Dec
12
2011

Santa Baby, bring me coal

By Katie Kieffer

Santa Claus

Image credit: “Meeting Santa at Santa’s Seaside Pavilion” by Loren Javier on Flickr via Creative Commons.

I want a coal plant for Christmas, and not because I’m a naughty girl. I want lots of coal so I can power up the high-tech toys Santa is bringing me, including an electronic robot maid that cooks and cleans, a 32-meter-wide TV and a modern, coal-fired steam locomotive that allows me to bypass the TSA Grope Squad when I travel cross-country.

OK, so Santa probably won’t be sending a full-size, coal-fired train down my chimney. But, like many of you, I may be getting small electronics for Christmas (or Hanukkah). As millions of us ring in the New Year by adding new gadgets to the power grid, we need to make sure we have ample electricity to fire up our cutting-edge iPads, TVs, sound systems and smartphones.

Americans get almost half of their electricity from coal. I think coal is a wonderful source of energy and we need to continue producing it.

Coal

Image credit: “Coal” by Kentucky Photo File on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Politically-motivated environmentalists like President Obama maintain that we can wean ourselves from coal and oil and rely on natural gas and sustainable energy. TIME Magazine reports: ‘If all goes well, gas should help displace coal. … In a speech on March 30, President Barack Obama hailed natural gas as part of the solution to reducing America’s oil addiction. “The potential for natural gas is enormous.”’

President Obama’s plan is hypocritical because his administration is actively threatening natural gas fracking and he has shackled clean tech development through excessive government intervention.

Natural gas augments but does not replace our need for coal; TIME reports that natural gas only supplies about 25 percent of U.S. electricity and only provides heat for about 60 million U.S. homes. Trucks, planes and trains run on petroleum. Plus, sustainable technologies like wind and solar are still neither profitable nor efficient.

The EPA, environmental activists like Michael Bloomberg and the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign are fighting hard for new regulations that will quickly force the coal industry out of business.

In July, citing the Clean Air Act and “public health benefits,” the EPA issued rules that require coal plants to dramatically reduce their cross-state emissions. As a result, American Electric Power has plans to shed hundreds of jobs, shut down coal plants and lose billions of dollars in order to execute the cross-border mandates within the EPA’s three-year compliance time limit.

This month, the EPA is expected to announce a set of new smog regulations that will clamp down on power companies. “Not so fast,” cautions the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NAERC)—a panel of volunteer industry experts that the government designates to ensure and improve reliability in the electric power grid.

NAERC warns that the EPA’s strict regulations will cause up to 600 large power plants across the country to shut down for months while they adopt the new rules and will force numerous older plants to shut down indefinitely because they won’t be able to afford compliance. The result will be power blackouts across the country plus additional power grid instability in drought-prone areas like Texas due to new EPA cooling water rules.

So, the government’s own designated industry experts are warning us that the EPA’s smog rules will have big costs: Soaring energy prices, frequent blackouts and job loss. And the EPA can hardly cite the “public health dangers” of greenhouse gases with a straight face when internal government probes reveal that the EPA has altered, withheld and distorted its scientific findings in order to sell the notion that greenhouse gas emissions harm humans.

What’s the EPA’s replacement plan for coal? You can’t just shut down a primary source of American energy without proposing a cleaner, more efficient and more affordable alternative. Clean technology is not yet a viable replacement because government intervention has stymied clean tech development, yielding flaming electric cars (think the Chevy Volt), bankrupt solar panel companies (think Solyndra) and windmills that kill birds without supplying affordable energy to humans (think President Obama’s Cape Wind Project).

The wealthier a country becomes, the cleaner it becomes. This month, the Global Carbon Project released a study showing that developing countries like India and China account for the majority (57 percent) of global greenhouse emissions.

Only rich economies can afford to develop the latest clean technology. Before we can afford the costs associated with developing the supposedly cleaner technology behind solar and wind, we need to revive our rapidly deteriorating economy. And by “revive,” I mean continue developing fuels like coal that will prevent power blackouts, create jobs and lower the cost of energy. Minimal smog is a small price to pay for a safe and reliable power grid and a healthy, growing economy.

Santa Baby, there’s one thing I really do need, the deed, to a coal mine, Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

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Comments...

  1. phyxrgon says:

    I don't see why they're so concerned with coal plants.

    Why aren't we over-regulating Volcanoes instead? They dump the most carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere… coal emissions would look like tiny dots compared to these monstrosities.

  2. ronkiker says:

    I'm gonna hold off on the Coal Plant and ask for NatGas instead. True, Obama has practically opened a full-on assault on NatGas, but this is primarily because he believes in the Solar/Wind-Farm fairly tale. As much as I would LOVE to see alternative energy take off in this country, it cannot be done through government intervention (as we have seen with the recent bankruptcies within Solar).

    It's unrealistic to think the US solar manufacturers can compete internationally, when China has been flooding the market with cheaper solar products, thereby driving US Solar companies into bankruptcy. This is the conventional MO for China, and no amount of government subsidies will win this battle out, nor would it be worthwhile. NatGas, naturally provides a cleaner energy source than Coal and Oil, and it's abundance means more jobs for the US and energy independence.

    Our Coal production and usage under Obama has actually increased. This is the part the makes no sense to me. Yes, historically, the Coal industry has been in bed with the democrats due in large part to the labor unions. The reality is, though, Coal is can never be clean (even under the gasification process), and it's not as efficient as NatGas. The coal particulate also contributes to acid rain, which is something you don't see with the oil usage. And, given the statistic you cited earlier, China has been on a rampage with their coal burning plants; so why would we want to participate in the same behavior.

    While I may not entirely agree with the Global Warming camp, one this we cannot walk away from is that we have an impact on our environment; let's not make it a negative one. Whether we agree with global warming or not, we should still be mindful of pollution.

  3. Mark-Anthony says:

    There is a 100% clean form of energy that is ready, available, and we already have the technology … its called geothermal. Just so happens we have the perfect place to make it happen, Yellowstone National Park. Yes, you could supply 100% of the US power needed for the next 300 years with 0 greenhouse gases. All form of fossil fuels use to make electricity are all hot water heaters, I was a Nuclear Engineer in the US Navy, with geothermal you just pour water down a hole and you get steam … and it never runs out. So why isn't this being done, because to much of the economy is tied up in energy production and it would put a lot of people out of work … to me its just shameful.

  4. Marie Frances says:

    You are so RIGHT, Katie! We CAN' T replace coal with solar and wind. It will never happen. We can't be
    fooled. It just won't work. If we want "more" energy in the USA, let's take the handcuffs off of
    Nuclear Power. It is the technology that has actually replaced fossil fuels.
    It is abundant, SAFE and clean.

    Keep up your posts.

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