Archive for January, 2011

CFLs burn out in California?

January 19, 2011

California utility PG&E Corp. has just learned something about CFLs — they don’t work as well as touted. According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, PG&E’s $92 million rebate program for CFL usage during 2006-2008 saved 73% less energy than originally projected by PG&E:

One hitch was the compact-fluorescent burnout rate. When PG&E began its 2006-2008 program, it figured the useful life of each bulb would be 9.4 years. Now, with experience, it has cut the estimate to 6.3 years, which limits the energy savings. Field tests show higher burnout rates in certain locations, such as bathrooms and in recessed lighting. Turning them on and off a lot also appears to impair longevity. [Emphasis added]

Combined with their inherent mercurial hypocrisy, this new information should add urgency to the House effort to repeal the ban on incandescents.

Electric utilities looking for emissions deal

January 19, 2011

The ever-unscrupulous electric utility industry is once again working to bring about climate legislation.

Politico reported today that,

Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, told POLITICO that he has had informal talks about a deal for power companies with White House energy adviser Carol Browner, who brokered the closed-door car deal, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “But no in-depth discussions yet,” he said.

About a “car deal” for utilities, Politico reported Glenn English, the president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and a former Oklahoma Democratic congressman as saying,

“We may be dreaming, I don’t know.”

So as we’ve been saying, just because “cap-and-trade” is dead, that does not mean that the push for climate legislation is also dead. Such advocacy is, in fact, alive and kicking — and it’s a real threat because:

  • While congressional Republicans can be counted on to oppose “cap-and-trade,” it’s not at all clear what many will do if cap-and-trade is re-branded as, say, “clean energy” or “kumbaya energy”; and
  • Electric utilities and renewable energy interests will no doubt throw all sort of campaign cash at Republicans looking to be re-elected in 2012.

Keep in mind that the conventional wisdom in January 2009 was that cap-and-trade was a done deal given a popular new Democrat president and Democrat-controlled Congress. Nevertheless, cap-and-trade failed. Now, conventional wisdom is that nothing like cap-and-trade could ever get through a tea party-infused GOP-controlled House.

Somewhat disturbing in the Politico report is this quote from an unidentified “senior House GOP aide close to the Energy and Commerce Committee”:

“I don’t think a deal between industry, the utilities and the Obama administration that most likely would lead to higher utility prices for the American consumer is a deal that House Republicans would be comfortable with. But certainly, we’d have to take a look before making that determination.” [Emphasis added]

Stay tuned…

Obama detached from reality of his regulation

January 18, 2011

President Obama has allegedly given up cigarettes but his op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal makes us wonder what they’re now smoking in the White House.

In “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System,” President Obama rhapsodizes about the value and necessity of balanced regulation. On a superficial level, even the libertarian economist Milton Friedman would have agreed with that sentiment. But of course, details matter and that’s where the President’s argument falls apart.

In one of two concrete examples he provides about regulatory actions his administration has taken, President Obama writes (fantasizes?),

One important example of this overall approach is the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks. When I took office, the country faced years of litigation and confusion because of conflicting rules set by Congress, federal regulators and states.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of rules into one aggressive new standard. It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty; for consumers who will pay less at the pump; for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil; and for the environment as we reduce pollution.

The reality is that the car makers have long fought higher CAFE standards. The only way they can meet the standards is to sell enough dangerous and unprofitable small cars to offset the safe and profitable large cars and SUVs sold. As prices are again heading toward $4 per gallon, consumers aren’t paying less for gasoline. And if we’re using less gasoline, it’s only because our economy is in the toilet, not because of CAFE.

The other example the President cited is a new process for approving medical devices. But as those rules have not even been proposed, we’ll have to wait and see about them.

The President also wrote,

But we are also making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.

For instance, the FDA has long considered saccharin, the artificial sweetener, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste. The EPA wisely eliminated this rule last month.

Hey President Obama, the FDA also considers carbon dioxide to be safe for human consumption in soft drinks, yet the EPA is regulating it as a threat to the public welfare under the Clean Air Act. How about rollin’ that one back?

