Report: EPA regulations would cost 1.5 million jobs over next four years (Sponsor content)
A new analysis of EPA regulations that would impact the coal-based electricity industry projects that seven rules would reduce U.S. employment by 1.5 million jobs over the next four years. The analysis was conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and described in a 129-page report, “Economic Implications of Recent and Anticipated EPA Regulations Affecting the Electricity Sector.”
“If the EPA is allowed to continue its aggressive anti-coal agenda, the American economy will lose another 1.5 million jobs in the next four years,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE. “The EPA does not consider the economic consequences of their actions, which in this case will not only erase American jobs; it will raise annual costs to families by hundreds of dollars, the equivalent of a monthly grocery bill.”
Key findings of the NERA analysis include:
- The regulations will cause employment losses totaling 1.5 million jobs over just the next four years, with a quarter million of those job losses occurring in the Midwest. Employment losses will continue beyond that timeframe, averaging 544,000 to 887,000 jobs annually.
- Electricity consumers will spend as much as $67 billion more for electricity.
- The average family’s income will drop by $200 to $500 annually, which is equivalent to a family’s monthly grocery bill.
- An unprecedented number of coal-fueled power plants will be forced to shut down. Between 54,000 to 69,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electricity generation will be shut down, mostly because of the EPA regulations. This is roughly equivalent to the combined electricity supplies of Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. This is also more than the total electricity supply of either Pennsylvania or Florida.
- The electric sector faces enormous compliance costs. Electricity generators would be required to spend $15 billion to $16.7 billion annually on compliance costs over the next two decades.
A summary of NERA’s report is available on the ACCCE website at: http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/NERA-Analysis-Highlights-Oct26.pdf
Have you noticed how environmentally-friendly the fossil fuel industry has become? Everywhere I look I’m seeing ads from coal and oil companies touting the good things they’re doing to help people and the planet.
If you watch any of the dozens of recent coal, oil or gas advertisements, you would never guess what these industries are really up to. They paint a pretty green picture of their industries, making claims like “we strengthen communities” and pushing forward fictional concepts like “clean coal.”
But calling something clean and green doesn’t always mean it is. The sad truth is that polluting coal, oil, and gas companies are pouring millions of dollars to redefine their industries as healthy, clean, and green. They’re sweeping their dirty practices (and deadly coal ash) under the rug. Misleading advertising campaigns are just the latest efforts to cover up for the fact that these companies are blocking clean energy jobs, unraveling basic air and water protections, and setting Americans back decades.
Clean energy is an important part of the growing green economy, which already provides jobs to nearly 3 million Americans. In today’s economy, it’s a wonder that these fossil fuel companies would disparage any job, especially considering that more Americans work in the wind and solar industries than in coal mining. ( Continue… )
The presidential campaign now nearing its noisy conclusion may be remembered more for what wasn’t said than for what was, especially when it comes to the pivotal issue of energy. We heard assertions that America has a century’s worth of cheap natural gas, that domestic drilling will soon free us of the need to import oil, and that the president of the United States is responsible for high gasoline prices – all exaggerations at best. We didn’t hear the hard truth about our nation’s energy conundrum.
Here’s an inconvenient fact: The recent glut of US oil and natural gas production was driven not by new discoveries or technologies, but by high prices. In the years 2005-08, as conventional oil and gas supplies dwindled, prices for these fuels soared. High prices then provided an incentive for the industry to use expensive, risky technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies bought up mineral rights and drilled thousands of wells. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of new gas, new oil, and old-fashioned hype.
Facts have consequences. It’s thrilling to trumpet robust oil and gas production numbers, but not so cheery to look honestly at our current energy system. There was no straight talk this election year about what growing reliance on unconventional fossil fuels really means: the need for enormous amounts of water for fracking, the high climate impacts from fugitive methane, the threats to groundwater from bad well casings or leaking containment ponds, and the inevitable social disruption to communities in the oil patch, roiled by boom-and-bust economic cycles. Low-quality shale reservoirs require not only fast and furious rates of drilling, but also creative financing – which Wall Street has been happy to supply, in the process inflating yet another bubble. ( Continue… )
While preliminary reports suggest the accident was an unusual, isolated incident, it begs the question: How safe are fuel tankers? They deliver fuel to gasoline stations in the United States and around the world. So how common are large explosive accidents?
“Occurrences do happen, but they’re very rare considering the number of miles traveled with these trucks every day and every year,” said Matthew Manoli, safety director at Dennis K. Burke Inc., a family-owned, Massachusetts-based fuel-delivery company.
Of the 3,484 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2010 in the US, 51 contained flammable liquids such as gasoline and fuel oil, according to an August 2012 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The total number of large trucks involved in fatal accidents declined 30 percent between 2000 and 2010. Some attribute the drop to more stringent hours of service rules, which determine driver shift lengths.
That's a miraculous safety record, considering the “heck of a lot of loads that go to gas stations each day,” says Dan Furth, president of National Tank Truck Carriers, a Washington-based association.
Still, accidents happen.
In 2009, an older fuel-tanker truck that did not have the most recent stability controls, rolled over in Indianapolis, spilling 9,001 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas. The trucker and another driver sustained serious injuries, and the incident prompted an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into retrofitting tankers with anti-rollover technology.
The explosion Thursday near the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Prince Nayef Arab College for Security Sciences in the Saudi capital was triggered after the truck crashed into a bridge, according to officials on state television, who called it an accident.
“The truck driver was surprised by a road accident on its route, causing it to crash into one of the pillars of the bridge,” Captain Mohamed Hubail Hammadi, a spokesman said.
