03.30.2012 29

Time to end the war on coal

By Rebekah Rast — Forty-five percent of America’s energy needs are met by a single industry — coal.

And it is this industry that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy and President Obama himself continues to burden with heavy regulations, rules and guidelines.

Though 90 percent of coal consumed in the U.S. is used for electricity, the power is also used for making steel, paper and cement.

As this administration continues to lay burdensome rules on this industry, attempting to push coal out of the energy sector completely, where is America expected to make up for losing almost 50 percent of its electric energy source? Not to mention the other affected industries that are also dependent on coal?

Those questions are likely to remain unanswered as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues writing even more rules and regulations that negatively affect the coal industry.

The latest set of rules stem from concerns reached in 2009.  It was then the EPA decided greenhouse gas pollution poses a huge risk to human health and well being.  Interestingly, these rules to cap carbon emissions on power plants, affect all future power plants — those being built 12 months from now and beyond.

But while the EPA worries about regulating the air of future America, coal power plants will have a big problem complying with these rules.

The EPA proposes that new fossil‐fuel‐fired power plants meet an output‐based standard of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt‐hour (lb CO2/MWh gross).  Most natural gas power plants built since 2005 already meet this new standard.  And lending a “helpful” hand to coal power plants, the EPA suggests new technology such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) to rein in their emissions.

The Wall Street Journal reports that adding this new technology isn’t as easy as it might seem:

“Most gas-fired power plants built since 2005 meet that standard, but coal plants can’t unless they are fitted with special equipment to capture the carbon emissions and store them underground. Although that technology is commercially available, it is prohibitively expensive, utilities and energy analysts say.”

Institute for Energy Research (IER) President Tom Pyle echoes those concerns, saying, “President Obama promised to bankrupt coal-powered electricity in the United States, and this latest rule… makes good on that promise,” he said in a press release.  “The United States has the largest coal reserves of any country in the world with 486 billion short tons of technically recoverable resources… If the EPA’s new rules are finalized, entire industries across the United States will be pushed out of business — and jobs with them.”

Sadly, these are not the only rules that negatively impact the coal industry.

It was only in December of 2011 that the EPA released its new Clean Air Act “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants,” which controls emission levels of mercury (Hg) and other air toxics from U.S. coal- and oil-fired power plants.  This rule will have a huge impact on energy-intensive industries that rely on low-cost electricity to survive and will also likely negatively impact small businesses.

The benefits?  EPA computer models claim mercury emission cuts will reduce average per person “avoided IQ loss” by “0.00209 IQ points,” with estimated “total nationwide benefits” of $500,000 to $6.1 million by 2016.

Taking into account the great loss of Americans jobs as well as the source of nearly 50 percent of the country’s electric energy, the costs of cutting coal production would far outweigh the benefits.

But that hasn’t stopped the EPA.  Another guideline for the mountaintop mining of coal, under the Clean Water Act, requires streams to be kept cleaner and to a higher standard than that of tap water.

Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said of the new guidelines, “the goal is a standard so strict that few, if any, permits would be issued for valley fills.”

It seems this administration has some sort of personal vendetta against the coal industry.

“All these EPA guidelines, rules and regulations are nothing more than an attempt to end coal production in the U.S.,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, told ALG in a prior interview, “At a time when the U.S. economy is still hurting, now is not the time to end coal production. By harming coal you will damage the economy of the entire nation.  Bissett estimates that the U.S. will increase electricity demands by 40 percent by 2025. “We will need every form of energy to meet that demand,” he says. “Coal should remain.”

With 45 percent of the U.S. dependent on electric energy from coal perhaps the Obama administration should listen to his speeches where he declares support for an all-of-the-above energy strategy rather than continuing to pursue its war on coal.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

  • 1NaturalBornAmerican2

    The Employment Prevention Agency (EPA) needs to be outlawed,for the good of the USA. Also needing outlawed  and investigated is the ILLEGAL and corrupt OBAMA administration.Both of these governmental agencies are destroying this great country and it has to stop immediately if not sooner.

