Our Opinion: The next step

Ending former President Barack Obama’s war on coal and affordable electricity is an excellent first step to getting the United States back to a rational energy policy. A second, big step is imperative, however.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday he will order that the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan not be implemented. The CPP was to be the capstone of Obama’s campaign to wreck the coal industry and force utilities to shut down coal-fired power plants.

Because Obama had eight years to gnaw away at the coal industry, it can never recover entirely from the damage he and his EPA did. Killing the CPP means the coup de grace will not be administered, however.

Just a few years ago, more than half the nation’s electric power was generated at coal-fired generating stations. By last year, the share was down to one-third. That has resulted in higher electric bills for millions of households and businesses. It will have a long-term effect on the electric grid’s reliability.

Pruitt’s plan will stop the bleeding — for now. But concern over climate change has prompted something of a consensus that the nation’s carbon footprint needs to be reduced.

For us to use more coal, or even to maintain the level now being burned, more effective methods of removing carbon dioxide from power plant emissions will have to be put in place.

The technology to reduce CO2 emissions dramatically, by about 90 percent, is available. Reportedly, it is in limited use.

For the cost of that technology to be reduced enough to make it commercially feasible, more research and development work is needed. R&D is expensive.

Obama’s administration actually cut back on funding for fossil fuel technologies. Fortunately, Congress reversed some of that damage. But for the required level of research to be undertaken and completed, billions of dollars needs to be added to the budget for that purpose. Liberals and environmental radicals will object to that. They did not balk when Obama funneled billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to unrealistic solar and wind power projects, however. Pruitt is taking the first step back to an intelligent energy policy. President Donald Trump and Congress need to take the second step, as soon as possible.

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