Tag Archives: Clean Air Act

King Coal Outdistancing Wind/Solar/Hydro/Other Renewables

From MasterResource

By Kennedy Maize 

“The historic trends contradict the conventional view that fossil generation has been declining, while renewables are gaining. According to the data, ‘The share of low carbon fuels (nuclear, hydro, wind & solar) peaked at 36% in 1995, coinciding with COP1 [the first UN conference of parties].’”

In the worldwide battle for electric generation, coal isn’t down and out. It isn’t even on the ropes. According to World Energy Data (formerly BP’s data collection report), coal is still the champ.

In 2022, coal accounted for 35.4% of global electric generation, followed by natural gas (22.7%), hydro (14.9%), nuclear (9.2%), wind (7.2%), solar (4.5%), geothermal, biomass, and other renewables (3.6%).

The historic trends contradict the conventional view that fossil generation has been declining, while renewables are gaining. According to the data, “The share of low carbon fuels (nuclear, hydro, wind & solar) peaked at 36% in 1995, coinciding with COP1 [the first UN conference of parties].”

“Over the following 17 years, from 1996 to 2012, fossil fuels gained share, mainly due to the increased share of gas and the declining share of nuclear and hydro. As wind and solar then became significant, this trend reversed.

“Despite this, and the hosting of twenty-seven UN climate conferences, the share of electricity generation by low carbon fuels in 2022 was only roughly equivalent to the peak in 1995.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Coal Market Update, coal demand for power generation and steel making ”reached a new all-time high in 2022.” IEA added, “Coal trade in 2023 is heading back to 2019 volumes.”

IEA noted, “Despite lukewarm economic prospects, global supplies grew by 8% in 2022 to a record 8 634 Mt. The three largest producers – China, India, and Indonesia – each reached all-time highs in 2022. Coal production was mainly boosted by China and India, which rapidly increased domestic production to mitigate exposure to high market prices after a first price spike in October 2021.”

IEA added, “Global coal production is expected to grow further in 2023, driven by an expected strong ramp-up of production in China, India, and Indonesia in the first six months, offsetting declines in the United States and the European Union. Russian coal production is estimated to have recovered somewhat in the first half of 2023.”

In a statement accompanying its report, Paris-based IEA said that “by region, coal demand fell faster than previously expected in the first half of this year in the United States and the European Union — by 24% and 16%, respectively, However, demand from the two largest consumers, China and India, grew by over 5% during the first half, more than offsetting declines elsewhere.”

China is the coal heavyweight. Greenpeace East Asia recently reported from Beijing that China approved “At least 50.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power across China in the first six months of 2023.” China is also developing world-leading amounts of wind and solar generation, but Greenpeace East Asia’s Gao Yuhe said he feared the coal focus would detract from building energy storage. “We see a lot of new wind and solar and a lot of new coal. Our major concern now, aside from the obvious emissions problem, is that energy storage remains sidelined despite the key role it needs to play in the near future. Building renewable energy but no energy storage is like building wheels but no axel,” Yuhe said.

OilPrice.com commented, “China is building coal-fired power plants at a record clip as it tries to counter the effects of drought on hydropower production.” China is also the hydro heavyweight, Asia’s largest producer, “accounting for 30% of global capacity.” China “has recorded a worrying 7.2% drop in output so far this year while India, the second largest producer, has seen production decline 5%.”

OilPrice.com adds, “China is not the only country whose hydropower sector has been hit by climate change. Electricity generation from hydro power sources has fallen quite dramatically in Europe, North America and Asia in 2023 compared to the corresponding period in 2022 with overall global hydro generation now 3% below the 2019-21 average. Reduced supplies of non-emitting hydro power in these regions means that utilities are increasingly deploying other sources of dispatchable but more polluting power, such as coal and natural gas, to meet electricity demand.”

U.S. hydro from Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado has also been drought stricken, leading to a 17% decline in hydropower production.

