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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Obama and the EPA Abandon Natural Gas as a Bridge Fuel With Clean Power Plan

From ft.com:
US shale gas is the unexpected loser from President Barack Obama's climate plan, as the White House abandons its previous enthusiasm for natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal
Last year Mr. Obama called natural gas from fracking a "bridge fuel" to smooth the transition from polluting coal to emission-free renewable energy. But the shale industry was left reeling by a sudden reversal on Monday.

In its landmark plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the Obama administration eliminated an earlier projection that natural gas would contribute much more electricity, and instead upped the role of renewables .

"I'm confused and disappointed," said Marty Durbin, head of America's Natural Gas Alliance, a trade group for gas producers. "It seems the White House is ignoring the market. Natural gas today is already primed to play a big role in power generation."
Read the whole article here. 

Here is the announcement by President Obama.


Durbin, quoted above, released the following statement in response to the Clean Power Plan:
"While we will need to review the final Clean Power Plan rule in its entirety when it is released, initial reports indicate that the White House is ignoring market realities and discounting the ability of natural gas to achieve the objective of emissions reductions more quickly and reliably while powering growth and helping consumers." 
"We are confident about the role that natural gas can and will play in America's clean power future. With the reported shift in the plan, we believe the White House is perpetuating the false choice between renewables and natural gas. We don't have to slow the trend toward gas in order to effectively and economically use renewables. 
"States' ability to incorporate more wind and solar energy into their power mix is dependent on natural gas combined cycle turbines that will quickly and cost-effectively pick up the slack when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow. 
"Natural gas is the most cost effective compliance option that states have in almost all cases as they contemplate where their future electricity will come from and how, specifically, they will balance the dual mandates of cleaner air and healthy economic growth. 
"An accelerating move to natural gas is critical to keeping the lights on, heating and cooling our homes and fueling growth in domestic manufacturing, all while reducing air emissions. We stand ready to work with states, customers, consumers and the energy and environmental community to ensure that this transition moves forward efficiently and cost effectively."
The move away from natural gas is interesting in light of comments made by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a recent interview:
“Hydrofracking has certainly changed the energy dynamic considerably. You are absolutely right, it has created an opportunity for a shift…into natural gas, and that shift has been enormously beneficial from a clean air perspective, as well as from a climate perspective.”
Green groups are happy about the new rules.  For instance, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released this statement:
“The Clean Power Plan is the most significant single action any President has ever taken to tackle the most serious threat to the health of our families: the climate crisis.

“Today marks the end of an era for dirty power plants that have spewed dangerous pollution into our air without limits for too long. It signifies a new era of growth for affordable and safe clean energy sources that don’t fuel climate disruption and sicken our communities. With 200 coal plants announced to retire and clean energy growing at record levels, the US is now taking a huge next step to curb dangerous carbon pollution. Today is a victory for every American who wants clean air to breathe, and for the millions of activists and concerned citizens who organized to make sure this day would finally come. 
“The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses to prosper as we go above and beyond the goals set by this plan. It is a step towards improving the quality of life for low income neighborhoods and communities of color, which have disproportionately borne the brunt of power plant pollution for decades. And it is a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is serious about acting on climate disruption and ready to lead the way toward a strong international climate agreement in Paris later this year. 
“Public officials around the country have a choice. They can support new jobs, cleaner air, healthier families, and the vast majority of the American people - or they can stand with fossil fuel executives who will say and do anything to maintain the dangerous status quo. 
“The Sierra Club’s 2.4 million members and supporters stand ready to vigorously support the Clean Power Plan, working alongside our allies to ensure our clean energy transition is fair and just for American workers.”
 If you are so inclined, you can view the 1,560-page rule below.




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