Now that President Obama has lost the ability to jam his agenda through Congress, he will use the regulatory agencies to do the same. No one should be fooled by his rhetoric — which doesn’t make any sense anyway.

Update: President Obama issued today an executive order (i.e., policy guidance to executive branch agencies) entitled, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” The words sound good (e.g., ” each agency shall ensure the objectivity of any scientific and technological information and processes used to support the agency’s regulatory actions”), but then again, East Germany was also called the “German Democratic Republic” — and it was none of those.

EPA’s desperate new smog scare

January 14, 2011

A new study reports that people can suffer lung damage from ground-level ozone (smog) even at the strict new standards proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But this is yet another example of how science can be manufactured by EPA to fit its regulatory agenda.

Last month, the EPA delayed finalizing its proposed ozone standards, supposedly pending completion of a scientific review. This was the third delay for the rules which the agency hoped to have in place last August.

Although the Bush administration EPA had tightened the ozone standard to 75 parts per billion (ppb) in 2008, the Obama EPA proposed in January 2010 to further tighten the standard to between 60 to 70 ppb. But this proposal is quite controversial as its underlying science is questionable, and it would be very expensive and inconvenient to implement and comply with. And unlike the case of greenhouse gas regulation where EPA has successfully divided the big business community, businesses are united against these rules and so have been able to exert sufficient pressure on the White House to cause the Obama EPA to hiccup — a remarkable occurrence.

But the ever-resourceful EPA and its long-time partner-in-junk science, the American Lung Association, rushed to publication a new study that purports to show that the proposed standards may not be tight enough. (Aside from its publication in an ideologically friendly journal, the study was still in Word document format, as opposed to journal format, when it was released).

Although the study has not been reported in the mainstream media yet, the EPA/ALA has fed it to the agency-friendly trade press. As alarmingly reported by Energy and Environment News:

Healthy young adults can suffer lung damage at the lowest level of ozone pollution being studied by U.S. EPA as the agency prepares stricter limits on smog, according to new research that was touted today by public health groups.

Published today in the American Journal of Respiratory and Clinical Care Medicine, the study provides the strongest evidence yet that most of the U.S. population is being exposed to dangerous air pollution, the American Lung Association said.

“This study provides even greater evidence for a stronger ozone standard to protect the public from the nation’s most widespread air pollutant,” said Norman Edelman, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer, in a statement. “Ozone today remains a threat that we need all the tools in the Clean Air Act to combat.”

Contrary to the above-captioned claims, however, the only thing this study proves is that scientific study should be removed from the EPA.

EPA researchers had 59 healthy young adults (ages 19-35) exercise in a zero ppb ozone chamber and, a week or so later, had them exercise again in a 60ppb ozone chamber. Study subjects spent 6.6 hours in the chamber each time, engaging in 50 minutes of exercise (alternating bike/run) with a 10-minute break per hour. Spirometry measurements (forced expiratory volume at one second, FEV1, and forced vital capacity, FVC) were taken before and after the chamber exposures.

Here are the results. When exposed to 60 ppb ozone while biking/running for 6.6 hours, study subjects had a statistically significant mean decline in FEV1 of about 1.75 percent and a decline in FVC of about 1.19 percent more than when exercising in zero ppb ozone.

Do these results matter? Are the reported reductions in FEV1 and FVC meaningful? From a clinical perspective, no. Changes in FEV1 and FVC are clinically important at levels ranging from 15-20 percent — not 1-2 percent.

Underscoring the meaninglessness of the changes allegedly “measured” is that spirometry is not so precise that such small changes can be reliably detected and attributed to anything other than how hard the subjects inhaled and exhaled. It’s interesting to note, for example, that the results inexplicably differed for men and women. The margins of error reported for the men indicate the ironic possibility, in fact, that the 60 ppb exposure may actually have increased their FEV1 and FVC. Since this is not likely to have happened, the explanation must lie in the unreliability of the spirometry.

