I reported recently on EPA rules that ran the risk of causing shut downs of plants in Texas and elsewhere. But that was before the massive heatwave began putting the real strain on them. So much so that they are almost at full capacity. And unfortunately, the EPA is only tightening it's grip.
Via Wall Street Journal:
The agency is now tightening nearly every eco-regulation in existence, abusing in particular traditional air pollutant laws to shut down coal-fired power plants. This cluster of overlapping rules will cause far more cumulative damage than merely one or another rule would by itself.
A utility, for instance, might be able to comply with a single new rule, but under the EPA firehose it might be forced to retire some of its operations. Beyond the direct costs to the utility, plant closures would lead to job losses and higher prices for consumers and business, with their own knock-on effects.
Some of the power plants, like Edison Electric, are calling for more time to comply with these onerous regulations so as to help prevent any economic or energy disruptions. In a heatwave and a down economy, you'd think the EPA would be receptive. Unfortunately, the source of these rules, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, believes that the greater good that is being served comes ahead of these petty concerns.
In fact, Jackson believes that there is no reason to be concerned about the economics whatsoever. After all, what do the industry leaders know about their own industry when compared to a former chemical engineer?
This cost-benefit bias may explain why Ms. Jackson could claim at a "green jobs" conference in February that under the Clean Air Act, "For every $1 we have spent, we have gotten $40 of benefits in return. So you can say what you want about EPA's business sense. We know how to get a return on our investment."
Essentially what Jackson is saying is that the return on investment for the EPA, in the form of regulatory fees, is more important than the very industries that they are tasked with regulating.
Worse yet, they are risking the health and happiness of the people that they are tasked with protecting. Temperatures in Texas are approaching 110 degrees and industry and utility groups are requesting time to comply with the EPA's MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technolog) rules which "require coal-fired power plants to install equipment that in some cases is too expensive to afford and in other cases does not currently exist commercially."
The stated purpose of the rule is to reduce pollution but could force the shut down of enough coal-fired power plants to equal about 30-70 gigawatts of electricity nationwide. For perspective, 1 gigawatt of energy powers about 750,000 homes. Families living in the power grids affected will either have to find another more costly source of energy when economic times are tough and not everyone can afford a solar-powered makeover (which the government is coincidentally offering incentives for citizens to do, though those incentives pale in comparison to the cost) or they will have to simply live with blackouts.
The utility industry says the standard will lead to double digit rate hikes for consumers and require costly upgrades to some power plants. But I seem to recall that someone said that under his plans, power bills would "necessarily skyrocket."
To add insult to injury, these regulations have been shown to be unnecessary by none other than the EPA itself.
Via The Roanoke Times:
The EPA is proposing regulations to control numerous air pollutants that the agency's own studies show pose no risk to human health; the health benefits claimed by the EPA for these proposed regulations are actually for pollutants that are already controlled through other existing regulations.
Not to mention the fact that the coal fired power generation is already putting forth plans to reduce their own emissions.
By 2015, the coal-fired power generation industry will have invested $125 billion in coal utilization technologies that burn coal cleaner and with more efficiency.
Power plant emissions are already down nearly 80 percent since 1970. A coal-fired power facility built today is, on average, 90 percent cleaner than the one it replaces, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Ironically, the ability to build those new plants is next to impossible due to even more stringent EPA regulations.
Meanwhile, Jackson is scoffing at the mountain of information showing that these rules will cause blackouts, destroy industry, kill jobs, are unnecessary, and impede the ability for the coal industry to enact self regulation that they already had begun. Instead, she's patting herself on the back for bringing in tons of cash at the cost of jobs and industry.
Lisa Jackson is dutifully executing the President's radical environmental agenda, having explicitly stated that he intends to put the coal industry out of business, originally through Cap and Trade. His failure to get that job killing monstrosity passed into law has merely changed his path. The objective remains the same.