From March 2016
There was a time in America—and it wasn’t even so long ago—that liberals actually cared about working class people. They may have been misguided in many of their policy solutions (i.e., raising the minimum wage) but at least their heart was in the right place.
Then a strange thing happened about a decade ago. The radical leftwing environmentalists took control. These are people who care more about the supposed rise of the oceans than the financial survival of the middle class. The industrial unions made a catastrophic decision to get in bed with these radicals and now they—and all of us—are paying a heavy price.
The latest evidence came last week when another coal giant in America, Peabody Energy Corp., declared bankruptcy. This is the same fate suffered by Arch Coal Inc., Alpha Natural Resources Inc., and other coal producers that have filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors.
Peabody has stated that the lower cost of natural gas may have been a factor in their decline, and I am all for market competition, but this isn’t a result of free market creative destruction. This was largely a policy strategy by the White House and green groups.
They wanted this to happen. This was what Clean Power Plant rules from the Environmental Protection Agency were all about.
The EPA set standards by design that were impossible to meet and even flouted the law that says the regulations should be “commercially achievable.” This was a key component of the climate change fanaticism that pervades this White House.
Ideas have consequences. Obama has succeeded in decimating whole towns dependent on coal—in Wyoming, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Progressive liberals don’t seem to care that an estimated 31,000 coal miners, truckers, engineers, construction workers and others have lost their job since 2009 as a result of this global warming fanaticism. Another 5,000 or so could be given pink slips at Peabody.
To the left, the families whose lives are ruined are collateral damage to achieve their utopian dream of saving the planet. The Stalinists who now run the green movement believe the ends justify the ruthless means.
Investors have gotten crushed too as a result of coal’s demise. The coal industry has lost tens of billions of dollars in stock value since 2009—with many of these losses in union pension funds and 401k plans.
What is maddening about all of this is that coal is much cleaner than ever before. EPA statistics show that emissions of sulfer, lead, carbon monoxide, and smog from coal plants have been reduced by 50 to 90 percent in the last 40 years.
(The air we breathe is cleaner than ever. Carbon dioxide, by the way, is not a pollutant—it doesn’t make you sick.)
Global warming fanatics should ask themselves what they are accomplishing. For every coal plant we shut down, China and India build another 10 or so. Our coal is much cleaner and our environmental laws much stricter than China’s and India’s, so this shift of output and jobs from the U.S. to our rivals succeeds in making us poorer and the planet dirtier.
America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have an estimated 500-year supply. So for economic and ecological reasons, we should want American coal to dominate the world market, but the mindless environmentalists’ rallying cry is: “Keep it in the ground.”
Do liberals care that the demise of coal could lead to major disruptions in America’s electric power supply?
Coal still supplies more than one-third of our electricity, because it is cheap and highly reliable—much more so than wind and solar energy. Perhaps the millennials will realize their mistake when they won’t be able to power up their PlayStation 4s, their iPhones, and their laptops.
Republicans in Congress aren’t blameless here. They have controlled the House for five years and both chambers since 2015. But they have sat by while the EPA destroys an iconic American industry.
Why has Congress not overruled EPA rules on carbon, which is not a pollutant? Every poll shows Americans care most about jobs and the economy—and only about 3 percent care most about climate change. Yet, they refuse to stand up to Obama and take the side of the American worker.
It’s not too late to revive American coal, but that strategy starts with putting jobs first. I thought that’s what both parties have been promising.
Forget Paris: 1600 New Coal Power Plants Built Around The World
1,600 new coal-fired power plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries.
When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year, even as President Trump vowed to “bring back coal” in America, the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s new role as a leader in the fight against climate change.
But new data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.
These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries.
Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.
The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord, which aims to keep the increase in global temperatures from preindustrial levels below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Electricity generated from fossil fuels like coal is the biggest single contributor globally to the rise in carbon emissions, which scientists agree is causing the Earth’s temperatures to rise.