Moreover, the study subjects were likely exposed to much higher levels of ozone than the researchers say they were. As air quality expert Joel Schwartz pointed out in his 2007 book Air Quality in America (AEI Press), the ozone doses used in the laboratory studies are based on ambient concentrations measured by monitors, rather than real personal exposures. But as it turns out,

… [the] ozone concentrations measured at the ambient monitors used to determine Clean Air Act compliance are much higher—at least 65 percent higher, on average—than the concentrations in the air people actually breathe in. Several factors contribute to the discrepancy between monitored ozone levels and personal exposures. Ambient monitors are often placed several feet above typical human head-height to avoid interferences from people and surfaces near the ground. However, ozone deposition on surfaces (such as clothing or the ground) reduces the levels in the air that people actually breathe in. Levels also tend to be lower near roads, due to destruction by nitric oxide emitted by vehicles. Finally, there is evidence that the equipment used for regulatory monitoring gives ozone readings that might be biased high.

So although the EPA researchers claim the study subjects were exposed to 60 ppb ozone, that level equates to about 92 ppb measured by an outdoor monitor measuring ambient ozone — a level that is 22 percent higher than the existing standard set by the Bush administration and more than 50 percent higher than the tightest level proposed by the Obama administration.

Schwartz also observed that,

In addition to using personal exposures that are too high, laboratory studies also use “background” ozone exposures that are too low. To determine the health effects of ozone, researchers compare subjects’ lung function while breathing ozone with their lung function while breathing “clean” air—that is, air representing some background exposure level. All studies to date have used ozone-free air for this background level. This too is unrealistic, because there is always some natural background ozone in air due to natural emissions of ozone-forming pollutants from vegetation, lightning, and occasional transport of ozone to ground level from the stratosphere. Some ozone and ozone-forming pollutants are also transported into the United States from other countries. This background level of ozone is a matter of controversy, but it is certainly not zero.

But does the science really matter? Isn’t ground-level ozone (aka smog) just bad? And shouldn’t we do everything possible to live in a zero-smog world?

To put the EPA’s new non-results in context, consider what economist Donald Norman, PhD. of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI estimates will be the costs of tightening the ozone standard to 60 ppb:

… the annual cost of attaining a standard of 60 ppb would be $1.013 trillion between 2020 and 2030, equivalent to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. The present value of attainment costs over this period amounts to $7.1 trillion based on a discount rate of 7 percent.

Norman’s other key findings include:

  • GDP would be reduced by $676.8 billion in 2020 (in 2010 dollars), an amount that represents 3.6 percent of projected 2020 GDP in the baseline case (2.5 percent annual GDP growth);
  • Total U.S. job losses attributable to a 60 ppb ozone standard are estimated to rise to 7.3 million by 2020, a figure equal to 4.3 percent of the projected 2020 labor force;
  • Job jeopardy and the impacts of a 60 ppb ozone standard are largest in states where there is considerable manufacturing and refining activity. The states with the largest job losses include: Texas, which would lose nearly 1.7 million jobs at a total attainment cost and reduction in GDP of $452 billion (in 2010 dollars); Louisiana, which would lose 983,000 jobs at a cost of $270 billion; California, which would lose 846,000 jobs at a cost of $210 billion; Illinois, which would lose 396,000 jobs at a cost of $98 billion; and Pennsylvania, which would lose 351,000 jobs at a cost of $86 billion;
  • Together, annual attainment costs and reduced GDP in 2020 would total $1.7 trillion…

Should we sacrifice millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to improve U.S. public health by precisely zero?

In a March 1992 report by a blue ribbon panel of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, Safeguarding the Future: Credible Science, Credible Decisions, the agency was warned not to adjust science to fit policy.

But 19 years later, the agency has yet to embrace this advice. It’s doubtful that EPA ever will on its own. The solution is for Congress to remove the scientific research function from the EPA and put it someplace where it’s less susceptible to politicization.

Wimp & Sellout Watch — No. 4

January 14, 2011

While we have high hopes that the newly empowered Republican Members of Congress will make every effort to fight the socialization of America, we are also aware that the GOP has an ignominious history of wimping- and/or selling-out, especially on environmental issues. Wimp & Sellout Watch is GreenHellBlog’s effort to spotlight the GOP’s weak links because:

In the 112th Congress, it should take more courage for GOP-ers to retreat than to advance.

