Energy

Obama’s inhumanity to India

Steve Milloy Author, 'Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA'
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Barack Obama isn’t the one that hundreds of millions of poor Indians have been waiting for. Many unemployed in Milwaukee won’t be too happy either.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank just denied a $250 million loan guarantee for the construction of a 3,690-megawatt coal-fired power plant and nearby mine in Madhya Pradesh, India.

According to a report in Climatewire, Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said:

President Obama made clear his administration’s commitment to transition away from high carbon investments and toward a cleaner-energy future. After careful deliberation, the Export-Import board voted [2-1] not to proceed with the project because of the projected adverse environmental impact.

The plant would have provided electricity to 300 million homes in seven Indian states.

According to President Obama’s Department of Energy:

India suffers from a severe shortage of electric capacity… 40 percent of residences in India are without electricity… blackouts are a common occurrence throughout the country’s main cities… one-third of Indian businesses believe that unreliable electricity is one of their primary impediments to doing business…  compounding the situation is that total demand for electricity in the country continues to rise and is outpacing increases in capacity. Adequate additional capacity has failed to materialize in India in light of market regulations, insufficient investment in the sector, and difficulty in obtaining environmental approval and funding for hydropower projects. In addition, coal shortages are further straining power generation capabilities.

How important is electricity to India? The United Nations Habitat for a Better Urban Future says that increased access to electricity would:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensure environmental sustainability.

But the benefits of the loan guarantee aren’t limited to India. It would have made possible $600 million worth of sales from, and almost 1,000 jobs with Bucyrus International, a Milwaukee-based mining equipment company. National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovch told Climatewire that Obama’s denial of the loan was “incomprehensible” given that more than 15 million Americans are out of work.

Even for an alleged believer in carbon dioxide-caused global warming, what is maximum climatic benefit that could be achieved by not building the power plant? The plant would emit about 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year – about 0.12 percent of the world’s annual emissions as of 2007. Over a period of 100 years, the plant would add about 0.02 parts per million (ppm) to atmospheric CO2 — the current level of atmospheric CO2 is 390 ppm. How does this translate into temperature change? Over the last 15 years, humans have added about 35 ppm to atmospheric CO2 and there has been no atmospheric warming.

So while it’s unlikely that the Indian plant would have had any climatic impact, it could have provided incalculable benefits to India and some very calculable ones to Milwaukee.

The good news is that Reliance Power, the Indian company that owns the plant, plans to proceed anyway – but without the many U.S. workers that would have been employed had President Obama decided to make mere loan guarantees.

So while the impact of President’s Obama’s denial apparently will be limited to denying productive Americans jobs amid a terrible economy, his bid to deny poor Indians the energy they need to escape crushing poverty and its accompanying miseries boggles the mind.

The only thing we should be waiting for is January 20, 2013.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).