Message to EPA—“You Have Done Enough” Let Them Know Your Thoughts

Published July 17, 2014


For years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been issuing onerous rules applying to the use of fossil fuels that has caused increases in energy prices and contributed to the economic malaise that has befallen the country since the end of the last recession in 2009.  The latest assault occurred June 2, 2014 with the EPA’s issuing its Carbon Pollution Standards requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from existing power plants below the 2005 level by the year 2030.  2005 was a year of high carbon pollution for the United States with total carbon dioxide emissions of 6.723 billion tons and 2.642 billion tons for electric power generation.  A 30 percent reduction in power emissions by 2030 is 0.793 billion tons leaving no more than 1.85 billion tons of carbon emissions for electric power generation.
For the EPA, carbon pollution means carbon dioxide, the trace gas necessary for life on the planet; not the dirty soot older people remember turned snow black in the winter, ruined laundry hung outside to dry, and coated cars parked outside.  This is a direct attempt to deceive the public about the nature of the hazard being foisted upon them.
Along with usual stopping catastrophic climate events due to global warming, carbon pollution standards were pushed from the standpoint of health benefits.  The May 31The Guardian carried an article “Obama heralds health benefits of climate plan to cut power plant emissions”  which described a presentation President Obama made, with white-robed individuals in the background, in an asthma ward at the Children’s National Medical Centre in Washington, DC.  The President said, “just in the first year the plan would reduce asthma attacks by 100,000 and heart attacks by 2100”.  A 7-page report from The White House “The Health Impacts of Climate Change On Americans” list their claims of health problems from global warming.  No mention most health problems occur in the winter.
No one really knows what causes asthma.  We do know asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways.  Causes of asthma symptoms vary for different people.  Still, one thing is consistent with asthma: when airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the airways become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus.  Allergies with asthma are common problem.  Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to airborne substances such as tree, grass, and weed pollens, mold, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroach particles.  In one study, children who had high levels of cockroach droppings in their homes were four times more likely to have childhood asthma than children whose homes had low levels.  Asthma exacerbation after dust exposure is usually due to dust mite allergy.”
A devastating July 11, 2011 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by University of Georgia Emeritus Prof. R. Harold Brown “Politics of asthma have outrun the science of the condition” destroys arguments by the EPA power plant emissions cause asthma.  EPA claims ozone causes asthma; but Prof. Brown cites studies show a negative correlation of asthma attacks with peak eight-hour ozone concentrations.  Air pollution would be thought to be worse in urban areas; but asthma rates are as high in rural areas as urban areas.  A 2004 global report on asthma cited asthma incidences among adults as 10.9 percent in the U. S., 2.1 percent in China, and 2.2 percent in Russia; all countries with far more polluted air than the U. S.  A 2001-2004 CDC study reported 14.6 percent of U. S. born women, 4 percent of Mexican born women, and 6.8 percent for immigrants born elsewhere claimed they had asthma.  Additional studies, most in Europe, show children born on farms with lots of livestock contact are less likely to have asthma.
Air pollution not correlated with asthma hospitalizations” is reported by a study.  Soot and smog were not correlated with emergency admissions for asthma at a large Los Angeles hospital over the two-year period 2010-11.  Los Angeles is one of the most polluted areas in the United States.
Carbon dioxide is a trace gas, 0.04 percent, occurring in our atmosphere and its slight increases have no effect on causing asthma or stimulating its attacks.  Claiming asthma reductions by a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation in the next 16 years is totally false.   It may be the EPA’s calling “wolf” for years on power plant pollution that causes parents to keep their children inside homes where actual air pollution is more severe.
There is some thought increasing ozone in the atmosphere stimulates asthma attacks.  Weather alerts given in cities about impending bad air is due to ozone increases caused by automobiles.  One source of atmospheric ozone is due to ethanol being mixed with gasoline as a renewable fuel.  A December 14, 2009, report by Stanford University researchers “Ethanol results in higher ozone concentrations than gasoline” shows vehicles running on ethanol generate higher concentrations of ozone than those using gasoline, especially in the winter.  This could create new health concerns in areas where ozone hasn’t been a significant problem before.  Further evidence of ethanol causing ozone is shown by studies in Sao Paulo, Brazil “Study Links Ethanol To Higher Air Pollution.  These studies showed higher ozone pollution during times of greater ethanol use due to ethanol’s lower prices.
