The "Air Pollution Management" Newsletter

June 2008
No. 362

Additional Negative Events Which Could Impact New Coal-Fired Capacity

Environmental Lobbies are Completely Successful

The DOE forecast sited above projects 71,000 MW of new coal-fired plants in the years to 2030. That is an average of 3000 MW/yr. One of the biggest deterrents is lawsuits by environmental groups. Permits for new plants are routinely contested.

With the increasing resistance to high energy prices regulators will be under pressure to permit new coal plants faster. The support for the environmental groups will also be negatively impacted by cost concerns.

It is also possible that environmental groups will follow the lead of their European counterparts who are supporting the replacement of existing coal plants with new ones.

So the odds are at least five to one that the impact of environmental groups will not be paramount.

Economics are Ignored

Many studies have shown the reluctance of individuals to sacrifice substantially for the abstract value of benefits in other countries and benefits which are not occurring within the lifetime of the individual. As was pointed out in the article above there is strong sentiment for environmental gains as long as it does not cost much.

So the odds are greater than five to one against the possibility that if coal plants are much less expensive than alternatives this benefit will be ignored.


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