Summit speakers take whacks at U.S. energy policies, rules

As expected, energy production and policy took up a big chunk of the discussion at the Manufacturing Summit in Dalton Thursday.  But the various speakers took different approaches to their common topic.

First up was Rep. Tom Graves, who represents much of North Georgia in Congress and focused on the proliferation of regulations handcuffing businesses in a number of ways. Graves spoke of energy as one of the many areas affected by what he reported as 43 new major regulations that the federal government imposed in 2010 alone, at an estimated cost to businesses of $26.5 billion.

“Our rapidly expanding government has brought a pox of regulations upon businesses across this country,” Graves said.

“To the promoters of more government, bigger government…we must stand together and say, ‘no.’ When there are those that say free markets don’t work or capitalism is false, we must stand together as entrepreneurs and push ahead.”

Graves was followed by T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas magnate who is promoting a national energy plan that he developed and which relies heavily on natural gas. He describes his main motivation as reducing our reliance on foreign oil, which he pegged at 13 million barrels a day out of the 20 million barrels we use each day. Of that, he said we import 5 million barrels from members of OPEC.

Pickens favors a plan to convert America’s 18-wheelers, all 8 million of them, to run on natural gas — which, he said, could cut our OPEC imports in half. But he signaled an openness to other energy sources as well, so long as they meet one requirement.

“Anything American, I’m for,” Pickens said. “I’m not even against ethanol. It’s an ugly baby, but its our baby. It’s better than OPEC, I can tell you that.”

A different tack was taken by Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company. Fanning focused on “everything but oil” — basically meaning sources of electricity generation. He advocated an “all arrows in the quiver” approach but spent a good bit of time talking about why the U.S. should not abandon nuclear power in spite of the disaster in Japan. New technology, he said, addresses the biggest problem with the earthquake- and tsunami-struck reactors in Japan by using gravity to pour water on fuel rods in case of a shutdown rather than requiring an external power source. (That includes the two new reactors Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is building at Plant Vogtle.)

Fanning also spent much time decrying the EPA’s new Utility MACT regulation, which the agency is trying to rush through with only a 60-day public comment period and a three-year timeline for implementation.

“It is our [company's] view that as a result of this rule by EPA, we may have to shut down almost half of the nation’s coal-generated [power] resources, putting us into potentially a reliability crisis,” Fanning said. “And when we consider adding new environmental control equipment or replacing it with other forms of generaton, we’re looking at potential price increases across the United States of maybe 20 percent.”

In the Southeast alone, Fanning said, the new regulation could eliminate up to 35,000 jobs. The cost to businesses, he said, was likely to be much higher than the  EPA’s estimate of a $10.9 billion a year.

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

74 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

May 20th, 2011
6:38 am

I hope someone ask Mr. Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company how that state corporate welfare bill on Nuclear Power is working out for him. I’m sure it’s not working out to good for the rest of us who get stuck with the bill.

stands for decibels

May 20th, 2011
7:53 am

Kyle, like you, I’ve heard T. Boone make his pitch for converting all of America’s big trucks to natural gas, it appears to be at the core of creating a market for the costs associated with extracting this resource.

How do you feel about this, just on a first- or second-impression level? Do you think American conservatives could get behind such a thing?

BULLSEYE

May 20th, 2011
8:38 am

Lee

May 20th, 2011
8:54 am

RE the Pickens plan:

1. You must first increase the transportation capacity (natural gas pipelines) in order for this to work. Even now, at certain times of the year, they are at near capacity.

2. You must also significantly increase the natural gas storage capacity. A large part of our natural gas production is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico – which, in case you have forgotten, is in a “hurricane alley.”

3. Off hand, I’m guessing Pickens has some significant investments in natural gas.

Regarding nuclear:
Let’s not forget that the main reason nuclear power construction went into a thirty year hibernation was because of the government regulations passed as a result of Three Mile Island.

Road Scholar

May 20th, 2011
9:13 am

Lee: Add the expansion of Natural gas refueling locations.

Kyle: What is MACT?

If businesses would live by the “rules” in the good book, maybe we would not need to regulate them! Looking the other way is not acceptable!

USMC

May 20th, 2011
9:35 am

Drill Baby Drill!

Lee

May 20th, 2011
10:01 am

@Road, MACT = Maximum Achievable Control Technology

http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dapc/mact/mactmain.aspx

In sum, if you have a large boiler, you must install the environmental control technologies to attain a certain level of air pollution reduction.

