Posts Tagged ‘epa’

Carbon Pollution

November 18, 2013

I have gotten another assignment from Organizing for Action.

David —

This may sound crazy, but it’s a fact: Today, there are no emission limits on our nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution.

About 40 percent of all carbon pollution in America comes from our power plants, but we don’t have anything in place on a national level to regulate the amount of carbon they put into the air.

That’s why the EPA announced a new proposal to set carbon pollution standards for power plants, the same way we regulate other dangerous substances, like arsenic and mercury. It’s a common-sense way to start to make a very real dent in reducing carbon pollution.

Right now, the EPA is asking for the public’s input on these new limits on carbon emissions — add your name to show your support, and we’ll pass it along.

Climate change is real — there’s no credible scientific debate anymore. We’re seeing its effects more and more every year. That’s why we need to do something about it — that includes taking action to reduce our carbon emissions.

President Obama knows how crucial this is. The Climate Action Plan he laid out this summer set guidelines for these proposed EPA rules and laid out a roadmap for further carbon pollution reduction, expanded renewables, and more energy efficiency projects.
He’s keeping his word on climate change — and now we need to do our part.

Add your name today to support the EPA’s proposal to clean up our power plants:

http://my.barackobama.com/Support-the-Presidents-Climate-Plan

Thanks,

Jack

Jack Shapiro
Deputy Climate Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

By carbon pollution I assume he means carbon dioxide. Mercury and arsenic are pollutants. They are not found naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere in any appreciable amounts and are hazardous to human health. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring

Carbon dioxide

Not a pollutant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

compound in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is not  hazardous to human health except in concentrations great enough to displace oxygen. Carbon dioxide is essential to life on Earth. Without it, plants cannot photosynthesize and the Earth  would be a frozen wasteland. It makes no sense to talk of carbon pollution especially in comparison with arsenic and mercury. Either the people responsible for this e-mail, and the whole talking point about carbon pollution, are ignorant of the science of the Earth’s atmosphere or are dishonest and using semantic games rather than actual facts to convince people. If they want to make the argument for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to reduce global warming, then they should make that argument. The fact that they do not make that argument perhaps says something about their credibility.

As is happens, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are neither unusual or unprecedented. There is good reason to believe that in ages past levels were far higher than today’s. In the Jurassic Period, carbon dioxide levels were five times the present levels. The long term trend is decreasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and eventually there will not be enough for life on Earth to survive.

 

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The Washington Post and the Carbon Tax

February 10, 2013

The Washington Post has published an opinion piece in favor of wrecking the economy. Well, not really of course, but they do want President Obama to address climate change by putting into place a slowly rising carbon tax.

PRESIDENT OBAMA will deliver his 2013 State of the Union address on Tuesday, and expectations are high that he will devote significant time to climate change. We hope that he adopts a different approach to explaining the need for action than he did in much of his first term.

In past addresses, talking about green jobs didn’t work, nor did talking about energy independence. The credible way to justify fighting climate change is to discuss the science, the real reason to cut carbon emissions. There is overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming. The widespread burning of fossil fuels, meanwhile, pumps heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every second. There is still uncertainty about exactly how sensitive the climate system is to a given increase in carbon dioxide concentrations — but not enough uncertainty to justify ignoring the risks of rising temperatures.

Well, the evidence that the planet is warming may not be so overwhelming as they contend. I would say that there is not enough certainty to justify levying a tax that would permanently slow down the economy and put the US at a competitive disadvantage with China and India.

Here is their proposal.

Putting a slowly rising, significant price on carbon emissions would encourage people to burn less fossil fuel without micromanaging by Congress or the Energy Department. This approach would enlist market forces to green the energy sector. It would also allow for similar policies in other nations to connect with America’s, creating a bigger, global market for carbon.

Anything like carbon pricing must get lawmakers’ approval, though, which is the first reason Mr. Obama should make reaching out to them on climate policy a priority. True, a coalition of anti-regulation Republicans and coal-state Democrats killed the last major effort to price emissions, a 2010 cap-and-trade bill. But, in the big budget reform politicians have been promising, they will need new revenue from somewhere. A carbon tax would be an ideal source.

Even second- and third-best alternatives would need Congress’s say-so. These include establishing a national clean energy standard requiring that a defined and rising amount of electricity come from sources cleaner than coal, the top climate villain. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Energy Committee’s lead Republican and a voice of reason within her party, just released a 121-page plan with other ideas that could serve as a basis for some congressional action, such as paying for energy technology research, reforming subsidies for green power, advancing hydropower and promoting energy efficiency.

Since almost every industrial process emits some carbon dioxide, especially in energy and transportation, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions would be a tax on just about every industry and business in America. These costs will be passed on to consumers and the cost of living will increase. It is true that a new tax would be a bonanza of the federal government, at least until they squander the increased revenues on subsidies for green power.

It’s nice that they refer to coal as the top climate villain. How an inanimate substance could be a villain is not clear to me, but at this time, coal is also our cheapest source of energy and the one that is most abundant in North America. Requiring that a defined and rising amount of energy come from cleaner than coal would raise the cost of energy over time and again raise the cost of living. I begin to think that the editors of the Washington Post don’t like the poor and middle class very much, or perhaps they love the poor so much, they want to make more people poor.

And, they finish with a threat.

The president should also remind Congress that, without ambitious action from lawmakers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can and will act on its own. The EPA has already established or is in the process of establishing a range of new air pollution rules. These rules will ensure than no new conventional coal plants are built in the United States, and they will force the closure of some particularly awful, ancient coal-fired facilities. More regulations are likely in store in Mr. Obama’s second term. The EPA, for example, has not yet set rules regulating the carbon emissions of major, existing sources of greenhouse gases. Using the EPA’s top-down approach, though, is not the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Mr. Obama should invite Congress to work with him on a better alternative.

So, do what the president wants, or he’ll have the EPA do it anyway. Why bother with a Congress at all, if that is the way we are going to do things? It seems to me that this is the best argument ever for reining in, or even abolishing the EPA. They have clearly become a rogue agency, seeing themselves as above the law and even common sense. Maybe, Congress should abolish the agency and replace it with something more responsible.

Science and the EPA Administrator

April 27, 2011

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke at the Power Shift 2011 conference. She had this to say about the role of science in her administration;

Let’s take a minute to look at a little bit of the road over the past two years. We restored science to its rightful place as the backbone of everything the Environmental Protection Agency does. And that includes the science of climate change. We are using that science to take action on climate change.

No, no, no. Like so many on the Left, Ms. Jackson is using science as an Authority for political action. The problem is that science is not an infallible Authority, but rather is a method for asking the questions. Anyone who states that the science is settled is either misinformed or being deceptive. the science is never settled and any hypothesis in only as good as the last experiment or observation. In this light, I would like to quote the late, great Richard Feynman. At his 1974 Caltech Commencement address he referred to “cargo cult science” and had this to say;

But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated. Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition. In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

If Ms. Jackson were really interested in bringing science to the EPA, she would adopt this skeptical attitude and insist on the most rigorous testing of every assumption or hypothesis that the EPA uses to formulate policy. I don’t see that happening.


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