In 2008, President Obama said he would “bankrupt” coal plant owners and force energy prices across the U.S. to “skyrocket” as part of his plan to combat global warming – and now a new EPA rule on power plant emissions promises to do just that, slashing as much as 40 percent of the nation’s power supply and possibly even doubling Americans’ energy bills.
“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted” Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in January 2008.
He added, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to, uh, retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”
Now a new Environmental Protection Agency rule on power plants requires a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and threatens to block any new coal-fired energy facilities because they cannot hope to meet the new standards without using unproven and cost-prohibitive technology.
The rule is currently in the public comment phase, but free-market energy advocates see the coal industry clearly within the Obama administration’s crosshairs.
“They set an emission rate, and that rate is so low that no coal-fired power plants can actually meet that goal unless they include this technology called Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), which is incredibly expensive and doesn’t exist on any power plant in the world today. Essentially what this new rule is is a ban on new coal-fired power plants,” said Daniel Simmons, vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy Research and the author of the group’s response to the proposed rule.
Simmons told WND the new rule slashes emissions standards in half from existing levels, and he believes future coal plants are not the only targets here.
“If they are able to do this, and if they get away with it, they will then go after existing coal-fired power plants,” Simmons warned.
According to Simmons, coal provides about 40 percent of the nation’s power supply, and it is not at all clear how that would be replaced.
“That’s a heck of a lot of electricity that would have to be made up somewhere. We’re talking about dramatically increasing the cost of electricity all to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. I think that is the real goal,” said Simmons, who has not officially crunched the numbers but firmly believes if the EPA proceeds with the rule it will have disastrous effects on American pocketbooks and the economy at large.
“It could get awfully expensive,” he said. “Some people might see their electricity rates double. If there’s no backup power plants, that means electricity is going to get awfully expensive when you have shortages around the country. If we want to build manufacturing in this country again, the cost of electricity is critical. Otherwise, companies are going to go places where electricity is reliable and inexpensive, and the EPA is trying to make it so that the electricity in the United States is neither reliable nor inexpensive.”
Listen to WND’s radio interview with Daniel Simmons below:
So what is CCS all about? Simmons said it’s about an unreasonable desire to clamp down on carbon dioxide.
“What EPA has tried to do is limit all of the pollution, so that it really only emits water vapor or carbon dioxide because those things don’t harm people. You don’t get sick from breathing carbon dioxide; you breathe that out. So the problem is the plants have gotten cleaner, and now they’re regulating the last thing there is to regulate, which is carbon dioxide emissions,” said Simmons.
The EPA says CCS is proven effective because a plant is being built in the U.S. that intends to use the technology, and another is underway in Canada. Three additional facilities are also being planned, but Simmons said the government is leaving out some very inconvenient facts.
“Every single one of these power plants [is] heavily subsidized by the government,” said Simmons, who noted that both of the plants currently under construction have received $300 million in taxpayer subsidies. The technology is awfully expensive because it hasn’t been tried anywhere, and that’s to try to capture the carbon dioxide as it comes out after they burn the coal.”
Simmons said the U.S. power plant that will feature CCS started with a cost estimate of $2.4 billion but has already ballooned to $4.3 billion.
He is also agitated that the EPA is required to provide real-world examples of the technology working, but it only offers up future facilities as evidence.
“That’s kind of a crummy argument. Nothing says it’s going to work in the real world or even be close to being cost-effective,” said Simmons, who also takes aim at EPA’s other defense that energy companies will all choose natural gas facilities over coal-fired plants because of the cheap price of gas. The government reasons the rise of natural gas makes the future of coal plants a moot point.
“That, again, is awfully silly because the economics of natural gas can change rather quickly,” he said.
While the immediate outlook seems bleak, Simmons said there are three avenues worth pursuing to stop the rule from taking effect later this year.
“EPA has a comment period on this rule for the next 60 days, where citizens can write EPA and tell them what they think of the rule,” he said. “Second of all, Congress really has to change the law so it’s obvious that EPA can’t do this. The third thing is, because I believe this is ideologically driven, it will end up in the courts. It will be there for the next couple of years and hopefully the side of affordable, reliable electricity prevails.”
A public hearing on this issue will take place Feb. 6, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the William Jefferson Clinton Building East, 1201 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20004. Members of the public may preregister to speak at the hearing.
Comments on the proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants must reference Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0495.
- Online through Regulations.gov: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
- E-mail: Comments may be sent by e-mail to [email protected].
- Fax your comments to: (202) 566-9744.
- Mail: Send your comments to: Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20460.
- Hand delivery or courier: Deliver your comments to: EPA Docket Center, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20460. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.