Coal vs EPA… I know who should win.

Yesterday, yes YESTERDAY (June 2, 2014) the president announced that he is using his executive rights to approve the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed regulations on Carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. The regulations are going to target the more than 600 coal run power plants in the nation. The goal is to cut emissions 30% compared to the rates set in 2005, by 2030.

The regulation will allow each state opportunity to achieve their goals in a variety of ways. These options include installing energy efficiency technology, switching to wind and solar power energy sources, and creating “cap and trade” programs. As of now, one year is being allotted for open discussion and revisions before a finalized version is created and enforced in 2015.

This is HUGE! It is the largest and most progressive move ever made to combat our unnatural global climate change. This also makes America one of the first to do so, establishing us as the global leader in clean energy. The United States is literally setting a POSITIVE global example . We will be the progressive leaders in an upcoming United Nations Climate Summit set to happen this September, 2014. While developing countries such as India are taking the opposite approach and are increasing their CO2 emissions tremendously due to a growing middle class. A conscious effort to control our global footprint is needed now more than ever. America is going to pave the way for this. It is such a great opportunity for our county; as well as the best foot forward in preserving our planet.

But of course many people do not see it this way and are fighting these regulations. Coal power plants are fearful of the costs, and the possibility of being shutdown or having to fire workers. Extreme Republican conservatives are voicing concern because they have a constant phobia of change and just don’t know how to get over that. Pretty much, this is controversial. Surprise ,surprise.

“E.P.A. officials have said they hope the flexible approach will allow states to comply with the regulation more easily and cost-effectively, by adopting policies best tailored to regional economies and energy mixes.”

According to Republican Party Chairman  Reince Priebus, “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found that each year this regulation will kill 224,000 jobs and force energy rates to skyrocket, so it’s no wonder President Obama is circumventing Congress to implement his latest job-killing regulation.”

Now what Mr. Priebus is saying is very possible but it does not have to be the actual outcome. Raising energy rates and losing jobs is what will happen if our leaders decide to be lazy and not even try to creatively cooperate with these new regulations. Big changes are not easy, but they are not bad either. The EPA knows this and that is why the regulation has many flexible opportunities. They even predict that energy costs will end up decreasing 8% nationally by 2030, and that by then the economic benefits will generate $55- $93 billion over the life of the plan. This is not a short term cause and effect type of resolution, the benefits of these regulations will take time. That is the point though. It is time to look at the larger picture.

Those opposed to these regulations are arguing that this is going to cause people to lose jobs and completely harm the middle class. Just STOP. If your state representatives decide to take a “poor us/ that’s not fair” approach to these guidelines… then yes people will lose their jobs. With a progressive approach, and by meeting the challenge of the new rules, jobs WILL be created. How? you ask. Simple… options. Technology has been growing and so many inventions have been physically made; that there are so many ways for coal plants to meet the regulations without firing people. All of this new technology will need workers to build and install the devices, hence CREATING jobs.  Plus think of all of the extra jobs that will be created when the demand for wind and solar power rises; workers will be needed to sell, build, and install those.

” [Coal] It’s the dirtiest, most lethal energy source we have. But by most measures it’s also the cheapest, and we depend on it. So the big question today isn’t whether coal can ever be “clean.” It can’t. It’s whether coal can ever be clean enough—to prevent not only local disasters but also a radical change in global climate.” NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC <— very good article, lots of information.

In the April 2014 issue of the National Geographic magazine (where the quote from above was taken) there is a lot of information about the effects and trends of coal use; as well as information about the technology that has been created to clean coal. I highly recommend reading it, just click the link above ^^^^^.

American Electric Power’s (AEP) Mountaineer Plant, on the Ohio River in New Haven, West Virginia began a pioneering experiment in 2009 using technology to capture the carbon they were emitting.  “AEP attached a chemical plant to the back of its power plant. It chilled about 1.5 percent of Mountaineer’s smoke and diverted it through a solution of ammonium carbonate, which absorbed the CO₂. The CO₂ was then drastically compressed and injected into a porous sandstone formation more than a mile below the banks of the Ohio. The system worked. Over the next two years AEP captured and stored more than 37,000 metric tons of pure carbon dioxide. The CO₂ is still underground, not in the atmosphere. ” In 2011 the carbon capturing project ended, because climate change legislation collapsed in the senate, and that discouraged funding.

If the government pushes this regulation through within the next year, and shows companies that innovative environmental technology will be needed, funding and investors will be chomping at the bit to get a piece of the pie. Which brings me to the money dispute. It always comes down to money. Well of course the first thing state representatives and CEO’s will argue is that adopting new technology to clean the air will cost way too much and what they will want to do is raise taxes or raise prices on the consumers. This is because there is no other option right? I mean apparently in the world of finance, you can’t just move money around and re-think budgets. Might as well just take any extra cash needed to pay the bills, from the people. (this is obviously sarcasm.) Cost for new technology will not come free. But this is why companies hire treasurers and financiers to be in charge of the money. Climate change is not a new phenomenon, there has been a huge push for “going green” for at least a decade now, and the threat of stricter EPA regulations is definitely not something new to coal plants. These plants have been warned for years that this is coming. Luckily, some took a progressive approach and began refinancing their budget and saving money to adopt new technology. Like AEP in West Virginia did.

