View topic - EPA's war on coal - reduce power plant greenhouse gases

It is currently December 7th, 2019, 2:27 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: April 4th, 2012, 8:48 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6146
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Only a proposal at this time... if adopted, new coal-fired generation plants will be incapable of producing electricity economically, opening the door for cleaner natural gas, wind and solar.

Less coal use in America means less smog, mercury, acid rain along with less disease on both sides of the border.



Quote:
EPA Proposes Historic Industrial Carbon Pollution Standards

Posted: 04/ 3/2012 12:49 pm

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed historic new clean air standards to reduce industrial carbon pollution from power plants that will improve public health, promote innovation and create jobs. This is a historic step by the Obama administration towards cleaning up our air and cutting dangerous global warming pollution.

Power plants are the nation's single largest source of climate change-causing pollution. Doctors, nurses, scientists and other experts warn us that carbon pollution threatens public health, especially vulnerable are children and the elderly because global warming makes smog pollution worse, triggering asthma attacks and permanently damaging and reducing lung function.

...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gene-karp ... 97802.html




Quote:
EPA emission regulations shut door on coal

Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:17am EDT


By John Kemp

(Reuters) - Proposed emission rules for new power plants unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 27 spell the gradual demise of coal-fired power generation and entrench the current cost advantage for natural gas.

The agency's proposed rule, signed yesterday, would set a standard well within the capability of modern gas-fired plants but impossible for coal-fired units to meet unless they employ (unproven) carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. ()

EPA has been careful to downplay the consequences. The agency emphasizes it applies only to new power plants, not the existing fleet, and there is a transitional exemption for any new units that have acquired a complete preconstruction permit by the time of this proposal and commence building within 12 months.

Because natural gas is currently so much cheaper than coal, the agency projects gas-fired units will be the facilities of choice until at least 2020.

"Energy industry model ling forecasts uniformly predict that few, if any, new coal-fired power plants will be built in the foreseeable future," according to the proposed rule.

The key word is "foreseeable". No one can predict the economics of natural gas as far ahead as 2020, let alone 2030. Recent development of abundant gas reserves through fracking may have caused prices to plunge, leading to a "golden age of gas", but just seven years ago the industry was gripped by panic about gas production peaking and thought America stood on the brink of needing to import increasing quantities of expensive gas.

The main effect of the proposed rules is therefore to entrench the current financial advantage of natural gas. It confers a substantial benefit on gas producers and ensures the coal industry will remain shut out of the power generation system even if gas prices eventually rise.


NOT QUITE ALL THE ABOVE

President Barack Obama has been touting his administration's "all of the above" strategy of blending fossil fuels and clean technology to meet future energy needs in an affordable manner.

But while the president has sounded enthusiastic about clean tech, happy about gas and even cautiously supportive of oil, he has been silent about coal, which generates by far the highest carbon emissions. Now it is apparent why.

The decision to tilt the market against coal is quite deliberate. As EPA chief Lisa Jackson hinted, it is part of a broader strategy to remake the energy industry by limiting the use of coal in the power stack and substituting cleaner burning gas or zero emission wind and solar.

...

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/ ... 0R20120328

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 4th, 2012, 10:34 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
CO2 is not a pollutant. As for the coal plants, I want them properly fitted with scrubbers. I don't think there is that big a difference between coal and natural gas plants with respect to the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere for an equivalent amount of energy output.

We're only beginning to see what might result from mass fracking to obtain natural gas. We don't know how that will compare to removing mountaintops for coal.

You've probably heard of geoengineering. Soon there will be open discussion of what "pollutants" we can put into the atmosphere to reduce heat gain from the sun. Or maybe the supervolcano in Yellowstone will erupt, and we can have some global cooling while we think about our options.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 8:13 am 
Offline

Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
Posts: 438
Location: North Bay, Ontario
ezwater wrote:
CO2 is not a pollutant.


Depends how you define a pollutant, doesn't it? The EPA defines it as one.

ezwater wrote:
I don't think there is that big a difference between coal and natural gas plants with respect to the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere for an equivalent amount of energy output.


Well then you would be wrong. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel used to produce power, although that varies with the type of coal used. In the US the national average output rate for coal-fired electricity generation was 2.095 pounds CO2 per kilowatthour in 1999. That for natural gas was 1.321 pounds, or 63% that of coal. That is a substantial difference. http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/pa ... 2emiss.pdf

ezwater wrote:
You've probably heard of geoengineering. Soon there will be open discussion of what "pollutants" we can put into the atmosphere to reduce heat gain from the sun. Or maybe the supervolcano in Yellowstone will erupt, and we can have some global cooling while we think about our options.


