The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Greens Exacerbate Heat Wave

This is the time of year when Americans give thanks for the divine miracle of air conditioning. Next summer that may not work out. The New York Times reports that new EPA regulations may lead to the shuttering of a number of coal-fired power plants that contribute significantly to our power grid, already taxed in the summer heat. More troubling than the closures themselves is the lack of foresight on the part of the EPA:

Robert W. Perciasepe, the deputy administrator of the E.P.A., said his agency had not estimated all the [power plant] retirements that would be set off by rules it was still preparing. His agency, he said, was trying to move promptly through rulemaking and “provide the rational basis for utility planning, instead of this continually rolling ball of uncertainty, which allows people to speculate, and creates a situation where it’s very difficult for competent utility planners to do the work they need to do.”

This is a startling admission — in its zeal to implement new environmental regulations, the EPA neglected to consider such trivialities as energy demand, the effect on the power grid or the need to replace shuttered plants. Greens point to cleaner gas-powered generators as the solution, but these take time to build and may not be able to make up for the lost production until years in the future.

As usual for the green movement, they have gone about this backwards. Good energy policy begins with the objective of assuring a cheap and reliable energy supply.  Then comes the time to tweak and modify that plan to include environmental objectives.  Instead, sweeping changes are mandated from above with no consideration of the realities of the energy market, while customers are expected to sweat it out until someone else comes up with a solution. Prepare for a hot summer, whatever happens to the climate.

Published on August 12, 2011 4:15 pm
  • Neville

    Prepare for an enormous amount more of this; it’s driven by the suddenly perceived need to race to get new regulations out before control of the executive branch is lost in 2012.

  • Corlyss

    A veto-proof majority in Congress is an absolute necessity for 2012 so it can defund EPA ASAP. Those people are a menace to society. Air conditioning created the Sun-Belt, i.e., a regular source of Republican strength. The end of AC would spell the end of migration south, prosperty, and, just concidentially no doubt, Republican strength. This administration has done everything conceivable to destroy prosperity in the South. Why not this?

  • Jim.

    The Green approach to policy — of ever-more-draconian impositions on our economy — has to be abandoned. The EPA’s writ needs to be trimmed back to what it was in the 80′s.

    We are too broke to grow our economy with (questionably effective) government stimulus. We have to find other ways of getting businesses to grow — and taking the shackles off of energy production is a great way to do that.

  • Randy

    Greens point to natural gas generators as a ‘solution’? Even with the fracking required to unleash the gas?

  • Lea Luke