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EPA’s War Against CO2

April 6, 2012

Many have speculated that recent EPA rulings and regulations targeting coal were really aimed at cutting CO2 emissions.

Now the EPA proves that the speculation was right.

Congress refused to enact Cap & Trade legislation that would target CO2 emissions and cut them 80% by 2050. This was after the “people” made it clear that the legislation was not wanted. The act drafted by Representatives Markey (D-MA) and Waxman (D-CA) was over 1,400 pages long (The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009).

When Congress rejected the Waxman-Markey legislation the president warned that CO2 emissions could be reduced through other means. (The Bill passed in the House, but the Senate didn’t act, so the Bill died.)

Then, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA could regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act unless Congress legislated otherwise.

This gave Congress an opportunity to prevent the EPA from regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act, but Congress didn’t act because many Senators and House Members wanted CO2 to be regulated by the EPA.

To put such a program in place, however, the EPA first had to issue an Endangerment Finding to the effect that CO2 was harmful to health and the environment, which it did in December 2009.

In doing so, the EPA claimed that the UN’s IPCC documents provided a scientific basis for the Endangerment Finding.

Over the past year, the EPA issued regulations on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution that had the effect of curtailing CO2 emissions.

Many claimed that the real intent of these regulations was to cut CO2 emissions.

The EPA is now issuing the New Source Performance Standard that essentially bans construction of new coal-fired power plants so as to cut CO2 emissions.

The new rule specifically says that no new power plant can be built unless the power plant emits no more than 1 pound of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (lb CO2/kWh). The typical coal-fired power plant emits about 40% more than that, while natural gas plants emit slightly less.

Existing coal-fired power plants are exempt from the rule, at least until the plant has work done on it.

In essence, new coal-fired power plants would have to capture and then sequester the CO2 underground for thousands of years. These plants, such as the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, cost almost as much as a nuclear power plant – over $5,000 per KW versus $1,100 per KW for a natural gas-fired power plant and $2,800 per KW for a modern ultra-supercritical coal-fired plant.

Electricity produced by competing natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) and coal plants cost about the same until fracking created a glut of natural gas. Right now, with natural gas costing about $2.4 per million BTU, NGCC plants are the least expensive to operate.

It’s fortunate that fracking has permitted the development of huge amounts of natural gas so that natural gas power plants can be built now that new coal-fired power plants have been outlawed.

The EPA is, however, doing what it can to prevent the use of fracking.

At some point in the future, we will need to build coal-fired power plants – either because natural gas plants become too expensive as gas prices rise or because coal-fired power plants are better suited for base load operation.

In reality, the EPA is now subjecting Americans to the requirements of the United Nations. The EPA used the UN’s IPCC as the scientific basis for its Endangerment Finding – and the UN has said the United States must cut its CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

Global Warming is an energy issue, and the EPA’s war on CO2 is now out in the open.

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