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A month ago, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama averred that “no challenge—no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” And ten days ago, the White House released a National Security Strategy that lists climate change alongside international terrorism and Russian aggression as the preeminent threats today facing the United States.

And yet, despite the President’s best efforts to elevate AGW as a clear and present danger, not one of the four Sunday political talkies (Fox News Sunday, Face the Nation, This Week, and Meet the Press) has fielded a full question about climate change since the SOTU. (As I’ve noted here, here, and here). This is notable insofar as these shows are the embodiment of the political establishment. By ignoring the putative AGW threat to national security, they suggest that conventional wisdom on the issue rests well to the right of the President.

This notion was reinforced yesterday, when ABC This Week became the first Sunday political talkie to ask a question about climate change since the SOTU. The query was delivered by ABC’s Jon Karl with mild incredulity, and its purpose was gauge whether Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Cal.) & Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) agree with the president that AGW and terrorism are on par as national security threats:

KARL: So I want to ask you quickly before we go, the president gave this interview to Vox where he suggested that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Do you agree with that? Start with you Congressman Schiff. [click to continue…]

There are three ongoing legal challenges to EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan:

  • On June 18, 2014, Murray Energy Corporation, an Ohio-based coal mining company, filed a novel lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking an all Writs Act injunction that would halt EPA from continuing with the Clean Power Plan. (Case no. 14-1112)
  • On August 1, 2014, thirteen States led by West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn a non-judicial settlement agreement by which EPA committed itself to propose and finalize the Clean Power Plan. (Case no. 14-1146]
  • On August 15, Murray Energy filed another petition in the D.C. Circuit seeking to overturn the regulation based on the judicial review provisions of the Clean Air Act. (Case no. 14-1151)

In late January, a D.C. Circuit panel established a parallel schedule for all three cases; oral arguments will take place on April 16.

Setting aside their respective jurisdictional hurdles, the challengers essentially share the same case on the merits. If you’ve read this far, then presumably you’re already acquainted with the inside-baseball legalese of these lawsuits; I’ve given the nitty-gritty details here. Very simply put, both the States & Murray Energy argue that the plain text of the Clean Air Act bars EPA from promulgating the Clean Power Plan.

In September, an NRDC lawyer called the lawsuits “laughable.” Nonetheless, NRDC felt it was necessary to intervene in all of them. Last week, NRDC and other environmental interveners submitted two briefs on behalf the EPA (one for the states’ case, and another for both the Murray cases). Notably, the two briefs adopt distinct arguments regarding the plaintiffs’ shared argument on the merits. In this short post, I will address the environmental interveners’ briefs. [click to continue…]

Post image for Winter: Worse than They Thought

“According to the National Weather Service, the low temperature Sunday at Dulles Airport was about 6 degrees at 7:30 a.m. That breaks the record for the date of 7 degrees set in 1965,” the AP reports.

In addition, “At BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport outside Baltimore, the low of 6 degrees Sunday matched a record set in 1943.”

Yet as of September 2014, global annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were on track to hit a record 40 billion metric tons – 4 billion more than the previous record set in 2013 of 36 billion tons – and roughly 3.5 times more emissions than in 1965 (11.487 billion tons) and 10 times more than in 1943 (4.007 billion tons).

More importantly, atmospheric CO2 concentration today is 399.85 parts per million (ppm), compared to just 320.23 ppm in 1965 and 310.5 ppm in 1943.

Although only halfway through, February is Boston’s “snowiest month on record,” the NWS reported on its Twitter feed. The city has received 58.5 inches of snow, breaking the previous monthly record of 43.3 inches in January 2005.

And who can forget the Buffalo-area snowstorm of November 2014. The town of Cowlesville, New York, about 25 miles south of downtown Buffalo, got 88 inches of snow (7.3 feet) in just five days — an amount approximately equal to the average Buffalo snowfall in an entire winter.

Although 2014 was supposedly the warmest year on record, in the USA between Nov. 10 and Nov. 19, “there were 4,163 record low temperatures set or tied compared to just 465 warm record temperatures set or tied.”

This year’s winter conditions contributed to at least 10 deaths, suspended or delayed train service, cancelled more than 1,800 flights, and closed schools, businesses, and non-essential government offices.

None of this is intended to deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming. The point, rather, is to put things in perspective. [click to continue…]

On Friday, I participated in an online video interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel regarding the green scandal that engulfed Oregon Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber. After the video, I’ve posted my summary of the situation.

Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday, 13th February, as the result of revelations that Oregon’s “First Lady” Cylvia Hayes has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs from green energy clients and non-profit groups to promote their interests.  Kitzhaber will be succeeded by Oregon’s elected Secretary of State, Kate Brown, until a special election is held in November 2016 to fill the last two years of his term.

Hayes has been Kitzhaber’s girlfriend for several years and more recently his fiancée.  The governor designated her as Oregon’s official first lady and allowed her to run her clean energy consulting business out of the governor’s mansion and gave her authority to direct state employees on policies related to her clients.  Hayes received payments from some of these clients that were not reported by her in state conflict of interest filings.  These payments included $118,000 from the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011 and 2012 and a further $85,000 in 2013, including $50,000 from the Energy Foundation. [click to continue…]

Which State in the lower 48 has the highest gas prices? You probably already know the answer. But today’s gas price map on GasBuddy.com is too pretty not to share with visitors to this blog.

The long-reigning, undisputed champion of pain at the pump is (drum roll . . .) the State with the most ‘progressive’ energy and climate policies.

Gas Prices Map February 12, 2015 Gasbuddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: GasBuddy.Com

Post image for States Should Just Say ‘No’ – 10 Reasons EPA’s Clean Power Plan Is Unlawful

EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CCP) would set carbon dioxide (CO2) performance standards for state electric power sectors. The standards are calibrated in pounds CO2 per megawatt hour. They translate into statewide emission-reduction mandates or caps. On average, states would have to reduce their power-sector CO2 emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Under §111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), a performance standard, whether for new or existing sources, must reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) that has been “adequately demonstrated,” taking “cost” into account.

Performance standards must also be “achievable,” defined by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to mean achievable by the regulated industry as a whole (National Lime Association V. EPA, 627 F. 2d 416 at 443 [1980]).

Finally, before EPA may promulgate “existing source performance standards” (ESPS), as it proposes to do through the CPP, the agency must first promulgate new source performance standards (NSPS), as it proposes to do through the Carbon Pollution Standards rule.

State policymakers should have no legal qualms about refusing to comply with the CPP. EPA’s proposal is unlawful on at least 10 counts.

(1) CAA § 111(d) prohibits EPA from requiring ESPS for sources already regulated under §112. EPA has been regulating power plants under §112 since December 2011, when the agency finalized the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule. Therefore, the very provision under which EPA proposes to establish performance standards for existing power plants prohibits the agency from doing so.

(2) A state’s electric-power sector is not a “source” to which a performance standard may lawfully be assigned. Unlike all previous §111 performance standards, which, pursuant to the statute, apply to “particular sources,” CPP proposes to cap emissions from each state’s entire electric-power sector. CAA §111(a)(3) defines “stationary source” (whether new or existing) as “any building, structure, facility, or installation which emits or may emit any air pollutant.” Obviously, a state’s power sector is not any such individual physical object.

(3) A “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) is a technology or set of technology options “adequately demonstrated” for “designated facilities,” not a green wish-list of market-restructuring energy policies Congress has repeatedly declined to approve. Nothing in the statutory text, EPA’s implementing regulations, or past practice indicates that EPA may control state policies regarding renewable energy, electricity dispatch, or demand management.

(4) A BSER for CO2 emissions from existing power plants does not exist. Commercial technology to capture or filter CO2 emissions from existing power plants has not yet been developed, as EPA admits. Hence there is no “best system of emission reduction” on the basis of which EPA or states could set CO2 performance standards for existing power plants. [click to continue…]

Post image for TransCanada Rebuts EPA on Keystone XL Pipeline Emissions

As previously discussed on this blog, the EPA recently challenged a key conclusion of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL).

State concluded that denying approval of the KXL would actually increase net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Canadian crude would still reach U.S. refiners, it would just come by alternate modes of delivery (principally rail transport) that are more carbon-intensive than the proposed pipeline. The alternate routes would emit 28% to 42% more carbon dioxide (CO2) per barrel of oil delivered (FSEIS, ES-34).

That assessment was intolerable to Keystone haters, and last week EPA came riding to their rescue.

EPA argued that State’s GHG impact assessment assumes crude oil prices remain at $75 per barrel or higher. When oil prices fall into the $65-$75 range, State acknowledged, the additional cost incurred to transport crude by rail could make new oil sands development projects uneconomical. Thus, EPA reasoned, with crude prices now hovering around $50 per barrel, building the KXL could make uneconomic oil sands projects commercially viable, increasing oil sands development and the associated emissions beyond what would otherwise occur.

