by Judith Curry
On Monday, Obama’s administration will announce major new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A summary from Newsweek:
On Monday, the administration will announce new carbon pollution standards for the nation’s more than 1,000 power plants which produce 40 percent of the country’s carbon pollution — making these plants the country’s number one producer of greenhouse gases causing climate change. A New York Times report Thursday said the new rules will call for a decrease of 20 percent of plants’ emissions by 2020, a significant amount.
But like everything in Washington these days, the new rules won’t become final without a major fight, and both sides are preparing for war — in Congress, in the courts, at the state-level, even at the ballot box.
“We see this as the pivotal battle on climate change,” David Goldston, Director of Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group playing a leading role in the effort, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday. “For the first time, climate is going to be front and center as the national issue. And what that means, we think, is that when this battle is over and the power plant standards are in effect, climate will have turned into an ordinary environmental issue.”
Once the standards are announced, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take comments on the proposal, make any revisions they see fit, and plan to announce a final rule in June 2015. The states will have a year after that to come up with their own plans to comply with the new standards. Throughout this process, Goldston hopes that the climate change issue will be “demystified”: politicians will learn not to fear it, Americans will come to expect action on it. The new standards, Goldston predicted, will “fundamentally change the political dynamic on climate change.”
RealClearEnergy has a round-up of articles from a range of perspectives, including Marlo Lewis and Pat Michaels. An article describing the cons of the proposal by Mike Duncan,President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy. Excerpts:
Despite concerns that they lack the proper authority, the Obama Administration is set to unveil new regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants next Monday.
It’s clear that the EPA has coal in its crosshairs, and it’s likely the new rule will again target coal usage. But even if our nation’s entire coal fleet was shutdown, global emissions of greenhouse gases would be reduced by just 3 percent. Increases in average global temperature would be reduced by just .03 degrees Centigrade, while increases in sea levels would be reduced by less than the thickness of a penny by the year 2050.
Second, we know these new regulations are not establishing global leadership on climate change. The Administration claims that the United States is leading on this issue, but the fact is that no one is following.
The International Energy Agency predicts global coal consumption will increase an average of 2.3 percent per year over the next five years, with China accounting for nearly 60 percent of that growth. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Japan is shutting down nuclear power stations and is expected to become more dependent on coal.
In Europe, coal is more affordable than natural gas leading many countries to develop new coal-fueled power plants. Recent tension with Russia, a source of much of the continent’s natural gas supplies, will likely lead to even greater dependence on coal.
Previous EPA regulations have forced utilities to announce that 330 coal-based power plants will be shutting down or converting to natural gas. Last winter, as the polar vortex brought record cold temperatures, utilities struggled to keep up with the demand. To avoid catastrophe, they relied on coal plants that are scheduled for closure next year.
American Electric Power had to run 89 percent of its retiring plants to help keep the lights on , while Southern Company was utilizing 75 percent of its plants scheduled for shutdowns . Now, the EPA is poised to impose even greater restrictions that will lead to more coal plants being shutdown. During the next heat wave or cold spell, utilities will have nowhere to turn.
An article in the Guardian Conservative Groups Bid to Wreck Obama’s Proposals on Carbon Emissions. Subtitle: Lobby groups say guidelines set to be introduced Monday will hurt the economy and have minimal impact on climate change.
The NYTimes has a very good article by Justin Gillis: A Price Tag on Carbon as a Climate Rescue Plan, that describes the turbulent history of cap and trade.
I sure hope somebody has a plan for providing energy for unexpected cold winters or hot summers.
The adjectives we want for energy are: abundant, reliable, economical, and clean/green. Provided that abundant, reliable, and economical can be maintained, the U.S. public will support clean/green. However, the litmus test for the policies is not abundant/reliable/economical, but CO2 emissions reduction. I don’t think anyone can credibly argue that the CO2 emissions reduced under Obama’s plan will change or improve the climate.
The politics on this one will be very interesting. To date, climate change hasn’t been an issue that has influenced much at the U.S. ballot boxes. Looks like this could change with the mid-term elections coming next November.
All this is bypassing Congress, and will take years to implement. Unless I am missing something, the next Republican President can reverse all this?