Today’s update on potential wimps and sellouts to watch:

Rep. Fred Upton. As former Reagan administration official Herbert E. Meyer pointed out, “personnel is policy”:

“Back in the Reagan Administration, we had a saying that always drew sneers from the press and from the Washington establishment: “Personnel is policy.” What we meant, of course, is that to execute the President’s policies it was necessary to hire officials who supported these policies, and who would work to achieve the President’s objectives rather than to undermine them.”

Toward that end, the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has made a worrisome choice.

Greenwire reported yesterday that Upton appointed one Michael Bloomquist to be deputy general counsel to the Committee. Bloomquist’s prior employment was with Wiley Rein, a lobbying firm. Click here to view a sample lobbying report.

One of Bloomquist’s clients was America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), which Wiley Rein billed what looks to be about $360,000 during 2009-2010 for work on climate and renewable energy legislation. Although you might think that all fossil fuel companies would oppose legislation that demonizes and targets its unavoidable carbon emissions, ANGA thinks differently:

  • Although ANGA was unhappy with the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, its beef was that the bill didn’t sufficiently penalize coal users.
  • ANGA sucked up to Sens. Kerry and Boxer because they were more open to “promot[ing] natural gas as part of the climate solution.”
  • Ahead of the 2009 IPCC conference in Copenhagen, ANGA observed, “If policymakers in our nation’s Capital are serious about addressing climate change, they should encourage the increased use of… natural gas.”
  • ANGA was supportive but thought the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill inadequate;
  • ANGA cheered President Obama for pledging to reduce the federal government’s carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2020;
  • Last Earth Day, ANGA promoted “Clean Natural Gas for a Greener World Now.”
  • After Sen. Lindsey Graham bailed out of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill, ANGA continued to support the efforts of Sens. Kerry and Lieberman.

You probably get the idea by now — ANGA badly wants climate legislation, which it views as increasing the demand for natural gas, and Bloomquist was advocating on ANGA’s behalf.

Now Bloomquist is working for Upton, who Republicans are relying on to end EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. There can be no doubt that Bloomquist’s former employer hopes Upton fails — and perhaps (certainly?) will lobbying toward that end. Then if (when?) President Obama designates natural gas as best available control technology (BACT) for electric power generation, ANGA will have succeeded beyond its wildest dreams as coal-fired power plants will then be forced to switch to natural gas on whatever schedule the EPA orders.

Also consider that ANGA recently hired Tom Hassenboehler as a vice president of policy development and legislative affairs (aka a lobbyist). Hassenboehler spent “nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as Minority Counsel to the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and as Counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In these roles, he helped develop floor strategies for the consideration of several key energy and environmental bills.”

ANGA aims to ensnarl America in greenhouse gas regulation in hopes of elevating depressed natural gas prices. Its former lobbyist now works for the wobbly Fred Upton. It has hired a key Republican Hill staffer.

Does personnel = policy? We’ll be watching.

Don’t forget to check out previous editions of Wimp & Sellout Watch:

  • No. 3 — Spotlighting Rep. Mike Simpson.
  • No. 2 — Spotlighting Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rob Portman.
  • No. 1 — Spotlighting Sens. Chuck Grassley, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham and Scott Brown, and Rep. Fred Upton.

Wimp & Sellout Watch — No.3

January 13, 2011

While we have high hopes that the newly empowered Republican Members of Congress will make every effort to fight the socialization of America, we are also aware that the GOP has an ignominious history of wimping- and/or selling-out, especially on environmental issues. Wimp & Sellout Watch is GreenHellBlog’s effort to spotlight the GOP’s weak links because:

In the 112th Congress, it should take more courage for GOP-ers to retreat than to advance.

Today’s update on potential wimps and sellouts to watch:

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). Last week, the new chairman of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee said he intends to slash the agency’s funding, observing that,

“The E.P.A. is the scariest agency in the federal government, an agency run amok.”

