Framing the Dialogue

Ole King Coal

“What I’ve said is that we would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is more — that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody else’s out there, so if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Occasionally Barrack Obama is a man of his word especially if his words were spoken about his true liberal intentions.  Those words were clear and his intent is clear.  I believe that Obama and the progressives are employing a multiple pronged attack to destroy the coal industry.  The Obama Administration is going to bypass the legislature and push his agenda through existing government agencies.  There will be no real debate and his actions will force Congress to act quickly to thwart his actions.  We all know that Congress does not act quickly unless it is to spend money.

The initial phase used recent emergencies (or crisis) at coal mines to clamp down on coal operations.  No one will balk at the increases in scrutiny regarding safety at mines.  The coal operators will be subjected to more inspections (not better necessarily) and reams of additional paperwork.

In addition to the safety aspect additional requirements will be required for environmental impacts.  Operators will probably be inundated with requests for impact studies and subsequent lawsuits by advocacy groups.  Protecting the environment is important, but it has a cost that few are willing to admit that they don’t want to pay in the form of higher electricity bills. West Virginia, which widely supported Obama’s election, recently filed suit noted that the EPA’s actions;

“usurped the authority of the state and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to oversee and regulate important aspects of our environment, like water quality. These actions by U.S. EPA are threatening not only to end surface coal mining in West Virginia but to affect all forms of mining in the state.”

The next prong seems to be a hard push by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to regulate “greenhouse gases.”  And by regulate, I mean control.  It is interesting that the EPA is only interested in regulating gases that will ultimately cripple our economy.  Carbon dioxide is the gas du jour even though water vapor is clearly the most prominent greenhouse gas.  Is there perhaps a connection between carbon dioxide and manufacturing? Putting caps on emissions either require purchasing credits (a boon for global warming pimps like Al Gore) or additional treatment.  Additional treatment often requires lots of money and generates tons and tons of the stuff they remove from the stack.

That stuff is a waste commonly referred to as coal ash. Coal ash has been around as long as coal-fired power plants (still the NUMBER 1 producer of America’s electricity).  You would be hard pressed to find and area where coal ash has not been used as fill under roads, in concrete, and even in your plaster board (it has been used in place of other minerals).  It was a pretty big deal in Pennsylvania a number of years ago when coal ash was approved for use in manner and touted because it was “recycled” rather than become a waste.

Now enter Obama’s EPA and they are now considering classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste.  Testing provided by many environmental advocacy groups may support this classification, however if similar testing was done on the sand that you purchased at Home Depot or Lowes for your kids sandbox, that too could probably receive this designation.  When you look at the comparable health risk of sand, all beaches would need to be closed.  To my knowledge there is no push by EPA to protect us from sand even though many many more Americans are exposed to sand every day.

A hazardous waste designation for coal ash will bring control solely under the DIRECT jurisdiction of the federal government via EPA.  Can you think of any reason why the person who vowed to destroy coal would be pleased by that?  Even though coal ash has been beneficially reused for decades no one in their right mind would dare propose to use a hazardous waste in wall board or construction fill.  The avenues for disposal of coal ash would dry up and subsequent cost to manage it would skyrocket.  You probably shouldn’t expect the power companies to pass that expense on to their customers.

I hope that you didn’t purchase your Chevrolet Volt just yet as they require quite a bit of electricity to charge them.  So what is the wisdom of pushing an electric car when you are also pushing for the price of electricity to spike?  While we are talking about wisdom, I still cannot understand how/why coal mine workers and the union that “represents” their interests supported a candidate that swore to destroy their industry.

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