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The EPA Triples Down On ‘None of the Above’ Energy Policy

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James Taylor, Contributor

Anti-energy crusaders are in a celebratory mood this week as the EPA effectively banned the construction of coal-fired power plants, and thus completed the federal government’s trifecta beat-down on affordable energy.

First, new obstacles to energy production resulted in oil production on federal lands dropping 11% in Fiscal Year 2011 vs. 2010. Second, President Obama announced earlier this year that his administration was blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver large quantities of valuable oil from neighboring Canada. Third, the EPA announced this week its severe global warming restrictions on power plants.

For all the talk of an “all of the above” federal energy policy, this administration is imposing “none of the above,” unless we choose to celebrate our imminent burning of dung for fuel, like they do in the utopian economic powerhouse of Bangladesh.

Coal is our nation’s leading source of electricity for a reason; it is less expensive than all other sources except large-scale hydropower, which environmental activists had already taken off the table. By definition you cannot ban the least expensive power sources without creating a jump in electricity prices. If you have been a fan of our rapidly rising gasoline prices, you are going to love what is about to happen to our electricity prices, too.

There is at least one theoretical scenario whereby banning the construction of coal-fired power plants will only cause a modest rise in electricity prices. That scenario would occur if natural gas filled most of the void for future power plant construction and government refrained from punishing natural gas production. However, the same environmental extremists who successfully pushed for the end of new coal-fired power plants are just as adamant about shutting down natural gas production.

The EPA is already targeting natural gas production from lucrative shale formations, and is likely to soon impose unprecedented restrictions that will raise costs and throttle natural gas production. Tripling down on “none of the above” appears poised to become quadrupling down on “none of the above.”

Oh, and I forgot to mention this administration’s pulling the plug on the Yucca Mountain repository for spent nuclear fuel. Make that quintupling down on “none of the above.”

Those who claim humans are causing a global warming crisis argue that expensive energy is necessary to stop the growth in our global warming emissions. The facts, however, tell a different story.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen since the beginning of the century, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration does not anticipate any appreciable rise in emissions for at least the next several decades. True, global emissions have risen by approximately one-third this century, but the United States has had no part in that global increase.

The reason why global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise is nations such as China and India continue to ramp up their industrialization. China, for example, emits more carbon dioxide than the entire Western Hemisphere and is increasing its carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 10 percent per year. Even if the United States theoretically eliminated all of its emissions today, such action would be rendered moot in less than a decade merely by the corresponding increase from China.

What we are left with, even if we assume for the sake of argument that humans are causing a global warming crisis, is tremendous self-induced economic pain for absolutely no real-world environmental impact.

All of the Above is now None of the Above. Welcome to the return of “That 70s Energy Policy.”

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Voodoo Environomics

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By H. Leighton Steward
Posted on Feb. 16, 2012

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline wasn’t, as he claimed, based on science or the environment. And it certainly wasn’t based on sound economic policy. The decision was, in fact, the product of Voodoo Environomics: a destructive blend of bad science based on fear-mongering and manipulated research with the bad economics of green job fantasies and “starve the beast” energy politics.

At the very heart of Voodoo Environomics is, of course, the much-hyped theory linking man-made CO2 and climate change. Without the world’s policy focus on CO2 emissions, climate change alarmists would be robbed of the ammunition they need to change and control human behavior via draconian energy policies. They’d also be robbed of the substantial financial support needed to continue their biased research.

When adopted as official government policy, Voodoo Environomics can wreak havoc on the economy and represents a double whammy for working Americans. The admitted goal of CO2-slashing schemes like Cap & Trade is to jack up the price of energies like gasoline and coal to make expensive alternative energies more financially competitive. Of course their proponents hope you don’t realize that it’s ordinary Americans who are stuck paying higher prices for utilities and gasoline.

But the hit working Americans take under Voodoo Environomics doesn’t end with higher utility bills and gas prices. In bowing to environmental extremists in rejecting the Keystone Pipeline project, Obama has abandoned working Americans… or should I say unemployed Americans in search of good jobs.

In fact, Obama managed the rare feat of uniting business and labor in crying foul over this senseless decision. Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers decries the loss of 20,000 direct jobs and another 118,000 spinoff jobs that would have resulted from Keystone. Standing next to him, Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said, “Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this (decision).”

The application of Voodoo Environomics also puts style over substance. Obama’s rejection of Keystone won’t stop the extraction of oil from Canada’s oil sands – the primary objective behind the pressure to kill the project. Canada will proceed without pause in exploiting their oil sands, regardless of what American politicians or environmental extremists say or do.

Anti-Keystone activists also point to the need to protect the Ogallala Aquifer, which encompasses parts of eight states and underlies a portion of the proposed route of the Keystone pipeline. But reviews of the thousands and thousands of miles of oil and natural gas pipelines over the Ogallala, some of which have been transporting oil for more than a half a century, show no contamination of the aquifer.

What it does do is ensure that oil won’t be shipped and refined by Americans and will likely go to other nations, particularly China. This may sound like hyperbole, and I wish it were. But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in lambasting Obama’s rejection of Keystone, said that Canada would look to China to sell their oil.

America’s energy insecurity is moving into a dangerous new phase while our economy remains anemic and unemployment systemic. Rather than strengthening America’s energy position with a close ally and neighbor like Canada, Obama has increased our dependence on energy supplies from less-friendly nations that ensure little or no environmental safeguards.

The negative impact of this decision doesn’t end there. America’s risk exposure to dangerous energy disruptions stemming from global hotspots just went up. Such disruptions, such as those that could result from a crisis such as one brewing in the Straits of Hormuz, would be personal disaster for working Americas and a significant national security crisis for America.

The phantom gains and real losses stemming from Voodoo Environomics are starting to be realized. America needs more opportunities, not lost opportunities. Unfortunately for working Americans, there’s a greater abundance of the latter.

H. Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He currently chairs the organization Plants Need CO2.

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