Originally Published on May 21, 2009
Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher — a major friend of coal — outlined these pro-coal amendments pretty clearly on Monday, during his opening statement on the committee markup hearings.
Boucher Opening Statement on Markup of American Clean Energy and Security Act
ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
American Clean Energy and Security Act Full Committee Markup
MAY 18, 2009
I am pleased to report that following six weeks of continuous and intensive negotiations with Chairman Waxman and Chairman Markey, I have now reached an agreement with them on the principles for greenhouse gas control legislation, and as a result I will be supporting the measure before the committee and urge other members to do so as well.
It is now inevitable that federal controls on greenhouse gases will be adopted. The Supreme Court ended the debate on whether there would be controls when it effectively mandated three years ago that the Environmental Protection Agency regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless the Congress regulates first. Virtually all interested parties, from the coal industry and electric utilities to the environmental community would prefer that Congress adopt the regulations rather than have them be adopted by the EPA.
Accordingly, I have been working with Chairmen Waxman and Markey to advance the goals which I think are important to achieve in control legislation. These goals are the preservation of coal related jobs, the facilitation of growing coal production, and keeping electricity rates affordable in regions like Southwest Virginia where most of the electricity is coal fired. The compromise we have now achieved is a major step toward meeting these goals.
Our agreement will provide to electric utilities 90 percent of the emission allowances they will need without charge. The provision of free allowances will help to keep electricity rates affordable.
Our agreement provides 2 billion tons annually of offsets that will enable electric utilities to invest in agriculture and forestry, including tropical rain forest preservation, as a means of meeting their emission reduction requirements under the law. Therefore, by using offsets, electric utilities can continue using coal while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Under our agreement, separate legislation I have introduced to accelerate the flow of federal funding for the latest generation of carbon capture and storage technologies, will be enacted into law. Under that measure, $1 billion annually will be devoted to the development of these technologies for a ten year period, and estimates are that with this funding they will be available and reliable in 2020. This technology development is essential to achieving our long term goals for greenhouse gas controls while at the same time preserving coal jobs, allowing increased coal production and keeping electricity rates affordable.
Throughout the course of the negotiations, I have been in continuous discussions with a number of stakeholders including the coal industry, electric utilities and the United Mineworkers, and we are broadly in agreement that the legislation that is the product of our compromise should now move through the Energy and Commerce Committee to be considered in the full House of Representatives.
We also are in agreement that further improvements in the legislation should be sought after it is approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I am committed to seeking those additional improvements. One key improvement which I believe to be necessary is a change in the level of greenhouse gas reductions that will be required by 2020. Chairman Waxman's initial proposal was a 20 percent reduction based on 2005 levels by 2020. Our agreement for purposes of committee consideration sets the level at 17 percent. I continue to believe that a 14 percent reduction would further our goals of preserving coal jobs, increasing coal sales, and keeping electricity affordable, and I will continue to promote in future steps within the legislative process a 14 percent target for emissions reductions for 2020. In addition, I remain concerned about the short length of the phase out of the electricity sector allowances after 2025, the remaining discount on international offsets which emerges after 5 years, and other matters.
Despite these reservations, and my commitment to seeking additional improvements, I do support moving the legislation through our full committee. I will be voting yes, I encourage other members to vote yes and to work constructively with Chairmen Waxman and Markey as this measure goes to the floor of the House, and also, hopefully, with our Senate colleagues as it is considered there and in conference.
Let me just say a word about our negotiations. They have been intense, but they have been collegial. They were well structured and methodical, and they have proven ultimately to be successful. And I want to commend Chairman Waxman and Chairman Markey for a superb process in which they accommodated my concerns, they solicited my views, they listened to our arguments, and they were willing to make sure that our core needs were met. I very much appreciate that process and their cooperation in this effort, and I am pleased that we have achieved agreement on many key matters.
May 20, 2009
NMA opposes H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act because it does not promote economic and energy security. While NMA recognizes changes to the original draft of the legislation are intended to reduce harmful economic consequences of the legislation, these changes are not sufficient to produce a balanced and responsible policy for addressing climate change concerns.
To be effective, climate change policies must address global emissions and accelerate the development and commercial deployment of advanced clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). The bill mandates sharp near-term emission reductions before this technology can be deployed. The result will be devastating losses of high-paying mining jobs, higher energy costs for businesses and the exporting of American business and jobs to countries that do not require similar greenhouse gas emission reductions.In addition to assuring that emission reductions are compatible with the commercial availability of the enabling technologies, an effective and balanced climate policy must include:
Effective cost containment measures, such as a safety valve, to protect against spikes in energy costs that will drive business and jobs overseas;America's families, communities and businesses cannot sustain higher energy costs, additional job losses and further weakening of our economy during these difficult times. We urge Congress to oppose H.R. 2454.
