EPA has initiated a 60-day public comment period on the Carbon Pollution Standard, a proposed regulation that would ban new coal-fired power plants. Click here to submit a comment. EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C., at the William Clinton EPA building, on February 6th. Click here for details.
In the News
Does the 2005 Energy Policy Act Undercut the Carbon Pollution Standard?
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 11 January 2014
News You Can Use
UN: Stopping Climate Change To Cost $3.8 Trillion
Bloomberg reports today on a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft estimate that limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius would cost 4 percent of global gross domestic product in 2030, which works out to a projected 3.8 trillion in today’s dollars.
Inside the Beltway
McConnell Files Resolution To Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on 16th January that he and at least forty other Republican Senators would file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new coal and natural gas power plants. EPA finally published its second version of the proposed rule on 8th January.
Sen. McConnell also wrote a letter to the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office asking for a determination that his resolution of disapproval complies with the CRA. Final rules, not proposed rules, are subject to Senate and House votes under the CRA. McConnell argues in the letter that the proposed rule falls into a special category because any power plants that begin construction after the proposed rule was published on 8th January will be subject to the rule when it becomes final. Thus, the proposed rule is in a sense already final. If the comptroller general agrees with McConnell, then under the provisions of the CRA McConnell and his Republican colleagues can force a floor vote and the resolution will pass if it gets a simple majority.
There is clear majority support in the House of Representatives to block the EPA rule. This week, the Energy and Power (sic) Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up a bill that would block the proposed rule for new power plants and send the EPA back to the drawing board. H. R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, passed the subcommittee by a vote of 18 to 11. The bill’s chief sponsor is the subcommittee’s chairman, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Shock: EPA Secretly Working with Environmental Groups To Kill Coal
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 16th January on the President’s climate action plan. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and other Republican opponents of the President’s plan to increase consumer energy prices concentrated their questions on internal EPA e-mails that show that top political appointees at the EPA have been working closely with environmental pressure groups to kill coal. McCarthy replied that she knew nothing. Lachlan Markey has the full story on the hearing in the Washington Free Beacon.
McCarthy and other Obama Administration officials have denied repeatedly that proposed and forthcoming regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will or are intended to kill coal. The e-mails and other documents that were released this week as the result of a lawsuit by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute tell a different story. The lawsuit was brought to enforce a Freedom of Information Act request by the institute’s counsel Chris Horner (who is also my colleague at CEI, where he is a senior fellow).
It turns out that EPA political appointees were regularly co-ordinating strategy and events with several environmental pressure group officials, including John Coequyt, who headed the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe also held a private strategy session on 24th April 2012 with representatives from 24 environmental pressure groups.
Around the World
Europeans to America: We Want to Buy Your Gas!
European nations are forming a coalition with two U.S. industry trade groups – America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute – to lobby for more liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, Amy Harder reports today in National Journal.
Even factoring in liquefaction and transport costs, U.S.-produced gas is a much better buy in Europe than gas from other sources. In Greece, gas sells for $17 per million Btu. If U.S. firms were free to compete for customers in Europe, the price would drop $7.50 per million Btu, estimates Niki Tzavela, a Greek member of the European Parliament.
Greece depends on Gazprom, the Russian government-controlled company, for 50% of its natural gas. Germany is 40% dependent on Gazprom, the Czech Republic is 80% dependent, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden are 100% dependent.
The emerging coalition, known as LNG Allies, argues that allowing free trade would: (1) open a vast new market for the U.S. shale boom, (2) stimulate the European economy by cutting energy costs, which in turn will increase European purchases of U.S. goods in general; and, (3) remove Russia’s power to threaten Europe by manipulating gas supplies and prices.
The coalition will lobby for two legislative vehicles: a broad free-trade agreement with Europe that includes natural gas, and legislation expediting natural gas exports to NATO member countries.
In related news, the United Kingdom and its allies, Poland, Hungry, and the Czech Republic, defeated a European Commission plan to regulate all fracking operations in Europe under a legally-binding directive. Instead, the Commission is expected to issue non-binding environmental and safety “recommendations” on 22nd January.
UNFCCC’s Figueres Says China Is “Doing It Right” on Global Warming Policy
Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Bloomberg News this week that China was tops in global warming policy. This is quite remarkable. In the past few years, China has surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and per capita emissions in China are now close to the European Union. The Chinese government has just announced plans for a huge increase in domestic coal production.
In the same interview, the highly capable and extremely well-connected Figueres said that democracy is to blame for slow progress on reducing emissions in the United States. The U. S. Congress has been “very detrimental” in the effort to slow global warming. Figueres is in charge of the current negotiations on an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
Gore Goes off on Geoengineering
Al Gore this week warned that use of geo-engineering to counter global warming would be “utterly mad.”
Geo-engineering refers to a set of techniques designed to cool the planet by limiting the amount of solar energy reaching the surface. Potential techniques include injecting small particles into the stratosphere to scatter sunlight, and spraying sea-water mist into clouds to make them brighter and reflect more sunlight back to space.
As reported in the Guardian, Gore said it would be “insane, utterly mad and delusional in the extreme” to engage in geo-engineering. “The idea that we can put a different form of pollution into the atmosphere to cancel out the effects of global warming pollution is utterly insane,” he declared.
By Gore’s logic, vaccines are “insane” because vaccination is an attempt to use one form of a disease to fight another form of the disease. Sometimes fighting fire with fire makes sense. Besides, sea-water mist is not pollution.
Gore’s knee-jerk rejection of geo-engineering is of a piece with the warming movement’s opposition to nuclear power and hydroelectricity as climate solutions. As my colleague Christopher Horner puts it, they believe “climate change is the worst catastrophe facing mankind – except all the others.”
Geo-engineering may be a pipedream, but morally it is no different from any other project to manage the natural world for the betterment of human welfare.
Suppose geo-engineers figure out how, using non-toxic substances, to cool down the sea surface in the path of tropical cyclones and prevent storms headed for population centers from developing into full-blown hurricanes. If so, then geo-engineering would make the world a safer place.
Gore, however, wants carbon pricing schemes and renewable energy mandates to be the only game in town. After more than 20 years of climate advocacy, global emissions keep going up. Isn’t doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results the very definition of insanity?