Sounds good in theory until you have to either spend a billion dollars installing scrubbers or shut the plant down.

China does the bare minimum, which is why all of our manufacturing base is moving overseas….

Intown

May 20th, 2011
10:18 am

I heard the hype for this event long before it occurred. While I would like to see more manufacturing in the United States, I felt this event had too much of a political conservative flavor to make me want to attend. Too bad it wasn’t an apolitical or at least non-partisan event. It could’ve had wider appeal without the anti-regulation, pro-nuclear rhetoric.

Don't Tread

May 20th, 2011
10:59 am

Ask any boater with fiberglass fuel tanks exactly how ugly a baby ethanol is. (Or for that matter, anyone who has accidentally left gasoline sitting in their lawn mower for a few months.) While ethanol theoretically “replaces” gasoline that would otherwise be imported from a country that hates us, the costs associated with using it as a fuel outweigh the benefits. It is nasty stuff.

I’m all for the gravity theory on cooling fuel rods, as long as whatever container is being used to hold tons of water over a reactor core is able to withstand the earthquake in the first place without cracking. Otherwise, you’re back in the same boat.

Not only will a 20% price increase kill jobs, it will also kill personal discretionary spending (except for the rich, of course), which will kill more jobs due to lost revenue.

Jefferson

May 20th, 2011
11:19 am

1. Graves is a crook — he takes out a load then stiffs the lender. Where did the 2 mil go ? The FDIC took the lender – who is on the hook?

2. Who will make up the revenue if you give business sales tax breaks? I’d love one too, but the gov’t has to provide need services.

According to Newt corportate wellfare from the right is no better that social wellfare from the left :)

Sol

May 20th, 2011
11:29 am

I have an evacuated tube solar water heater which works like a charm. Why can’t we manufacture those in this country? Efficient, non-polluting and creates jobs.

Dumber and Dumber

May 20th, 2011
11:36 am

More blather from the right-wing echo chamber. The EPA has been kicking around the MACT proposal for years, its the Southern Company that wants to stick to to its decades old coal-fired plants and make no changes. Other energy companies have been more proactive and have developed new technologies. But since the Tea-Party has taken over the GOP agenda, we now know that the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were serious mistakes that have only cost us jobs but have delivered no environmental benefits. We need to compete with China, so lets eliminate the CAA, CWA, Superfund, etc., and disband the EPA and all state enviro agencies. What a great idea.

Here’s to hoping that the rapture really is tonight.

Bart Abel

May 20th, 2011
12:06 pm

Re: Tom Graves, “To the promoters of more government, bigger government…we must stand together and say, ‘no.’ When there are those that say free markets don’t work or capitalism is false, we must stand together as entrepreneurs and push ahead.”

This war on regulations is frustrating. Regulations aren’t an impediment to free markets; they’re a prerequisite to free markets. I submit that to be anti-regulation is to be anti-capitalism.

Regulations protect consumers, level the playing field, reduce injuries, save lives, and yes, save money. For example, if we pay a little more in our electric bill to breathe clean air, we save as much or more in lower medical bills.

Corporations and the politicians who represent them look at the side of the equation that affect them directly. Voters have to look at the big picture.

It’s true that regulations have increased since Obama came into office. It’s also true that, despite reciting the Oath of Office twice, Bush simply stopped enforcing regulations he didn’t like. Obama is simply plugging the hole and enforcing environmental laws that were agreed to and passed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

I don’t know where Fanning gets him information, but I’m quite confident he’s blowing smoke.

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 20th, 2011
12:08 pm

From what I know of it, I actually think T Boone Pickens’ idea is a pretty good one, the devil, of course, being in the details. That being said, let’s not forget, as sfd pointed out, he stands to make an awful lot of money from it. Not anything wrong with him profiting from a good idea but, as always, anytime anybody floats an idea the first question that has to be asked is, “What’s in it for them?”

Bart Abel

May 20th, 2011
12:25 pm

Reinforcing my earlier point, here’s a link to a 2010 RAND study that illustrates potential economic costs of NOT meeting federal air quality standards: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9501/index1.html

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 20th, 2011
12:44 pm

“I submit that to be anti-regulation is to be anti-capitalism.”
———

You’re confused. Capitalism requires stability in the rules. Spastic growth in the amount and scope of regulation, so loved by Democrats and libbtards, is the exact opposite of what capitalism needs.

Nice try at rationalizing your Idiot Messiah’s various power grabs though. No sale.

