President Obama has nominated long-time environmental regulator Gina McCarthy to take over for the departed Lisa Jackson at the EPA.

Anyone who believes the move will mean a respite in the “war on coal” is sadly mistaken.

McCarthy served as a top official under Jackson where she spearheaded efforts to adopt pollution policies in an effort to reduce the impact of climate change.

Before that, she was an environmental regulator in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  The University of Massachusetts Boston, in an alumni profile, says McCarthy “has operated at the front line of environmental regulation, overseeing the development of the nation’s first efforts under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”

McCarthy, like her predecessor, believes the EPA has the authority to adopt rules and regulations that specifically target coal-burning power plants. The Wall Street Journal says she was a central player in developing greenhouse gas rules that “effectively rule out new coal-fired power plants.”

The primary difference between Jackson and McCarthy may be in style.

Jackson seemed forever engaged in public fights and court challenges.  Critics made her name and her face synonymous with the struggles of the coal industry, while citing the EPA as an example of regulatory overreach.

McCarthy is expected to spend less time in public brawls and more in meetings with utility executives, pushing them away from coal and toward natural gas and alternative fuels.

John McManus, vice president for environmental services at American Electric Power, told Politico that McCarthy “has always been willing to engage in dialogue with the industry to understand our concerns.”

That view reinforces the notion that McCarthy is a pragmatist.

During one of her visits to her alma mater, she told students, “every day in government you are faced with a constant push and pull of how far and how fast you can move vs. the decision to insist on getting it all and ultimately getting nothing.  Paste this on your wall and remember it: Perfection is the enemy of progress.”

Of course that progress will mean a deterioration of the coal industry and, ultimately, higher electric costs for Americans, as well as reduced reliability of the power grid.

Currently, natural gas is the favored alternative for electric generation.  It’s the cleanest of the fossil fuels and it’s cheap, at least for now.  Energy commodities are notoriously fickle and eventually prices will rise again.

But coal has no place in the Obama Administration’s energy portfolio vision for America.  As the President said in his State of the Union speech, if Congress won’t take on climate change, he will through executive actions.

The heated and emotional rhetoric of the “war on coal” has cooled a bit since Lisa Jackson’s departure, and the appointment of McCarthy signals a different means to an end.

But that end remains the same.




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  • ShinnstonGuy

    It's funny how one of Metronews' reporters yesterday said that this lady has worked for both Democrats and Republicans, yet today Metronews is selling her as the ruling Empress of the Sierra Club.

    Since the new version of the website has brought some new readers:

    Many experts informed Governor Arch Moore that coal would never be what it once was, and that his administration should invest in other industries to diversify the state economy. His responsed, "Coal is king." Thanks to WVU the northern portion of the state diversified anyway, while the southern half remained dedicated to coal. Now the jobs are fading fast in the South, and all people can do is blame the President. Perhaps we should all be smacking ourselves in the forehead and realizing that we were warned about his 30 years ago.

    • Shadow

      I have great difficulty in seeing any diversification in N WV that is not the result of government money, WVU and FBI Center for examples. The competition from PA and OH is too fierce as they are better places to do business. The Eastern part has become a bedroom for the NVA government programs. Steel, potter, and glass have all gone to other states. What is left for WV, coal and gas.

  • TBone Porterhouse

    I thought the liberals could not stand any form of corporate welfare. Seems like hopship has shown us that Obama and the liberals LOVE corporate welfare, only if it is regarding so-called green energy. Why is called green energy?? Because it is going to take ALOT of green ($$$$$) to purchase power and heat produced from alternative sources.

  • TBone Porterhouse

    Dudes, politics aside, lets form our own energy company and register it with the Secretary of State's office. We can call it UVWXYZ Solar & Wind Corp.
    We can get Obama and his cronies to pony up a $500 million "energy loan" for the company. We don't have to produce anything. We don't have to employ anyone. Won't have to generate any power.
    Wouldn't Obama and McCarthy just love to dish out that kind of money on that kind of project in Coal Country. Think of the photo op that would generate. We get our $500 million, make an announcement about planning a manufacturing site, wait about 6 months and then declare bankruptcy. Then funnel some of the money back to the DNC and the Obama PAC's. This is taken straight out of the Obama and DNC playbooks. We can't lose. We need no capital to start up the company since Obama and the liberals dispise capitalism.

  • wirerowe

    Hops I would agree that the Bush administration and the industry ignored and fought this off for a long time. I just think now that the utility and coal industry need more time to develop technologies rather than going cold turkey on new coal plants. The majority of the population and the media that believes in global warming do not know how it is they came to believe in global warming and know nothing other than they are against it. I call that a religious belief based on faith alone. You may believe the science of global warming but there is a religion as well. I would ask any believer of global warming to answer the same question Governor Perry was asked when he said he was opposed to global warming. "Name three scientist that you have read that convinced you of your beliefs". Most people who are believers would have the same response as Governor Perry"er, er er."

