Biden Pounds Another Nail in Coal’s Coffin

News & Politics

The Biden administration issued a controversial new environmental rule that would ban new leases on federal lands for coal in the nation’s richest coal region.

The Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana produces more than a third of all coal dug in the United States. Eliminating leases on federal lands would cripple the western coal region just when new technologies are in the process of being perfected that would realize the dream of “clean coal.”

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Green groups had sued to prevent any more coal leases from being sold. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “ruled that new coal leasing would have significant impacts on human health and the climate, due to the coal being burned at power plants,” according to NPR.

“The BLM released a common sense plan that reflects the reality of today’s coal markets,” said Mark Fix of the Montana-based Northern Plains Resource Council in a statement.

“Common sense” for whom? Certainly not electricity consumers in the West, where there’s still a sizable market for coal used in power plants. 

In a statement, Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso accused the Biden administration of “waging war on Wyoming’s coal communities and families.”

“This will kill jobs and could cost Wyoming hundreds of millions of dollars used to pay for public schools, roads, and other essential services,” he said.

The Thursday decision follows a court ruling earlier this year that overturned a broad Obama-era ban on new coal leasing.

In Wyoming, meanwhile, groups have thirty days to file formal protests against the recent BLM Powder River Basin decisions.

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What makes this decision so shortsighted is that new coal-cleaning technologies are coming online that would reduce “dirty” coal emissions and satisfy all but the most fanatical greens in reducing CO2.

The process, known as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), was first used in the 1980s. Today, there are multiple points at which CCS technology could be used to remove almost all the CO2 from coal.

Popular Mechanics:

The technology can also be used post-combustion and with oxygen-based fuel. Post-combustion uses a solvent to bind with CO2, which then drives it off into storage. Oxygen-based CCS burns away the CO2 in a boiler. All three work—CCS has been praised by everyone from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the International Energy Agency.

The Obama Administration invested $84 million in the technology and, in a rare act of bipartisanship, one of those investments was trumpeted by former Energy Secretary Rick Perry. That plant, Petra Nova, is the world’s first post-combustion plant and is about 30 miles southwest of Houston, where it captures 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

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Imagine taking the $1 trillion we’re investing in wind and solar power and putting it into making CCS more efficient and cost-effective. Our cheapest and most abundant energy source could power our electric plants for hundreds of years.

But like the idiotic paranoia about nuclear power, the greens have decided that coal, no matter how “clean” it burns, will kill us all.

Unfortunately, before CCS becomes a large-scale reality, the Biden administration will have made any comeback by the coal industry nearly impossible. This is what happens when blind ideology drives policy.

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