This is an example where the EPA attacks a non-problem, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, and creates a real problem by pushing use of ethanol as a mix with gasoline.  An analogous situation occurred in 2011 when the EPA attacked mercury from effluents of coal-and oil-burning power plants with its Mercury and Toxic Substance (MATS) Rule and supervised elimination of incandescent light bulbs with replacement of mercury-containing compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.   A May 3, 2011 paper by James H. Rust “Do New EPA Regulations on Power Plant Mercury Effluents Make Sense” shows mercury emissions from power plants are negligible compared to natural mercury emissions; while mercury concentrations in small areas in homes from CFL breakage posed potential severe environmental hazards. 
A host of data exists to show all catastrophic events alleged caused by CAGW occurred in the past when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were lower and constant.   For many weather events, rates of occurrences recently declined.  In addition, lack of global warming the past 16 years, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased the highest rate in thousands of years, is conveniently ignored. NIPCC reports cover all these omissions.
A lifetime could be spent studying past global temperatures, theories about causes of climate change, and failures to predict the future.  Three recent examples are of interest:
An article by Tom Harris in the June 30, 2014 Washington Times quoted a statement by President Obama to the League of Conservation Voters on June 25 in Washington.  President Obama said, “We know that carbon dioxide traps heat. We know that the levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years. We know that the 20 warmest years on record for our planet all happened since 1990 — and last month was the warmest May ever recorded.”  President Obama got his information from NOAA(May 2014 warmest ever and 1.33°F above the 20th century average 58.6°F), for which the preceding paragraph shows doctors their data.  However, if you examine satellite temperature data from the University of Alabama at Huntsville you get the following numbers:  May 2014 temperature 0.59 degrees F., May 1998 temperature 1.01 degrees, and May 2010 temperature 0.83 degrees—all temperatures above the global average from 1981 to 2010.  The Wood For Trees data site, which contains British HADCRUT 4 global mean temperature data, also showed May 1998 was warmer than May 2014.  This is another example of shaky data used to promote EPA’s policies.
The EPA and President Obama hailed their carbon dioxide reductions would convince the rest of the world to cut back on use of fossil fuels. 
Even if carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels had an effect on global warming, it is apparent the United States reduction of 0.8 billion tons by 2030 would have no measureable effect on climate change.
The ten states with cap-and-trade have mandates for renewable energy generation—solar and wind energy–called renewable portfolio standards (RPS).   Thirty three states have RPS with Hawaii the highest RPS of 40 percent renewables by 2030.   California has the second highest RPS with a requirement of 33 percent by 2020.  Nineteen states have all sector electricity rates above the national average and all have RPS.  With exceptions of Hawaii, whose majority of electricity is generated with oil, and Alaska; the ten states with cap-and-trade have the highest electricity rates in the nation.   The March 2014 average cost of all sector electricity for the ten states with cap-and-trade is 14.84 cents per kilowatt-hour (kw-hr)–44 percent higher than the average of 10.32 cents per kw-hr for the nation.
It is apparent EPA’s insistence on a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will increase electricity prices.  Individual states will suffer more than others.
“I know people are wondering: can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? We can, and we will. Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket.  They’re wrong.  Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with.  And any small price increase—think about the price of a gallon of milk a month—is dwarfed by huge benefits. This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.
In 2030, the Clean Power Plan will deliver climate and health benefits of up to $90 billion dollars.  And for soot and smog reductions alone, that means for every dollar we invest in the plan, families will see $7 dollars in health benefits. And if states are smart about taking advantage of efficiency opportunities, and I know they are, when the effects of this plan are in place in 2030, average electricity bills will be 8 percent cheaper.
For over four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent and the economy has more than tripled. All while providing the power we need to keep America strong.”
