The National Mining Association (NMA) explained to National Public Radio, CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and German National Television why our grandchildren were unlikely to perish unless we reduced global temperatures in 2030 by .02% — the goal of the EPA’s misaligned plan to shut down more U.S. fossil-fueled power plants.
Correspondents who normally flaunt their independence meekly bowed in obedience to the strained logic of the White House spin. Doesn’t the plan make important concessions to critics, offer states flexibility, spare the world’s asthmatics from a wheezing death and avert climate catastrophe, they asked? Well, no, we said. Actually, it does none of these things.
Coal, wounded badly in the proposed rule, is all but shot dead in the final rules. Standards are toughened, not weakened, forcing states to take more draconian steps to reduce carbon emissions. Governors got extended deadlines, but only to implement a costlier, more improbable plan after the relatively easy efficiency option was withdrawn to shore up the plan’s weak legal foundations.
The asthmatics among us, alas, will wheeze now just as they always have: there’s scant evidence that CO2 concentrations affect asthma sufferers. And anyway, the EPA claimed much of this so-called health benefit from its earlier rules.
Some who thought the final rule would help them instead were in for ugly surprises. Coal burning states that under the proposed rule got modest emissions reduction targets got kneecapped in the final rule with much tougher targets to meet. Natural gas producers were anticipating a “rush to gas” when coal-based power plants were retired. Now they suddenly found their windfall blocked after green activists pressured the EPA to front-load incentives for renewable fuels instead.
Allowing gas to fill the void left by coal, explained the EPA, would be “inconsistent” with the real goal here, which is the “de-carbonization of the economy” after 2030. For “de-carbonization,” a word the White House now bandies about, substitute the word “de-industrialization.” That will be the likeliest outcome when rising electricity prices kill the industrial renaissance here.
Leaders in China and India will doubtless be thankful for the administration’s progressive views even if we are not. The final rule envisions wind and solar taking 28% of the generation market by 2030, up from 22% in the proposal. To hit even the lower mark, the Department of Energy predicted wind power would have to add 16,000 MW a year beginning in 2017. In 2013, wind added just 1,087 MW.
How will the EPA’s fantasy come to pass without costly subsidies neither Congress nor the states will relish paying, when the weather doesn’t always cooperate and when communities often block solar and wind farms? The cost of de-carbonization is “beyond astronomical,” concluded billionaire technology expert Bill Gates.
The Clean Power Plan is the thanks coal gets for helping the United States achieve a standard of living that for generations has been the envy of the world and for playing a major role in lifting more of the world’s poor out of poverty in the past 30 years than escaped poverty in the past 500 years.
This climate change symbolism, with all its theatrical trappings, is designed not for carbon reduction here but for showcasing the president’s green “commitment” at the U.N. climate conference in December. There in Paris he hopes to persuade the Chinese communist party and India’s Hindu national party to raise their country’s energy costs when he can’t even persuade the U.S. Congress to raise ours.
No matter, green fantasy sells among the fashion conscious. Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Titanic, hailed the president’s plan, leaving one sinking ship to board another. Only this time, he’s traded Kate Winslet for Gina McCarthy. Well, it’s a fantasy.
Meanwhile, the NMA will be joined by at least a dozen states in the D.C. appeals court challenging the EPA’s authority. We’ll see if federal judges trust an agency with expertise in safeguarding standards for tadpole habitat with the “transformation” of the nation’s power grid.
Luke Popovich is a spokesperson for the National Mining Association, the industry’s trade group based in Washington, D.C.