Mary Margaret Thomlinson-Hanson

May 20th, 2011
12:59 pm

Due away with regulations. Who cares if infant mortality rates go up? Who cares if the air and water are too infected to drink? Who cares if the burger you eat is contaminated?

And the same people that are anti-regulation are the same nuts that complain about debt being passed on to their great-grandchildren.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
1:16 pm

Cap & Trade is a hoax. Gore attended the ”97 UN climate change conference in Kyoto & came home with dollar signs in his eyes. The US congress would not sign the treaty then & has consistently refused to pass a cap & tax bill, realizing it would destroy our economy. The Dem. House passed it in 11/09 but the Dem. Senate refused to pass it. Right before Obama was to attend the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen in 12/09, the EPA formally declared on 12/6/09 that greenhouse gases were pollutants & that the Obama adm. could regulate them under the Clean Air Act of 1970. What a coincidence! All of a sudden water vapor & carbon dioxide are pollutants & politicians in Washington can reduce them all over the world!

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 20th, 2011
1:32 pm

Your Idiot Messiah invented a regulation that he thinks gives him the power to tell Boeing they can’t put a factory in South Carolina. Tell us how that regulation helps manufacturing.

Bart Abel

May 20th, 2011
1:35 pm

“Your Idiot Messiah” is a conversation ender.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
1:44 pm

Water vapor & carbon dioxide and not “all of a sudden pollutants.” They are greeehouse gases and therefore pollutants because they are generated at a rate that disturbs the balance that was maintained by natural processes before the industrial revolution .

[...] Wingfield covered the summit for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writing, “Summit speakers take whacks at U.S. energy policies, rules,” reporting on remarks by Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company: Fanning focused on [...]

Linda

May 20th, 2011
1:59 pm

MarkV@1:44, Water can be in either a liquid or gas phase. Water vapor is the gas phase of plain old water. H2O. Water disappears into the air & becomes a gas (water vapor) when it’s heated. How is Obama gonna regulate it? Where will he put it all? We will miss the oceans.
Carbon dioxide is what you breath out & what plants absorb. Without it, there would be no life on earth. You drink it in soft drinks. How will you reduce it to pre-industrial revolution?
Why were greenhouse gases never considered pollutants until about 1 1/2 yrs. ago?

Jesus Christenson

May 20th, 2011
2:25 pm

Idiot Messiah? You will bite your tongue tomorrow in the rapture for saying such blasphemy!

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 20th, 2011
2:43 pm

Bart Abel: “Your Idiot Messiah” is a conversation ender.
———

Only to Idiot Messiah acolytes and dunces who can’t answer the question.

carlosgvv

May 20th, 2011
2:54 pm

When the lackeys of Big Business talk about “regulations handcuffing” them, what they really want is a free hand to cheat and gouge the public totally while Govt. looks the other way.

Lil' Georgie Bailout

May 20th, 2011
2:58 pm

The only Idiot Messiah is “your president” that is now in Dallas.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
3:07 pm

If you believe that the globe is warming, that it is due to the existence of man & that it is being caused by greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, do you really believe that Obama can solve the problem as he promised? He said he would reduce emissions 83% below ‘05 levels by 2050. In ‘05, there were 6 B tons of CO2 emissions X 83% means he would remove 5 B tons & there would be 1 B tons left in ‘50. The last time we were emitting 1 B tons of CO2 in the atmosphere was in 1910, at which time there were 92 million people. The problem is that by ‘50, there will be about 420 million people. 1 B tons would be divided by 420 M = 2.4 tons per person, which is 1/4 of the per person emissions of 1910. The last time there was 2.4 tons of CO2 emission per person was probably when there was 45 million people–in 1875.
BTW, countries with CO2 emissions of 2.4 T per person include Grenada & Botswana.
BTW, in 1875, our primary source of heat was wood.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
3:08 pm

Linda @1:59 pm: Your arguments and questions are incredibly naïve and ignorant., and ignore what I wrote. Life on earth has developed in a way that natural processes, including what people, animals and plants emit and absorb, was in balance, resulting in a relatively stable condition. The continuing industrial revolution caused a growing imbalance by generating enormous and increasing amounts of greenhouse gases, which the natural processes are incapable of controlling.

Lil' Georgie Bailout

May 20th, 2011
3:15 pm

Good job, MarkV. Hwo can people not believe that we are making a huge imprint on the planet? And then they come back with it being in cycles. Really? I guess that I missed when dinosaurs drove 18-wheelers, and the big nuclear meltdown of 800 B.C.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

Linda @3:07 pm: “BTW, in 1875, our primary source of heat was wood.”

