Obama kills coal— as promised

Higher electricity prices will most af­fect those who can af­ford them

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - By Matt Pat­ter­son

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

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

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

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

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

True, the EPA is tak­ing pains to stress that the new reg­u­la­tions would ap­ply only to new plants. Gina Mccarthy, EPA as­sis­tant ad­min­is­tra­tor for air and ra­di­a­tion, as­sured law­mak­ers at a hear­ing be­fore the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee that the agency has “no plans” to curb green­house gas emis­sions for ex­ist­ing plants. But no one be­lieves that, not Repub­li­cans who grilled EPA of­fi­cials at Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing, nor en­vi­ron­men­tal groups who have long sought the death of King Coal. David Doniger, cli­mate pro­gram pol­icy di­rec­tor at the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil notes that the Clean Air Act likely will make it in­evitable that the EPA will train its anti-car­bon guns on ex­ist­ing coal-fired power plants. Just so we know where the coun­cil stands, Mr. Doniger prom­ises, “We look for­ward to reach­ing an agree­ment with EPA on a sched­ule for com­plet­ing the stan­dard for new sources and de­vel­op­ing stan­dards for ex­ist­ing sources.” Doubt­less, Mr. Obama’s EPA won’t need much of a nudge from Mr. Doniger’s group.

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

Well done.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY LI­NAS GARSYS

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