemaking that the EPA’s ability to “revisit existing regulations is well-grounded in the law.” The document cites Chevron U.S.A. v. NRDC, Inc.National Cable & Telecommunications Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Services, and the Clean Air Council v. Pruitt cases to argue that the agencies have broad discretion to reconsider agency regulations at any time.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) contains a cost-benefit analysis that examines repealing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The EPA estimates that repealing CPP would provide up to $33 billion in avoided compliance costs in 2030.

EPA Administrator Pruitt’s Scott decision to eliminate Obama’s Clean Power Plan serves as part of President Trump’s agenda to unravel Obama’s environmental legacy and pursuean America First policy of “energy dominance.”

In May, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The president said, “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.” Trump cited that the Paris Climate Accord alone could cost America 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025. Similarly to the Clean Power Plan, Obama acted unilaterally without the consent of Congress and the American people to implement his climate agenda through the Paris Climate Accord.

Now EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who was one of the first Attorneys General to sue the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, can start to repeal one of Obama’s hallmark environmental programs.

EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman said in a statement to Breitbart News, “While we can’t comment on the authenticity of the document, what we can say is that the Obama Administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far that the Supreme Court issued a stay – the first in history – to prevent the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ from taking effect. Any replacement rule that the Trump Administration proposes will be done carefully and properly within the confines of the law.”

See the article here.

National Mining Welcomes Repeal of the Costly Power Plan

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn today issued this statement following reports of the administration’s plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan:

“As reported, Administrator Pruitt will signal a decisive break with past policies that have used regulation of doubtful legality to circumvent the will of Congress, usurp States’ authority and raise costs on American consumers.

“Repealing this Obama-era rule would close a chapter of regulatory overreach that set standards without regard to the steep costs or availability of technology necessary to meet them. The Clean Power Plan represented an unlawful attempt to transform the nation’s power grid. It would have destroyed additional baseload power assets, leaving our economy more vulnerable to reliability concerns and higher costs with trivial environmental benefits.

“Unplugging the plan would spare further loss of high-wage employment. By saving an estimated 240 million tons of annual coal production, the administrator’s action helps to safeguard more than 27,000 mining jobs and almost 100,000 additional jobs throughout the supply chain.

“A far better approach to achieving environmental improvement will rely on sound legal rules and proven technologies that can sustain the impressive reductions in emissions achieved over the past decades. Such an approach consistent with EPA’s basic mission will restore the important balance between costs and benefits that have been missing from federal regulatory policies.”

See the release here.

Two Power Plays Show Leadership

Two Power Plays Show Leadership

October 6, 2017

After eight years of federal regulations weighing heavily on coal, we have now had eight months of reasonable federal regulatory relief. And Trump’s critics are crying foul.

In the past week, two bold attempts to bring energy policy back towards the neutral zone have been greeted with near hysteria.

First, Secretary Perry’s request that FERC issue a rule directing unregulated markets to assess a “reliability” valuation for baseload power plants drew scorn from competing fuels. A transparent sop to coal, they say. This from a renewable fuels industry kept off life support by production tax credits and mandated minimum markets.

The “Chutzpah of the Year” quote goes to the head of the wind industry association, who admonished Congress this week with this whopper: “You want to allow the markets to compete and evolve and not pick one fuel source over another.”

Some Perry critics ask: Where’s the reliability crisis to justify this request? Note the irony in this faux outrage. When climate activists get that same “where’s-the-crisis” question from skeptics of costly emission reduction regulations, they say there isn’t a crisis today but there will be one tomorrow unless we take prudent action now to prevent it.

(more…)

eport: EPA to Propose Elimination of Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Via Breitbart.com:

According to a document obtained by Reuters, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose to eliminate Obama’s infamous environmental Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulation.

The report, if confirmed, would signal the Trump’s administrations’ first step towards eliminating Obama’s environment rule intended to curb power plants’ carbon emissions.

The EPA document, which was distributed to members of the environmental agency’s Regulatory Steering Committee, said that the EPA “is issuing a proposal to repeal the rule.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March ordering a review of the Clean Power Plan as well as other environmental regulations. Instead of Obama’s stifling energy regulations, the Trump administration will promote policies that favor American “energy dominance.”

The Obama administration designed the Clean Power Plan to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. Conservatives widely viewed the Clean Power Plan, along with the Paris Climate Treaty, to be part of Obama’s “war on coal.”

Twenty-six states challenged the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in court after the Obama administration launched the rule in 2015. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the rule and set a deadline for this Friday, ordering the EPA to send a status report on how it plans to proceed on the Clean Power Plan.

