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Choking on our own regulations

  • Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Michaele Duke

Last week Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s response to President Obama’s new carbon rule - a proposed EPA regulation aimed at forcing power plants to cut their emission by as much as 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 was grim to say the least. He believes the new regulation will ultimately crumble an already fragile US economy and would be a “dagger in the heart of the American middle class.” McConnell may have good reason to protest as it will likely effect his home state of Kentucky where the coal industry plays a major role in the state’s economy. But he is not alone.

Under the rule (that is expected to be finalized next year), South Carolina’s percentage reduction will be greater than 47 other states according to Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore. “If it stands, this standard will hurt South Carolina’s economy by driving up power costs and driving away industry and the jobs they provide,” said Gore in a press release. Gore said the state-owned utility has cut emissions 23 percent during the past decade. In 2010, South Carolina was one of four states that independently adopted resolutions encouraging adoption of EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations.

Coal is the source behind most of America’s energy and considering there are more than 600 coal plants in the US, the billions needed to comply will surely end up on the citizen’s electric bill.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jo Ann Emerson also provided a statement on the latest round of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions for power plants. “Americans count on affordable and reliable energy to power our communities, promote job and economic growth, and keep costs in line for the basic necessities in our family budgets. New EPA regulations that add to the price of electricity have serious consequences for our communities, jobs and families,” said Emerson in a press release. She went on to say it’s very disappointing and disturbing that the EPA proposed a regulation that goes further than the Clean Air Act allows by taking an ‘outside the fence’ approach to setting the emissions reduction requirements that states must accomplish.

NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states. Emerson says co-ops, such as Santee Electric serve some of America’s communities most sensitive to, and least able to afford, increases in the cost of energy. She added that America’s electric cooperatives are naturally concerned that these regulations will increase electricity prices and force power plant shutdowns, thereby harming the economy and jobs of hard-working Americans.

According to a statement by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the EPA’s proposed rule setting carbon standards for power plants will help protect public health by improving air quality and reducing exposure to particle pollution. The HHS points to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says exposure to particle pollution may cause breathing problems, asthma symptoms to get worse, adverse birth outcomes, lung cancer and early death. “With more than 25 million Americans, including more than 6.5 million children, living with asthma, and countless others suffering from the health effects of carbon pollution and climate change, we must act. Less carbon in the air we breathe protects the health of all Americans,” Sebelius said.

Of course this is all about global warming. In 1992, the Rio Earth Summit provided the framework for global powers to discuss national policies and practices regarding greenhouse emissions. This led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol: the first international treaty creating legally binding goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. So far many developed countries have agreed to cut their emissions; however according to wikepedia.org, 37 parties have stated they may withdraw from the Protocol or not put into legal force a 2012 amendment.

When it comes to global warming, we are bombarded with scary scenarios. A global surface mean temperature anomalies graph developed by the National Climatic Data Center reflects on average, cooler than normal temperatures from 1880 till around 1930 then a gradual increase with the most dramatic increases beginning around 1980. This can be contributed to human population growth during the 20th Century, which in turn impacts the dynamics of the system as well as lends itself to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Something we don’t often hear about if that the Earth experiences natural solar cycles.

These cycles are due to the sun’s energy. The sun undergoes an 11-year sunspot cycle. This cycle along with solar radiation produces variations in energy output, which effect the Earth’s planetary temperatures.

So who are we to believe? In February of this year Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight saying “there is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years.” Moore also said, “If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

In case you’re not familiar with Greenpeace, it is an international environmentalist organization.

I have no answers, however I am disheartened by the fact that no matter what we do, there are other countries that could care less about the environment.

Even if we shut down every coal plant in America, our efforts will go un-noticed as long as other nations like Canada, Australia, and China continue to spew tons of greenhouse gases into the air and India that dump billions of pounds of waste into our oceans.

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