Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Posted By Rich Trzupek On December 30, 2010 @ 12:43 am In FrontPage | 9 Comments

The USEPA announced its intention to deliver yet another body blow to the power and petrochemical industries, piling on another layer of unneeded, unwanted and economically disastrous regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Before we consider the agency’s latest move, let’s take a moment to consider all that has been done and will be done in the name of fighting the non-existent problem of global warming. States and the feds are already moving forward with at least six major regulatory programs designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus decimate the energy sector:

  • New CAFÉ  Standards – This is arguably the least bad of the bunch, because the due date for the new 35.5 miles per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard is at least a few years out (2016). Nonetheless, the new CAFÉ standard [1] will make automobiles more expensive – as even the White House admits – less safe (lighter cars don’t do as well in accidents as compared to heavier ones) and will do almost nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards – More than thirty states, encompassing about three quarters of the population of the United States, have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards [2]. These standards require using ever decreasing amounts of electricity generated by the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Regional Trading Programs – States in three parts of the country, the east coast, the west coast and the midwest, have formed partnerships to create regional cap and trade programs. The east coast cap and trade program [3] has been up and running for two years. The west coast and midwest programs will “go live” in the near future.
  • Permitting of Greenhouse GasesRecent USEPA guidance [4] directed state permitting authorities to treat greenhouse gases as regulated pollutants when considering the construction of new major sources and major modifications to existing sources. Permitting authorities are further directed to apply the Best Available Control Technology standard to the control of greenhouse gases from these sources.
  • New Ambient Air Standards – The USEPA’s new ambient air standards [5] for “traditional” air pollutants are so ridiculously low that it’s virtually impossible for any new facility to comply with them. This is thus a back-door way of ensuring that no new fossil fuel fired power facilities can be built.
  • New Hazardous Air Pollution Rules – The USEPA’s new rules limiting emissions of hazardous air pollutants from industrial boilers [6] are also draconian. Again, the net effect will be to ensure that new industrial boilers powered by fossil fuels are just about impossible to construct.

So, contrary to what environmental groups and leftist politicians would like you to believe, we’re already doing an awful lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use – far too much in my opinion – and we will continue to pay the economic price for these disastrous policies. Yet, the USEPA isn’t content. They have decided to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and that legislative framework demands the construction of even more regulatory layers. The latest will be New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which will, for the first time, create numerical limits on greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel burning power plants and oil refineries.

Despite the use of the adjective “New” in the acronym, NSPS standards apply to both new and existing sources of air pollution emissions. Typically, the agency uses a specific date in time to distinguish between new and existing sources. Sources built before the cut-off date have one emission limit to meet and sources built after have a different, more stringent limit. Given the record of Lisa Jackson’s USEPA so far, we can expect that the agency will adopt greenhouse gas emission limits on existing sources that will force some facilities to close and the rest to spend billions in retrofits. And the new source limit? Expect that to be so ridiculously low that nobody will even think of building a fossil fuel fired power plant or new oil refinery in the United States ever again. Of course, given the list of the other onerous regulatory initiatives provided above, building new energy or petrochemical infrastructure is no longer a feasible option anyway.

USEPA announced its intention to develop greenhouse gas emission limitations for the power sector and oil refineries as part of two proposed settlement agreements [7] between the agency and several states and environmental groups who filed suit against the USEPA over greenhouse gas issues. As part of the settlement agreements, USEPA promises to have greenhouse gas emission limitations in place for the power industry by May 2012 and limitations on petroleum refineries in place by November 2012. The agency describes this as a “common sense approach” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains that it is setting “a modest pace” in developing this massive new regulatory structure. More amazingly, USEPA administrator Lisa Jackson had this to say [8] about developing new greenhouse gas standards:

 

 

We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.

