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Biden’s Mad War On Natural Gas Will Not End Well For Americans

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By DAVID BLACKMON

 

Even as the Biden administration’s regulatory agencies are moving to render the building of new natural gas power plants too costly to justify, a consensus has formed in the analyst community that the added power demands from AI will require a big expansion of natural gas generation to ensure grid stability.

Over a span of less than 20 days in April and May, Biden regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) published new regulations that, according to grid expert Robert Bryce, add more than 1 million words targeting natural gas to the federal register.

On April 25, the EPA finalized new power plant emission rules that will essentially force the retirement of America’s remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030 by rendering them too costly to continue operating. Most media reports focused on that aspect of the new regulations, which had been anticipated.

Reporters gave less attention to the fact that the new rules also constitute a clear effort to make it nearly impossible to finance and operate additional gas-fired power plants over the same time. The requirement that new gas plants be accompanied by costly carbon capture and storage (CCS) capability adds millions in additional costs and would also consume as much as 30% of the power generated by the plants, greatly diminishing their profitability. The fact that some operators have already tried and failed to add CCS to at least five such plants in the United States leads to an almost inevitable conclusion that this rule is intentionally structured to shut down the natural gas power industry in this country.

On May 13, the FERC rules added hundreds of thousands of more words targeting natural gas with its Order 1920. Where the EPA rules make it vastly more expensive to build and operate natural gas power plants, FERC Order 1920 makes it more costly and difficult to permit transmission lines needed to carry their electricity to market. FERC does this by discriminating between generation sources, streamlining and incentivizing permitting for power lines that are connected to wind and solar projects.

It is a regulatory pincer move designed to force generation companies to invest in wind and solar to the exclusion of natural gas generation, one that Bryce says “will strangle AI in the crib.” Rapidly expanding power loads will require a generation source that is reliable 24 hours, seven days each week, one that can be rapidly dispatched to meet demand surges that take place every day. Only natural gas can reliably fill that breach.

A series of recently published analytical studies support Bryce’s case. A Goldman Sachs analysis published in mid-May estimates that natural gas is the most fit generation tech to meet about 60% of the incremental demand load by 2030. Tudor Pickering & Holt estimates that meeting the new demand could require the building of as much as 8.5 bcf/day of new natural gas generation capacity over the same time frame.

Bryce quotes from a Morningstar report that pegs the additional gas demand at 7 to 10 bcf/day. He also refers to an Enverus study that concludes that power demand from AI and other data centers will double by 2035, requiring an additional 4.2 bcf/day of new natural gas generation by that time for their needs alone.

“This type of need demonstrates that the emphasis on renewables as the only source of power is fatally flawed in terms of meeting the real demands of the market,” Richard Kinder, executive chairman of pipeline operator Kinder Morgan, told analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings in April, as reported by CNBC.

Seldom do we see a consensus so broad and diverse as this emerge on any topic in the energy space, yet the Biden regulators at EPA, FERC and other relevant agencies appear to be impervious to having their green energy fantasies interrupted by such pesky realty. They have one goal, which is to finalize as many new regulations negatively impacting the coal and oil and gas industries as possible before time runs out on the administration’s first term.

In that mad rush to consolidate authoritarian control, any and all inconvenient facts are to be ignored. This will not end well.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

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Automotive

‘Save Our Cars’ Is A Winning Campaign Message In An Age Of EV Mandates

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By KEVIN MOONEY

 

Automobile consumers who treasure the open roads during the summertime could upend the presidential campaign and U.S. Senate races in surprising places if public opposition to electric-vehicle mandates and other regulations continues to rise.

That is what some recent polls suggest and it certainly helps to explain why the Biden administration is poised to artificially reduce fuel prices by selling one million barrels of gasoline from an energy reserve in New England timed with the summer driving season and in anticipation of the November elections.

Since the East Coast consumed in excess of three million barrels a day of gasoline last June, it is not evident that having an additional one million barrels on the market will make an appreciable difference.

Moreover, there is an argument to be made that by tapping into the reserve Team Biden is leaving the region open to cyberattacks that would disrupt energy supplies. (Recall, that is precisely what happened throughout the southeast in 2021 when a ransomware attack hit the Colonial Pipeline.)

But even in the absence of any cyber drama, the cumulative effect of President Joe Biden’s anti-energy agenda is already registering with consumers who benefit from affordable, reliable energy. This is particularly true where conventional, gas-powered cars are concerned.

On holiday weekends, cars erase differences, bring families together and improve the quality of life. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts almost 50 million people will travel 50 miles or more from their homes to celebrate Independence Day over the weekend of June 30 to July 4.

This would represent an increase of 3.7% from 2021 bringing travel volumes to where they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. This increase will be particularly acute with AAA expecting 42 million Americans to hit the roads this coming Independence Day.

But what about those EV mandates?

President Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat, remain undeterred by the paucity of charging stations, the limited range of EV’s, their exorbitant costs, and the vulnerability of foreign supply chains leading back to China as they press ahead with new regulatory initiatives. Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a tailpipe emissions rule in March aimed at coercing automakers into selling more EVs while the California Air Resources Board is pressing ahead with a “zero emissions” rule the board approved last year to meet Newsom’s stated climate goals.

