Policy Advisor at The Heartland Institute
James H. Rust is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a retired professor of nuclear engineering, and an outspoken critic of unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming. He funds several scholarships for students majoring in chemical engineering at Purdue University. He currently is delivering a talk titled “America's Failed Energy Policies and The Reason Why.”
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a hearing in Atlanta, Georgia on October 23, soliciting public comments about reducing carbon dioxide pollution from existing stationary power plants. The EPA has a goal of eliminating coal from power production. If successful, it would most likely would lead to future attacks on natural gas as a fuel source.
Approximately 150 people attended the opening session Wednesday afternoon. The Region four EPA Director made introductory remarks stating the need to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, citing severe climate events that plagued the United States in 2012. The country had eight million acres destroyed by wildfires, droughts, floods, and in particular, the devastating Hurricane Sandy that hit New York last October. The EPA uses reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) as their sole source of scientific information. Apparently, no one told the Region four Director that the 2013 UNIPCC report stated that carbon dioxide is not responsible for extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy.
Speakers were allowed three minutes for their presentations, which is a woeful lack of time for an important topic. I stayed to hear presentations from 30 speakers–28 protested these rules would create burdensome increases in electricity prices, and two said the rules were necessary to save the planet.
As a Policy Adviser to the Heartland Institute, I was the 20th speaker and attacked the scientific basis the EPA used for their rules, which was not addressed by other speakers. I accused the EPA of: 1.) Proposing rule to abolish the use of coal for stationary power plants that unnecessarily increase the costs of electric power generations with harm to health and the economy of our country. 2.) Implementing rules to abolish the use of coal for future electric power plants with unnecessary harmful increased costs for electricity and 3.) Actions whose premise was not based on scientific merit. I challenged the EPA to bring their top scientific adviser to Atlanta to engage in a debate on the merits of carbon dioxide being anything but a necessary airborne fertilizer and an insignificant player on climate behavior. The public should put pressure on the EPA to be forthright in engaging in an open debate about the merits of their onerous proposals. The rules proposed by EPA will have a negative impact of trillions of dollars on the United States’ economy.
The EPA selected 11 locations for public testimony. Testimony will continue until November 8. Information on these sessions and to register online is here. For those who cannot attend these sessions, input can be e-mailed to carbonpollutioninput@epa.
gov by November 8, 2013.
As an attempt to stop these economy killing carbon dioxide pollution standards, the public is urged to e-mail their complaints immediately and if possible testify at a public hearing.
For five years, the EPA has waged war on fossil fuels due to misguided views that assert carbon dioxide, from burning fossil fuels, causes catastrophic global warming. The EPA is substituting the words ‘carbon pollution’ for ‘carbon dioxide’ in order to mislead the public regarding its intention. To the public, the phrase ‘carbon pollution’ conjure images of black snow and soot-covered cars, prevalent before the 1960’s—a time when coal was burned without environmental controls. This is the same misrepresentation applied to global warming alleged from burning fossil fuels. When global warming stopped in 1998, in spite of increased use of fossil fuels, ‘climate change’ was substituted for ‘global warming’ as key words to describe the planet’s cataclysmic future. In a sense, alarmists’ views can not be deemed inaccurate with this label because climate change is continuous over the four billion-year planet history.
Fossil fuel use has annually increased in an energy-starved planet due to poorer inhabitants demanding a decent living standard. This caused an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from 310 parts per million (ppm) in 1950, to 400 ppm in 2013. For more than a century, it has been hypothesized atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation and re-emits the radiation back to the atmosphere, causing planet warming labeled “the greenhouse effect”. Water vapor, with an average atmosphere concentration of 10,000 ppm, produces the same effect. Concerns about global warming caused by increased fossil fuel use resulted in creation of the United Nations organization Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) in 1988 to study effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since 1990, the IPCC has published a series of five reports (1990, 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2013) stating their beliefs in the role of carbon dioxide on climate and made projections of future global temperatures based on computer generated data from global climate models.
The EPA has used IPCC reports as their sole source of information about the role of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from increasing fossil fuel use. The IPCC reports estimate increased global warming so the EPA embarked on a path to reduce fossil fuel use starting with coal, oil, and, natural gas.
The UNIPPC was an international organization predicting future climate change without oversight. To balance their reporting, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was created in 2003.
The 2007 IPCC report stirred up controversy regarding their errors and the NIPCC issued a countering report entitled, Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate in 2008. To highlight more details about errors in the 2007 IPCC report, the NIPCC produced an 856-page report, Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. The Heartland Institute assisted in preparation and publication of these reports.
Anticipating science to be overlooked by the 2013 IPCC report, the NIPCC produced Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2011 Interim Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. The report featured new scientific evidence and information overlooked by the IPCC’s 2009 report.
