In 1974 Congress passed the Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act in response to the oil embargo imposed by OPEC countries. It moved U.S. power generation away from oil and natural gas to coal. Any power plant that could convert from oil or gas to coal was ordered to do so by the new bureaucracy created by Richard Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency. The use of coal as the fuel of choice for power generation climbed dramatically.
42 years later the party for coal has ended. What the guvmint gave to Big Coal the guvmint is taking away. Not soon enough in my view.
“The Obama administration on Friday brought a temporary halt to new coal mining leases on federal lands while it conducts a three-year review meant to bring coal leasing in line with U.S. climate policy.” This comes to us via a Scientific American blog post, so you might want to check twice–S.A. has gone all dodgy on climate issues, having drunk the activist Koolaid long ago. But the handwriting has been on the wall for old King Coal since it peaked in 2006:
Our dash for coal has always struck me as a big step backwards–like abandoning the Concorde for cattle car Boeings. Coal is poisonous; fly ash, mercury, smog, particulates–and yes, CO2. Why we didn’t go after nuclear instead is probably down to Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and the others involved in The China Syndrome, the movie that was released coterminous with the Three Mile Island accident.
Ah, well. Bygones. Better late than never.
To be clear, I am not one of those agitating that the world follow our lead. India needs their coal and so do many other countries.
But for the U.S. in 2016, moving away from coal is good, sound policy and I applaud the Obama administration for finally doing so. What was probably a needed policy in 1974 no longer serves us–and neither does coal.