#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.

Fossil Fuels

Published on September 17th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


Obama’s EPA Cues $130 Billion Race to Cut Pollution by 2015

September 17th, 2011 by  

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.

Susan Kraemer
(syndicate this article here)




Tags: , ,

About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World

She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American.

As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan 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 on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Ralph, the links you provided were op-eds full of, yet again, a ton of unsubstantiated claims and enough misinformation that i could spend all day debunking it, as i have many times.

    I don’t have time for that, and we don’t condone the spreading of misinformation here on CleanTechnica.

    I’m sorry you are so easily convinced of so-called failures in this industry, but look around our site and hopefully that will clear some things up for you.


  • Ralph

    I will soon be unemployed because the plant I have worked at for most of my life is closing due to the EPA MATS regulations. Faced with the high unemployment in the current economy, I will probably face foreclosure on my home. My kids in college will probably have to withdraw. There are very few “green jobs”. The government skews the numbers by counting bus drivers and trash collectors. Windmills and solar panels don’t require large staffs. These green technologies would collapse without government tax credits. Both are intermittent and require coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear to supply a reliable supply of electricity. The Chinese are buying our coal and will gladly burn it.

    If the war on drugs was as successful as the war on coal, there would be fewer inmates to support with our taxes.

    • Ralph,

      I understand that you have a hard transition coming up. But a shift to clean energy is creating more jobs than it’s hurting. And it’s highly needed for many other reasons as well.

      And your concerns about clean energy are really unsubstantiated.

      • Ralph

        Since my links were edited although they include references to industry studies that do not have a political position to advance. I have worked in the power industry for many years. The scrubbed coal and nuclear plants will run for many, many years. They are what keeps the lights on for most of the nation.

        I often wonder why the President does not mention the clean energy policies of Germany and Spain as he did several years ago. Maybe its because both of these countries have cut subsidies to renewable energy. The increase in electric prices and fiscal issues converged. It was determined that it just wasn’t worth such a huge expense. When will this country wake up? We have plenty of coal and natural gas. Why not develop the technology to burn these fuels cleaner?

        • Ralph, Germany just had a stunning, record year for clean energy, and there’s no sign it regrets or should regret it’s fast steps forward. Spain has a number of other issues that are creating problems for it.

          China is a key focus because it’s about to eat our lunch in clean energy and take the global driver’s seat economically. And that’s a threat to your way of life and many others’.

  • What absolute ignorance. Raising the cost of electricity by shutting up to 20% of our coal powered energy plants will impose burdens on the poor and middle class. Your ideology ignores the real world experience of other nations that have seen their “green” ecomomies fizzle and their jobs disappear. Never mind that your cohorts will sue to block any necessary infrastructure needed for solar and wind farms! By your way of thinking we should all live in caves. Do us all a favor. If this is what you believe, save us the energy you consume and get off the grid now!

    • Anonymous

      By our way of thinking we should all live in caves?

      No, by our way of thinking we should transition from old, dirty energy to clean energy. Wind and geothermal are the cheapest forms of new energy going on the grid. Wind drives the cost of electricity down. Your assumptions just don’t hold up, sorry..

      We used to use whale oil. We used to burn torches. We transitioned to better technologies. Now, we are transitioning again. And the only real question is which countries will benefit the most from that, which countries will get the jobs and economic growth coming from the clean energy transition.

      • Ralph

        The answer is China. Communist China. Stalin was right.

  • Rdensav

    This lady doesn’t know what she is talking about. Solar and wind energy CANNOT meet the demand like coal and at a fraction of the cost, which results in the consumer paying less for their electricity bill.
    Thank GOD for coal. Coal is abundant, cheap, and is cleaner than it has ever been. Try telling thousands of people in power and coal industry that you are actually helping the economy by going out of business.
    People on the left think with feelings not common sense.

