Clean Power Plan Misses Its Mark
South Carolina faces a financial body-blow due to the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This plan would require a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 2030.
To achieve its emissions-reduction goal, EPA is aiming to eventually phase out coal-generated power. While coal power plants are our largest source of carbon emissions, they are our most affordable source of electricity and meet nearly 40 percent of our national electricity demand. Replacing coal with other fuel sources, primarily natural gas, wind and solar power, will lower U.S. carbon emissions, but it will come with a steep price tag.
In South Carolina, coal power accounts for 25 percent of electricity demand. Economic analysis projects that implementing the Clean Power Plan, as proposed, could push up the state’s wholesale electricity prices by nearly 15 percent.
The Obama administration and its environmental allies stress climate leadership as the key reason for moving forward with their sweeping carbon proposal. However, they readily admit that U.S. carbon reductions will have almost no impact on global carbon concentrations. Unfortunately, they’re equating climate leadership with only one misguided path. Like or not, they must acknowledge that the global climate fight will not be won or lost in America’s coal fields.
Increasing the cost of electricity in our country, to the detriment of consumers and the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, is a mistake that will do little to encourage other nations to tackle the climate challenge.
It may be counter-intuitive, but the key to reducing global carbon emissions arguably lies with coal technology. Coal-generated power may be in retreat here but it remains the fuel of choice globally. China now burns nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. India, Indonesia and a host of other Asian nations are ramping up their reliance on coal. Cheap and abundant, coal has been the tool of choice to bring countless millions out of energy poverty and drive economic growth.
For developing economies, the addition of solar, wind and nuclear energy will come largely on top of existing coal capacity, not in place of it. If we are serious about reducing global emissions, we have to help advance coal-burning technology.
According to a new study, more than 2,100 new coal plants are planned or already under construction worldwide, almost entirely outside the U.S. These plants, along with much of the world’s existing coal infrastructure, will operate for 40 or more years. Finding ways to improve their performance and reduce their emissions is an absolute necessity.
Rather than phasing out coal here, we should be leading a global effort to advance clean-coal technology, namely carbon capture and storage. As the nation with the world’s largest coal reserves and a remarkable capacity for innovation, it’s essential we spearhead efforts to demonstrate and commercialize next-generation coal technologies. Great strides forward in improving the environmental performance of coal plants aren’t unprecedented. Between 1970 and 2011, we reduced emissions of key pollutants from our coal fleet by nearly 90 percent.
Rather than take dead aim at U.S. coal, we need to use an “all of the above” approach to energy. This means the use of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables to generate our electricity.
In the immediate future, it would be a mistake to let the Obama administration and EPA impose their carbon reduction plan as proposed.
Reducing global carbon levels will take U.S. energy and environmental leadership, not just a misguided focus on American coal.
See the article here.
- On August 10, 2015