The Obama administration is expected to release new anti-pollution regulations in early June that may very well decimate America’s coal industry, which accounts for 39 percent of the nation’s electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The proposed rules, to be promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, are meant to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants.
The 800 million short tons of coal those plants consume each year reportedly are the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gases, which the White House blames for climate change.
Environmental groups — which never met a fossil fuel they liked (including natural gas, which accounts for 29 percent of the nation’s electricity generation) — suggest that renewable energy sources, primarily, wind and solar, can easily replace King Coal.
But it will be many years before renewable energy comes anywhere close to generating the electricity coal does. And it will take even longer if the nation relies on wind and solar.
Indeed, hydro — not wind, not solar — accounts for 52 percent of the electricity generated by renewable sources, according to EIA. Wind accounts for 32 percent. And, for all its hype, solar accounts for a mere 2 percent.
Now, if the Obama administration’s aim is to generate more electricity from “clean” energy sources, while curbing the nation’s reliance on electricity generated by dirty old coal plants, there is a ready way to do that.
It can increase the megawatts of electricity generated by natural gas, nuclear energy and hydro, which don’t emit greenhouse gases and, therefore, could not contribute to climate change.
Currently, the three “clean” energy sources collectively supply a little more than half the nation’s electricity. If the Obama administration provided the same kind of incentives for natural gas, nuclear and hydro that it does for wind and solar, they could easily supply three quarters of the nation’s electricity.
Alas, environmental groups won’t entertain the idea. That’s because ramping up production of natural gas would mean government endorsement of fracking (which is anathema to environmental activists).
Getting more electricity from nuclear energy would mean approving new nuclear power plants (and, perhaps, retrofitting and restarting shuttered plants like San Onofre), which would set off the anti-nuclear lobby.
And increasing hydroelectricity would mean building dams, which would entail blocking rivers and diverting fish from their usual course. That almost certainly would foment pushback by the endangered-species crowd.
In 2012, President Obama laid out his energy strategy for the future. He described it as “an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American energy.”
Apparently, all-of-the-above does not include coal, nor getting the most out of natural gas, nuclear energy or hydroelectric power.
— From the Orange County Register