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Coal Power Projected To INCREASE This Summer – Biden Betrayals Have Consequences


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Forecast U.S. coal generation will rise to 289 billion kWh this summer, representing an increase in generation share from 22% last summer to 26% this summer.  ~~~ Source: US Energy Information Administration

This post is for all those who believe that Joe Biden is victoriously winning the so called “war on coal” declared by President “All of the Above – record fossil production” – Obama, who bragged (before a photo-op stack of pipe):

Under my administration, America is producing more oil than at any time in the last eight years. We’ve opened up new areas for exploration. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some,” Obama said (source)

You may have come to that conclusion about Biden by all the favorable press and environmental group cheerleading for the Biden Executive Order “Pause” on fossil extraction on federal land.

However, as we wrote, the Associated Press exposed that lie, read the AP story:

Similarly, the press recently touted the Biden EPA’s decision to reverse the Trump EPA rollback of coal power water pollution requirements. Trump rolled back the Obama administration’s EPA regulations, see the Washington Post’s story:

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it will set stricter requirements for how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater full of arsenic, lead and mercury — a major source of toxic water pollution in rivers, lakes and streams near electric generators across the country, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania.

In a new rulemaking process that kicked off Monday, President Biden’s team is aiming to undo one of the Trump administration’s major regulatory rollbacks. Last year, the Trump EPA weakened rules forcing many coal plants to treat wastewater with modern filtration methods and other technology before it reached waterways that provide drinking water for thousands of Americans.

But, just like the initial reporting on the Biden “pause”, the media got spun and got the story exactly backward again. Biden EPA is NOT setting stricter standards and they are NOT undoing Trump EPA’s rollback.

Even the WaPo was forced to report that:

Yet the decision upset some environmental advocates who say the Biden team is not working fast enough. The EPA will not try to revert immediately to the stricter standards set under President Barack Obama in 2015, allowing the weaker Trump-era rule to remain in effect.

That means many coal plants will be allowed to send polluted wastewater into rivers and streams for several more years while the agency writes the new regulations. The EPA expects to propose new requirements on power plants’ wastewater by next fall, with a finalized rule expected by the end of Biden’s term at the latest.

“Several more years“?

It will take a lot longer than “the end of Biden’s term” for EPA to propose, adopt, and incorporate the new stricter requirements in water pollution control permits for individual facilities. After at least a 4 year rulemaking process, assuming the EPA rules survive virtually certain legal challenge, the EPA has to incorporate these new requirements in individual coal power plant permits. EPA can do this either via unilaterally “calling up” and modifying individual permits or by incorporating the new requirements in individual permits as they expire and are renewed. This all will take well over a decade, and it is likely that the coal plants will shut down due to economic conditions long before any new EPA water pollution control requirements are imposed.

“Stricter requirements”? Nope.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Biden EPA had better regulatory options.

Instead the Biden EPA could have:

1) deployed EPA’s power under the Clean Water Act to impose “water quality based effluent limits” that are far stricter than the Obama EPA’s “technology based effluent” requirements. Most receiving waters are “impaired” for toxic chemicals found in coal power plant discharges (e.g. mercury). Dischargers to “impaired waters” must comply with WQBELs. Green groups should sue EPA now. or

2) sought a judicial order/compliance schedule or entered into a settlement agreement with environmental groups to mandate an accelerated “emergency rule”  timetable to restore the Obama EPA requirements while the Biden EPA developed stricter regulatory standards.

Instead of these better alternatives  the Biden EPA adopted the Trump EPA standards and did not seek judicial enforcement or a compliance schedule.

By doing so, EPA injected at least a decade of delay in actually implementing stricter clean water standards on the coal power industry and undermined the strength and enforceability of those standards.

This gives the coal industry a huge break and the “regulatory certainty” they seek.

Not only that, but the Biden EPA not only will continue but actually praised the Trump EPA “rollback” regulations as “near term progress”!:

“Really, our rationale around that is that otherwise these coal power plants would be operating under very outdated 1982 regulations,” said Fox, the EPA water chief. “So essentially what we’re doing today through this action is we’re locking in near-term progress.”

Reminder: what EPA actually “locked in” was the Trump EPA rollback, certainly not “near term progress”

The EPA will not try to revert immediately to the stricter standards set under President Barack Obama in 2015, allowing the weaker Trump-era rule to remain in effect.

So, this amounts to another Biden concession to Big Coal.

And I don’t think the timing of this EPA announcement is an accident.

The EPA announcement comes at a time when Sen. Joe Manchin (who Chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with jurisdiction over climate, energy and infrastructure legislation) is demanding concessions for coal in the Biden infrastructure and climate legislative initiatives.

The Biden White House depends on Manchin’s vote in a 50-50 Senate and there is no way that they would be stupid enough to allow EPA to stick a finger in his eye at a critical point in these sensitive negations.

So, what really happened was that the Biden White House likely directed EPA to issue this formal Federal Register public notice now to lock in and provide concrete assurances to Manchin that EPA would not ratchet down on Big Coal.

Today, EPA signed a Federal Register Notice to announce its intent to initiate this rulemaking process. Because this rulemaking could result in more stringent ELGs that are the subject of petitioners’ claims in litigation pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice—in coordination with EPA—is filing a request to the Court to hold the litigation in abeyance. The agency intends to issue a proposed rule for public comment in the fall of 2022.

Recall that EPA review and likely reversal of the Trump EPA coal rollback was directed in Biden’s Executive Orders, so everyone paying attention knew this huge decision was coming. EPA just provided a concrete assurance to Manchin and his coal buddies.

So, after the collapse of the Biden “pause” and the Biden Supreme Court brief in support of the gas and pipeline industry,  now followed by the EPA dirty water coal concession, no wonder that the US Energy Information Administration is projecting coal share of electric power to increase this summer (see above chart – or is it a histogram?).

BTW, back in March, we predicted and wrote about the Supreme Court brief debacle shortly after the brief was filed, see:

Watch what Biden does, not what he says. Climate betrayals have consequences.

“I’m not banning fracking” ~~~ Joe Biden

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