An “all of the above” energy policy – it’s just words.

On March 27th, the EPA released its Clean Air Act standard for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. This rule will effectively require that all new coal-fueled generation meet emissions standards of new natural gas generation technologies.

As noted in the recent Electric Reliability Coordinating Council remarks on this proposed standard,

The GHG rule must be placed in the context of many other rules – such as the air toxics rule, the visibility rule, and the interstate rule – that have the effect of increasing the price of energy for consumers by double digits in some areas, and have the effect of making industry less competitive and destroying jobs as each plant closes.

Any reasonable review of the EPA’s latest move can see that the GHG rule is just the zombie version of the cap-and-trade, or cap-and-tax legislation that was rejected by Congress, and has now been brought back to life in regulatory form. This rule is a continuation of the effort to push coal-fueled energy out of the country’s generation mix. It is a deliberate move to shrug past the administration’s recent call for an “all of the above energy policy.” So, more and more we see that the “all of the above” strategy is just words, just a marketing strategy, designed to deflect the fallout of the impending EPA regulatory train wreck.

While administration officials hold up carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a workable “path forward” for coal in this proposal, the reality is that CCS technologies – while promising – remain expensive and at a testing stage. Recent experience with the EPA and other federal authorities must also force industry to question the likelihood of government working with industry to approve permits for proposed CCS technologies and operations. If experience with the Stream Buffer Zone Rule is any indication, EPA intransigence on coal issues, highlighted by their attempts to extend their authority to include retroactive revocation of existing Sec. 404 CWA permits, does not bode well. Again, this path forward appears to be “just words” and marketing spin.

Senator Manchin (D-WV) made clear many other problems associated with this proposal.

(This) announcement shows, this EPA is fully engaging in a war on coal, even though this country will continue to rely on coal as an affordable, stable and abundant energy source for decades to come. This approach relies totally on cheap natural gas and we’ve seen that bubble burst before. It might sound good now, but what happens if those prices go up? Your average hardworking families and manufacturers will be left holding the bag of uncertainty – either in the prices they pay or in the reliability of our electrical system. Either way, they’ll face enormous disruptions in their ability to do business and go about their everyday lives.

The GHG rule is a proposal clearly founded in the unstable assumption that natural gas prices will remain at their current low levels. Or, if its authors do remember the historic volatility of gas markets, then they have willingly subjected the strained budgets of a nation still reeling from years of economic hardship to inevitable fluctuations in gas-fired markets as well as the steep, mandatory subsidies required to keep renewable energy markets afloat.

Affordable, abundant, and reliable energy is the lifeblood of American industry, technology, and well being. Coal is the low-cost energy generation option for this country. With over 200 years of domestic coal reserves, hundreds of thousands of American jobs, a well established and effective infrastructure, and a highly competitive and stable price (despite growing competition, active subsidizing of our competitors, and an all-out regulatory war being waged against it), no other generation technology can out-compete coal.

This latest rule is just one more station stop before the impending EPA regulatory train wreck hits. EPA actions will prolong the economic malaise hanging over this country. This rule will subject a country still facing over 8 percent unemployment to further job losses and even more price increases on energy, goods, and services.

By deliberately placing half of American generation capacity in jeopardy this rule exposes the “all of the above” energy strategy being discussed as just words. It’s time for action over words. It’s time for supporters of affordable, domestic, reliable energy to stand up and state their support for coal.

Where do you stand? Will you remain silent as one more regulation targets the survival of your industry, your job, your culture? Ask yourself, what have you done today to voice your support for coal?

04. April 2012 by Jason Hayes
Categories: carbon, CCS, Election 2012, Energy, Environment, EPA, Jobs, Marketplace Information, Policy, Power Generation, Regulation, sequestration, transmission, USA, Utilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Your problem is that natural gas interestes have sold the notion that because they are “half of coal”, they can and should be permitted to operate without CCS…it’s all goodness. And, that this is a valid “bridge” strategy to an unnamed future technology.

    Only problem is that all the studies of longterm comparative effects of “coal vs. gas” include this embedded assumption for gas, but never test whether of complete build out of NGCC power plants will achieve the suggested atmospheric CO2 concnetration goals of 450ppm.

    A NGCC gas power plant puts out 45,000 ppm…how does a whole fleet of these units get us to 450ppm???

    What this is, is a business as usual strategy dressed up to look like an climate change initiative.

    I suggest the coal industry fund scientific studies that evaluate this impact