As Forbes observes, “In the U.S., coal demand has been on a downward trend for about 15 years. There have been three significant drivers behind this decline.” The first is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which, starting in 2008 has revolutionized natural gas production. The second is the rise in solar and wind power, driven largely by lower costs and government incentives at federal and state levels. Contributing has been increased federal regulation of coal-fired power plants, including the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which have driven up the costs of burning coal. But these U.S. developments have little impact on what’s happening in the rest of the world, as the U.S. consumes less than 7% of the world’s coal production.

Biden’s New Emissions Control Standards Prove EVs are a Tough Sell

From Watts Up With That?

From Heartland Daily News

By Mandy Gunasekara

The Biden administration released new emissions control standards for vehicles. Billed as the “most ambitious climate regulations” ever, they have captured headlines, but technical realities and high costs have both rules headed straight for a brick wall.

The light-duty category covers cars, trucks, and vans, and requires 67% of all new car sales to be electric by 2032. The heavy-duty category covers 18-wheelers, buses, and other work-related vehicles and requires half of new buses and a quarter of new truck sales to be electric by 2032. For comparison, last year, electric vehicle sales made up 5.8% of new car sales and less than 2% for heavier trucks. These proposed standards are not ambitious but rather represent a new level of regulatory lunacy.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA administrator to set vehicle regulations aimed at reducing pollutants from light-duty vehicles that negatively impact public health and the environment. In setting these standards, the administrator must take into consideration the feasibility of new technologies as well as costs. Team Biden promised as much when they committed to establishing a “data-driven” goal. But it’s hard to see how any serious expert would support the notion that, in less than five years, when car companies will begin designing the model year 2032 vehicles, they can develop enough electric vehicles, procure the massive amount of critical minerals needed for the batteries, and convince skeptical consumers to massively shift their purchasing priorities to meet this goal.

Despite numerous federally sponsored incentives, electric vehicle adoption rates remain low for a variety of reasons. Even with major advancements in EV technology, recharging batteries still takes hours, while filling up gas tanks takes minutes. Coupled with a limited network of charging stations, EVs continue to be a hard sell. Even the majority of current EV owners still rely on gas-powered vehicles—78% own a second gas-powered car to supplement their transportation needs.

Future demand isn’t there either. A new AP-NORC poll found only 19% of Americans are “very likely or extremely likely” to go electric. Gallup similarly poured water on the enthusiasm claim, suggesting Americans are “slow to adopt electric vehicles.” More troubling for EV backers: Even if this push was possible, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasted just 9% of U.S. vehicles would be electric by 2050.

The administration displays tone deafness by touting expensive alternatives to reliable gas-powered cars. Many Americans are struggling to afford eggs and meat in the inflationary economy. It’s highly unlikely lower and middle-income folks are planning to purchase a car with an average cost of $54,000. The availability of taxpayer subsidies doesn’t change that equation. To date, most EV drivers are in households that make at least $150,000 per year or more. In states like Mississippi, where the median income is around $50,000, EVs are cost-prohibitive and regulations like the proposed Biden standards will only make those costs go up.

One of the nation’s leading auto manufacturing groups called the proposal “aggressive” and “unprecedented” even for them—suggesting the administration is going too far too fast. Their statements should be heavily considered given the industry has already invested billions to expand vehicle electrification. Although the industry has adopted the transition narrative, they are rightfully concerned with the expedited timeline and unrealistic expectations in the current proposal.

Despite serious technical hurdles and overwhelming preference by consumers for gas-powered vehicles, Team Biden seems done with the carrot approach and is using a regulatory stick to force its all-EV future on Americans. The courts may once again be the saving grace.

Critics have an opportunity to present legal arguments against the EPA. The biggest legal elephant in the room is the West Virginia v. EPA decision that invoked the “major questions” doctrine. Specifically, the Supreme Court made clear that agencies must point to “clear Congressional authorization” if they take actions of “vast economic or political significance.” One can argue in this instance that the EPA does not have the ability to restructure the entire transportation industry in the same way the agency did not have the ability to redesign entire energy markets in the West Virginia case.