  • The Obama Timeline author

    Unless Kraemer knows of some power companies that can print their own U.S. currency, that $130 billion will necessarily be passed on to consumers in the form of higher utility bills and lower dividends to senior citizens who depend on their utility stocks to provide them with retirement income. You can’t get something for nothing. the stupidity of the leftist greenies never ceases to amaze me.

    This is not to suggest that I advocate dirty air, just an acknowledgment that the cost of making it even cleaner eventually has to be paid for by consumers. If utility bills increase by $130 billion, yes, that means some people will get jobs making power plant emissions cleaner. But it also means that those same consumers will have $130 billion less to spend on something else. That is where even more jobs will be lost. The net result will be slightly cleaner air, electricity brownouts and blackouts, higher utility bills, and more unemployment.

    But Kraemer will feel good… and that’s what matters most to her, no doubt.

  • Fed up

    Since there’s an acute lack of knowledge of how business works here, consider this: If a grocery store pays $.99 for a box of Cheerios, and they want to make $1 profit, they sell the box of Cheerios for $1.99. Now General Mills raises the price of that box to $1.25. The grocery store now sells that same box for $2.25. Businesses do not absorb expenses, they pass them on to their consumers. So now the coal industry pays $130 million more in expenses. Guess who really gets to pay that: you, me, and everyone else who lives on the grid. If alternative energy is so economically viable, why did Solyndra need $500 million in government loans? Why would it cost me $200,000 to supply my house with 200amp electrical service using only solar power? I live in south Florida, and that $200,000 would pay my electric bill for 66 years. The solar panels wouldn’t last that long, otherwise the warranty on them would be more than 5 years, and that’s assuming you only draw 80% of their rated capacity. Yes, alternative energy is great, but it’s not ready yet and increasing the cost of electricity produced by fossil fuel is not going to make it mature any sooner. By the way, Denmark produces 40% of their electricity from municipal waste, waste gases, biomass and natural gas. If you believe the government should be able to introduce new laws through non-legislative administrative departments, then move to China.

    • Anonymous

      You’re missing one key point:

      The cost of staying on fossil fuels is tremendously more than the cost of making the switch now.

      Even if you take the health costs of coal into account, solar is clearly cost-competitive with coal RIGHT NOT (no subsidies) and wind is much cheaper.

      So, societally, we are already paying more for coal. It is artificially cheap on the electric bill. This IS a subsidy.

      I’m shocked at your solar power example. Solar power should pay you back much faster than that (3-5 years in some location) and up to about 15 in most places. I have a feeling you haven’t looked into the options in enough detail or someone was trying to scam you.

      The government should regulate polluting industry. Otherwise, we will be like China a lot sooner than you realize. And we certainly won’t be the ‘top of the world’ any longer.

      • The Obama Timeline author

        Several “green” houses were on display in Washington, D.C. the other day. One was priced at about $500,000. “Yes, it’s expensive, but your utility bills will be zero!”

        I can buy a nice house in Florida for $150,000 and invest the $350,000 I saved in gold and silver, selling off a fraction of it to pay my utility bills. I’ll bet I leave a huge estate for my children when I die.

        You’ll have a green house and be dirt poor.

        Oh, and the property taxes on a $150,000 house are a lot less than on a $500,000 house.

      • Anonymous

        Ah, the “true cost of…” rationale which strongly resembles the “jobs saved” as a pseudo fact. At best, the health cost of coal fired plants is a very mushy figure. And payback for the “true cost” of a solar installation in 3-5 years is ludicrous, even here in sunny CA. The solar situation in Spain and the bankruptcy of solar companies here in the US are a huge warning sign that can’t be ignored. It’s just plain crazy to replace coal without a reliable and cost effective alternative. If this is attempted, we will discover once again the law of unintended consequences.

        • Anonymous

          Right, including the documented costs not on your electricity bill but coming out of your wallet don’t count. Of course…

          People are getting their money back in that time frame. I’m sorry if you can’t believe it.