While that sounds terrific, Simpson sounded just a tad bit too wimpy in an Environment & Energy News report yesterday:

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said the Republican takeover of Congress will ensure a debate over whether EPA has exceeded its legal authority under the Clean Air Act by moving to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions linked to climate change. “There is a great deal of concern that the EPA is overreaching in trying to control greenhouse gases,” he said.

“And if they are, the way you bring them back is through the appropriations process, most likely. That’s the quickest way to do it,” he added.

The House approves spending bills before the Senate, and Simpson heads the House panel responsible for funding EPA each year, which puts its members in a unique position to place constraints on the agency. The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet decided how it will approach delaying EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, Simpson said, but he favors attaching language to the spending bill that would put a two-year stay on the stationary source programs.

The subcommittee voted last year on a similar appropriations “rider” but defeated it by a single vote.

“I suspect that would have a better chance of being adopted in this Congress,” he said.

While Simpson said the EPA language could be attached to a continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill Congress must pass in March to fund the federal government for the final six months of fiscal 2011, he added that the fiscal 2012 bill is a more likely vehicle.

He acknowledged that the rider could be a tough sell in the Senate, which is still under Democratic control. Still, he said it could be effective even if it never reaches the president’s desk.

Sometimes bringing it up and debating it is enough to make the agency say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe we ought to re-examine this,’” he said. Simpson said EPA has the options of slowing implementation of its programs or of weighing their benefits with their costs to determine whether mandates will put an undue burden on communities.

“I would hope that they would slow down on this and that Congress would take it up and give them some direction on what to do,” he said. [Emphasis added]

Here are reasons to be concerned about these comments:

  • Debate? What is there to debate? The voters spoke in November. The EPA has clearly acted illegally with respect to the “tailoring rule”. Then the agency entirely ignored the implications of Climategate and its progeny in the endangerment finding. The EPA is regulating greenhouse gas emissions now. We need action now. As Al Gore might say, the debate is over.
  • No plan? Simpson’s “most likely” comment (see above quote) indicates that there is no firm plan to take action. EPA greenhouse gas regulation is perhaps the most important issue facing this Congress that it can do something about — and House leadership still has no definite plan?
  • Later rather than sooner? Why isn’t Simpson charging ahead with respect to fiscal 2011 funding? Instead he’s prepping us for delay (i.e., fiscal 2012 is “more likely”). The longer EPA regulation is allowed to proceed, the less likely it is to be halted. Other major events can intercede and distract Congress. Delay allows the greens more time to scare politicians away from taking action against the EPA.
  • Tough sell in Senate? Last we checked, the House can block agency funding all by itself. No Senate action required.
  • How naive is the GOP? Simpson thinks that Congressional debate is going to make the EPA pause to reconsider its rules. Wake up, dude. The Obama EPA will never blink on regulating greenhouse gases; it’s the Obama administration’s signature green achievement. Obama would be a one-termer for sure if it backed off as the lefties and energy rentseeking industry would surely abandon him. Moreover, the EPA has no history of backing off major initiatives. Rather, its history is one of making Republican politicians slink away in ignominious defeat.
  • Hope-a-dope. Simpson “hopes” the EPA “slows down.” Hope is for roulette. It is not a strategy.
  • GOP to pass greenhouse gas regulation? Simpson also “hopes” that Congress would give the EPA direction on how to regulate greenhouse gases. Excuse me? Cap-and-trade is one of the reasons that Simpson, not some Democrat, is chairman of his subcommittee. The only direction Congress should give the EPA is, “Stop, right now.”

Although Simpson doesn’t mention it, he seems to be hoping (again) that a court will force the EPA to stop. But as of today, there is no indication that any court will do so. Moreover, the likely litigation schedule could drag on past the 2012 elections.

Based on news accounts, oral argument in ongoing litigation could be delayed until the fall (or even later). If so, there likely will be no court decision until at least 2012. Supreme Court review could easily drag into 2013 — a decision that seems likely to again hinge on how swing-voter Anthony Kennedy feels about the EPA and global warming — remember this didn’t work out so well for us in 2007.

Once again, the longer EPA regulations stay in place, the more difficult it will be to end them. President Obama could make things even more difficult by designating natural gas as “best available control technology” (BACT) for greenhouse gases in the power sector. If he did that, the natural gas industry would flood Republican coffers with cash and EPA regulation would be cemented in place.

