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GOP Digs in Against ‘War on Coal’ Regulations

Congresswoman: "Rarely has such a beneficial, life-improving resource upon which society depends been under such hostile attack."

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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July 31, 2013 - 12:10 am
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WASHINGTON – President Obama’s plan to curb climate change has met skepticism from Republicans who have warned that the presidential initiative threatens the viability of the coal industry through regulations that are difficult to meet with existing technology.

In a speech last month, Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan to tackle carbon pollution in America. The move was condemned by Republican lawmakers, arguing that it relies on executive actions that require no congressional approval and would hurt the economy.

The president’s plan included a proposal, called New Source Performance Standards, to cap greenhouse emissions from new power plants.

A bipartisan group of 22 lawmakers sent a letter to Obama last week in opposition to the administration’s intentions to regulate greenhouse gases, particularly those generated by coal-fired power plants, through new regulations.

“We and others have often criticized a ‘War on Coal’ waged by this White House and these accusations were met with firm denial by Administration officials and environmentalist allies,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, given the cumulative impact of continued mining permit delays, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, and your annual budgets’ repeated proposed cuts to the Department of Energy’s fossil energy research and development programs, it is hard to come to any conclusion other than that your Administration is systematically trying to eliminate the use of carbon fuels, particularly coal.”

The House passed legislation on Thursday that is part of two GOP initiatives – to end the “war on coal” and to reduce federal regulations on businesses.

The bill would give states greater authority to regulate coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. The legislation would stop the EPA’s effort to designate coal ash as a hazardous material. It would also give the federal government authority to provide minimum standards for the management of coal ash, but leave it to the states to develop permit programs.

Coal ash is a coal combustion byproduct that may pose environmental risks when put in landfills, but is often recycled safely to use in various products such as concrete, cement, and roofing materials. In 2010, the EPA proposed a rule that would treat coal ash in landfills and other storage areas as hazardous material – a category that comes with strict storage requirements.

The EPA has yet to release a final coal ash rule, but plans to use new technical data to finalize it.

In a statement after the vote, the White House said it hopes to work with Congress on legislation setting standards for managing coal ash while encouraging the beneficial uses of the material. The White House did not issue a veto threat, as it often does with GOP environmental bills, leaving open the possibility of compromise as the bill moves to the Senate.

Coal currently generates approximately 40 percent of U.S. electricity, down from just under 50 percent in recent years. Coal’s decline comes as natural gas from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and wind and solar energy have risen in their share of U.S. electricity consumption.

Despite the recent decline in coal use, the Energy Information Administration pointed out in its Annual Energy Outlook 2013 that coal is projected to remain the largest energy source for electricity generation through 2040.

The Obama administration strongly supports the development of “clean” coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS).  CCS is a relatively new, expensive and unproven technology that captures carbon dioxide before it exits the smokestack, transforms into a solid, and then buries it permanently underground.

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All Comments   (7)
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"According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, new coal-fired plants would only be able to meet the standards by installing carbon capture and CCS technology."

"Carbon capture" and "CCS" are the same thing (that's what the "CC" in "CCS" stands for, as the author himself has already mentioned).

In that previous reference, the author also had this to say about "carbon capture":

"CCS is a relatively new, expensive and unproven technology that captures carbon dioxide before it exits the smokestack, transforms into a solid, and then buries it permanently underground."

It's not "relatively new". For practical purposes, it doesn't exist yet. It's expensive because of the huge amounts of money frittered away. Have a look at this piece from the UK, published by Anthony Watts:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/18/carbon-capture-and-storage-we-still-dont-know-when-ccs-technologies-will-be-technically-proven-at-full-scale/

Note how the scientist involved doesn't just plead for taxpayers' money to continue to be hosed at study into carbon capture, but actually demands funding for multiple rival studies, all at the same time.

I don't really need to tackle "unproven", as that goes without saying, but the concept of solidifying a gas and then burying it "permanently underground" and expecting it to stay like that, or to stay underground, once it heats up and expands into gaseous form again is ridiculous.

The only way to make CO2 dangerous is to release it in sudden, large quantities. Carbon capture enthusiasts ought to find out what happened at Lake Nyos in 1986. Otherwise, CO2 feeds plants. The idea of depriving plants of food is moronic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This administration will rule by EPA decree. It has no need of the other branches of government. The turn toward Green legislation comes out of a panic that has long attended industrialization. I wrote about one despondent journalist here: http://clarespark.com/2013/07/29/the-we-are-all-lost-generation/. Young people respond to her as they do to Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I too, harken from the vast Marcellus, Utica and Devonian!

Late to the parade is a recent mainstream media article about Saudi concerns of our emerging energy independence. There are plenty of eunuchs here on the Saudi payroll (and I use the term 'Saudi' the way the Marines use the term 'Suzie Rottencrotch') who will further the narrative of environmental destruction, etc., etc.

Even pro-energy enthusiasts want their payoffs. I've said it before, I'd let the gas or oil companies dig on my land FOR FREE if it meant true energy independence. Okay, maybe for a lifetime of gas in the car. I'm not crazy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

The environmentalists long ago won the war against indifference to pollution, but the insist on bayoneting the wounded. Whatever is achieved is never enough, just a prelude to the next round of restrictions. Thus far technology has done a reasonably effective job of offsetting what would be major economic losses and lifestyle changes from regs already approved (who thought in 1970 that a full sized car could be engineered to get 30 mpg on 87 octane fuel?).

Just now we have plenty of non-coal energy sources, but it didn't look that way ten years ago and may change again. Coal is such and important, abundant energy resource that we just can't send it the way of the SST.
And I say this from the epicenter of the natural gas industry.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One quibble with this analysis. The SST went "the way of the SST" because it was an inefficient transport system that provided inadequate bang for the buck. Since 1970 there have been thousands of passenger aircraft built. The number of SST-like craft can be counted with your shoes off. The most successful of them all, the Concorde, was widely recognized to be the world's fastest and most expensive thrill ride instead of a critical transportation link. Rather than compare the SST to coal I would rather compare it to the entire "renewables" industry; a good idea at the time with lots of interest by influential busybodies in government and industry looking for a "feather in the cap". Neither is of much use to the public at large and both will fail in the marketplace.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama is being paid off by Buffett- that is why he shut in the Keystone pipeline buffet is making BANK shipping Canadian tar sand oil via rail car- all of Obamas buddies are Union coal miners & he shafted them for $$$$ lots of $$$$- LNG is the correct way to go for power- 200+ years of reserves & burns 80% cleaner than coal
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's room for both, depending on economics, as should be determined by the using energy provider. The EPA under the Obama Administration is trying to declare coal ash as a hazardous material as one of the reasons to justify outlawing coal. But coal ash is also generated in forest fires, and is beneficial in regrowth. The problem with electric power coal ash is that there is so much of it that there is not enough demand for it, making it difficult to get rid of, except in land fills.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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