The accident was compounded when leaking gas caused an explosion in a nearby heavy machinery and vehicles warehouse, according to SPA, the state news agency.
In the US, those in the industry emphasize a few factors that make transporting fuel a relatively safe operation here:
Many of the long fuel-carrying tubes you see flying down the highway are actually broken up into smaller containers inside, to account for different kinds of fuel. This minimizes the content’s movement, experts say, thereby keeping the liquids stable. It also ensures that if one section is damaged, the leak is likely to be contained. Because gasoline has a low center of gravity, the flat, oblong shape of the tank helps prevent trucks from rolling over, Mr. Furth says.
Most new fuel tank trucks include a variety of electronic sensors that help prevent accidents. One kind of stability system automatically applies the brakes when excessive weight is measured on one side of the vehicle. This helps prevent trucks from rolling over on sharp turns.
“The core of our whole safety program is our drivers and our hiring practice,” Mr. Manoli says. “We don’t just turn the keys over to anyone who walks in the door.”
Background checks, road tests, and routine training should all be a part of a trucking company’s safety program, he adds. At a base level, drivers of cargo tank motor vehicles transporting hazardous materials are generally required to obtain a commercial driver’s license with special certification for hazardous materials and fuel tanks, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which writes hazardous materials regulations for the Department of Transportation.
As for other vehicles on the road, industry experts said drivers should exercise the same caution around fuel tankers that they would for any kind of large truck. Avoid the truck’s blind spot, they say, and don’t brake abruptly in front of a truck as they take longer to stop.
In the wake of the millions of homes and businesses left powerless by hurricane Sandy, many homeowners must be asking: Is there a better way to get my electricity?
One possibility, of course, is using renewable energy. It sounds easy: Stick up a few solar panels and, voila, you're covered. Can solar or other renewables really offer a solution to storm-related blackouts?
“Potentially yes, but it’s not a slam dunk,” says Stephen Connors, a renewable energy researcher at the MIT Energy Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
When it comes to outages, the crucial question is not necessarily what kind of power you use, but what it is connected to, Mr. Connors says. You can have a rooftop full of solar panels but if it’s integrated into a city-wide grid system, with no on-site storage capabilities, you are still reliant on a network vulnerable to falling branches and blown transformers.
"Everything comes down to whether you connect to the grid and whether you can island from the grid," Michael Stadler, research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., says in a telephone interview.
When a grid is disrupted, most residents or commercial businesses with solar panels will still lose power like those without because the panels still rely on the grid to generate grid-synchronized energy. If the solar panel owners have an on-site battery system, with a switch that allows a disconnection from the utility, they can run off whatever energy they have stored, according to energy experts.
This, however, is very uncommon, energy experts say. In rare cases, like hospitals and jails, a section of the grid may completely "island" itself from the rest of the grid and stay continuously powered indefinitely. ( Continue… )
“After Sandy, Bill Clinton rails against Romney on global warming,” CBS headlined. (With only five days to go, does it matter?)
With five refineries lying in the path of Hurricane Sandy when it made landfall earlier this week, there were fears that gasoline prices across the country would jump due to a stoppage in production, but reduced demand in the wake of the storm promises to help keep those prices moving steadily downwards.
With excellent warning of the storm’s approach and meteorological models that proved to be highly accurate, East Coast refineries were also able to take preemptive action by either reducing operations or temporarily closing altogether. (See more: Why Sandy’s Impact Will Differ From Katrina)
The Philips 66 refinery, based in Linden, New Jersey, is one of the country’s largest, with the potential to cause headaches in the oil industry if it were to suffer extensive storm damage. While the plant did see some flooding in its lower areas, the facility’s decision to close in anticipation of Sandy saved it from the worst of the potential damage; it remained offline yesterday as systems were inspected and is expected to begin operations today. ( Continue… )
Gasoline futures jumped as cranky consumers on the East Coast—already stressed by the wrath of Superstorm Sandy—joined long lines at the pump to fill up their cars and gas cans to fuel home generators, causing shortages in some areas.
Though retail gasoline prices were steady or dropping at the pump through Tuesday, they could start to spike in hard-hit areas of the storm, particularly the New York metropolitan region.
Shortages were already affecting all types of stations. In New Hyde Park on Long Island, N.Y., CNBC found several stations already out of fuel, while two others in the center of town were dealing with huge lines and thin patience.
As more drivers emerged from storm damaged residential areas, lengthy lines with hours long waits formed around the region at gas stations that still had fuel and power. ( Continue… )
A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has released a detailed report on energy use in water delivery to citizens of the United States, finding that no less than 12.6 percent of the nation’s total annual energy consumption is devoted to the task.
Published in September’s issue of Environmental Research Letters, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the highest standing, the report details the investigation conducted by the team as they traced water from its source to the taps of average American households and back again. The study focused on each aspect of water delivery, including pumping from natural sources, building and maintaining reservoirs, treating the water for safety and then pumping it to individual residences and businesses, including those in the industrial sector. (See more: Water Usage in an Oil Refinery) ( Continue… )
For a superstorm, hurricane Sandy has had surprisingly little effect on gasoline prices.
On the morning after the storm made landfall, gas prices fell nationally by almost a penny per gallon. The following day, they fell another penny.
Even in areas hit hard by the storm, gas prices were up only nominally on the first day: less than a penny in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, according to GasBuddy.com, a group of local websites that track gasoline prices. By the second day, they had stabilized or were falling again.
If anything, hurricane Sandy may be helping to push prices down faster. ( Continue… )