Saturday, July 14, 2012


Almost immediately after taking office, the Obama Administration began rewriting a recently completed coal regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule (Rule). This unnecessary action, carried out through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) at the Department of the Interior, proposed to dramatically alter a regulation that that took over five years of environmental analysis and careful scientific consideration to complete.
Despite the fact that a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was conducted for the 2008 Rule, OSM hired another contractor to write an entirely new EIS for the Obama Administration’s efforts to rewrite the Rule. An Associated Press story revealed that this draft EIS concluded that the Obama Administration’s regulation could cost over 7,000 mining jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states. Shortly after this information was made public, the Obama Administration criticized and dismissed the contractor it had selected to conduct this analysis. (

Our country has probably the greatest coal reserves (The People's Republic of China is the largest producer of coal in the world, while the United States contains the world's largest 'recoverable' coal reserves (followed by Russia, China, and India)).  The Obama administration does not believe that coal can be used cleanly.  The cost of coal plants now is mainly the emissions control.

According to the 2010 report "Impact of EPA Rules on Power Markets," by Credit Suisse, tougher federal air pollution rules that will be coming in the next few years could prompt electricity companies to close as many as 1 in every 5 coal-burning power plants in America, primarily facilities more than 40 years old that lack emissions controls.
The regulations being crafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), expected to go into force in April and November 2011 in accordance with the Clean Air Act, are aimed at reducing mercury, acid rain, and smog-forming emissions from utility smokestacks. The study found that the EPA rules, combined with a recent drop in the price of natural gas, could over the next four to five years cause the utility industry to accelerate retirement of old coal-fired power plants rather than spend to upgrade the plants' emissions controls.
After expected emissions upgrades, the coal fleet will continue to have plants, producing about 103,000 megawatts, that are still "lacking any major emission controls," the study says. The oldest, smallest coal plants with few emissions controls make up an "at-risk" of closure portion that account for about 20 percent of total US coal-fired generating capacity, or 69,000 megawatts. The cost to cut sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury emissions could run $50 billion to $70 billion, not counting the oldest plants. Upgrading those would cost another $80 billion to $110 billion.(

It is a  cost comparison, jobs vs. coal emissions controls.  Energy independence vs. less energy.

No comments:

Post a Comment