The current rules, as proposed, have numerous technical and legal vulnerabilities. They also stand to undermine environmental progress as Americans will undoubtedly settle on driving older cars longer instead of amassing serious debt to acquire a new, less reliable car. As a result, the reach of new technologies and the affiliated benefits such as reduced pollution and safer roads will fail to materialize.

Mandy Gunasekara is the director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Energy and Conservation and previously served as Chief-of-Staff at the U.S. EPA. Follow her on Twitter at @MississippiMG

Originally published by RealClearEnergy. Republished with permission.

To read more about new emissions standards, click here.

To read more about Biden’s EV push, click here.

EPA proposes emissions standards that could kill coal, and cripple gas OFFICIAL EPA RELEASE



As China and India build coal plants as fast as their economies will go, the Biden Administration released plans to require carbon capture using unaffordable technology that does not really exist.  Will this carbon power grab survive judicial review?  Read EPA’s full press release:

EPA Proposes New Carbon Pollution Standards for Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants to Tackle the Climate Crisis and Protect Public Health

New proposed standards for coal and new natural gas fired power plants would avoid more than 600 million metric tons of CO2 pollution, while also preventing 300,000 asthma attacks and 1,300 premature deaths in 2030 alone

May 11, 2023

Contact Information

EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON  – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new carbon pollution standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants that will protect public health, reduce harmful pollutants and deliver up to $85 billion in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades.

The proposal for coal and new natural gas power plants would avoid up to 617 million metric tons of total carbon dioxide (CO2) through 2042, which is equivalent to reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles, roughly half the cars in the United States. Through 2042, EPA estimates the net climate and health benefits of the standards on new gas and existing coal-fired power plants are up to $85 billion.

The proposals would also result in cutting tens of thousands of tons of particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide, harmful air pollutants that are known to endanger people’s health, especially in communities that for too long have disproportionally shouldered the burden of high pollution and environmental injustice. In 2030 alone, the proposed standards would prevent:

  • approximately 1,300 premature deaths;
  • more than 800 hospital and emergency room visits;
  • more than 300,000 cases of asthma attacks;
  • 38,000 school absence days;
  • 66,000 lost workdays.

“By proposing new standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, EPA is delivering on its mission to reduce harmful pollution that threatens people’s health and wellbeing,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s proposal relies on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future. Alongside historic investment taking place across America in clean energy manufacturing and deployment, these proposals will help deliver tremendous benefits to the American people—cutting climate pollution and other harmful pollutants, protecting people’s health, and driving American innovation.”

Consistent with EPA’s traditional approach to establishing pollution standards under the Clean Air Act, the proposed limits and guidelines would require ambitious reductions in carbon pollution based on proven and cost-effective control technologies that can be applied directly to power plants. They also provide owners and operators of power plants with ample lead time and substantial compliance flexibilities, allowing power companies and grid operators to make sound long-term planning and investment decisions, and supporting the power sector’s ability to continue delivering reliable and affordable electricity. EPA’s analysis found that power companies can implement the standards with a negligible impact on electricity prices, well within the range of historical fluctuations.

Together with other recent EPA actions to address health-harming pollution from the power sector, today’s proposed rule delivers on the Administration’s commitment to reduce pollution from the power sector while providing long-term regulatory certainty and operational flexibility. In addition, EPA and the Department of Energy recently signed a memorandum of understanding to support grid reliability and resiliency at every stage as the agency advances efforts to reduce pollution, protect public health, and deliver environmental and economic benefits for all.

