New EPA rule will block all new coal-electric generation


Guest post by Alec Rawls

The upcoming rule:

… will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.

Can this stand, after Obama’s big energy-policy tour last week included not a single mention CO2, greenhouse gases, climate or global warming?

EPA’s endangerment ruling on CO2 is being challenged in the courts right now. In particular, the world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy Company, is challenging the ruling specifically on the grounds that EPA improperly relied on the IPCC’s bogus claims that CO2 is causing dangerous global warming. Obama’s retreat from any mention of CO2 or climate, never mind global warming, would seem to be an official admission that Peabody is right and the IPCC is wrong. How can global warming be important enough to warrant shutting down coal, by far the largest source of electricity in the country, if it is not important enough for the president to even mention during his big energy-policy extravaganza?

Obama did mention “clean energy” several times in his Nevada speech, but there is nothing unclean about CO2, certainly not that can hold up in court. CO2 is the beginning of the food chain, the essential nutrient from which all life on earth is constructed. Animals get their carbon building blocks from plants which get it from atmospheric or oceanic CO2 through photosynthesis, and current levels of CO2—about 0.039 percent of the atmosphere—are alarmingly close to the minimum required to sustain life.

From Lawrence Livermore Labs CO2 “fact sheet“:

Carbon dioxide is necessary to sustain life in concentrations of about 0.04 percent of the earth’s atmosphere …

The biosphere craves more of this healthful gas, not less.

The ONLY concern about CO2 is the idea that its greenhouse warming effect might be dangerous, and no such concern is being voiced by Obama. Apparently it is off the table, which ought to clear off all of his green energy plans as well, because their expressed rationale was the greenhouse threat from CO2. That is especially true with the EPA’s endangerment finding for CO2, which explicitly relies on the IPCC reports.

Oral arguments in the consolidated Peabody case took place at the end of February, but if the entire basis for the endangerment finding is no longer operative, the court ought to admit a motion to include that information. It will be a travesty if Obama is allowed to unplug ultimately half the grid on a rationale that he himself now considers too toxic to mention.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Lets hope the USA follows in the steps of queensland and turfs out anybody involved with AGW

They’d better watch themselves – if the upcoming rule “…will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt…”, then they’re slowly building a case that only a nuclear plant will meet their requirement.


Technology is equal to scrubbing waste co2 from coal power-generation and capturing it in closed-loop pyrolysis. An unintended consequence of this rule may be to force this particular type of cogeneration on the industry.

They’d better watch out – they’re painting themselves into a corner.
If the new rule “…will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt…”, then they’re leaving little choice other than nuclear.
If less CO2 is their ultimate goal, how much CO2 does a nuclear plant emit per megawatt?

Crispin in Johannesburg

This is the ultimate victory of the initative started by ENRON, they of the crooked E. The finance of the green sector PR machine by Big Gas is what this was all about: demonize coal and then offer Natural Gas as the ‘low carbon’ alternative. ENRON was trying to monopolize the natural gas sources available at the time when they went down.
As all monopoly capitalists know, a cartel is as good as a monopoly. This is their moment of victory.

Ian W

As long as the arguments are not on pure legal grounds alone. The last case they had hinged on whether the EPA had the powers to declare CO2 a pollutant. The SCOTUS cannot rule on scientific matters.
It would be better to use the evidence within Donna LaFramboise “The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”. Her book demolishes all claims that the IPCC has any scientific standing. More importantly, it is full of references to original documentation. Even getting that book into a case with the SCOTUS as public evidence would be extremely influential.

Michael D Smith

If I were the next president, Lisa Jackson would be on the payroll about 30 more milliseconds.


President Zero, June 2011:
“You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”:

Hari Seldon

Hey we just had a ‘Horizon’ program on the BBC about ‘Climate Weirding’ Lots of dodgy statistics but no science and NO I repeat …NO mention of CO2.
It’s too quiet…I don’t like it…what are they up to…
On the bright side tho’ the good old biased bbc happened to mention of the ‘wireless’ this morning that last year was one of the worst years for natural disasters…. Seemed to get their ‘science’ from Lloyds of London the insurance people. No bias there then.

