Welcome to the fairy-land world where we try to control the weather with our electrical generation sources.
Obama’s new plan to stop storms and hold back the tide could make the US poorer by as much as $2.5 trillion dollars, but will not make any difference to the global climate even if it is carried out (somehow) and even if the highly immature, overly politicized science is “right” (despite the evidence). The plan is for the U.S. to cut overall electrical power plant emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
This “ambitious” goal is purely symbolic. Here’s why. Electrical power plants make 37% of US emissions, which are about one-fifth of global human emissions, which are 4% of total CO2 emissions globally. So a 32% cut in US electrical emissions will result in a 0.1% cut in total global CO2 emissions (at best)*. If the Obama/EPA plan is “successful” and if the IPCC are right, Paul Knappenberger and Pat Michaels estimate that Obama’s new plan will cool the world by an unmeasurable 0.02°C by 2100.
The theoretical, best case (fantasy) cost
“The Obama administration said it would cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030, but argued that power bills would decrease because people would use less electricity and rely more heavily on low-cost sources like wind and solar.” — AP
Wind and solar are “low cost” sources only if we assume an unforeseen paradigm breakthrough in technology occurs and is deployed by 2030, or we hobble coal power with heavy attainable impractical and pointless requirements like carbon sequestration. In the first situation we don’t need government legislation, because if it happens everyone will want “low cost” solar and wind. At the moment, wind and solar are both high cost electrical sources, and high cost at carbon abatement too. Doubly useless, you might say. In Australia carbon abatement through wind energy costs $50-$100 a ton, seven times more than other methods. (Only someone who really doesn’t like the environment would use wind and solar. Where does all that money go?)
NERA Economic consulting estimates US electricity prices will rise 12 -17%. The Heritage Foundation estimates that rising energy costs will have an economy wide effect and the US will lose $2.5 trillion in GDP. Choosing expensive electricity as a form of global climate control will cost more than one million jobs.
Currently wind and solar provide 4.4% and 0.4% (respectively) of US electricity, compared to 39% from coal.
The new Obama plan makes wind and solar more competitive by hobbling coal. The plan effectively cripples new coal plants by making them “uneconomic” . If new coal fired plants have to use carbon capture or “sequestration” they will not even get into the planning stage. Carbon capture coal generators cost 60% more to build and then waste 40% of the energy produced by the plant to stuff a useful voluminous fertilizer gas back into the ground.
32% renewables is uncharted territory in a major (non-nuclear) economy
The legal situation
Obviously the battle is going to hit the courts, employ lots of lawyers, and take years to resolve.
Threats of legal action started arrived within minutes of Obama unveiling his plan. In Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Wisconsin, to name a few, top officials said they would vigorously fight the rule, as did energy producers like Murray Energy Corp., a coal mining company.
In the coal-heavy state of West Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey predicted that 20 to 25 states would join his suit against the government.
“Their legal foundation is very, very shaky,” Morrisey said of the Obama administration.
Morrisey echoed other critics in arguing Obama has exceeded his authority by requiring statewide steps like renewable energy use and reduced energy demand. He said under the Clean Air Act, the government can only require steps within a power plant.
In another hint of the likely legal strategy, Morrisey cited the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which protects the states against undue intrusion by Washington.
PASSING THE BATON
Another key threat could come from Obama’s successor. Because of the lengthy timeline – states have 7 years to start complying – the next president will have ample time to unravel the rules if he or she chooses to do so. That means that a cornerstone of Obama’s presidential legacy rests in someone else’s hands.
There’s more on the legal question of Obama’s climate plan here. As is the case in any sick democracy, it’s not about the legal clauses, or the constitution, so much as which judges were appointed by what type of politician. Who really runs the country?
Q: Which way is the appeals court likely to lean?
A: The fate of the regulation depends heavily on which randomly assigned three-judge panel hears the case. Until recently, the court had a majority of Republican-appointed judges. But Obama has appointed four of his own nominees in recent years, and Democratic appointees are generally viewed as more sympathetic to action by government agencies.
Q: Once the appeals court rules, the losing side will almost certainly seek a Supreme Court review. Is the high court likely to take the case?
A: The nine Supreme Court justices have shown considerable interest in the Obama administration’s air pollution regulations, hearing three cases in the last two years.
The rulings have been mixed. In April 2014, the court upheld a regulation limiting air pollution across state lines. In June 2014, it largely upheld the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from major utilities but did exempt some facilities that the agency wanted to regulate. Then, last month, the court ruled against the EPA for not considering compliance costs when it moved to limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, mainly from coal-fired power plants.
Q: What is the likely outcome?
A: Industry lawyers say the high court has become increasingly skeptical of large-scale agency rule-making. The EPA’s “outside the fenceline” proposal could raise eyebrows among the court’s conservatives, who have already expressed concern about the government using the Clean Air Act as a tool to combat climate change.
So are the people making these plans gushingly inept. But there is a $1.5 Trillion dollar industry that depends on ineptitude.
To cool just a hundredth degree,
Costs the U.S. an outlandish fee,
As to power production,
With coal-mining reduction,
From Obama’s regulation decree.
[1^] US Energy Information Administration, FAQ list: What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Fact Sheet: “By the Numbers”.