I’ll leave it to better legal minds than mine to explain how in the world the U.S. Supreme Court defined the product of human respiration (Co2) as a pollutant subject to regulation by the EPA. Instead, I am struck by the absurdity of where such regulation is supposed to lead us. Listen to lefty Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club today, one of the “victors” in this suit. The ruling, he says, “sends a clear signal to the market that the future lies not in dirty, outdated technology of yesterday, but in clean energy solutions of tomorrow like wind, solar.”
That statement is flat out fantasy.
I spent the weekend in West Virginia, the country’s second-largest coal producer, but also one of the nation’s biggest wind-power states thanks to Appalachia’s high elevations and steady winds. Yet, despite massive tax subsidies, the largest wind investment east of the Mississippi has contributed barely four percent of the state’s 15,000 megawatt generating capacity.
Currently, four big, new wind projects are being proposed totaling 400 windmills and doubling the state’s wind capacity by adding 600 megawatts – barely the size of one average coal-fired generator. But because the wind doesn’t blow 24/7, the actual capacity is just a third of that: about 200 MW.
Now compare those numbers to the John Amos Plant, West Virginia’s largest coal plant. Its three generators produce 2,900 MW of power around the clock – nearly 15 times that of the proposed wind facilities. And the Amos plant does it on one-tenth the land, taking up just 3,000 acres – or 4.5 square miles.
The highly controversial 400 turbines, by contrast, will sprawl over 50 miles of pristine Appalachian ridgeline, marring the landscape and shredding migratory birds.
Given that 56 percent of the country’s power generation comes from coal, wind is clearly not an alternative.
This debate is a surreal theater (now including a cameo by the highest court in the land) of rhetoric that has no relation to the realities of daily life. But some day won’t the two have to collide?