Get Ready for a Tax on Breathing, a Dramatic Increase in Energy Costs, and the Loss of More American Jobs (Updated 12/30/11)Plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and emit oxygen as a waste product; humans and animals breathe oxygen and emit CO2 as a waste product — the global warming alarmists believe that in order to save the trees ('Mother Earth'), we must reduce human and animal populations. In other words, only a select few should be allowed to live.
The Obama administration declared on April 17, 2009, that carbon dioxide and five other industrial emissions threaten the planet. The landmark decision laid the groundwork for federal efforts to cap carbon emissions — at a potential cost of billions of dollars to businesses and government. The Environmental Protection Agency finding that the emissions endanger "the health and welfare of current and future generations" is "the first formal recognition by the U.S. government of the threats posed by climate change," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote in a memo to her staff. The EPA finding comes about two years after the Supreme Court found that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and that the EPA can regulate it. - U.S. in Historic Shift on CO2 , Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009
Climategate, Copenhagen, Snowmageddon in the nation's capital, the EPA ruling that CO2 endangers us all, and Senate Republicans pushing for a global-warming tax — has it been a great run-up to Earth Day, or what? Never has a public-policy agenda been pursued with so little regard for scientific fact or for public opinion. In March, 48 percent of Americans agreed that global warming, while real, is exaggerated. When Gallup first asked this question in 1997, only 31 percent thought the threat exaggerated. Despite this shift in sentiment, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and John Kerry (D., Mass.) and President Obama insist upon ramming a new global-warming tax (called a "fee") through the Senate. - The Global-Warming Tax, Cato Institute, April 22, 2010
December 19, 2011
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to change how it analyzes problems and makes decisions, in a way that will give it vastly expanded power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems in the name of “sustainable development,” the centerpiece of a global United Nations conference slated for Rio de Janeiro next June.
The major focus of the EPA thinking is a weighty study the agency commissioned last year from the National Academies of Science. Published in August, the study, entitled “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA,” cost nearly $700,000 and involved a team of a dozen outside experts and about half as many National Academies staff.
Its aim: how to integrate sustainability “as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA.” The panel who wrote the study declares part of its job to be “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.”
Or, in other words, how to use existing laws to new ends.
According to the Academies, the sustainability study “both incorporates and goes beyond an approach based on assessing and managing the risks posed by pollutants that has largely shaped environmental policy since the 1980s.”
It is already known in EPA circles as the “Green Book,” and is frequently compared by insiders to the “Red Book,” a study on using risk management techniques to guide evaluation of carcinogenic chemicals that the agency touts as the basis of its overall approach to environmental issues for the past 30 years.
At the time that the “Green Book” study was commissioned, in August, 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson termed it “the next phase of environmental protection,” and asserted that it will be “fundamental to the future of the EPA.”
Jackson compared the new approach, it would articulate to “the difference between treating disease and pursuing wellness.”
It was, she said, “a new opportunity to show how environmentally protective and sustainable we can be,” and would affect “every aspect” of EPA’s work.According to the study itself, the adoption of the new “sustainability framework” will make the EPA more “anticipatory” in its approach to environmental issues, broaden its focus to include both social and economic as well as environmental “pillars,” and “strengthen EPA as an organization and a leader in the nation’s progress toward a sustainable future.”
Whatever EPA does with its suggestions, the study emphasizes, will be “discretionary.” But the study urges EPA to “create a new culture among all EPA employees,” and hire an array of new experts in order to bring the sustainability focus to every corner of the agency and its operations.
Changes will move faster “as EPA’s intentions and goals in sustainability become clear to employees,” the study says.The National Academies and the EPA held a meeting last week in Washington to begin public discussion of the study.
Even as it begins to go public, EPA, which has come under renewed fire for its recent rulings on new auto emissions standards and limits on coal-fueled power plant emissions, is being determinedly low-key about the study.
Initially questioned about the document by Fox News weeks ago, an EPA spokesman eventually declared that"
“We are currently reviewing the recommendations and have not yet made any decisions on implementation.” During the deliberations, he said, “the agency will seek a wide range of perspectives on the recommendations from the business community, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, and others.”The spokesman also said that EPA had “no current plans” for the so-called “Rio + 20” environmental summit next summer “that pertains to the Green Book’s recommendations.”
The U.N. summit meeting, however, is mentioned in the Green Book itself as an instance where “sustainability is gaining increasing recognition as a useful framework for addressing otherwise intractable problems. The framework can be applied at any scale of governance, in nearly any situation, and anywhere in the world.”When it comes to applying the framework via EPA, the study says it is likely to happen only “over time.” The Red Book risk assessment approach now in use, it notes, “was not immediately adopted within EPA or elsewhere. It required several years for its general acceptance at EPA and its diffusion to state and local agencies.” [See: Cap and Trade Scam To Be Enforced at Local and State Level]
What is “sustainability” in the first place? That is a question the study ducks, noting that it is only advising EPA on how to bring it within the agency’s canon.
