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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Comments

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, why is Gina McCarthy's appointment a surprise to anyone? Any President will appoint people to positions of power that share their own views. It is obvious that the Obama Administration is, at the very least, unfavorable to the use of coal. The actions of Gina's predecessor are certainly proof of that.

    Do we need to protect our environment? Of course we do, but at the same time, America needs to generate electrical power. Around 50% of America's electrical power comes from coal fired generation plants and until there exists a READY substitute for coal (not just dreams and theories) then this country will continue to need the coal that states like WV provides. The environmental wing of the Democratic Party has the situation backwards: get rid of coal BEFORE there is another reliable, tested, READY source to replace it with. In their eyes, can't do nuclear (too dangerous), can't do wind powers (turning blades kills birds and bats) and solar power is not yet ready to be used on such a large scale. Some in this camp shout 'use natural gas' but wholesale refitting of coal burning power plants to gas would take time, maybe decades. Until then, America will need coal.

    What's the White House answer to replacing coal? Alternative energy? Here's a list of alternative energy companies that have received either Stimulus money or Federal money/guarantees that have FAILED: Solar Trust of America, Bright Source, Solyndra, LSP Energy, Energy Conversion Devices, Abound Solar, SunPower, Beacon Power, Ecotality, A123 Solar, UniSolar, Azure Dynamics, Evergreen Solar and Ener1. Sorry folks, but all of these alternative energy FAILURES do not boost my confidence that our President knows what he's doing in regards to national energy policy.

    This is why the actions of Obama's EPA will, in the end, do more harm than good, not just to WV's coal industry but also the entire nation. Yes people, there IS a "War on Coal" and it's about as senseless as our War in Vietnam was. Instead of trying to cripple WV's coal industry, Obama should recognize it's value to America. However, it appears that the environmentalists have hijacked the Democratic Party the same way the Tea Party is attempting to hijack the GOP. The equation of America's increasing electrical demands plus decreased electricity generation (thanks to Obama's EPA making coal less desirable) will eventually equal LESS electricity available. Can anyone say, 'rolling blackouts?'

    • Shadow

      The Tea Party is not trying to hijack the GOP. The GOP as it has been known and directed is dead. Dead by the exclusivity of their Management. The Tea Partyers just want to become a Party directed for and by the people with a libertarian bent.
      Today, the Washington Times reports that Coal is the energy of the future for the developing countries and is not dead.

      • TBone Porterhouse

        We have the Tea baggers on one side and the liberal democrat D-baggers on the other.

      • Hillboy

        Shadow, you bring up a point that I have been wondering about for some time. It seems like for some time now that a large part of the grass roots of the Republican party really are a better fit for the Libertarian Party than the Republican Party. Why hasn't the Tea Party thrown their support to the Libertarians?

        • Shadow

          I gave up on the GOP a long time ago because of their Management which I think is controlled by the Northeastern interests. While I disagree with some of the stands of the Libertarian Policies, I think I am more in tune with their concepts. As to why they stay in the GOP, I guess it is more name recognition than anything else based up the history of third parties. Better to take over an existing party than start another.

    • Hop'sHip

      The Captain has provided a list of "alternative energy failures" that has been floating around the right-wing blogosphere and, of course, Fox News. Wouldn't it be useful to put it in some context as to how many alternative energy programs the federal government has supported? I understand it to be well over a thousand. That doesn't seem to be an alarming failure rate. What was Mitt's failure rate at Bain? As long as we allow conventional energy production to freely dump carbon into the atmosphere, alternative energy projects, including the Ohio State project, will struggle to get private equity support and will be dependent on goverment underwriting the risk.

      • CaptainQ

        Gee Hop'ship, what ever happened to you following the 'Brian12 Plan" and ignoring me like you said you were going to do months ago? Guess that idea sort of vanished, like he did, but I digress.

        Over 1000 SUCCESSFUL Government supported alternative energy companies funded by the Stimulus or government loans/guarantees SINCE OBAMA became President? I'm going to have to take a page out of your own playbook and ask for some proof of that claim. If you (or anyone else) would take the time to Google every single one of the examples I mentioned above, you would see that I speak the truth. And no, Hop'ship, I did NOT get this list from Fox News since I detest that GOP/Right Wing biased looney-bin of a network just as much as you do. Facts are facts, and I gave facts, period.

        Wisely, you're not attempting to DENY what I've said, but to use your usual tactic of 'watering down the truth' by using other 'facts' that you provide. Seriously, all joking and sarcasm aside Hop'ship, you really should consider a career in politics. Your clever debate strategies would be a boon to either major political party!

        • Hop'sHip

          I'm sorry I sold you short, Captain. I didn't realize you generated that list from your own research. I guess because I found this posting on the anti-Obama blogosphere and it included the same projects identified by you in the same order, coincidently, I assumed that was where you got it. So I shoud apologize and commend you for your independent work:

          The citizens wealth he has transfer to his supporters and bundlers....

          Obama has thrown away Americans hard earned tax dollars and failed, epically failed America. Add Amonix to the long list of Obama funded green energy companies.