Simpson says the EPA is the “scariest agency” and it is “running amok.” If he means what he says, then he should take decisive action now.

Don’t forget to check out previous editions of Wimp & Sellout Watch:

  • No. 2 — Spotlighting Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rob Portman.
  • No. 1 — Spotlighting Sens. Chuck Grassley, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham and Scott Brown, and Rep. Fred Upton.

DC Circuit teases, then screws Texas

January 13, 2011

We should have known it was too good to be true when on Dec. 30 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit temporarily blocked the EPA from taking control of Texas’ air pollution permitting program.

Yesterday, the Court changed its mind and lifted the stay ruling that,

“petitioners (Texas) have not satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending court review.”

The DC Circuit judges were the dope-smoking Douglas Ginsburg, Clinton-appointee Judith W. Rogers, and Thomas Griffith, who practiced law without a license in Washington, DC (1998-2000) and Utah (2000-2004).

God help us.

EPA outsmarts biomass industry

January 12, 2011

“Biomass-inine” is the only way to describe the biomass industry’s deal with the EPA.

Administrator Lisa Jackson announced today that the biomass industry would be exempt from the agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for three years, pending more research on whether biomass is truly “carbon neutral”:

The agency intends to use this time to seek further independent scientific analysis of this complex issue and then to develop a rulemaking on how these emissions should be treated in determining whether a Clean Air Act permit is required.

Dave Tenny, the president of the National Association of Forest Owners told Greenwire,

“We think this is a very positive step in the right direction.”

But the agency had already declared biomass to be carbon neutral in its April 2010 “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2008″:

“…because biomass fuels are of biogenic origin, . . . [i]t is assumed that the carbon (C) released during the consumption of biomass is recycled as U.S. forests and crops regenerate, causing no net addition of CO2 to the atmosphere.”

Based on that statement, biomass should be permanently excluded from GHG regulation.

Note that in the above-captioned statement, however, the EPA only “assumed” biomass to be carbon neutral. And as argued in a July 2010 missive from the radical green Center for Biological Diversity,

The “carbon neutrality” assumption is just that—an assumption, not a fact. “Carbon neutrality,” if it exists at all, must be demonstrated on a project-specific basis, taking into account all emissions from biomass production, transport, processing, and combustion, all emissions and lost sequestration capacity associated with forest thinning and clearing operations, and actual analysis of fossil fuel displacement.

In the la-la-land of manmade global warming, that would seem to be quite a good point. There would seem to be much difference in say leaving biomass to decompose slowly versus the combination of fossil fuel-reliant harvesting and accelerated carbon-emitting through combustion.

But whether or not biomass is carbon neutral is just a distraction.

What’s really going on is that the EPA has effectively eliminated a potentially powerful foe from the upcoming political battle over the agency’s GHG regulations.

By embracing the CBD’s argument and reneging on its earlier assumption that biomass is carbon neutral, the EPA now has a passable excuse for denying the green-hated biomass industry a permanent exemption from GHG regulation. But since the agency doesn’t want to permanently antagonize the industry and its political supporters, especially now in the heat of battle over GHG regulation, a three-year reprieve has been granted.

Conveniently, that three-year period is just about the time that it will probably take to complete the ongoing litigation over the EPA’s climate rules. It also removes the issue from the 2012 presidential election. This obviously helps the EPA out a lot now while giving the biomass industry essentially nothing in return and setting it up to be screwed later.

Underscoring the EPA’s attempt to defuse political tensions are letters sent by Administrator Jackson to biomass champions Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), reading in relevant part:

“I hope you will see the steps described in this letter as following through on my prior commitment to exercise whatever discretion the Clean Air Act affords to avoid discouraging the use of renewable, domestically-produced fuel in power plants and factories.”

Through the 2012 election, the EPA will likely implement its greenhouse gas regulations gingerly and with an eye out toward not making more political enemies for President Obama. So it’s unlikely that the biomass industry would have felt any pain during that time from the EPA. But in three years — when the litigation and election are over — the biomass industry could very well be at the Obama EPA’s mercy.

