Steve Milloy, in his article for The Hill, presents a critical analysis of President Biden’s climate plan, questioning its practicality and potential impact on the US economy. Milloy begins by discussing the revelations from this year’s United Nations Climate Week, particularly focusing on China’s stance on fossil fuels and emissions.
First, China finally dropped its “net zero” pose. The world’s largest emitter had promised to reach net zero by 2060. But its climate envoy now says that “completely phasing out fossil fuel is unrealistic” because “fossil fuels are essential to maintain grid stability and energy security given the sometimes unreliable nature of renewables.
Milloy contrasts China’s practical approach with the Biden administration’s ambitious climate policies, suggesting that the US is on a path to economic self-sabotage. He points out the administration’s efforts to phase out coal and gas plants and promote the adoption of electric vehicles without ensuring grid stability.
The Biden administration, on the other hand, is determined to cripple the U.S. It is engaged in simultaneous EPA rulemakings to zero out coal and gas plants, and to mandate the adoption of electric vehicles, even if the grid will not be able to sustain so many of them.
The author also highlights the US’s dependency on China for critical minerals necessary for electric vehicles and solar panels, questioning the wisdom of this economic reliance on a geopolitical rival.
We also learned from the UN event that the Biden administration has given up hope of trying to be independent of China with respect to electric vehicles and solar panels. A top Biden administration official told Bloomberg News that we “won’t be able to cut China out of the critical minerals supply chain”, even as Washington seeks to diversify its sources of the ingredients that go into everything from electric vehicle” for electric vehicle batteries and solar panels.
In conclusion, Milloy’s article raises significant questions about the feasibility and strategic soundness of the Biden administration’s climate policies. He encourages a critical evaluation of these policies, considering their economic implications and the realistic assessment of global emission reduction efforts.
EPA’s Ambitious Gambit to Reorganize America’s Electricity
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA last year was a historic defeat for the Environmental Protection Agency. Not only did the Court rule that the 2015 Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature climate regulation, was unconstitutional; it also dramatically limited EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA) moving forward.
That left the agency with two courses of action. It could take its lumps and focus on proposing regulations with a high chance of surviving federal court review. Or it could stake everything on a final desperate attempt to decarbonize America’s power sector, and go for the win in keeping with President Biden’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions.
On May 23, 2023, EPA chose the latter, proposing carbon emissions standards for power plants far more ambitious than those struck down by the Supreme Court last year.
Like other EPA climate regulations, the proposed emissions standards under Section 111 of CAA are not designed to reduce emissions from standard power plants, but rather to force a rapid transition away from reliable and affordable sources of dispatchable power—natural gas and coal—to intermittent renewables and new kinds of power plants that don’t even exist yet. Together with EPA’s electric vehicle mandates, the proposed rule would be a train wreck for the American electricity grid and society as a whole, endangering economic competitiveness and energy security while yielding no measurable climate benefit.
Those hoping for a dramatic finish to Biden’s climate action will not be disappointed: the proposal has so many legal vulnerabilities that it would be a miracle nightmare if the rule survives federal court review.
Under the proposed rule, which President Biden hopes to finalize by next summer, large new or modified natural gas plants and existing coal plants would be required to virtually eliminate carbon emissions by 2038, at the latest. Under Section 111(a) “New Source Performance Standards” (NSPS), large new or modified combined-cycle natural gas plants, which currently supply roughly 30% of the nation’s electricity, would be required to achieve close to zero carbon emissions, either by implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) to capture 90% of carbon emissions by 2035, or by switching from natural gas to 98% “green” hydrogen co-firing by 2038. In addition, under Section 111(d) emissions guidelines, existing coal plants, which currently supply more than 20% of America’s electricity, would be required to virtually eliminate carbon emissions by implementing CCS by 2035.
Interestingly, EPA declined to promulgate NSPS for coal plants because, as it explains, there are no plans to build any new coal plants in the U.S. It declined to promulgate emissions guidelines for existing natural gas plants out of concern for feasibility. Even more interesting, when EPA sent the proposed rule to the White House for regulatory review under E.O. 12866, it contained no emissions guidelines for existing plants at all, and therefore would not have applied to coal plants at all. The White House reportedly sent it back to EPA with orders to put a Section 111(d) rule for existing coal plants in the proposal. This suggests that EPA itself is not very confident in the ability of the Section 111(d) rule to survive court review.
Section 111 of CAA, the same provision at issue in West Virginia v. EPA, authorizes EPA to mandate “the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction which (taking into account the cost of achieving such reduction and any nonair quality health and environmental impact and energy requirements) the Administrator determines has been adequately demonstrated.”
Section 111 sets a high bar, especially after West Virginia v. EPA. The proposed rule falls woefully short. It has at least three major legal vulnerabilities, any one of which would be sufficient for a court to strike the rule down.
First, neither CCS nor green hydrogen is anywhere near “adequately demonstrated” within the meaning of Section 111.
Second, EPA has systematically ignored crucial costs and impacts that it is required to take into account in setting emissions standards under Section 111.
Third, like the “best system of emission reduction” struck down in West Virginia v. EPA, the new rule would require sweeping regulatory action and infrastructure investments entirely outside the fence line of the regulated facilities, thereby raising the “major question” doctrine’s presumption against the agency’s interpretation of the law.
