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Caruba: Obama's War on America's Energy Needs

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The Obama administration's relentless war on the nation's coal industry and on the electrical power generation plants that depend upon it is one aspect of his war on America that doesn't receive the attention it deserves. There is literally no basis, no justification for it, and yet the mainstream media tends to take little notice or supports it.

It is far more than a "war on coal". It is a war on the nation's capacity to meet its ever expanding energy needs. You can't build a power generation plant overnight. You can't get the enormous amount of electrical energy the nation needs from wind and solar power. Even nuclear energy, touted as "clean" because it produces no carbon emissions, has not seen any surge in new plants in decades.

As a Washington Times editorial noted on November 20, the regulations being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "have forced more than 100 coal plants to shut down and have made it all but impossible to construct new coal-fired plants despite rising energy demand...Since coal-fired plants generate nearly half of all the electricity used in the U.S., the EPA regulations add significantly to other upward pressures on electricity rates across the country."

Two days later, CNS News reported that "The price of electricity hit a record for the month of October, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That made October the eleventh straight month when the average price of electricity hit or matched the record level for that month."

"Americans now pay 42% more for electricity than they did a decade ago."

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity released a report in 2013 that stated that 204 coal powered plants would shut down over the next three to five years. That represents the loss of 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity. The law of supply and demand says that when there is less and the demand is more, the price goes up.

The closures are spread over twenty-five states. People living in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina will see the most closures. Not only will the cost of electricity go up, but jobs will be lost. Less energy. Less employment. Less reason to build a new manufacturing facility in these states. 

An article from the current edition ofEnergyBiz Magazine points out that "As recently as 2008, coal-fired power plants accounted for more than 50 percent of our nation's electricity supply. Coal and other hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas have supported our standard of living and provided us with a substantial and sustained competitive advantage in the world economy."

"The war on hydrocarbons (coal, oil, and natural gas) is fought on many fronts, but they tend to converge at the most basic of our critical energy infrastructure, the electric power plant. People assume that even though we use more electronic gear we are not increasing power demand. The opposite is true."

The most identifiable culprit in this assault on the nation's energy needs is the EPA. The Washington Times noted that its officials "have stalled for two years on providing Congress and the American people with the scientific evidence—peer-reviewed studies, analytical papers, and databases—that would justify regulations targeting the coal industry." When you are intent on destroying a critical element of the nation's infrastructure, the last thing you want to do is produce any verifiable evidence, particularly when there is none.

As the Times noted, "There are solid reasons for being suspicious of the EPA's claims about peer reviews and public comment periods. Peer reviews mean little when everybody involved is funded by an administration conducting a 'war on coal.' And public comment periods are all but useless when conducted away from areas of the country most affected by the agency's regulators." No public sessions were held in major coal states like West Virginia or Kentucky.

This isn't just devious. It is borderline criminal as a deliberate act of deception perpetrated on all Americans. It is economic warfare. It is a war against America' energy needs.

The justification for the EPA regulations is the claim that coal-fired plants emit too much carbon dioxide which, in turn, contributes to global warming. But there is NO global warming. And hasn't been since the Earth entered a natural cooling cycle about fifteen or more years ago.

The Institute for Energy Research succinctly says the "EPA's proposed rule (to increase limits on CO2 emissions) will have essentially no positive impact on the environment. If the U.S. as a whole stopped emitting all carbon dioxide emissions today, the impact on projected global temperature rise would be a mere reduction, of approximately 0.08 degrees Centigrade by the year 2050 and 0,17 Centigrade by the year 2100." And, of course, coal-fired plants in China, India and other nations continue to email CO2, a gas that is vital to all life on Earth as "food" for all the vegetation on Earth.

We are looking at a travesty being imposed on the nation, one that has a larger percentage of proven reserves of coal than Saudi Arabia has of world proven reserves of oil. Obama's 2008 pledge to bankrupt the coal companies is coming true and, in the process, denying Americans the energy they need and expect while needlessly driving up the cost of what they are using today and tomorrow.

Congress has to shake off its partisanship and lethargy, and save the nation from Obama's EPA and an Interior Department resisting the granting of leases to find new sources of energy.

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I would really be surprised if you are correct Alan, because I happen to know something about the popularity of coal in the US, although people are not running up and down the streets shouting for more of it to be used.

I also happen to know that Mr Obama doesn't have a clue about energy economics, which is OK, but neither do his Energy Ministers, and that is not good. Of course, he doesn't happen to have a clue about anything important, so the important thing is that the American voters Wake up..

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Fred, I believe you seriously underestimate the significant and long-term economic damage being created by an essentially lawless administration doing whatever they please, regardless of what the majority of the population wishes.

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The lawless administration was the administration of George W. Bush, with the lie about 'weapons of mass destruction'. Of course, voters don't deserve much credit either for reelecting that man.

Mr Obama is different. He means well but he is ignorant, and maybe worse. And no, I don't underestimate the "significant and long-term economic damage" being done to the U.S. by what is going on now. My theory is that it's worse than you could possibly Believe, although at the same time I hope that I'm wrong.