Gail Combs

henrythethird says: @ March 28, 2012 at 4:45 am
They’d better watch themselves –….. then they’re slowly building a case that only a nuclear plant will meet their requirement.
They are counting on the NIMBYs to kill that option.
There is a well funded Astro-turf group around who pays local people to demonstrate at nuclear power plant sites. In 1984 (snicker) I ran across a lot of their ads in the Boston Globe when I was job hunting. They were paying twice what burger flipping was and a bit more than a lab tech would earn. ($10/hr min. wage was $3.35)
However Thorium seems to be gaining some approval from the Greens.
Thorium: Nuclear Energy’s Clean Little Secret | News


Remember this man’s promise?
Anybody but Obama.

While Obama distances himself from this, that does not mean he doesn’t believe it. I believe it likely he will say, “The EPA has ruled. I really can’t do anything about that. The scientists know better than I.”
“Necessarily skyrocket” and “Bankrupt”


Two weeks before the next election, turn off all coal-fired power stations and give the American public a good hard look at their long bleak future.

Steve from Rockwood

A Democrat was quoted as saying the ruling will not affect coal generation because no new coal generating stations are currently planned. He waffled a bit when he was cautioned that existing coal generation facilities will need to negotiate with the government (possibly to stay open by sequestering CO2).
I just don’t get the American political system. The EPA labels CO2 (and indirectly fossil fuels) as a pollutant while the President fast-tracks the Keystone pipeline (to raw crude into the US for refining).

US politicians are stupid enough to allow the EPA put the US into bankruptcy to satisfy their own personal egos.

Tom J

It is important to note what was on the front page of yesterdays Wall Street Journal. There’s Obama talking to Russian President Medvedev telling him, “This is my last election, and after my election I have more flexibility”. This archangel already thinks he’s won it. Let’s prove him wrong in November. And the news media likes dramatic AGW headlines: how’s this for a dramatic headline, ‘Obama to shut down almost half of all U.S. electrical generating capacity.’ That’ll get some pre-election attention. Put him on the spot. And then in parentheses add that he’s doing it while the economy’s still in the doldrums.

Based on the asinine idea that the amount of CO2 that humans produce is going to end the planet.


cherry-picked some of the reality, but do read for the Omega-3 fatty acids and spirulina segments:
27 March: Bloomberg: China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon
China passed the U.S. as the top carbon polluter in 2007; it now emits more than the U.S. and India combined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Yet with 1.3 billion people, power-hungry industries and scant oil or natural gas, it has no immediate alternatives to coal for fueling its economy. China gets 70 percent of its energy from coal, three times the U.S. figure. It even converts coal into diesel fuel and ammonia that’s used for making fertilizer.
After consuming as much coal as did the rest of the planet combined in 2010, China still can’t muster enough electricity to avoid blackouts or accelerate the rise of its western provinces out of poverty, says Zhao Gang, director of a research institute at Beijing’s Ministry of Science and Technology…
China can’t quit coal…
Scientists say China must act now. The world has just two or three decades to avoid irreversible climate change, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, an energy professor at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and author of two books on pollution…
David Fridley, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says it may already be too late to avert higher temperatures, rising seas and melting glaciers. He says China’s emissions won’t stop increasing until its population peaks at 1.45 billion in 2030 — that’s 15 years after he predicts immutable global warming.
“If global emissions don’t start declining after 2015, all we can do is adapt to a world that will be highly disrupted,” he says…
Environmentalists say efforts to improve coal power are shortsighted because they divert attention and money from renewable energy.
“Electricity from coal plants that are designed to avoid filthy and uncontrolled pollution is two to three times more expensive than alternatives like wind and solar,” says Bruce Nilles, deputy conservation director of environmental advocacy group Sierra Club. “Coal is the biggest part of our carbon problem, and we’re fighting to keep it underground.” …
Companies may adopt carbon trapping because governments are likely to limit CO2 through taxes or emission caps, according to the 2011 annual energy outlook published by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the world’s largest energy company by market value. By 2040, carbon costs may reach $80 a ton in the U.S. and $30 a ton in China, the report says…
John Lippert and Chua Baizhen, with assistance from Richard Weiss in Frankfurt, William Mellor in Sydney and Mark Drajem in Washington. Editors: Gail Roche, Jonathan Neumann
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: John Lippert in Chicago/Chua Baizhen in Beijing


How about building the plants in Mexico and importing the electricty and exporting the jobs?

New ad on WUWT from Nature Conservancy about calculating your “carbon footprint”.
I don’t care what mine is because it is completely meaningless !!
But I did click the ad for some ad revenue for the web host !!

O/T But the BBC’s Horizon had a propaganda piece on Global Weirding last night. Katharine Hayhoe was at it again, but her claims before have never stood up under scrutiny.

