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  • EPA Regulations Killing Clean Energy


    In sharp contrast to the pro-nuclear energy rhetoric of the Administration, some nuclear power plant owners are considering shutting down their facilities. Exelon, owner of the New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, recently announced that it plans to close the plant 10 years early because of EPA regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impact of plants’ cooling water intake systems.

    Currently, Oyster Creek employs the accepted “best technology available”—based on a site-specific cost-benefit analysis—and uses water from nearby Barnegat Bay to cool the reactor. This is no longer good enough for regulators. The EPA’s revision of Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act determines that the thermal discharge released into the Bay from this “once-through” cooling system is too damaging to organisms there. Oyster Creek would have had to install large cooling towers to accommodate the new rule, but spending eight years and $700–800 million simply did not make economic sense.

    This latest mandate is costly to the American people and denies them a reliable source of clean energy. Further, it is unclear whether the EPA mandate achieves its alleged purpose of protecting the environment. Indeed, some have suggested that there are actually non-invasive species that thrive in the bay because of the warm water produced by Oyster Creek. Either way, ecosystems are resilient and are generally able to support natural biological quantity and quality with nuclear plant current cooling systems, as a Heritage Foundation article on New York’s Indian Point power plant reported.

    So what will replace the roughly 625 MW of electricity when Oyster Creek powers down? Wind and solar energy are unreliable, requiring backup when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining. Natural gas and coal are more expensive than nuclear, with costs of 5 cents per kilowatt hour and 2.97 cents per kilowatt hour to produce, respectively, compared to 2.03 cents for nuclear.

    Interestingly, New Jersey is considering a bill that would guarantee utilities a minimum output price for constructing natural gas plants. But this is not a good idea. Electric Power Supply Association President and CEO John Shelk accurately states that subsidizing select energy sources affects the future market of all sources, and it could lead to higher prices in the end. Simply put, this mandate is wasteful and will cost consumers..

    Such sweeping action by the EPA is clearly not the best solution. A good solution would:

    • Allow for site-specific assessment of the best cooling system technologies. Cooling towers are suited to certain nuclear power plant sites, but not all. A site should be able to determine which system is best economically and thoroughly considers its environmental impact.
    • Provide that alternative methods be employed that protect marine life. Technology such as underwater screens, barrier nets, and fish return systems are three such examples.
    • Consider the economic impact on local communities. Both jobs and a significant amount of revenue are lost when a nuclear power plant shuts down. In the case of Oyster Creek, homeowners in the surrounding communities may experience a substantial property tax increase due to the decrease in revenue.
    • Ensure that regulations actually accomplish their targeted environmental goal. If protecting the environment and marine life is the actual goal of a policy, the environmental effects of the policy in practice should be considered. Nuclear power going offline permanently or during a retrofit means that a more polluting energy source may take its place. In the latter scenario, no organisms would be saved during the construction phase of a cooling tower, for example.

    Regulating an industry into decline, a situation this policy foreshadows, imposes undue electricity costs on consumers, does away with a perfectly dependable, emissions-free energy source, and dampens prospects for nuclear energy’s growth. Representative Fred Upton (R–MI), the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, puts it well:

    At a time when we are woefully unprepared to meet our nation’s growing energy demands, we should be working to bring more power online, rather than shutting down plants.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    25 Responses to EPA Regulations Killing Clean Energy

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention EPA Regulations Killing Clean Energy | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. Chris Davey, London, says:

      This is so true! In addition, the constant and unreasonable fear of ionizing radiation has led to increased costs for new plants, to further reduce radiation levels that are already a fraction of natural background. It seems there are mixed messages from Western governments, as they supposedly promote new nuclear, but continue to put expensive stumbling blocks in its way…

    3. Roger Baxter. Batavi says:

      Deregulation perhaps? Maybe, by 2013, we will amass enough power in congress to eliminate the EPA and other worthless government entities.

    4. Michael Mann, Webste says:

      Good article, another consideration, cooling towers may have other negative effects on the environment, disrupting migratory birds for example. How does the EPA evaluate the total impact of changing an environment which has already adapted to the slightly warmer water of once through cooling for the last 40 years? The addition of cooling towers has the potential to be devestating to the environment that the EPA/DEC claims to be protecting.

    5. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Kind of works hand in hand with Obama's dedication to increase energy costs to a point where we are forced to make hard choices in our lives. The federal government is working against the intersest of the American people.

    6. Michael Mann, Webste says:

      Cooling towers are not always the best answer, especially when the local environment has already adapted to the warmer water from once through cooling, the addition of cooling towers may actually cause more harm to the environment.