The Mandated Technologies Have Not Been “Adequately Demonstrated”
Contrary to the unambiguous pronouncements of the D.C. Circuit, EPA treats Section 111 as if it were a technology-forcing provision throughout the proposed rule. For example, EPA claims that CCS has been “adequately demonstrated” for natural gas plants based on small-scale demonstrations at coal plants. But the coal demonstrations cited involve only small slipstreams (carbon captured from a small percentage of the plant’s total emissions) for use in the food industry. Moreover, the coal plant demonstrations do not involve the sophisticated combined-cycle configurations of large natural gas plants—in which the exhaust from the primary combustion cycle is used to heat the steam generator of the second cycle—that the new standards focus on.
In the several hundred pages laying out the proposed rule, EPA provides just two examples of demonstrations at natural gas plants. One, at Bellingham, Massachusetts, captured only a 10% slipstream and closed in 2005 because it was not economical. That was a decade before the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, in which EPA correctly rejected CCS as inadequately demonstrated and too costly. The other, a project at Peterhead, Scotland, is still in planning and may not even be built. Neither can be used as the basis for an adequately demonstrated BSER.
Furthermore, EPA’s CCS mandate would require a massive buildout of carbon transport and storage infrastructure, which has not been adequately demonstrated and would require sweeping investments and regulatory changes by developers and government authorities unrelated to the entities subject to regulation under Section 111 of CAA. Like the measures “beyond the fence line” of regulated entities that were struck down in West Virginia v. EPA, this massive infrastructure buildout would be beyond the ability of EPA-regulated entities to implement.
Co-firing with low-carbon hydrogen is even further from being adequately demonstrated. Nearly all hydrogen today is produced using carbon-intensive methods. Indeed, electrolysis from renewable and nuclear power produces only trivial quantities, and EPA doesn’t even bother to estimate the cost, feasibility, or time it would take to build out the vast amount of new renewable and nuclear power capacity that would be needed to make the low-GHG hydrogen a practicable option for power plants.
In short, neither CCS nor “green” hydrogen co-firing meets the Section 111 legal standards of “adequately demonstrated” BSER.
EPA Has Ignored the Proposed Rule’s Costs, as well as Its Health, Environment, and Energy Impacts
In determining that a technology is “adequately demonstrated” under Section 111, EPA must take into account the costs of the rule, as well as the health, environment, and energy impacts of the rule. Courts have interpreted this as requiring that costs be reasonable. That poses a threshold problem for EPA’s proposed rule because EPA can point to no measurable environmental benefit that would result from compliance. EPA has based all its greenhouse gas regulations on the same original 2010 Endangerment Finding, which has serious problems of its own, as William Happer and Richard Lindzen note in their July 2023 comment letter to the proposed rule. It has not been demonstrated that the sources subject to the rule make a significant contribution to a condition of air pollution that endangers human health, and the finding mentions the 2021 Technical Support Document on Social Cost of Carbon only in connection with a regulatory impact analysis that is unrelated to the requirements of CAA. Under such circumstances, there is a threshold question of whether any significant costs could be reasonable.
There are other problems with EPA’s estimate of costs and impacts.
First, its estimate of costs is highly speculative. The rule would affect a host of entities and government authorities across the whole society, the vast majority of them not subject to regulation under CAA, and EPA has little clue as to how they will adjust to the rule. If its cost estimates are off by any significant amount, regulated entities could well react by shuttering, rather than attempting to comply, which would create a situation of dangerous energy scarcity with skyrocketing prices. In parts of the country where fossil energy is restricted as a matter of policy, such as California, the electricity grid is on the verge of dangerous blackouts almost every evening in the summer.
And those restrictions are modest, compared with those now contemplated by EPA.
EPA’s most egregious failure to properly account for costs is that it subtracts the amount of federal subsidies from the cost estimate, a nominal reduction of $369 billion based on CBO’s score. That figure will likely turn out to be much greater, given the subsidies’ lack of date-certain sunset.
As for the impact on electricity prices, EPA estimates that the rule would lead to a price increase of 13%. That is almost certainly a woeful underestimate. In California, where a much milder form of renewable energy mandate has been in place for years, end-user electricity costs are twice the national average. The costs of compliance with the new rules could be far more exorbitant. As further explained below, CCS would reduce the power output of the relevant plants by at least 30%, while green hydrogen would likely be three to four times more expensive to produce and deliver as current demonstrations using natural gas.
Given the number of factors outside EPA’s expertise and jurisdiction that would determine how much time and money all that infrastructure would cost, EPA’s estimates are little more than conjecture.
The Power Plant Rule Raises the Same “Major Question” as in West Virginia v. EPA
The Court held that EPA’s interpretation raised a “major question” and that, in the absence of clear congressional authorization, the claimed power exceeded EPA’s statutory authority. The Court noted that EPA’s approach to BSER allowed it to set emissions standards at whatever level the agency wanted, regardless of whether any regulated entity could feasibly comply with the new standards. The Court noted that the Clean Power Plan would result “in numerical emissions ceilings so strict that no existing coal plant would have been able to achieve them without engaging in [generation-shifting].”
EPA’s new power plant rule relies on a similarly expansive definition of BSER to establish standards that can be met only by shifting generation away from fossil sources.
