Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his policies would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant. This is one promise he and his über-regulators are keeping.
President Obama energetically promotes wind and solar projects that require millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in subsidies, to generate expensive, intermittent electricity and create jobs that cost taxpayers upwards of $220,000 apiece – most of them in China.
His Interior Department is locking up more coal and petroleum prospects, via “wild lands” and other designations, and dragging its feet on issuing leases and drilling permits. Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency is challenging shale gas drilling and fracking, and imposing draconian carbon dioxide emission rules, now that Congress and voters have rejected cap-tax-and-trade. That’s for starters.
The beat-down of hydrocarbon energy goes on. Oil, gas and coal provide 85% of the energy that keeps America humming, but the administration is doing all it can to take it out of our mix. American voters, consumers and workers may want more drilling, mining and use of hydrocarbons, to get the economy going again. But the administration has a different agenda.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has unveiled another 946 pages of regulations that she claims will protect public health. The regs cover 84 “dangerous pollutants” that are already being scrubbed out of power plant emission streams by a host of innovative technologies. In fact, coal-fired generators now emit a fraction of what they did just 40 years ago.
The most frequently cited of these pollutants is mercury. Higher doses cause well-known ill-health effects, from severe neurological damage to brain damage and death. However, it has been all but eliminated in herbicides, light switches, thermometers and other products.
Its presence in coal and power plant emissions is likewise minimal and declining. The last serious cases of human health impacts from mercury poisoning in the US occurred decades ago – and coal-fired power plants remain the largest source of US-based manmade mercury only because other human sources are essentially gone.
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