The experts take their definition from an Obama Administration executive order of October, 2009, entitled Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. It defines sustainability in sweeping fashion as the ability “to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”
The study specifically notes that “although addressing economic issues is not a core part of EPA’s mission, it is explicitly part of the definition of sustainability.”
The experience of the European Union is deemed “particularly relevant” to achieving the sustainability goal.
That European strategy involves a virtually all-encompassing regulatory vision. The study notes that its priorities include “climate change and clean energy; sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production; conservation and management of natural resources; public health; social inclusion, demography, and migration; and global poverty and sustainable development challenges.”
In an American context, the study says sustainable development “raises questions that are not fully or directly addressed in U.S. law or policy.”
Among them: “how to define and control unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and how to encourage the development of sustainable communities, biodiversity protection, clean energy, environmentally sustainable economic development, and climate change controls.”The study notes that sustainable development is “broader than the sum of U.S. environmental and conservation laws.”
It adds that “a great deal more needs to be done to achieve sustainability in the United States.”
The experts say they found the legal authority for EPA to foster sustainable development without further congressional approval in the wording of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, or NEPA. The study says the law, the cornerstone of U.S. environmental policy, declared that the “continuing policy of the Federal Government” is to “create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”
(In fact, the study quotes selectively from that portion of NEPA. What that section of the Act says in full is that “it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.)
What ends that tacit authority should be used for are far less clear, because the study asserts that they need to be made up and codified as EPA goes along.
“EPA needs to formally develop and specify its vision for sustainability,” the study says. “Vision, in the sense discussed here, is a future state that EPA is trying to reach or is trying to help the country or the world to reach.”The study offers up new tools for EPA to do the job. As opposed to environmental impact assessment, the study encourages the use of “sustainability impact assessment” in the evaluation of the hundreds and thousands of projects that come under EPA scrutiny to see whether they are moving in the proper direction.
“Environmental impact assessment tends to focus primarily on the projected environmental effects of a particular action and alternatives to that action,” the study says.Sustainability impact assessment examines “the probable effects of a particular project or proposal on the social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability”—a greatly expanded approach.
“The culture change being proposed here will require EPA to conduct an expanding number of assessments.”As a result,
“The agency can become more anticipatory, making greater use of new science and of forecasting.”The catch, the study recognizes, is that under the new approach the EPA becomes more involved than ever in predicting the future.
“Forecasting is unavoidable when dealing with sustainability, but our ability to do forecasting is limited,” the document says.One forecast it is safe to make: the study shows whatever else the new sustainability mission does for EPA, it aims to be a much, much more important—and powerful-- federal agency than it is, even now.
October 29, 2008
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) foreshadows new regulations of unprecedented scope, magnitude, and detail. This notice is not just bureaucratic rumination, but could very well become the law of the land.
Jason Grumet, a senior environmental advisor to Barack Obama, has promised that President Obama would "initiate those rulings." These rulings offer the possibility of regulating everything from lawn-mower efficiency to the cruising speed of supertankers.
Regardless of the chosen regulatory mechanisms, the overall economic impact of enforced cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as outlined in the ANPR will be equivalent to an energy tax.
By expanding the scope of the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA will severely restrict CO2 emissions, thereby severely restricting energy use. Specifically, the EPA would use the CAA to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from a vast array of sources, including motor vehicles, boats and ships, aircraft, and rebuilt heavy-duty highway engines.
The regulations will lead to significant increases in energy costs. Furthermore, because the economic effect of the proposed regulations will resemble the economic effect of an energy tax, the increase in costs creates a correspondingly large loss of national income.
Using the CAA to regulate greenhouse gases will be very costly, even given the most generous assumptions. To make the best case for GHG regulation, we assume that all of the problems of meeting currently enacted federal, state, and local legislation have been overcome. Even assuming these unlikely goals are met, restricting CO2 emissions by 70 percent will damage the U.S. economy severely:
- Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses are nearly $7 trillion by 2029 (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars), according to The Heritage Foundation/Global Insight model (described in Appendix A).
- Single-year GDP losses exceed $600 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars).
- Annual job losses exceed 800,000 for several years.
- Some industries will see job losses that exceed 50 percent.
Due to limitations in macroeconomic models, this analysis by The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis (CDA) does not extend beyond 2029. Further, the ANPR alludes to regulations in general, but is not as specific as proposed legislation. Nevertheless, the ANPR's implicit CO2 targets resemble previous attempts to legislate GHG emissions, such as the 2008 Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), which mandated a 70 percent reduction below the 2005 level by 2050.
The new ANPR regulations will force consumers to pay more for energy as well as for other goods. Furthermore, the increased regulations and subsequent high energy prices throw a monkey wrench into the production side of the economy. Contrary to claims of an economic boost from "green investment" and "green collar" job creation, more EPA regulation reduces economic growth, GDP, and employment opportunities.
