Dubious in Dubai: Biden Administration cracks down on U.S. natural gas, puts Alaska’s coal mine on notice

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At the 28th international United Nations climate change summit in Dubai on Saturday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new final rule requiring oil and gas operators to drastically reduce methane escapes.

The Biden Administration also announced it joined an anti-coal coalition and vowed to stop using coal altogether, a blow to the 174,000 remaining coal-related jobs in America.

The methane rule may not appear to impact Alaska as much as Texas, but Alaska oil operators are not immune. They’ll have to devote more resources to chasing down any possible methane leak in places like the North Slope or Cook Inlet, where Hilcorp has offshore platforms that provide more than 80% of the gas used in the Railbelt. And they’ll need to spend money proving to the Environmental Protection Agency that they’re not leaking any methane, and fighting the government in court.

Natural gas used for power, heat, and cooking is made up primarily of methane and it’s difficult to completely plug every possible leak in the route it takes from the gas field to the power plant or cooking appliance.

In fact, most of Alaska’s population, centered in the Railbelt, depends on natural gas. At Chugach Electric, 82% of the utility’s electricity to its 92,000 members comes from natural gas-fueled power generation, with 15% from hydropower and 3% from wind turbines.

The new rule gives the EPA power to siphon money from producers and shippers at an even higher rate than it already does; in 2022, the EPA fined Hilcorp $180,000 for a methane leak, and that was before the final rule announced Saturday.

Most methane produced on the North Slope is actually from biological metabolism of soil organic matter stored in permafrost, which is released more quickly as the permafrost melts. In fact, about 40% of methane leaks are coming naturally from wetlands, according to NASA.

There are many other natural sources methane emissions, including termites, which contribute 11% of natural methane emissions, and animals like cattle, buffalo, wild boar, and domesticated pigs. Even chickens contribute, due to fermentation of their waste. The oceans alone contribute to about 8% of natural methane emissions.

At the climate change conference, Biden’s EPA Administrator congratulated his agency for finalizing the rules on methane: “This is historic news for our climate, for our future, and for our children. The standards today, while ambitious, are common sense.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said the time has come to take action.

“The urgency of this moment is clear,” she said. “The clock is no longer just ticking. It is banging. And we must make up for lost time.”

While the Biden Administration has made America’s methane a target, the United Arab Emirates, which is hosting the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai, has failed to report its methane emissions to the UN for almost a decade, The Guardian newspaper reported in August.

BIDEN HITS COAL INDUSTRY

Also in Dubai, Biden’s special envoy on climate John Kerry announced that the United States is joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which means the Biden Administration will not approve any new coal plants and will phase out existing ones, although no date as given for when the ones in operation must be mothballed. Fifty-six other countries in the no-coal coalition have vowed to stop using coal.

“We will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities,” Kerry said in a statement on Saturday. “The first step is to stop making the problem worse: stop building new unabated coal power plants.”

To meet the goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, the U.S. needs to phase out coal, Kerry said.

Alaska is a coal-rich state, where coal mines have operated since 1855. People can still pick up coal from beaches in Alaska, because it’s naturally made, a result dead plant matter being subjected to heat and pressure over millions of years, ultimately transformed to an energy-dense, combustible rock.

But although Alaska has an abundance of coal, just one operating surface coal mine exists today — Usibelli, which supplies about 1.2 million tons of coal per year and employs about 100 people, with two-thirds of them having worked at the mine for more than 10 years.

Alaska’s coal resources make one-sixth of the entire world coal reserves and about half of the United States coal-resource base. Yet, Alaska ranks 20th in U.S. coal production, in part due to the federal government owning over 61% of the state’s land. The top five coal producing states in thousand short tons are:

  • Wyoming—244,730—41.2%
  • West Virginia—83,448—14.0%
  • Pennsylvania—39,701—6.7%
  • Illinois—37,488—6.3%
  • Kentucky—28,527—4.8%

Other than the University of Alaska Fairbanks coal-fired power plant that opened in 2018, after a build cost of $245 million, no new coal power plants have been built in the United States since 2015.

The Biden Administration in February also proposed an “energy efficiency standard” for gas cooking products. It’s an attempt to ban gas appliances altogether, starting with gas stoves, but later including gas-fired furnaces and outdoor grills. At least half of gas stove models sold in the United States today would not comply with this regulation, according to the Department of Energy’s own data.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Meanwhile, China continues to build coal fired power plants unabated. But we are better off without coal. Heavy metals like mercury are released when coal is combusted. Almost all fish are now contaminated with mercury because of all the coal we’ve burned. Pregnant women especially should avoid fish. Among the heavy metals released by coal combustion- due to these metals being found in the coal as it is mined are uranium, strontium and their radioactive isotopes. More radiation has been released by coal plants than nuclear power plants (working within their permits) as a result. Fairbanks residents have an especially high rate of cancer as a result of three coal plants within, or near, the city.

    Alaska should have built Susitna Hydro decades ago. We’d have cheap, clean power- but the coal interests didn’t want it.

