The EPA's proposed rules on greenhouse-gas emissions will have a limited effect on coal in the U.S. That's partly because a lot of coal-fired power plants were already on their way out. Since 2010, coal plants that produced about a sixth of the country’s coal-based electricity were slated for closure. About a third of those are already gone.
That’s partly because other regulations already on the books, like rules about mercury emissions, meant old plants were going to need pricey upgrades.
But even as more plants get pegged to close, the carbon rules won’t necessarily be to blame every time, says Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at MIT. "It’s going to be difficult to know exactly why a power plant shut down," he says. "It’s going to be a combination of cheap natural gas, mercury rules, carbon rules and all the other environmental policies."
However, he also thinks the new rule could have been a factor in plant closures that have already happened. "They shut down because of the rule that happened today, but they shut down two years ago, because of the expectation of that rule," he says.
But the new and existing rules will only touch a minority of coal-fired plants. Travis Miller, a utilities analyst at Morningstar, says not all coal plants score badly on the metric the EPA cares about: carbon intensity. "Some new coal plants are very efficient," he says, "and can emit relatively little for the amount of electricity they produce."
Even with some older plants, closure may not the the best strategy for some utilities. "We don’t see a whole lot of coal-plant closures in states where you have the opportunity to lower the carbon-intensity with other sources," says Miller.
The new rules let states take credit for bringing in more wind and solar— or for increasing energy efficiency. Older plants could keep running as part of that mix.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales tries on 'Google Glass' spectacles as he visits 'Innovation Alley'
Google Glass may be the product you've heard most about without ever having been able to try. It's certainly still a hot ticket item: the company is set to unveil new, limited edition frames for Google Glass from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. But in terms of its actual functionality, not that many people can say they've gotten a chance to really ingrain the technology into their daily life.
That's why Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent for the BBC, has been rocking Google's frames for six weeks, and fielding questions about the device from curious strangers. The most common question: "What's it for?"
Cellan-Jones says it's great for taking pictures, but he found that the Glass's voice command feature - the easiest way to navigate through its interface - had trouble translating from "English English" to "American English":
"I wanted to put a caption on a photo I took of my garden. And I wanted to say, 'Garden looking unusually tidy,' in a rather British way, and it came out as, 'Gordon looking for usual Thai tea.'
Unfortunately, translation issues aren't the only problem Cellan-Jones found with the smart frames. He says that because of its lack of functions, and its generally clunky feel, Google Glass is still a ways off from being the must-have item that everyone will rush to buy.Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, June 4, 2014by Ben JohnsonPodcast Title My six weeks with Google GlassStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No
Mount Whitney is seen in the distance (R) as David Ploskonka of Baltimore, Maryland approaches the town of Lone Pine after completing more than 100 miles of the AdventurCORPS Badwater 135 ultra-marathon race on July 16, 2013 outside of Death Valley National Park, California.
From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Wednesday, June 4:
In Washington, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for April.
The Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing on "The Impact of Student Loan Debt on Borrowers and the Economy."
The Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book summary of commentary on current economic conditions.
And it's a day to run around town...or many miles. June 4 is National Running Day.by Podcast Title Datebook: Lace up and cover some groundSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No
The 'Flex', an 'electronic coach', device by Fitbit.
Health privacy can, at times, be at odds with a major cultural shift happening in healthcare: a demand for greater transparency.
The Health Data Exploration project is another example where sharing trumps privacy.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – in collaboration with several California schools – aims to convince consumers to share the personal health data that’s being generated from an avalanche of apps and wearable devices like Fitbit.
The question behind the Health Data Exploration project is how to harness that data, and do something other than make money off of it.
“With these technologies, we can get to a space where we are getting more realistic data. It’s capturing that everydayness of heatlh," says Matthew Bietz with the University of California Irvine, and one of the project’s lead investigators.
Bietz says the data would allow researchers to look at how stress affects eating, or how caffeine impacts sleep, on a scale that’s currently impossible.
This project will launch a research network that helps link businesses and their consumers with researchers.
University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Anita Allen says before consumers share their data to help solve some of healthcare’s most pressing questions, consumers must know they will be protected.
“Like it or not, some employers might find out information about us and use it against us when it comes to making hiring decisions,” she says.
“Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Do you have diabetes? Do you have an irregular heart beat? These kinds of things might be used to our disadvantage.”
