Part 6: A Thriving Economy and clean air too

In the preceding posts, energy and it’s relationship to economic prosperity are discussed. The clear example of the use of energy and electricity to power economies of entire countries are discussed using the example of the U.S.A.’s economic prosperity from the advent of coal powered central station power plants 1882-2012. During this 130 year period, coal power was America’s #1 fuel for power generation. America’s power since 2012 has been generated with growing use of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing and at the same time, application of advanced pollution controls have been applied to our coal plants. These advancements have drastically reduced pollutants from America’s coal power generation. Both coal plant backend environmental emission controls and use of more emissions friendly natural gas have contributed to the drastic reductions in pollution.

America is also energy independent, thanks to President Trump’s policies to reduce regulations plus America’s treasure of enormous reserves of coal, oil and gas. Fracking and reduced Regulations together have unleashed our reserves of oil and gas. A geologist who specializes in oil exploration once told me, “Wherever there is coal, there is oil and natural gas.” This is true. Take a look at the history of coal, oil and gas production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas as four examples. These four states have lots of coal and lots of oil and gas too!

China on the other hand, has built more coal fueled electric power generation plants in the last twenty years than America did in the preceding 100 years. One difference is, American Industry has been responsible and reduced emissions while China has been focused on becoming the largest manufacturer in the world with less emphasis on pollution. Here is a graph of growing economic prosperity, increased population, increased travel and yet ever improving air quality. This is from the EPA website which shows the great progress in cleaning our air over the last 50 years since the EPA was began in 1970.

EPA Comparison of U.S.A. Growth of Economic, Miles Traveled, Population,Energy Production, CO2 and at the same time, Downward Trend of the six major Pollutants. From the EPA web page

Before the Pandemic in December 2019, America’s economy was thriving and manufacturing within our borders was increasing. Yes, President Trump’s policies of reducing regulations was working not only for increasing economic prosperity and jobs, but also resulting in continued clean air trends.

The EPA Chart of clean air trends clearly shows American Industry’s good and responsible progress in pollution reduction. That is not what you will see in the mainstream media. The illustration below attempts to compare the perception of “Dirty American Coal Plants” with reality.

I used the figure above in a recent presentation to our Hilton Head Rotary Club to discuss the “Importance of Reasonable Cost, Reliable Energy and Electricity to South Carolina”. In SC about one third of our electricity is used for the production of primary metals. Namely, steel and aluminum. The NUCOR Steel and Century Aluminum plants are amongst the state’s largest employers. The steel and aluminum is important for American manufacturing. Reasonable cost, clean energy is required for America’s steel and aluminum manufacturers to compete with China. In previous posts I have shown China’s rise in manufacturing since 2001 where they now produce over 50% of the entire world production of steel and aluminum. It is important that America keeps production of primary metals within our borders not only to provide jobs and a thriving economy but also for National Security. Yes, in America, we have proven that when we work together, we can have it all! Economic prosperity, Made in U.S.A. products and clean air and clean water too!

Another illustration I used in the recent Rotary presentation was a photo of aluminum ingots being exported from China and a graph of chinese aluminum production 2005-2016. This is an example of American manufacturers competing in the production of energy intensive primary metals.

During the years 1978-2012 I traveled the world working as a consultant to ALCOA. I saw as the expression goes, “Like a fly on the wall” the decline in ALCOA’s aluminum production as China dumped millions of tons of metal into world markets. Yes, they are over 50% of the world’s production capacity. Being competitive matters to every one of our 50 states, but here in SC (and every other U.S. State) it is particularly important to continue generating reasonable cost, reliable electric power. How does SC do that? It may surprise a lot of folks, but SC nuclear power generation is number 3 in America and provides over 55% of South Carolina’s electricity. In 2019 56.9% of SC’s electricity was generated by nuclear power. Of course, that helps both the clean air and reasonable cost generation factors.

South Carolina Electric Production by Fuel, 2019. From Energy Information Administration

Note that 93.5% of South Carolina’s electricity was produced by traditional, conventional power sources: Nuclear, Natural Gas and Coal. Yes, 93.5%. The reasonable cost power drives South Carolina’s manufacturing economy and provides thousands of jobs. A previous post discusses the “Green New Deal” and the potential harm to the American economy. Imagine the difficulty of attempting to compete with China in manufacturing if we changed to mostly solar and wind power produced at say $0.35/kWh? First of all, it cannot be done in the short term. Not until there are extreme advances in solar panel production and electric storage will reasonable cost electric generation from renewables be possible. Note in an earlier post this year on this Blog, I showed the example of Hawaii Electric which is attempting to become mostly renewable and have planned to shut down their most reliable and least cost source of electricity from their lone coal plant. So, what do they use in the interim? Oil, the most expensive fuel for power generation. No worries for manufacturing in Hawaii, their economy is driven by toursim, government facilities and agriculture. They can use the highest cost electricity in America with not too much pain. This would not bode well in a state with major manufacturing as SC has.

