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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 01 2014, @03:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the its-your-mess-you-clean-it-up dept.

In a 6-to-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate air pollution from coal-burning power plants across state lines handing the Obama administration what is arguably its biggest environmental victory in its effort to use the Clean Air Act as a tool to fight global warming and reduce carbon emissions. "Today's Supreme Court decision means that millions of Americans can breathe easier," says Fred Krupp, president for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which was a party to the case.

At issue was whether the EPA could use what are known as good-neighbor rules to regulate emissions that cross state borders. In short, the Supreme Court ruled that a power plant in Ohio whose emissions blow east into New York is liable for the damage caused there, even if it's hundreds of miles away from the source. Utilities must now weigh the high costs of cleaning up their coal operations against simply shutting them down. Given the cheap price of natural gas, the decision is likely to push utilities into building new natural gas-fired power plants. By 2020, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates, 60 gigawatts of coal-fired power production will be retiredabout 20 percent of the total amount of coal-fired capacity in the U.S. If anything, the Supreme Court will quicken that pace of retirements.

Coal is nonetheless expected to make up 32 percent of US electricity production in 2040 and coal's outlook is even better abroad, where China, India, and other rapidly expanding economies are eager customers for the inexpensive fuel. World coal consumption is expected to rise at an average rate of 1.3 percent per year through 2040, according to EIA. Republicans in Congress denounced the decision. "The administration's overreaching regulation will drive up energy costs and threaten jobs and electric reliability," say Representatives Fred Upton and Edward Whitfield. "We cannot allow E.P.A.'s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.'s onslaught of costly rules."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday May 01 2014, @07:05PM

    by frojack (1554) on Thursday May 01 2014, @07:05PM (#38611) Journal


    The whole article and therefore the summary are about two different things.

    Further, the two mentioned pollutants are ALREADY scrub-able and scrubbers are already installed in ALL new plants, as well as most of the older ones.

    This ruling is leverage to get the few remaining hold outs to install the scrubbers:

    The ruling may prompt utilities such as Southern Co. (SO), Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Luminant and American Electric Power Co. (AEP) to shutter coal-fired power plants or invest billions of dollars in new pollution-control systems.

    CO2 emissions are also sequester-able [], and this is done at 120 plants in the US already, but it is a lot more costly than scrubbing. Note that sequestration has NOT YET been widely applied to most coal or Gas generation utilities, even the newest ones.

    With scrubbing, and sequestration, costly as they may be, Coal fired generation could be around for a long time, because the only remaining issue is fly-ash, and renewable energy is still hovering around 9% [] of the demand.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Interesting=3, Total=3
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Friday May 02 2014, @12:24AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 02 2014, @12:24AM (#38697) Journal

    CO2 emissions are also sequester-able

    Except the cost of CO2 sequestration is 25-40% [] of the total energy output of the energy plant.
    Add to this the initial investment and the sale price of the energy to end consumers is going to higher.
    Think also that the storage for the captured CO2 is (as anything in this world) limited and certainly the CO2 needs more storage space than the coal that was originally burned. It is easy to predict that the price for sequestering will increase.
    One on top of the other, the price of coal energy is going to increase.

    With scrubbing, and sequestration, costly as they may be, Coal fired generation could be around for a long time, because the only remaining issue is fly-ash, and renewable energy is still hovering around 9% of the demand.

    May be much shorter than you think.
    The price of renewables goes down by the day (5 kW solar panels - installed on your roof and including the grid connection - is priced to around $7k in Australia). More and more people will be pushed by the prices towards renewables, to the point in which one can speak of the "utilities spiral of death" - visibly happening in Germany [] - 16 percent of German companies are now energy self-sufficient.
    Let me say it once again: one in six German companies don't buy a net energy any more

    Another fact: from 2008 to 2013, the top 20 european energy utilities have lost half of their stock value []=0.5T$ (yeah, I know, GFC and all that. Wouldn't you think the investors should prefer some stocks for companies with a solid earning during crisis?)