Saturday, April 11, 2015

Heartland Institute's Climate Change Weekly

Senator McConnell and States Challenge EPA Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) appears to have few fans. Elected officials from 32 states have made public their objections.

Two states, Pennsylvania in October 2014 and West Virginia in early March 2015, have adopted laws requiring their respective states’ environmental protection agencies to submit for legislative approval any state implementation plan developed to comply with EPA’s CPP regulations. If legislators don’t approve the plans, the agencies must start again from scratch.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has developed model legislation based on the Pennsylvania bill. Several states, including Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, are considering the ALEC measure.

In September 2014, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming together filed a motion to expedite a court review of their lawsuit challenging EPA’s rules when they are finalized. The effort, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, argues the regulation of retail electricity sales and local distribution has been a sovereign state function and the EPA rule would necessarily intrude into that sovereign authority without any clear congressional authorization for doing so. The states’ attorneys general note the EPA plan will result in irreparable harm to the states and to the public.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has joined the fray, encouraging states to step up and/or continue their fight against the rule. To this I say, quoting Bruce Willis as the immortal John McClane in Die Hard, “Welcome to the party pal!”

According to Real Clear Politics:

In a letter to the National Governors Association, McConnell writes of his serious legal and policy concerns with this deeply misguided plan.

McConnell charges the EPA with attempting to compel states to do more themselves than what the agency would be authorized to do on its own. McConnell argues that the EPA [is overreaching, stating] the CPP would now require states to ‘switch electricity generating sources, build ‘new generation and transmission, and ‘reduce demand. None of this is authorized by the Clean Air Act.

McConnell cited a National Economic Research Associates report estimating the CPP will cause a doubling of electricity rates in 43 states, with a total national cost of nearly $479 billion over 15 years. Yet McConnell notes, the EPA admits that the climate benefits of the CPP cannot be quantified, in terms of temperature or sea level rise prevented.

McConnell said, The EPA’s deadlines were very likely designed to force states to develop and submit implementation plans before the courts can decide on the legality of the CPP. If a large number of states have state implementation plans in place prior to any legal challenges, this may seem to grant legitimacy to the CPP to the court. Therefore, McConnell recommends states just say no to EPA’s call for state action.

-- H. Sterling Burnett


Four Democrats broke ranks with their party to join the entire Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate to pass an amendment to the 2016 budget bill blocking the federal government from taxing carbon dioxide emissions. The amendment, offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), passed by a vote of 58 to 42, preventing the government from taxing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, refineries, and chemical companies.

In a statement issued shortly after Blunt’s amendment passed, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, stated, Once again, a majority of Congress has spoken out against a carbon tax. The only Americans that stand to benefit from the federal government imposing policies that unilaterally tax or otherwise restrict domestic carbon emissions are green energy venture capitalists and major political contributors to Democratic campaigns.

This move follows the decision by Australia’s government to scrap its carbon tax. Australia’s decision came after energy prices and joblessness spiked. A new government was elected in part on its promise to repeal the carbon tax, which cost approximately $7 billion in its first 15 months. The country’s carbon emissions fell by only 0.3 percent at a cost of $300 per person.

In contrast to the moves in Australia and U.S. Senate, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has proposed a cap-and-trade program combined with a low-carbon fuel standard for his state. The governor’s office estimates the proposal will cost of about $131 per ton of carbon dioxide emission reduced, increasing gasoline prices by as much as $1.17 per gallon.




WOOD PELLETS NOT CLIMATE-FRIENDLY

Environmentalists have touted burning biomass in the form of wood pellets – small pellets made of highly compressed waste wood and sawdust – as a carbon-neutral energy source of electricity. U.S. companies have been quick to jump on the wood-pellet bandwagon, with two new plants recently opening in North Carolina and as many as 10 others planned from Virginia to Louisiana. A report in Yale’s Environment 360 notes, Demand for this purportedly green form of energy is so robust that wood pellet exports from the United States nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013 and are expected to nearly double again to 5.7 million tons in 2015. This soaring production is driven by growing demand in the U.K. and Europe, which are using wood pellets to replace coal for electricity generation and heating.

But the environmentalists were wrong. Scientists are increasingly concerned, according to Environment 360, that current industry practices are anything but carbon-neutral and threaten some of the last remaining diverse ecosystems in the southeastern U.S.

Some environmental activists and scientists note there does not seem to be enough waste to meet the growing demand for wood pellets, so the industry, rather than just using limbs and waste wood, is cutting down whole trees as feedstock for wood pellet production. Many of the logged trees are slow-growing hardwoods, which may or may not be replanted, and they’re being shipped from forests miles away adding to carbon emissions. In addition, the logging done to supply wood pellet production is disrupting wetlands (affecting water quality) and wildlife habitat.




DEFORESTATION, NOT CARBON DIOXIDE, CAUSING TEMPERATURE AND WEATHER CHANGES

Researchers from the University of Maryland, University of Montana, and Peking University have found deforestation has a more pronounced effect on temperatures and weather patterns than does anthropogenic global warming. The research, published in Nature Communications, also indicates large-scale deforestation could impact global food production by triggering changes in local climate. The paper presents the first global analysis of the effects of forest cover change on local temperature using high-resolution NASA global satellite data. The research team concluded, As rates of deforestation climb and shifts in local climate become more pronounced, the need to understand the relationship between forest cover change and temperature will become more urgent.

Nicholas Magliocca, a research associate of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, conducted an outside assessment of the research, concluding, This analysis offers an important empirical benchmark against which global climate models can be validated to accurately represent the temperature-mediating effects of forests.




SEN. ALEXANDER PROPOSES ENDING WIND POWER SUBSIDIES

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has proposed ending the more than $6 billion in subsidies to wind power producers and using the money saved to double the government’s current $5 billion in funding for energy research projects at the Department of Energy (DOE). At a late March hearing on the 2016 DOE budget Alexander argued, Washington has a bad habit of picking winners and losers, and an addiction to wasteful subsidies of all kinds – we need to end these policies.

Alexander’s proposal is an attempt to get Democrats to give up tax subsidies for wind companies in exchange for increased research funding. He said, There is a place for limited, short-term subsidies to jumpstart new technologies, but it is long past time for wind to stand on its own in the marketplace.

With the government’s poor track record of picking winners and losers, I suggest the savings be returned to the people in the form of tax cuts, rather than turned over to the DOE to spend on research my two cents.




SCIENTIST RESPONDS TO DEMOCRAT INTIMIDATION

Twenty-five years ago, on March 29, 1990, University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) atmospheric scientist John Christy and his colleague Roy Spencer held a press conference to announce data from global satellites showed temperature was not rising as much as predicted by climate models. Since then, Christy has come under increasing pressure from alarmists attempting to discredit the work and reputation of every scientist who might reject any part of the theory humans are causing catastrophic climate change. He is one of seven scientist singled out by Rep. Raul Grajalava (D-AZ) for enhanced scrutiny of their research and funding sources.

In a recent interview, Christy stated, I’ve been involved in this issue for 25 years, and I’m past the point of being intimidated. This is simply a way for the administration to publicly draw attention to us as scientists not aligned with their views, implying there must be a scurrilous reason for daring to think the way we do.

Christy was one of the lead authors of the IPCC’s 2001 report, the first to include satellite temperatures as a high-quality data set for studying global climate change. He has since become one of IPCC’s staunchest critics. Ray Garner, chief of staff to UAH President Robert Altenkirch, said in a statement Christy has always approached his work with the utmost of integrity, and the quality of his research is nothing short of exemplary.


 

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