Those are responsible business people; and those plants have a lot less to worry about. In fact “A new power plant being built in Kemper County, Mississippi, which was designed with carbon capture in mind, will gasify its coal.” [Nat Geo] A researcher named Geo Richards has even created a more cost effective way to capture carbon. He has implemented what is called “chemical looping” which is making pure oxygen from air by using a metal such as iron to grab the oxygen and deliver it to the coal fire.

You see, it is not impossible or unfair to ask coal companies to invest in carbon capture and to limit their emissions. They have been polluting our air for decades now at no cost what so ever, except the cost of harming our environment and our health. Since the majority of plants have not put the effort into correcting this behavior on their own, it is time for the government and the EPA to step in. And my personal warning is… don’t you dare take it out on us consumers and jack up prices.

So my challenge is for the coal plants, state representatives, and CEO’s to put their heads together and find other places to take money and invest it in clean air technology. Maybe re-think those bonuses? Universities could always make some contributions financially, couldn’t they? I mean tuition is exponentially high, and students are over charged as it is. Come on now, $60,000 a year is ridiculous… actually $30,000 a year is ridiculous. My generation is seriously financially crippled, but lets not get into that. University Football players don’t need 5 free meals a day and housing allowances… lets wake up and invest some of that extra cash into clean energy. There are so many areas where money is wasted within companies and state budgets it is not even funny. Stop jumping to charge the people, and take some time to re-do the books.

Another financial suggestion is for coal plants to some how team up with a large company like Apple or Nexstar and have them sponsor the clean air technology needed to run the plant. That would be a great PR move for the company and possibly increase stock sales because the demand for clean air technology isn’t going anywhere; in fact now because of these new regulations it is even more wanted and needed (talk about a good investment). These are vague ideas because I am no economics expert… but they are ideas. It is definitely possible to pull money out of thin air, especially if you start throwing the stock market into the mix. Start getting ambitious “money people”/ Senators/ CEO’s and come up with deals like these so coal plants can go clean without shutting down, and the people of this country do not have to take on any financial burden.

“For over four decades, E.P.A. has cut air pollution by 70 percent and the economy has more than tripled. All while providing the power we need to keep America strong. Climate action doesn’t dull America’s competitive edge — it sharpens it. It spurs ingenuity and innovation,” Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A. administrator.

These regulations have such amazing potential. Not just for our planet, but in the long run it will re-shape howsolarroad-inline energy is created and used. It will create new booming economic markets, that in probably as little as 10-15 years time will have a number of businesses that are selling inventions that create clean energy. One prime example is this engineering couple’s idea of solar paneled roadways! The prototype is being funded and built right now, start investing in this!


111007094246-pavegen-kinetic-energy-story-topOr these sidewalks that generate electricity from the kinetic energy passed through it when people walk on them. they were tested at the 2012 London Olympics!

xdmodocharger-4And even these solar phone chargers! A small but significant source of easily using clean energy.


These regulations are a SPARK. They will ignite debate and literally change the future. Consumers will use energy in a completely different way and companies will be creating it completely differently. The EPA is governing an advanced way of thinking that implements a larger picture on the effects of human actions. It is time to start concerning ourselves with more than just the small corner of the world where we grew up. So in case you haven’t figured out who I am supporting within this blog post…. the winner is…. THE EPA! =)

And here is just a little fact to leave you with…

Last fall, as world coal consumption and world carbon emissions were headed for new records, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report. For the first time it estimated an emissions budget for the planet—the total amount of carbon we can release if we don’t want the temperature rise to exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a level many scientists consider a threshold of serious harm. The count started in the 19th century, when the industrial revolution spread. The IPCC concluded that we’ve already emitted more than half our carbon budget. On our current path, we’ll emit the rest in less than 30 years.” [Nat Geo]


One thought on “Coal vs EPA… I know who should win.

  1. A couple of things:
    1) I’m glad that the EPA is letting the industry take care of this itself through a goal-based regulation. Goodness knows that if a government agency were to directly interfere with the industry they would make a royal mess of things. I agree that the market will figure out a way to reduce emissions on its own, given enough economic pressure from above.

    2) Renewables are great, and I’d love to see a lot more of them but it’s hard to compete with the price of coal. Maybe market pressure from the government will tip the scales in the favour of renewables but it WILL increase energy costs, at the very least in the short-term when infrastructure is being built. However, we can’t keep using fossil fuels like we do so I don’t see any way around it. The costs will be greater if we wait much longer to change.

    3) Expand nuclear. Molten-salt reactors are safer than ever. There are problems with it like terrorism/proliferation concerns and long-term storage of waste products but I don’t see why it can’t be a CO2-free interim solution until renewable really come into their own. In my opinion, it’s a lot better and safer than natural gas… although I will concede that Fukishima was a major disaster with yet-unknown long-term effects. I think it’s a shame that Japan is now nuclear-shy because of it.

    4) Thorium. We’re one of the few developed countries not actively researching thorium reactors and it’s a damn shame. India is planning a big shiny reactor and China is actively pursuing research in the field as well. The idea isn’t new: in the cold war a lot of the development was shelved in favour of uranium and plutonium fuels because those reactors could create the infrastructure for making nuclear weapons. Now we’re done making these and are de-commisioning warheads for use in power plants so why not invest in Thorium again?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s