In the News
Trade Gap Shrank in 2013 as U.S. Fuel Exports Climbed
Jeanna Smialek, Bloomberg, 6 February 2014
Don’t Blame Climate Change for the California Drought
Charles Cooke, National Review Online, 4 February 2014
Obama’s Energy Policy Is Right out of Al Gore’s Creation of the Internet
Steve Hayward, Forbes, 4 February 2014
State Department Assessment Blows Away Keystone Pipeline Foes’ Objections
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 3 February 2014
News You Can Use
Dr. Dumpster Demonstrates the Green Lifestyle
Dr. Jeff Wilson, an environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, will live in a dumpster for the next year, in an effort to compel others to embrace energy efficiency. Dr. Wilson, also known around campus as Professor Dumpster, told reporters that, “My hypothesis is that my life will be better.” He started on Tuesday.
Inside the Beltway
Murray Energy Will Sue To Force EPA To Account for Job Losses from War on Coal
Mr. Geoffrey K. Barnes of the Cleveland office of the Squire Sanders law firm sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on 21st January to notify her that Murray Energy Corporation intends “to commence a civil action against the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency for failure to perform certain nondiscretionary duties under the Clean Air Act.” The letter continues and then quotes section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act, which states: “The Administrator shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of this chapter and applicable implementation plans, including where appropriate, investigating threatened plant closures or reductions in employment allegedly resulting from such administration or enforcement.”
Barnes’s letter then goes on to note: “In the past five years, EPA has administered and enforced the Clean Air Act in a manner that places immense pressure on the electric generating sector—and other industries that traditionally burn coal—to reduce their consumption of coal by: (1) encouraging facilities to switch from coal to other fuels; (2) imposing costly regulations that have incentivized existing coal-burning facilities to shut down; (3) engaging in enforcement activities that discourage the repair and continued operation of existing coal-burning facilities; and (4) developing regulations and guidance that will make it more costly—and in many cases impractical—for new coal-burning facilities to be constructed.”
Barnes writes that Murray Energy has “been unable to find any indication that EPA has performed this nondiscretionary duty” to evaluate potential job losses caused by this regulatory onslaught. Thus, Murray Energy intends to sue to compel compliance.
As far as I can discover, the EPA has always ignored section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act, and no one has ever filed suit in court on it. So this is uncharted territory. Of course, if Murray Energy prevails in federal court, the EPA could employ typical Obama Administration tactics of delaying the required evaluation and then using bogus data to paint a picture of what their war on coal is doing to destroy jobs in the coal industry and in other industries by raising electric rates. But then whatever EPA produces could be challenged in public and in Congress and I imagine in federal court.
Across the States
Photos Undermine Flaming Water Fracking Claim
In 2010, EPA Region 6 issued a rare endangerment order against Texas-based Range Resources, alleging that the drilling company had contaminated groundwater with methane. It was a sensational case. Landowners in Parker County, Texas, had claimed that Range Resource polluted their water by engaging in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the generic term given to technological advances in drilling that have made it economical to tap vast reserves of oil and gas from shale geologic formations. As evidence, these landowners videotaped footage of flames spewing from a garden hose; there was so much methane in their water, the hose became a flame thrower when ignited. These claims were championed by anti-fracking activists, and were a basis for EPA’s actions. The footage was featured in the sequel “Gasland 2” to Josh Fox’s widely debunked, anti-fracking documentary, “Gasland.”
Range Resources denied the claims. According to the gas company, the methane had already been present in groundwater in Parker County. Texas regulators investigated the matter, and sided with the company against EPA.
Today, the Washington Free-Beacon reports on photos made newly available by legal proceedings against Range Resources, which undercut the case against the drilling company. The photo depicts flames shooting from a hose in Parker County in 2005—years before Range Resources began fracking.
Around the World
Amazing China Coal Facts
According to a new analysis by Climate Central, from 2005-2009, China added coal-fired electricity capacity that is equivalent to the entire U.S. fleet. From 2010-2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again. Powered by cheap and abundant coal, China’s economy has lifted 600 million people out of abject poverty and into the middle class over the last two decades.