  • wirerowe

    "To shed some light on the clean coal debate, the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, reviewed how much the industry is actually spending on climate change solutions. The study found that the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity - 48 coal and utility companies - is investing $3.5 billion into projects that capture and store emissions, including many projects that have yet to begin." World watch institute.This does not include huge amounts of federal and industry money spent previously on clean coal technology over the years. The problem is that global warming as science and religion is a relative recent occurrence and research and technology takes years . EPA after less than 4 years since an administration walks in the door and begins seriously accepting and working on global warming says time is up.They give the industry no reasonable time to respond. Your messiah does not know what he is doing and his energy polices are wrong and against the best interests of this country.

    • Hop'sHip

      Well wireowe, maybe that is what our political leaders should be doing, negotiating a reasonable time line rather than ridiculing the science of climate change as a religion. And what did the last administration do to advance the cause of clean coal technology. Here's what:

      "Coal industry executives placed their bets on George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. Among others, Peabody Energy contributed $250,000 to the Republican National Committee in July 2000; West Virginia coal executive James "Buck" Harless gave $200,000 directly to Bush's campaign, while Peabody Energy and The Southern Company gave hundreds of thousands more. Also, during the 2000 elections, Peabody Energy, Burlington Northern, and The Southern Company founded Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, which kicked off a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign designed to promote coal energy and counter the influence of environmental groups.

      The coal industry's wager on Bush proved highly successful. In his first few months as president, Bush abandoned his campaign promise to force coal plants to reduce carbon emissions, appointed Irl Engelhardt (chairman of Peabody Energy) as an energy advisor to his transition team, and named former coal industry lobbyist J. Steven Griles Deputy Secretary of the Interior. (Griles resigned from this position in December 2004; in 2007, he pled guilty to obstruction of justice in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and was sentenced to ten months in prison.)

      Bush also cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency from $8.1 billion in 2001 to $7.1 billion in 2008. These budget cuts dramatically limited the EPA's ability to enforce violations of the Clean Air Act: the number of civil suits by the EPA against polluters decreased by 70% between 2002 and 2006, and by late 2007 the EPA was employing only 172 criminal investigators, fewer than the legal minimum of 200 set by President George H.W. Bush. (Eric Schaeffer, the former head of the EPA's Office of Civil Enforcement, resigned in 2002 in protest of Bush's approach to environmental enforcement.)

      Perhaps most importantly, until 2007 President Bush refused - in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus- to acknowledge that global climate change was caused by human activities. In June 2002, when the Bush Administration's Environmental Protection Agency stated that human activities were partly responsible for global climate change, Bush dismissed the report, calling it a product of "bureaucracy.

      In 2007, Bush began to acknowledge somewhat openly that global climate change was both a real phenomenon and was largely caused by human activities. However, the Bush Administration continued to oppose mandatory limits on carbon emissions, and the U.S. delegation obstructed the adoption of any meaningful global climate change plans at the December 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

      In late 2008, the Bush Administration began pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken pollution regulations for coal plants and allow them to increase emissions without adding controls. The new rules are tied to a plant's hourly emissions rate, and are intended to help extend the life span of older power plants without requiring them to install expensive pollution controls. Under the proposed regulations, even if a power plant's total yearly emissions increased, it would be considered to be running more cleanly if its hourly emissions were equal to or less than its historical maximum.

      A spokesman for the EPA said that the agency is committed to finalizing the rule by the time Bush leaves office in January 2009. Power companies have lobbied for weakened emissions regulations for many years, and the proposal was part of Vice President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy plan. The EPA is also considering another eleventh-hour rule that would permit more power plants to be built close to national parks and wilderness areas."

      This is from SourceWatch, an admittedly biased publication. But tell me what they got wrong above.

  • mntnman

    Its always interesting to read the comments section after Hoppy's comments. To be certain, coal is having its trouble. For a variety of reasons. Regulation, cheap natural gas prices, fracking, easy coal gone, etc, etc, etc. Picking on the EPA and its leader is low hanging fruit.

    Now it is my estimation that the coal businesses weren't ready for this and must accept some of the blame themselves. As should the coal producing states. Long before now we should have been working on coal liquefaction, gasification, clean coal, carbon sequester, etc. Long before this we should have been laying the groundwork for better, cleaner and smarter uses for our coal. It was in our best interest to do so. We did little. Our state government could have worked with other coal producing states to create a coal compact to work together to make better, cleaner and smarter uses for our coal. Nada. The coal companies could have spent some of their vast resources to engage in research and development of better, cleaner and smarter uses for coal. Nothing. The public and private sectors could have worked together beginning a decade ago to get the technologies in place. Nope.

    Instead, we enjoyed the coal boom, and decry the bust by blaming everyone but ourselves. To be certain, the EPA and Obama administration have hurt, not helped. But if we had been prepared, it wouldn't matter. We would have had better, cleaner and smarter uses for coal in place already. Liquid gas to fill our cars. Cleaner coal burning plants. Etc, etc. We must accept our place in the mess. We didn't plan, and its hurting now.

    So, yeah, beat on the EPA. They have blame here. But there is plenty to go around. In the meantime, are we working on better, cleaner and smarter coal now? Are coal producing state banding together? Are they working with the private sector? Doesn't look like it to me. When will we learn?

