Old and busted: War on Terror – New hotness: War on Coal

posted at 10:40 am on January 6, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Just before Christmas, as we previously reported, the EPA slipped a rather nasty lump of coal in our collective stocking with their new Utility MACT rules. These went into the books over the protests of virtually the entire energy industry, which noted that the limits were too restrictive and the window for implementation would endanger the nation’s power grid. But apparently they’d like to take that coal analogy to a more literal level, because the EPA is coming back for another bite at the apple with a new set of Utility NSPS rules. (New Source Performance Standards)

The latest battle will be coming any day now, as the EPA has said it will issue its Utility NSPS (New Source Performance Standards) sometime in January. Any new utility plants will have to meet a new set of environmental standards – standards that conveniently work out great for natural gas but are prohibitively expensive for coal plants, even new ones, to meet.

In capitalist terms, this means the United States can say goodbye to the construction of any new coal plants on its soil.

Sadly, this war on coal didn’t start here. Last month, moments before Christmas weekend, the EPA released its new Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule, which set new emissions standards for pre-existing U.S. coal and oil power plants. The EPA did this in spite of the fact that the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) warned in November that such a rule would shut down as many as 300 coal power plants at the same time. Some of the older plants would be unable to meet the post-modern standards so quickly.

While it will doubtless win great approbation for Obama with environmental groups who have recently been disappointed with the president over Keystone XL, this is yet another example of regulatory overreach attempting to do a job which the industry is already doing. As I’ve stated before, coal is probably my least favorite form of hydrocarbon based energy, but the industry is already moving in other directions. And the fact is, coal accounts for far too much of our current energy base to simply wish it away overnight in an effort to satisfy the environmental lobby. There are coal plants which are currently undergoing conversion to natural gas, but the process is almost prohibitively expensive and each region has to manage the transition in an economically viable fashion and on a schedule which won’t bankrupt them. When the government attempts to force the process to satisfy green warriors – such as they were doing in Kentucky last year – disaster ensues.

Just as the economy has shown a few tentative steps toward possible recovery, I can think of no better way to shut it down than by shedding even more jobs in the energy industry, driving up utility costs and putting additional strain on the power grid. Apparently this won’t become clear to the EPA until the lights begin going out.

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timberline on January 6, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Don’t forget to breath…..
But only EPA approved, non-greenhouse gas infused, clean green air…. /s

dentarthurdent on January 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM

True dat!

timberline on January 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Solar power ONLY accounts for 0.8% of our energy needs. Even if you crank it up by 100%, that gets you to 8.0%. The rest will account come from……

Now the coal powered Chevy Volt will need to dispose of those batteries around the 100,000 mile mark. What is the cost to the environment for this?? Will Government Motors give used cars buyers a rebate for buying a used Volt that has 90,000 miles on it and is due a battery replacement that will cost between $5000 and $10000 in a few months??

A Chevy Volt’s environmental impact is slightly better than a gas powered car when bought new, but a lot more expensive once you have to replace that battery and try to dispose of it. What is BHO administration going to do about this?? Do all his ‘greenie’ friends have an answer to this question?? Most of the rare earth metals for these battier come from china. So now we are going to rely on China vs Middle East for our energy needs??

ny59giants on January 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Gheezzzzzzz….and I get hyper thinking about how I will dispose my broken CFL bulb. I guess I’m luckier than others.

timberline on January 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

She got very pouty after that.

Lily on January 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

There’s nothing much poutier than a democrat/environut faced with facts.

Solaratov on January 6, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Gheezzzzzzz….and I get hyper thinking about how I will dispose my broken CFL bulb. I guess I’m luckier than others.

timberline on January 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

I only use them for my outside front yard light – I will NOT use them inside my house – and when they die I just throw them in the trash. Screw the EPA green nazis – if they’re gonna make me use mercury filled bulbs then they can deal with anything they do to the landfill.

dentarthurdent on January 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Double martini please, and hold the olive.

timberline on January 6, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Take the olive. A healthy diet is important.

Solaratov on January 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM

If it doesn’t go thru Congress, it’s not a law, hence not unlawful. Ignore it.

John Kettlewell on January 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Well no worries; we’ll just switch everything over to Natural Gas, right?

I means we’ve got a huge surplus, so we’ll be fine…


Net imports of natural gas into the United States fell 3 percent to 2.6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) during 2010…

In 2010, the United States imported 3,741 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas…

Natural gas exports from the United States totaled 1,137 Bcf


Natural Gas Annual Supply & Disposition
21,332,420 (Million Cubic Feet)

Which comes out to around 21 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) for an apples to apples run of the numbers.

So we’re importing over 10% of our supply now. Either we don’t have the huge surplus we claim; or it isn’t cost effective to use it compared to importing it from other countries (our surplus is cost prohibitive currently).

** I personally believe the second, but the estimates of reserves could very well be overly optimistic and we wouldn’t know.

Increasing usage drastically will clearly cause a significant price increase for all Natural Gas usage regardless of that answer.

gekkobear on January 6, 2012 at 3:56 PM

It’s been said that the U.S. has so much coal that we are the “Saudi Arabia” of coal. Imagine a plentiful source of fossil fuel that could help improve our economy…..

Obviously, we can’t have that!

tom on January 6, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Didn’t Rick Perry say something about Texas secceeding from the union? I think I’m beginning to like this guy.

Mirimichi on January 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Didn’t Rick Perry say something about Texas secceeding from the union? I think I’m beginning to like this guy.

Mirimichi on January 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

One of my favorite lines from 2 1/2 Men – Charlie “Texas used to be a separate country? Why did we change that?”

Now thet there’s funny, I don’t care who ya are – unless your from Texas I suppose….

dentarthurdent on January 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

So, when the EPA makes coal illegal, how are they going to power their electric vehicles?

Pattosensei on January 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Ojugears has been waging war on coal and related industries since January, 2009. I’ve sent countless links to you guys, and you’re just now beginning to get it? (not you personally, Jazz Shaw — I realize that you weren’t here on a regular basis back then.)

This has been percolating for a good long time now.

Take a peek at what the federal government has done to inhibit coal production since this bunch has been in power. EPA, Dep’t of the Interior, MSHA, — you name it. It is an exhaustive and exhausting laundry list of malfeasance.

hillbillyjim on January 6, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Gheezzzzzzz….and I get hyper thinking about how I will dispose my broken CFL bulb.

timberline on January 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Umm, why? Government is mandating that you use them, why do you think that means that you have to go through contortions to get rid of them. If you were using incandescents, you’d toss them in the trash. Since the government has mandated you can’t use incandescents but must use CFL’s for the same task, dispose of them the same way as if you were still using the incandescents you want to be using.

As someone I used to work for said, if you’ve spent two seconds worrying about this, you’ve wasted two seconds.

AZfederalist on January 6, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Somebody needs to wake the fuggggggggggggggggggggkkkk up.

This is one of the battlefronts on which the next century will be decided.

Believe it.

hillbillyjim on January 6, 2012 at 9:49 PM

I think the states should step in and refuse to close their coal plants.

I really do worry about my childrens’ future with all the things that Obummer is doing to destroy this country.

sherrimae on January 7, 2012 at 1:26 AM