Should We Trust the EPA to Manage Our Electricity Generation and Use?Alan Carlin | August 20, 2015
On August 5 the EPA itself triggered the release of 3 million gallons of toxic mining waste water near Silverton, Colorado. This flood contaminated a tributary of the Colorado River and moved toxic material through four states. Why this happened is unclear and may remain so until those involved are put under oath. So far EPA has not issued an explanation but has admitted responsibility.
Most of the information as to how it happened seems to be coming from the mine owner. He claims that the EPA forced him to give them access, plugged up the mine entrance to keep water from flowing out at the end of last year’s exploratory work, and then removed part of the plug in early August, 2015. In the meantime contaminated water built up in the Gold King Mine. When EPA removed part of the plug without taking any precautions or even gathering information that would help it assess what would happen, the toxic water rushed out and into a local creek.
Two days earlier EPA announced final regulations (which I call the Skyrocketing Rates Power Plan or SRPP, but which EPA calls the “Clean Power Plan” or CPP for obvious reasons) requiring states to decrease CO2 emissions from electricity production and use primarily by increasing the capacity of non-hydro “remewable” (wind and solar) sources of electric power from 4 percent to 28 percent by 2030. European experience suggests that this will increase the average cost of much less reliable electricity by a factor of three or four in the US because of the inherent problems with using such unreliable sources.
Similarities between Silverton and SRPP
Why do I mention the Silverton, Colorado catastrophe and the EPA SRPP regulations in the same post? Because both have something in common: EPA intervened in an issue where some local authorities did not want them to intervene, did not think about what it was doing, did not use critical information it should have gathered, and created a catastrophe or has the potential to soon do so.
In the SRPP CO2 reduction regulations EPA told the states that they must meet entirely arbitrary CO2 emission reduction goals by passing new laws and regulations to govern the production and use of electricity, a vital necessity in the modern world. If EPA has substantially overestimated the capability of wind and solar to meet the states’ needs or substantially underestimated the cost, there will be enormous adverse effects on the US economy and particularly on people with limited incomes.
EPA has usurped the long-held responsibility of the states to regulate power production and use within their borders. As discussed in my new book, Environmentalism Gone Mad (available from the book website), the SRPP regulations are pointless, astronomically expensive, and will provide no measurable benefits to anyone except the wind and solar industries. So why should the American public assume that EPA will be able to do a better job than the states and the marketplace have done? Determining how power is produced and used is far more difficult than cleaning up mining runoff and EPA has next to no experience with it, in contrast to acid mine drainage, which it has dealt with for over 40 years.
If states are so foolish as to comply with the SRPP regulations it is easy to predict what will happen. It is very clear that EPA has overestimated what solar and wind can do. Even a cursory review of what has happened in Western Europe should have raised major warning flags. Bill Gates, not known for foolish or outlandish statements (except maybe how soon Windows would become available many years ago), says that wind and solar sources “aren’t a viable solution for reducing CO2 levels” and that power coming mainly from solar and wind energy “would be beyond astronomical.“ It is also very clear that EPA has greatly underestimated the cost of SRPP. It even claims that the regulation will save consumers money, as discussed previously. So there are already indications that the EPA has not gathered the relevant information or thought about what it means.
Turning the Direction of the Electricity Supply System over to EPA Risks Serious Economic Consequences
We currently have a functioning electricity generation and distribution system that meets most of our needs (despite EPA efforts to weaken it by its now overturned mercury regulations) at a fraction of the cost now paid by our Western European competitors who have followed Climate-Industrial Complex or CIC (discussed in Environmentalism Gone Mad) demands to greatly expand “renewable” sources. German rates now average three times higher than US electricity rates, for example. The King Gold Mine has apparently been leaking contaminated water for many years. This was and is a problem. But in trying to improve a low level problem, EPA turned it into a catastrophe in a field it has long experience with. In the case of the SRPP, it has decided to use a low level or more likely a non-problem (rising atmospheric CO2 levels), as an excuse to rebuild the very important US electricity generation and distribution system, just like parts of Western Europe have already done.
In the SRPP case, EPA has simply used the “renewable” mantra of their political captors, the CIC, without much thought or understanding. The results are quite predictable, just as they were in Colorado, unless the SRPP is overturned or rescinded before major damage is done.
Much more detailed discussion and references concerning the proposed SRPP can be found in Environmentalism Gone Mad.