OPED: EPA Proposal for First CO2 Limits on Power Plants

In the Obama administrations never ending quest to force energy conservation through artificial price increases, the EPA has now proposed a new rule regulating CO2 emissions from certain new (for now) power plants.  The EPA has “determined” that CO2 contributes to climate change and is therefore a danger to public health and welfare. In 2010 the EPA listed CO2 as a pollutant and it now also chooses to regulate its discharge. This new rule is entitled “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.”

Let’s address the logic behind this EPA rule and the root of the fight against CO2. From the UN Earth Summit of 1992 comes Agenda 21. This is the UN core document planning the redistribution of Western wealth to developing nations. All funding for Agenda 21 coming from western nations, passing through the pocket of the UN, and, after a rough sift, the remainder then into the palms of the developing world. So they can supposedly become as industrialized as the western world. How ironic to seek a way to reduce CO2 by expanding CO2 industrialization from about 40 countries to about 190 countries?

There is no statistical proof of man made climate change. The lack of any statistically significant warming has made it more difficult for the United Nations to paint CO2 as the culprit. CO2 is not a pollutant. All scientists admit that CO2 has been at higher levels throughout history with no ill effect.

I know that proponents will say that our warm winter is proof of climate change. Tell that to residents of Europe and Alaska who experienced a horrific winter. Climatologists have pointed to the location of the jet stream as the source of our warmth this year. Not climate change.

It is easy to be vexed about climate change; we get bombarded about the existing horror that will only grow worse unless we stop using fossil fuels.  I would like to point out that these lemming-like predictions are derived from computer models. And these computer models are in conflict with observed empirical data that human caused CO2 emissions are irrelevant.

Its been said that scientists first guess, then compute, then look out the window to see if they were right in the first place. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Climate science should be rendered from lengthy physical observations of climate happenings. We can gather information from the land, sea and air. If human observations do not follow the computer model then the theoreticians should go back to the drawing board.

That being said lets look how the EPA developed its strategy to combat CO2. As I mentioned, it derives from Agenda 21. Specifically, I quote:

“UN Earth Summit Agenda 21 (1992)

Section I, Chapter 4

Changing Consumption Patterns


E) Moving towards environmentally sound pricing

4.24. Without the stimulus of prices and market signals that make clear to producers and consumers the environmental costs of the consumption of energy, materials and natural resources and the generation of wastes, significant changes in consumption and production patterns seem unlikely to occur in the near future.

4.25. Some progress has begun in the use of appropriate economic instruments to influence consumer behaviour. These instruments include environmental charges and taxes, deposit/refund systems, etc. This process should be encouraged in the light of country-specific conditions.”

If you look at section 4.24 it is clear that the drafters of Agenda 21 understood that if left to free market forces the cost of energy would find its lowest balance market point. The drafters sought to develop an artificial stimulus to artificially stoke prices to force reduced consumption. Section 4.25 applauds governmental action to disrupt free market forces through the use of environmental charges to artificially increase prices. Our own Federal government placed its Environmental Adjustment Charge (Federal EAC) on your utility bills to develop the first cap and trade system. It is for Sulfur and Nitrox but has served as the blueprint for CO2 cap and trade strategies. And that’s what the EPA is doing. Increasing costs of fossil fuel energy so we can’t afford it and we will use less or not use it at all. The problem is that we have to use energy and we end up cutting back on other luxuries, dining out, shopping, etc. This slows economic recovery.

Under the rule, new fossil fuel-fired electric power plants above 25 megawatts are required to comply or be fined (taxed). Exempt from regulation are (1) existing sources; (2) “transitional units” that have already received a permit and will start construction within 12 months of publication of the rule; (3) units located in non-continental areas (including Hawaii and U.S. territories); and (4) new units that do not burn fossil fuels.

The goal is to kill the coal industry. A federal goal to kill an industry that supplies the fuel for half the electricity in our nation is silly, and, by that fact, disrupting half the fuel sources for the new highly touted electric cars. Yes, electric cars run on, de facto, coal, natural gas, nuclear resources which make electricity.

New power units can also comply with the new standards by using carbon capture and storage technology, which is more expensive to construct than the power plants themselves, but which EPA contends that won’t be a problem out there in the future. When a new power plant regularly costs over a billion dollars, doubling the cost to two billion for carbon capture doubles the burden on the ratepayer.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the EPA does not expect increased costs due to compliance with this rule, as it anticipates that most new sources would be built with the appropriate technology even without the regulation. (According to the EPA, approximately 95% of units built since 2005 would meet the standards set by the proposed rule, and  that’s because 95% of all new plants have been natural gas or nuclear). EPA also notes that, for the same reason, the rule will have no anticipated impact on CO2 emissions. This fact is truly odd. Why have an EPA rule if there is no anticipated impact on current CO2 emissions. I can tell you that the EPA will always say that there will be no anticipated costs that will not be offset by future savings. Don’t believe it.

It’s fairly clear that the real reason the EPA has slipped in the thin end of the wedge of this rule is contained on page 201 of the proposed rule, where the EPA states that the regulation of new sources “will serve as a necessary predicate for the regulation of existing sources within this source category under CAA section 111(d).” Although only new sources are stated to be impacted by the new regulation, based on the EPA’s own statement you can bet that EPA will push for similar CO2 regulations for existing sources in the future. If I had to guess, the expansion will take place in mid November 2012.

For those who choose, comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to EPA for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. I encourage comments to be filed, not only by governmental agencies, but, also by individuals. Now is the time to complain. After all, it’s you that will foot the bill that will come from increased costs of compliance with this unnecessary federal action.

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