    7. Rod Adams, Lynchburg says:

      The EPA and the Administration are not operating in a vacuum. They are under a good deal of political pressure, partially funded by the natural gas industry, to add restrictions to both coal and nuclear plants to make them more expensive to operate. That is the only way that the gas producers can compete with their more expensive fuel.

      Sure, there are some in the environmental community who actually believe the marketing message that we can move to a future which is like the Metro buses in DC loudly proclaimed to be "powered by clean natural gas." There are other more greedy members of the community that calls itself "green" that actually has its hands out and asks the natural gas community to share some of the wealth that it gains by the marketing efforts of the official carriers of the "Environmental" label.

      If you do not believe me, please visit the web site of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association where they have posted videos from their summer 2010 meeting. Watch people like Bobby Kennedy, Tim Wirth and Tom Price (Chesapeake Energy) share their coalition building strategies – http://www.energyepicenter.org/

      This is not a left-right, blue-red issue. It is one where one very wealthy industry is seeking a competitive advantage over another industry that does not have quite the political savvy or the checkbook resources to purchase as many friends and allies.

      Rod Adams

      Publisher, Atomic Insights

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    9. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      The only purpose of these EPA regulation is to shut down nuclear energy along with coal energy. How else can they drive the price of energy up enough to afford building solar and wind. Environmental policy is being used to push a political agenda.

    10. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Ron Adams – you're right. It's not about right or left, red or blue. It's about a

      socialist take over or our enter nation lead by one of their own that used lies and distortions to win an election. The people of this country had better understand and rcognize just what Obama's real end game is.

    11. Tim AZ says:

      Another Govt. agency that insists on making themselves irrelevant by making the American citizenry losers so T. Boone Pickens along with Nancy Pelosi and any other govt. official that has invested in natural gas wealthy. The EPA must be severely under funded while congress reconstructs this agency to once again serve the American people and not a select few seeking financial gain.

    12. Ace Sez Bishop, Cali says:

      When the T-party electives (majority conservatives) take over its gonn'a be an excellent time to rid the gov't of a lot of useless enviromental agencies and their foolish, expensive edicts—so many of Obama's ppl are arrogant beyond insufferable and we really need to finish "drain'g the swamp" in 2012's elections !!

    13. ROY S. MALLMANN II S says:

      If the professional environmentalists, special interest groups and the unions have their way we will be living in a third world country mired in bankruptcy with no possibility of repayment. It is simple. When you value proposed damage to wildlife, no matter how insignificant, over the jobs of American Citizens, and create a scenario of a POSSIBLE future problem, your motives are misguided. We need to protect the environment but you can go too far. Human life on this planet is the most important value and these professional environmentalists need to work around it. IN FACT, our environment in this country is much cleaner than it was in the early 1900's, particularly because of the efforts of American industry to do the right thing. We need to do more but the inions and professional environmentalsits need to quit stopping everything, just to be relevant.

    14. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      May I impose more of my HEART part dialog? I believe the Administrators at the EPA are doing the opposite of Environmental Protection, rather they are intentionally destroying American Industry. The cooling towers were built with Environmental Impacts considered a long time ago (perhaps when the EPA was doing its job) but today's EPA is a Shadow Government entity and an Unconstitutional Form of the U.S. Government! Yes it is Dictatorship! The EPA doesn't care about the Environmental effects of closing down Nuclear power, just like they don't care about all the Nuclear Power Plants that were not built, and the consequences of that.

      Progressive Socialists appointed by Communists to American Government Agencies are doing gigantic hurt to Americans and it isn't by mistake or stupidity. The Obama Administration is going after Americans in every conceivable way. The folks at Indian Point should write up their Damages and send them to the House Of Representatives so the real issues can be heard, ie., Dictatorship is an Unconstitutional Form Of Government in these United States!

      It is all part of the Half Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to use Government Agencies to demoralize Americans and turn them against their proper Form of Government. It is all on purpose! It is all criminal and these Progressive (Communist appointees) must be stopped by peaceful Justice administered by the House or there will be violence.

    15. Rod Adams, Lynchburg says:

      Heritage, you attract an interesting breed of commenter who cannot seem to understand the illogic of claiming that someone is undertaking a vast money making scheme that is aimed at destroying the American economy. How does that work? Where does the money come from if the economy gets purposely destroyed?

      It is so much more rational to believe that the well orchestrated effort is coming from people who understand how to influence decision making and behavior using the techniques they have learned on Madison Avenue and that the goal is gaining competitive advantage over a far less expensive source of electricity. After all, electricity is a nearly perfect product for big corporations to sell. We all want it, we buy it almost without thinking and it requires a major capital investment to enter the market as a supplier.