While there are some initial years in the period of our analysis during which CAA regulation of GHG could spur additional investment, this investment was completely undermined by the higher energy prices.
Investment contributes to the economy when it increases future productivity and income. The greater and more effective the investment, the greater the increase in future income. Since income (as measured by GDP) drops as a result of new regulation, it is clear that more capital is destroyed than created. The cumulative GDP losses for 2010 to 2029 approach $7 trillion with single-year losses of nearly $650 billion.
The anticipated "green-collar" jobs meet a similar fate. It may well be that some businesses will experience an increase in employment. But, overall, companies are saddled with significantly higher energy costs, as well as increased administrative costs, that will be reflected in their product prices. The higher prices make their products less attractive to consumers and thus less competitive. As a result, total employment drops along with the drop in sales.
With increased regulation through the CAA, there is a small initial increase in employment as businesses build and purchase the newer, more CO2-friendly plants and equipment. However, any "green-collar" jobs created are more than offset by the hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in later years. Chart 2 illustrates the projections of overall employment losses from these restrictions on CO2 emissions.
ANPR-What it Really Means
In response to the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA has proposed an unprecedented expansion of federal GHG regulation through the CAA. While the precise details of the regulations remain undefined, the ANPR is sure to generate many of the same economic responses as the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.
As the EPA does not appear to have the statutory authority necessary to implement market-based approaches to GHG reduction, such as a carbon tax, in which case firms and consumers could economize on taxed goods and promote alternatives or technology-neutral subsidies, the ANPR relies on a set of rules and restrictions while ultimately failing to achieve a meaningful reduction in atmospheric concentrations of GHGs. The end result of these complex regulations will be a dramatic increase in energy costs with little environmental gain.
In addition to increasing the costs of energy use, regulating GHGs through the Clean Air Act will expand the EPA's authority to unprecedented levels. The ANPR will likely:
- Trigger the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program, which could require permits for large office and residential buildings, hotels, retail stores, and other similarly sized projects;
- Regulate the design of manufacturing plants;
- Regulate the design of airplanes;
- Lower speed limits below current levels;
- Impose speed restrictions on ocean-going freighters and tankers;
- Export economic activity to less-regulated countries, thereby compromising the U.S.'s ability to compete in the global economy; and
- Transform the EPA into a de facto zoning authority, granting the agency control over thousands of previously local or private decisions, affecting the construction of schools, hospitals, and commercial and residential development.
These regulations are just a small sample of the areas into which the ANPR would expand the EPA's authority.
This CDA report discusses the effect the ANPR will have on energy activity and the cost of using energy. Policymakers and others who follow the climate change debate should find this simulation helpful in understanding the economic consequences of such unprecedented regulatory expansion. This report makes no attempt, however, to calculate the significant administrative and legal costs of complying with the new rules.
The report discusses two different policy alternatives affecting this country's economic future, each shaped by different policies designed to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and, presumably, to reduce the warming trend in global climate change:
- The current-law baseline is a highly detailed, 30-year economic forecast that incorporates the principal elements of energy and climate change policies signed into law last year.
- The alternative is a scenario in which the EPA promulgates a broad range of regulations to cut CO2 emissions by 70 percent by 2050.
Key Assumptions. The baseline for the ANPR simulations builds on the Global Insight (GI) November 2007 long-term-trend forecast. The GI model assumes that:
[T]he economy suffers no major mishaps between now and 2037. It grows smoothly, in the sense that actual output follows potential output relatively closely. This projection is best described as depicting the mean of all possible paths that the economy could follow in the absence of major disruptions. Such disruptions include large oil price shocks, untoward swings in macroeconomic policy, or excessively rapid increases in demand.
The GI long-term model forecasts the trend of the U.S. economy. "Trend" means the most likely path that the economy will follow if, for instance, it is not disturbed by a recession, extremely high oil prices, or the collapse of major trading partners. One way to think about the long-term trend is to imagine a pathway through the cyclical patterns of our economy, as well as the effects of cyclical patterns in foreign economies on the U.S. economy.
Given the fiscal and economic challenges facing the United States (particularly the mounting federal deficits stemming from the long-expected crisis in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid outlays), the long term already has significant risks. The baseline assumes that the economy successfully avoids any sharp drops. At the same time, there is no inclusion of similarly large, potentially positive, shocks to the economy.
Energy prices, patterns of use, and supply change continuously in response to legislation and market conditions. To evaluate the economic impact of ANPR regulations, we must establish what the expected levels of emissions and available technology would be over the bill's proposed lifetime in the absence of its passage. Only with a determined baseline situation can the costs of meeting the goals and constraints of these regulations be estimated.
Two fundamental trends establish the baseline path of CO2 emissions. First, aggregate income growth leads to greater demand for power across all sectors of the economy. Most of this power is generated by burning fossil fuels.
