White House war on coal

posted at 4:40 pm on June 3, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

While much of our attention on matters of domestic energy production has been focused on questions regarding oil and natural gas, (and to a lesser extent, nuclear) which, as Ed pointed out earlier, might be more plentiful than we currently imagine, the EPA has certainly been a bunch of busy beavers on other fronts as well. Even though cap and trade went down in flames through legal routes, as The American Legislative Exchange reports, the commission has been using extra-legislative procedures, cloaked under the guise of the Clean Air Act, to to effectively declare war on the American coal industry.

While pending regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (despite Congressional rejection of cap-and-trade) has received the lion’s share of the attention, the Environmental Protection Agency has also begun developing and finalizing a slew of overreaching and inefficient air and water rules over the next several years that will dramatically increase energy costs, cause enormous negative impacts to jobs and the economy, irreparably damage the competitiveness of American business, and trample on state sovereignty in the process.

EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators outlines the costs of these major EPA rules, tells the true story of America’s modern clean air and water successes, and outlines best practices for state legislators (including following the many states that are considering resolutions in 2011 to call for Congress to slow and stop this regulatory onslaught).

The report also explores more than 15 pieces of ALEC model legislation related to regulatory review and state environmental sovereignty, contains a glossary of Clean Air Act terminology, and includes responses from state environmental officials to the heavy-handed approach of EPA.

In the past I’ve made no secret of the fact that coal is my least favorite of all fossil fuel based domestic energy resources. There are undeniable disadvantages to this fuel in the modern era, not the least of which is that coal is by far the most dangerous to workers in terms of loss of life and serious injuries during extraction. (That’s not to say that oil and natural gas rig workers don’t also face challenges. These people all brave incredibly challenging jobs to get the energy we need, but coal mines are particularly risky environments.)

Also, even leaving aside any politically toxic debates over carbon emissions, etc. it remains true that coal is the most expensive to keep suitably clean (just in terms of raw soot and other byproducts which nobody wants dumping into the air) when compared to other plentiful American supplies such as oil and natural gas. But with that said, I’m also enough of a realist to understand that we are still nowhere close to the point where it can be reasonably replaced in the near future.

That’s why it is dangerous in the extreme for the government to try to rush off the cliff of cutting off coal production by regulatory fiat with no plan to replace the lost energy delivery capacity. Plans currently under consideration include the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (or MACT) rules.

As the report indicates, many areas such as Ohio will be particularly hard hit if these MACT rules are put in place. Coal plant operators will be put into a position of having to buy emissions control equipment which is either prohibitively expensive under current technology or, in some cases, not even available. The possible result?

  • The potential loss of 30-70 gigawatts of electricity generated nationwide
  • Potential elimination of 2.5 million jobs
  • Energy investment losses of up to $300B
  • Reduction of GDP by up to $500B

There are issues with coal production and use without a doubt. But for the past generation the industry has been working hand in hand with the government to confront those challenges, reduce workplace hazards and minimize environmental impact while the technology catches up to our needs. Hasty mandates from the EPA, absent legislative oversight, seeking to curtail production will open up an entirely new can of worms which the Obama administration seems to have not thought through.

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Hasty mandates from the EPA, absent legislative oversight, seeking to curtail production will open up an entirely new can of worms which the Obama administration seems to have not thought through doesn’t give a damn about.

BobMbx on June 3, 2011 at 4:45 PM

But with that said, I’m also enough of a realist to understand that we are still nowhere close to the point where it can be reasonably replaced in the near future.

Are you serious? The main reason very few utilities have interest in building coal-powered plants is because the massive natural gas reserves found in the US over the last 5 years guarantee that natural gas will be the lowest cost fuel choice for electricity generation over the next five decades or more. Add China’s dependence on coal in manufacturing, coal prices are highly exposed to worldwide demand and that level of uncertainty is exactly what utilities want to avoid.

Natural gas is clearly the winner picked by the market.

bayam on June 3, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Tick, tock. Obama doesn’t have much time left for his administration to reach its goal of completely destroying the United States.

Worst.President.Ever

crosspatch on June 3, 2011 at 4:50 PM

“… that will dramatically increase energy costs, cause enormous negative impacts to jobs and the economy, irreparably damage the competitiveness of American business, and trample on state sovereignty in the process.”

I’ll be in my cave foraging for grubs if anyone wants me…

Seven Percent Solution on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

•Potential elimination of 2.5 million jobs

We can replace this jobs in 48 months (2,500,000 / 52,000). No problemo!