Sufficient and reliable funding and incentives to accelerate the development, demonstration and broad commercial deployment of advanced coal technologies such as CCS;
A comprehensive legal framework governing carbon capture and storage liability in order to provide the certainty needed to attract investment;
Measures that maintain the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and mining industries; and
Clear and comprehensive preemption of all federal, state and local laws addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
A total of 59 new coal-fired power plant projects were canceled last year... But what is truly ironic is that environmental opposition to new coal-fired plants is actually causing a massive increase in carbon emissions in the U.S. In fact, each new plant that’s canceled or abandoned in North America not only directly increases carbon emissions but also delays the adoption of clean coal technologies that could make the fuel more environmentally palatable... Modern plants consume far less coal to produce the same amount of energy... Nonetheless, this line of reasoning has little traction with environmental and consumer groups that oppose new plant construction. Therefore, building even the most efficient coal plants is problematic for utilities. But what’s bad for the environment is a big positive for coal demand. The U.S. will continue to rely on the existing base of coal-fired facilities; the average coal plant is already about 30 years old. These plants burn more coal to produce the same measure of electricity... Growth in coal-fired capacity in the developing world will offset any plant construction delays in the U.S. And every coal plant that’s canceled or blocked in the U.S. spells more coal burned in older coal-guzzling plants. - Elliott H. Gue, Coal Investors Take Their Lump, International Business Times, May 19, 2008
November 2, 2008
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008, Senator Barack Obama said that he would put a new “cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there” if he would become president.
Every single person who would want to “build a coal-powered plant” would be able to do so, Obama said, but his new system would “bankrupt them.”
“What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there,” Obama was recorded as saying. “I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.”You can listen to Obama say it himself below:
This would mean, Obama went on to explain, that “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
He repeated: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
June 3, 2010
... Currently, the Clean Air Act can regulate new (or substantially modified) coal plants through the New Source Review program, one of its most contentious and litigated provisions.
The American Power Act, like the House climate bill passed last summer, contains statutory performance standards for new coal-fired power plants. They must sequester 50 percent (if permitted before 2020) or 65 percent (if permitted after 2020) of their CO2.
So new coal plants are getting regulated regardless. But what about the old ones?
Here's where the American Power Act actually has an advantage. There's an Easter egg in it, which has gone almost entirely unremarked since the its debut: the bill amends the Clean Air Act to give EPA authority to set performance standards for existing electrical generating units, i.e. old coal-fired power plants.
What coal-plant performance standards might look like under the American Power Act:
The power to implement performance standards for existing coal plants is a Very Big Deal. Big coal utilities are very likely to try to kill this provision.
How would performance standards for existing coal plants work? Ultimately it would be at EPA's discretion. The relevant part of the Clean Air Act -- Sec. 111(d) -- says that authorities are permitted to take into account "the remaining useful life of the existing source to which such standard applies," and remaining useful life turns out to be a pretty potent notion. You can imagine EPA proposing something like the following: For plants with 5 years of remaining useful life, performance standards only require some tweaks to operational efficiency. For plants with 10 years of remaining life, standards might require biomass cofiring or fuel switching. For plants with 20 years of remaining life, standards could be the same as the ones for new coal plants (50 percent CO2 sequestration by 2020).
Or whatever. The point is, EPA could use this provision to finally start the clock ticking down on the old, dirty coal plants that have so long vexed enviros (to say nothing of the people made sick by their pollution). It isn't the ideal way to address existing coal plants, but with a smart EPA and a willing administration, it could make a big difference.
While we're on the subject of existing power plants, there are other measures in the bill to accelerate the transition away from dirty coal, namely "financial and regulatory incentives, including expedited proceedings" for projects that shut down, retrofit, or switch fuels in old power plants. Depending on how powerful those incentives turn out to be and how performance-standards are implemented, the American Power Act could add up to a pretty decent way of taking on old coal. That's something enviros have been seeking for decades.
Of course, enviros have also been defending the Clean Air Act for decades. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the tools that are preempted by the bill and figure out whether they're worth going to the mat for.
June 3, 2009
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has been trying for the past year to get Congress to set up an independent corporation dedicated to clean coal development. He introduced the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act (HR 6258), which provoked some hearings in 2008, but it went nowhere and died. So this spring he reintroduced the bill, virtually unchanged (HR 1689).
What happened next is further proof of the enormous leverage Boucher wields as a coal state Democrat in shaping national climate legislation.
His bill was incorporated wholesale as pages 52-75 into the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), the climate bill Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey are shepherding through the House ...
July 1, 2010
Environmentalists and power companies are lobbying U.S. senators to put forward climate and energy legislation that would initially cap greenhouse emissions only from electric utilities, saying it's the last best chance for passing a bill this year.
They site fears that a broader bill forcing manufacturers and the transportation sector to pay for emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases while the country struggles to emerge from recession would be too difficult this year.