Partially offsetting the associated increase in CO2 emissions is the second trend of increasing carbon efficiency in the energy sector. The improved efficiency comes from a variety of changes in both production and consumption, including power-generating technology that increases the yield of useable power for each ton of CO2 emitted; continual improvements in the energy efficiency of appliances, new homes, and light vehicles; increased use of renewable fuels; and greater generation and use of nuclear power.
Government mandates—federal, state, and local—continue to enforce additional energy efficiency and limit CO2 emissions, which helps to meet the ultimate target of the ANPR regulations. These mandates may work in parallel with the ANPR, and they create compliance costs, but since these compliance costs are already in force without the additional regulation under the CAA, they are not attributable to the ANPR.
Examples of the baseline costs necessary for meeting the ANPR goals that are attributable to other legislation include:
- Manufacturing cars and trucks that satisfy the much higher fuel-economy standards mandated for the next 20 years;
- Producing 36 billion gallons of biofuels including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol;
- Complying with expensive new building codes; and
- Producing ever more energy-efficient household appliances.
Aggregate Energy Use. Continued gains in energy efficiency will restrain the growth of energy demand below the rates of economic growth and below the rates experienced in the past half-century-approximately 1.5 percent per year. These efficiencies are driven by both markets and mandates. We project baseline primary energy demand to grow at 0.5 percent each year through 2029.
Petroleum. According to baseline assumptions, petroleum prices will settle around $70 a barrel in nominal terms and decline to $46 a barrel (in 2006 dollars) by 2030. Even in the absence of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) limit changes, higher prices induce consumers to move to more efficient vehicles.
On the mandates side, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) raises the bar for vehicle fuel efficiency. The CAFE standard rises to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for all light vehicles. For subsequent years, the EISA mandate reads:
For model years 2021 through 2029, the average fuel economy required to be attained by each fleet of passenger and non-passenger automobiles manufactured for sale in the United States shall be the maximum feasible average fuel economy standard for each fleet for that model year.
The expected CAFE standards are 47.5 miles per gallon for new passenger cars and 32 miles per gallon for new trucks by 2029, and the average for all light vehicles, whether new or old, will be 33 miles per gallon.
Overall, petroleum consumption will grow by 0.6 percent per year between 2005 and 2029.
Natural Gas. In the baseline scenario, gas prices settle just below $7 per million British thermal units. This is less than the current price but well above 1990s levels. Alaskan pipeline deliveries will not begin until 2025, at which point they will help to offset supply reductions in the Lower 48 as well as imports from Canada.
Nearly 100 gigawatts of old natural-gas-steam are retired, and 50 gigawatts of the more efficient "natural gas combined cycle" (NGCC) plants are built. Total natural gas consumption grows by 0.4 percent per year through 2029.
Coal. In the baseline case, coal use is restrained by slower growth of energy demand and increasing generation of nuclear and renewable power. Demand will grow by an average of 0.2 percent each year through 2029.
One hundred gigawatts of old inefficient power-generating capacity are retired. Sixty-five gigawatts of new and replacement coal-fired power-generation plants will be added using the "integrated gas combined cycle" (IGCC) or advanced pulverized-coal technologies. These more efficient technologies use less coal and emit less CO2 per unit of electricity generated and are ready to be fitted for carbon capture and sequestration (CSS). Because of the additional cost, there is no use of CCS technology in the baseline case.
Better and more widely adapted scrubbing technology allows broader use of high-sulfur coal. This will open up more sourcing options and lower the average cost of coal.
In real dollars, coal prices will settle near the levels observed in the 1990s.
Nuclear Energy. Though there are no significant CO2 emissions from nuclear power generation, it is not considered "renewable" for the purpose of meeting existing state-imposed targets. Nevertheless, federal incentives are already in place for building 12 gigawatts of new capacity and 3 gigawatts of uprated added capacity at existing plants.
Resolving the problems with waste disposal is a major hurdle in expanding nuclear power generation. The baseline assumption is that nuclear power plants will continue to store the waste on site. Given the already high use of available capacity, electricity generated by nuclear power is projected to grow by only 0.5 percent per year through 2029.
Renewable Energy Sources. Federal and state initiatives already in place seek to increase the use of renewable energy sources. The definition of "renewable" varies from state to state but generally includes biomass, wind, and solar power.
Higher fuel prices along with state and federal mandates cause renewable fuel use to grow at 5.5 percent per year through 2029. We assume that producers will be able to meet the ethanol (corn-based and cellulose-based) targets set by the EISA, though experience thus far suggests otherwise.
Key Assumptions. The ANPR contains no explicit overall targets for emissions reductions on an annual basis; most likely the reductions will be phased in. Using previous emission levels as yardsticks, we assume that the 2012 emissions will match the 2005 emission level and drop by roughly 2 percent per year. The allowed emissions drop to 15 percent below the 2005 emissions level by 2020, and to 31 percent below the 2005 levels by 2029. Though we do not model the impact of regulations beyond 2029, the typical target would be a 70 percent reduction by 2050.