The only way that regulated sources could comply with the rule would be if states or utilities (or other developers) would build a major interstate infrastructure for CCS and “green” hydrogen, including tens of thousands of miles of specialized pipelines, massive underground storage facilities for CO2, and large-scale facilities for the production and transport of hydrogen gas from renewable sources. Whether to develop such infrastructure is a decision totally beyond the control of regulated entities.
The claimed power would regulate a significant portion of the American economy,entails political impact of great significance, and intrudes on mattersthat are the traditional domain of the states.
EPA’s Persistent Usurpation of Congressional Authority
EPA’s efforts to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources represent a dangerous overreach of executive power. Congress never authorized EPA to regulate greenhouse gases in this expansive manner. By trying to reorganize the country’s electricity-sector limits through executive fiat, rather than the legislative process, EPA is abusing its authority and circumventing democracy.
Net zero climate policy raises novel issues that affect every American citizenin almost every aspect of modern life. Policy requiring suchtransformative change should be left to Congress.
“According to Reuters, China is justified in burning massive amounts of coal because it uses some of that electricity to charge EVs, enabling it to reduce its crude oil imports, which is even more evil than coal. The world can continue to ignore the fact that China and the other countries in Asia emit more CO2 than the rest of the world combined.”
Apparently, the war on coal plants does not apply to China. According to an article this week in Reuters by Clyde Russell, “China’s Huge Coal Plant Building Has Weird Climate Logic,” China’s CO2 emissions from its massive coal-burning power plant program pose little problem on the road to solving “climate change.”
His article begins by explaining that China is indeed the world’s largest coal-burning country in the world and is building more quickly:
China is building two-thirds of the coal-fired electricity generation capacity currently under construction globally, and this may not be as disastrous for the climate as it sounds (emphasis added).
The world’s largest producer and importer of coal has 136.24 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired generation under construction, according to data released in July by the Global Energy Monitor.
This represents 66.7% of the global total of 204.15 GW, and China is streets ahead of second-placed India, with 31.6 GW being built and third-placed Indonesia with 14.5 GW.
These three countries represent 89% of the coal-fired plants currently under construction, and it’s not a coincidence that all of them have large populations, growing energy demand and vast domestic coal reserves.
China’s under-construction coal generation is about 12% of its existing capacity, and adding more coal-fired power would seem incompatible with the stated goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.
So the energy elephant in the CO2 mitigation room is to be papered over? Given a pass with COP28 coming up? We can ignore everything we’ve ever heard or read about “planet-destroying CO2 emissions from coal plants” because:
The large coal-fired construction programme can be seen in the wider context of China’s rapid shift to electric vehicles (EVs) and away from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and trucks.
This is a strange detour. China’s massive fleet of coal-burning power plants are saved by coal-based EVs, what Amory Lovins called emission elsewhere vehicles? The article doesn’t mention that China has been unsuccessful in forcing its population to purchase EVs, so massive numbers have been left to rot in fields.
Never mind this detail because this all leads to the not-so-obvious conclusion that China’s use of coal-fired electricity to charge their EVs will enable them to reduce their imports of crude oil, which is much worse for the environment than coal. Continuing the apologetics:
While it would obviously be better for the environment for China to stop building coal-fired power plants and instead accelerate the deployment of renewables, there is some logic to the current policy.
Using mainly domestic coal and some relatively low-cost imports will allow China to lower crude oil imports over time, increase the penetration of EVs and have a lower emissions profile than if it carried on with a predominantly ICE vehicle fleet.
There you have it. According to Reuters, China is justified in burning massive amounts of coal because it uses some of that electricity to charge EVs, enabling it to reduce its crude oil imports, which is even more evil than coal. The world can continue to ignore the fact that China and the other countries in Asia emit more CO2 than the rest of the world combined:
The fact that China’s carbon dioxide emissions are being ignored while U.S. energy policies are destroying the reliability of its power grids and undermining its energy independence is telling. This suggests that the war on fossil fuels is a dangerous diversion from the actual agendas, which could include eliminating the dominance of the United States, establishing global governance, population control, and more.
Ed Ireland, adjunct professor at TCU’s Neeley School of Business, received his B.S. from Midwestern State University and Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. This analysis was originally posted at Thoughts About Energy and Economics.
Writing for the Florida Phoenix (The Phoenix), a “progressive” paper from Tallahassee Florida, environmental “journalist,” Craig Pittman mocks warnings from power grid operators who say shutting down coal and other fossil fuel power plants represents a danger to the U.S. power grid, and cites a litany of alleged climate change impacts as justification for his position. Data shows that the rapid-fire climate crisis assertions Pittman makes are false. By contrast, the looming threat of power grid destabilization, which Pittman dismisses, is real and must be taken seriously.
The article, “Amid record heat, Florida agencies give EPA climate change rules a cold shoulder,” is riddled with errors. So many, in fact, that to attempt to correct each one individually would make this Climate Realism post far longer than we typically write. Suffice it to say, Climate Realism has directly refuted many of the claims Pittman made in this article already in other posts. He hits on almost every single topic we’ve ever covered in his long, misinformed diatribe.
First, Pittman is very alarmed by the hot Florida summer, giving glib examples of what effects the summer has had, including hot beach sand and prison inmates being allowed to wear shorts. He also speaks about ocean temperatures being hotter than usual.
