Sunday, December 7

Electricity and Obama's EPA rules

Remember those wonderful predictions / promises from Obama about the faaaabulous benefits of Obamacare?  Recall how it actually turned out?  Well, get ready for a repeat, this time with electricity.

When he was campaigning before the 2008  election, Obama promised environmentalists he would destroy coal in the U.S.  Specifically, he promised to enact regulations that would make it prohibitively expensive for a utility to burn coal to make electricity.  He was caught on videotape saying that "this will necessarily make your electricity prices skyrocket."

Those are his exact words.  You didn't hear about that because the media didn't report it.

They didn't report it because they knew working people--those of us who have to work to pay our electric bill each month--who heard that would be far less likely to vote for Obama.

Sure enough, Obama directed his hand-picked head of the EPA to issue regulations forcing electric utilities to cut powerplant emissions so much that lots of plants couldn't comply.  EPA knew this--indeed, this was exactly the purpose of the new rules--and estimated the loss of generating capacity at 9.5 GW.

For those of you who aren't engineers, a GW is a billion watts.

Well guess what?  A non-government agency now estimates the loss at a bit more than that. 

Okay, estimates vary, right?  We would expect some variation.  So what's the new one? 

Um...over 72 GW.

Now, if a layman sees "72 GW lost" how would you know if that was good or bad?  Perfectly understandable--it's totally outside your expertise.

Try this:  The loss of capacity will be almost eight times more than the EPA's estimate.  To give you an idea how serious that is, if you left out Texas 72 GW would be enough to power every home west of the Mississippi.  

What do the Emperor's minions say will replace this capacity?  Why, clean natural gas!

That's just wonderful, except for several problems:  First, burning natural gas to generate electricity is considerably more expensive than using coal--a cost that will be passed directly to you.  But far more crucially, giving up 72 GW of coal power will increase demand for natural gas.  What do you think this will do to the price of that fuel?

If you're a typical Democrat you simply shrug--you either don't understand the laws of supply and demand or else you think they somehow get suspended when almightly fucking government is involved.  Of course that's bullshit, which is why you got Obamacare, but the point is that your gas bill will also increase.

But that's not the worst of it:  Obama's EPA rules will also guarantee rolling blackouts down the road, when total demand for gas exceeds daily production.  We were keeping up with demand for gas thanks to a huge surge in drilling--and the technique called "fracking."  But with a huge chunk of electricity demand now forced to use gas instead of coal, the demand for gas is getting ready to take a big jump.

See, the beauty of using coal to make electricity is that although you can't cleanly burn coal to heat your home, in a huge powerplant it's economically feasible to build and operate "scrubbers" that remove a huge fraction of the particulates produced by burning coal.  But so sorry, all gone now, thanks to Obama.

Ah, but look at the big picture:  Forcing U.S. utilities to shut down 170 coal powerplants will reduce CO2.  So when China--which currently burns more coal than any other nation--cuts *their* coal use by a similar percentage then... 

Wait, what?  You say the Emperor negotiated a "deal" with the Chinese that doesn't commit them to close a *single* coal-fired powerplant?  And that they can continue to build and operate more of 'em?

Doesn't that make the EPA's rules here sort of pointless?  In fact, since China doesn't have to comply with air-quality standards for powerplants, won't the Chinese plants produce even *more* particulates than the ones we close?

Hmm...seems all this grand policy will do is a) force Americans to pay a lot more for both electricity and natural gas; and b) allow China to pay less for the coal they need (since American utilities will be forced to not buy nearly as much coal).  Wow, what a deal!

Well, for China, anyway.

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