This is of course the same Lisa Jackson who believes that the Clean Air Act is solely responsible for American economic growth [9] over the last forty years. This latest statement by the delusional director shows that she’s drifted even farther into a green fantasyland. Eliminating America’s ability to use a cheap, domestically plentiful source of energy to power industrial growth isn’t going to attract a dime of private investment. Undercutting America’s ability to turn crude oil into refined products isn’t going to create one good job at home. Jackson is spinning yarns, utilizing all the right buzzwords, like threats to “health and welfare,” “attract[ing] private investment,” and “creat[ing] good jobs,” but those words are as hollow and meaningless as any ever uttered by the most cynical of professional politicians. The actions of Jackson’s USEPA and Congress’s continued unwillingness to rein her agency in guarantee that economic recovery and job creation will continue to be an impossibility as long as the Obama administration is in charge.

Sometimes, being green just isn’t healthy

Sometimes, being green just isn’t healthy

Ethel C. Fenig

After governments have been phasing out incandescent light bulbs as energy hogs causing climate change in favor of expensive, mercury loaded, twisty bulbs which give off a harsh, flickering light which supposedly use less energy, some scientists have not so surprisingly discovered “they can release potentially harmful amounts of mercury if broken.”

Also:

Levels of toxic vapour around smashed eco-bulbs were up to 20 times higher than the safe guideline limit for an indoor area, the study said.

It added that broken bulbs posed a potential health risk to pregnant women, babies and small children.

Also, the energy saving bulbs’ subtly flickering harsh light can be dangerous:

Medical charities say they can trigger epileptic fits, migraines and skin rashes and have called for an ‘opt out’ for vulnerable people.

Other than these dire health hazards, the bulbs are just fine according to environmentalists, who just don’t seem to care–or know–that mercury is not good for the environment.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/12/sometimes_being_green_just_isn.html at December 23, 2010 – 10:54:39 AM CST

Your Coal-fired Electric Car

Your Coal-fired Electric Car

James
Lewis

 

Rush Limbaugh has coined some of the best words for saving our PC-corrupted
public language, but I think this gem should be remembered: Rush says that
electric cars are “coal-fired.”
Which is exactly correct, and it’s funny, too.
Millions of bubble brains in the media think the GM Volt is supposed to be
the answer to our energy needs. It is of course a fraud, as GM actually admitted
after it hyped the new Volt. It’s not
a “hybrid electric,”
as GM lied to the hearty applause of Obama and the New
York Times. Rather it’s a gas-powered car for 340 miles per tank, and you can
run it for 40 miles on batteries that will have to be replaced when they stop
taking a charge, as batteries do. That’s why your laptop battery has to be
replaced after a while. And it will cost you $ 41,000.00 to snoot out the other
Green suckers.
But the real fallacy, as Rush points out, is that electrical energy for
your hypemobile has to come from somewhere. It’s a scientific law called the
Conservation of Energy. You start out with 10 million ergs and turn it into 40
miles of driving your putt-putt down the highway. You lose half of your original
energy at every step in the chain from your coal-fired generator plant to the
rubber wheels moving your shiny new Volt.
In most of the world electrical energy comes from coal, with a lot less
from nuclear. Both of those are sinful energy sources. The Greenies imagine the
planet slowly dying from all that stuff.  But that little Volt you drive around
is really fired by electricity from a carbon energy source: coal. It’s the
“coal-fired car.”  And it’s China that is now building coal-fired plants fast
enough to outpace the rest of the world. That’s because the Chinese power class
listens to engineers, not ignorant headline writers.
Rush dropped that phrase a few weeks ago, and I hope it doesn’t disappear
down the vast collective memory hole, because “coal-fired” tells the
exact truth.
It takes all the steam out of the hypemobile.
It’s your coal-fired GM Volt.
Pass it on.

Page Printed from:
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/11/your_coalfired_electric_car.html

at November 30, 2010 – 05:40:15 PM CST

// <![CDATA[//  

Al Gore’s Green Blasphemy

 

Al Gore’s Green Blasphemy

Posted
By Rich Trzupek On November 23, 2010 @ 12:45 am In FrontPage | 10
Comments

Back in 1994,
vice-president of the United States Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote that
started us on the long road of taking American farms out of food production and
converting them to fuel production. While conservatives and libertarians argued
at the time that subsidizing ethanol production made no economic or
environmental sense, Gore and his green allies were certain that bio-fuels
would solve all the nation’s woes. Sixteen years later, Mr. Gore has apparently
seen the light, admitting that America’s rush to embrace corn
ethanol has been something of a mistake.