          Spain has complicated economic problems, but its solar success is not something to laugh at.

          Solyndra is not the solar industry. Solyndra is not representative of the solar industry. If you read our site at all, or followed the solar industry at all, you would know that it is doing excellent! Growing jobs, growing businesses, all across the country.


          I understand these points don’t fit your previous idea of the situation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t consider these things in a new light and see the truth for what it is.

          • Anonymous

            ZShahan, could you give us the details of you wind and solar installation? What is you rated capacity, installation cost and yearly revenue? You must be making a huge profit from your solar panels.

            I am curious about your success. If it is really that profitable I would like to get into the business too. Do you have a trick for making power at night?

      • Ralph

        At a small restaurant just up the street from an old coal fired power plant, a group of very old men gather for breakfast every morning. They were born about the time the plant first began operating. They grew up within sight of the plant. They left the area to help win WWII. When they returned, they bought houses near the plant, and went to work at it. They worked at the plant for 35 years or more. They have been retired for 30 years or more and still live near the plant. The oldest just turned 93. He still drives and gets along quite well. He scoffs at the notion that power plants are such vicious killers.

        • Some people smoke their whole life and don’t die from it. But it is scientifically proven that smoking kills.

          It is scientifically proven that coal plants kill.

          The exception does not disprove the statistical significance.

        • Ralph

          I just saw in yesterday’s paper, another local resident just celebrated her 107th birthday. She watched as the plant was built and lived close to it all of her life.

      • Ralph

        From a frustrated resident of Oregon who points to the negative realities of wind energy:
        It has been most interesting to read a lot of these comments posted. I am a resident of eastern Oregon that has had some experience with the Iberdrola people and their approved wind project here. Here in eastern Oregon it is a very real prospect of losing your property value by 25% to 40% when a project like theirs moves in. Being in a 2 mile foot print of an industrial wind turbine project has been shown to affect property values. Notification is non-existent if your property boundary is not within 500′ of the project. The cost of these projects is well guarded because if the public knew how much of the bill that the American tax payer was paying there would be outrage. The cost to us for these renewables (wind) cannot compare to our hydro power-this is a fact. BPA has had to adjust to the new wind turbines coming on line since their power is intermittent- they call it “dirty power”. The grid must adjust every few seconds.Since Iberdrola (and other wind companies) sued BPA and won- our power bills will rise AGAIN. Just look at the hikes that have already been passed on to rate payers because of wind power. These comapnies would also like you to believe that they create jobs. During the constuction phase they do.It depends on the size of the project as to how long these jobs last- most are around 1-3 years. After that? Well when it has been stated that it cost $16 million to create one permanent job at Shepards Flat- you do the math. Also the shelf life of these turbines has been questioned.It is all but impossible to get an answer to this question from the wind companies. We have heard that they are viable for 10-15 year shelf life. Can they generate enough power (intermittently) to pay for themselves when it cost approximately 2.6 million (current project) per turbine to construct? Again do the math. I do not pretend to have the answers to our current energy crisis. Education and transparency in the siting of these huge industrial wind projects (they are NOT “wind farms”) will open new avenues to the average Oregonian who needs to make informed decisions about our current energy situation. I wonder how well recieved these wind companies would be if they were siting turbines in Portland or the metro area?

  • Pelachile

    First of all wind energy is only slightly effective at night, when power demand is at it’s lowest. Even then it wouldn’t survive without government subsidies because it is not cost effective. Same with solar.

    If there was money to made with either of technologies then free market would support them. The facts are that people can barely afford to pay their relatively cheap electric bills as it is. So why do liberals want to jack up the cost of electricity? I thought they were for the working man.

    We have a bunch of “wind farms” here in Texas that divert land from productive enterprises like farming so the owners get their hands on the free government money. Just like all the other companies in the US that are “looking into” green energy will do, ie, Siemens, GE etc. That’s just Barack Obama and crony capitalism at it’s finest, sic Solanydra.