There are other gases that have much higher greenhouse effects per ton of emissions than CO2. However, these gases are emitted in much smaller volumes by human activity. CO2 is responsible for about 85 percent of the man-made GHG warming; therefore, this study examines only the economic impact of constraints on CO2 emissions. [See: The Man-made Global Warming Hoax]
Coal Technology. Due to its abundance, coal is the least expensive source of energy, and it fuels about half of America's electricity supply. CCS is a promising, but not yet commercialized, technology for dramatically reducing CO2 emissions from coal-powered electricity.
Of course, CCS technology has additional costs, which are higher when retrofitting existing plants than when building the technology into new plants. Though there are pilot projects in operation, full-scale commercialization would require sequestering more than 40 million barrels of CO2 each day. Environmental concerns and the logistical hurdles of handling such large quantities are likely to delay full implementation of CCS until after 2029, so we assume no CCS during the 2010-2029 period examined here.
Nuclear Energy. The projection is for no additional nuclear power beyond the additional 15 gigawatts in the base case.
Renewable Energy Sources. Current state and federal legislation calls for more than tripling the amount of renewable energy in power generation and increasing the amount of biofuels used in transportation by more than 1,000 percent. This includes 16 billion gallons per year of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel and 20 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. Again, our assumption is that cellulosic biofuels become commercially feasible in time to meet the mandates that are already planned. Progress on cellulosic ethanol has been frustratingly slow to this point.
While the ANPR may have no additional mandates for biofuels, restricting CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use will lead to greater use of biofuels. At this time, there is no commercially feasible cellulosic ethanol production. If this technology fails to deliver as projected, energy prices will be forced to increase enough to reduce the quantity of energy demanded by the amount of missing cellulosic ethanol.Battle over global warming now turns to EPA as Obama says he will pursue other solutions
The Associated Press
November 4, 2010
Environmental groups and industry seem headed for another battle over regulation of greenhouse gases, as President Barack Obama said he will look for ways to control global warming pollution other than Congress placing a ceiling on it.
"Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way," Obama said at a news conference Wednesday, a day after Democrats lost control of the House. "I'm going to be looking for other means to address this problem."Legislation putting a limit on heat-trapping greenhouse gases and then allowing companies to buy and sell pollution permits under that ceiling narrowly passed the House in 2009 as a centerpiece of Obama's domestic agenda, but it stalled in the Senate.
Republicans dubbed the bill "cap-and-tax" because it would raise energy prices. They then used it as a club in the midterm elections against Democrats who voted for it. Thirty of the bill's supporters were among some 50 House Democrats whom voters turned out of office Tuesday.
"It's doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after," Obama said Wednesday.The new battle over global warming in Congress will target the Environmental Protection Agency, which is poised to regulate greenhouse gases for the first time, after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that it could treat heat-trapping gases as pollutants.
John Engler, a former Michigan governor who leads the National Association of Manufacturers, said he expects a Republican-controlled House to take a "fresh look that will get at a lot of questions" dealing with the EPA's role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, urged Obama to hold his ground.
"While there will be attacks on (EPA's) authority, it is important that there not be any surrender on EPA's ability to do the job," said Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice.The Senate in June rejected by a 53-47 vote a challenge brought by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski that would have denied the EPA the authority to move ahead with the rules. Six Democrats voted with Republicans to advance the "resolution of disapproval," which the White House had threatened to veto. A similar resolution has broad support in the House, with 140 co-sponsors.
Engler said efforts to block the EPA will only be strengthened by Tuesday's election results.
Obama, when asked about the EPA's authority Wednesday, said that while a court order gave the EPA jurisdiction, the agency still wants help from Congress.
"I don't think ... the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here," Obama said.
"One of the things that's very important for me is not to have us ignore the science, but rather to find ways that we can solve these problems that don't hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that, in fact, may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs."
April 4, 2010
The administration may not need new legislation to begin regulating emissions of carbon dioxide. According to the McClatchy Newspapers article, EPA may try to use Clean Water Act to regulate carbon dioxide:
The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists.As with the financial crisis, where the failure to enforce existing regulation was a factor in the meltdown (not to mention the deregulation that also occurred), someday we may wonder why we didn't enforce the environmental regulations that were already on the books.
With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively.
Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day.
Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales. ... The situation is especially acute along the West Coast. ...
Scientists suspect that acidic water connected with upwelling killed several billion oyster, clam and mussel larvae ... at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery near Tillamook on the Oregon coast in the summer of 2008. ... Shellfish growers in Washington state ... increasingly are concerned that corrosive ocean water entering coastal bays could threaten their ... industry. ...
The Clean Water Act considers high acidity a pollutant... In late March, the EPA published a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on whether the Clean Water Act could be used.