The report details how the EPA intends to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would gather input from industry officials and interested parties on how to revise or rescind the CPP.

Industry sources expect the EPA to release the proposal to repeal and replace the Clean Power Plan as early as the end of this week.

Janet McCabe, a senior EPA official under Obama, said that an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking could take years. McCabe said, “It certainly will draw the process out.”

Conservative groups have urged the EPA to eliminate the CPP without replacing the climate rule, while industry groups want a replacement of the rule to give industry groups regulatory certainty and avoid potential lawsuits from environmental groups.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt criticized the Clean Power Plan earlier this year, calling the regulation, “unlawful.” Pruitt said, “This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in,” he said of the president’s executive order, “and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment.”

See the article here.

Rick Perry Urges FERC Protect Coal, Nuclear Power Plants

Via The Washington Examiner:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry prodded the nation’s grid regulator on Friday to pick up the pace on an administration proposal to ensure nuclear and coal power plants are adequately compensated for the resilience they offer the power grid.

Perry sent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a proposed rule on that matter that he wants the commission to approve swiftly to ensure a diverse energy mix exists.

“A reliable and resilient electrical grid is critical not only to our national and economic security, but also to the everyday lives of American families,” Perry said in a letter accompanying the rule. “A diverse mix of power generation resources, including those with on-site reserves, is essential to the reliable delivery of electricity — particularly in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters. My proposal will strengthen American energy security by ensuring adequate reserve resource supply and I look forward to the Commission acting swiftly on it.”

Typically, the energy secretary doesn’t send draft proposed rules to the FERC, and in this case, the commission already has a proceeding underway on price formation. But administration sources say FERC has been too slow and it is within Perry’s discretion to give the nation’s grid regulator a nudge even though it is an independent arm of the Energy Department.

Perry argued that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria underscore the need for FERC to act swiftly to approve new rules that would ensure the nation has electricity that can remain functioning during disasters.

The need for FERC to propose regulatory fixes to help economically ailing coal and nuclear power plants was made last month in a major grid study that Perry issued, which explained the administration’s priorities for the electricity grid. The study showed that nuclear and coal plants are being economically challenged by the low cost of natural gas, which is making gas-fired power plants the top electricity producer in the country.

FERC oversees the wholesale electric markets that compensate power resources based on the lowest cost resource. The low-cost energy gets access to transmission first, so it can sell into the market. This is done under the Federal Power Act to preserve fair and reasonable rates for consumers.

Under the proposed rule, FERC would direct the large electricity operators it oversees to prepare pricing mechanisms that compensate power plants for the specific ways they help stabilize the grid. For example, a power plant’s ability to contribute power during a flood or extreme cold should be considered to ensure those characteristics remain part of the grid to stave off blackouts or widespread failures.

Neil Chatterjee, the current Trump-appointed chairman of the commission, told lawmakers last month that “the commission is fuel neutral” but will “evaluate the attributes of fuel sources to see what values they provide and if there is a demonstrated need for reliability whether those things can be compensated.”

The coal industry applauded the effort on Friday, and used Perry’s rule proposal to prod the commission for swift action.

“We urge FERC to act swiftly on this important proposal,” said Hal Quinn, the president of the National Mining Association. “Secretary Perry’s action today is a long-overdue and necessary step to address the vulnerability of America’s energy grid.”

Quinn explained that Perry is invoking his authority under the law to ask the commission “to take decisive steps to arrest the premature retirement of power plants capable of providing American consumers with reliable and affordable electricity.”

“By acting on the Secretary’s proposal, FERC can appropriately value the importance of reliable and resilient fuels that ensure baseload power, the mainstay of our nation’s grid, is available at all times,” he said. Baseload refers to power plants that can supply the minimum amount of electricity 24-hours a day to keep the grid up and running without disruption.

Perry announced a separate action to help move along the development of new nuclear plants with conditional commitments of up to $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to the owners of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The power plant’s designer, Westinghouse, had filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year, placing the project’s future in jeopardy. It is one of just a handful of new proposed nuclear projects in the country.

“I believe the future of nuclear energy in the United States is bright and look forward to expanding American leadership in innovative nuclear technologies,” said Perry. “Advanced nuclear energy projects like Vogtle are the kind of important energy infrastructure projects that support a reliable and resilient grid, promote economic growth, and strengthen our energy and national security.”

See the article here.

Trump’s Path to Global Coal Dominance Picks up at UN

Via The Washington Examiner:

The Trump administration may gain an ally at the United Nations for its pro-fossil fuel agenda to build cleaner coal power plants globally.