      When power companies burn gas to produce electricity, close to 90% of the revenue accrues to the fuel supplier. That is a powerful incentive to ratchet up the regulations and to promote natural gas as the clean alternative. Shifting from coal and nuclear to gas will not destroy our economy, but it will shift a large quantity of resources around.

      Since the oil and gas companies have very healthy treasuries, they can even sustain a shadow price war against nuclear and coal by keeping prices low – for now. As soon as the much slower to build and recover plants get forced out of the market, the price for gas can skyrocket. Heck, graphing that fuel's price history can make an imagine of the Alps appear rather flat.

      By the way, if you think that the oil and gas companies do not get together and plan market strategies, I highly suggest curling up some day with a copy of Daniel Yergin's classic titled "The Prize. The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power." It was published nearly 20 years ago but is still in print and is still one of the best books around for gaining an understanding of the history of the oil and gas industry.

    16. Pingback: Blog Post: EPA Regulations Killing Clean Energy - EnergyScope | org

    17. Jack Gamble says:

      I've had it. I'm leaving.

      I've lived in New Jersey for all of my 31 years. I've put up with the corrupt state government, the high property taxes, the bloated car insurance premiums, etc. Now the state has decided to shutdown Oyster Creek, where I have been employed as an engineer for the last three years. I was happy to call Ocean County my home and I was planning on spending the rest of my life here and raising a family here.

      But I will not sit here and wait to be unemployed. I won't uproot my family in 9 years and I'm not satisfied running out the clock at Oyster Creek. I'm leaving. I'm taking my tax revenues, my vote (Which Gov Christie can no longer count on), and I'm also taking all of the donations to local charities and environmental rehabilitation projects I've worked on with me.

      My question is this: will all of the corrupt state officials and the headline-grabbing clowns who have perverted the environmental movement in New Jersey replace my donations to the United Way of Ocean County? Last year Oyster Creek employees (not Exelon, the employees) donated nearly $300,000 out of their pockets to the United Way of Ocean County. Of course, this money came at a time when the services of most charities were most in demand and the donated were in shortest supply. Now that the 700 people who work at Oyster Creek need to find work elsewhere, the United Way is faced with loosing it’s single largest source of funding.

      Will the likes of Janet Tauro, Todd Bates, and Jeff Tittel dig into THEIR pockets and match the $2,000 I gave to my neighbors in need last year? I seriously doubt it.

    18. Fred Sheplavy Clevel says:

      Show me where it is written that what the government says and does has got to make sense.

    19. Steve, Wytheville, V says:

      I remember the gas shortfall of the 1980's. The gas company pumped compressed air into the line to maintain pressure. I lived in NE Ohio and had a winter gas bill of $400/month while making $12/hr. The factory I worked in converted from coal to natural gas just in time to experience the shortage. Once the power plants shut down all the coal fired units, you can bet your tail that the price will rise accordingly.

    20. Max, Fla. says:

      This is one of the main reason 24,000 business have moved out of the United States in the last 9 years.. And the average company had 500 employes. The EPA has been morphed into a kill America agency.

    21. Dave USA says:

      Here wo go again. Fed Regulators about to cause MORE HARM than good !!!!!!!!!!! This is kind of GARBAGE that is TEARING our country down. Wash REGULATORS are DESTROYING our economy and our nation. The EPA needs to be ABOLISHED or re structured with MUCH LESS power and authority. Some rugulation may be needed, but the current EPA goes way, way, WAY OVERBOARD !!!!!!!!!!!

    22. Robert Galloway, Ply says:

      Using natural gas to generate electricity borders on sinful. Natural gas is a natural for use in the home – maybe even for auto fuel. It's not dirty. Coal is somewhat dirty but can be efficiently cleaned/filtered in a large, central facility. Nuclear is golden but if you want to use something that burns burn natural gas in smaller, separated sites and coal in a large, fixed site.


      Robert H. Galloway

    23. Silverpoodle,Ca says:

      My understanding of EPA is they are judge and jury of which companies are to be regulated and driven out of business, to other countries. They also had control of awarding the cleanup megafund without bids!! It is a very well controlled orginization that does not have to account for the decisions it makes. They are JUDGE and JURY !!

    24. John W. Roberts says:

      Help! I'm new to this website, and I am looking for someone with a conservative frame of mind. I want to learn about the good and bad points of nuclear power plants, specifically what happens to the spent fuel rods, which I once read are radioactive for thousands of years, and thus a an environmental hazard. Does anyone have any thoughts about that? Thanks for your time.

    25. John W. Roberts, Bir says:

      I am looking for information from a conservative point of view, about the spent fuel rods in nuclear power plants. Are they really dangerously radioactive for thousands of years, which is the "green" argument I've heard aganst nuclear energy. I just want to know the facts. Thank you.

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