You have to hand it to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. She made quite a sales pitch yesterday while rolling out over 600 pages of proposed new rules cutting carbon emissions an average of 30 percent from existing power plants by 2030.
“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids,” McCarthy said. “We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and healthy environment—our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”
Oh, and one more thing, our electric bills are also going to go down. McCarthy may as well have thrown in that we will have whiter smiles and world peace. Under the EPA’s logic, we should have forced carbon cuts during the heart of the recession so our economy would be booming now.
But seriously, central planners never give up on the notion that from their perch on the moral high ground they can direct a wildly complex economy—U.S. and global—for a greater good that they have defined for everyone else.
Sure, the domestic coal industry, which still represents the most affordable, reliable and easily transportable source of energy, gets run out of business in the process but, hey, you have to break a few eggs.
McCarthy and others who falsely claim they favor an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy argue there’s still room for coal. However, this punitive carbon reduction plan locks coal on a downward glide path. The central planners know that investors will move away from coal when they see the industry is in the government’s sights.
The EPA’s plan says states will have the flexibility to choose “the right mix of generation using diverse fuels.” What does that mean for West Virginia, which gets nearly all of its electricity from coal? The state already has the right mix; it’s just not the combination the environmentalists in Washington prefer.
Naturally the Obama Administration claims this move is going to establish the United States as the global leader in controlling the weather. We’re to believe that other nations will be sufficiently inspired to take steps to reduce carbon emissions, even though that will make it harder for their industries to compete internationally and raise energy prices for their citizens.
The coal industry deserves some of the blame for its troubles. Coal has been cock-sure for years because it supplied so much of the country’s electricity that it failed to acknowledge environmentalists were getting the upper hand.
We can’t say there weren’t warning signs. Remember during the 2008 campaign when then-candidate Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle, “So if someone 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.”
Who says politicians don’t keep campaign promises.