Saturday, October 12, 2013

The (dubbed) War on Coal

     The Obama administration has just recently imposed strict regulations for all new coal fired power plants.  It is a clear effort by the administration to allay the United States’ dependence on coal which provides 40% of the country’s electricity. Coal is unquestionably the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, however it is ubiquitous and cheap which explains the country’s protracted dependence on it. Many believe this move is essentially a “war on coal” because it creates an 1100 pound limit per megawatt hour on carbon whereas some of the more advanced current plants emit about 1800 pounds per megawatt hour (Associated Press). New plants would be required to install carbon capture and storage technologies to fulfill the requirement which can cost billions of dollars. There are only two current models that exhibit such technology,-which are still in construction-one in Kemper County, Mississippi and Saskatchewan, Canada (Associated Press). Opposing parties believe this hindrance is technologically infeasible given that the coal plants have yet to be showcased. The EPA has stated that the impact of the regulations will be negligible since the price of natural gas (a substitute) remains low; however there are plans to promulgate these regulations for all existing coal plants by the end of the year which would engender a starkly differently result.
     If this legislation does end up passing then I believe coal production will begin a gradual decline.  I think it is evident that this is the Obama administrations way of subsidizing renewable and less carbon intensive sources of energy. Any legislation regarding the environment is particularly difficult to promulgate because it is such a polarizing issue. It seems to be a short term versus long term debate, right wing versus left wing respectively. In the short term a negligent amount of jobs will be lost but in the long run it is a prudent move to build a renewable energy sector that will boast many more jobs than lost.
--Tyler Bailey

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