  • bassman33707

    We already have enough natural gas to win a “war on coal” as you call it.  No net jobs need be lost.  Natural gas electric power generations is cheaper, more efficient energy wise, cleaner, and available.  Coal is dirty and mining it is unsafe or it otherwise involves strip mining.   

  • Mike

    Like most like you, you only see what you want. Wake up before our children pay for your ignorance.

  • Hold_Politicians_Accountable

    All of our politicians need to be held accountable including candidates. We can start by holding Congress responsible for not standing up for american citizens that they are suppose to serve. Send this to everybody on your mailing list. Recommend it on Facebook, Tweet it. Ask everybody you can to do the same. We need all the signatures we can get.
    What we need is http://www.petition2congress.com/6195/congressional-reform-act-to-fix-congress/

  • Rwestover

    Coal mining is a way of life here in Pa. I cant imagine the amount of people who will be unemployed if this President has his way.

  • Cicerone

    The name of the game for the green reds is destruction and desolation, at any cost.

  • Mike

    bassman33707 has no idea of the big picture. If everyone uses 
    natural gas the price will go way up on home owners and everyone. Many companies us coal in winter and gas in summer to help the home owners keep their price lower for 
    natural gas when they need it most.

  • Stevenson Leslie

    Of course Obama wants to put the coal mines out of business, and all the miners out of work. Its his plan to destroy alll of our resources.so he can let the Puppetmaster  Soros take over total control of this country. So please all you half wits that voted for this illegal the last time, get out an vote in him again. Then we can all start standing in line for food and toilet paper. rationing of electricity and water.

  • Bob Winters

    Only those who have a personal agenda, or are strickly greedy, or just plain stupid can blame anyone but themselves forthis debachle because he told us as plain as he could read off his teleprompter that he would shut down the coal industry and “they can build new coal fired plants, but under my adm, they will go bankrupt trying to pay for them and meet the standards and taxes set on them”. He wasn’t lying, was he and he is keeping that promise.
    He has to go and so do those who are promoting his agenda, and, yes, that means the RHINOS to.

  • Sudsy

    When are the people in this country wake up and get RID of this idiot President(supposed)
    He now is hitting the coal industry which supplies 60% of power for Electricity production!

  • Vjiva

    And starve in the cold and dark, like No Korea. That’s where Obama et al should be sent. A vote for a republican is a vote to put Obama out of office and fire the staff at the EPA !

  • Vjiva

    Think clearly. There is no way to switch from one energy resource, entirely to a new one, without a transition period. And no one living outside of regions where coal supports life has any understanding of how painful it would be. Survival would not be possible for many. Digging coal is only one form of jobs. The business supports thousands of other jobs.

  • FloridaJim

    China , India and Russia are taking over the world with their natural resources while we let the Obama led EPA stop our energy programs with the same Oil, gas and coal these three use abundantly. America has more natural energy than any other country on earth yet our silly environmentalists and their lawyers are ripping off America for their “redistributiion of America’s wealth through the “global warming”, Cap and Trade taxes, and using “green energy scams already dropped in Europe because of the high cost and undependendable solar, wind and battery power. If we want to become wealthy again when America dumps Obama and his 60’s radical friends who have been planning the destruction of America since the 60’s. Please do not believe Obama when he speaks of the “oil company tax credits” it is another Obama lie GE, Apple and Microsoft among others also receive those same tax credits, Obama wants to pick winners and losers just like Stalin and Mao did for his power base.

  • NoMoreMarxistsInDC

    I don’t understand why the entire Coal Industry Council doesn’t file suit against the Federal Government for attempting to put them out of business without just cause or reason, other than a criminal shake-down.

