Thursday, June 20, 2024

Biden Goes All-In With War on Coal – Watts Up With That?

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By Emily Arthun

May 21, 2024

The Biden administration’s war on coal came out of the shadows recently, with the release of a new series of regulations that have the clear intent of locking up millions of acres of federal land from coal mining and drilling for oil and natural gas, as well as shutting down the nation’s remaining coal-fired power generation fleet.

The Bureau of Land Management released a new rule that will effectively make it impossible to continue to mine coal or drill for oil and gas anywhere on federally owned lands. This will cripple coal mining in the Powder River Basin and other western reserves, which provide most of the nation’s thermal coal used for energy production. This action alone would have been devastating, but it was just part of a much larger and far-reaching series of regulatory actions.

The new tranche of regulations was an 11th hour assault, issued literally days before the close of a window of time allowing a new President to reverse the decision by executive order. With this announcement, any reversal will have to come through action by both houses of Congress or by litigation in court.

These actions come despite the clear warnings by some of the Biden Administration’s own electric utility regulators that further closures of baseload energy capacity (such as coal) could result in the failure of the nation’s electric grid.

The new regulations effectively make it impossible for utilities to continue to operate coal-fired power plants without investing in new, largely unproven commercially and highly expensive, carbon capture technologies capable of cutting 95% of carbon dioxide emissions. It would also require the same of any new natural gas-powered facilities. However, existing natural gas facilities would be exempt from the requirement.

Make no mistake about it, this new series of regulations has one intent – to force the shutdown of the nation’s coal-fired generation fleet, starving it of much of its fuel source, and making it economically impossible to continue to operate these units.  Far from some panacea, these actions will ripple through the entire economy. They will drive already staggering electric bills out of reach for millions of American families, leaving them struggling with the choice of putting food on the table or heating and cooling their homes. Many of those on fixed incomes, such as retirees on social security, will be the hardest hit.

And even if you can afford to pay for electricity, it may not be there when you need it most. Further closure of baseload generation could (and likely will) push the electric grid past the breaking point during the very times when they need electricity the most – the heat of summer and the cold of winter.  It will result in the de facto rationing of energy and will also play out across the rest of the economy, driving inflation even higher and forcing many companies out of business.

Frankly, I do not understand this “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” approach to regulation. It seems allegiance to a radical green agenda is all that matters to the Biden Administration and the needs of average American families are not even on the radar.

America needs ready access to reliable and affordable energy. It is what built this great nation. There is no shortage of coal. There is no shortage of gas or oil. However, there does appear to be a shortage of common sense on the part of this administration.

Rather than using our vast resources of coal, oil, and gas, the Biden Administration seems intent on committing economic suicide. Over the next few decades, demand for electricity is projected to skyrocket. How will we meet that demand if we continue this administration’s reckless pursuit of a green fairy tale?

Emily Arthun is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based American Coal Council.

This article was originally published by RealClearEnergy and made available via RealClearWire.

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