Turn Out The Lights, The Party Is Over

In a legislative move that can only be considered masterful by lefties and greenies, Obama has done it again. He’s stuck it to industry and the public, simultaneously. How? The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (Utility MACT) and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) regulations, will shut down, per the EPA, 14.5 GW of electricity generation capacity (a gigawatt is a measurement of electrical generating capacity. 1 GW will provide enough energy for about 700,000, if I got the math right).

Most of the losers will be coal-fired power plants, but not all. Other victims include those unlucky citizens that rely on those power plants for energy. It’s means less energy for America, sounds like good policy already, doesn’t it? But, as always, there’s more. And it’s technical, complicated and wrapped in government speak. Don’t believe me? Try this sample from an EPA website:

Q: My State is a NOX SIP Call state, and, as part of its compliance strategy, large non-EGUs (i.e., non-EGU boilers and combustion turbines with a maximum design heat input greater than 250 MMBTU/hr and, in New York, certain cement kilns) were brought into the CAIR NOX Ozone Season trading program. These units cannot be brought into the Transport Rule trading programs. Are these “large non-EGU boilers and combustion turbines” (which phrase should be read hereinafter to include, for New York, the relevant cement kilns) still required to comply with the NOX SIP Call?

A: Option 1: Streamlined demonstration. Demonstrate that total ozone-season NOX emissions from large non-EGU boilers and combustion turbines in the State that were included in the NOX Budget Trading Program but will not be included in the TR ozone-season trading program could not exceed the large non-EGU budget imposed by the NOX SIP Call even if these units were to operate every hour of the ozone season…


Pretty painful, yes? Remember, that was an incomplete answer and there are two additional options to the question. Whatever the question was. Unfortunately, it’s important legislation, with big ramifications, so I’ll take a shot at communicating it in way that can be understood. It goes like this.

Energy producing power plants are evil because they pollute. They also employ folks, produce energy so you can be warm when it’s cold, have light when it’s dark and you can keep food for longer than a couple of days (refrigeration). But, ultimately, they pollute so they’re evil. Now, to improve this situation, you make laws that limit the amount of stuff a plant can pump into the air. So, that’s what our fearless leaders did. If you apply these standards to all power plants, you’re regulating clean air on a national level. Simple enough.

Now, air moves because of air pressure differences. Air under high pressure moves toward areas of low pressure. We call this wind. Sometimes it blows north to south, other times east to west. You’ve experienced this is your daily life, I’m sure. It turns out, on a national scale, wind often follows repetitive patterns of movement. One, as an example, is that wind will originate somewhere in the south, say Texas, and sweep up through Oklahoma or Arkansas and maybe die out in Michigan or Ohio. Another example is wind from the north, Canada say, will move through Ohio ending up in New England. Not too tough, right? But what the hell does this have to do with anything? Hang in there.

Now we just add the two together.

Fire up a power plant and it coughs out pollution from the chimney stack. The pollution in the air can now be carried by the wind. Eventually, the wind stops and the pollution settles to the ground. And now take the next step. That means, a power plant in Ohio can actually pollute Connecticut. Or any of the states in between, depending on when the wind stops. Who knew?

So, now we have the fine citizenry of Connecticut potentially walking around in green-brown slime because of a plant in Ohio. That’s not good. But there’s still more. There are pollutant laws already in effect. So, the government goes into Connecticut, to inspect Connecticut’s plants. The guys in the hazard suits find that Connecticut has spent the time and money to get all their plants to conform to the existing pollution laws. But the state still fails. Now Connecticut has to find the money to do a clean up. Remember, everyone is walking around in green-brown slime from Ohio. Meanwhile, the guys in the hazard suits rush over to Ohio. They’re ready to slap big-time fines on Ohio for EPA violations. They inspect the Ohio plants. Remarkably, they pass so no fines and no clean-up fees. You see the problem, right? Ohio plants can be squeaky clean, as clean as required that is, but when the wind takes the crap to Connecticut, not once, but month after month, it accumulates, and that’s why Connecticut folks are walking around in green-brown slime and having to spend money cleaning things up. And it’s not even their pollution. It’s a gift from Ohio. Ultimately, because of this wind and accumulation effect, you can have power plants that are within EPA guidelines for emissions and yet are still polluting pockets of the country. So, if you’re a lawmaker in charge of this, what do you do?

You make more laws, of course, with even stricter requirements. And if you hate industry, like the supreme ruler does, you don’t do things in manageable increments over time, you go for it, the jugular vein. I mean, everyone hates pollution, so it’s a great excuse to rip open the throat of polluters and let them bleed out. So that’s what Obama and his energy assassins have been up to, in spades.

The new standards of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) regulations are tough. So tough in fact that the EPA knew, upfront, that their new regulations would force some power plants offline because they “calculated that only 14.5 GW of electrical generating capacity would close as a result of its rules.” And that’s exactly what is happening. The rule will cost power companies $800 million annually in 2014. That’s on top of the $1.6 billion spent per year to comply with a host of other regulations still on the books. Make no mistake, plants have closed, are closing, or have announced they will be closing because they can’t write the check.

On top of that, the Institute of Energy Research has said that the EPA’s estimate of losing 14.5 GW of electricity generation capacity is a farce. It appears the government low-balled the estimate to soft-sell it, a common ploy.

…EPA calculated that only 14.5 GW of electrical generating capacity would close as a result of its rules. But the reality is that over 33 GW of power generating capacity will close—over twice as much as EPA’s modeling predicted. Worse, as utilities continue to assess how to comply with EPA’s finalized Utility MACT rule and CSAPR, there will likely be further plant closure announcements in the coming weeks and months.

This link (power plants) is to a report issued in early February that lists the power plants. I didn’t count them all, you can if you have the time, but I figured, say, 12 listed per page and there’s 19 pages (228 units). That seems like a lot.

And what about the citizens that were served by those plants, where’s their juice going to come from? Analysis has concluded Michigan and Ohio, in particular, are going take it on the chin. Can I assume, energy will be brought in from other plants? I bet folks are going to love paying for that.

And what about our power grids? Aren’t they antiquated, having trouble, subject to brown-outs and lapses in service? Yes, they are. CNN, addressing the nation’s power grid, reported in 2010, “During the past two decades, such blackouts have increased 124 percent…” No problem, we’ll just invest in infra-structure. Of course, we have no money and Federal permitting of a transmission line probably takes a decade, maybe longer, with agency after agency evaluating the project, as well as catering to the greenies. So, that’s a ruse. And what about the folks working at the plants that are closing, what do they do for jobs? 

So, you see, the supreme ruler has jammed it to industry and the people once again. He’s set up emissions restrictions to which plants can’t comply or simply can’t afford. He has forced them out of business. The problem is there are the same amount of people that want the energy but now there will be less places producing it. We call this a seller’s market. Therefore, energy prices will climb and you and I will be paying the price. He’s going to force the American people to pay more for energy. And because the surviving power plants will now send energy from one area of the country to another, to make up for the closed plants, our power-grid, already poor, is going to be further strained. This, I imagine, will result in more brownouts or worse, blackouts. Is this good governing?

I mean, help me out here. Democrats actually think this is a good thing – to have a government that hurts industries and forces plants out of business? You’re telling me that a government that intentionally makes it more expensive to exist – this is a good thing? Where does that outlook come from? Somebody, anybody, please explain it to me. I thought the role of government was to protect and serve the people, not stack the deck against them.

And yet, incredibly, amazingly, unbelievably… there are still people out there that want this guy re-elected. Talk about being in the dark.


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The views expressed in this article belong to the author/contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Nolan Chart or its ownership


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