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Second-Term Battle Lines Drawn in ‘War on Coal’

McConnell: “This EPA has turned the coal permitting process into an illegitimate, back-door means to shut down coal mines permanently."

by
Bill Straub

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May 12, 2013 - 12:19 am
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WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from Kentucky, West Virginia, and other coal-producing states maintain the Obama administration is engaging in a war on coal because of the perceived environmental impact of coal-burning power plants, particularly as it pertains to global climate change.

The Obama administration, said Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.), “is seeking to turn us away from coal and keep the war on coal and drive up energy prices.’’

Coal, which for decades has served as the nation’s principal energy source, is losing ground, primarily as a result of its impact on the environment. Scientists hold that burning coal to produce electricity produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, contributing to global climate change.

In recent years, power companies have turned to natural gas, a cleaner fuel available in abundance. According to the Energy Information Administration, burning coal produced about 48.5 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2007. By 2012, that total had slipped to 37.4 percent.

That fact alone has placed the industry – and the states that rely on coal as an economic cornerstone – in a bind. Rather than provide a helping hand, coal state lawmakers claim, the Obama administration is rendering the situation infinitely more difficult in several ways.

In his State of the Union speech and in subsequent forums, Obama made it clear that the EPA intends to promulgate tough new regulations regarding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions if Congress fails to act on its own. No new rules have been issued yet, but the agency appears to be on the verge of introducing restrictions on new coal-fired power plants that critics claim will be impossible to meet.

EPA also has hinted that it is contemplating tougher air restrictions on existing power plants – a move that critics fear will force several facilities to shut down.

At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and others have accused the EPA of slow-walking the mining permit process to forestall production of an energy source that has failed to gain the administration’s favor.

McConnell has introduced legislation intended to force the EPA to act on mining permits within a specified period of time. Failure to do so would result in those permits being granted.

“This EPA has turned the coal permitting process into an illegitimate, back-door means to shut down coal mines permanently by sitting on permits indefinitely and removing any certainty from the regulatory process,’’ McConnell said. “By playing this game of ‘run out the clock,’ they have put many Kentucky mining operations into limbo and cost Kentucky thousands of jobs and over $123 million in coal severance money.”

The agency, McConnell said, is “changing the rules in the middle of the game. And they’ve done it all without a single vote in Congress. What EPA is doing is outside the scope of its authority, outside the scope of the law, and represents a fundamental departure from the permitting process as originally envisioned by Congress.’’

But by far the largest hurdle for the coal industry is dealing with greenhouse gas emissions and the EPA’s threat to crack down. Lisa Jackson, the agency’s former administrator, said the rules are needed to protect the public health and will “benefit the American people for years to come.’’

“There is no debate within the science community, based on the peer-reviewed literature, about the large changes occurring in the earth’s climate and the fact that these changes are occurring as a response to human activities, mainly burning fossil fuels,’’ said Dr. Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois.

The National Climatic Data Center maintains that 2011 and 2012 had some of the most extreme weather events — including major droughts, heat waves, storms tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires — in the nation’s history, resulting in $60 billion in damages.

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All Comments   (15)
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Intersting article. One mistake here, though in the following text:

"Whitfield also argued the rule, once finalized, will make it “impossible to build a new coal-powered plant in America because the technology is not available to meet the emissions standards required by EPA,” he said. “We would be the only country in the world in which you would not be able to build a coal powered plant to produce electricity.’’

In fact, Canada has already banned the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon dioxide capture and storage. Since that technology will not be available for a decade or more, our federal government has, in effect, banned the contruction of all coal-fired electricity generation stations in Canada. Sad, indeed!
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmmm, it seems to me that using our coal in the area where it is mined is the method to stop more GHG polution. Shipping our coal to other areas and then burning it in lower efficiency plants creates not only more GHGs but also creates the GHGs associated with transport along with the economic cost of transport. Maybe our EPA is full of fools with their heads in the sand......
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Send the EPA and its bloated staff to China to regulate their use of coal.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
We might miss that coal if these winters keep getting longer and colder.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Coal, which for decades has served as the nation’s principal energy source, is losing ground, primarily as a result of its impact on the environment. Scientists hold that burning coal to produce electricity produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, contributing to global climate change."

Please, are you serious? Couldn't you at least use a caveat that not all scientists agree? Perhaps name some of the scientists who believe the claim, so we can check their credentials and know whether or not their science is sound.

It's like the author is trying to steer the conversation before we've even cleared the last conversation.

