|HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN|
By Bob Weaver
West Virginian's should be happy today, the "War on Coal" is over.
The Trump administration is repealing the Clean Power Plan, a 2015 regulation that sharply curbed greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and a key part of President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.
Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt said the prior administration had overreached in enacting the rule, which pushed U.S. power plants to cut fossil fuel emissions by a third from 2005 levels by 2030.
Most West Virginia politicos, many with deep ties to coal in both parties, have used the "War on Coal" slogan to get re-elected, with some hopes that coal money will once again bolster tax coffers for the state and county governments, and return the state to "King Coal" employment.
West Virginia has shown little interest in developing clean air technology which could have been a driving economic force for the Mountain State and jobs, still clinging to 150 years of shipping extractables with out-of-state holders.
“The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said. “In Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan.”
Environmental groups strongly opposed Pruitt’s rollback plan.
“This is a reckless retreat that will hurt our children and grandchildren. The real-world results will be more asthma attacks, more health problems, more air and water pollution, and a more dangerous future for our families,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in addition to fueling Climate Change.
Additionally, with political spin, most West Virginians fail to accept that the decline in coal miners jobs has been driven by a half-century of mechanization and robots and a basic market shift away from the kind of coal West Virginia produces.
FOX GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE
The announcement is no surprise from Pruitt or the Trump administration. In April, President Trump signed an executive order calling for a review and possible repeal of the plan, which was on hold anyway pending a legal challenge from 26 states.
Pruitt has long kept close business ties to the fossil fuel industry. Since 2002, his various campaigns for state senate and attorney general of Oklahoma received over $300,000 from that industry. While he was attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA 14 times and had fossil fuel groups help draft letters he sent to oppose federal energy regulation.
President Trump placed him in charge of the environment.
As part of the federal agency rule-making process, the EPA must now hold public hearings; solicit public comments; and respond to legal, scientific, and economic objections to the rule change.
The attorneys general of New York and California, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Resource Defense Council have announced plans to challenge Pruitt’s decision in court.
CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX?
When it was introduced, the Clean Power Plan met with praise from environmental groups and disapproval from fossil fuel proponents. It set state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions from power plants, with an ultimate goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent from their 2005 levels over many years.
To achieve these targets, power plants had to invest in new renewable technologies or make their current facilities cleaner and more energy-efficient - the so-called "clean coal technology" no longer a need.
Withdrawing from the Clean Power Plan will make it harder for the U.S. to comply with the landmark Paris climate agreement, which required that the U.S. reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The goal of the Paris agreement was to decrease global carbon emissions in a bid to cap global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
President Trump said the U.S. will formally withdraw from the 2015 accord — under which 195 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions — but has also said he might try to “renegotiate” it, although he has continued to say Climate Change is a hoax.
Coal-fired and natural gas power plans account for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ reports that dozens of coal-fired units at power plants are still slated for closure over the next decade, and more than 120 others are listed as “noncompetitive.”
While victory is being declared in the "War against coal," the group says “Our analysis shows that the transition away from coal over the past decade is poised to continue, thanks primarily to market forces.”
“Market forces, driven by natural gas, are the primary cause of this shift toward cleaner sources of energy,” says the UCS report, titled “A Dwindling Role for Coal.”
West Virginia will likely deny the opportunity of becoming a state that prospers on clean technology.