    Coal is cheap and clean. We sell a crap load to China who is going to keep using it whether or not we further destroy our economy by killing off more jobs because of this liberal perversion over green energy and the BS pseudo science called anthropogenic global warming which has been thoroughly debunked. So any perceived benefit to the environment will be totally offset by China. Who will only grow stronger at our expense.

    Besides, this has nothing to do with the environment, it is all about control. Liberals want to control the way we live our lives and seek to use the power of government to affect and direct our behavior in a way that they choose.

  • Anonymous

    By that logic, why not do even more, and just shut down all the coal and oil plants in America, and scrap every car and truck that uses an internal-combustion engine?

    Sure, that would cause an immediate economic collapse. But think about all the money that can be made as investors rush in to save America from the worst economic collapse in its history with windmills and electric cars!

    I see we’ve still got people who don’t understand Frederic Bastiat’s famous “broken windows” fallacy. You don’t create jobs by willfully smashing all the windows on all the houses on a street, and then hiring glaziers to repair all those windows. Because that’s money that could have gone to more productive pursuits if the windows hadn’t been smashed.

    And shutting down the coal plants will throw thousands of coal industry workers out of work and deprive those areas of a source of cheap electricity, driving up the price of just about everything there. While we wait–and wait–and wait–for solar and wind power to prove themselves scalable and affordable.

    In Denmark, they converted to wind power–and now pay the highest electricity rates in the world.

    • Anonymous

      sinz54, you’re not making any sense.

      no one is smashing windows here. we are talking about providing our energy needs with clean energy instead of dirty energy. it is like saying, i’m going to buy this good fruit instead of this rotten fruit at the grocery store. what is the problem with that?

      clean energy is not making the economy collapse. in fact, it is one of the few things clearly helping the economy stay afloat. thank the Obama administration for that.

      coal is not cheap electricity. the cost to the public is enormous when you factor in the health costs. (http://cleantechnica.com/2011/02/17/cost-of-coal-500-billion-year-in-u-s-harvard-study-finds/)

      solar and wind clearly are scalable. wind accounts for 20% Iowa’s power. germany, one of the leading economies in the world, is switching completely to renewable energy. Siemens is focusing on it. GE is. Why would these companies be doing so if it wasn’t a key part of our future.

      Denmark pays high electricity bills because its govt and people have chosen to put a very high tax on electricity.

      Wind is, very likely, the CHEAPEST form of new energy you can put on the grid, which is why it has exploded in use in recent years. see: http://cleantechnica.com/world-wind-power/

      • The Obama Timeline author

        No, it is certainly NOT a case of “buying the good fruit instead of the rotten fruit.” It is a case of you forcibly denying me access to good, inexpensive fruit so that I must buy expensive fruit grown only at your orchards.

        You are free to invest YOUR money in companies like Solyndra or wind farms. But you have no right to force me to subsidize your pipe dreams. In a free market the solutions will appear when the time is right and rising prices justify their development.

        As far as companies focusing on new technologies, they are getting federal subsidies to do so! Without those subsidies they would be putting far less focus on them. If you force the taxpayers to pay me to stare at the ceiling can I then boast it is proof that the future lies in ceiling staring?

        Coal, oil, and gas provide the biggest energy bang for the buck; that is why they are used by industry. If solar and wind were cheap and efficient they would not need federal subsidies.

      • Anonymous

        Solar is keeping the economy afloat? Thank Obama? It would be interesting to know how Solyndra fits into that. Please enlighten us.

        • Anonymous

          Solyndra is a tiny portion of the solar industry that failed. It is not the solar industry.

          If an orange juice company fails, does that mean the orange juice industry is a scam and a failure? No

          The solar industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. right now. It added nearly 7,000 jobs this year (at a 6.8% growth rate). Is that a sign of failure?