"It's not 100 percent clear where we go here," Suzanne Schwartz, the deputy director of the EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds... "This is not an easy issue. We are trying to figure out how to proceed."
Schwartz said the agency was looking to see whether there were more efficient ways to deal with ocean acidification than using the Clean Water Act. ...
December 28, 2009
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plans to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act are the result of a lengthy — and politically motivated — effort by the agency.
The Clean Air Act is not properly designed to handle the greenhouse gas problem, as it was not created for this purpose. In light of the East Anglia e-mail scandal and the suppression of potentially damaging internal EPA documents and e-mails, the agency will face greater scrutiny as it makes its case for regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This scrutiny may well reveal the politically driven agenda that the EPA has been pursuing for years ...
The Clean Air Act (CAA), enacted in 1970 and last updated in 1990, is an abysmal policy mechanism for controlling greenhouse gases, and was never intended for this kind of problem. But the EPA's gambit is not about policy — it is all about politics. The EPA's grasp for dominion over greenhouse gases has been a long time in coming, starting as an effort to bring pressure on the Bush administration to relent in its opposition to a U.N.-led international climate treaty, and continuing under Obama as a means of pressuring Congress and the business community to support cap and trade ...
Background on the Clean Air Act
Current air and atmospheric quality policies are based on the Clean Air Act of 1990. In recent years amendments have been added to the act, but there has been no major overhaul of the air quality legislation for almost three decades. The Clear Air Act defines emission standards for power plants, motor vehicles, aircrafts, as well as defining measures for pollution prevention and ozone protection. Air and atmospheric quality encompasses all range of policy relating to pollution, ozone protection, acid rain, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
A Supreme Court decision in 2007 suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, however, efforts to make EPA consider this failed in the previous Congress. Stricter emission standards, regulations regarding greenhouse gases and further amendments to the Clean Air Act are possible in the 111th Congress.
The Clean Air Act is the law that defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six pollutants — nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and lead — considered harmful to the environment and public health.
According to the EPA, approximately 90 million Americans live in areas that contain pollutant levels higher than the standards. In order to improve air quality around the country, recent efforts have sought to amend the Clean Air Act by dramatically decreasing emissions for two of the six pollutants (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) and initiating the first mercury power plant emission restrictions. While not disagreeing with the need to reduce pollutant levels, opponents also want to include regulating emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas (GHG).
In July 2002, President Bush proposed his Clear Skies Initiative as an amendment to the Clean Air Act. It would cut power plant emissions by 70% for sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury, through a cap-and-trade program. The initiative never made it out of committee with opponents saying it would create far less stringent air pollution controls and proponents saying the levels in the Clean Air Act are unachievable.
Following the idea of a cap and trade program, the EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) in 2005. The rule allows the EPA to deal with emissions from electric utilities in 28 states and D.C. through a cap and trade system. However in July 2008, the U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. told EPA it was wrong to use a cap-and-trade program to deal with air pollutants, rather than forcing emission reductions at all power plants. An unusual alliance of the Bush Administration, industry and environmental groups asked a federal appeals court to reconsider the decision. In December 2008 the courts granted a retrial, but the rule will remain in effect until a revised rule is agreed upon.
In April 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts vs. EPA (No. 05-1120) found that GHG are indeed pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and deemed the EPA refusal to regulate vehicular GHG emissions is unlawful. The Clean Air Act mandates that the head of the EPA monitor air pollutants "which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger the public health or welfare." The EPA previously cited scientific uncertainty as an explanation for the lack of legislation. The ruling does not require action, but it would ideally pressure the EPA to make a decision on GHG regulation. However in July 2008, the EPA announced it would further delay consideration of using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases until the next administration. The Supreme Court ruling did spur an executive order from President Bush to reduce gasoline consumption 20 percent by 2017 by setting a mandatory fuel standard and increasing fuel efficiency.
Despite an interest in improving vehicle efficiency and lower emissions, California was denied the right to control vehicular GHG emissions within the state in March 2008. Then EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson favored President Bush’s national approach to GHG regulation and said California did not "meet compelling and extraordinary conditions" needed for the waiver. California submitted a waiver in December 2005 so it could adopt its own, more stringent, emission standards to combat the state’s serious pollution problems. Now, though, President Obama has granted California’s request to have its waiver denial reviewed within his first week of taking office. If approved, California and 13 other states waiting to set their own standards would be set to reduce emissions 30 percent by 2016.
EPA Will Not Regulate Stationary Source GHG Emissions until 2011 (3/10)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final ruling today that no stationary sources will be required to get Clean Air Act permits that cover greenhouse gases (GHGs) before January 2011. This provides time for large industrial facilities and the government to implement technologies to control and reduce carbon emissions. This ruling follows EPA’s reconsideration of the Bush Administration memorandum from former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on when the government should regulate carbon dioxide from stationary sources sent to the Office of Management and Budget earlier in March.