As noted in my previous post, EPA did not accurately describe State’s analysis. State did not opine that blocking the KXL by itself would render oil sands development uneconomical in a period of low oil prices. Rather, State opined that the higher cost of rail transport would constrain oil sands development if “all new and expanded Canadian and cross-border pipeline capacity, beyond just the proposed Project, is not constructed” (FSEIS, ES-12, emphasis added).

Yesterday, TransCanada, the corporation seeking to build the KXL, sent a letter to State rebutting EPA’s critique. In a nutshell, TransCanada argues, quoting the FSEIS, that the “dominant drivers of oil sands development are more global than any single infrastructure project,” pointing out that both Canadian and U.S. Bakken crude production increased since late 2008, despite crude oil prices falling below $75 per barrel during most of December 2008-December 2009.

From TransCanada’s letter (footnotes removed):

In updating the market assessment and related conclusions . . . the Department should take note that history has demonstrated short- and medium-term fluctuations in oil prices do not significantly impact whether the oil sands resource will be developed. When TransCanada applied for approval of the Project in late 2008, the price of oil closed around $41 per barrel. Today the price is approximately $50 per barrel and over that period of time the price of oil has ranged between $110 per barrel and $39 per barrel. Over that same period of time, Canadian oil sands production has grown from 1.2 million barrels per day to 2.1 million barrels per day, an increase of 0.9 million barrels per day or 1.2 times the capacity of the Project. In addition, over that period of time, US Bakken crude oil production has grown from 0.25 million barrels per day to 1.1 million barrels per day, an increase of 0.9 million barrels per day or nine times the capacity of TransCanada’s Bakken Marketlink Project. It is clear that building or not building the Project will not cause crude oil production to go up or down. [click to continue…]

Over the last two days, energy reporters from Politico and National Journal have reached opposite conclusions regarding the congressional GOP caucus’s strategy on climate change.

Here’s Politico on Monday:

dn2

And here’s National Journal on Tuesday.

dn1

They both can’t be right! I suspect Politico’s Schor is closer to the truth, and that the GOP isn’t yet willing to challenge the President’ climate regulations. There are three tea leaves that suggest as much. [click to continue…]

Over at Chris Mooney’s Washington Post energy and environment blog, which goes by the twitter handle “@PostGreen,” there’s a recent piece by Puneet Kollipara that is titled, “No, climate models aren’t exaggerating global warming.” According to Dictionary.com, “exaggerate” means to “overstate.” Now, keeping in mind both the title of the post and also the definition of “exaggerate,” consider Kollipara’s fourth paragraph:

It’s true that air temperatures have increased slower in the past 15 years or so, and climate models on average instead predicted much more warming. And scientists are slowly beginning to figure out why temperatures didn’t rise quite as much as expected. 

To my eyes, the excerpt above seems to blatantly contradict the title.

This same thing happened yesterday, in a Grist blog by David Roberts. The title of that post is “Obama’s carbon rule hangs on this one legal question.” He’s referring to EPA’s illegitimate and illegal Clean Power Plan. For the first 16 paragraphs, Roberts describes the “one legal question” that will make or break the rule. And then, he says (in a parenthetical, no less):

(For another argument that EPA’s interpretation is likely to be struck down in court, see this paper from lawyers Brian Potts and David Zoppo.) [click to continue…]

On Friday, the White House released its National Security Strategy, which lists climate change alongside international terrorism and Russian aggression as the preeminent threats today facing the United States. This assessment mirrors the tone struck by President Obama during his State of the Union, when he said that “no challenge—no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

talkies todayThus, both the National Security Strategy and the State of the Union Address elevate the threat of AGW, such that it exists on par with the direst perils facing America. And yet, for the third weekend in a row since the State of the Union, and only days removed from the roll-out of the National Security Strategy, the four Sunday political talkies failed to field a question about climate change (see chart).

Of course, all four shows dealt squarely with ISIS and the Ukraine, which are co-equal threats with climate change, per the White House. For example, NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd scored the sole interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, who wears on his sleeve his belief that climate change is among America’s clearest and most present dangers. The host is no dummy; he’s perfectly aware that Kerry would love nothing more than wax lyrical about the putative threat posed by global warming. Nonetheless, Todd grilled Kerry about the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and he even asked him whether he would rule out another run for President in 2016, but he didn’t ask Kerry a single question about climate change.

Other weekend notes: [click to continue…]