For most of this past winter, the weather has been pretty mild in our neck of the woods. If the same is true for you, consider yourself lucky. In the coming summer if we have to run our air conditioners non-stop, we may pay a hefty price. Every time you adjust that thermostat you should know that the Obama administration is coming after you!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), now adequately staffed with radical leftists, has so many environmental regulations, to be implemented so quickly, that the effects are sure to be devastating.

  • The mercury MACT rule—intended to curb power plant mercury emissions, which would mitigate mercury in fish that supposedly has harmful health effects. According to EPA, thousands of lives and tens of millions of dollars would be saved, even though independent studies demonstrate that the rule is a multi-billion dollar money waster with no measurable impact on human health. The rule meets its goals perfectly with just a few exceptions:
    • Multiple peer reviewed studies have shown the connection between power plant emissions and mercury in fish to be ambiguous at best.
    • Mercury levels in fish in the US are already sufficiently low to avoid health risks for any diet that includes moderate amounts of fish.
    • Mercury emissions in US power plants are already much lower than plants in China and India.
    • By EPA’s own estimates, even a reduction in mercury emissions of nearly 50% (which almost no currently operating plant can now obtain) will not provide benefits.In summary, this is a rule to alleviate a non-problem by mitigating a non-cause, thereby providing non-existent health benefits.
  • Greenhouse Gas Regulation, aka, cap and trade, but not known by that name since it failed in Congress. EPA recently unleashed it’s carbon regulation to curb CO2, a rule which is all but unattainable for coal fueled plants.  More on this rule in a future column.
  • Section 316B of the Clean Water Act—intended to mitigate the impingement/entrainment of fish on utility (and industrial) cooling-water intake screens. After mandating fish studies at every plant in the nation, EPA never got a chance to review the results before being sued by RiverKeeper, an activist group. Though the studies seemed to be pointing firmly in the direction of minimal environmental impact, RiverKeeper demanded that plants be forced to install BTA (Best Technology Available) to protect fish. Hundreds of millions of dollars are to be spent, to little avail, to implement the technology should the rule be finalized.
  • Finally, there are the Ash Rule, the Clean Air Transport Rule, the Particulate Rule, and more.

All of this at an estimated total cost of $129 billion, when U.S. power plant emissions are the lowest in the world. Can you say, “The Law of Diminishing Returns”? These changes will render many power plants currently providing cheap, reliable power obsolete. And they’ll provide little or no real gain in health benefits or environmental stewardship.

The effects are not only to be felt in your power bill—where they’ll make good on candidate Barack Obama’s promise that under his administration electricity rates would “skyrocket.” There will be an enormous ripple effect. Every product you use, including food, requires massive amounts of electricity for manufacturing, processing, packaging, and transporting.

The Obama administration favors an energy policy to severely curtail coal fueled power generation but has no workable plan to replace the Gigawatts that will be lost. Something will have to give. What will it be?

Your freedom to choose when and how much energy you use to heat, cool, and light your house, wash your clothes and dishes, or do any number of other things that rely on electricity—and your ability to pay for whatever energy you’re allowed to use.

The “smart grid” promises more efficient use of power. What it really means is that some bureaucrat at a central location will adjust the thermostat in your home to minimize blackouts because all that lost power can’t be replaced. Not all the consequences will be economic. Riots from London to flash mobs in Philly have sociologists stumped as to a cause. Can you imagine the mood of those rioters when they can’t heat or cool their houses or apartments while the smart grid waits for the windmills to catch up with demand? One would hope cooler heads might prevail.

Chris Skates is a Chemistry Supervisor at a power plant and the  author of the novel Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing to Do with the Environment, and a contributing writer and Adjunct Scholar with The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.