By Ben Tompkins
URGENT: This article assumes a belief in global warming. Anyone who doesn’t believe in global warming should not read this article because they obviously can’t read or understand facts.
Ah, the “War on Coal.” Funny how you search “Obama Coal” and the first billion hits are from FoxNews and the Heritage Foundation railing that Obama is finally ushering in the economic apocalypse against his own country. That’s usually an excellent sign that the real war being conducted is by partisan media groups.
In truth, all Obama is proposing is that the EPA engage regulations that would require new coal plants constructed in the United States to expel no more than 1000 tons/Megawatt of CO2. As of right now, the average coal plant is producing about 1800 t/MW.
The going theory in the conservative media seems to be that any regulations to reduce coal emissions will increase overhead costs for coal plants, kill the coal industry and the associated jobs and therefore destroy America. Yet for some reason, the coal industry has been vigorously investing in this technology for years with no EPA regulations of this nature at all. Question begged.
The first reason is because environmental issues are a black eye for coal. It’s bad for people, it’s bad for the environment and therefore it’s bad for business. According to the National Coal Council, the first and best way to reduce CO2 emissions is carbon capture and storage (CCS). In other words, gather the CO2 before it’s emitted and put it in a giant hole somewhere. They further say that this technology is being tried out at over 74 industrial locations worldwide, and that affordable CCS technology will be commercially available by 2020. It will allow the coal industry to adhere to proposed regulations.
Obviously the Obama administration doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to go around building antiquated coal plants when, in less than 10 years, we’ll have a massive upgrade available. Seriously, you don’t buy an iPad right before the new one comes out -why do it with coal plants?
And the second reason the coal industry wants to develop CO2 technology is because the next best way to reduce CO2 is to increase the efficiency of your burning. In other words, the same thing that reduces CO2 makes their plants more effective and therefore makes them a pile of cash. Currently, supercritical coal plants, which burn at very high temperatures and pressures, are in operation and have increased efficiency by about 35%. Like, to the point that the National Coal Council believes that “increased efficiency is the only practical method for mitigating CO2 emissions now, and it will be important for future plants to be equipped with CCS in order to reduce the energy impacts and costs of CO2 capture.”
Well there you go. Now for some delicious irony.
Stephen L Johnson: Bush’s head of the EPA. Back in the early 2000s, “Johnson tried to block the efforts of 17 states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [for cars] and improve fuel economy. He defended his position by arguing that ‘The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules.’”
The 17 states sued the EPA to allow them to do this themselves because reducing greenhouse gasses was of vital concern. The name of the docket? Massachusetts v. the EPA. Approximate timeline until the Supreme Court ruling? 2003-2007.
Right. The same timeline as Romney’s tenure as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently, he and Junior were having a slap fight over who could implement emissions regulations on the auto industry first. They couldn’t wait to regulate CO2 emissions. Like, to such a degree that in 2006, it went before the Supreme Court. Gee. But now that Obama’s trying to regulate the coal industry for the same reason, he’s a dick. According to Mitt Romney. And the Heritage Foundation. And FoxNews. Lovely…
Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colo. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of the issue. Reach Ben Tompkins at BenTompkins@DaytonCityPaper.com.