The era of cheap electricity is coming to an end thanks to President Obama’s radical new global warming decree that declares war on coal, America’s least-expensive power-plant fuel and one of our most abundant energy resources.
Hundreds of U.S. coal-fired power plants will have to be shuttered starting in 2016 for states to meet new Environmental Protection Agency rules that aim to slash carbon-dioxide emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.
The U.S. depends on coal for nearly one-third of its electricity, and it sits on one-fifth of the world’s proven reserves.
Fulfilling the far left’s utopian vision of a fossil-fuel-free society comes at a heavy price. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the rules will kill more than 220,000 American jobs per year, reduce the country’s annual gross domestic product by $50 billion and cost consumers $289 billion in higher electricity costs.
And for what? The EPA’s own estimates say the new rules would reduce the global temperature by a whole 0.018 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
“Global warming” is a global issue, but the rest of the world is not obliged to do anything but watch us dismantle a key component of our energy portfolio.
Economic juggernauts such as China and India, the respective No. 1 and No. 3 coal consumers and No. 2 and No. 4 coal importers, can continue powering their growing economies with fossil fuels.
China and India are building four new coal power plants – every week. Wrote Paul Galuszka in The New York Times in 2012: “Global demand for coal is expected to grow to 8.9 billion tons by 2016 from 7.9 billion tons this year. China is expected to add about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years. During that period, India will add more than 46 plants.”
So to recap the plan: Americans painfully wean themselves from a plentiful and inexpensive energy source; the rest of the world goes on unabated; and the reward for our immense sacrifice is a microscopic change in global temperature.
It’s classic Obama – monstrous investment, miniscule return, weaker America.
The progressive endgame is to make solar, wind and other renewables more competitive. The problem is, the EPA achieves the goal not by making renewables better or cheaper, but by handicapping fossil fuels.
The Obama administration claims the new rules will save $50 billion a year in pollution-related health costs and create more than 250,000 jobs. Be skeptical of both claims.
Greenhouse gases, by the EPA’s own admission, do not cause adverse health effects. And where are these jobs going to be created? At solar- and wind-power companies? Have we forgotten Solyndra?
The Americans most severely harmed will be the very people the far left most purports to help: low-income families. They already spend a proportionately larger percentage of their income on energy.
The president is well aware consumers will bear the brunt of his anti-global warming crusade. He warned us as when he was pushing his carbon cap-and-trade scheme back in 2008: “Under my plan ... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”
No wonder Obama skirts Congress and ignores public opinion to get his way.
His entire rules-making process was suspect from the start. When Obama announced his Climate Action Plan last summer, the National Climate Assessment was still being revised and reviewed. Yet somehow he already knew the administration-paid scientists’ findings would support the emissions rules he sought to implement.
So did science shape the policy, or did the policy shape the science?
We would argue the latter, considering the assessment uses “climate” and “climate change” interchangeably. It unscientifically links natural climate occurrences such as droughts, blizzards, floods and hurricanes to atmospheric release of carbon, giving the impression all current and future extreme weather conditions – from tornadoes to heat waves – result from manmade pollution.
Such a connection has never been proven by scientists – not even the ones on Obama’s payroll.
That is not to say climate change is to be ignored. But it’s irresponsible to overexaggerate perceived negative impact. Remember horror stories of “acid rain” in the 1980s and CFCs in the 1990s? Weren’t those also global environmental catastrophes-in-waiting?
What’s badly needed in the national dialogue is some hysteria-calming perspective and public policy that incentivizes industries, instead of bullying them, into cleaner energy sources and more incremental carbon reduction.
Doing nothing is not a solution – though too many people think it is. But neither is making one of America’s most abundant energy resources as worthless as the topsoil it lies beneath.