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This article belongs in an opinion section of a far-right wing newspaper, not on a site dealing with energy technology and policy. This whole "Obama is trying to destroy America" schpiel is quite stale at this point. Apparently Alan is oblivious to the rise of natural gas as a cheaper alternative to coal. The plants that close are relics of the past. Time to move on.

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Really disappointed that a reputable energy news website would publish such ignorant garbage. A column filled with as many lies and distorted facts as this one belongs on worldnetdailly.com

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Professor, I find your repeatedly calling George W a liar quite offensive.

Let me review some facts. Facts that are not at issue. The consensus of the US intelligence agencies – which evolves thousands of people and billions of dollars was that Saddam Hussein had WMD. We had agreement from allies.

Saddam Hussein had the ability to cut off Middle East oil to the rest of the world.

Saddam had the character that would challenge that of Hitler. He killed thousands of citizens of his own country, Kurds, with Sarin, itself a a WMD. He killed rivals and even some family with unspeakable methods. Simply killing them would not do. .

I see nothing that George W did that would make me think he was doing anything but what he thought was an honest effort in the interests of Americans and our friends.

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Hirschberg, Keller and the rest of you lot need to take a pill. Of course W lied, it's what politicians do. If he didn't lie about WMD (and I happen to think he did but reasonable people can disagree about that) he most certainly lied about warrantless wiretapping and he most certainly lied about his commitment to regulate carbon emissions, and you can be sure it didn't stop there. Obama's probably lied about one or two things too. And the idea that he's on some jihad against America is the product of a few overheated imaginations, several of which are on display here. Fred is dead on - whatever adverse impacts we may see from some of Obama's policies they pale in comparison to the damage done to this country between 2001 and 2008. We'll take decades to dig out from that hole. On a more adult note, I'm surprised, Fred, at your broad dismissal of Obama's "energy minsters" given that Ernie Moniz is one of the leading proponents of the mythical nuclear renaissance. That may only prove your point (that they know nothing about energy economics) but I would have thought you'd be a fan of the current Energy Secretary.

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Mr. Caruba,

Discounting the CO2 and climate changes issues entirely, the singluar problem with coal is that it's a dirty, dangerous, nasty fuel. The only responsible way to burn it for electric generation requires several stages of pollution control equipment and careful attention to managing the waste stream that's left behind, all of which costs lots of money. When the noxious by-products associated with coal combustion are ignored, we end up with air like Beijing's and uncontrolled releases of dangerous heavy metals and chemicals like the TVA coal waste episode and the more recent chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia.

As other comments have noted, the principal reason coal is falling out of favor is because it is not competitive with gas-fired generation, which can be built more quickly and more cheaply, in part because it doesn't require the same sort of expensive emissions controls that should be mandatory for coal plants and in part because modern base load natural gas-fired plants produce more electricity per unit of energy input than any coal-fired plant.

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the direct economic impacts of switching away from coal-fired generation. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to live anywhere near a coal plant or work in one or have to depend on coal-mining to make a living. I certainly wouldn't want to be drinking water from the Elk River right now or from the Clinch River after the TVA coal waste incident. And I'll bet most of the rest of us wouldn't either.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA

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Oh, and I nearly forgot - it is hard to imagine how Caruba could have gotten more wrong or more thoroughly misinterpreted his cherry-picked news tidbits. This piece belongs in a Mad Magazine spoof of energy policy analysis. It's undeserving of any more space here.

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So here we have a have an energy editorial from a guy whose whole existence is to write PR for the extreme right. And he can't even be original, choosing to borrow the standard Fox "(pick a politician on the left)'s war on (special interest)" soundbite. A guy whose only website, The National Anxiety Center runs what appears to be an unaligned public information blog telling people that bees are not dying off while also being the PR counselor to the National Pest Management Association.

Forget that the editorial is garbage - doesn't Energy Central vet who they print? This is appalling.

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Michael, I can't tell from your comment whether you actually read my comment or not. You did tell me George W is a politician. Politicians lie. Therefore George W lied about WMD. I guess this was suppose to refute me? Never laid a glove on me.

You carried on about other issues, other times, other people. I couldn't extract much information except that what you revealed about yourself.

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Those who have heard this before can tune out.

Our problem is too many people. Every thing else is a corollary.

Until quite recently (only a thousand years ago) world population was never more than 0.3 billion.

Today it it is 7.1 billion and growing at about 0.1 billion per year. (Each year we have more people without any electric service. Each year we emit more CO2.)

There were a bit fewer than 2 billion when I was born. There was plenty of time to do something about it. Only China recognized the problem and was universally condemned for a birth restrictions. Let no good deed go unpunished. India is about to pass China's population.

Coal will be burned. Who believes Africa will be electrified with solar and wind? . Or the energy source du jour.