Jim Carson

…1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt…

This should read …per megawatt-hour…
This mistake belongs to the Washington Post.


Mr. Green and his minions Jackson and Chu want to skyrocket energy prices. There is no science to this agenda only the green cause. It is not about big Oil, only about big government in charge of every aspect of our lives here in the U.S. The trace gas CO2 is the lever.

Frank K.

When we can no longer generate enough electrical power to supply our homes and jobs, please let’s remember to first cut the electricity to all of the government CAGW “research” facilities like NOAA, NASA-GISS and NCAR…
Where are our trolls? Oh yeah – they’re off consuming fossil fuels while advocating policies that will destroy our economy…

richard verney

I do not know whether the right test is ‘whether CO2 emissions are causing dangerous global warming as the IPCC contend to be the case’ but if that is the test, it is not easy to envisage that a court of law applying the usual civil standard of the burden of proof would uphold such an allegation as being correct.
It would be interesting to see that allegation challenged in a court of law where the claim is held to account by rigorous cross examination and the consideration of wider expert evidence. .
Further, and materially, it is difficult to see how one can allege that burning coal is leading to global warming let alone dangerous global warming in the light of the Chinese experience. Is it not part of the warmist’s case regarding the stall of temperaturess these past 10 to 15 years that these have stalled because of aerosol emiisions from Chinese coal powered stations? Peabody should use that claim.
It would be interesting to put that evidence before the Court since based on that evidence. is it not clear that there will be no dangerous global warming provided that coal fired generating stations are build to the same emission standards as those deployed in China. If the USA stations are built to the same emission standards as the Chinese stations then US coal powered stations will be doing exactly what the Chinese coal powered stations are doing and through their aerosol emissions they will keep temperatures stalled and hence will not cause gloabl warming let alone dangerous global warming.
I think that with a well constructed argument, Peabody will have a strong case for coal. They can even use the warmists’ claims against the warmists, and against the present ruling by the EPA!


Yes, this new rule effectively bans any new coal fired power plants, even with the most efficient technology possible. The whole process of building, financing and permitting carbon capture and sequestration is not settled and is therefore not available. And allowing a coal plant to operate without CCS for 10 years with the CO2 capture to be made up later is a fool’s dream, no one would take on that kind of risk.
Much of EPA’s reasoning on the impact of this rule is predicated on the recent availability of cheap natural gas. Great. But some in the environmental community are already signalling that natural gas is next on their hit list. They have to have something to do, right?

Tom in indy

I think a better way to picture the impact of this rule would be a pie chart with the percent of new power plants by type of fuel over the past 5 or so years. And/Or, the percent of planned power plants that are coal.
We are witnessing the failure of the US system of government. These and other mandates from Federal Agencies are the result of our federal government trying to consolidate power in the Executive Branch.

Can you Americans please hold off completely destroying your country for a few more months, we have a planned 6 week holiday visiting a dozen States starting in July and we would really like a little electricity from time to time.

Russ R.

I’m not at all a fan of this regulation, but I feel that Mr. Rawls is misrepresenting it here.
The regulation is on NEW power plants, not existing ones, so it will not lead to anything being “unplugged”. Existing coal plants will keep on operating.
That said, I agree with just about everything else he has written.

Here in South-Africa, we only have one nuclear power plant, the rest is supplied by coal powered stations.


Sigh. So AGW will collapse, and SOME of the policies that were justified by its ‘threat’ will be removed. The hippies have dragged the corpse of AGW on and on and on, no matter how bad the stink has become – but once there is no more use left in the corpse…
But MANY policies WILL remain, even as AGW is declared dead. The Watermelons will pick something else, and the whole cycle will repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
They want global socialism, totalitarianism by such things as thought-laws (example the ‘hate’-laws, were the government now no longer merely places limits on behaviors such as theft and murder, but ‘politically-unacceptable’ THOUGHTS as well), and as long as people are stupid cowards, the hippies will continue to advance. Created bogeyman by created bogeyman, used to justify ever more policy, regulation, law, etc. etc.
Since the hippies are liars, deceivers with no honor and no integrity, there CAN BE NO fair dealings with them. Either they are marked as the enemy of civilization, and their works opposed as such, or else our present, freedom-based, civilization WILL fall.
Or to put in terms perhaps more familiar: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance… OR WHAT WILL HAPPEN? Mmmm?
But this reversal will not happen: non-Christians, i.e. humanists and deists and all the other nit-wits, have too much to lose to be able to face the Darkness. (Excepting the ever present exceptions, of course.) Just look at how the murder and abuse of women, children, gays, etc, by a certain group of Very Peaceful People, are IGNORED by the oh-so-very-amazingly-super-brave hippies. Christianity, which has always only really existed as a small percentage of those laying claim to it, is little more than a whisper of a shadow of a ghost: and with its end, so ends the entire civilization that was founded upon it.
And why not take a quick snapshot of what will be the state of the actual true church at the end-of-days, as per the bible:
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Gotta agree with Westboro on this: abandon hope, you schmucks. That which stood between you all and obliteration has been destroyed, mainly by your own hands – so now you will all reap the whirlwind, and your children with you. Such is the fate of fools, and those who are theirs and with them.


