11.18.2013 1

When the lights go out

EPABy Tom Toth

The future of abundant, affordable energy in the United States is under attack from environmental organizations and individuals currently influencing the nation’s regulatory climate. Acting through powerful government arms like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fringe alarmist groups are actively waging a high-stakes war on American energy, and the nation’s future is on the line. If they succeed, the lights will, quite literally, go out.

The Obama administration’s war on coal has taken center stage as the epicenter of regulatory bombardment on affordable energy. Specifically, the EPA’s newly instituted rule, which effectively prevents all future coal-fired utility plant development. These oppressive regulations, which put domestic energy producers in a economic chokehold, are unlikely to stop there, with new regulations against existing coal plants scheduled to be released. The industry that produces 37 percent of all electric energy generation in the United States is under withering assault. Eliminate coal, and over a third of the nation’s energy production is shut down.

Right behind coal in affordable domestic energy is natural gas, which after recent years of explosive growth, now generates about 30 percent of the nation’s electricity. Assuming current marketing trends continue, natural gas is expected to continue its path of growth to 38 percent before 2021. While gas tends to get a bad rap when it comes to the environment, when converting to electricity, natural gas releases less emissions than any other fossil fuel. Further, there is enough known natural gas repositories available in the United States to fuel the nation for over 175 years at current rates of consumption. A clean, responsible natural resource with great potential for the nation? You bet. Is it safe from the EPA’s strangling reach of power? Not so much.

The EPA is now preparing to act on claims some have publicized that hydraulic fracturing is contaminating water wells and must be discontinued outright. Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” is the means by which natural gas and oil is harvested from the ground for use.  To date, no evidence has been brought forth that substantiates the claims that water wells have been found to be dangerous for consumption due to fracking. However, the full report from the EPA on fracking’s “safety” is due in 2014. One can surmise from the rules passed the first five years of Obama’s time overseeing the EPA, that this new report and the associated regulations could be devastating for the natural gas industry and the American economy.

Let’s recap: Cut natural gas and coal from the marketplace and two-thirds of America’s electricity-generating capacity is gone.

Renewable energy is a growing industry that generates about 12 percent of America’s energy and very well may offer promising energy opportunities as a primary producer in the future. But beyond the rhetoric, environmental alarmists won’t back most renewable sources either.

Leftist environmental activists have for years been trying to breach the dams that make up 30 percent of renewable energy. They oppose the lumbering necessary for biomass wood, which makes up 22 percent of renewable power. Furthermore, wind power turbines kill millions of birds and bats a year, regardless of endangerment status, thus ending the support of leftist groups for another 15 percent of renewable power.

Therefore, if environmental alarmists were granted their utopian America, they would cut at least two-thirds of all fossil-fuel electricity generation (before even touching petroleum) and another two-thirds of renewable energy options.

The truth of the matter is this: progressive environmental groups, like the ones running or carrying influence in the EPA, have no plan for powering America’s future. They are, in fact, forward about their belief that earth would be better off without modern humanity and the standard of life we enjoy here in 21st century. Their policies are not reform – they’re a sabotage strategy. If unchecked, the lights will go off and so will the American way of life.

Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a three-part series on the future of American energy development. Read part 1 here. Permission to re-print granted.

Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government

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