    • And when the river starts to freeze?
      Or a strong storm drops dozens of trees and clogs it?

      Can you provide links to your claims?

      • MA. The Susitna dam- as proposed- is going to be over 700 feet tall. Water flowing through the turbines that generate power will be well below the seasonal ice, or surface debris.

        If you Google “Alex Gabbard, Coal Combustion, Nuclear Resource or Danger?” You can read how this nuclear physicist describes the radiation danger from coal combustion.

    • Is it really the coal industry that puts the stops on hydro power or could it be the extreme environmental groups. Fact is hard to hide.

      • The thing which makes me skeptical of the claims is they are almost identical to claims made 35-40 years ago.

        The EPA standards are so different these days it’s almost impossible for claims to still be solid.

      • Trig, if Susitna is built, the coal seller in Healy gets shut down. A front group was established to pretend that Susitna was a anti- environmental project. People who really do care about the environment, and science, understand hydro is the way to go. Its cheaper for rate payers, its renewable, there is no greenhouse gas emitted. No salmon are impacted- as Susitna is too far up the river. In fact, hydro is good for fish as the contamination (mercury) from coal does not end up in the fish- as hydro replaces dirty coal.

        Understanding what the dirty coal seller had to lose- and you understand the phony front group established to try and kill the competition.

        • You are incorrect. Environmental groups have been trying to shut down hydro plants for decades and the greenies shut down the Susitna dam project 3 times in the 66 years I have lived here. The military bases up by Fairbanks all use coal for heat and steam fired turbines, and 6 other power plants. The Susitna dam was no threat to Usibelli and you little theory is full of crap. The Susitna would have been good for southcentral and the rail belt but come down of the cross, we need the wood. The coal fired plants today are very clean burning.

        • The thing is, he asked you stats and all you provided were opinions of special interest groups. One school of thought (opinion, educated or no) does not in and of itself create fact.

          Yes, there is a difference between data and conjecture, and if you possessed a rational scientific mind you’d seek views beyond the opinions your comfortable with.

          It doesn’t appear that you are either familiar with the geography of Fairbanks or any other potential contributors. Attributing one causation into an uncontrolled environment is neither wise or scientific.

          You are familiar with the issues caused by the refinery, wood fire, and a very high degree or nearby military activity?

    • In Washington, they are trying to eliminate dams for the sake of the salmon. It’s their mantra, since the 90s. Due to the latest momentum of insanity, they may be successful in destroying the dams along the Snake River.

      Natural gas is cleaner, more effecient, and more effective.

      China doesn’t care about the environment, and the woke politicians like John Kerry are too busy kissing its behind to hold it accountable.

    • I agree with you on the hydro. As far as I have been able to secure, there is no definitive proof that all of the cancer in the Fairbanks area has been caused by coal plants. If you make statements that are not provable your credibility goes down the tube. I will pay attention to what you say from now on for sure.

  2. They need to stop calling it the Biden Administration, Old Joe isn’t running anything. It’s the Democrats and Globalist, destroying the United States and the World.

  3. Renewables fail for one simple reason. They can’t guarantee base load power. Only fossil fuels can.

    Or nuclear, but the left refuses to even consider that option. Seems “saving the planet” has its limits. Using the ultimate green energy source is among them.

    I don’t know, nor care if Grandpa Bloodstains is a true believer or the worst kind of political whore. More, it really doesn’t matter.

    What I do know is everything Grandpa Bloodstains touches turns to moose droppings. America included.

    I hope getting the mean tweeting Orange Man out of office was worth national and cultural suicide.

    • MA, renewable Hydro Power which lights up your keyboard is vastly superior to any fossil fuel generation known to me.

      I invite you to research Annex Lake. This ingenious project has been providing electricity to your precious Juneau continuously since 1914. Built in a mere 7 months. Bartlett Thane and the boys knew how to get stuff done opposed to many whining keyboard warriors today.

      • If I’m not mistaken, there have been temporary failures periodically as this electricity generation system is highly vulnerable to the whims of nature (earthquakes, avalanche, mechanical failure). Nice having those diesel generators for reserve.

  4. I think there is not going to be an America much longer. Poor us, poor Christians and missionaries, poor immigrants who came here for the US dollar, and poor Isreal. I think America’s destruction is just around the corner. The leadership (national and local) are just not standing up for the right things, they don’t even know the difference between right and wrong.

  5. The Ezekiel war it speaks no nation will come to Isreal’s defense. God will have to personally directly intervene that means America has to be destroyed first. Cause we always helped Isreal. Poor us Americans and our children and our children’s children if they are poor to have to live when we no longer have what we were born into.

    • Your unique interpretations of scripture are fascinating.

      If you actually believe what you allege to believe, you would know all things occur as per Gods design. If that’s the fall of Israel and the US, then as the “Christian” you allege to be, you’d trust in His ultimate plan. But He gives us enough rope to hang ourselves if we wish.

      I’ve often wondered why so many alleged Christians pray to a God that behaves more like Oden than the Father of all Creation.

  6. This ignorance is what Mary Peltola has crawled into bed with. China and India are building coal fired plants, could care less about anything other than their Gross National Product, yet Mary is all in with the Dimwits Green New Deal.

