After the lull of President Obama’s post-election victory lap and the economic turbulence occasioned by the White House year-end fiscal cliff dictates, the seeming calm emanating from commissioner Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency is about to again erupt.
The “war on coal” which initiated its initial offense, is about to go into a second and more destructive phase as the New Year flexes its muscles. Despite the fact that the United States contains the largest tonnage of coal, by far, of any other nation in the world, the President’s disproportionate commitment to make the U.S. the symbol of climatological purity has given carte blanche to his EPA commissioner to crack down on excessive use of coal, oil, and even natural gas. The Administration’s preferences for such renewables as solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels, even though these energy substitutes have been only minimally successful; and even then only when substantial government subsidies were made available to “renewable energy” producers, of which several have since gone bankrupt.
With the support of climate control buff Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York, who has taken to the hustings to lobby for stricter control of greenhouse gas and CO² emissions, President Obama blamed the devastating “hurricane Sandy,” that caused as much as $75 billion in damages to a large segment of America’s heavily populated Northeast, on climatic disintegration. This has prompted new marching orders to EPA head Lisa Jackson to rev up the further climatic “criminalization” of coal. With Patriot Coal struggling its way through the bankruptcy courts, even giant Peabody Energy is not being spared the heavy hand of a good part of the 144 new EPA regulations on the verge of implementation with the coming of the new year.
With Jackson following her oft-stated purpose of disclaiming interest in economic consequences of her actions, her agency is attempting to short cut the reprieve the EPA had given a large percentage of the nation’s utilities in their mandated switch from coal to natural gas. Even as the price of natural gas keeps going up in light of potential demand, as well as exports, the nation’s electricity providers will be hard-put to stick to imposed schedules, as well as accelerating costs, which the utilities will be forced to pass on to the power-using taxpayers.
With California no longer living up to the state from which the nation’s positive initiatives used to flow, it is now leapfrogging Illinois and New York in putting its taxpayers deeper into the hole. That state’s Air Resources Board is displaying even greater regulatory restraint than the national EPA. California’s Governor Brown has already approved the energy-killing cap and trade legislation that had failed as a national issue, falling short of overcoming a Republican Senate filibuster in 2009.
With the U.S. standing at the cusp of the greatest potential surge of coal, oil and natural gas production, ever available to any other world nation, it is probable that the current Administration will do little, if anything, to make this possible dream come to reality.
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