The EPA will shut down an estimated 20% of the nation’s coal plants through the ground-level ozone rule (the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) ) through cap and trade that is about to be implemented in January 2012. Opponents of the Obama administration’s “over-reaching” EPA say these are costly regulations. Financial analysts estimate that the cost of this rule will be $130 billion by 2015. But if that figure is correct, that’s good news for the US economy.
Because there is another way of looking at that $130 billion “expense”. One industry’s expense is another industry’s sales bonanza. For the coal industry’s balance sheet, it is an expense, but think about who is going to perform this $130 billion cleanup – fairies? Hardly. This is a job for real American industries.
In the most depressed economy since the Great Depression, a slew of US companies will be selling the clean energy solutions (and adding employees to manufacture them) as coal companies must begin a race to have the least polluting coal plants.
Why do they have to race each other? Simple. Cap and trade is a sort of a plutocrats’ sack race:
In January, all electricity plants that emit pollutants (solar and wind electricity won’t be affected) must begin trading emissions among themselves under the EPA ozone trading rule. The electricity plants that outcompete the dirty ones will be the beneficiaries.
The race will be between companies to be cleanest. The fastest to retool in this survival of the fittest, is the winner. Last one to clean up is the loser. It’s not as if coal plants have had no warning that this race to cleaner energy was about to begin.
But from an economic point of view, a $130 billion injection in the US energy innovation industry will greatly outweigh the costs to just one sector. That is because this will be new money coming into the US economy.
A hand-full of coal industry plutocrats are simply not able to inject $130 billion into the US economy just taking cruise trips around the Mediterranean or whatever it is that they do with the profits that they don’t spend cleaning up.
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Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.