President Biden’s policy agenda has already kicked off a clean energy and manufacturing boom across the country and is adding momentum for technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and clean hydrogen. Today, thanks to this progress, the power sector has a broad set of tools to deploy clean, affordable energy, take advantage of ready-to-go advanced pollution reduction technologies, create and retain good-paying union jobs, and reduce energy costs for families and businesses. EPA took account of this significant technologic and economic progress in developing the proposed rule and anticipates that power companies will take advantage of these tools, and trends, when determining how to most cost-effectively meet the proposed standards and emission guidelines.

The technology-based standards EPA is proposing include:

  • Strengthening the current New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired)
  • Establishing emission guidelines for states to follow in limiting carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel-fired steam generating EGUs (including coal, oil and natural gas-fired units)
  • Establishing emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired)

Based on a separate analysis, EPA is projecting the proposed standards for existing gas-fired plants and the third phase of the NSPS could achieve up to 407 million metric tons of CO2 emission reductions. As EPA works to finalize the rulemaking, the agency will complete additional advanced modeling, aligning methodologies across the rulemaking and considering real-world scenarios within the power sector to best understand how components of the rule impact each other.

As required by section 111 of the Clean Air Act, these proposed standards and emission guidelines reflect the best system of emission reduction (BSER) that has been demonstrated to improve the emissions performance of the sources, taking into account costs, energy requirements, and other factors. In developing these proposed carbon pollution standards, EPA considered a range of technologies including CCS, utilizing low-GHG hydrogen, and adopting highly efficient generation technologies.

Installation of controls such as CCS for coal and gas plants, and low-GHG hydrogen co-firing for gas plants are more cost-effective for power plants that operate at greater capacity, more frequently, or over longer time periods. The proposed standards and guidelines take this into account by establishing standards for different subcategories of power plants according to unit characteristics such as their capacity, their intended length of operation, and/or their frequency of operation.

The proposal requires that states, in developing plans for existing sources, undertake meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders, including communities disproportionately burdened by pollution and climate change impacts, as well the energy communities and workers who have powered our nation for generations. President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization has identified historic resources for energy communities to invest in infrastructure, deploy new technologies that can help clean up the electric power sector, support energy workers and spur long-term economic revitalization.

EPA also conducted an environmental justice analysis, which shows these proposals would, play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas pollution, helping avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which is already having a disproportionate impact on underserved and overburdened communities.  EPA’s proposal also follows guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality to ensure that the advancement of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies are done in a responsible manner that incorporates the input of communities and reflects the best available science. Consistent with this guidance, EPA will engage with communities and stakeholders on opportunities to ensure that deployment of carbon capture and sequestration under the proposal is done in a responsible manner.

The proposed standards build on the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future. Since 2005, the power sector has reduced carbon dioxide emissions 36 percent while continuing to keep pace with growing energy demand. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act provides historic investments in pollution control technologies and clean energy, and together, will move the United States closer to ensuring a cleaner, healthier future for all communities.

EPA will take comment on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA will also hold a virtual public hearing and will make additional information available on the website. Registration for the public hearing will open after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

The agency will also host virtual trainings to provide communities and Tribes with information about the proposal and about participating in the public comment process. Those trainings will be on June 6 and 7, and registration information is available on EPA’s website.


  • CFACT Ed
  • CFACT — We’re freedom people.

The EPA regulatory reconsideration of fine particulates


By Benjamin Zycher

I betray no secret when I report that much regulatory policy has been deeply politicized, and that is a vast understatement when it comes to many EPA actions under the Clean Air Act. Consider the regulation — the promulgation of a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard — of fine particulate matter (“PM2.5”), which, under the terms of the CAA, EPA is required to review every five years in light of “the best available science.”

Get real. A new rule was promulgated in December 2020, satisfying all of the public notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. It maintained the standard adopted in the previous rule from 2012, precisely because there is little evidence that a further tightening would yield any beneficial aggregate health benefits at all. Under the schedule required under the law, a new rule would be required in 2025, by which year “the best available science” might have advanced sufficiently to justify a different NAAQS. But because the Biden administration took office in 2021, adherence to the schedule mandated legally would not further its political interests.