Yet, contrary to repeated claims that near shore ocean temperatures are boiling, they are not, While warmer than average this year, regardless of what a single buoy reading in an isolated, shallow bay recorded, the oceans aren’t turning to steam. Nor is warm water “boiling our coral reefs to death” as Pittman claims. Coral bleaching is not coral death, and while marine “heat waves” can lead to the colonizing algae temporarily abandoning corals, it is cold water conditions that kills them. This is why most coral reefs are found in hotter equatorial waters.
Besides his revealed lack of knowledge about existing weather data, the most egregious claims in the article stem from Pittman’s complete dismissal of concerns about the power grid failing, due to the premature closure of coal and potentially natural gas fueled power plants. Regarding the EPA’s proposed power plant rule Pittman writes, “[u]nfortunately, last year the robe-wearing panhandlers on the U.S. Supreme Court, no doubt obeying what their donors told them to do, ruled that the Clean Air Act that empowered the agency to regulate smog, soot, and acid rain didn’t cover carbon emissions.” He goes on to say that the Supreme Court’s ruling is why the EPA had to allow utilities to “choose how to stop cooking the planet.”
In a letter sent last week, [Florida] DEP Secretary Shawn “I Keep My Thermostat Set Just Above Freezing” Hamilton told the EPA that its rule is bad. Why? Because it “places the reliability, affordability, and capacity of the nation’s energy supply at risk.”
Yes, we must have reliable electricity to run our A/C units 24/7 when the weather outside is this hot. That’s the Florida way, no matter how high our skyrocketing utility bills may climb.
Pittman is dangerously incorrect. His argument does not make much sense. Even many climate alarmists acknowledge that air conditioning does indeed help people survive “dangerous heat.” In addition, it is puzzling why Pittman scoffs at the idea that the electric grid may become unstable due to baseload power being shut off because of EPA edicts.
This is especially true considering the warnings that have been put out not only by utility companies, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) itself.
In the Climate Realism post “Top U.S. Grid Official Says Fossil Fuel Power Plant Closures Could Have ‘Catastrophic Consequences,’” Nick Pope describes recent warnings from the government’s top energy regulator. FERC Commissioner Mark Christie told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “I think we’re heading for potentially very dire consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences in the United States in terms of the reliability of our grid, and I think that the basic reason is that we’re facing a shortfall of power supply[.]”
Christie went on to explain that it’s not that we’re not adding enough wind and solar, but “[t]he problem is the subtraction of coal and gas and other dispatchable resources which are the ones we need during this transition to keep the lights on.”
Even if an energy “transition” is needed or desirable, it would still be unwise to shut down power plants that provide consistent energy to the grid before suitable replacements are up and running. Pittman even mockingly disparages the idea that a growing Florida population will require more energy.
The reality is that no amount of wind or solar will prevent power outages; no matter how many wind turbines you have, if the wind stops blowing (or blows too much), their electricity output is zero. No matter how many solar panels you have, if the sun is not shining, their output is zero.
Grid-scale nuclear and geothermal can provide more reliable energy, but they are not the ultimate saviors of the grid on their own either. Nuclear typically is either all-on or all-off, and thus usually doesn’t have the ability to adapt quickly to sudden changes in electricity demand the way coal or natural gas can, although recent research is attempting to overcome that barrier. Geothermal, as discussed in Energy at a Glance: Geothermal Power Economics and Geothermal Power and the Environment, is highly dependent on location if it is used for grid-scale electricity generation.
Pittman ends his execrable screed in a tirade against PragerU videos being shown in Florida schools, and by listing yet more climate alarmist talking points which have been thoroughly debunked by available data, like the idea that hurricanes are intensifying. They aren’t, but Pittman is ignoring or is ignorant of this truth.
The entire Florida Phoenix article is nothing more than opinionated, biased, misinformed, shameful rant, with little or no reference to actual data, to lend it the legitimacy of being thought of as a news story. The Phoenix should be embarrassed by the lack of journalistic integrity or critical thinking on the part of Pittman. Readers should be armed with the knowledge of the looming threats to the power grid, not sold, as Pittman put it, “a line of fertilizer.”
Various not-very-far-off deadlines are set, ranging from as early as 2030 for some changes to coal plants, to at the latest 2038 for the last changes to natural gas plants. But how exactly is this emissions elimination thing to be accomplished? Today a substantial majority of U.S. electricity (about 60%) comes from one or the other of those fuels; and it is inherent in the burning of hydrocarbons that you get CO2 as a product. In all those 672 pages, EPA has only two ideas for how to eliminate the carbon emissions from combustion power plants: carbon capture and storage (CCS), and “green” hydrogen. Either you must implement one of those two ideas to meet EPA’s standards by the deadline, or you must close your power plant. But here’s the problem: both of those ideas are, frankly, absurd.
The deadline for commenting on the proposed Rule was August 8, although comments have continued to pile in after that date. Many hundreds of them have been received. If you have nothing else to do for the next month or two, you can review the comments at this link.
I have by no means made the effort to read all the comments, but I have gone looking for some of the more significant ones. Two that I can highly recommend are this one by a group of 21 red state AGs led by West Virginia, and this one by an overlapping group of 18 red state AGs led by Ohio. Both of those comments do an excellent job of dismantling the concept that either CCS or “green” hydrogen could ever work as a significant part of our electricity generation system. Of the two, the West Virginia comment is the much longer (54 pages) and goes into far more technical detail. But the Ohio comment, at 21 pages, has its share of good zingers as well.