President Trump often touts his support for clean coal technology, and even though he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement, his administration still wants to use the U.N. in ways that help implement its agenda to export more U.S. energy and expertise abroad.

One of the more supportive areas is the U.N. Economic Council on Europe’s Committee on Sustainable Energy, which is looking for ways to support electricity from fossil fuels through its Cleaner Electricity Production from Fossil Fuels working group.

The clean electricity group looks for ways to make coal plants more efficient and push technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is committed to keeping fossil fuels in the global energy mix, recognizing that coal and other fossil fuels make up more than half of the energy consumed in Europe alone.

Most of the U.N. group’s goals would dovetail surprisingly well with Trump’s agenda for coal. Energy Secretary Rick Perry talked up the administration’s support for carbon capture technology last week at clean energy conferences around Washington, saying the goal is to export U.S. innovation abroad and expand the market for American coal expertise.

The administration is “aware of this effort within the [United Nations],” said Barry Worthington, chairman of the U.N. Cleaner Electricity Production working group. “I would say the Department of Energy is very engaged” with the U.N. Economic Council on Europe’s sustainability committee.

Worthington is also the executive director of the U.S. Energy Association, a large umbrella group that represents the energy industry on the World Energy Council. The group serves as a bipartisan advisory organization representing 150 members across the U.S. energy sector, from large Fortune 500 companies to small energy consulting firms.

Worthington is gearing up for this month’s 13th annual meeting of the Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Fossil Fuels in Geneva.

“It’s a group of experts on clean power production and we’re going to make an effort in the next month, or so, to develop recommendations or criteria for consideration by financial institutions looking at financing coal and other fossil facilities,” Worthington told the Washington Examiner.

The criteria will assist in getting large financial groups such as the World Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to consider coal plants in the list of power plants it will support, Worthington said. The World Bank has had a bias against coal plants at the Obama administration’s insistence, which the Trump administration has been trying to reverse.

Worthington said it’s “one thing to reverse a policy and say we’ll finance coal plants, but then you reject the first dozen that you see.” The standards will help to demonstrate how the technology is cleaner and more efficient than past coal plants.

“We would try to develop some sort of rational criteria that financial institutions can use because there is just so many different circumstances,” he said. “If you were in Europe, for example, looking at replacing an existing coal plant with a new coal plant you might be looking at one set of circumstances. If you are a developing country, and you’re going to electrify an area that hadn’t been electrified at all, there may be different performance levels that you want to use,” Worthington said.

“For example, you may have an efficiency criteria, you may want to have a certain efficiency rating, you may want to have an emissions limit, you may want to have a criteria that relates to water,” he said.

That is an area where the Department of Energy could assist. The department “has the expertise that’s needed to understand from a technical standpoint what kinds of things you want to have a criteria for,” Worthington added.

The Trump administration announced in July that it was changing the rules for financing energy projects worldwide, reversing the Obama administration’s restrictions on fossil fuel projects under the World Bank and other global investment institutions.

The Treasury Department in its guidance said the U.S. would “promote universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy, help countries access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources.”

It also called for the U.S. representatives of the World Bank and other multinational financial institutions to vote for projects that “support development of robust, efficient, competitive and integrated global markets for energy.”

The guidance eliminated the “anti-coal guidance issued under the previous administration,” according to Luke Popovich, vice president for external communications at the National Mining Association. “NMA wholeheartedly approves of this since the previous Obama-era guidance called for an end to virtually all U.S. support for overseas coal financing,” he said.

“This is a complete turnaround from the previous guidance that precluded U.S. support for overseas coal financing and implemented a key section of former President Obama’s Climate Action Plan,” Popovich said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

Worthington said the Trump administration is also making U.S. agencies that handle overseas energy investments more supportive of coal, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and others.

“Then at the same time, the United States would use our role in the international finance institutions to cause them to also reverse their ban, or prohibition, or bias, against financing coal plants,” he said. “That would be the World Bank, the whole World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and so forth.”

The Asian Development Bank “never developed an anti-coal, anti-fossil policy. They continue to finance coal plants,” Worthington pointed out. The U.S. and China will hold a joint clean coal meeting in West Virginia in November to share notes on carbon capture and other clean coal technologies that both countries have been funding for years.

The Trump administration also wants to use its standing in the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund, since the Obama administration sent $1 billion to the fund before Trump announced June 1 the U.S. would withdraw. The fund is meant to collect money from large developed nations to help fund projects in poorer nations affected by global warming.

