UNDER the Obama administration, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing regulations that will make construction of coal-fired power plants financially unfeasible. Experts doubt any new coal plants will be built in the near future. That should make environmentalists happy, particularly those who champion “global warming” theories — right? Guess again.
Last week Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas Campaign, lambasted the Obama administration for not going further. Nardone denounced the EPA for considering performance standards for new gas-fueled power plants “that could lock in continued reliance on fossil fuels for decades and fail to carry out the president's vision.” The EPA's carbon-pollution standards for new and existing gas-powered power plants would give “the natural gas industry a free pass to pollute.”
The Sierra Club rant hits every alarmist note you'd expect from prophets of impending climate apocalypse who remain true to the faith despite evidence to the contrary. Even if all coal-powered electric generation is converted to gas, Nardone warns that an International Energy Agency report concluded it would “still fuel a global temperature increase of six degrees Fahrenheit.” That seems far-fetched, especially since most recent environmental debate has centered on the apparent stalling of predicted global warming in the past decade or so — a trend that occurred even as carbon emissions increased.
But wait: There's more. Nardone notes that “burning more natural gas inevitably means more drilling and fracking — and more pollution.” She says drilling-related pollution “causes respiratory problems and premature deaths.”
To claim drilling causes widespread death and disease is nonsense; Oklahoma would be depopulated if that were true. What's not debatable is that oil and gas fuels modern life, and fracking has generated significant economic benefit.
A report from IHS CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies, found the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs in 2012 and contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product. The report found the energy boom increased household income by more than $1,200. Thanks to lower fuel prices, the fracking revolution is expected to raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade.
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