Coal Plant Closing? Nothing to See Here. Move Along.
(cross-posted from Life In GreenLand)
Our good friends at Grist are working hard to deny the impact of the Obama Administration’s regulatory zealotry on the energy industry. Their latest attempts to play shell games involves the closing of the GenOn power plant in Alexandria, Virginia.
It provided cheap power and polluted like hell; now it’s dead. The end.
Who does GenOn blame for the closure? Not Obama, unless “Obama” is a brand name of natural gas.
The latter piece of that quote takes a statement from the company and simply discounts it, but more on that in a moment.
What really bothers me about this Grist piece is the depiction of the plant. You see, I lived, literally, right next door to that plant for the first three years I was in DC. My balcony overlooked the plant and the walkway behind my condo ran right alongside the coal pile used to feed the burners. Not once, in three years, did I ever see, smell, or in any way experience the pollution they’re describing. I slept with my windows open, had friends over for barbecues, and otherwise *lived* not 300 feet from what Grist portrays as a horrible, pollution-belching monstrosity.
So take their depiction with a giant grain of salt.
As for the quote, here is what the company spokesperson said – which Grist somehow simultaneously quotes AND ignores.
The changing price of fuel, particularly natural gas, coming changes in federal environmental law and the cost of updating the aged structure all played a role in last year’s decision to close the plant, she said.
Yes, they mentioned natural gas, but two of three factors are directly attributable to Obama. That’s a fact Grist ignores.
The changes in federal environmental law refers to a number of recent EPA decisions, but given they decided to close the plant a year ago, the most likely would be the changes to the Cross State Pollution Rules issued by the EPA. The last draft was so egregious a court has already found the EPA overreached and order them to rewrite the rules for the third time.
The cross state pollution rule, you see, holds power plants responsible for cleaning the air in neighboring states if emissions drift across state lines. The EPA went so far as to make them reduce the emissions to neighboring states by more than the level they contributed.
The fact that the EPA has been rebuked does not mean they won’t try again. Their regulation of new coal plants is so stringent it makes construction impractical and unaffordable.
As for the cost of updating, that too is a direct result of the EPA and its requirements for upgrades.
Despite the misdirection Grist attempts, the fact is the cost of natural gas is a variable in the decision only to a degree. Were the EPA not taking every opportunity to significantly increase the cost and regulatory burden on coal plants, natural gas may not be as attractive as it is.
Cost 0f natural gas is a factor, but so are the policies of this Administration.