  • Another Senior Citizen

    Were you warm this past winter and all those winters prior to that?  If so, you can thank coal, petroleum and natural gas producers for that convenience.  If you are trying to be pampered and yet wise, keep in mind that Marie Antionette made famous the saying, “Let them eat cake!”  Also keep what happened to Ms.Antoinette and how she just seemed to vanish from the picture of the French Revolution!  It takes many industries to provide the necessities that all countries must have.  Bet your bucks that the Obama family stays warm in the wintertime.  Consider the amount of Americans who would be unemployed, if the coal industry were destroyed?  Would you like to have your own comfortable life style disrupted by the lack of coal production?  You have a computer, use it to see how coal is utilized in our country and just how many folks depend on it for a living.  The unions that represent the coal industry and their ancillary businesses are also ready to subdue those who oppose their cushy jobs too.  This is America and you are entitled to print your opinion here, as much as I am.  Good luck with our fellow posters, should you make another destructive proclamation to dismantle our coal industry.  We heat with it, and produce electricity with it, plus more things we do no even consider.  Your are taking on an army of people who can counter your idea, in between them shoveling coal into their furnaces.  Best wishes to you!

  • Citizen1vote

    It`s just another communist ploy from obama to get more control over people. The EPA should be abolished. States can take care of their own environment.
    For this is what we are fighting freedoms oldest enemy the passion of the few to rule the many that`s what is at steak it`s us or them one must die one must live. Owning a firearm is a pursuit of happiness fulfilled. 

  • far2right

    “Although that technology is commercially available, it is prohibitively expensive, utilities and energy analysts say.”

    CCS is NOT commercially available.  Alstom’s AEP Mountaineer CCS project is a very small slipstream field pilot project.  It is NOT yet full scale.  It has encountered so many difficulties that federal funding was pulled and AEP shelved it.

    There is debate on whether the first small 1 MW slipstream pilot study at We Energies was truly a “success”.

    Regardless, CCS technology is NOT commercially available.  It is not yet even demonstrated to be technically feasible.

    And quite likely never will.

  • It’s time to do away with the EPA AND obama-soetoro!

  • FENNELL514

    Yes the E P A needs to be NUTERED they are out of control and the Dept Of ENERGY needs to be ABOLISHED as that is a JOKE a WASTE of money , have done NOTHING  to help this Nation since its inseption .  P S  LOOK INTO THE GOVERMENTS GIVAWAY OF ALASKIN ISLANDS TO RUSSIA (THESE ISLANDS ARE OIL RICH AND WE ARE GIVING IT AWAY ?)

  •  Too bad I can only like that comment once!  Why won’t people actually listen to what a candidate says, look at his record, who he hangs out with, who he worships God with, before deciding to vote for that person?  The only shocking thing about this fiasco with coal is that people are shocked by it, as this is exactly what he promised to do during his campaign!  Oh, and if you shut down half of America’s electric, where will the new all electric car fleet get its power from?

  • Chotiius

    I want to know how people are going to heat their houses when all the efficient, reliable, stable methods of providing power (heating oil, eletricity from coal) have been made either illegal or so expensive that people must choose between ‘heat or eat’? Wind power isn’t going to do it. Neither is solar (in the winter? Puh-lease). How many people are going to freeze to death in their homes because they literally cannot afford to stay warm? 

  • Calm_response4613

    This policy only affects the building of new coal plants, which are not currently economically viable even when they do not have carbon capture and storage.  In terms of net present value, It is a far better investment to build new natural gas plants, and it is even cheaper to build wind turbines than it is to build new coal plants.  This new CO2 regulation will have no impact whatsoever on coal power plants that are currently being operated; it will not shut them down.  It will only reinforce the fact that natural gas power plants and wind farms are better choices than coal right now for building new electricity production capacity.

  • Mike

    What a short sighted flawed person you are. The EPA makes updating old coal plants very expensive if not impossible. That is why they are being shut down.  

  • Hold_Politicians_Accountable

    All of our politicians need to be held accountable including candidates. We can start by holding Congress responsible for not standing up for american citizens that they are suppose to serve. Send this to everybody on your mailing list. Recommend it on Facebook, Tweet it. Ask everybody you can to do the same. We need all the signatures we can get.
    What we need is http://www.petition2congress.com/6195/congressional-reform-act-to-fix-congress/

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