“Even today, new countries are being brought into the cycle of coal dependency,” said Heffa Schücking, the director of Urgewald.
The United States may also be back in the game. On Thursday, Mr. Trump said he wanted to lift Obama-era restrictions on American financing for overseas coal projects as part of an energy policy focused on exports.
“We have nearly 100 years’ worth of natural gas and more than 250 years’ worth of clean, beautiful coal,” he said. “We will be dominant. We will export American energy all over the world, all around the globe.”
Major “Clean Coal” Project in Mississippi Shuts Down
Kemper County Power Generation Facility, the flagship “clean coal” project in rural eastern Mississippi, will rely on natural gas rather than coal to produce electricity, reports Henry Fountain at The New York Times.
The plant, owned by Southern Company, was intended to demonstrate technology that would clean up even the dirtiest of coals. As Fountain writes, “[t]he lignite coal that is mined adjacent to the Kemper County plant emits more climate-warming carbon dioxide per unit of heat than other coal, and far more than natural gas.”
However, as of this month, the project is three years behind schedule and has spent more than $4 billion over its initial budget of $2.9 billion, Jeff Amy reports for the Associated Press. In 2015, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state, allowed the company to raise rates by 15 percent to try to recoup $840 million spent on equipment costs.
Last week the worsening situation prompted the Public Service Commission to take action. Not wanting to pass the skyrocketing price tag over to consumers, the Commission is requiring Mississippi Power to begin negotiations to settle the plant’s outstanding costs. The Commission also noted that the plant will run only on natural gas going forward.
On June 28, the company released a notice stating that they will immediately suspend the coal gasifier project, which will likely result in a loss of around 250 jobs at the plant. Final settlement negotiations will begin July 6.
Critics of clean coal have long voiced concerns that spending money on making coal more carbon friendly is wasteful, noting that resources should be shifted towards improvements in renewable energy. “There have been billions of dollars now spent and none of it has resulted in the so-called clean coal,” Sandy Buchanan, executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, tells Amy. “It’s time for us to recognize this is a myth. It is absolutely clear that coal is a thing of the past for electricity generation.”
But what is “clean coal”? According to Stephanie Joyce and Leigh Paterson at Inside Energy, it isn’t just one technology. Rather, clean coal is an array of concepts all focused on capturing and storing carbon dioxide generated from burning coal to reduce its carbon footprint. The most promising technology, and the one the Kemper plant attempted to use, is coal gasification.
The Kemper plant was designed to convert locally mined lignite coal into a synthetic gas by heating it under high pressures in the presence of steam. The carbon in the gas could then supposedly be captured and a fraction of the gas burned to create electricity.
As Joyce and Paterson report, thus far, most major clean coal projects in North America have failed. Besides Kemper, funding was pulled from the FutureGen project in Illinois in 2015 after 12 years of work to get the plant running. The $4 billion Texas Clean Energy Project coal gasification plant met the same fate in August 2016 after failing to make progress quickly enough. But there still are other projects still in the works.
While coal use may be on the decline in industrialized nations, Joyce and Paterson report that coal consumption is still expected to rise globally by 18 percent by 2040 since coal is one of the cheapest and most widely available fuels. This means carbon capture may still be necessary in the fight against climate change.
As Nobel laureate and former Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Charles Mann for Wired in 2014, “even if we cut demand by 50 percent, something I would be very much in favor of, solar and wind can’t yet provide the kind of steady power needed by a modern society,” he said. “For decades to come fossil fuels will be a very important factor, and we’ll need CCS [carbon capture and storage] to mitigate that.”
Mound Of Coal Is The Only Sign Of Life At NJ Power Plant
COAL IS BACK?
President Donald Trump has vowed to revive the nation’s coal industry, even pulling the United Statesut of the Paris Climate Accords.
So six months in to his adminstration, how are things going at New Jersey’s largest coal-burning power plants?