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The new Environmental Protection Agency plan to reduce U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions is being hailed by environmental activists and green industry lobbyists as “momentous,” “historic,” “the most important in history,” “a critical step,” a triumph for President Obama and, by Mother Jones magazine, as a “really big deal.” All of which is a sure sign EPS’s 650-page rhetoric-filled plan to force a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from power plants is a really bad deal.
The EPA’s regulatory shambles of a plan, in which different states in the union will face different targets, aims to cut emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. It is one of these grand schemes that is destined to fall apart before it gets off the ground. It is, in fact, more of a political gambit than a policy initiative.
In that case, green enthusiasm may also be more political strategy than a genuine belief that the government of the world’s biggest and most dynamic economy is going to begin an internal war on relatively inexpensive coal-generated electricity at a time when the rest of the world is heading in the other direction.
Just about everywhere, including coal-free Ontario, the goal of curbing coal use in electricity production generated billions in costs for consumers at zero benefit to the climate. Ontario was the first jurisdiction in North America to launch a full-scale war on coal, using European-style policy initiatives (mainly subsidies for green energy) that have doubled the price of electricity and made Ontario the highest-cost electricity market on the continent.
The Obama plan announced Monday is said to set the stage for a major global carbon control deal. But if the rest of the world is turning to more coal, there won’t be much to negotiate. The U.S. war on coal, one of the more efficient sources of power, comes just as other countries around the world are boosting their coal use.
Coal-fired plants are under construction in Germany, where gas plants are being dismantled to make way for coal. Nuclear plants have been ordered closed, forcing German utilities to turn to coal. One major German generator, RWE, reportedly now generates 52% of its power from lignite, a soft coal, up from 45% in 2011.
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