The Clean Power Plan Is Another Big Rock Candy Mountain


K.J. Rodgers
Crownsville, Maryland  


The Clean Power Plan doesn’t accomplish much of anything for climate and emissions, but it does expose environmentalist groups’ very foolish utopian mindset.  

There is an old adage that says “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” It’s sound advice in many ways. You need to know what your competition is doing and understand their mindset to appreciate how they come to choose certain actions and what they’re likely to do next.

When it comes to the biggest opponents of natural gas, pseudo-environmentalist groups, I do not consider them an enemy per se, but I have been following (and trolling) several of their social media accounts to better understand them and their utopian idealism. “Utopia,” of course, was an imaginary place, likely invented by the author of the book to illustrate the foolishness of such schemes. Harry ‘Haywire’ McClintock’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain” where everything is just perfect is the sort of world to which so many of these folks seem to aspire.

Truly understanding these pseudo-environmentalists and deciphering what they are after is tough. One moment they are attacking the EPA. Next, they are attacking EPA budget cuts. Many simply adopt a feel-good posture of “giving everybody a pony” in the model of Bernie Sanders’ politics campaign. They seek validation for what are little more than emotional knee-jerk reactions to real problem and not what is actually working.

The most recent case of this is the EPA’s plan to scrap the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Obama-era plan was developed to cut power plant emissions by 32 percent off 2005 levels by 2030. Together with inexpensive natural gas made possible by the shale revolution, it was one of the catalysts in the fall of coal by helping power companies make the final push to convert, knowing they might have to do so anyway by law to meet these targets.

Clean Power Plan Facing multiple lawsuits from states against the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the plan until lower courts resolved those suits. With Scott Pruitt taking over the EPA, the thought now is to just repeal and replace it with something more realistic.

The CPP was estimated to yield $34 billion in climate and pollution benefits for only $9 billion annually. However, a NERA Economic Consulting study calculated the actual costs of compliance would range closer to $41 and $73 billion a year for a mere 0.02° Celsius reduction.

Projected Emissions without Clean Power Plan

M.J. Bradley & Associates says their calculations prove we can achieve 26% out of the CPP’s 32% goal without the CPP, assuming renewables subsidies stay in place. Mostly, however, the thanks goes to natural gas and its low costs. Such practicality is of little interest to those pseudo-environmentalists who have much bigger political objectives in mind.  Wenonah Hauter, Director of Food & Water Watch, said:

“Trump’s decision to scrap the plan is a shameful hand-out to profit-driven polluters at the expense of our immediate public health and the livable future of our planet,”

If renewables could become focused on turning over profits instead of squeezing money out of taxpayers, then perhaps the goal of 32% could become a reality, but only if natural gas stays on the table as well. As it is, however, Food & Water Watch is more interested in fighting profits and advancing some utopian scheme where they aren’t necessary. She prefers power to profits and government edicts to consumer choices.

We’re supposed to think renewable subsidies can eventually be discontinued as the costs of renewable energy are, they claim, falling so fast that fuel-powered plants can’t compete. The facts tell a far different story with natural gas innovations increasing production and lowering costs ever faster but, If renewables were to become profitable, I would bet we’d see #SolarCityKnew hashtags shortly thereafter as making a profit while saving the world just isn’t done on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

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2 thoughts on “The Clean Power Plan Is Another Big Rock Candy Mountain

  1. The dirty secret which seems like it’s not so much a secret at all but rather something someone cannot say in the news is that much of what is coming out of purported environmental groups today is complete gibberish. The incredulity of Wenonah Hauter and food and water watch , which don’t just fight natural gas but also nuclear energy, is just the tip of the iceberg. The Sierra club is a more widely known and older group with zero ethical standards for behavior and which just received another 60million dollars in their campaign against coal by Michael Bloomberg. Think the Sierra club has an qualms whatsoever with being part of team frack and fighting natural gas and pipelines moving natural gas? No. Think the Sierra club gives a whiff that in multiple states it’s local chapters hock misinformation as an MO? No. Wenonah was a big fan of the clean power plan? Sure she was. Just like Josh Fox right?

    Don’t get me started on the NY media folks either because there is a huge scandal there as well. It’s incompetence and perhaps a genuine mistake when you INITIALLY get the facts wrong . When you refuse to make corrections to errors brought to your attention and I have seen that happen or investigate or tell a story worth telling, we are beyond mere incompetence and into being complicit.


    As of 2005 Natural Gas Fired Power Plants were beginning to exceed Coal-fired power plants. The economics of lower Natural Gas [<$12/MMBTU] – due to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – compelled electric utilities to build new Natural Gas base loaded plants. Clean Power Plan of 2015 demanding Carbon Capture and Sequestration – lacking demonstrated, commercially available technology – was flawed from initiation. Revoking CCP will only allow existing coal-fired power plants to reach their respective useful service life i.e. retirement – maintaining operating labor force [preventing premature job losses]. Based on the energy economics USA coal usage resurface until Natural Gas exceeds $6/MMBTU – not expected for the remainder of this decade.

    Richard W Goodwin West Palm Beach FL 10/15/17

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