The Ohio and West Virginia comments label the idea of CCS at the high rate demanded by EPA (90%) as either “infeasible” or not “viable,” and include recitations of the history of failed attempts to implement this frankly useless technology. From the Ohio comment (page 4):
A study of 263 carbon-capture-and-sequestration projects undertaken between 1995 and 2018 found that the majority failed and 78% of the largest projects were cancelled or put on hold. After the study was published in May 2021, the only other coal plant with a carbon-capture-and-sequestration attachment in the world, Petra Nova, shuttered after facing 367 outages in its three years of operation.
With the closure of Petra Nova, there remains in the entire world exactly one operating commercial CCS facility at a coal power station, the SaskPower Boundary Dam Unit 3 in Saskatchewan, Canada. That one is supposed to achieve the 90% capture rate that EPA demands, but with constant operating issues it has fallen way, way short:
[T]his [SaskPower] facility is the world’s only operating commercial carbon capture facility at a coal-fired power plant. And it has never achieved its maximum capacity. It also battled significant technical issues throughout 2021—to the point that the plant idled the equipment for weeks at a time. As a result, the plant achieved less than 37% carbon capture that year despite having an official target of 90% . . . .
The West Virginia comment provides lots more technical detail on the failures of CCS. Why can’t a CCS system just easily suck up all the CO2 out of a power plant’s emissions stream? Because the effort to suck up the emissions takes energy from the output of the plant, and the higher the percentage of carbon emissions you seek to capture, the more of the energy output of the plant you consume. (I have previously described CCS efforts as a “war against the second law of thermodynamics.”). In the limiting case, you can use up all the power output of the plant on the CCS system and still not capture 100% of the CO2. From the West Virginia comment, page 24-25:
Take efficiency to start. CCS units run on power, too. An owner can get that power from the plant itself. But this approach makes the plant less efficient by increasing its “parasitic load”—and CCS more than triples combustion turbines’ normal parasitic load. . . . This is the cause the Wyoming study analyzed that showed installing CCS technology would devastate plants’ heat rates and lower net plant efficiency by 36%.
And that percentage relates to a system that captures well less than 100% of the plant’s carbon emissions. And these are only the start of the technical issues to be faced. For example, once you have captured all this CO2, where do you put it? Do you build an entire new national network of pipelines (at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars) to transport it to some underground caverns somewhere? And then, are there environmental issues with the chemicals used to snag the CO2 out of the power plant’s emissions stream? From the West Virginia comment, page 27:
The Proposed Rule would force utilities to adopt and communities to accept all aspects of CCS technology without fully understanding the ramifications. For example, the environmental and health effects of CANSOLV—the leading amine-based and EPA-recommended CCS solvent, 88 Fed. Reg. at 33,291—appear unknown; leading CANSOLV studies over the past decade don’t discuss its impact.
And then, if you have to increase the power output of the plant by 50% or so to power the CCS facility, doesn’t that then increase the emissions of nitrous oxides and particulates by a comparable amount? From the West Virginia comment, page 27:
Nearly a decade ago, the European Union’s European Environmental Agency released a study finding that CCS would increase “direct emissions of NOx and PM” by nearly a half and a third, respectively, because of additional fuel burned, and increase “direct NH3 emissions” “significantly” because of “the assumed degradation of the amine-based solvent.”
It goes on and on from there. And then there’s the idea of “co-firing” the power plants with “green” hydrogen, produced by using wind or solar power or something else magical to electrolyze water. EPA’s proposed Rule would impose such a requirement on existing natural gas plants to take them up to 96% hydrogen by 2038. A few insights from the West Virginia comment, page 35:
Most combustion turbines on the market today cannot handle anything more than a 5-10% blend [of hydrogen]; 20% is generally accepted as the absolute technological ceiling. . . . Even in the best scenarios, a hydrogen volume fraction of 20% is usually the most technology currently can do.
And how about the problem (and cost) of producing the amounts of hydrogen that would be required. From the West Virginia comment, page 37:
America currently produces just .5% of the clean hydrogen we need under the Proposed Rule. The industry would have to close a 99.5% supply gap in just 15 years. EPA has offered no evidence showing that this gap will close.
There is much, much more on issues like transporting and handling the hydrogen, cost of production, and so forth.
The conclusion is obvious and impossible to escape: These proposed methods to allow combustion power plants to continue to exist are not real and can never work. EPA intends to force the closure of all such electricity generation facilities. Will we have an electricity system that can still function at that point? They neither know nor care. After all, we have a planet to save here.
Somehow, in the weighing of the costs and benefits here, the bureaucrats appear to have completely lost track of the enormous benefits that reliable access to electricity has brought to the people. They will destroy that without giving the subject a second thought.
Re: ACS and EPA misuse CPS II to claim deaths from PM2.5
Dear Mr. Marlow,
With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) is a 501(c)(3) national and international environmental and educational organization dedicated to protecting both wildlife and ecological values and the health, nutrition, energy needs and living standards of people, families and communities. CFACT is also committed to evidence-based decisions, policies and programs that are guided by the best possible scientific data and analyses.