Here is what
Vice President Al Gore had to say [1] about his role in subsidizing
ethanol, while speaking at the Farm Journal conference back in 1998:

I was also
proud to stand up for the ethanol tax exemption when it was under attack in the
Congress — at one point, supplying a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to save
it. The more we can make this home-grown fuel a successful, widely-used
product, the better-off our farmers and our environment will be.

Contrast that
with what the vice-president is quoted as saying in this report from Fox [2], statements he made while
he was attending a recent green energy conference held in Athens, Greece:

It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation
ethanol. First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion
ratios are at best very small. One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I
paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee,
and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa
because I was about to run for president. The size, the percentage of corn
particularly, which is now being (used for) first-generation ethanol definitely
has an impact on food prices. The competition with food prices is real.

While it’s
nice to hear that the hero of the environmental movement has embraced reality,
Gore’s conversion has come far too late. When Gore cast his critical vote in
1994, the bio-fuels industry produced about 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol each
year from less than fifty plants. Sixteen years
later
[3], as a direct result of government subsidies and tax
breaks, over a hundred new corn ethanol plants have been built and the amount
of ethanol produced in the United States has increased by almost an order of
magnitude, topping
10.5 billion gallons
[3] in 2009. Private investors have
invested tens of billions of dollars to build today’s massive corn ethanol
infrastructure and the government has invested tens of billions more to ensure
that it remains in place. Had Gore faced facts in 1994, the public and private
sectors could have used those funds more wisely and more profitably elsewhere.
But now? Having made this huge investment, the pain of admitting defeat,
suffering our losses and walking away from corn ethanol may be too much to
bear.

Congress has
to decide whether or not to renew the current $7.7 billion corn-ethanol subsidy
by the end of the year. On the one hand, it seems madness to prolong a fuel
industry that – at best – can only generate a bit more energy than it consumes
(and more often less), that takes cropland out of food and feed production and,
as result, raises the prices and lowers the availability of food. A 2007 Department of Agriculture report [4] clearly
outlined the effects of subsidizing corn ethanol: a steady decrease in food
production, concurrent decreases in agricultural exports and rising costs of
food products.

As distasteful
as it may be to bite the bullet and end corn-ethanol subsidies, the alternative
may be even more unpalatable to Congress. Demanding that the corn-ethanol
industry stand on its own two feet would result in the closure of dozens of
plants, the loss of thousands of jobs, writing off billions of dollars of
losses and finding new sources of petroleum to replace the billions of gallons
of ethanol that Americans put in their gas tanks each year. Both options are
painful, and while a free market advocate like me would advocate cutting our
losses, learning a painful lesson and moving beyond ethanol, Congress may not
be so inclined. The benefits of ending the ethanol subsidy are long-term and
market-driven. Few politicians are motivated to action by that big a picture,
particularly when the short-term damage can be so devastating to their careers.
How can even the most staunchly conservative farm-belt congressman face his
constituents after voting to end ethanol subsidies? If and when subsidies end,
farm income will drop, the property value of farms will plummet and thousands
of workers employed in the ethanol industry will find themselves on the
streets, looking for work in the worst economic climate since the Great
Depression.

The fact that
Al Gore has finally come to grips with corn-ethanol reality is a remarkable
development, but his conversion has probably come far too late to be of any
real value. The policies that he promoted throughout much of his political
career have come home to roost and the economic damage that those policies have
done is undeniable. Gore – more than anyone else – helped to create the
renewable energy monster that saps our nation’s resources and undermines our
prosperity today. Having profited handsomely from those efforts, the ex-vice
president’s belated mea culpa has fallen incredibly flat.