We think of economic growth in terms of total amount; but a more accurate measure is increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.  A June 6, 2014 article in The American Thinker by Sierra Rayne “How Environmental Regulations Hurt The Economy In One Graph” shows U. S. economy growth on a per capita basis has slowed since 1970 compared to the time period 1929-1970.  From 1970 to 2010, the U. S. population increased from 203 million to 309 million and GNP per capita increased from $24,000 to $49,000.  However, based on the growth rate over the period 1929-1970, per capita GDP would have been $84,000.  Sierra Rayne thought the procession of environmental acts (1970 Clean Air Act, 1972 Clean Water Act, 1973 Endangered Species Act, and 1987 Montreal Protocol) may have been the catalyst to slow down the nation’s rate of economic growth prior to 1970.  The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will only add to regulatory burdens and increased economic slowdown.
A June 16, 2014 report “Ensuring Adequate Power Supplies For Tomorrow’s Electricity Needs” for the Electric Markets Research Foundation calls attention to a host of issues affecting the reliability of our electric grid system.  Extreme cold during the 2014 winter caused price spiking and loss of reserves in parts of the country, in particular the Northeast.  Coal-fired power plants scheduled for retirement in 2015 were needed to maintain power supply.  Increased reliance on intermittent sources such as solar and wind, that may not be available when needed, may cause system reliability problems.  The trend to using natural gas for new plant construction and conversion of existing power plants to natural gas may cause future problems over pricing and availability of natural gas in future times of urgent demand.  All of these issues are solutions for reducing carbon dioxide emissions demanded by the EPA.  Thus EPA’s rules jeopardize the national grid reliability.
International events in 2014 illustrate the dangers of the United States not exploiting its abundant reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas.  The March 24, 2014 article by James H. Rust “Putin’s Gift To America’s Energy Independence” points out the role of energy in foreign affairs in the 20th century and Russian President Putin’s aggressive role in the Ukraine being fueled by their providing substantial amounts of natural gas to Western Europe. The Ukraine Crisis and unsettled events in Iraq are great gifts to stop the environmental movement’s eliminating fossil fuel production and insistence on relying on solar, wind, ethanol from corn, etc. as energy sources.  The EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards will force shutdown of numerous coal-fired power plants and a shift to less polluting natural gas.  This leaves the United States in a position to having less natural gas available for export and thus less importance on the international stage.  Renewable energy sources are of no consequence in conduct of foreign policy.   Do we want peace and prosperity or “green energy”, poverty, and the possibility of nuclear war?
Upton concluded, ‘As with the health law, another train wreck is coming – unless Congress does something about it.  It’s time to start being honest with the American people about this expensive power plan, and that process started with today’s hearing.'”
Possibly the greatest dangers to the nation lies in what happens after EPA implements its Carbon Pollution Standards. 
“EPA’s policy is consistent with the President’s Climate Action Plan and Executive Order 13653 on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, which calls on the federal government to strengthen the adaptive capacity of its programs and operations. The new policy updates the EPA policy first issued in June 2011, and includes the following directives:
–        Modernize EPA financial assistance program to encourage climate-resilient investments;
–        Provide information, tools, training and technical support for climate change preparedness and resilience;
–        Implement priority actions identified in EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan and Implementation Plans;
–        Focus on the most vulnerable people and places;
–        Measure and evaluate performance of climate adaptation actions;
–        Continue EPA planning for climate change-related risk; and
–        Coordinate with other federal agencies”
The climate adaption program could make EPA a powerful master that could dictate to all departments in the government.  Already the Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense have numerous programs that promote President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.  I am on the distribution list for News Releases from all these agencies.  My observations are each agency is trying to out-perform the others in their attempts to come up with programs that please the Whitehouse.  What comes to mind is the fealty of vassals to their lord back in medieval times.  The EPA may be the new lord.  One example is the U. S. Navy’s “Farm to Fleet” program that has a long term goal of 50 percent biofuels for its fleet needs.  It would be cheaper to buy oil wells.
With a country that has budget deficits of $1.5 billion per day, these programs could help sink the nation into an insurmountable level of debt in a few years.

There is much speculation Emperor Nero fiddled when Rome burned in AD 64.  It appears the “fiddle” has been passed to the EPA by its recent rulings.  It is time to say to the EPA “You have done enough”.
James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute.