Natural-gas companies and environmental groups team up to kill affordable energy.
In June, the U.S. Senate voted, in effect, to shut down at least 35 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, 10 percent of America’s coal-fired power, by failing to overturn new mercury-emission rules for power plants. But even that’s nothing compared to what could well be President Obama’s most enduring, and senseless, legacy: the power-plant greenhouse-gas regulations, bought and paid for by the natural-gas industry, set to become permanent after the election, likely ending coal-fired electricity in America.
The American people, of course, decisively rejected Obama’s cap-and-trade plan (under which, Obama himself explained, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket”) in the legislative process in 2009 and at the ballot box in 2010. Undaunted, he said the day after that 2010 landslide election that “cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end.”
The president’s new means are the greenhouse-gas rules for power plants. Those rules were created by transmogrifying the 1970 Clean Air Act into a global-warming, carbon-regulating law with the help of Massachusetts v. EPA, the 5–4 decision of an activist Supreme Court. They will eventually force every coal plant in the country to shut down or convert to natural gas — and the real scandal is that the main force behind the new rules is the natural-gas industry.
Like the mercury rule the Senate recently failed to stop, the greenhouse-gas rules were the product of Sierra Club litigation, this time via a consent decree between the EPA and the Sierra Club settling the latter’s lawsuit — amicably, I’m sure.
It’s no coincidence that the embattled CEO of natural-gas giant Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon, donated more than $25 million to the Sierra Club for its “Beyond Coal” campaign, which included the lawsuits that produced both the mercury rule and the greenhouse-gas rule.
Under the proposed greenhouse-gas rule, coal-fired power plants are instructed that, to comply with the new emissions standard of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour generated, they must convert to natural gas. Not nuclear. Not even wind and solar, which Obama claims to love. Just natural gas.