Coal and America’s Future

coalWe at EON thought this was a good perspective and while it risks showing some of my pessimism – We suspect it falls on “non-listening” (vs deaf) ears but thought it was worth the risk since it tells a story we at EON are and have seen over and over through the years.  And we can expect it will be used for other energy sources…perhaps Shale next?

It is easy to point at environmentalists, lobbyists, proponents of solar, wind, etc…and suggest the game is to put one energy down in order to get more support for the right one or ones.  The one we work in, believe in, or just ‘know’ is right.  EON also sees the tendency to find a solution…like shale gas…and then to ride this out and not really pay attention to ‘what is next.’  And then add in strong feelings on global warming. 

A key point in this article that we at EON want to highlight is the need for a mix…and not onslaughts.  The need for enforcement and not command-and-control regulation…put another way, perhaps, the need for people who know and do the right things rather than a government who tells us what to do.  And that there are times to learn…not to react. 

It was pointed out that a boa constrictor does not actually squeeze life out of its prey.  I never thought about that. 

It waits for the victim to exhale, then tightens it grip.  The victim has more and more trouble taking in its breath…and eventually dies.  Coal and perhaps America’s Energy Future? 

What we at EON see as very encouraging is…Ohio has the view that our future sits on a “platform.”  Ohio has the view of energy as pillars.  This is the thinking we at EON have embraced – it is a really good model.  Our job is to make sure balance is maintained so we can take deep breath and see our state and country grow…and our future generations achieve a sustainable energy future. 

Excerpt from The Independent Institute…

2) Coal and America’s Energy Future

When hazardous coal-cleaning chemicals leaked from a storage tank into West Virginia’s Elk River last month, the anti-coal lobby found itself armed with another arrow in its quiver. But its fight against coal power is shortsighted: If Americans want reliable and affordable energy, then coal-fired power plants (along with nuclear power, another frequently demonized energy source) should be part of the mix, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II.

The United States has witnessed a boom in natural gas production, and some environmental activists see this as an opportunity for tightening a noose around the neck of the coal-power industry. Government agencies should resist the onslaught. One reason they should not favor natural gas by penalizing coal production, Shughart explains in an op-ed for Utah’s Standard-Examiner, is that the price of natural gas can be highly volatile. For example, in Texas, a state that relies on natural gas to generate more than half of its electricity supply, recent extreme cold weather caused wholesale prices to reach $5,000 per megawatt hour compared to the typical range of $50 to $75. Unfortunately, regulators seem to be moving ahead with an anti-coal agenda: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that coal-using utilities capture and store carbon by-products deep underground, even though such measures are not yet technologically feasible.

As for preventing environmental disasters like the one that befell the Elk River, conservationists should consider approaches that rely on the strict enforcement of property rights, rather than command-and-control regulations that are vulnerable to regulatory failure. “If ever there was a time for a reassessment of environmental policy toward coal, it is now, while the consequences of Elk River still are fresh,” Shughart writes. “That reassessment should include market-based solutions to managing the nation’s water resources and the environment more generally (see Aquanomics, published by The Independent Institute in 2012).”

Don’t Abandon Coal after Elk River, by William F. Shughart II (Standard Examiner, 2/7/14)

Tony Kuhel

One thought on “Coal and America’s Future

  1. A case in point to watch the “boa constrictor” at work now takes us to the following posted today in the NY Times.

    This is about crude oil and the conflicts arising from new shale oil, the question of whether we should export, and on and on. And the changes in views of even the most veteran of oil experience.

    Do we really want to curtail coal in an environment that sees another boa constrictor at work on one of the other energy pillars. It would seem that as complicated as things seem, there is one common theme. It is us…the public, including our jobs and our incomes…that is standing on the platform that the pillars are holding up.

    The common food for the boa constrictors…is ultimately us. And as you look at the other pillars…you see other key areas of energy with their owe boa’s. In large part this is why we have suggested the solution is in a network…EON. We have no one with the answer…but together we do.