EPA Set to Bring the Hammer of Greenhouse-Gas Regulation Down on the Coal Industry

Erika Johnsen

3/27/2012 10:07:00 AM - Erika Johnsen

By my count, the Obama administration's energy-related rhetoric now irrefutably falls into the category of a false narrative. His "All of the Above" approach to energy? Stick a fork in it; it's done.

I've already written about how Team Obama has been aggressively perpetuating misleading statistics to try and make it appear that his White House has been plenty friendly to the oil industry (when, in fact, they've only put a damper on it), and how his administration has been waging war on the all-but-innocuous technique of fracking. But, of course, no form of hydrocarbon energy is safe with Obama at the helm, and his administration's plans to persecute the coal industry are finally coming to fruition. Coal is the most widely-used energy source for generating electricity in the United States --and the EPA is all set to introduce new rules on Tuesday that will target greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired plants:

The long-awaited action will sharply limit the emissions allowed from power plants built in the future, but will allow existing coal plants to keep operating for years.

The new rules will essentially make it unviable to build new coal-fired power plants, unless they are fitted with yet-to-be-commercialized carbon-capture technology. The rules would limit the permissible emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to a little more than half of what a typical coal plant emits today, administration officials have said.

By contrast, cleaner-burning, gas-fired power plants are expected to remain viable under the rules.

The regulations, which fulfill the EPA's legal obligation to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions stemming from a 2007 Supreme Court case, have been in the pipeline for years and come on the heels of other agency measures designed to limit the toxic emissions of power plants.

The utility industry has fought hard against the rules, arguing that if new coal plants are effectively banned, the industry will be forced to forswear a cheap and plentiful source of electricity generation. The unveiling of the rules is also likely to draw fire from Republicans and business groups.

Here's a good general rule of thumb: when the Sierra Club is pleased about something, you know that not only are the environmental repercussions probably ill-thought-out; it's likely bad-news-bears for the overall economy, too. Hand-picking economic winners and losers, defined:

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, an advocacy group fighting coal-fired power, said in an interview that the regulation shows that President Barack Obama is moving to a cleaner energy future.

"It's a strong move," Brune said. "It means there will never be another coal plant built without new technology and it probably means even those won't be built because they can't compete."

President Obama can talk a big game about supporting all types of energy, traditional and renewable, all he wants, but his administration's actions very clearly indicate a different agenda. As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey reminds us with this Obama interview from 2008, "necessarily skyrocketing" electricity prices have been the plan all along:

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,” or whatever their number is. Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.