And so only a few weeks after the official publication of the 2020 rule in the Federal Register that December, President Biden issued an executive order directing the EPA to reconsider it. Suffice it to say that “the best available science” did not change between December 2020 and January 2021, with the exception of one new study that EPA itself describes as “narrow” and not useful for purposes of new “conclusions.” What did change, of course, was the occupant of the oval office, the leadership of the EPA, and the political imperative to satisfy the demands of the political left to tighten the environmental screws in every possible dimension regardless of the actual analytics. EPA now proposes “to revise the primary annual PM2.5 standard by lowering the level from 12.0 [micrograms per cubic meter] to within the range of 9.0 to 10.0 μg/m3 while taking comment on alternative annual standard levels down to 8.0 μg/mand up to 11.0 μg/m3.”

That last bit about considering an alternative “up to 11.0 μg/m3” is amusing; can anyone believe that this administration will be willing to invite opprobrium from the environmental left in an effort to make its standards a bit less unreasonable? In any event, EPA cannot claim any sort of PM2.5 health emergency as a rationale for rushing things: Between 2000-2021 national average ambient concentrations declined by 37 percent, to about 8.0 μg/mover the last five years. Bakst and Lewis note that the improvements have occurred in every region of the country, and U.S. PM2.5 levels are among the lowest in the world, lower by 20 percent than those in France, Germany, and the UK.

EPA states in the new proposed rule that various analyses of human and animal exposures to very high PM2.5 yield no actual evidence that current ambient concentrations create important mortality risks. EPA circumvents that problem by emphasizing “observational” studies that examine raw correlations without controlling for other important factors that might affect the relevant mortality statistics. Because PM2.5 is everywhere, everyone is exposed to it on a constant basis, so that simple correlations are deeply problematic in terms of drawing conclusions important for regulatory policy.

It gets worse. EPA claims billions of dollars of net benefits (Table 2) from a prospective tightening of the PM2.5 NAAQS, despite the weakness conceded by EPA with respect to the overall epidemiological evidence. How does EPA arrive at that conclusion? They take the nonsensical observational correlations noted above, attribute to PM2.5 as many as 570,000 U.S. deaths per year, and apply a value to each statistical lost life of $10 million. So in the never-never land of EPA “analysis,” there might be $5.7 trillion in economic benefits available. EPA actually claims a figure of up to $100 billion for net benefits depending on the policy chosen; they seem actually to believe that they are being conservative.

The $10 million figure is consistent with the academic literature, but it is deeply misleading, in that it necessarily is independent of the ages of the statistical individuals losing their lives, and other crucial factors central to the PM2.5 issue. To the extent that PM2.5 at current levels is responsible for actual premature deaths — a deeply dubious proposition — one would expect that such deaths would be concentrated among individuals older, less healthy overall, suffering from other adverse health conditions, in all likelihood poorer, and on and on. EPA makes no effort to control for such relevant factors — it may be impossible to do so on the basis of the simple correlations reported in the observational studies — a failure that does not inspire confidence in the rigor of the analysis underlying the proposed rule.

For those interested in ever-greater regulation, PM2.5 is a gold mine. Over many years, EPA has justified tightened regulations under the CAA by claiming PM2.5 “co-benefits” created by proposed regulations of other pollutants. One study in 2011 found that of 26 CAA regulations of other pollutants, asserted PM2.5 co-benefits accounted for more than half of the asserted net benefits of 21, and more than 99 percent of the asserted net benefits of 11.

Ever-tighter regulation of PM2.5 is a game designed to increase the political power of the EPA and its allies in the White House, in Congress, and among ideological, geographic, and industrial interest groups. It is deeply perverse in terms of its potential to constrain severely economic development in numerous regions of the country. But here we are.

This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy


  • Benjamin Zycher
  • Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.