In conclusion, let me state, yes we can compete with the world and China in manufacturing as long as energy and electricity proces remain reasonable in cost. We have proven that not only can we generate relable 24/7 power generation but also do so with clean air and clean water.

Dick Storm, October 23, 2020

Part 5: Dick Storm’s Thoughts on the “Green New Deal”

Energy Part 5:

Thoughts on The New Green Deal and (so-called) Renewable Energy


Energy and economic prosperity go together. In part 4 I posted some facts on the growth of American industry over the last 140 years since electricity became commercialized. China has managed to expand their primary metals and manufacturing production to exceed that of America’s in about 20 years. How? By central planning and using enormous amounts of electricity mostly generated by coal power, just as America did over the 130 years 1882-2012. Reasonable cost electricity is important to power manufacturing and especially primary metals such as steel, aluminum and copper. A large aluminum smelter or Steel Mill will use as much power as a medium sized city. Electric power and economic power are inter-related. Where there is abundant and reasonable cost electricity, so is vibrant manufacturing and of course, jobs. Conversely, where electricity costs are high and electricity supplies unreliable, industry does not thrive. The preceding part 4 was intended to show how China replicated America’s success in expanding electrical production to power manufacturing and their economy. This part focuses on the high cost of renewable power and why a “Balanced Portfolio of All Fuels is Important” All sources of energy are important, including: Natural gas, Coal, Nuclear, Biomass, Hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar.

So, what is “The Green New Deal”?

Most if not all of the Democrats in Congress have been pushing for legislation to change America from being dependent on fossil fuels to changing to renewable fuels and eliminating carbon-based fuels in the near future. Here is an excerpt from the Democrat Party Platform, I deliberately selected red font for a reason:

“To reach net-zero emissions as rapidly as possible, Democrats commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency. We will dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems, including in rural areas. Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 wind turbines, and turn American ingenuity into American jobs by leveraging federal policy to manufacture renewable energy solutions in America. Recognizing the urgent need to decarbonize the power sector, our technology-neutral approach is inclusive of all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage.”

The Democrat Platform excerpt copied above  ( and it has many more pages) and the Biden-Sanders agreement  basically lean toward eliminating Hydraulic Fracturing and conventional energy production by the U.S.A. America has become the world’s #1 energy producer during the past four years and we have surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil and gas production.  Does anyone remember the Solyndra debacle from the Obama years? An excellent review is provided by the CATO publication, “Solyndra: A Case Study in Green Energy, Cronyism and The Failure of Central Planning”

Recent legislation by the House of Representatives confirms the path toward the Green New Deal if Biden is elected President.  The new legislation is, H.R.4447 – Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act also known as the “Green House Gases Bill” Donn Dears has written a summary of this in his Blog4   I share Mr. Dears concern for this anti-American energy legislation.

Non-Dispatchable renewable power causes problems with electric grid reliability as we have seen with recent California Blackouts . In addition to forcing solar and wind power onto the California grid, the San Onofre nuclear plant was prematurely shut down and regulations for conventional power plants increased. Worse yet, the one remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon is scheduled to be shut down in 2025. So like Hawaii, California also has some foolish energy policies that are causing increased costs and reduced reliability.  These two states are early indicators of what the “Green New Deal” could mean for the entire U.S.A. if Biden and Harris are elected and Democrats also control Congress.

Then there is the skepticism that solar can make a good difference with slowing down climate change. There are studies by some well respected organizations such as Carnegie University and Stanford 5 that solar panels will require huge amounts of Real Estate and can increase the surrounding ambient air temperature just from the solar collectors themselves. Just how much Real Estate you may ask? According to the 2015 study by Carnegie and Stanford, here is the quote in blue font from the Climate Centralarticle:

“We see that ‘big solar’ is competing for space with natural areas,” she said. “We were surprised to find that solar energy development is a potential driver of the loss of California’s natural ecosystems and reductions in the integrity of our state and national park system.”

Finding ways to resolve conflicts between renewable energy development and ecosystem protection may be critical if the U.S. is to rely on more solar power to displace fossil energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Assuming that 500 gigawatts of solar power may be needed to meet a future climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, Hernandez’s team found that a region of California roughly equal to the land area of South Carolina may be needed to accommodate all the new solar power plant development.

There are caveats to that, however: Though a 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal has been adopted in California, the Obama administration’s current goal for the U.S. is to cut emissions by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels within 10 years. The study also does not account for increasing solar panel efficiency over time, something that is likely to reduce the amount of land needed to generate a megawatt of solar electricity.”