With increasing media attention and leaking of portions of its report, the UNIPCC announced publication of its fifth report September 27, 2013. In anticipation of the IPCC report, the NIPCC released its first of two reports, the 1000-page Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science and 20-page Summary for Policymakers on September 17, 2013. The key points are: (1) the human impact on climate is very small and (2) any change in temperatures that might be occurring or will occur in the future is so small that it will not be noticed against the climate’s entirely natural variability. In order to compare information from the NIPCC with that of the IPCC, the 2013 IPCC Summary for Policymakers issued September 27, 2013 is found here. The IPCC report glosses over no global warming for 15 years and failure of all global climate models to match experimental global temperature data.
The EPA refuses to examine information that counters the assertion that global warming is produced by increased use of fossil fuels and dismisses any benefits achieved by global warming. There are thousands of scientific papers and books showing benefits of global warming and increased carbon dioxide on the planet. An example of a good summary of benefits is in the October 19, 2013 Spectator “Why Climate Change is Good For The World” by Matt Ridley.
Warming saves lives while cold kills. It is estimated 29,000 Britons died in the United Kingdom the past winter due to cold. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide increases plant growth and makes plants more resistant to drought due to larger root systems. We are able to produce enough food to feed 7 billion people on the planet due to the 40 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
It is suspected the EPA will issue rules governing carbon dioxide emissions for current power plants similar to rules applying to future power plants—1000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour (MW-hr.) for natural gas-fueled power plants and 1100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per MW-hr. for coal-fired power plants. The rules for future power plants were issued September 2013 which prompted Investor’s Business Daily to write an editorial September 20, 2013 entitled, “New Rules On Power Plants Will Kill Coal Industry”. The editorial stated, “Far from being a plan to clean up the environment, it is in fact a road map to de-industrialization and poverty.” Examples were given of power plant shutdowns and the threat of businesses to leave the country because of escalating electricity prices.
Gas turbine combined cycle (GTCC) power plants can meet the requirement of 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per MW-hr. High performance coal-fired power plants typically emit 1800 pounds of carbon dioxide per MW-hr. and can’t meet these standards without carbon dioxide capture and sequestration (CDCS) of at least 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
CDCS has not been demonstrated for large power plants. It is a very costly process that requires one-third the power output of plants and requires safe places for underground storage of enormous amounts of high-pressure carbon dioxide. Widespread application of CDCS would require annual storage of billions of tons of carbon dioxide.
Underground storage of high-pressure carbon dioxide presents safety problems never encountered in the United States. Carbon dioxide is denser than air and large leaks from an underground storage would produce situations where leaking gas spreading along the earth’s surface would suffocate all encountering the gas. In 1986, carbon dioxide emerging from Lake Nyos in the Cameroon suffocated 1700 people and thousands of cattle. Similar situations have occurred elsewhere in Africa.
It is ironic that the EPA is in charge of the safety of American citizens and is taking the non-hazardous carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal and creating situations of enormous waste of money on CDCS that kills unsuspecting citizens. This debacle applies to controlling carbon dioxide emissions from current and future coal-fired power plants.
A critique of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) by Professor James H. Rust, “Do New EPA Regulations on Power Plant Mercury Effluents Make Sense?” was published May 3, 2011 by The Heartland Institute. These rules reduce Mercury emissions, that are not problems, from coal-fired power plants at great costs and shut downs of operating power plants. At the same time, the EPA endorses the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) because they use less electricity. CFL’s contain an estimated four milligrams of Mercury, and when one factors in over one billion CFLs in use today and fast growing, you have a vast potential for Mercury contamination directly inside homes from bulb breakage and improper disposal. When the four billion light sockets in homes are filled with CFLs (18 tons of Mercury), considerations of Mercury contamination from coal-burning power plants may look silly. Humans occupy less than one-tenth percent of the United States’ land area for living space; so, inside Mercury contaminations per square foot can be large.
In summary, using poor science and a lack of judgment, the EPA has promulgated rules pertaining to fossil fuel use that are aimed at eliminating use of the nation’s vast reservoir of fossil fuels. Once these rules are implemented, more onerous rules must follow. Great economic damage is done that leads to poverty for the nation. On top of these problems, the rules that are issued in the name of promoting health create health problems far more damaging.
The EPA is succeeding in these objectives due to lack of realistic media attention and public apathy. At the end of World War II, Pastor Martin Niemoller was asked how the destructive Nazi Party could take over the country in the 1930’s. He said apathy and produced a four-sentence verse that described his failure to sound the alarm about the impending events from demonic National Socialism.
In our present time, Pastor Niemoller might have said the following about EPA pollution rules:
First they closed the coal mines, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a miner.Then they stopped oil and gas drilling, and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t work in oil fields.Then they shut down nuclear power plants, and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t work at nuclear power plants.Then they shut off all my electricity and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Heed these words; the EPA is set upon a path to destroy the Unites State’s economy and impoverish our citizens. Poverty kills as surely as disease.
EPA Logo Photo Credit from commons.wikimedia.com