Or maybe we'll be hit by a giant asteroid that will destroy the earth. I don't get your point.

Regards,

Kinguq.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 8:16 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6146
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
EZ, the environmental and health effects of coal use have been known for a long time... those carbon pollutants they're talking about may be the fine carbon particles toxins bind with, being released into the air.

Switching to cleaner-burning NG seems to be the healthier option, although it isn't perfect. Scrubbers and sequestration add costs to coal plant operations so electricity costs may not be competitive with NG, and that may be one of the biggest issues for consumers (IIRC, coal has not been cleaned up because of the costs).

For me, it's interesting how long the process to switch away from coal has taken... the acid rain, mercury fallout, polluted air and health problems were being investigated in the seventies, and all that is still a problem today.

I don't expect change to come quickly and already the coal industry and states with financial interests are opposing the EPA proposal, so more slowdowns are likely. I added this thread because breathing polluted air can occur whether one is in the city or canoeing through wilderness... depending on how the wind blows.

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 11:47 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
I am grateful for the figures on natural gas versus coal. As for the "pollutant" issue, however, CO2 is a natural and essential constituent of the atmosphere. The levels at present, while of concern because of global warming, are not extraordinary. They have been higher at times long past, when life was going on as usual. Though not human life. Politicians had not yet evolved.

Classing CO2 as a "pollutant" does not make sense in any way whatsoever, except as a political maneuver. It is almost as silly as the modern use of the word "organic".

As for geoengineering, it may come to be seen as essential, because it is doubtful that increased CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels will be reversed. We just aren't up to it. Much talk, little action.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 1:24 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 12th, 2004, 9:28 am
Posts: 2248
Location: Waterloo, ON
I have to agree with EZ that classifying CO2 as a pollutant makes as much biological sense as classifying O2 or H2O as pollutants. That said, my *impression* is that the EPA needed to class CO2 as a "pollutant" in order to try and regulate. As EZ said, that is a 'political' or at least "administrative" maneuver.

I think it is also risky because it puts the focus on CO2 comparisons as opposed to comparisons of real pollutants. Natural gas is cleaner than coal but not due to CO2. The CO2 comparison is really one of efficiency not cleanliness. If you double power generation from natural gas you end up with the same levels of CO2 emissions but less emissions of real pollutants.

That comparison also makes natural gas power generation look 'good & cheap' in comparison to truly clean energy production from solar.

Now comes the scary part - increased power generation from natural gas is only 'cheap' because of increase in supply due to production/extraction methods like fracking. The early evidence is that fracking is a very dirty process with environmental risks that make CO2 output irrelevant.

A reduction in reliance on coal fired power generation is a good thing. However replacing that generating capacity with natural gas may well turn out to be short sighted and a lost opportunity.

_________________
No, your other left!
Loon Island Outdoors
"Like" my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LoonIslandOutdoors


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 2:41 pm 
Offline

Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
Posts: 438
Location: North Bay, Ontario
Splake wrote:
I have to agree with EZ that classifying CO2 as a pollutant makes as much biological sense as classifying O2 or H2O as pollutants.


I don't follow this argument. A pollutant can be any released substance that causes harm to humans and/or the environment. Whether it occurs "naturally" or not is irrelevant. In fact most of the most common air pollutants - oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, VOC's, particulates, ozone to name a few - occur naturally in our atmosphere. That does not mean that they cannot be pollutants. Too much of a good thing...

Let's pretend there was a major industry that released huge quantities of oxygen, to the point where spontaneous combustion of forests was becoming a possibility. Would we not want to reduce oxygen production, just because we happen to need it for respiration?

The point is that CO2 release has detrimental effects on our environment by affecting our climate. It is therefore a pollutant. I am happy that the courts forced the EPA to classify it as such and begin to regulate it. This is good news. I only wish that we could do something similar here in Canada.

Kinguq


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 4:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
How can you classify something as a pollutant that has been a major atmospheric constituent for most of the earth's history, and has to be there for plant life to do photosynthesis? Sure, it affects our climate, and if CO2 were to drop very low for a prolonged period, it would affect our environment even more.

For me, an air pollutant is something that doesn't occur in the atmosphere naturally, and that directly, negatively affects my health when I breathe it. CO2 can't possibly qualify.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 5th, 2012, 5:09 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 7513
Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
Compare it to water: it is essential to life but if in excessive quantities, it can be disastrous to many life forms including the human race.