Bietz agrees that one of the trickiest tasks ahead is figuring out how to best protect consumer privacy.
Though, if done correctly, Bietz is convinced that “we could actually say new things about connections between the way we live and our well being.”Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday June 4, 2014by Dan GorensteinPodcast Title Sharing our personal health data – for good Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No
Altaf Hussain, who heads the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), was taken into custody on Tuesday. His arrest has sparked fears of violence in the city of Karachi, an MQM stronghold.
Author Khaled Hosseini.
Success in publishing is about a lot of things. Sales, of course. Staying power. And the business of words.We've asked some of our favorite contemporary authors to share the numbers they think about as they write -- how they infuse the economic world around them into storytelling.
Listen to this installment from best-selling author Khaled Hosseini ("The Kite Runner", "A Thousand Splendid Suns") in the audio player above. He talks about the very real, very human economics in his new book, "And the Mountains Echoed". We've reprinted the first chapter here:
Back home, in Shadbagh, Pari kept underneath her pillow an old tin tea box Abdullah had given her. It had a rusty latch, and on the lid was a bearded Indian man, wearing a turban and a long red tunic, holding up a steaming cup of tea with both hands. Inside the box were all of the feathers that Pari collected. They were her most cherished belongings. Deep green and dense burgundy rooster feathers; a white tail feather from a dove; a sparrow feather,dust brown, dotted with dark blotches; and the one of which Pari was proudest, an iridescent green peacock feather with a beautiful large eye at the tip.
This last was a gift Abdullah had given her two months earlier. He had heard of a boy from another village whose family owned a peacock. One day when Father was away digging ditches in a town south of Shadbagh, Abdullah walked to this other village, found the boy, and asked him for a feather from the bird. Negotiation ensued, at the end of which Abdullah agreed to trade his shoes for the feather. By the time he returned to Shadbagh, peacock feather tucked in the waist of his trousers beneath his shirt, his heels had split open and left bloody smudges on the ground. Thorns and splinters had burrowed into the skin of his soles. Every step sent barbs of pain shooting through his feet.
When he arrived home, he found his stepmother, Parwana, outside the hut, hunched before the tandoor, making the daily naan. He quickly ducked behind the giant oak tree near their home and waited for her to finish. Peeking around the trunk, he watched her work, a thick-shouldered woman with long arms, rough-skinned hands, and stubby fingers; a woman with a puffed, rounded face who possessed none of the grace of the butterfly she’d been named after.
Abdullah wished he could love her as he had his own mother. Mother, who had bled to death giving birth to Pari three and a
half years earlier when Abdullah was seven. Mother, whose face was all but lost to him now. Mother, who cupped his head in both palms and held it to her chest and stroked his cheek every night before sleep and sang him a lullaby:
I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.
He wished he could love his new mother in the same way. And perhaps Parwana, he thought, secretly wished the same, that she could love him.
Reprinted from And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, Copyright © 2014 by Khaled Hosseini.Marketplace for Tuesday June 3, 2014 Gillian Flynn on the economics behind 'Gone Girl' And the Mountains Echoed Author: Khaled Hosseini Publisher: Riverhead Trade (2014) Binding: Paperback, 448 pages Produced by Nancy FarghalliPodcast Title Khalid Hosseini on the economics behind 'And the Mountains Echoed'Story Type CommentarySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No
In June, Russia serves as the president of the United Nations Security Council. Already, that has meant a focus on Ukraine. Russia wants the Ukrainian government to end its military crackdown on separatists. It has also called for consultations on the humanitarian situation in the country.
President Obama is starting a European trip in Poland, where he will meet allied leaders from central and eastern Europe. They are worried about Russia's intentions after the recent events in Ukraine.
Some Syrians fear that after the elections, President Bashar Assad's regime will get worse. They suspect that truces will evaporate, arrests will increase and more of the country will be partitioned.
The Polish city of Krakow is only the latest to withdraw its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics after a public referendum. So many localities have dropped out of the running that the games might just be hosted by the last contender standing. Robert Siegel talks with Olympic historian David Wallechinsky about what's behind the loss of interest.
New poll numbers from the Pew Research Center show widespread dissatisfaction in Brazil as the country prepares for the World Cup. The president gets negative marks, and few think the tournament will be positive for Brazil.
Syrians are voting in the country's presidential election, even as a civil war continues to rage around them. Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal is in Syria, and he discusses the disputed election.