The “Johnson memorandum” says facilities should get permits only for pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. In her final reconsideration, current EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson follows that recommendation. Currently, however, it is being debated whether GHGs will be regulated by the Clean Air Act (see February article). This is the first step in EPA’s phased in approach to addressing GHG emissions laid out by Jackson in a letter last February.EPA Seeks Public Comment on the 15th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory (3/10)
The Environmental Protection Agency has opened a public comment period for the annual release of the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2008 report. The public comment period began on March 15, 2010 and closes 30 days following (April 14, 2010). The report calculates annual emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons on a national level. Calculations account for carbon dioxide sinks such as vegetation and soils.
Total GHG emissions for the U.S. in 2008 were about 7,000 metric carbon dioxide equivalent tons, a 2.9 percent decrease from the previous year. However, GHG emissions show an overall growth of 13.6 percent during the time period of 1990-2008.
More information on the draft report and how to submit public comments is available here.Stricter CAFE Standards and First-Ever GHG Regulations Set For Passenger Cars (3/10)
On April 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) finalized new automobile fuel efficiency standards and the first-ever federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards to take effect for new vehicles in 2012. The agreement, based on California’s auto emissions standards enacted in 2004, will increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards—originally set by Congress in 1975 and managed by the EPA and DOT—to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Congress set the same fuel efficiency standards in the Energy Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140), but gave carmakers until 2020 to reach the goal. The new agreement limits carbon dioxide emissions for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles to an average of 250 grams per mile per vehicle by 2016.
The ability of the EPA to limit carbon dioxide emissions follows the EPA decisions that it has the authority to regulate GHGs as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. These rules will mark the first time GHGs are officially subjected to regulation under the Clean Air Act, legitimizing EPA’s ability set GHG requirements for others sources as well, like those EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson proposed earlier this month (see 14).EPA Proposes New Standards for Sulfur Dioxide (11/09)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a new national one-hour sulfur dioxide emission standard between 50 and 100 parts per billion. EPA first set standards in 1971 as part of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and has not changed the sulfur dioxide standard since then.
The agency will announce a public comment period of 60 days in the Federal Register and will hold a public hearing on Jan. 5, 2010 in Atlanta. EPA must issue final standards by June 2, 2010.
More information about the proposal is available at: http://www.epa.gov/air/sulfurdioxideSenators Want Other Pollutants in Climate Change Bill (8/09)
Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are pushing to limit more than carbon dioxide emissions in current climate change legislation. They are working with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to draft a bill that would cut mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides emissions as well. The air pollution bill would improve upon the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which has been reinstated after being discarded a year ago. The new bill would keep the CAIR standards through 2011, but starts implementing stricter emission standards in 2012. Carper has discussed his interest in including this legislation in the Waxman-Markey bill with Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who may be marking up the bill in the fall.
The new standards would be in place from until 2014, and then reduced further through 2019. National sulfur dioxide emissions would be limited to 3.5 million tons per year through 2014 and then to 1.5 million tons per year through 2019. After 2019, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could lower the allowed emissions level as needed. The nitrous oxides emissions standards would be different depending on the region of the U.S. The Eastern states would have similar allowances as the CAIR program and would be called Zone 1, while 16 western states would form Zone 2. Zone 1 would be allowed emissions totaling 1.39 million tons from 2012 to 2014, 1.3 million tons through 2019, and then the EPA Administrator could again change the limit as reductions are needed. The emission standards for Zone 2 would start at 400,000 tons in 2012 and be reduced to 320,000 tons at the end of 2014. Limits on mercury emissions standards would only start in 2015 to reduce emissions by 90 percent. The air pollution bill would also change the cap and trade program under CAIR to an auction system for allowances directed by the EPA.
Weather Forecasts of Great Value, NSF Survey Says (7/09)
EPA Sets Stricter Sulfur Dioxide Limits (6/10)
On June 3, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new health standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions for the first time in nearly forty years. SO2 emissions have been linked to emphysema, asthma, respiratory distress, and bronchitis. The new one hour standard is set at 75 parts per billion (ppb) of SO2. This level is designed to protect against short-term exposure because research indicates that short-term exposure poses the greatest risk to human health. As a result of this, the EPA revoked the previous standard, which allowed 140 ppb SO2 averaged over a twenty four hour period. The EPA is also increasing monitoring of sulfur dioxide, requiring that monitoring stations be implemented where emissions affect largely populated areas, and changing the Air Quality Index to reflect the new standards.
The new rule only addresses the primary standards affected by SO2; protection of public health. Secondary standards—those protecting public welfare and the environment—will be addressed in a separate review set for completion in 2012.
EPA Grants California Vehicle Emission Waiver (6/09)
On June 30, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was granting California’s waiver request to enforce tougher standards on greenhouse gas emissions for new vehicles. Under the Clean Air Act, California has the legal right to request a waiver from the federal government regarding any rules and regulations related to clean air because of the state’s long history with air pollution challenges and often stricter pollution control standards. California requested the greenhouse gas waiver in December 2005, however, the request was denied because it was determined that the state did not have “compelling and extraordinary conditions” for such standards.
