The Cost

The E.P.A. is set to announce new carbon emission rules soon and when it does, it promises to ignite a political storm in Washington.

Electricity generation accounts for 1/3 of the carbon emissions in the U.S.  The majority of those emissions are from coal-fired plants. The majority of the electricity used in the eastern half of the U.S. comes from coal.

Some are predicting that new regulations to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants will increase the cost of electricity, leading to opposition from not only pro-industry and pro-business forces, but consumer groups, labor unions and anti-poverty advocates as well.  The pro-environment side may well find itself in a tough fight on this one.

Given that there is no immediate solution that doesn’t (at least temporarily) have the potential to increase the cost of electricity (the damage to the environment being an externality that isn’t factored into the cost), this is going to be a hard sell.

For more on this:




13 comments on “The Cost

  1. Jeff says:

    Yep, same old same old. A pissing contest and we’ll all continue to suffer. The emperors will be fiddling while the empire burns. Climate change? What’s that?


  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, this issue is really a quagmire, isn’t it. We all would like to improve the way we treat the environment but to change the entire energy structure of a country at the simple wave of a pen is, in my humble opinion, a devastating way to do it. The changes need to start heading in a better way and slowly change. We didn’t get to this point by quick change. Slow and steady change is better than fast and devastating. Well, that’s my thoughts any way.

    I believe if just one solar electric panel was required on each new house built that in 20 or 30 years a huge relief on the electrical structure would be accomplished. Technology that hooks into the electrical grid is not all that costly. The cost of just one panel compared to the cost of even a now low end house would be minuscule. Start small and plan for the long term change.

    Obama’s regulations are all well and good but what I want to know is when he will try to regulate the co2 emissions from volcanos? One volcano will void all the EPA regulations for years.

    Have a great cost aware day.


    • Bill says:

      This administration has been a real disappointment to a lot of environmentalists. I’m not very surprised, given how cozy Mr. Obama has been with the coal industry in the past.

      Who really knows if anything we do now is too late (or too little). My wife grew up in L.A. and when she was a kid they regularly had smog alerts, and on those days weren’t allowed to have recess and people were warned not to go outside. She says it was a rare day when you could see the mountains. Thanks to the Clean Air Act and lead free gasoline those days are in the past now. Who knows what the damage would have been if people were still breathing air like that.

      It’s really difficult to convince people to bear cost now for the sake of our children and grandchildren (as the ever-growing national debt shows). And it won’t help win you any elections these days either.

      In the long run I have to hope we’ll get things right. But I’m not optimistic about the chances these regs will survive the political onslaught that’s sure to follow.


  3. EllaDee says:

    Good luck… the politics in Australia around the Carbon Tax, emissions rules, IPART approved electricity pricing – – increases of 60% – has been dubious… but apparently “The carbon tax has proved to be successful in reducing emissions sectors subject to the pricing mechanism were 1.0% lower. Nine months after the introduction of the pricing scheme, Australia’s emissions of carbon dioxide from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low, with coal generation down 11% from 2008 to 2009.”

    But also apparently “If federal Labor would now get out of the way and allow (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott to abolish the carbon tax, price relief for NSW households in 2014-15 would be around 10 per cent”

    My concern over the potential environmental impacts and obstacles of solar energy and solar panels isn’t always popular. It’s still new technology, standards aren’t the same worldwide and should be monitored, and further developed.

    There are “environmental impacts of solar energy [that] come from producing the solar panels. Production of these panels consumes substantial amounts of energy and produces waste water and hazardous by-products which are released to the air during the manufacturing process”. It’s believed “In some cases, producing electricity by solar panels releases more greenhouse gases than producing electricity by gas or even coal”.

    And with variable life expectancies what do we do with them when their life is over – they need to be recycled.

    The only viable answer is cut energy consumption.


    • Bill says:

      I didn’t realize y’all were already going through what seems to be on the horizon for us.

      I don’t favor coercion and the use of violence (which is inherent in the enforcement of any law). My ideal would be for society to reach a consensus on what needs to be done and to proceed with doing it on an individual basis. I’m convinced that personal consumption decisions are the most important. As more and more people choose to reduce consumption and make socially responsible decisions, the world will become an increasingly better place. Of course industry has power, money and influence that no individual can have. It doesn’t seem like a fair fight sometimes.


      • EllaDee says:

        The previous government was elected on the basis of a ‘no carbon tax’ promise. The incumbent government ousted them on the back of that lie, and the promise of repealing the carbon tax – not happened yet – and ‘no new taxes’. Not hard to guess what their proposed budget is based on…


  4. Working with and for the American Lung Association, I spent much of my work life involved in the battle for clean air, Bill… starting in the early 70s. Everyone has a role to play. For over 40 years I’ve heard industry argue against taking steps because it cuts into their profits. Instead they have insisted on dumping their pollution into our air, and waterways, and ground. Sadly, the only way they have ever seemed to respond is when forced to. I wish it were otherwise. –Curt


    • Bill says:

      I agree.

      For-profit corporations are vehicles for maximizing profit and limiting liability. They cannot by definition make ethical decisions. I spent many years representing them and have many times defended the position that corporate directors have a duty to act in the best interest of the shareholders at all times. Doing things that decrease corporate profits is a breach of the directors’ fiduciary duties (and will cause the corporation to lose ground in the competition of the marketplace). Corporations are excellent vehicles for maximizing profits, but due to their amoral nature, they cannot be counted on “do the right thing.” So I have no objection whatsoever to setting the rules by which they must play as a condition for allowing their existence.

      If the air is to be protected, real flesh and blood people have to be the persons who make that happen.

      Thanks for your years of service to a fine and worthy cause.


      • I’ve never been bothered by the concept of ‘making a profit’ Bill. It is the maximizing of profit that has always bothered me. It hides a world of sin. I have never been convinced that a company focusing on immediate profits acts in the long term interest of the company. –Curt


  5. Jeff says:

    If you haven’t seen this video, it’s a must-watch as it shows how Texan Christians are dealing with the drought in that state.


    • Bill says:

      Deep sigh.
      As sad as this is, it is important to keep in mind that it shows how some Texan Christians are dealing with it.
      I appreciate that the video also included Christians in Texas who are fighting climate change.
      I once had a friend–an educated man–tell me that anyone who says global warming is occurring doesn’t understand God.
      It wasn’t always this way, however. Here’s a post I wrote about it:
      This is addressed directly in the video (and thanks for sharing it). Now it is considered only a political opinion, not a scientific fact. It is political suicide (as the video points out) to even mention it (except to ridicule the notion).


      • Jeff says:

        “…some Texan Christians …”. True, that. I thought of that after I posted the comment. I don’t want to come across as anti-Christian or anti-religion, because I’m not. But the power of ideology to direct human actions is enormous and I think it is important to recognize that. I think many people already know that. However, I don’t think many people, particularly zealots of any persuasion, realize that Ideology is socially constructed – it does not consist of ineluctable Truth. Because ideology is socially constructed, it can be changed. Will it be changed in time to ward off greater and greater peril? We’ll find out, I reckon. I’m not terribly optimistic …


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s