Last month, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administered what they hope will be the coup de grace to America’s coal industry. They unveiled a new “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) with much fanfare and red-hot rhetoric, most of it faithfully echoed by the Washington press corps and the world’s news media.
National Public Radio, CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and German television believe our grandchildren are likely to perish unless we reduce global temperatures in 2030 by 0.02 percent — the goal of EPA’s misaligned plan to shut down more U.S. fossil fuel-powered plants.
Correspondents who normally flaunt their independence meekly bowed in obedience to this strained logic. Doesn’t the plan make important concessions to critics, they asked? Or, offer states flexibility, spare the world’s asthmatics from a wheezing death and avert climate catastrophe? Well, no actually, it does none of those things.
Coal communities around the country that were wounded badly with the initial proposed rule have now been all but shot dead in the final CPP. Standards are toughened, not weakened, forcing states to take more draconian steps to reduce carbon emissions. Governors received extended deadlines, but only to implement a costlier, more improbable plan after a relatively easy efficiency option was withdrawn to shore up EPA’s weak legal authority.
Some who thought the final rule might help them instead face ugly surprises. Coal-burning states like Kentucky and Montana that initially received modest emissions reduction targets got kneecapped in the final rule with much tougher targets. Natural gas producers were anticipating a “rush to gas” for generating electricity once coal-based power plants were retired. Now they suddenly find their windfall blocked after green activists pressured the EPA to front-load incentives for renewable fuels instead.
Allowing gas to fill the void left by coal, the EPA explained, would be “inconsistent” with the real goal here, which is the “decarbonization of the economy” after 2030. For “decarbonization,” substitute the word “deindustrialization.” That will be the likeliest outcome when rising electricity prices from costlier renewable energy kill the industrial renaissance here.
The final rule envisions wind and solar taking 28 percent of the generation market by 2030, up from 22 percent in the proposal. But to hit even the lower mark, the Department of Energy predicts wind power would have to add 16,000 megawatts a year beginning in 2017. In 2013, wind added just 1,087 MW.
How will the EPA’s fantasy come to pass without costly subsidies that neither Congress nor the states will relish paying, when the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and when communities often block solar and wind farms? The cost of decarbonization is “beyond astronomical,” concluded billionaire technology expert Bill Gates.
The Clean Power Plan is the thanks that coal gets for helping the United States achieve a standard of living that for generations has been the envy of the world. It’s thanks, too, for playing a major role in lifting more of the world’s poor out of poverty over the past 30 years than escaped poverty in the past 500 years.
This climate change symbolism, with all its theatrical trappings, is designed not for carbon reduction here but for showcasing the president’s green “commitment” at the United Nations climate conference in December. In Paris he hopes to persuade the Chinese communist party and India’s Hindu national party to raise their countries’ energy costs, when he can’t even persuade the U.S. Congress to raise ours.
No matter. Green fantasy sells among the fashion-conscious. Leonardo DiCaprio, star of “Titanic,” hailed the president’s plan, leaving one sinking ship to board another. Only this time, he’s trading Kate Winslet for EPA head Gina McCarthy. Well, it is a fantasy.
Meanwhile, the coal industry will be joined by more than a dozen states in the D.C. appeals court challenging the EPA’s authority. We’ll see if federal judges trust an agency (with expertise in safeguarding standards for tadpole habitat) with the responsibility of transforming the nation’s power grid.
See the article here.
- On September 16, 2015