Written on Sunday, August 19, 2012 by Chris Skates
Six years ago I walked out of a meeting with EPA very discouraged. Even then, in 2007, and long before Obama, I realized that something was very wrong with our nation’s energy regulatory environment. Our environment is already clean when compared to other industrialized nations. Many scientists feel that we have reached a point of diminishing environmental return per dollar spent on new pollution control regulations. Despite this, there are still so many regulations being written, and they are coming at the power generation industry so fast, compliance by the deadlines seems impossible.
I left that meeting with the feeling that we were setting the table for an economic catastrophe the public had no way of knowing about until it was too late. As I got in my car that day, I shook my head and said , “What is the country coming to?” Then I decided that my reaction wasn’t good enough. I decided to DO something about it. I decided to write a novel.
I wanted to warn the public that we were on the brink of creating so many regulations that generating stations would literally not be able to afford to comply. In turn, they would have to shut down older coal plants. That would then lead to instability on the electric grid and possible blackouts. Fiction allowed me to explore “what if” scenarios. What would motivate anyone to attempt such a thing? Who would benefit? Who would profit? And how would individuals, so motivated, carry out their plan?
I got to work with fervor the night after the EPA meeting. I wrote during every waking hour I had for the next 18 months. Finally, I was ready to show the manuscript to my English major wife. She read it, did some initial proofing, and then gave me her critique. “Honey, it is exciting, engaging, and a real page-turner, but if you publish this then people are going to think you are a first rate conspiracy nut!” Secretly, I was afraid she was right.
The plot I formulated included sinister forces that were manipulating our cultural concern over environmentalism not for the good of clean air and water, but for the dismantling of the American economy. What’s more, there was a double agent who had another agenda. He wanted to de-stabilize the electrical grid in order to force its collapse, creating a protracted terror strike. Now, after fights to get the book published, and never ending fights to get it marketed, I have seen even specific aspects of my plot play out in reality before my very eyes.
On July 31st, just a few weeks ago, 620 million people in India were without power, largely because there is not enough reliable generation available to keep their grid stable. But hey, that’s India, third world and all that? Well, how about last Thursday in California? On that day and again yesterday, those who monitor California’s electrical grid issued a “Code Red” warning. This was to warn that if a single electric generating unit tripped unexpectedly, then the entire grid could collapse across the state.
California has set themselves up for these types of problems with their extremist environmental policies toward coal generating plants. California already ranks near the bottom of all states in number of coal generating plants. What’s more, they are aggressively blocking the construction of any new coal plants, including clean-coal technology units. Make no mistake- all of this is due to hysterical reactions to so- called scientific “studies” which grossly overstate the environmental impacts of coal power generation.
In fact, coal is a readily available domestic resource that, if unleashed, could send the economy skyrocketing. (Just ask the Chinese who are building new coal generating stations as fast as they can, and buying US Coal to fuel them). Instead, while the United Nations cheers our leaders on, our nation is running over the cliff of environmental panic like a bunch of lemmings. Regulations will cause the closing of plants equaling 1.3 GIGAWATTS of electric generation by the middle of next year. The result is sure to be skyrocketing energy prices, not economic prosperity.
Readers must realize that what we are doing is cutting ourselves off from a readily available source of cheap, reliable, and yes, environmentally safe, electricity. Based on our massive coal reserves this energy supply is virtually unlimited. There is no shortage of resources. There is no shortage of capability. We are willingly pulling out a giant pistol and shooting the economy in BOTH feet. And we are endangering the stability of the grid in the process.
Yesterday Mitt Romney was in Ohio touting an “all of the above” energy strategy. I pray that the voters realize how much energy policy will affect their lives.
The real danger is that, in the short term, most consumers might not feel the pain of this lack of generating capacity. That is because the economy is currently so bad, wholesale electric prices are way down. However, let’s say Romney and Ryan get elected and the economy does what we are all hoping for and comes roaring back. What happens when demand increases and that 1.3 Gigawatts, is no longer there anymore?
Under this scenario, Obama energy policy could strangle an economic recovery and stop it cold even years after the man himself is out of office. In my next column I will discuss the motives within organizations by the UN to take this stand and I will include some excerpts from my book. The title of my novel is Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With The Environment and can be purchased at the Patriot Store http://patriotdepot.com/going-green-for-some-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-environment/
Chris Skates is the author of the novel, Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With The Environment. He has been published in dozens of national magazines and has authored multiple technical articles in his field of Chemistry. You can follow his blog at www.chrisskates.com