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.
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.
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.