  • wirerowe

    TD your heart seems pure and your intentions good. I wouldn't however agree that the president is a victim or blameless for misguided energy policies . The Ohio State research has potential. But from what I read about it on this site, the process doesn not emit CO2 but it still captures CO2 and there is still the problem of what to do with it. If there was a market for CO2 that could take all of the CO2 generated ,the problem would already have been solved.

    • Shadow

      Are we working on a none-problem? Is CO2 really as bad as they say? I think it is another "The Sky is Falling" mentality worked up by some people who wanted their "15 Minutes of Fame." And we all pay for their antics.

    • TD

      i've heard different things on uses, even the idea of mixing it with concrete building our roads. obviously i don't know anything about its potential uses but if it is a solid material or can be made so, we should be able to find some use for it. anything is better than having it float in the atmosphere

      • wirerowe

        TD The problem is that CO2 unlike other emissions from power plants can't be mechanically captured (e.g precipitators) or chemically altered (e.g. scrubbers). Sequestration has many issues and currently the only other viable choice is inputs in other products. Currently those markets can accommodate only a small portion of the CO2 generated. At the end of the comments today I posted some info on what industry is doing to try to deal with this issue.

  • jethro

    thats right td 100%

  • TD

    WOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Upon reading the site further I see the Ohio State clean coal story. That would be wonderful and this is truly the answer, maybe not specifically the Ohio State project although it sounds promising, but science is the answer.

    I said a few years ago Obama was going to force the industry to clean itself up and then he would truly be the greatest Friend of Coal ever!

    The answer is not in demonizing the Obama Administration, as Hoppy loves to do every chance he gets, but to solve the problem!

  • jethro

    sorry people coal is dirty, causes acid rain
    until we clean it up its terrible for the environment, reality bites

    • TBone Porterhouse

      Hoppy, if we just could capture all the carbon from these liberal D-bagger blow hards and all their hot air. There is the cause of the fictional global warming monster, the liberal D-baggers carbon dioxide emissions.

      • Hop'sHip

        Is TBone another manifestation of Fungo under yet another name? He sure sounds like Fungo. Has anybody witnessed TBone and Uncle Fester in the same room at the same time?

        • CaptainQ

          Don't be so hard on Fungo Joe, Hop'ship. We've had a number of people on this MB who changed their names without much fanfare or complications. In fact, I do recall one such user in particular, someone who once called themselves "Hop'snothip?" Remember that guy? I sure do.

        • TBone Porterhouse

          Attack the messenger and not the message. Typical liberal lunatic tactic when they cannot argue against the message. Typical liberal leftist D-baggers.

          • Hop'sHip

            It's Fungo. He's replicating, like a virus.

  • wirerowe

    TD The electric utilities have spent billions and trillions to reduce sox,nox, particulates and hydrocarbons emissions They were given 40 years to deal with this. The EPA last year placed CO2 limits for new coal fired power plants that are impossible to meet with current and foreseen technology. There is no time for transition.The coal industry will have to export to every other country in the world that wants our coal because the EPA has decided that this country should not burn coal.

    • TD

      true but I would like to know if there is a coordinated effort by the industry and if so, where is it happening? what is the progress? what is the investment? who is leading the effort?

      This should be something along the lines of the Apollo program.Trees can take in carbon and put out oxygen, how does that work? are we closer to finding out?

      is the industry embracing science as the solution or blaming science for creating a "false problem"?

      i'm convinced science can solve the problem if the effort matches challenge.

  • thornton

    Create policy and regulate compliance through burdens.....same tune.
    I don't belive anyone expected a different agenda.
    We deserve what we enable.

    My guess is she will manage her e-mails...better and wear the mask of dialogue as it benefits her.
    For some reason, I am picturing a bubbling pot and cackling.

  • TD

    If I had a commodity that was worth upteen billions of dollars but it was falling in disfavor because of the side effects of its use, I would dedicate all my resources and money to find the scientific breakthroughs that would allow me to solve this problem.

    Hoppy, can you give us a report on how much the coal industry is spending and what the progress is? Are they being wise and investing to solve the problem or are they giving million dollar bonuses to their ceo's and stockholders?

    The coal industry can solve this if it wants, rather than do that they use the media to complain and lobby.

  • wirerowe

    Greg the persistent unemployment rate of 8% or above for the last four years has had a lot to do with forcing the working class into poverty. For all those that have their faith in the religion of global warming , I saw on the internet that the most recent statistics available show that US coal fired power plants generate 5% of the world's CO2 emissions. With the mild winters of the past couple years and substitution of low priced shale gas for coal this number may be actually lowered. The point is they can punish the US coal power plants all they want to ,and they will ,but this will be a drop in the bucket of CO2 emissions But it will impose even more damage to employment in the coal fields and state tax revenues.

  • GregG

    I find it rather amusing that Hoppy would have yet another commentary on President Obama's "war on coal", while on the very same web site one can read how Jim Justice's wealth increased by 1/2 billion dollars to a net worth at $1.7 billion last year. Sorry Hoppy, but some of us can see through the smoke and we know very well that even under President Obama the republicans are having great success with their goal of making the rich richer and forcing the working middle class into poverty.