What The EPA Giveth, The EPA Taketh Away

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.

china syndrome

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.


9 responses to “What The EPA Giveth, The EPA Taketh Away

  1. There are significant benefits of coal fired baseload generation that gas CCGTs can’t replace. Coal can be stockpiled – reducing the risk of outages during high demand or events like line ruptures. The Plant generally has higher availability, especially in the 10-30 year period. Maintenance of the plant doesn’t hold the operator hostage to the OEM. It creates a lot more good paying jobs, particularly in the skilled and semi-skilled categories. These need to thought about to counterbalance the dash for gas.

  2. First the government said that we must burn less fossil fuel and go nuclear. Then they said that nuclear was too dangerous, and we had to burn more coal. Now they demand less fossil fuel and more wind and solar. And in 20 years or so, we will be abandoning wind and solar, most likely for nuclear.

    In spite of all this, those crazy Republicans insist that government is often more of a problem than a solution. When will they ever learn?

  3. But eventually we will run out of natural gas. I guess nuclear will be the better option

  4. Pingback: Exactly When Should Exxon Have Warned The World About Climate Change? | The Lukewarmer's Way

  5. Coal has done vastly more good than harm. The kooks claiming otherwise are easily led by cynics.

  6. Tom,
    Enough of what?
    Here is a nice insight on the hubris that plays such an important role in the climate madness:

    • Hiya Hunter,

      Enough coal. If we’re bound and determined to use fossil fuels, use the least emissive one–natural gas. Coal is so… 17th Century….

      It’s dirty and it kills people from cradle to grave.

  7. All energy, food, and other things we use come at a cost. Coal has been a very good resource for a long time. Unlike climate fanatics I am in favor of progress- gas, and nuclear come to mind. Speaking of 17th century, wind was cutting edge when? 3000 years ago, apparently. And it is not any more reliable or useful to a modern advanced society now than it was then.

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