The Scourge that is the Clean Power Plan
Temperature records made by Thomas Jefferson from Sept. 11-16, 1796, show it was cooler that week than the same week in 2016. This was an observation made by a kid reporting in the University of Virginia newspaper Sept. 26, 2016, proving global warming and was actually printed by this institution of “higher learning.”
There you have it – incompetence displayed by the next generation. Not news but an indicator of national problems. The next day (Sept. 27) the U.S. Court of Appeals heard initial arguments about the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). Warning: Sit down before you read more and become nauseous.
This EPA plan claims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants by one-third over the next 14 years. It imposes very expensive regulations on energy production, destroys jobs, pushes manufacturing industry out of our country and raises consumer electricity costs. The court will hear arguments about all of this, but lawyers tend to be about as well informed as the student who wrote the observation cited above. Understanding facts about CPP issues is important.
This regulation was finalized Aug. 3, 2015, and it intended to expand authorities of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by central planning of entire systems to include generation, transmission, distribution and consumption. It would retire large portions of coal-based generation and push use of “renewables.” The problem is that the entire effort is unconstitutional.
First, the CPP violates the Constitution’s separation of powers by allowing the EPA to make law instead of enforce law. Further, the CAA does not grant the EPA authority to revise states’ electricity policies, restructure markets or establish carbon dioxide limits. Second, the CPP would cost between $41 and $73 billion annually and force energy-intensive manufacturing out of business and national presence, destroy jobs and cause closure of 68,000 megawatts of fossil fuel electric-generation capacity.
Understand that individual states have held responsibility for overseeing the electric-generation industry within their borders since 1935, and states have objected to the CPP seizure of multiple authorities. Understandably, 27 states and industry groups filed suit, so the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the CPP on Feb. 9, 2016, until pending lawsuits are resolved.
Meanwhile, the EPA has argued that the 1990 CAA is ambiguous and that both House and Senate language from the original bill(s), which is now part of federal code, should be ignored and thereby allow the CAA “comprehensive scheme.” The general consensus today is that the CPP court order will remain stayed until after the election and into the next Congress. A major message here is that the EPA, an Executive agency of your federal government, has broken the law and been remanded by the Supreme Court to withdraw and cease these activities. Meanwhile, your elected representatives in Congress, House and Senate have done nothing to remedy this grievous matter.
A backdrop for all of this is that energy consumption in America indicates a stagnant industrial economy this year and a slight decline in 2015 from 2014, most notably a decline in coal use offset by increased natural gas use, 29% of total consumption. Coal supplied 16% of primary energy use in 2015, down from 18% in 2014, while total coal consumption fell 12% to the lowest level since 1982. Petroleum consumption grew in 2015, while exports continue to increase and averaged 458,000 barrels per day. Nuclear electric power generation remained flat.
Now comes the fun part. Some renewable natural gas ideas make sense, particularly one livestock-manure-to-energy project in northern Missouri. Roeslein Alternative Energy and Smithfield Hog Production are doing it right. Their endeavor reduces gas emissions, eliminates rainfall effects on treatment systems and generates jobs. They are putting covers over 88 existing manure lagoons to make them anaerobic digesters producing natural gas. When finished, this project should produce 2.2 bcf of natural gas, or the equivalent of 17 million gallons of diesel annually. Further, the covered manure ponds will prevent 400 million gallons of rainfall from entering lagoons and overflowing into the water table. About 85,000 tons of CO2 methane per year will be prevented from reaching the atmosphere.
How nice. A plant that’s safe, beneficial and based on reality – not the views of a screwball.