We are deeply concerned about the American Cancer Society’s support for the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to further tighten the PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter, which has been based largely on findings from the Society’s 1982 Cancer Prevention Study (CPS II).
CFACT respectfully requests that ACS scientists Dr. Karen Knudsen, Dr. Alpa Patel, and Mr. Ryan Diver meet with environmental epidemiologist Dr. James E. Enstrom as soon as possible to discuss his CPS II findings, along with further concerns that we summarize below.
We understand that ACS scientists have rejected Dr. Enstrom’s repeated requests to meet with him regarding his peer-reviewed evidence of serious errors by ACS scientists in their analyses of CPS II data that attempt to link air pollution to mortality. The Society’s CPS II analysis found a positive relationship between mortality and PM2.5 emissions – and EPA utilized this relationship to help justify its initial NAAQS for PM2.5 in 1997.
Subsequently, the Obama EPA based parts of its Clean Power Plan on significant errors and misstatements about air quality, especially PM2.5 emissions. The Biden Administration and EPA are doing likewise, often citing CPS II and similar analyses to justify even tighter PM2.5 standards, as part of their ongoing efforts to close the nation’s coal-fired power plants, and even eliminate natural gas use.
Those errors are exemplified by testimony to congressional committees by former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other EPA witnesses. Ms. McCarthy asserted that there is no threshold below which there is no risk, no level “at which premature mortality effects do not occur.” That is simply false.
In reality, cigarettes quickly send hundreds of times more tiny PM2.5 particles into a smoker’s lungs than what the EPA says is lethal if they come from coal-fired power plants. Cigarettes certainly pose cancer and other risks, but millions are not dying from inhaling PM2.5 particles.
Equally damaging to EPA (and ACS) assertions, Agency-funded experiments on human test subjects administered PM2.5 particles to dozens of people – including elderly, asthmatic and diabetic subjects, people with heart disease and children who EPA says are most at risk from PM2.5 particles. Those experiments exposed these test subjects to thirty or even sixty times more PM2.5 particles per volume than what the EPA claims are dangerous or lethal – and did so for up to two hours. And yet, contrary to EPA and Ms. McCarthy’s claims, no one died or even got sick from those exposures.
This underscores how false and misleading EPA claims have consistently been about the “serious risks” from coal-based electricity and other sources of PM2.5 particles. And yet the agency has repeatedly used such claims to justify tightening its NAAQS restrictions.
In summary, there is strong evidence that the PM2.5 standards cannot be justified on scientific, economic, or human health grounds; that EPA’s current PM2.5 regulations have had adverse economic, energy reliability and health impacts on American families, industries, and businesses; and that EPA’s asserted benefits from PM2.5 restrictions are illusory or heavily offset by such adverse consequences.
Dr. Enstrom clearly described this evidence in his July 8, 2023 Talk “Corruption of Science by the American Cancer Society” at the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Meeting in Tucson, Arizona (https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=GNjR4ft3xG4), which CFACT experts attended.
This is an urgent matter, because EPA is once again using seriously flawed epidemiologic findings in its latest efforts to further lower the already too-low PM2.5 NAAQS. Evidence by Dr. Enstrom and studies by other experts demonstrate that there is no factual or scientific justification for this.
If the ACS scientists cannot meet with Dr. Enstrom, then we request that you speak with me or CO2 Coalition Executive Director Gregory Wrightstone about the importance of honest, reproducible science to our nation’s affordable, reliable energy; the jobs, economic wellbeing and overall health of America’s workers and families; and indeed the continued credibility of ACS epidemiologic research.
The energy content of gasoline and other fuels is usually measured in Btu, or kilojoules if you are metric. But it can also be done in kilowatt or megawatt hours. Fuel energy and electric energy are both energy, after all.
Given the Biden rush to electrify all fuel use, this way of measuring helps make clear the fantasy of that policy. The amount of electricity required to replace ordinary fuel uses is enormous.
In fact, this conversion issue is staring us in the face. A recent CFACT article points out that EPA proposes to regulate at cross purposes. They want to force us to switch to electric cars while at the same time shutting down fossil-fueled power production.
As my regular readers know, I am focused on Virginia, so let’s take it as our example. The reality is complex, but we will keep it simple enough to see the stark general picture.
According to EIA, Virginia’s estimated 2021 gasoline consumption is around 440 trillion Btu. The conversion is 3,412,000 btu = 1 MWh. So that is about 130 million MWh in gasoline energy. Also, in 2021 Virginia’s electric power generation is 93.5 million MWh.
So the gasoline energy is 1.4 times the total power generation. That’s a lot, right? If it takes this much energy to power our cars and light trucks, then we need to build generation capacity that is almost one and a half times our present generation to make the transition. We also need to build the costly transmission, distribution, and charging capacity to deliver all that juice to the EVs.
I have yet to see the cost estimate for all of this, but clearly, it is huge. And if we are also supposed to shut down most of our existing generating capacity because it is fossil-fueled, that is surely impossible. I have seen no plan that even begins to seriously address this issue, just a lot of empty arm-waving.
Mind you, a real analysis would get pretty technical pretty fast. For example, car engines are only around 40% efficient. So one might argue that only 40% of that 130 million MWh, or 52 million, is needed to run the electric version. That is still well over half of the present generation.