"The reality is that comprehensive economy-wide cap and trade is not going to be passed by the Senate," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp told reporters on Thursday.EDF is lobbying Senators Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Olympia Snowe, a Republican, to put forward a utility-only bill. The senators have talked about the idea for months.
"We are for the broadest possible cap that we can get," which means a bill that limits emissions at utilities first before moving to manufacturers later, he said.
"Staff for both senators have had ongoing discussions about the design of a utility-sector cap and trade program, but no decisions have been made on how to proceed," said Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker.Senator John Kerry, a Democrat who co-wrote a climate bill unveiled in May, said this week a utility-only bill was one of the ideas being discussed on how to move forward with a bill that would put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
He was speaking after a meeting hosted by President Barack Obama and more than 20 other senators on the energy bill.
The idea is supported by many companies in the utility business, which emits 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution, as long as caps are put on the rest of the economy a few years later.
"We're willing to start early," Jim Rogers, the chief executive of Duke Energy said in an interview, "but we want it tied to an economy-wide because what good purpose is it if it ignores the other 60 percent?"Rogers said a utility-first bill would have to include a provision to halt or reduce the program if in three or four years caps on manufacturers did not materialize.
Many utilities see carbon limits as inevitable and want the laws to be written so they can invest billions of dollars now on hold into low-carbon energy sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.
Environmentalists said the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the country's worst ever, could provide an opportunity to get an energy bill done.
A utility-only bill could be paired with measures to tighten safety and oversight on offshore drilling in a way that would make it hard for many lawmakers to vote against it.
One international energy official welcomed the idea of an utility-only bill, saying it could be a way of beginning to break a deadlock on global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
"To start with the electricity sector makes sense," Nobuo Tanaka, the head of the International Energy Agency, told reporters on Thursday. "It is a very good way to start, much better than nothing."Still, as congressional elections loom in November, time is running short for debate on any complicated bill, especially one that could ultimately raise the cost of energy and household goods. Some Republicans insist even a utility-only measure is a "national energy tax."
EDF's Krupp praised Obama for hard work on climate, including appearing at international talks last year and directing billions of dollars from the stimulus package to clean energy investments.
But he said legislation will only pass if Obama pushes senators a little harder.
"If he doesn't do that, without his leadership then everything he has done so far will lead to nothing."
December 3, 2009
An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming
The world is in the grip of an idea: that burning fossil fuels to provide affordable, abundant energy is causing global warming that will be so dangerous that we must stop it by reducing our use of fossil fuels, no matter the cost.
Is that idea true?
We believe not.
We believe that idea--we'll call it "global warming alarmism"--fails the tests of theology, science, and economics. It rests on poor theology, with a worldview of the Earth and its climate system contrary to that taught in the Bible. It rests on poor science that confuses theory with observation, computer models with reality, and model results with evidence, all while ignoring the lessons of climate history. It rests on poor economics, failing to do reasonable cost/benefit analysis, ignoring or underestimating the costs of reducing fossil fuel use while exaggerating the benefits.
And it bears fruit in unethical policy that would:
- destroy millions of jobs.
- cost trillions of dollars in lost economic production.
- slow, stop, or reverse economic growth.
- reduce the standard of living for all but the elite few who are well positioned to benefit from laws that unfairly advantage them at the expense of most businesses and all consumers.
- endanger liberty by putting vast new powers over private, social, and market life in the hands of national and international governments.
- condemn the world's poor to generations of continued misery characterized by rampant disease and premature death.
In return for all these sacrifices, what will the world get? At most a negligible, undetectable reduction in global average temperature a hundred years from now.
Our examination of theology, worldview, and ethics (Chapter One) finds that global warming alarmism wrongly views the Earth and its ecosystems as the fragile product of chance, not the robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God's wise design and powerful sustaining. It rests on and promotes a view of human beings as threats to Earth's flourishing rather than the bearers of God's image, crowned with glory and honor, and given a mandate to act as stewards over the Earth-filling, subduing, and ruling it for God's glory and mankind's benefit. It either wrongly assumes that the environment can flourish only if humanity forfeits economic advance and prosperity or ignores economic impacts altogether. And in its rush to impose draconian reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it ignores the destructive impact of that policy on the world's poor.
Our examination of the science of global warming (Chapter Two) finds that global warming alarmism wrongly claims that recent temperature changes have been greater and more rapid than those of the past and therefore must be manmade, not natural. It exaggerates the influence of manmade greenhouse gases on global temperature and ignores or underestimates the influence of natural cycles. It mistakenly takes the output of computer climate models as evidence when it is only predictions based on hypotheses that must be tested by observation. It falsely claims overwhelming scientific consensus in favor of the hypothesis of dangerous manmade warming (ignoring tens of thousands of scientists who disagree) and then falsely claims that such consensus proves the hypothesis and justifies policies to fight it. It seeks to intimidate or demonize scientific skeptics rather than welcoming their work as of the very essence of scientific inquiry: putting hypotheses to the test rather than blindly embracing them.
