Jan 29, 2016 - 3:30pm

Here in a Nutshell is EPA’s Plan to Stop Fossil Fuel Use

Senior Editor, Digital Content

Because he’s not running for reelection, President Barack Obama felt free to express his real views on energy at this year’s State of the Union address by declaring, “Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources.”

As recently as 2014’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted an “All-of-the-above energy strategy.” Today, the president sounds more like environmental zealots intent on eliminating fossil fuel use.

Activists like Bill McKibben and Greenpeace tout a “Keep it in the ground” strategy. They want to stop using coal, oil, and natural gas—which comprise more than 80% of total U.S. energy demand—now, no matter the cost.

Obama administration policies echo these extreme views. 

In an interview with Oil & Gas 360, Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, explained EPA’s plant to eliminate fossil fuel use in the U.S.:

“Once the EPA identifies a pollutant as hazardous, by law they have to regulate it,” Guith told Oil & Gas 360®. The EPA identified carbon dioxide as hazardous under the Clean Air Act, and they put in regulations to cut it back.

Guith said the EPA created the standard and then they give the states the mandate to meet their standard. By law, it’s up to the states to achieve the EPA targets.

“The plan was to go straight to renewables,” Guith said, but current technology got the way:

But Guith said that when they realized that won’t work because there is no current grid-scale method to efficiently store the electrons generated by intermittent sources (solar and wind), the thinking was that if we penalize coal and natural gas enough [to force utilities away from using them as fuels] then the development of a storage technology will happen—something that will make renewables work.

It’s the “South Park Underpants Gnomes Profit Plan.”

The uncertainty created by the Clean Power Plan combined with regulations on mercury emissions from power plants (that didn’t pass muster by the Supreme Court) are doing what EPA intended: Reducing coal consumption. According to Energy Information Agency data, the share of electricity generated by coal is at its lowest level since at least 1970.

These regulatory attacks won’t end with coal. Guith explains that natural gas is next in EPA's sights [emphasis mine]:

Guith says that for utilities who build brand new combined cycle natural gas-fired power plants today, these plants are highly efficient, represent state of the art technology and they are rated as the maximum CO2 output for a modern natgas plant when they are built. It represents 2016’s standard for CO2 emissions from a combined cycle natural gas power plant.  But once the EPA triggers the process, they will reset the standard at a mandated 5 or 10-year review. So the maximum will be reset in 2021 or 2025. “And it has to be lower than a 2016 plant, so today’s plants can’t be built new to the same standards in 2021.”

Guith said the goal of the EPA is to get rid of the pollutant, and CO2 is just starting off, so the standards will keep getting more stringent until eventually it will be impossible to have a natural gas power plant that meets the standards. And, by law, the EPA can force whomever is president to comply. The process is self-fulfilling because every five year period the natural gas plant CO2 standard will be ratcheted tighter until, like coal, the standard will be impossible to attain.

Following natural gas, petroleum products such as gasoline are also targeted to elimination by this radical agenda. If the attacks succeed, fossil fuel use will be as extinct as the dinosaurs, and our economy and standard of living will suffer greatly for it.

“All-of-the-above” is no longer in the president’s vocabulary. “Nothing-from-below” is a more accurate description of President Obama’s energy intentions.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.