    Peltola just last week, refused to stand up and fight during a Congressional Hearing to keep oil and gas exploration and production open on the North Slope. Didn’t seem to matter to her that the North Slope was represented by a conglomerate of Villages, Local Corporations, Regional Corporations, Borough and State of Alaska, all in DC testifying that they were in favor of continued production.

    Mary Peltolas big stand up argument against shutting down Alaska’s Oil industry at the hearings…… We all need to learn to work together…… Well, up yours Mary. If Mary paid attention, she’d know that we have a slowed down drilling program in Cook Inlet, which has major consequences for the entire Rail Belts energy supply, which has an effect that when laid out on paper, would look like a spiders web reaching to the remotest Villages. Not only lost revenue to the States coffers, the Governor and Legislature are considering tax breaks to the lease holders in Cook Inlet. With higher demand from Anchorages electric producers, up goes the power costs, which roll down hill too not only residential but commercial businesses. These higher business costs are attached to every single thing that gets freighted to the village stores or trucked to local Carrs.

    Every single one of us is going to get screwed. The corruption driving the Greenie Weenie Program is directed by Democrats, living and working in the White House. They 100% control Mary’s votes and future campaign funding.

    Peltola is so indebted to the Democrat Party for her future campaign donations, she has sold out Alaska, time and again sense she took office. She’s already proved she’s not going to stand up for Alaska. Actually she has one of the worst vote attendance records in Congress.

    Only thing she’s proved is that she’s willing to be a political whore for dark money campaign contributions and slither in the grass, like the rest of the swamp creatures in Washington DC.

    • I’m trying to remember when the Republicans took meaningful action to reverse any of the damage the Democrats do when they are in power during my lifetime. It is one party, the Dems take us down, the Republicans talk garbage while treading water until their dominant partners regain power. How many millions of cubic feet of clean and efficient North Slope natural gas have been burned off instead of put to good use in Fairbanks? The Chinese use cheap, plentiful and reliable coal while paying off our Uniparty “leaders” to buy their solar panels and wind mill components using child slave labor in the Congo to mine rare earths, that we can destroy our electric grid infrastructure in the name of “climate change”.

  7. I’ve often wondered if CO2 could be processed into oxygen and solid carbon. However, we should be careful at releasing more oxygen into the atmosphere: A previous super-oxygenated atmosphere led to the development of gigantic dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era. Humans could become even larger and quickly deplete Earth’s resources. Cockroaches would grow to the size of a border collie. It would be better to use the oxygen with hydrogen in combustion to generate power. The solid carbon could be sequestered in building materials.

    • Chris, yes, that process would be physically possible, but separating the oxygen from the carbon in CO2 would end up requiring more energy (to break those C-O chemical bonds) than would be obtained by burning whatever fossil fuel or biomass whose combustion led to the creation of the CO2 in the first place — in other words, it would be a net-energy sink. The laws of thermodynamics are inescapable.

      • “Another option would be to harness a carbon-free energy source to drive a reaction that does not merely undo the combustion process but instead uses carbon dioxide as an input to generate useful, energy-rich products. At Sandia National Laboratories, we are working to apply concentrated sunlight to drive high-temperature thermal reactions that yield carbon monoxide, hydrogen and oxygen from CO2 and water. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen are basic chemical building blocks that find use in producing synthetic fuels, so we call this process “sunshine to petrol.”

  8. Well, it’s not only coal. Forget about coal for a minute. It’s natural gas too they want to eliminate as well as all the appliances. Natural Gas is a great supplement to coal for energy. But no, that is bad too.

    All these people who want to rule how we live via the UN are a dictatorship of unimaginable power. No voted delegates by the people. No legislative branch of elected representatives. All the checks & balances…gone.

    The present administration & Obama administration purposely by pass the Constitutional limitations on treaties because it limits their power to impose UN & other world body rules & goals.

    The audacity and power grabs by these people are incredible. The country & this state are loosing sovereignty (freedom) bit by bit.

  9. CO2 IS the currency of life, without it Plants die. Given the above its little wonder that the same people who want you to eat bugs instead of beef, kill your unborn children , force harmful medicalizations into your arms and make you wear oxygen deprivation mask 😷 are busy with turning the world into a desert 🏜 by limiting CO2.

    THINK ABOUT IT!

  10. How is it that the EPA an unelected body gets to make all the perverse anti energy rules . I thought congress was elected to make the rules ? I am
    missing something here . I don’t think they are allowing to make any rules and are only able to enforce what congress votes on or a presidential executive order . This has got to be explained in simple language .

    • Right now we have a whole group of unelected officials in Dubai deciding our energy future. The goal is to end fossil fuels. Yet, all have flown over in private jets, ridden in Limos, and enjoy gourmet food specially flown in. If you’re part of the elite, you will still utilize fossil fuels for many years to come.

  11. What will that carbon free source be without using natural gas or coal?
    Maybe they plan to use the Hot Air coming from Washington since there seems to be an abundance of it.

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