          Solar Trust of America: FAIL – Filed Bankruptcy in Oakland, CA, April 3, 2012 – On April 2, 2012

          Bright Source: FAIL – Bright Source warned Obama’s Energy Department officials in March 2011 that delays in approving a $1.6 billion U.S. loan guarantee would embarrass the White House and force the solar-energy company to close. Lost Billions of dollars but Getting More Money To Keep Trying. Canyou say,“This isnt working?”

          Solyndra: FAIL – Solyndra shut its doors and laid off 1100 workers in August 2011 After Billions in Losses

          LSP Energy: FAIL – LSPEnergy LP filed bankruptcy protection and a sale of its assets in Feb 2012
          Energy Conversion Devices: FAIL – On February 14, 2012 Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. and its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy

          Abound Solar: FAIL – Abound Solar received a $400 million loan guarantee from Barack Obama announced in June, 2012 that it would file for bankruptcy

          SunPower: FAIL – SunPower stopped producing solar cells last year at near bankruptcy restructured only with help of, get this, oil giant TOTAL who owns 60% stake. Irony! Still struggling…

          Beacon Power: FAIL – Beacon Power Corp filed for bankruptcy Oct 2011 just a year after Obama approved $43 million loan Government loan guarantee

          Ecotality: FAIL – ECOtality, a San Francisco green-tech company that never earned any money on the verge of bankruptcy after receiving roughly $115 million in two loan guarantees from Obama

          A123 Solar: FAIL-A123 received $279 million from taxpayers thanks to President Obama’s Department of Energy loan guarantees and after Solyndra bankruptcy is getting another $500M from Obama and it has lost $400M

          UniSolar: FAIL – Uni-Solar filed for Ch 11 bankruptcy in June 20 this year laid off hundreds got more Obama money still failing but still in business.

          Azure Dynamics: FAIL – Azure Dynamics files for bankruptcy in June ter millions in Obama “Stimulus”

          Evergreen Solar: FAIL – Evergreen Solar received $527 Million in Taxpayer money from Obama filed bankruptcy

          Ener1: FAIL received more than $100 million in government funding from the Obama administration filed for bankruptcy January 2012

          • CaptainQ

            Once again, Hop'ship, yet another brilliant debate tactic you are employing here, the old "attack instead of answering the question" maneuver! Well played, sir!

            So at this point, I take it I will not be seeing YOUR evidence of the over 1000 successful alternative energy companies that the Federal Government has funded during Obama's watch? Surely there HAS to be SOMETHING from the Main Stream Media to back your claim, right? Or even the liberal blogosphere? No? Ok, have it your way.

            You've made my point for me, and for this, I thank you.

          • Hop'sHip

            I'll leave that to you Captain. You did such a good job of researching the failures, I figure you will be equally adept at identifying the successes. If I pointed out only the three shots that Ben McLemore missed against West Virginia, someone might conclude that he had a lousy game.

          • CaptainQ

            YOU made the claim of over 1000 Obama/Federal funded successes, Hop'ship, not me. It's up to YOU to back up that claim, if you can. Apparently, you cannot.

  • Wvu999

    Like it matters. John Raese violated so many EPA guidelines, rules and regulations building his golf course and nothing was done. In fact, he never even contacted the EPA. He was in an environmental sensitive area, and rerouted a stream to fit the course design. The ultra rich can do whatever they want.

    • will

      So many EPA guild lines? How many? Name them.... you obviously don't have any idea what you are talking about. The golf course that Raese built is one of the few positive things that have taken place in this state over the last several years. Here is a man that spent his own money, one his own land and built one of top new golf courses in America right here in WV and some tree huggers are mad because he made some minor adjustments to the land. As I understand it, they moved less dirt to build that golf course than nearly every other course ever built. Your jealousy shines bright....

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy

    Its obvious the Senate needs to have some more McCarthy hearings.

    That's all I got.

  • Dean

    Thanks for the insight Hoppy, that's good to know. I was wondering about this new appointee, I appreciate the scoop on her. Hopefully the coal industry can survive this administration and they don't push yet another industry overseas and lose good American and West Virginia jobs.

  • Fred

    Laughable. Not the appointment, that hoppy is so outraged. So, an envrionmental proponent gets appointed. Where is hoppy's outrage at all the "industry" hacks that get appointed to these positions? I guess in hoppy's world, bias is ok, as long as it's in favor of industry.

    • Hop'sHip

      There are industry hacks in the government (or were) and there are industry hacks in the media. This was so predictable that one of Hoppy's groupies here told Hoppy yesterday that this should be his topic for today. I'll have to go to the right-wing blogosphere to figure out what will be tomorrow's topic.

      • GregG

        Tomorrows topic..."Portrait gate".

        • Hop'sHip

          Portrait gate? I can't wait. Must admit I never heard of that one. I was thinking of maybe a commentary blasting Obama for sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea as an emissary. I am not able to listen to Hoppy's show anymore. I was wondering if he has been covering what looks like a food-fight between his beneficiary, John Raese and that other media mogul in the state, Bray Cary? I think between the two of them they control almost the entire state media, and it looks like Oliver Luck might get caught in the crossfire. It seems like this might be a big story in the state, but is anyone covering it?