Saturday, August 20, 2011

Power plant closings just in time to explain inflation away

Industry groups such the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, and the American Legislative Exchange Council have dubbed the coming rules “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck.” The regulations, they say, will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity. Given that coal provides 45 percent of the country’s power, that means higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs.

This month, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which conducts policy research for members of Congress, has been circulating a paper that tries to calmly sort through the shouting match. Thanks to The Hill’s Andrew Restuccia, it’s now available (PDF [link in original]) for all to read. And the upshot is that CRS is awfully skeptical of the “train wreck” predictions.

As if being bipartisan makes any difference. Obama, for example, is widely regarded as a Republican thinly disguised as a Democrat. In fact, he's a soulless oligarchical puppet with the trappings of a family man. You can safely bet that prices are going to shoot up, and that "bipartisan" groups will claim that the higher prices are due to power plant closings.

Power plants and flood control projects are two examples of infrastructure that pay for themselves by making electric power (which is pretty much the basis of modern civilization) plentiful and affordable, or by preventing flood disasters. Modern nuclear fission power plants are the ultimate solution until fusion or matter-antimatter power becomes practical. Nuclear waste can be recycled instead of just letting it sit around for thousands of years. The notion that we can't get rid of the waste is just another lie which is used to convince us that there are insurmountable problems with it.

While on the subject of infrastructure, I'd like to make a few points about maglev, which is routinely rejected on the basis that it's "too expensive." (According to Google's spell-checker, it's not even a word, as if it's been relegated to the Memory Hole.) Perhaps it's "too expensive" because we don't have sufficient power or industrial capacity. The solution: make more, and once a maglev network is created, reap the savings and create a new civilization based on this revolutionary new mode of transport.

A maglev system has so many advantages that you'd think that Congress would have poured money into developing the ultimate maglev system and then into building it. But instead, they just parrot the "too expensive" line and let Bernanke inflate the Dollar out of existence in order to cover bankers' gambling debts, which produce nothing. At least if that money were spent on maglev, we'd have this great new transportation system which would indeed make the US more competitive, if that's your only basis for measuring the quality of a society. (Oh, that's right: Margaret "God" Thatcher, Her Majesty's former hench-woman, said that society doesn't exist, implying that there is no love and that civilization is just a giant swap meet where we sell each other junk. So, its only benefit would be to allow us to produce cars more cheaply. Forget the fact that it would drastically reduce our need for cars and even planes.)