Balancing Energy Needs with our Need to Breathe

To rightly appreciate the EPA (and similar agencies like it in other Western countries), you need to travel to eastern Europe and see the environmental damage industry can do if left completely unregulated.  I enjoy my non-toxic air, clean drinking water, and abundance of wildlife.  However, a recent EPA ruling (http://bit.ly/HHrwHG) is illustrative of the issues many on the right have with the agency.

The rules require future power plants to keep their emissions of heat-trapping gases under a limit. Most natural gas plants would meet the standard easily, but coal-fired plants would have to reduce emissions by about half. The equipment to capture and store those emissions underground isn’t commercially viable.

I realize coal is a big polluter, but why do we have to do this now — and with such drastic cuts?  Couldn’t we take a phased approach instead of cutting emissions by 50% by next year?  I do appreciate what the EPA does for us, but these types of rulings make it hard to defend the agency when folks on the right are already calling it a job-killer.  I would love to see a real energy plan before we essentially take coal off the table.  I would love to hear what you think as well.
About Elton Conrady, Technical Editor

Elton Conrady is Technical Editor at Media Rostra. As a network engineer, Elton has worked in traditional telecom, wireless, state government, and DoD environments. While engineers are considered dull or nerdy in some social circles, Elton has attempted to be an interesting person -- he has played on a barnstorming basketball team in Europe, worked as a commercial fisherman off Kodiak Island, and lived in Croatia for 4 years. Now that he is "grown up", Elton spends his spare time fishing, camping, and hiking.

Comments

  1. So from the article I gathered that coal production is not going to be limited in its current state, just any future expansion of the coal industry will be affected. I’m not an expert in environmental issues at all. Far cry from it. This sounds reasonable though. No jobs cut, just no jobs created for coal. Sounds like lots of job opportunities for natural gas plants and for scientific discovery on better management of harmful emissions. I don’t see coal being taken off the table, just the growth of coal limited.  Asia would not be the model for environmental health. Friends there whose kids miss school because of air pollution some days. From a christian standpoint, we are called to care for the earth. One of the very first charges given to man. This sounds like a move in the right direction??? I wish I had more knowledge in this area.

  2. econradyNo Gravatar says:

    You’re absolutely correct that current facilities are grandfathered in.  They’re not shutting anything down.  My concern is growth.  One of the keys to economic growth is identifying energy sources that can economically scale to the size we need.  I’m convinced renewable will get there — just not overnight.  That’s why I would like to see a phased approach, where we phase out old coal technology as renewable ramp up.  Right now coal represents almost half of our non-transport energy supply, and the US is the Saudi Arabia of coal.  So it’s a cheap solution, but a dirty one — otherwise I would be full-speed on the coal-powered steam train.

  3. Thanks for the response. The probable fear for doing a phased approach is that it is messier (who gets to grow and who doesn’t). Saying this is law across the board makes things easier to enforce but I see the danger in it, too. No easy solutions in a transition phase.

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  1. Cool It says:

    […] political fight rears its ugly head again.  As noted by our technical editor, Elton Conrady, in a previous article on Media Rostra, a recent EPA ruling proposes to cut carbon emissions emitted by newly […]