Surely you don’t think that just because it’s become politically inconvenient to mention CO2, and Obama has stopped, that this for one second alters what he and the unelected bureaucrats think and how they will act behind the scenes? No one is that naive. Particularly since tilting the market towards natural gas benefits a number of large donors and supporters…

Glenn A. Plant

We can’t build coal, we can’t build nuclear, we can’t build hydro – all that will be left is wind & solar, both proven to consume more energy than they create.
I guess some people dream of the good-old-days – i.e. the dark ages.


I am trying to recall where I read about how natural gas business is lobbying Obama administration to come up with new rules against coal plants. I guess Obama is helping his buddies get richer…


I don’t like this rule either, or the rationale for it, but this essay is rather hyperbolic. Obama doesn’t seek to “unplug half the grid” but just to set standards for new coal-electric plants which effectively discourage new ones. Not quite the same thing.

The upcoming EPA rule (a proposal rather than a law-to-be at this point I presume from above) is beyond stupid, It is clinically insane but it may have a purpose for which coal-hating is a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
Hearing Obama’s speech in Seoul he was promoting Nukes in terms of cutting CO2 emissions and global warming and employed the usual brazen lies to do that – see 9ii) in –
It would seem to me that really they have a long term goal of nuke power all over the place with the USA controlling the technology for it. CO2 and coal then are the bogies to justify that project – which is another line of world domination with international structures and strong states being required to stop proliferation of dangerous by-products.
Piers Corbyn


So it has finally happened–the favorite bumper sticker we mining engineering students used to display on our briefcases while at the U of U in the early ’80’s in defense of our profession and to counter the crazy environmentalism that was gripping the country:,460543641
When this kicks in, I especially don’t want to hear any Mann-lovers or Tree-Huggers complaining. Ya hear?

Bloke down the pub

If this ruling only applies to new build plant then they are creating the need to keep the old plants running. If they set a realistic target and provided incentives, new plant could be built that would drasticly reduce the amount of plant food that is emitted. Laws of unintended consequencies?

Natural gas is far more valuable to use in homes while coal can be burnt in large plants with extensive cleanup, compared to vice versa.
The US natural gas supply has been highly variable, exceeding $10/GJ (million BTU) in 2005 and 2010.
With Japan shutting down their nuclear plants, its price of natural gas has soared to $16 / GJ.
Shutting down coal is a short sighted foolish action based on a radical environmental / political agenda with where the premium is far more expensive than the danger. It would lay the foundation for very unstable electricity prices and rob future generations of highly valuable natural gas by burning it for a low value use compared to the abundant coal.
Obama’s “all of the above” policy – is all EXCEPT the most abundant fossil fuels – with the consequence of major increases in fuel costs and in inflation.


Here is it –
“A Time magazine blogger reported Thursday that the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and most august environmental organization, accepted millions of dollars in donations from one of the nation’s biggest natural gas-drilling companies for a program lambasting coal-fired power plants as environmental evildoers.”

Fred Allen

Henrythethird said: “then they’re slowly building a case that only a nuclear plant will meet their requirement.”
I would guess that the 1768 lbs will be the allocation for every MW however it is produced, which is designed to encourage current coal power producers to subsidize solar and wind energy so that the proportion of CO2 per MW is reduced below the 1000lbs. Just a regulation designed to choke coal powered electricity generation. Once the regulation is introduced, it will be a relatively simple matter in future years to adjust the 1000lbs CO2 downwards.


Well, whatcha gonna do about it? Elect Romney, who is just as Green as Obama?
Until this country develops a SECOND political party, our only hope is total bankruptcy.

Paul Bahlin

Rule makers are a bit like pond scum. Once they get started in a pond they grow until they choke out all life, except their own of course.