Our examination of the economics of global warming alarmism (Chapter Three) finds that it exaggerates the harms from global warming and ignores or underestimates the benefits not only from warming but also from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. It grossly underestimates the costs and overestimates the benefits of policies meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It exaggerates the technical feasibility and underestimates the costs of alternative fuels to replace fossil fuels in providing the abundant, affordable energy necessary for wealth creation and poverty reduction. It ignores the urgent need to provide cleaner energy to the roughly two billion poor in the world whose use of wood and dung as primary cooking and heating fuels causes millions of premature deaths and hundreds of millions of debilitating respiratory diseases every year. It fails to recognize that the slowed economic development resulting from its own policies will cost many times more human lives than would the warming it is meant to avert.
In light of all these findings, we conclude that:
- human activity has negligible influence on global temperature,
- the influence is not dangerous,
- there is no need to mandate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and
- environmental and energy policy should remove, not build, obstacles to the abundant, affordable energy necessary to lift the world's poor out of poverty and sustain prosperity for all.
We also gladly join others in embracing An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming.
THEOLOGY, WORLDVIEW, AND ETHICS OF GLOBAL WARMING POLICY
Earth and all its subsystems-of land, sea, and air, living and nonliving-are the good products of the wise design and omnipotent acts of the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Triune God of the Bible. As such they reveal God's glory. Mankind, created in God's image, is the crown of creation. Human beings have the divine mandate to multiply and to fill, subdue, and rule the Earth, transforming it from wilderness into garden. They act as stewards under God to cultivate and guard what they subdue and rule. Calling them to be His vicegerents over the Earth, God requires obedience to His laws-in Scripture and imprinted in the human conscience-in their stewardship. Although sin, universal among mankind, deeply mars this stewardship, God's redemptive act in Jesus Christ's death on the cross and His instructive activity through Scripture, communicating the nature of creation and human responsibility for it, enable people to create wealth and decrease poverty at the same time that they pursue creation stewardship and, even more important, the true spiritual wealth of knowing their Creator through Jesus Christ.
The Biblical worldview contrasts sharply with the environmentalist worldview-whether secular or religious-in many significant ways. Among these, four are particularly germane:
- Environmentalism sees Earth and its systems as the product of chance and therefore fragile, subject to easy and catastrophic disruption. The Biblical worldview sees Earth and its systems as robust, self-regulating, and self-correcting, not immune to harm but durable.
- Environmentalism sees human beings principally as consumers and polluters who are only quantitatively, not qualitatively, different from other species. The Bible sees people as made in God's image, qualitatively different from all other species, and designed to be producers and stewards who, within a just and free social order, can create more resources than they consume and ensure a clean, healthful, and beautiful environment.
- Environmentalism tends to view nature untouched by human hands as optimal, while the Bible teaches that it can be improved by wise and holy human action.
- Environmentalism tends to substitute subjective, humanist standards of environmental stewardship for the objective, transcendent standards of divine morality.
The providence and promises of God inform a Christian understanding of creation stewardship, helping to avert irrational or exaggerated fears of catastrophes-fears that are rooted, ultimately, in the loss of faith in God. Those who do trust God are able to assess and respond to risks rationally. God's wisdom, power, and faithfulness justify confidence that Earth's ecosystems are robust and will, by God's providence, accomplish the purposes He set for them.
Sound policymaking requires both moral and prudential (cost/benefit) analysis. In this, a high priority for the church should be the welfare of the poor, since environmental policies often adversely affect them. That is the case with policies intended to reduce global warming by reducing the use of fossil fuels. For example, such fuels are currently the most abundant and affordable alternatives to dirty fuels, like wood and dung, which are now used by two billion people and cause millions of deaths and hundreds of millions of illnesses from respiratory diseases contracted by breathing their smoke. Insisting on the use of more expensive alternative fuels because of global warming fears means depriving the poor of the abundant, affordable energy they need to rise from abject poverty and its attendant miseries. Such policies fail both moral and prudential tests.
Environmental policies the world's poor most need will aim not at reducing global temperature (over which human action has little control) but at reducing specific risks to the poor regardless of temperature: communicable diseases (especially malaria), malnutrition and hunger, and exclusion from worldwide markets by trade restrictions. Money diverted from these goals to fight global warming will be wasted, while the poor will suffer increased and prolonged misery. Overall economic policy toward the poor should focus on promoting economic development, including making low-cost energy available, through which they can lift themselves out of poverty. It should not focus on wealth redistribution, which fosters dependency and slows development. Above all, the poor-and all other persons-need the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone ...Pennsylvania Homeland Security called coal documentary a security threat
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