Detroit – “These regulations lock out coal for a long time to come,” DTE Energy Vice President of Environmental Management Skiles Boyd told WJR-Radio Detroit Thursday about the Obama administration’s new global warming rules. So much for the “all of the above” energy strategy that the president has been touting this month to counter rising energy prices.
Boyd, whose employer services Southeast Michigan’s vast industrial market, says that EPA’s rule of radically reducing — by three-quarters — utility CO2 emissions to 1,000 pounds per megawatt of electricity (a standard only natural gas meets) effectively bans new coal-fired plants and will inevitably lead to higher energy costs as the country is forced to switch to natural gas for base-load supply. Coal is America’s cheapest energy source and the United States — the so-called “Saudi Arabia of coal” — sits on some the world’s largest coal deposits and is the world’s second largest producer of coal behind China.
The reaction to Obama’s edict was swift from coal-producing states.
“This move by the EPA can lead to only one conclusion — the Obama administration is trying to end the use of coal as we know it,” said West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in a press release. “This regulation will devastate West Virginia and our region by reducing jobs and unnecessarily increasing the cost of power for our citizens. I will not stand for it.”
And that’s a Democrat talking.
What Tomblin describes as EPA’s “attack on coal” comes from a Democratic EPA headed by Green religious zealout Lisa Jackson. Telegraphing the Obama administration’s legislation-by-executive-branch-fiat after Democrats lost Congress in November, 2010, Jackson told a National Council of Churches convention in December of that year that the EPA had a “moral obligation” to heal the planet and “build on the religious and moral reasons for being good stewards of our environment.”
Tomblin does not share Jackson’s religion — nor does he share her expansive view of executive branch power. “Those decisions reside within the Congress, not an unelected bureaucracy,” says the governor of a state where the coal industry employs 20,000 workers. “Even though a federal court last week told the EPA that it was acting beyond its power, the EPA continues to act beyond its authority and in a short-sighted manner that will hurt our economy and cost our country jobs.”
While coal makes up 45 percent of American electricity production, manufacturing states like Michigan are particularly dependent on it, with 70 percent of the state’s electricity needs coming from the abundant, cheap domestic resource. DTE’s Boyd says only so-called carbon capture coal technologies could meet Jackson’s new limits on greenhouse gases, but “the technology is still under development.” Translation: It’s unaffordable.
Boyd fears that, by forcing the utility industry to put all its eggs in the natural-gas basket, the Obama administration is putting the country at the mercy of “an industry that is historically very volatile.” Boyd notes that the natural gas industry has discovered vast new resources in the U.S. this decade, but that now that exploration is also coming under assault from the EPA.
How strong is Obama’s green religion? Even in the middle of an election year, he is apparently willing to sacrifice Democratic allies — and their states — on the altar of global warming.