I've been alive for 40 years. I have no memories from my childhood of the great smog clouds and horrible breathing conditions that the EPA has miraculously cleared up for us during that time.

While it might be true that certain geographical regions experience more or less problems (L.A., for example), that doesn't mean a one-size-fits-all federal solution is the right thing for us to consider.

One major problem so many bloggers seem to ignore is the real science of the issue - pound-for-pound, coal is a more abundant, densely packed with energy, easily obtained, and easily transported energy source than just about anything else you could possibly use.

Why aren't we discussing the facts of the matter?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I absolutely agree. There are plentiful grounds for believing that current carbon dioxide levels and probable future levels can pose no threat whatever either to our species, or to the Earth. PLants love the stuff, after all.

Donald Wuebbles, much quoted here, triggers numerous alarm-bells. For a start, he eschews the term "global warming", which became an embarrassment to the Alarmist crowd, when the globe resolutely failed to warm, for years on end. It is still coolling.

That's all right, though, because it's really "climate change", not silly, old "global warming", anyway - and we know that because of the fact that there is "no debate within the science community", which is entirely persuaded by "the peer-reviewed literature".

Why would anyone fail to be reassured by that?

Wuebbles goes entirely off the rails when he implies that we can actually control the weather: "...it is important to recognize that the future lies largely in our hands." To dictate the frequency of droughts, or of floods, or the destructive power of winds, or the thickness of winter snowfalls simply does not lie within our abilities.

Wuebbles and his kind are wholly discredited; their longed-for Apocalypse is remaining resolutely unrevealed and will continue to do so. The current article ought to reflect the undeniable fact that, contrary to his bombastic claims, Wuebbles does not and cannot represent "Science".

B-, Mr Straub.

In fact, the more extreme his claims, the more detached from true Science Wuebbles becomes.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coal generation is down in the US, yet our coal exports are at an all-time high.

This FACT begs a question for the Chicken Little enviro-whacko crowd. Would you rather the coal be burnt up a straight pipe with no controls in China, or used in plants with the most sophisticated environmental controls in the world here in the US?

Those are your only two choices, enviro-freaks. China, India, and the rest of the Third World don't give a damn how many dumbass regs USEPA promulgates, they are going to use the cheapest source of energy they can get their hands on. Period.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The extreme Left Wing Green NAZI 'Anthropological Global Warming scam', which they hastily renamed as the natural phenomenon of 'Climate Change' when it didn't, was nothing more or less than a power and control SCAM from the get go. The Left has a history with 'doom and gloom' scams as well evidenced by the SAME left Wing green NAZI moonbats crying about the coming Ice Age and making overpopulation and famine disaster predictions in the '70's. Same Left Wing Green NAZI moonbats different disaster predictions but all with the same solutions give THEM more money and power.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The atmospheric carbon Nazis wish to shut down 2 states that will never vote for an obamanoid anyway.A no-brainer as far as they're concerned.But wait,doesn't coal create the electricity that runs through the lines to power the cars that drive all the little socialists to work?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the best things Congress could do to help the economy is to pass a law stating that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant to be regulated by the Clean Air Act. The other gasses regulated by the Clean Air Act can cause local or regional pollution problems while carbon dioxide is alleged to cause global problems with a very indirect effect on human health. There is no obvious equilibrium point where local regulation of coal power plants would cause local air quality to be in compliance with an EPA standard. Instead, local industry is regulated to death with zero progress toward "clean air". It's possible to show a human health benefit from automobile catalytic converters reducing ground level ozone or scrubbers on coal power plants reducing sulfur dioxide and acid rain, but EPA regulation of carbon dioxide is like Cnut ordering the tide to stop.

http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/123/Canute%20Waves.htm
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
supposedly sane, intelligent people letting some illegal african halfwit purposely run the richest, most powerful country in the world into the ground. by the end of his illegitimate rule the average amerikan won't have 2 pennies to rub together. new horrendous taxes on the way (odumbocare), strangling the energy sources w/o any workable plan to replace them, turning the entire country into a cesspool of third world caliber one stupid law at a time. economic collapse inevitable any day now and a slew of new executive orders (endorsed by congress) in place to allow our punk in charge to then assume dictatorial powers over us. wouldn't our forefathers be proud?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are the New Kenya,without the strange animals!
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't worry. They're trying to buy out a lot of the high plains so they can re-create the American "Serenghetti" with huge herds of buffalo, elk, pronghorn and all the other players in the ecosystem. Who needs beef anyway?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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