What do you think si the product of burning wood?

stands for decibels

May 20th, 2011
3:30 pm

From what I know of it, I actually think T Boone Pickens’ idea is a pretty good one, the devil, of course, being in the details.

I didn’t come out and say it, but regarding the key idea, that of converting our 18 wheelers to natural gas–it sounds like a pretty good one to me as well, or at least it’s not-crazy.

My concern is as yours–details?

also, I don’t know how the heck you implement it, politically, without a lot of cooperation from a lot of parties that aren’t on real good terms these days.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
3:32 pm

MarkV@3:08, Well, at least I know what water is. I also know what air is.
There are real pollutants in the air such as sulfer, carbon monoxide & nitrogen, but carbon dioxide is not a pollutant in the air. It IS air. It is a good, pure, natural, scarce, clean, odorless, colorless, essential gas. It is a plant nutrient & is added in huge quantities to commercial green houses.
Water vapor & carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases. CO2 is no more a pollutant than water.

Jefferson

May 20th, 2011
3:35 pm

I can get you fired for bad mouthing the president, just ask that cat in Barrow county….

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
3:36 pm

T Boone Pickens’ idea is a good one, becasue natural gas burns cleaner than diesel. It can and perhaps should be part of the plan of action. But as has been said, it is not simple to implement.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
3:39 pm

Linda @3:32 pm: Itis hopeless to debate with someone who is incapable of understanding.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
3:41 pm

MarkV@3:25, I can tell that my 3:07 comment went completely over your head if all you could muster from it was the product from burning wood in 1875. The comment was to render proof that the goal of the Obama adm. is statistically impossible, & all you could come up with is smoke?

Linda

May 20th, 2011
3:44 pm

MarkV@3:39, This is fifth grade science. Don’t you remember studying photosynthesis?

slim tire

May 20th, 2011
4:06 pm

Greed is good,
Greed is God,
Greed is my Shepherd..

I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green dollars:
He leadeth me beside the unguarded wealth.
He restoreth my derivative s:
He leadeth me in the paths of avarice for His name’ sake.

Yea, though I walk through an economy in the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For I am not affected;
The court and my minions, they comfort me.
They preparest a table before me in the sight of mine enemies;
They annointest my head with oil; crude and refined,
My cup runneth over.
Surely cash flow and power shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in a gated community forever.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
4:31 pm

Linda @3:44 pm: Yes, Linda, it is a fifth grade science, and you are getting an F. As I wrote, it is hopeless, but I will give it one more try. You wrote: “…but carbon dioxide is not a pollutant in the air. It IS air.”
Well, strictly speaking, it is NOT air. Air is oxygen plus nitrogen. But it is a natural component of atmospheric air, which contains many other components. The mere fact that it is a natural component does not yet mean that it cannot be harmful. Carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and ammonia also are components of atmospheric air, but that does not mean they would not be harmful if their concentration increased. Carbon dioxide has an essential role for life of most living things, but again, that does not mean its concentration can increase without consequences. Since it is one of the most important greenhouse gases, an increase in its concentration increases the greenhouse effect, and contributes in a major way to global warming.

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
4:34 pm

Linda @3:41 pm: You comment did not “go over my head.” My response is: So it will be difficult, what else is new? And you did not prove anything being “statistically impossible.” Apparently you do not know what “statistically impossible” means.

slim tire

May 20th, 2011
4:45 pm

If only Jesus had taught people to love.

Michael H. Smith

May 20th, 2011
5:46 pm

If there was a choice between having CO2 or methane (natural gas) in the atmosphere, then CO2 would be preferable to methane (natural gas) for reasons that should be obvious. However, it is not so much what CO2 in the atmosphere is doing, so much as what it does once in the oceans, where it becomes acidic. Thereby reducing the salinity of the water, which could spell trouble for the Atlantic conveyer: Of course, this shut-down is scientific hypothesis. As for methane, there isn’t anything like trees to convert it into anything less harmful: In fact it depletes oxygen. Not to mention it has a more pronounced immediate effect unlike CO2 which is much harder for the atmosphere to dissipate.

Now, with that razzle-dazzle out of the way, a couple of other good reasons besides making T. Boone Pickens a few more billions off his natural gas holdings for using this greenhouse gas – that actually burns – apart from it being a cleaner fuel than coal or oil is that problematic situation which methane (natural gas) presents to the atmosphere. To make short of it, we should use all the methane we can rather than have it escape into the atmosphere. Oh dang… and there is this other thing: As it just so happens, the U.S. has the world largest known recoverable natural gas resources. By estimate, over 100 years worth just sitting in the ground and underneath the oceans all within our territory.

