Saturday, March 31, 2012

The EPA Does Something

"EPA issues new rule on greenhouse gas emissions: Where does that leave coal?

The EPA proposed the first-ever US curbs on power plants' greenhouse gas emissions, saying next-generation coal plants should meet the restrictions. But the coal industry slammed the new rule."

   The coal industry slammed the new rule? How unexpected.
   The above is the title and tag line from an article written by Mark Clayton, for The Christian Science Monitor, from March 27th, 2012. It describes the nation’s first-ever restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the United States. It is applicable only to new coal-fired power plants, limiting them to no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt generated.
   What's a megawatt? A megawatt = 1 million watts.
   What's a watt? Well, of course a watt (play /ˈwɒt/ WOT; symbol: W) is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units (SI), named after the Scottish engineer James Watt (1736–1819). The unit, defined as one joule per second, measures the rate of energy conversion. One watt is the rate at which work is done when an object's velocity is held constant at one meter per second against constant opposing force of one newton. -Wikipedia
   Well I'm glad we cleared that up.
   Environmentalists are all happy about the proposed regulation, which still needs to be reviewed in open comment by the public, and isn't expected to take effect until late in the year. And as stated above, the coal industry, doesn't like it so much. I think I'm safe in saying they don't like it at all. They say it will lead to higher electricity prices.
   Why would they care about that? Won't they make more money if they raise the rates? Or if they pass the increased cost on to consumers the new rule should have zero affect on them.
   "Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American-made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids."
   Sounds good to me. It also sounds good to the Environmental Defense Fund.
   "EPA deserves a standing ovation for today's historic action to protect American's health, strengthen our economy, and address the clear and present danger of carbon pollution," Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund said in a statement. "The bottom line for our nation is that cleaner power will cut harmful carbon pollution, protect our children from dangerous smog and other serious climate impacts, and help secure a safe and prosperous future."
   The coal industry says this:
   "EPA’s proposal for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from about half the nation’s electric power supply is a poorly disguised cap-and-tax scheme that represents energy and economic policy at its worst," Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association said in a statement. "Higher utility bills and fewer jobs are the only certain outcomes from this reckless attempt to override Congress’s repeated refusal to enact punitive caps on carbon dioxide emissions."
   Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe says this: "We were successful in stopping their job-killing agenda through legislation when we defeated cap-and-trade," he said. "Now our fight is to stop them from forcing it on the American people through regulations."
   Of course for the Republicans and the coal industry these kind of regulations are not needed at all because global warming and climate change do not exist... despite the record average high temperatures and extreme weather events. And if those don't exist we should be able to pollute all that we want, after all, smog is good for our health, and those of who live in smoggy cities like Los Angeles should be thankful for all of that dirt in the air for us to breath. I certainly am.
   As Bob Hope once said, "I don't trust air I can't chew."
   This regulation, if put into effect after the 60 day public comment period, will effectively end the building of new coal-fired power plants, because they will be replaced with natural gas-fired power plants, so the fossil fuel energy industry can still dump hundreds of millions of tons of emissions (methane, which traps more heat as methane is about 21 times as potent as CO2, even though it dissipates faster than carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere just when climate scientists are warning us that we are on the precipice of irreversible climate damage. And how far will this regulation go in reducing carbon emissions?  According to Jeff Goodell, of Rolling Stone magazine: "Not much – at least not right now. For one thing, the rule applies only to new power plants, not existing plants. So the rule has zero impact on the real problem, which is the 400 or so existing plants in America that dump two billion tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere every year. EPA is obliged to issue rules for existing plants too, but as David Roberts [who the hell is David Roberts?!] points out, that is a much tougher call, and one that won’t happen until after the election. (If Mitt Romney wins and/or Republicans take the Senate, a decision will likely be put off for years.")
   This regulation was actually forced on the EPA by the Supreme Court of the United States in a decision during the Bush W years, which ruled carbon dioxide is indeed a pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act, and that consequently the EPA has the authority and duty to regulate it.
   So instead of blaming the EPA, or the president, or the democrats, the fossil energy industry and republicans should place their blame on the conservative Supreme Court. Are they going to do that? Of course not! President Obama is to blame! Obviously.
   Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming said “the Obama Administration just took another step to fulfill the president’s plan to make electricity ‘skyrocket’ and ‘bankrupt’ America’s coal industry." The president's plan to make electricity skyrocket and bankrupt America's coal industry? I assume he means the president's nefarious plan to make the price of electricity skyrocket, and bankrupt the coal industry in this country.
   Isn't this a contradictory statement? If the price of electricity goes up, exactly how would that bankrupt the coal industry?
   But facts and common sense aside, President Obama obviously... obviously plans to destroy the energy reserves of the United States, when it was the Supreme Court, George W Bush's Supreme Court, that ordered this, because... well I don't know why he would want to do that... but of course he is, according to the republicans. 
   You bastard Obama! How nefarious you are!
   The republicans just don't like the EPA. All of the candidates for president who ran this year said they would get rid of it if they became president. After all who needs a federal agency charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress, which were created by a Republican president (Nixon)?
   Human health, ha! The environment, ha! We don't need no stinking human health, and no stinking environment! Republicans don't need clean air to breath as long as they can hold soft, green, dollar bills against their pasty white cheeks. The constant acquisition and accumulation of money is all that is important. It's all that really matters to republicans. To deviate from that course is tantamount to treason for the current incarnation of the Republican Party.
   Instances when the EPA has been accused of withholding information concerning air pollution at ground zero after 9/11 ordered by the White House, and other instances of political interference in the affairs of the EPA during the Bush years; making changes to President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12898 during 2001, removing the requirements for government agencies to take the poor and minority populations into special consideration when making changes to environmental legislation; failing to prevent and detect environmental crimes, informing the public of environmental enforcement, and setting and monitoring standards of air pollution, water pollution, hazardous wastes and chemicals; suppressing a study the EPA commissioned by Harvard University which contradicted its own position on mercury controls; falsifying documents summarizing government research on climate change before their release; delaying the release of their report showing that auto companies were using loopholes to produce less fuel-efficient cars until after an energy bill was voted on; allowing polluters to dump 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals in to U.S. waterways in 2010, not withstanding, this agency has just got to go.
   If the republicans win the White House it just might disappear into the annals of history.
   Fortunately, for America and the rest of the world, it looks like Mitt (Mitt) Romney will be the republican candidate for president this year, and no one likes him. Not even republicans. And he will not become president.
   And after this election Obama will "be more flexible,"  or so he said to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and maybe, just maybe, the EPA will be allowed to grow a pair, and continue to do its job... without being prompted by the Supreme Court.
   Wouldn't that be nice?

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