About green house gases affecting the climate, that's well understood since several decades ago. Excessive CO2 in the atmosphere is a problem with potentially devastating effect and the law needs to address the problem.

The laws should be changed rather than riding on the "pollutant" definition. Now, if the reactionaries don't want that change, one might as well address it as a pollutant - just to affect some action in spite of the darn oil and coal lobby's manipulations.

PS: Erhard can get pretty grouchy when it's past 6pm and he hasn't had dinner yet... :wink:

_________________
“What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?” - Thoreau


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 9:34 am 
Offline

Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
Posts: 438
Location: North Bay, Ontario
ezwater wrote:
How can you classify something as a pollutant that has been a major atmospheric constituent for most of the earth's history, and has to be there for plant life to do photosynthesis?


Hi, I already answered that, I think. Too much of anything can be detrimental. Fortunately your own Supreme Court agrees with me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachuse ... ion_Agency

In the end it is a legal definition, and that is what matters.

Personally I would prefer it if we could tax carbon and let the markets do the work of reducing emissions. But that seems very unlikely to happen here in petroland.

Kinguq.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 9:53 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
"Two much of a good thing" does not make something a pollutant. If we continue thinking and acting according to such non-reasoning, we will never figure out any of our problems.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 2:39 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6146
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
In the Canadian Fisheries Act, "harmful" effects, IIRC, are what counts... so something like salt, NaCl, may not be harmful to humans or fish if salt intake is below a certain threshold. Beyond that, it's harmful. Road salt is classed as a pollutant because it can kill fish and make well water unfit for humans.

I'm not sure what the EPA's definition of pollutant is... I can spend time googling but it'll be outside, in the sunshine. G'day!

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 2:57 pm 
Offline

Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
Posts: 438
Location: North Bay, Ontario
frozentripper wrote:
n the Canadian Fisheries Act,


I might add that, under the Fisheries Act, whales, seals and aquatic plants are classified as "fish". Such are the ways of legal definitions.

Kinguq.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 5:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 11th, 2005, 11:19 am
Posts: 1870
Location: Boise, ID
ezwater wrote:
Classing CO2 as a "pollutant" does not make sense in any way whatsoever, except as a political maneuver. It is almost as silly as the modern use of the word "organic".

Endangerment finding of EPA seems pretty clear and substantiated by available science (primarily from U.S. Global Climate Research Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Research Council).

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endang ... .15-09.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endang ... %20TSD.pdf

The six GHGs (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) identified as "air pollutants" contribute to:

- severe heat waves (and increased mortality)
- regional increases in ozone pollution
- grain and oilseed crop failures
- reduced lifestock production
- negative impacts on cold-water fisheries
- increase in size and numbers of forest fires
- increase in insect outbreaks
- increase in tree mortality
- sea level rise and impacts to coastal communities and habitats
- reduction of overallocated water resources
- increased precipitation intensity
- Ocean acidification and reduction of corals
- risk to public infrastructure (drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, sewer and stormwater management systems, greater storm surge at sea level, etc.)
- Impacts to humanitarian, trade, and national security concerns (particularly in Africa, small islands, Asian mega-deltas, and the Arctic)
- And more.

Quote:
The Administrator has considered how elevated concentrations of the well-mixed greenhouse gases and associated climate change affect public welfare by evaluating numerous and far-ranging risks to food production and agriculture, forestry, water resources, sea level rise and coastal areas, energy, infrastructure, and settlements, and ecosystems and wildlife. For each of these sectors, the evidence provides support for a finding of endangerment to public welfare. The evidence concerning adverse impacts in the areas of water resources and sea level rise and coastal areas provides the clearest and strongest support for an endangerment finding, both for current and future generations. Strong support is also found in the evidence concerning infrastructure and settlements, as well ecosystems and wildlife. Across the sectors, the potential serious adverse impacts of extreme events, such as wildfires, flooding, drought, and extreme weather conditions, provide strong support for such a finding.

(p. 66498)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: April 6th, 2012, 9:11 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: August 11th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 5544
Location: Sunny Wasaga Beach
kinguq wrote:
frozentripper wrote:
n the Canadian Fisheries Act,


I might add that, under the Fisheries Act, whales, seals and aquatic plants are classified as "fish". Such are the ways of legal definitions.

Kinguq.



Well, that solves 1 important moral question!

http://www.vocm.com/newsarticle.asp?mn=2&id=22189&latest=1

I feel a bit guilty about hi-jacking, but how about you folks arguing about the semantics of 'pollutants'.? :roll:

_________________

Old canoeists never die---they just smell that way.



Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group