Many scientists blame fossil fuels for changing the temperature of the Earth, resulting in potentially catastrophic consequences such as ocean acidification and more severe drought.

Environmentalists issued a report last week that said the fund’s independence to carry out its climate directive is being threatened by its closer ties with the World Bank and other large multinational financial institutions. The group said the green fund is beginning to slip from its targets to support climate adaptation strategies by relying on the big banks for moving money to projects.

See the article here.

Trump and the End of Obama’s Bitter ‘War on Coal’

Via The Hill:

What a difference presidential leadership can make, for good or ill, for an industry’s fortunes.

Before he was elected president, Barack Obama promised to bankrupt coal companies, and after eight years of his administration’s anti-energy policies, that pledge turned out to be one of the few promises he kept. Obama imposed regulations limiting coal mining near streams and on mountain tops, allowed cities to block the expansion of coal export terminals and rail lines, and enacted limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, including many that were not justified by any reasonable calculation of human health benefits. His policies contributed to massive job losses in coal country, the premature shuttering of vital coal-fired power plants, and were a factor in profitable coal companies being forced to file for bankruptcy.

As a candidate for president, Donald Trump promised he would enact policies that would end the “war on coal” launched by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, halting or slowing the loss of jobs related to coal mining and coal-fired power plants, and he is doing just that.

Coal’s virtue is its reliability and abundance; America has a coal supply beneath U.S. soil that could last 200 to 400 years. While many coal-fired power plants have closed because they are unable to compete with low-cost gas-fired power plants, dozens of coal-fired power plants and mines were shuttered prematurely under Obama due to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, policies Trump has started to reverse.

For instance, in its first use of the Congressional Review Act under Trump, Congress halted a so-called “Stream Protection Rule” imposed by Obama that would have threatened over one-third of the nation’s coal-mining jobs. The Interior Department’s own reports show the rule was unnecessary, since coal mines have virtually no offsite impacts and lands are being restored successfully under existing federal and state regulations.

Trump also issued two “Energy Independence” executive orders affecting coal. One ended a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land and the second declared federal agencies should no longer consider speculative climate change impacts when implementing federal contracts, issuing permits, or formulating planned uses of federal lands.

At Trump’s direction, EPA is in the process of reviewing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and the expectation is the Trump administration will rescind or significantly reshape its limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from existing and new power plants.

Trump’s early energy actions have paid job dividends in coal country. The Department of Labor reported mining jobs in America grew by 11,000 in March and by another 7,000 in May. In June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the United States had since the beginning of 2017 added more than 50,000 jobs throughout the coal supply and use chain.

Additionally, under Trump’s leadership, the first and second largest coal companies in the United States, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, which had been forced into insolvency in part by Obama’s climate policies, emerged from bankruptcy. And in June, Corsa Coal Company opened the Acosta Mine, the first new coal mine to open in the past six years.

In early September, Paringa Resources announced it was building a new coal mine in Kentucky, which it expects to begin producing coal in mid-2018. Paringa is also constructing another mine, which will begin producing by early 2019. In an interview on FOX Business News, Parinaga’s CEO, Grant Quasha, credited the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back regulations on coal production and use for helping him secure the funding needed for the project.

“All we had to do was raise the money,” Quasha said. “On the back of the Trump administration coming into the Oval Office and ending the war on coal, we were able to successfully raise approximately $40 million worth of financing in the Australian equity markets to help build out this mine.”

The coal industry has also benefitted from a boom in coal exports since Trump took office. U.S. coal exports to Europe have risen by 70 percent compared to the first quarter in 2016, while exports to Asia have risen by approximately 50 percent. Driven primarily by the growth in exports, coal production in the United States has increased by 14 percent since December 2016, and revenue at publicly traded U.S. coal companies grew by 19 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period one year ago.

I have no love for coal — nor for any other particular source of energy, for that matter. I don’t think coal should be subsidized, but I also don’t think it should be discriminated against by the government, which uses harmful regulations that raise electric bills but do nothing to protect human health or the environment.

Americans should have access to reliable, relatively inexpensive energy sources that can power the conveniences that make modern life modern. Coal’s virtues are its domestic abundance, relative affordability, and reliability as a source of fuel — characteristics solar and wind power just can’t match, even though they continue to receive massive subsidies from the government.

One day — probably long after I’m dead — other ways to generate electricity will arise that, like coal and natural gas, are cheap and reliable. When that occurs, coal and natural gas will likely fade into history, as they should under those circumstances. Until then, three cheers for coal and the coal industry’s nascent recovery!

Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a research fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

See the article here.