But the electric power and electric car system is also far from 100% efficient. There are line losses, storage losses, motor losses, etc. So if 52 million MWh has to be used, then a lot more has to be generated. Plus EVs are a lot heavier, so take more energy.
Then too, there is the unanswered question of where all this new juice is going to come from if fossil-fueled generation is not allowed, or only allowed with energy-intensive carbon capture bolted on. This absurd target is a separate issue that megawatt hours of gasoline clearly raises.
And this is just gasoline. The Biden goal is to electrify as much fossil fuel use as possible, including that used to generate electricity.
Natural gas is a real whopper. EIA says Virginia’s 2021 consumption was about 700 trillion Btu, or getting toward twice as much as gasoline. And many gas uses are efficient. Distillate oil, including diesel and heating oil, is another 200 trillion Btu or so. Even coal is around 70 trillion Btu.
Big Brother Warning: Banning gas stoves is just the start. A long list of household appliances are on the federal hit list to be either banned, made ineffective, or made too expensive to buy.
“Something is terribly wrong with the current direction of federal regulation. Not only are the number and scope of new rules out of control, but many are driven by the blind ambition to ban the use of fossil fuels without regard for the stability of the power grid or the actual health and safety of citizens.”
While EPA is finalizing rules that will essentially ban natural gas and coal-powered electricity generation, risking blackouts according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, other federal regulators are working on plans to ban gasoline-powered portable generators. The very thing that people need when the power goes out, backup generators, will soon be back-door banned just in time for the power blackouts that the new EPA rules are poised to cause.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, has proposed rules and regulations that would make nearly all existing portable gas generators illegal:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission or CPSC) has preliminarily determined that there is an unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with acute carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from portable generators. To address this hazard, the Commission proposes a rule under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) that limits CO emissions from portable generators and requires generators to shut off when specific emissions levels are reached.
While limiting CO emissions from portable generators and requiring generators to shut off when carbon monoxide emissions reach certain levels may sound reasonable, the proposed rules would remove nearly all existing portable gas generators from the market. Smaller gasoline generators would have to cut carbon monoxide emissions by 50%, and larger generators would have to cut emissions by up to 95 percent in only 6 months. Nearly all currently available models are expected to not comply with the new standard.
“Non-compliance” is the code word for bans. When the head of the CPSC, Richard Trumka, hinted that gas stoves could be banned because they were a “hidden hazard” in a January 2023 interview, the public outrage was swift, with many public figures and politicians weighing in. The Administration even trotted out President Biden to say that they would not ban gas stoves. He didn’t say that the plan was to regulate gas stoves out of existence, which technically is not a ban.
The same is true for portable gasoline generators. The CPSC will not “ban” generators; they will establish regulations that most existing generators cannot meet in time to re-engineer them into compliance. Once the proposed rules are in effect, manufacturers must comply with them in six months, thought it usually takes several years.
The regulations specifically ban manufacturers from stockpiling noncompliant generators before the new standards are enacted. In other words, the regulators know that the new rules will create an immediate shortage of generators, so they are writing regulations that guarantee shortages. Given that regulators must understand the life-and-death situations that require portable generators, this rule-making seems particularly designed to cause human suffering.
Having lived on the west coast of Florida for many years, I know full well how vital gasoline generators are. When Hurricane Charlie hit southwest Florida in August 2004, our power was out for three weeks. The only way we survived was by having gasoline generators. A generator could keep a small refrigerator running to keep some fresh food from spoiling and power a couple of fans. Southwest Florida has always been hot during the summer, regardless of what the climate change warriors say. We were hot, had no electricity, and gasoline generators kept us alive.
In a June 28, 2023, press release, Susan Orenga, executive director of the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association, said the CPSC proposal will:
create a shortage of essential portable generators during regional and national emergencies because it will prevent the sale of portable generators that are currently available on the market.
The notion of a government agency implementing rules that effectively ban gas generators, especially when the US power grids have become more blackout prone due to EPA rules, is especially concerning. It would be fair to ask if these federal agencies are trying to make life miserable or harm US residents. How else can these rules be explained?
Of course, portable gasoline generators are not only used in emergencies. They are necessary equipment for many tasks, such as for construction, welders, carpenters, roofers, and many other trades, that rely on gasoline generators to do their work. In a July 6 letter to the chairman of the CPSC, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said:
Engine-driven portable welders are a vital piece of equipment for construction workers across the country. These welders are not consumer products, but rather industrial machinery used on construction sites. Finalizing the CPSC rule in its present form “will not only have a detrimental effect on manufacturers of these products and their suppliers, but also negatively impact the welders who rely on this equipment.
Is the CPSC trying to disrupt construction and increase unemployment? They certainly are acting like it.
From 2004 through 2021, there were at least 1,332 CO-related consumer deaths involving portable generators, or an average of about 74 lives lost annually, with thousands of non-fatal poisonings of consumers per year.
Fatalities have increased in recent years. For example, the three most recent years for which complete data are available (2017 through 2019), generator-related deaths have averaged 85 per year.
Carbon monoxide risks? Irony of ironies: the boom in home generation has something to do with government policies wounding the grid with forced substitution of intermittent wind and solar for the reliables.
