Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Obama's War on Coal Cost Obama his Job?

The“war on coal” is closing power plants and outraging miners whose livelihoods it threatens. More, it means price hikes for electricity — particularly in northern Ohio, a crucial state that broke for Obama in 2008.

Back then, union workers helped flip the state blue, reversing GOP wins in 2000 and 2004. This year, maybe not. Last November, the EPA adopted new regulations on emissions that sounded a death knell for many of our country’s older coal-fired power plants. Already struggling to compete with cheap natural gas, owners of some facilities decided against investing in the pollution-control equipment needed to comply with the new regs.

...Many [coal plant] closings will come in Ohio, where Akron-based FirstEnergy was first out of the box in announcing several planned shutdowns. It spent five years and $1.8 billion installing scrubbers on its largest plant located on the Ohio River; costly upgrades to the smaller units simply didn’t make sense.

The lost capacity will be replaced mainly by cheaper natural-gas plants, but the shift will require costly improvements to transmission facilities, expected to run more than a billion dollars in Ohio alone. Projected electric-rate hikesalarmed Ohio small businesses, which protested to the state’s Public Utility Commission...

...Nor was the November rule the EPA’s only assault on coal. The agency also recently imposed carbon-dioxide emission standards that could effectively prohibit any new coal-plant construction. That ruling almost guarantees the nation will continue to shift electricity production from coal to natural gas....

...This determination to kill coal is short-sighted. There’s no guarantee that natural-gas prices will stay at today’s 10-year low. The shale boom has pushed them down, but soaring demand could eventually push prices higher. The appetite for natural gas as a transportation fuel for large truck fleets or for export, for example, is just getting rolling.

And (surprise!), now that natural gas is cheap, the same environmental groups behind the “war on coal” are now suddenly finding all sorts of (scientifically dubious) reasons to block natural-gas production.

America has a 250-year reserve of inexpensive coal — in energy terms, roughly the equivalent of the Saudis’ oil reserves. With the nation seeking to reassert itself as a manufacturing powerhouse, why deny access to cheap power?

The assault on coal is also risky for Obama. Ohio is a must-win for the president. State GOP chairman Bob Bennett notes that, for Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the state, angry miners turned out spontaneously to protest the White House’s anti-coal policies — and “The GOP had nothing to do with that.”

With the EPA’s rulings likely to cost the state jobs and hike electric bills, he says, “Obama gives people more reasons to vote for [Mitt] Romney every day.”_NYP

Obama's war against coal, offshore and Arctic oil, Canadian oil sands, the Keystone pipeline, nuclear power, etc etc, is popularly known at the Al Fin Institute as Obama's agenda of energy starvation. The natural effects of this agenda are increased costs of doing business and increased uncertainties as to future costs of doing business -- which discourages new startups and new jobs formation.

It is no coincidence that Mr. Obama's policies on other fronts -- such as healthcare, taxes, regulations, growth of government . . . -- have the same depressing effects on the private sector's ability to grow the economy.

Most independent US voters have family members who are out of work or are looking for work and unable to find it. They may not understand the entire long chain of factors and hidden agendas that connect Obama to the US private sector's ongoing difficulties, but they know enough to blame Obama for not doing what he promised in regard to new jobs and new hope.

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