The new standards would cover new vehicles for model years 2012-2016 and the standards would most likely require fuel efficiency standards of greater than 40 miles per gallon to meet the greenhouse gas emission restrictions. This would essentially force more fuel efficient vehicles into the marketplace than required by the recently updated federal corporate average fuel efficiency standards of 35 miles per gallon in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. While the standards would reduce emissions and gasoline fuel costs, it is not clear how quickly the auto industry can develop vehicles that American consumers would be willing to purchase.
The California waiver affects a broader cross section of the nation as 13 other states and the District of Columbia have opted to follow California’s stricter greenhouse gas emission standards. President Obama has also called for stricter greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles at the federal level. The ailing U.S. auto industry will need to re-tool their vehicles for these emission restrictions in order to keep up with foreign auto industry production of more fuel efficient vehicles.
EPA Rules That GHGs Are Hazardous To Your Health (4/09)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 17, 2009 that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are indeed threatening to public health and welfare. In the much anticipated report, the EPA found “that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations,” explained Administrator Lisa Jackson. The findings also propose that vehicular emissions are contributing to this pollution. Therefore the EPA can monitor GHG emissions as part of the Clean Air Act, something the agency has been trying to determine since the 2007 Supreme Court order to conduct this report. Though the report does not suggest any specific regulations, the implications are huge. Since the EPA has jurisdiction of pollutants included in the Clean Air Act, the findings give the EPA official responsibility for controlling GHG emissions. The EPA could have complete power over limiting vehicle emissions and potentially imposing caps on industry unless Congress passes legislation to tackle these issues. There has been a push in Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation, but it is uncertain whether there is enough support yet to pass such a bill. Some see the ruling as motivation for Congress to move faster in their consideration of climate and energy bills, especially amid fears that the EPA will use this rule to regulate everything from cars to cows. If the EPA did undertake such a broad and complex set of new regulations and standards, it could easily be overwhelmed. However these are just speculations since the EPA has not put forth any actual rules, and will not announce any, until after the public comment period for the proposal is over on June 23, 2009.
Soot Study Bill Brings Together an Unlikely Pair of Senators (4/09)
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) are co-sponsors along with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and John Kerry (D-MA), of a bill to study soot or black carbon to assess the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. The measure, S.849, requires the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct the study.
Court Orders EPA to Reconsider Interstate Emissions (3/09)
On March 5, 2009, a U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-examine the need to enforce reduction of particulate matter emissions from power plants in several southern states that are affecting the air quality in North Carolina. In 2004, North Carolina sought assistance from the EPA to improve its air quality under the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) Section 126, a provision that addresses air quality disputes between states. North Carolina looked to the EPA to enforce emissions reductions from power plants in 13 upwind states. The EPA however denied the request in 2006, indicating that the Bush Administration’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) would take care of the problem of interstate emissions.
CAIR was initiated in 2004 to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides over 28 eastern states using cap and trade programs and other state-level initiatives. However, North Carolina sued EPA over the denial in 2006, stating that CAIR would not clean up the air quickly or effectively. In 2008, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out CAIR and directed the EPA to modify the rule to address interstate emissions as soon as possible. This decision opened the door for North Carolina to again pursue assistance from the EPA. In February the EPA requested from the Court of Appeals a remand of petition from North Carolina, recognizing that the court’s directive to modify CAIR removed the legal basis for EPA’s denial of the petition originally.
EPA Reconsiders California Waiver (2/09)
During his first week in office, President Obama issued an executive order asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review its decision to deny California’s request for a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions waiver. As of February 6, the EPA has opened the waiver for review and is accepting public comments on possible changes. It will also hold a public hearing in March.
California first requested permission to set a stricter standard for GHG emissions within the state in 2005. It cited its battles with air pollution as the primary reason for deviating from federal standards. The previous EPA Administrator Stephen Jackson denied the request in March 2008, saying that adhering to President Bush’s national approach to GHG emissions standards would be more effective. If the EPA grants California the waiver this time around, 17 other states are set to adopt the same stringent standards. The vehicles in these 18 states make up 50 percent of the auto market, so the waiver would markedly impact the auto industry’s emissions standards.
- EPA: Executive Summary: Report of the Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (August 2010)
- President Obama’s Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage
- The Case for EPA Action and Endorsing Rockefeller's Approach to Carbon Emissions
- EPA Rules are Forcing Shut Down of Coal-fired Power Plants, Which Will Cause Electricity Rates to Skyrocket
- EPA's 'Green Book' Vastly Expands Power to Regulate Businesses, Communities and Ecosystems in the Name of 'Sustainable Development'
- Environmental Policies Deprive the Poor of Abundant, Affordable Energy
- EPA and the Coal Industry (News Archives)