The far greater danger is oil supply unable to keep up with growing population and economic growth causing rapidly increasing prices leading to fuel shortages.
See: World oil import bill nears $2-trillion: IEA Mar. 27, 2012

Mr. Birol said the bill for importing nations had risen from $1.8-trillion in 2011 and $1.7-trillion in 2008.
Oil-importing nations are set to pay a record $2-trillion this year for oil imports if crude prices do not fall, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, undermining economic recovery. . . .
If crude were to stay at current levels for the rest of the year – about $125 a barrel for Brent and $107 for U.S. crude – oil import bills would cost 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product, up from 3.1 per cent in 2011, Mr. Birol said . . .
The cost of oil imports to the United States in an election year would reach a record $426-billion this year, up from $380-billion in 2011.

We need an urgent war footing effort to develop alternative fuels to replace light oil. Converting coal to liquid fuels is one of the major options. At best EPA is “penny wise and pound foolish”. At worst it is acting like Chicken Little pushing us into much more expensive costs guaranteeing higher unemployment.
EPA FACT SHEET: Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants

In 2007, the Supreme Court already bought into the EPA’s CO2 = pollution theory, so Peabody has an uphill fight on its hands. 🙁

Steve Keohane

One thing you can count on this year, at least into November, is that BO will utter nothing that might draw negative attention to himself. All existing problems either stemmed from previous admins, or the lack of compromise from the opposing party, never himself. He has stated clearly his intent, and it has nothing to do with the guise of environment nor clean energy, they are merely the medium, not the message*. Apologies to Marshall McLuhan.
January 2008 Obama, Quote:
“The problem is not technical, the problem is not uh, sufficient mastery of the intracacies of Washington, the problem is uh, can you get the American people to say this is really important and force their representatives to do the right thing. Uh that requires mobilizing a citizenry, that requires them understanding what is at stake, you know, and climate change is a great example, you know when I was asked earlier about, uh, the issue of coal, uh, you’ll, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal-powered plants natural gas plants, you name it, whatever the industry was, uh, retrofit their operations, that will cost money that will be passed on to consumers. You can already, you can already see what the arguments are going to be, during the general election, people are going to say ‘Obama and Algore, these folks are gonna to destroy the economy with this $8 trillion dollars or whatever the number is’, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes there’s going to be an increase in the rates of electricty in the front end, but that over the longterm because of the combination of the more efficient energy usage and changing lightbulbs, and more efficient appliances, uh, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy that the economy will benefit, if we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you, you can uh, you can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington, you’re not gonna get that done.

*One may argue that decimating our power supply system is the message, then replacing plentiful cheap power with expensive inadequate supply fits ‘the medium is the message’.

Hugh Pepper

Follow your own reasoning ALec. CO2 is obviously necessary for life, just as Oxygen is. But too much is bad. The ratio matters, especially when safe limits are dramatically exceeded. The greenhouse phenomenon is well-known, as you agree, and it is real, as are the consequences for allowing warming to reach unprecedented rates.
And by the way ALec, the IPCC is not some fly-by-night group. Its reports are the summaries of thousands of peer reviewed studies from all over the world, signed off by every major Academy of Science in the world and finally the participating governments. Their findings are universally accepted, except a by a few, who, for their own mysterious reasons, refuse to be persuaded. I guess you’re one of those few ALec.


This is getting beyond insane. Does anyone in this administration live in the real world?
Are they intentionally trying to destroy the country?

RockyRoad says:
March 28, 2012 at 6:16 am
So it has finally happened–the favorite bumper sticker we mining engineering students used to display on our briefcases while at the U of U in the early ’80′s in defense of our profession and to counter the crazy environmentalism that was gripping the country:
By coincidence starting in 1980 when the NEP was started in Canada a similar bumper sticker was popular.
“The popular western slogan during the NEP – appearing on many bumper stickers – was “Let the Eastern [snip]s freeze in the dark”.”


First, there are no new coal plants on the horizon for free-market business reasons. Natural gas is both cheaper and cleaner than coal. Second, coal plants emit sulfur dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxides, arsenic and many other pollutants. There are real externalized costs to our general health. Third, there will never be a dearth CO2 to support natural cycles. Anyone implying otherwise is an alarmist. Fourth, Obama’s non-mention of CO2 is another spotlight on the broken American political environment and process. Nothing more. And fifth, the current percentage of electricity generated by coal is as irrelevant as percentage of horse-drawn travel in the 1800s. Time and technology changes.