EPA admits banning coal plants won’t impact global warming

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Obama administration is effectively banning the construction of new coal-fired power plants, a move officials admit will have little to no impact on global warming.

“The EPA does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable CO2 emission change … by 2022,” the agency writes in its proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“EPA knows there aren’t benefits,” Dan Simmons, director of regulatory and state affairs at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “EPA and environmentalists are being disingenuous when they claim this rule will have an impact on the climate or the environment.”

Last week, the EPA unveiled the first ever carbon emissions limits for new power power plants, hailing them as the first step to combating global warming and protecting future generations.

“Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

The rule “will contribute to the actions required to slow or reverse the accumulation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, which is necessary to protect against projected climate change impacts and risks.”

Why ban coal power if it won’t even put a dent in global warming? Critics say this is because the EPA is trying to mask the high costs of compliance by not claiming that the proposal would create any benefits.

“They don’t want to quantify the damages,” Simmons said. “They know the rule will create large harms, but they don’t want to be held liable.”

By claiming monetized benefits from cutting carbon emissions from power plants, the EPA would also have to calculate the costs — meaning how the rule would impact the coal industry, employment and the economy.

The EPA’s proposal glosses over the costs by claiming that no new coal plants will be built without utilizing carbon capture and storage technology, thus the agency doesn’t “anticipate that the power industry will incur compliance costs as a result of this proposal and we do not anticipate any notable CO2 emission changes resulting from the rule.”

However, the coal industry points out that many coal plant projects are being shelved or shut down because of pending EPA rules.

Natural gas prices fluctuate, just like prices for any other energy source, so when prices increase relative to coal, utilities will switch back to burning coal. Coal supporters argue that EPA rules would make the current market trend of plants choosing to burn natural gas a permanent situation.

“It’s a circular logic as far as we’re concerned,” Luke Popovich, top spokesman for the National Mining Association, a mining industry group, told TheDCNF. “Certainly natural gas prices have played a role in fuel switching, but nothing like what EPA would be proposing.”

“It’s entirely possible that no coal power plants of any type will get built for years, regardless of what the EPA does Friday,” writes The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer. “That’s because natural gas is so cheap right now it’s not really economical to build coal plants.”

“Roughly speaking, natural gas prices needs to rise above $7 per million [British Thermal Unit] for new coal plants to be competitive. But the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that natural gas prices will stay under $6 per million BTU for the next two decades. As a result, the agency doesn’t think any coal plants will be built between 2018 and 2035,” Plumer added.

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