Georgia and South Carolina for instants could benefit – in terms of jobs and money – from natural gas resources located off of our coast, if not for the big federal GUB’MENT’s moratorium and regulations. Many other states face the same problems. As we continue to pay higher energy prices than we should, especially when we have the resources to do it.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
6:00 pm

MarkV@4:31, If “air is oxygen plus nitrogen,” where is the CO2?
Air is: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, .93% argon, .039% carbon dioxide & .003% other trace gases. Water vapor is mixed in with it. CO2 is air, part of the natural makeup that has been around since dirt. It’s our breath we exhale.
Carbon dioxide is such a minute part of air & makes up from 350 to 400 ppm. It would take 5000 ppm to be considered unhealthy. Sailors don’t worry about it on submarines until it reaches 8,000 to 10,000 ppm.
“…essential role for life of most living things…” Tell me one living thing that it’s NOT essential for.
500 million years ago, CO2 was 20 times more prevalent than it is today, which proves humans aren’t entirely responsible for its increase (or decrease, for that matter). It’s from breathing, volcanoes, hot springs & geysers, in addition to comubustion.
Of the greenhouse gases, water vapor varies from 36-72%, CO2 from 9-26%, methane from 4-9%, etc. Without them the earth would be 60 degrees colder.
The globe has been cooling & heating for millions of years. We were warned in the ’70s of global cooling. Dr. Phil Jones admitted that there’s been no warming in years. Scientists are now warning of another cooling period. Where have you been? This is what is called WEATHER & NATURE.

Linda

May 20th, 2011
6:08 pm

MarkV@4:34, Do you know the difference between difficult & impossible? Do you know the difference between our way of life in 2011 & what it was like in 1875? Do you want to go back to those good old days of heating our homes with wood & driving to work on mules?
Like I said, it was over your head.
P.S. The wood they burned in 1875 was not that stuff you buy at the grocery store.

lars

May 20th, 2011
6:13 pm

“500 million years ago”…linda don’t believe in creationism.

Michael H. Smith

May 20th, 2011
6:16 pm

Think we’ll run out of natural gas (methane) after a hundred years? :)

Methane

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years. Methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period and is emitted from a variety of natural and human-influenced sources. Human-influenced sources include landfills, natural gas and petroleum systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial process.

Methane is also a primary constituent of natural gas and an important energy source. As a result, efforts to prevent or utilize methane emissions can provide significant energy, economic and environmental benefits. In the United States, many companies are working with EPA in voluntary efforts to reduce emissions by implementing cost-effective management methods and technologies.

http://www.epa.gov/methane/

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
6:21 pm

Linda @6:00 pm: Linda, you either cannot read well, or you have some problem with understanding sentences. There is something to the saying that little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

You have asked: “If “air is oxygen plus nitrogen,” where is the CO2?” Since you disregarded what I have written, let me try to explain to you as if you were a child. The term “air” means, strictly, a specific mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. In our atmosphere, there are some other components, actually more of them than those you mentioned. However, if you take all carbon dioxide out of atmospheric air, what will you have? Air. If you buy a pure compressed air in a cylinder, you will not have any detectable carbon dioxide, but it will still be “air.” Can you understand this simple concept?

When we speak of carbon dioxide as “pollutant” in a climatologic sense, we are not talking about it being dangerous to our breathing or to plants. We are talking about its importance in the greenhouse effect.

Michael H. Smith

May 20th, 2011
6:23 pm

Just curious lars, if creationism isn’t the reason for the existence of everything then what is? Evolution? In order to have evolution something must at least exist to evolve, right? Just a guess but that would eventually mean that some form of superior mas or mater would have simply had to have existed for the BIG BANG to have actually happened, is that about right?

Well, BIG GOD or BIG BANG both hypothesis require unreasoned faith to believe that one or the other simply existed without a creation in order for all things to have evolved from either one of these two.

Gee

MarkV

May 20th, 2011
6:28 pm

Linda @6:08 pm: Exactly because I know the difference between difficult and impossible, I know that when you wrote the following: “The comment was to render proof that the goal of the Obama adm. is statistically impossible,” you proved you did not know what you were talking about. Again, you have shown that you had no idea what “statistically impossible” would mean.