California is clearly working hand in glove with the Biden administration to achieve zero emissions goals for vehicles by 2035. This effort will most certainly limit consumer choice and raise costs.

Despite all the subsidies and regulatory schemes developed to favor EV’s, they represent only about 1% of the 290 million vehicles in the U.S. today. Meanwhile EV costs continue to soar.

Recent studies also show that EVs, on average, are more expensive to own and operate than their gas-powered counterparts. So how should consumers respond to the regulatory onslaught?

Enter the “Save Our Cars Coalition,” which includes 31 national and state organizations devoted to preserving the ability of consumers to select the vehicles most suitable to their needs.

Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a coalition member that favors free market energy policies, views cars as an integral component of American life. The Biden-Newsom regulations amount to what Pyle describes as “an assault on American freedom.”

“In a nation as expansive as the United States, cars are not merely vehicles, they are integral to the American way of life,” Pyle says. “They play a pivotal role in our daily lives, especially in suburban and rural settings. This modern-day prohibition would outlaw a product and a value–in this case, gasoline-powered cars and trucks that have created personal mobility on an unprecedented scale – that it cannot persuade people to forego themselves.”

The coalition is perfectly positioned to make EV mandates a campaign issue in areas where the affordability of cars capable of traversing long distances without frequent stops is very much on the minds of voters. State officials who continue to double-down on California-type regulations will only serve to bolster the coalition’s arguments.

By contrast, states that break free from California’s emissions standards could become surprisingly competitive in the presidential race. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, recently announced that he would end California’s EV mandate in his state by the end of this year. Although Virginia hasn’t backed a Republican for president since George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, polls show Biden and  Donald Trump are in a dead heat. The former, and perhaps future Republican president, is on record opposing Biden’s EV mandates.

By contrast, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2021, is moving full speed ahead with a California-type mandate requiring all new car sales to be electric by 2035. Polls show Murphy’s Jersey constituents are not keen on the policy change. In fact, more than half of state residents say they are not inclined to buy an electric car even with the mandates.

New Jersey has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George Bush Sr. won the state in 1988. But fresh polls show Biden leading Trump by just seven points in the Garden State. It is worth noting that New Jersey has a large block of unaffiliated voters that can be pliable in tight races such as the most recent gubernatorial campaign.

Murphy almost lost his re-election bid to Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman and businessman, who came within a few percentage points of pulling off an upset. Trump’s campaign rally in Wildwood, N.J., that attracted more than 100,000 people could also serve as a barometer for a potentially close election. A beach resort community, Wildwood is practically inaccessible without the kind of vehicles Biden and Newsom are attempting to ban.

The big prize though may be Pennsylvania where Trump is leading Biden in recent polls. There is also a competitive U.S. Senate race in that state between Sen. Robert Casey Jr., the Democratic incumbent, and Dave McCormick, the Republican challenger.

Polls show Casey is only ahead by six points. So far, Casey has been ducking and avoiding any questions about his position on EV mandates. With Trump already leading, and McCormick gaining in the Keystone State, anyone running on a platform of “Save Our Cars” could have a field day.

Kevin Mooney is the Senior Investigative Reporter at the Commonwealth Foundation’s free-market think tank and writes for several national publications. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC

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Energy

Industry groups sue over Biden regulation requiring electric school buses, trucks

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From The Center Square

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A coalition of industry groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a Biden administration rule.

A dozen groups joined together to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for the Biden administration’s new rule, finalized earlier this year, which requires model 2027 trucks to meet strict emissions standards that critics say are meant to push out diesel and gas vehicles and to replace them with electric vehicles.

The EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3” is the rule in question.

“The new standards will be applicable to HD vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, transit, shuttle, school buses, etc.) and tractors (such as day cabs and sleeper cabs on tractor-trailer trucks),” EPA said.

Critics argue the rules are so strict that the only option will be to go electric, part of a nationwide effort by the Biden administration to push Americans into electric vehicles. However, currently the electric grid could not handle a wholesale transition of to electric vehicles, posing a major infrastructure problem.

Notably, as The Center Square previously reported, a coalition of 19 states filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Tuesday to challenge a recent federal rule giving the federal government broad power over the electric grid.

“FERC has never been granted the authority to revamp the structure of state energy grids or force states and their ratepayers to subsidize large-scale transmission lines that don’t transport enough energy to justify the cost,” the states argue. “This encroachment upon state authority far exceeds FERC’s limited purview and damages the ability of states to regulate their electric grids efficiently, all in the name of advancing costly climate goals.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers is one of the groups that joined to protest the Biden EPA rule. They argue the EPA overstepped its authority and that it will spike costs for Americans.

“The Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) regulation finalized this spring aims to phase out trucks that run on American-made, American-grown diesel, biodiesel, renewable diesel and renewable natural gas,” Rich Moskowitz, AFPM General Counsel, said in a statement. “Americans will pay dearly because of it.”

Moskowitz said the federal government cannot enact such a drastic change without explicit direction from Congress.

“This policy will increase costs for consumers, dramatically strain the U.S. electric grid, contribute to more traffic and congestion on roads, undermine our energy independence, and impact every sector of the U.S. economy,” he said.

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