          Last year, global solar PV nearly doubled, its growth rate doubled. That strong growth is projected to continue. Do you want the companies benefiting to be Chinese companies or U.S. companies?

          Thank about it, kind sir.

        • Anonymous

          and by the way, i said *helping* to keep the economy afloat. there’s a big difference there…

    • Anonymous

      & a few more links regarding the things i mentioned above:

      Cleantech’s Revolutionary Growth & Expectations for Coming 10 Years (http://cleantechnica.com/2011/03/28/cleantechs-revolutionary-growth-expectations-for-coming-10-years/)

      Siemens Ditches Nuclear (http://cleantechnica.com/2011/09/20/siemens-ditches-nuclear/)

      Solar Power Intro & 3 Key Solar Power Points (http://cleantechnica.com/2011/08/23/solar-power-intro-3-key-solar-power-points-top-solar-power-news/)

  • daddy warbucks

    Time to get wise to ‘Green Facsism’ and the carbon/global warming liberty/wealth depriving scam policies already very much in place all around the world. The NWO/Bilderbergs have planned this successfully, over many years, and embedded this in the ‘progressive’ mentality. It is already in massively populated public service sectors, in the court systems and has infected many elected officials, which is unfortunate. This is all about ‘REGULATORY police state’ and must be recognized for what it really is!

    ‘Green Fascism’ and/or Communism = same end result (even with Communism having a history of failure, impoverishment and mass killing, every time it has been forced on people, it is still viewed by utopians as the way and that it should be forced onto people).

    • Anonymous

      I’m sorry dude, but you are so far off your rocker I don’t know how to respond. Please, take some time to go outside and get some fresh air…

  • Sue

    What a bunch of nitwits…….where do you keep your heads?

  • puddintain

    Hi Susan
    Your stupidity is quite amazing

  • 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.

    No, they will get the money from their customers, paying higher utility bills, and laying people off.

  • Why not just break everybody’s windows and make lots of work for glaziers?

    • Anonymous

      The difference is, that wouldn’t save people money and it wouldn’t benefit their health and quality of life 😀

  • Anonymous

    We’ll be hearing some squealing about the $130 billion and how America can’t afford that sort of expense to clean up our grid. Let’s put it in perspective…

    Americans spend $27 billion each year on pizza.

    Annually, Americans spend about $88.8 billion on tobacco products and another $97 billion on alcohol.

    Each year we spend $313 billion for treatment of tobacco and alcohol related medical problems.

    People in the US spend about $64 billion on illegal drugs.

    Americans also spend $586.5 billion a year on gambling.

    Americans spend about $450 billion a year on entertainment.

    • Susan Kraemer

      Haha. And note that’s ALL Americans. It is only the Titans of Industry (the coal one) that will spend that money that they should have spent decades ago.

      • The Obama Timeline author

        You know nothing about basic economics or running a business, do you?

      • Anonymous

        Actually, they would have spent OUR money decades ago. Since someone determined that our energy bills will “necessarily skyrocket” by about $3000/year/family, each of us will have to handle that in our own way. If Americans would just cut back on pizza, beer, and movies, no one will suffer, right? Either that or we could stop treating a third of the tobacco and alcohol patients.

        • Anonymous

          i’m actually not sure what this rambling comment is even trying to say..

      • Anonymous

        Susan you are completely ignorant of the structure of business. The coal and utility industries are publicly traded companies whose shares are mostly owned by employee pension funds and insurance reserve funds. Their profits are paid out as dividends quarterly or reinvested to maintain plant. New cost increases will be charged to the customers with a markup. Regulated utilities are guaranteed a fixed profit on all of their costs.

        These new rules will increase the profits of the coal and utility corporations.

    • The Obama Timeline author

      Are you suggesting that Americans give up pizza entirely to come up with a portion of the $130 billion in increased utility bills? That $130 billion has to come from lost sales of something. Duh!

Back to Top ↑