Our President told us today that he’s saving us from the heating planet with no need for Congress in his campaign. The Big Man will do it by himself. Well, counting ant-heaps’ worth of bureaucrats as extensions of the Prez. This announcement was immediately translated into the: “War on Coal” by Republicans, proving that they can spin too (just not as well or as often) but contains enough truth to stick. In the same speech (Does the man ever stop talking?) the President told the State Department not to approve the Keystone
pipeline, unless it can be shown innocent of contributing hydrocarbons to the atmosphere. The Prez has set up an interesting situation, full of implications, power games, fund-raising opportunities (that would be called extortion if you or I did them) and the usual big-time political goings-on.
His Mightiness will use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to, apparently, regulate coal-fired electric power plants out of existence. U.S. power comes from coal (37%), natural gas (30%), nuclear fission (19%), hydroelectricity (7%) plus a hodge-podge of insignificant other sources. Coal has been substantially cheaper than other power sources but government regulation has been increasing its cost. It remains cheap, however.
The world will be needing more power for its increasing technology and improving lifestyles. Assuming that the Obamans don’t intend to reduce American industrial potential, living standards and employment by reducing the availability of power or driving its cost too high, questions about the replacement of declining coal-fired production need to be answered. To date, there are no competitive sources but natural gas and nuclear fission. Nuclear has steep political problems, gas has been subject to price fluctuations and increasingly, environmental concerns of its own. So we appear to have a campaign now to reduce our major power source, coal, with no obvious replacement available, unless the President knows of some tech that will clean coal up to his standards. That might be nice, if the price were affordable.
The Keystone approval game is a gem. Since everything going through the pipe is intended to burn one way or another, whether it contributes to the CO2 in the air is sort of a choice, seems to me. I expect folks will pay to play and the best bid will make the call. Power plant emission standards will be lobbied too, by folks anxious to contribute to the politicians. It should be a lucrative playground. Maybe that’s a chunk of what it’s about…
Anyway you look at it, our America is still a land of opportunity, if more so for politicians and less so for the rest of us, seems to me.
All this is ‘for the environment.’ I remember a cartoon of a dour, Scrooge-like character sitting in the midst of a rousing New Years’ Eve party, with folded arms and a frown. The caption said: “I celebrate the end of the FISCAL year.” I plan to celebrate when all this environmental politics at horrendous expense actually show measurable environmental benefits worthy of their costs. Maybe that will be this time, any bets?