Where is population growing? Where population is already a problem. Malnutrition, desese. Where is population decreasing? Where population has never been a problem – as in Japan, Germany, Italy.

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Everything we use requires putting holes in the earth as well as creating energy to transform stuff into other stuff. Pretty naive to think otherwise. Really boils down to acceptable risk versus acceptable cost.

Considering that man-kind would not exist without fossil fuels, strikes me as completely hysterical to want to ban the energy source outright. But then, the "green-energy" movement is not prone to rational thought or integrity.

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Michael, all sources have their environmental impacts. It's a matter of picking our poison. Setting aside CO2, in my mind coal is the least desirable because it's so dirty and dangerous. Some of us are mature enough that fossil fuels won't run out in our lifetimes and maybe not even in your grandchildrens' lifetimes, but they are going to run out at some point and then the question becomes, what replaces them?

Of course there's another way to think about this. Those who think coal is such a great fuel should move themselves next to a coal plant.

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Would you happen to be near a road or highway? Source of pollution. Cars and trucks also cause deaths and injury from accidents.

I think you need a better perspective on risks versus benefits. Without coal, modern man could not exist.

As to dangers, all power plants can be dangerous to the folks running them. Comes with the territory. Ditto for working on the transmission/distribution systems.

Technology will find a way to provide the energy we need, provided a middle-of-the-road path is taken and the extremists in the environmental cabal are drop-kicked over the side.

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Don, I certainly did read your post, you obviously didn't read mine. I said reasonable people could disagree about whether W lied about WMD. You apparently are unfamiliar with his unequivocal denial that he had authorized warrantless wiretapping only months before he admitted that he had done exactly that. You're also apparently unfamiliar with his claim weeks before the 2000 election that he would impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions, revealing within weeks of being elected he had no intention whatsoever of doing so. He was, in fact, a liar, regardless of whether or not he lied about WMD, which I suppose makes it even more likely, though not certain, that he did just that. So whether you realize it or not, you've been refuted. Now can we get back to energy? Like the silliness spewing forth from Michael Keller. Mankind wouldn't exist without stone tools either but we seem to haved moved on from them. Why do we tolerate ignorant fools like Keller and Caruba on a site that's supposed to be about honest, thoughtful inquiry on energy issues rather than mindless propaganda and fevered conspiracy theories?

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George Bush lied, but while I can accept his first presidency, since we do live in a democracy, it was his reelection that I cannot possibly understand, and the ignorant academics that supported him. He was a disaster for the US, and if the US voters had dumped him in 2008, we might have been able to avoid the ignorant, posturing Obama.

About Moniz. One.sixth of the US population is poor, and Another almost poor. They have Another name for it, but that doesn't make any difference. When he said that the American energy advantage - if it really is an advantage - should be exported, that was it for me. Just Another stupid academic who has been promoted beyond his capacity. He should be exported.

I dont see how anyone with half a brain who was watching TV when Bush started that war could say that he was anything except a liar. He lied and everybody around him lied. And every intelligent human being on the face of the Earth knows that, although if he had pleaded innocent on the grounds of ignorance I would understand. And Don, you are wrong about Bush, but right about population. .

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Fred, Good old Saddam used poison gas on folks. Logic immediately concludes he would do it again.

That being said, was that a good enough reason to take the evil SOB out? Maybe. Would have been helpful if Hitler was killed off in the 1930's.

In my opinion, Iraq was more about creating a large "kill-box" to lure-in terrorists and remove them from the planet, with the removal of Saddam more of a by-product.

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I keep bringing up population because it is man's biggest problem, not just the biggest energy problem.

I remind you that today we set some new all-time records. Most people without electric service. Most CO2 ever emitted. Most people with inadequate water supply. Most people teetering on the edge of starvation. Tomorrow we set new records.

When I ask Pulsers how are fifty sub Saharan countries going to electrify without using coal I have never never get a reply.

I am always puzzled by the use of “we” on this site. What does it men to disallow the construction of a new coal fired plants in the US when new coal plants are being proudly, proudly constructed in other places for people who have never had lighting?

Aren't we all pissing in the same pool? And we all is too many.

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Well Michael, as an Arab student said to me one day, by murder and drive into exile hundreds of thousands of women and Children if Saddam is the guilty party. As for dealing with Mr Hitler, I could write you a book about that, and half of it would be about the failure to fight the war while sober instead of while under the influence.

And Don, the only country I know of that has controlled its population problem is wonderful Switzerland, and I since haven't been there in years I guess that they are in trouble too. One thing though is certain: the US is overpopulated, and overpopulation along with two stupid presidents is enough for this ex Soldier.

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FEB, your self-deportation has affected your viewpoints beyond repair. I generally will not argue on your economics, though we differ in detail and decimal points... However, I recommend your keep your politics to yourself; you've become clueless on US attitudes and feelings. Iraq/Saddam HAD WMDs (and they are in Syria and other parts of the ME now). Our invasion was ill-advised and poorly thought-out, but eminently justifiable and still so.

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