Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The EPA's War on America
By Alan Caruba
Among the targets to disable an enemy’s ability to wage war is their energy infrastructure. The destruction of the utilities that provide electricity or its ability to refine oil is critical to crippling a nation’s ability to function, based on the universal use of hydrocarbons such as coal, natural gas, and oil.
If an enemy was doing this to America we would go to war against it, but this is being done and the enemy is the government on which we depend to ensure the nation has the energy it needs to function and grow. Leading the war on America has been the Environmental Protection Agency, but it is joined by the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and other agencies.
The Institute for Energy Research has estimated that the much of the government’s oil and gas that is technically recoverable is worth $128 trillion, about eight times our national debt. Our coal resources in the lower 48 states are estimated to be worth $22.5 trillion.
On September 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that “The Obama administration plans to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they are built with novel and expensive technology to capture greenhouse-gas emissions, according to people familiar with a draft proposal.” The U.S. has more than 27% of the world’s known coal reserves.
Greenhouse gas emissions are primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas vital to all life on Earth, the “food” that vegetation depends upon. It plays no role whatever in a “global warming” that is not occurring. It is emitted by the Earth’s many active volcanoes and hot springs. It is exhaled by humans and land animals. It is the product of the combustion of hydrocarbons. As it increased in the atmosphere, the Earth has entered a cooling—not a warming—spell since the late 1990s. Its atmospheric concentration is a very tiny 0.039 percent by volume.
It is, however, the justification on which much of the EPA’s enforcement activities are based. “The only way coal plants could comply is to capture carbon dioxide emissions and stick them underground—a costly process that hasn’t been demonstrated at commercial scale before.”
The idea of “capturing” CO2 and holding it underground is about as idiotic as it gets. More CO2 means more abundant crops to feed humans, livestock, and wildlife. It means healthier forests and jungles. Yet this is what would be required if the EPA gets its way. And even if it were possible, it would drive up the cost of electricity to consumers.
If implemented the proposal would guarantee one thing; fewer coal-fired plants and, as a result, less production of electricity. In 2012, the American Energy Institute warned that “coal’s share of U.S. electricity is expected to fall to below 40 percent this year from 42 percent last year and produce the lowest share since data was collected in 1949. Just five or six years ago, its share of electricity generation was 50 percent.”
The EPA isn’t content stopping the construction of coal-fired plants. In April 2013 a decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s veto of the Arch Coal Spruce Mine in West Virginia. The decision pushed aside the Army Corps that normally conducts the environmental reviews and which granted approval to the mine in 2007.
The EPA ordered the Corps to withdraw the permit. This transfer of power to the EPA imperils all future coal mining projects. A Wall Street Journal article about the EPA’s project veto noted that “A recent study by Berkeley Professor David Sunding estimates that some $220 billion of annual investment depends on these permits; the fact of an EPA veto will deter new investment." EPA warnings have caused a British mining giant, Anglo-American, to walk away from a proposed Alaskan “Pebble” mine—potentially the largest coal and copper project in North America.
It is not just coal whose use is targeted by the EPA, fracking technology has unleashed a boom in natural gas, but the Obama administration has nominated an enemy of natural gas to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Ron Binz regards it as a “dead end” because he too is a believer in carbon capture and storage. His answer to a non-existent global warming is “renewable” energy sources such as solar and wind. Solar currently provides 0.01% of the electricity fed to the grid and wind provides just 2%. FERC oversees much of the gas business and could effectively deter the growth of this industry with all of its attendant benefits from jobs to the reduction in the cost of electricity.
A recent report by the Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee exposes the way the EPA has “pursued a path of obfuscation, operating in the shadows, and out of the sunlight.” The report noted how the former administration established an alias identify in order to discuss agency business without having to report on it. The report provides a lengthy description of violations of the Freedom of Information Act and other federal laws and regulations intended to encourage transparency in government.
All of this is going on while the nation languishes in the long recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, while creating jobs is vital to that recovery, and while it continues its long history of resisting the provision of energy in any form to Americans.
It is a war being waged on Americans, most of whom are unaware of it, but are being victimized by it.
© Alan Caruba, 2013