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Fossil Fuel Politics: How the New Congress Might Change the Mix

How the New Congress Might Change the Mix
Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 2003
  1. Omnibus Energy Legislation: H.R. 4 Side-by-side Comparison, Order Code RC3142 at 3-4 (2002) [hereinafter CRS].
  2. Id.
  3. The Clean Air Planning Act of 2002, S. 3135, 107th Cong. (2002).
  4. The Clean Power Act of 2001, S. 556, 107th Cong. (2001).
  5. The Clear Skies Act of 2002, H.R. 5266, 107th Cong. (2001); see also The Clear Skies Act of 2002, S. 2815, 107th Cong. (2002).
  6. Id.
  7. Id. at 41.
  8. Id. at 40, table 3.
  9. Under this request submitted by Sens. Smith, Voinovich and Brownback, the varying levels of assumed SO 2 emissions were below the level required by full implementation of CAAA90, assumed NO X emissions were below 1997 levels, and assumed mercury emissions were below 1999 levels. Id. at 43.
  10. Compared to the reference case of 2,238 billion kilowatt-hours of coal-fired generation in 2010, coal-fired generation declined by between 76 billion kilowatt-hours under the 50 percent reduction scenario and 170 billion kilowatt-hours under the 75 percent reduction scenario. Compared to the reference case of 2,302 billion kilowatt-hours of coal-fired generation in 2020, coal-fired generation declined by between 81 billion kilowatt-hours under the 50 percent reduction scenario and 219 billion kilowatt-hours under the 75 percent reduction scenario. Id. at 44, table 4.
  11. No change occurred where pollution levels for NO X, SO 2, and mercury were reduced by 50 percent and only a 0.1 cent increase per kilowatt-hour where three-pollutants were decreased by 65 and 75 percent. By 2020, the price difference under the 75 percent scenario was just 0.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  12. at 44, table 4.
  13. Id.
  14. at 45, table 5.
  15. Id.
  16. Coal accounts for slightly over 50 percent of U.S. electric generation today and, under EIA's baseline assumptions, will still account for 46 percent of U.S. generation in 2020. at 75.
  17. at 22; see also Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy, U.S. Natural Gas Markets: Mid-Term Prospects for Natural Gas Supply, No. SR/OIAF/2001-06 at ix (2001).
  18. .
  19. at 80. State renewable portfolio standards will contribute to 7,035 MW of additional renewable generating capacity through 2020. Texas projects an increase of 2,279 MW of renewable generation resulting from renewable portfolio standards and renewable fuel mandates. California, Nevada, and New Jersey also project large increases in renewable generation totaling 1,930, 1,148, and 904 MW, respectively.
  20. The Clean Smokestacks Act, S.B. 1078, 2002 Gen. Assem. (N.C. 2002).

Federal Fuel Incentives for Electric Generators: Past and Present

Whether federal intervention in fuel and generating technology markets is good policy depends largely on one's ideological inclination-a debate beyond the scope of this article. Still, it is useful to discuss briefly the successes and failures of such interventions in terms of the results achieved.

By most accounts, the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978 (FUA) 1 exemplifies a federal intervention that produced undesirable results. The FUA prohibited using natural gas and petroleum as energy sources in new electric and existing power plants and prohibited constructing any new electric power plant without the capability to use coal or any alternate fuel (i.e., most fuels other than natural gas or