Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The US Must Have Both Nuclear and Coal: Obama Forbids Both


An industrial society requires massive amounts of affordable fuels and electrical power. For electrical power, both nuclear and coal are suitable to provide the huge levels of baseload output required. But US President Obama is fighting a war to close down coal plants, while at the same time dragging his feet on allowing safe and revolutionary new nuclear designs to be licensed and approved.

Senator Obama declared a war against coal back in 2008, when he was still running in the Democratic presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton:
Consider candidate Obama’s January 2008 comment to the San Francisco Chronicle: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Obama originally planned to keep this promise through cap-and-trade legislation, a scheme to tax companies for their so-called greenhouse-gas emissions. Lacking congressional approval, the President has turned to his Environmental Protection Agency to kill coal by way of crippling new regulations just put into effect this year. _NewAmerican
Mr. Obama's EPA has taken extraordinary steps to shut down coal plants -- thus progressively destabilising the North American power grid and raising the cost of power to industrial, commercial, municipal, and residential customers. In the midst of an ongoing economic downturn, these policies would never be permitted in a rational society with a rational governmental system. More:
...the EPA passed new emission regulations that had to be complied with by utility companies within six months — in the past, utilities were given years to comment on the workability of the rules, plan the implementation of new rules, and adjust their budgets for the adoption of the regulations, because adding air scrubbers or other major implements to a coal-fired power plant is not as easy as adding a new deck to one’s house. Obviously, the new regulations were designed to lead to the closure of certain utilities, mainly coal-fired power plants.

How will this affect our citizenry? When utilities cannot afford to do the bidding of bureaucrats with respect to their generation facilities, they shut them down. According to the February 12 Wheeling (WV) News-Register, “It was revealed at least 32 coal-fired power plants in 12 states, including West Virginia and Ohio, would be closed so utility companies could comply with the Obama administration’s air pollution regulations.” Up to 55 million households will be in danger of outages, brownouts, or, at the least, higher rates due to this unnecessary EPA rule. Already financially strapped Americans will be thrust into what is known in Europe as “energy poverty.”

...The effect of depriving a population of reliable sources of electricity is catastrophic. This can be quantified by examining the average national use of electricity in watts per person, compared to life expectancy in those nations.

...The United States is considered by many geologists as the “Saudi Arabia” of coal. This resource provides life-saving and life-enhancing energy for America, but it is under attack for this very reason by those who would take us back to an earlier era that was infinitely dirtier, deadlier, and with fewer opportunities to move civilization to new levels of freedom and prosperity. Government should not pick winners and losers to subsidize or regulate out of existence but should get out of the way and allow the free market come up with solutions to provide our energy needs.

In the future coal should probably be a feedstock for liquid fuels and for production of iron and steel, with nuclear energy providing our electrical base load. Coal is a resource that is proven and available. _NewAmerican
Eventually, either American voters will eject this dysfunctional president and his administration, or time will run out on his lame duck presidency. By then, the damage will have been done.

A huge power generating infrastructure can be shut down by the act of putting pen to paper. It cannot be re-built nearly so easily.

It is taking Obama only a few years to dismantle a coal power producing infrastructure which will require decades to replace with nuclear -- if it can ever be replaced. The alternative to abundant energy is a depleted economy, a depleted agriculture, and depleted lives of citizens.

US voters require the facts, so that they can make a rational choice.

More: The Manhattan Institute recently held two panel discussions on the topic of "Keeping the Lights On: What Role for Coal and Nuclear?" Videos for Part 1 and Part 2 (Each session is just over 1 hour)

Power 2012 - Keeping the Lights on: What Role for Coal and Nuclear - Part I

Panelists: Laszlo Varro, Jacob Williams, Porter Bennett

March 1, 2012

Power 2012 - Keeping the Lights on: What Role for Coal and Nuclear - Part II

Panelists: David Mohler, David Diamond, David Dismukes

March 1, 2012

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Blogger Steve said...

Burning coal for electrical power makes no sense long term. Coal is too valuable as a liquid fuel to to be wasted in power plants. I say we need both nuclear and gas electrical power plants to be replaced with only nuclear.

Yes coal plants need to be shut down to preserve our health and to save coal for our cars.

7:05 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

That would be true if the US were in position to actually turn coal into a liquid fuel. Until such a time, IGCC coal plants with CHP make more sense than not using coal at all.

IGCC is clean and efficient use of coal, and adding CHP raises efficiency higher still.

The argument you give is too often used simply to shut down coal altogether, which would be a particularly short-sighted strategy certain to cause society greater harm than even the current method of burning coal.

8:05 PM  

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