Yes, you read that right, an area the size of the state of South Carolina. Two points, one, I don’t think we will actually do this and two, the solar panels only provide electricity during periods of sunshine.  

So, now lets move on to the real world experiment in Hawaii, which by the way, has the highest electricity costs of all 50 states. 

My post on this blog in June 2020, showed the example of Hawaii which has pretty much accepted the “Green New Deal” and they are shutting down their most reliable and most reasonable production cost coal power plant at Barber’s Point 3 .  Ironically, as Hawaii has regulated to eliminate fossil fuels, their power costs are the highest in the nation and most of the electric power generated comes from oil fuel. Why? Because Hawaii is an island and is not connected to the mainland electric grid. Thus, for reliability the power at night and when the sun is not shining, requires proven conventional forms of energy such as natural gas, coal or nuclear power. Because Hawaii does not have natural gas or nuclear and they are shutting down their one remaining coal plant, the choice for keeping the lights and air conditioners humming depends on oil fueled power plants. The most expensive of all the choices for fuel.

If you wish to check real time power generation for the island of Oahu here is the link: In my opinion, because of Hawaii being an energy island and not connected to the grid, it is an excellent living laboratory to show what the “Green New Deal” could mean for America. They are graced with ample wind and sunshine, but depend on fossil fuels for much of their reliable power. Thus, the highest cost electricity7 in America.

For the rest of America, (not including Hawaii and California) a balanced portfolio of generation has helped keep energy costs reasonable and helped fuel our economy. America’s economy was doing very well until the Pandemic.

In the previous Part 4, the rise of China during the last twenty years is highlighted. China, by utilizing fossil fuels has greatly surpassed America’s use of coal.  The high cost of electricity in Hawaii is discussed above. This may not be a problem for Hawaii because the power is used by government facilities, by hotels, restaurants, commercial and residential customers. But, the high cost electricity definitely rules out heavy manufacturing and primary metals production. 

As a Patriotic American, I would like to see us mine, manufacture and produce most of the products needed for our lifestyles from within our borders. Including aluminum, copper and steel production. Doing so and remaining competitive in the world requires low cost electricity. I have mentioned this before, it takes about 5kWh of electricity to smelt one pound of aluminum metal. If the aluminum is selling for about $0.80/pound and if electricity was to cost at the wholesale rate, about $0.10/kWh then over 62% of the production cost of aluminum would be in electric power. Of course, this does not include the electricity and energy costs for mining the Bauxite, shipping, and for forging, rolling and forming aluminum sheet or bars. Reasonable Electricity costs are necessary to create competitive manufacturing costs. 

National Security has to be considered too. International tensions and Wars have been fought over control of energy resources. Think back to before WWl when Winston Churchill converted the British Navy from coal to oil fuel. Then following WWll the Father of the American Nuclear Navy, Hyman Rickover saw the need for a better fuel for the US Navy. Now, America’s aircraft carriers and submarines are fueled by nuclear and can stay operational without refueling for decades. The American and world fleet of nuclear power plants owe their existence to Admiral Rickover and with some political help from President Eisenhower. So, for National Defense some major ships and submarines are powered by nuclear. However, helicopters, F-22’s, F-35’s, FA-18’s and Army tanks are fueled by Jet Fuel or Diesel. Keeping the abundant fuel supplies within our borders and secure is a part of our promoting Peace from a position of strength. Being against Fracking, against exploring and Drilling is a path that has a very distinct downside. In America we have found a balance of protecting the environment while still producing coal, oil and natural gas. Keeping the balance is important. Kindly scroll up to the EIA chart of energy used in the year 2019. Note that 89% of our energy is from conventional sources. Let’s not elect leaders that will cause harm and unnecessary risk to our country.

The foregoing are some of the reasons why I believe the “Green New Deal” is bad for America.

Another well researched document on why the Green New Deal will not work is authored by Mark P. Mills of the Manhatten Institute 8. Check his article for more details, link below.

Dick Storm October 10, 2020

  1. Democrat Party Platform:
  2. Wall Street Journal Opinion, July 30, 2020 on the Biden-Sanders Manifesto:
  3. “Hawaii, A Glimpse into the Future of the Green New Deal”:
  4. Donn Dears Blog on the Greenhouse-Gas Bill:
  5. Climate Central, Carnegie and Stanford study of impact on surrounding ambient temperature from solar panels:
  6. Forbes article on California Blackouts caused by Climate and anti-nuclear Policies:
  7. Energy Information Administration Electricity costs:
  8. Manhatten Institute, Mark P. Mills, “Magical Thinking” :
  9. EIA (Energy Information Administration) Monthly Energy Review, April 2020
  10. CATO 2015 publication, by David Boaz, “Solyndra: A Case Study in Green Energy, Cronyism and the Failure of Central Planning”