If the fossil fuel industry has lost the war by 2014, then the biomass industry will be on its own defending itself against an Obama EPA that takes no prisoners. The EPA has long excelled, you see, at dividing and conquering business. It’s the agency’s most effective tactic.

The EPA threw the biomass industry a thin bone by classifying biomass as “best available control technology” during the three-year period. But this is a worthless gesture since no significant fossil fuel burner will be required by the agency to switch from coal or natural gas to biomass.

Lobbyist Tenny is right that the EPA’s action is a “very positive step in the right direction” — for the EPA.

Green backlash begins — lamely

January 11, 2011

Green groups commenced their assault on the House GOP today, accusing last week’s legislative efforts to rein in the EPA’s climate regulations as “a threat to public health.”

In condemning Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s bill (H.R. 97) to amend the Clean Air Act to exclude greenhouse gases, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) issued a media release quoting its president, Gary Cohen:

“Curtailing [the EPA's] efforts by placing our regulatory system in a stranglehold will sentence tens of thousands of people to debilitating, respiratory illnesses, adding to the burden of chronic disease in the nation and increased financial burden to the health care system.” said Gary Cohen, president of Health Care Without Harm.

Cohen also stated,

“Greenhouse gases contribute to human morbidity and mortality in the same way that smog and soot pollution and other air toxins do…”

But consider the two graphs below. The first charts the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the 20th century.

The second charts the change in life expectancy during the 20th century.

Note that as CO2 levels increased, so did life expectancy — the best measure of public health. Although correlation does not necessarily equate to causation, we expect that life expectancy correlates very highly with per capita CO2 emissions around the world.

Perhaps that’s why HCWH’s media release didn’t present these graphs (or anything else for that matter to back up their claims), preferring instead to stick with ad hominem attack.

BTW, what is Health Care With Harm? It describes itself as,

…an international coalition of organizations dedicated to reducing environmental damage by the health care sector.

Connoisseurs of junk science , however, know HCWH as a front group for the radical green agenda. Greenpeace, Beyond Pesticides, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environmental Working Group, and Sierra Club are just some of its “members“.

We challenge HCWH to cite a single credible scientific study demonstrating that greenhouse gases pose any threat to human health whatsoever. We define “scientific study” to be an empirical analysis of data published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature — as opposed some conclusory book report like the EPA’s “endangerment finding.” We’ll even accept a case study of someone harmed by greenhouse gases. How hard could that be since tens of thousands have been debilitated by greenhouse gases, according to HCWH?

How about it Gary Cohen?

USCAP to go into self-induced coma

January 7, 2011

The US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), the business-environmentalist lobby group that almost made cap-and-trade happen in the 111th Congress, is going dark at least temporarily.

Jonathan Lash of the USCAP member World Resources Institute told Carbon Control News that members,

“have agreed to keep USCAP in existence for the time being and reassess what is going to be possible.”

Apparently with cap-and-trade off the table and internal disagreement about whether to support or fight the EPA’s climate rules, USCAP members have reached an impasse as to what to do next.

So it’s lights out for USCAP for now.

USCAP members lobbied hard and successfully for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, but then saw disenchanted members fall away, including BP America, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Deere & Co., Marsh & McClennan, Xerox.

Oddly (or perhaps not), USCAP’s lead lobbyist, Merribel Ayres is married to Dick Ayres, a longtime board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a radical environmental group that has long been a mortal enemy of most of the USCAP members. The NRDC was among the groups that sued the U.S. EPA to impose California’s emission standards on cars nationwide — a lawsuit that led directly to the EPA’s new and controversial greenhouse gas regulations.

USCAP is little more than a confederacy of dunces (the business members) and sharks (the green members). We look forward to the day when the plug is finally pulled.

In the meantime, let’s take a walk down memory lane and our campaign against USCAP. Do you remember:

  • the Carbon Criminal posters?
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer’s tirade against the posters?
  • Exelon CEO John Rowe receiving his “Carbon Bandit” bobblehead at a Senate hearing?
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