Obama’s Green Energy Myth

Obama’s Green Energy Myth

Posted By Rich Trzupek On June 28, 2010 @ 12:26 am In FrontPage | 20 Comments

President Obama’s attempt to turn the Deepwater Horizon disaster into an advertisement for alternative “green” energies and “cap and trade” legislation was so offensive that even Senator Diane Feinstein was forced to observe [1] that “the climate bill isn’t going to stop the oil leak.”

In a June 15 column [2] published by the New York Times, Peter Baker took that analysis a bit further:

“The connection to the spill, of course, goes only so far. While (Obama) called for more wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, neither fills gasoline tanks in cars and trucks, and so their expansion would not particularly reduce the need for the sort of deepwater drilling that resulted in the spill.”

This entirely reasonable and technically accurate statement enflamed the president’s cheerleaders over at Media Matters, where Fae Jencks [3] took Baker to task:

“While wind and solar energy may not fill cars’ tanks, it will power their batteries. What Baker fails to acknowledge is that by ensuring that ‘more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power,’ Obama would ensure that those vehicles are powered with clean energy rather than with electricity produced by fossil fuel plants.”

Those two sentences summarize the green nirvana that the president is trying to foist upon America. It’s a goal that’s entirely unachievable, because of a number of technical and economic realties that lie just below the surface of simplistic analysis.  It’s not surprising that a technically-illiterate blogger who posts at a site devoted to echoing this administration’s progressive agenda would make such an assertion, but it’s quite disturbing that the man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world would utter such foolishness.

Both wind power [4] and solar power [5] are more expensive – incredibly so in the case of solar – than either fossil power or nuclear power. Worse, you can’t count on either wind or solar as a reliable source of energy, since the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Accordingly, for each megawatt of wind and solar capacity we develop, another megawatt of back-up power, typically powered by fossil fuels, has to be in place. This redundancy adds to the already unacceptable cost of “green energy.”

Even if we ignore the economic aspects and accept the progressive proposition that the government has an infinite supply of money available to spend, the idea that the wind and sun can power our cars makes no sense. The reason that our vehicles use gasoline is that gas is a very efficient means to store energy. A gallon of gasoline, which weighs a little over six pounds, contains far more useful energy than the six pounds of the best batteries on the market. So, before you factor anything else in, gasoline’s weight to power ratio makes it the better choice in terms of energy efficiency. Will batteries improve over time? Sure they will, although modern, high-capacity batteries typically involve using materials that come with their own environmental hazards. Still, no battery that exists or that is being contemplated comes close to matching the energy storage capacity of gasoline.

Next, there are the unavoidable inefficiencies of the electric transmission system itself. America’s power grid is a wonder of modern technology and it’s obviously necessary to distribute the power we need to run our refrigerators and computers, light our homes and keep the pumps and motors that industry depends on turning. Yet, electric power distribution is hardly the model of efficiency. A significant portion of the energy generated by power plants is lost in distribution [6], due to voltage drops, resistant heating and other line losses. In many cases, moving energy around the nation via a network of thousands of miles of metal cables represents the best way to transmit power, but it’s hardly the most efficient way to do it.

Consider motor vehicles. By the time we work our way through all of the inherent, expensive and unavoidable inefficiencies of generating, transporting and storing so-called green power in the vain effort to fuel our transportation needs, we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that doing so would create more of a demand for power, not less. Or, to put the president’s proposition another way, if America somehow transformed itself into a nation in which the transportation sector was fueled entirely by electricity, we would be significantly less energy efficient than we are today. We can, and should, continue to develop hybrids, for that technology provides even more bang for our fossil fuel buck, without pretending that the ultimate source of power – crude oil – isn’t our best energy option.

Ultimately, if we can figure out a way to use as-of-yet undiscovered solar-powered catalysts to produce hydrogen inexpensively, we may free ourselves from the tyranny of fossil fuels altogether. Yet, as technology proceeds along those paths, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the promise of a green energy panacea.