An NPR report noted “concern about the reliability of an aging electrical grid at the same time as the grid is being decentralized and decarbonized with increasing amounts of renewable energy.” And those generators are fueled by natural gas or diesel, not a battery apparatus.
Something is terribly wrong with the current direction of federal regulation. Not only are the number and scope of new rules out of control, but many are driven by the blind ambition to ban the use of fossil fuels without regard for the stability of the power grid or the actual health and safety of citizens.
And now, conservation policies seem to almost bless the virtue of conservation orders and rolling blackouts.
While U.S. anti-carbon policies are sacrificing the health and safety of its citizens, China is opening two new coal-fired power-generating plants per week. These US policies have virtually no impact on total global carbon emissions. This madness has to stop.
Still smarting over the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 25 ruling in Sacket v. EPA, in which the High Court greatly limited EPA’s regulatory authority over “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), Biden officials are scrambling to salvage as much as they can from a rule that once promised to put the feds in charge of millions of acres of private land.
Working on a tight schedule, and facing formidable legal hurdles to the exercise of raw power, Biden officials plan to have a revised WOTUS rule ready by late September. The White House had rolled out a much more ambitious WOTUS rule earlier in the year, but it ran into the buzzsaw of Sacket v. EPA. Like the Obama administration before it, Biden administration officials were hoping to use a broad definition of WOTUS to give EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sweeping authority over wetlands and other small bodies of water that connect to “navigable waters of the United States.”
For over a decade and a half, that connection had been what Justice Anthony Kennedy referred to in 2006 as a “significant nexus” to navigable waters. The vague term was a gift to federal regulators who wanted to use it to extend their writ as far as the eye could see. But in its Sacket ruling, the Supreme Court scrapped “significant nexus,” saying instead that wetlands could only be regulated if they have “a continuous surface flow” to navigable waters.
No Public Comment
According to media reports, the new WOTUS rule being crafted by Biden officials will not be subject to public comments. Instead, they will simply strike language from their original proposal—language that is no longer legal under the Sacket restrictions – and hope what is left withstands challenges in court. The regulated community – agriculture, mining, timber, home builders, oil and natural gas developers, and dozens of other industries – has little reason to trust the administration and will be monitoring its every move.
By foregoing public comments, the White House may be trying to play down the significance of what it will be proposing. They have good reason to try to draw as little attention as they can to their next WOTUS steps because their legal position has deteriorated over the past year.
The administrative regulatory state suffered two significant legal defeats in 2022 and 2023. In June 2022, the Supreme Court, in West Virginia v. EPA, ruled that federal agencies must have specific authorization from Congress before they can impose rules whose economic impact will pose a “major question” to U.S. society. In other words, agencies cannot make up rules out of whole cloth. In this year’s Sacket decision, EPA was put on notice that vague language in the Clean Water Act regarding the agency’s jurisdiction over certain bodies of water did not give regulators carte blanche to regulate as they see fit.
Old habits die hard. Having become accustomed to using the federal bureaucracy to impose policies to their liking, the left must now cope with the Supreme Court’s restoration of the separation of powers as anchored in the U.S. Constitution.
The White House is using regulations to eliminate the internal-combustion engine and ban gas stoves and gas-powered water heaters – all of which are being challenged in court. At its core, WOTUS was an attempt to impose federal zoning on private land — a goal so ambitious it will be hard to walk away from. Now, they may have to settle for a Baby WOTUS, in the hope that they can gradually build on that foundation over the coming decades – or at least until they get a Supreme Court more to their liking. Remember, these people play the long game.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments.
Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country.
He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.
He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.
If you’re being driven nuts by thumping, grinding wind turbine noise don’t expect government authorities to help. Local governments, municipalities and so-called Environment Protection Authorities were co-opted by the wind industry, long ago. Although, sometimes, it’s more bungling incompetence than blatant corruption that does the damage.
Everyone is entitled to sleep comfortably in their own bed, in their own home, at night. The law protects that right, by entitling the property owner to bring an action in nuisance to restrain the perpetrator – explained here: Judge finds case to answer in Falmouth Nuisance Claim
However, the only way of prosecuting such a claim is to gather your own noise data, independent of the perpetrator, and the perpetrator’s apologists, such as the EPA or its equivalents.
In Victoria, Australia, the need to do so has become even more acute, as a group called Wind Farm Living explains below.
Wind farm planning permits in Victoria will now be silent on wind turbine noise Wind Farm Living facebook 8 July 2023
Background Testing and Acoustic Amenity assessments are now more important than ever.
Especially in Victoria, Australia.
In 2021, the Victoria Planning Minister approved amendment No. VC206 to the Victoria Planning Provisions, which aligns the Planning Act with the EPA Act.
And now in 2023, the Minister has approved amendment No. VC234, which essentially removes wind turbine noise predictions and assessments from the planning permit and hands them over to the EPA pollution authority.
The Minister doesn’t want any informed neighbour holding up the show by objecting to noise.
Planning Provision VC206 shifted all post-construction noise controls to the EPA.
Global warming, climate change, all these things are just a dream come true for politicians. I deal with evidence and not with frightening computer models because the seeker after truth does not put his faith in any consensus. The road to the truth is long and hard, but this is the road we must follow. People who describe the unprecedented comfort and ease of modern life as a climate disaster, in my opinion have no idea what a real problem is.