WashJeff on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

All fossil fuels must be made more expensive by making it more costly to extract and less that can be extracted. When the price is high enough and the supply is low enough, “alternative energy’s” appeal to the masses will grow. I’m sure the green true believers think the jobs lost will be made up in the wind and solar industries, so they don’t care so much.

cartooner on June 3, 2011 at 4:52 PM

The Obama administration: making abundantly clear the concept of limited resources, especially those pertaining to critical thinking.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:52 PM

I’ll be in my cave foraging for grubs if anyone wants me…

Seven Percent Solution on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Look under the bark of fallen trees. That’s where the large juicy grubs can be found.

WashJeff on June 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM

In Texas a college in Arlington made gasoline from coal at a cost of 27 cents per gallon, so why don’t you like coal?

tim c on June 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM

It’s a big issue here in West Virginia. The EPA is literally shutting down approved coal mines and use the Clean Air and Water Act to justify it.

Rambotito on June 3, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Wake up america!

cmsinaz on June 3, 2011 at 4:55 PM

“Look under the bark of fallen trees.”

But the government has ordered that all fallen trees be cleaned up immediately as they are a potential source of sticks. Children might be inclined to play with these sticks which might put an eye out costing the taxpayers a lot of money from paying the medical bill.

crosspatch on June 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM

A Dutch trading company just purchased a bulk terminal in Louisiana for exporting coal. If we don’t use it for electrical power generation, it is still going to be mined but exported overseas.

Kermit on June 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Too bad mining coal on the sly isn’t as easy as it is in Minecraft!

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM

In Texas a college in Arlington made gasoline from coal at a cost of 27 cents per gallon, so why don’t you like coal?

tim c on June 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM

After being funded by the DOE for a study?

Look, there were may demonstration plants built for coal gasification back in the Carter Era and all have been long since demolished with all the data gained.

Unless they came up with something completely new, I don’t see this as credible.

Kermit on June 3, 2011 at 4:59 PM

tip

Slurred Liberal Talker On Fox: Is She Drunk, High, Or Just Stupid?

Liberals are so inherently stupid, it is hard to tell if they are chemically impaired.

You make up your own mind.

Nearly Nobody on June 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Y’know, am I the only one puzzled by the enviro-nuts’ INABILITY to recognize their own successes, and admit that the ways we provide our energy needs already ARE extraordinarily safe ??? Cripes, look at the rest of the world !!! Arggggh.
There are already so many of their restrictions in place, and some have meant safer & cleaner processes (NOT exclusive of new technologies), so could they just STFU, and let us get on with the our lives, plz ???
Yeah, I know their goals aren’t fully accomplished yet , but sheesh, I just wanna scream sometimes !!
Vent over .. Carry on.

pambi on June 3, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Nearly Nobody on June 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Psssst… We’re on to your tricks, dude.
Go away.

pambi on June 3, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Y’know, am I the only one puzzled by the enviro-nuts’ INABILITY to recognize their own successes, and admit that the ways we provide our energy needs already ARE extraordinarily safe ??? Cripes, look at the rest of the world !!! Arggggh.

pambi on June 3, 2011 at 5:09 PM

You are mistaken in believing that their stated goals are in fact their real goals. They want de-industrialization and a return to the mythical days of the ‘noble savage’. A basic hostility to the entire western way of life is a hallmark of every liberal belief.

Until that is destroyed their goal hasn’t been accomplished.

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Deep mining of coal is relatively hazardous. There isn’t any doubt about that. But strip-mining coal isn’t particularly dangerous so far as I know, and this country has a hell of a lot of coal deposits which could be strip mined.

Steven Den Beste on June 3, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Ok, so….we can’t burn coal no more? I wonder how many BTUs we could get from a shovelfull of democrats??

alternatives.

ted c on June 3, 2011 at 5:18 PM

okok sarc!!

ted c on June 3, 2011 at 5:18 PM

It’s not just coal! It’s American productivity and the American way of life. For reasons only a socialist intellectual could understand. Obama wants to turn the USA into a 3rd world country and deliver us into the hands of out enemies for easy looting.

Tommy_G on June 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 5:15 PM

I am not UNaware of those ultimate goals .. Not at all.

pambi on June 3, 2011 at 5:22 PM

OT: is anyone watching the Fox News special on Medicare that pits Ryan against Van Hollen and a bureaucrat named Jack Liu (sp?)?

Van Hollen is an idiot. But I can’t understand why you can’t line these guys up, raise an issue, and get a straight answer from each side.

Ryan speaks apples, Van Hollen speaks Obamacare skittles. Still, it’s impossible for a regular joe to follow, so they’ll say, “keep my medicare.”

BuckeyeSam on June 3, 2011 at 5:26 PM

How did Obama get one single vote in any coal producing state? W. Virginia, HELLO????

ctmom on June 3, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Slurred Liberal Talker On Fox: Is She Drunk, High, Or Just Stupid?

Nearly Nobody on June 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM

She looks like she’d be a fun date, if ya know what I mean.

UltimateBob on June 3, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Barry has been very successful in his war against American energy…I mean audacious doesn’t begin to describe it.

Yucca Mountain is halted…so no long term storage of nuke waste…that’s very important for the left..it is a great way to throw a wrench into nuke energy without anyone seeing. Obama/Left 1, US 0

The oil drilling ban will start having teeth in a few years…maybe as soon as 2012. Obama/Left 1, US 0

So it looks like Coal is next. And fracking will be the next one.

The anti-energy machine plods along using lawfare or extra-legal activities….and David Gregory/Diane Sawyer are along for the ride as the court jesters.

r keller on June 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

White House war on coalAmerica

FIFY

bluemarlin on June 3, 2011 at 5:51 PM

tim c on June 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Still waiting for something on that UT Arlington Coal process. I hope that you are not just transferring this from the false claims about TA&M’s captured Nazi secrets sitting idle even though lots of chemical processes use the same one as their basis.

Kermit on June 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM

One more time:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining_in_the_United_States

Twenty-six states produce coal. The major coal-producing states are (in descending order as of 2000, with annual production in thousands of short tons):

Wyoming (338,900).
West Virginia (158,257)
Kentucky (130,688)
Pennsylvania (74,619)
Texas (49,498)
Montana (38,352)
Illinois (33,444)
Virginia (32,834)
North Dakota (31,270)
Colorado (29,137)
Indiana (27,965)
New Mexico (27,323)
Utah (26,656)
Ohio (22,269)
Alabama (19,324)
Arizona (13,111)

Total United States: 1,437,174

Twenty six states (52 Senators. When are the Republicans going to wake up to these facts?

patch on June 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

EPA = Unconstitutional

BierManVA on June 3, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Look under the bark of fallen trees. That’s where the large juicy grubs can be found.
WashJeff on June 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Being the self-appointed Hot Air expert on all things Scarab, grubs are most easily found in the lawns of the customers you would least want to find them. Big, juicy and abundant. With ample raccoons, skunks, crows, and turkeys foraging for them making the lawn look like a bomb had gone off. Then, once the grubs have killed the lawn, and the critters killed the grubs, the the crabgrass takes over, causing more angry phone calls.

(what was this thread about again? Maybe someone needs a vacation.)

turfmann on June 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Slurred Liberal Talker On Fox: Is She Drunk, High, Or Just Stupid?

Liberals are so inherently stupid, it is hard to tell if they are chemically impaired.

You make up your own mind.

Nearly Nobody on June 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Isn’t she the idiot who got arrested at an Alan West Town Hall last month?

PetecminMd on June 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Wyoming (338,900).
West Virginia (158,257)
Kentucky (130,688)
Pennsylvania (74,619)
Texas (49,498)

Yeah, only one of the top five is retarded…and it ain’t WV. In fact, it’s just to the north.

Pattosensei on June 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM

In Texas a college in Arlington made gasoline from coal at a cost of 27 cents per gallon, so why don’t you like coal?

After being funded by the DOE for a study?

Look, there were may demonstration plants built for coal gasification back in the Carter Era and all have been long since demolished with all the data gained.

Unless they came up with something completely new, I don’t see this as credible.

It’s a completely new technology, different from coal gasification. It’s called CTL (Coal To Liquid) and it makes diesel, not gasoline.

single stack on June 3, 2011 at 6:30 PM

White House war on coal

This is more accurately characterized as an insane “war on our feet,” where we have already shot off one of them, and are reloading in preparation to shoot off the other foot!!!

A decision to discontinue use of coal is a deranged and suicidal decision to turn the lights out all across America: no lights, no heat, no computers, no electric cars, no pumps to remove waste or prevent flooding, no water, no refrigeration, no food, NO ELECTRICITY!!

landlines on June 3, 2011 at 7:05 PM

Chevy Volt electric car runs on electricity. Where does electricity come from? Coal

That means the over hyped Chevy Volt runs on Coal. Explain to me again how this clean green energy works again?

Dr Evil on June 3, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Yep, this will get the economy rolling along!

And the rest of the steel mills can now leave the country.

GarandFan on June 3, 2011 at 7:39 PM

And the rest of the steel mills can now leave the country.

GarandFan on June 3, 2011 at 7:39 PM

We have any left at all?

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 7:52 PM

http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/56572-old-trader/59425-gasoline-from-coal-for-under-30-bbl

Kermit on June 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Sorry for the late answer had to go out to the range and shoot!

tim c on June 3, 2011 at 9:35 PM

I’ve been sending tips to HA since early 2009 about Ojesus’ War on Coal by fiat, regulation, delaying and/or denying of permits, (il)legal action, etc. … ad infinitum.

It’s nice to see someone finally paying attention.

hillbillyjim on June 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM