Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Tuesday marked the beginning of a series of public hearings on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from our nation’s power sector. The hearings took place over the course of four days in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

The proposal – and subject of the public forums – aims to cut overall carbon pollution from existing power plants to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, a goal the U.S. is already halfway to achieving. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, current carbon emissions from the energy sector have fallen nearly 15 percent from 2005.

That’s why the proposal not only is achievable, but we can do much better. In fact, the science demands – and our technological advancements allow for – a more aggressive plan to cut climate-causing pollution.

Public Citizen staff and activists turned out to each hearing to deliver to the EPA the message that we all support an aggressive plan that uses our vast renewable energy sources and cost-saving efficiency technologies to address the largest source of U.S. climate altering pollution (power plants).

Public Citizen Standing up to Dirty Energy, Standing up for Consumers and the Climate:

On the first day of testimony in Denver, I told the EPA that “Public Citizen supports strong carbon emissions regulations. The unlimited dumping of carbon into our atmosphere has led to a global climate crisis. We can no longer afford inaction or half measures. We urge the EPA to strengthen its proposed plan by adequately reflecting the role of energy efficiency and renewable energy in transitioning to a clean and affordable energy economy.

Allison Fisher testifying at the EPA hearing in Denver on July 29.

Allison Fisher testifying at the EPA hearing in Denver

That same day in Atlanta, Public Citizen member, Albert Roesel, a retired teacher, told the EPA, “I have been distraught watching this climate catastrophe cascading in the late years of my life, having grown up with the idea that each generation is obligated to leave succeeding generations better off, knowing that instead, we have loaded the dice against the dreams of our children. Now with EPA’s Clean Power Plan, I have a glimmer of hope. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.”

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by David Arkush

Next week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold field hearings in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., on the carbon pollution rule it proposed on June 2. The EPA calls it the Clean Power Plan. We care a lot about the rule, and you’ll be hearing more about it in the coming year. Also, Public Citizen members, activists and staff will be attending and speaking at the hearings. You’ll hear more about that next week.

Right now, I just wanted to note something odd in this story from The Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky.) is complaining about the ID requirements to get into the federal buildings in which the hearings will take place. The ID requirements mean that some of his constituents won’t be able to attend!

Ahem. Voter ID laws, anyone? It’s really rich to hear a Republican leader complaining about ID requirements in a disenfranchisement-y way. Also, the requirements are from the 2005 REAL ID Act, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president.

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Domestic Fossil Fuel Abundance Fails to Deliver Cheap Energy For Americans

House Republicans plan votes before July 4 on at least three bills (HR 6, HR 3301, HR 4899) to increase domestic fossil fuel production and facilitate their export, with a “Drill Baby Drill” mantra designed to inspire a return to lower gas prices. Political parties can be forgiven for failing to update their rhetoric in the face of changing market dynamics. But the antiquated bombast designed during a period of relative energy scarcity is downright silly in today’s era of energy abundance. Domestic fossil fuel production is at record highs, and in less than two years we’ll be the largest oil producer in the world. Despite the fact we’re awash in domestically-produced fossil fuels, Americans continue to pay more for gasoline. That’s because petroleum prices are set by energy traders based on global events—so our prices will go up even if these GOP bills pass as long as Chinese demand and Middle East unrest fuel speculation. Particularly problematic is HR 6, which will make it easier to export natural gas, threatening higher prices for American consumers.

Lost in the House effort to reduce regulations over oil drilling is their willful amnesia of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy: why on earth is the House GOP trying to relax offshore drilling safety and environmental standards that the bipartisan commission found to be too weak? And of course none of the legislation recognize the need to deal with greenhouse gas emissions.

Eviscerating regulations over fossil fuel production and encouraging their export is a poor excuse for an energy policy. Progressively pricing carbon and investing billions into a sustainable energy infrastructure is the most cost-effective path to get our energy system working for families.

Tyson Slocum is Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @TysonSlocum

As the White House, Congressional leadership and energy regulators at FERC are fast-tracking natural gas exports, they’re forgetting one important fact: it’s against the law. First, a little background. Less than a decade ago, natural gas prices were at record highs and folks like then-Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan were saying that the US had to make it easier to permit Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) imports. Fast forward to today, where fracking has resulted in booming domestic natural gas production, fueling calls to make it easier to permit LNG exports. But fracking poses enormous risks to the environment, nullifying emissions benefits when it is burned as a fuel. We’ve raised these concerns about LNG exports in the past, but new research shows that exporting LNG is illegal.

In 1975, President Ford signed the Energy Policy & Conservation Act into law. In order to protect consumers, Section 103(b)(1) of the EPCA (S.622) directed the President of the United States “to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States, except that the President may…exempt from such prohibition such crude oil or natural gas exports which he [sic] determines to be consistent with the national interest.” While the Department of Commerce promulgated rules banning crude oil exports, the agency never got around to writing rules banning natural gas exports. This oversight not only means that proposed LNG exports are most likely illegal, but that consumers are at risk. That’s because of supply and demand: the more fracked natural gas we export, domestic supplies will get tighter, pushing up gas prices for households and businesses.

Public Citizen will ask the Department of Commerce to issue this long-dormant requirement to ban natural gas exports (stopgasexports.org)not just to protect consumers, but to discourage the additional fracking that would occur to meet expanded demand wrought by LNG exports.

Tyson Slocum is Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @TysonSlocum

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal for the first-ever standard to reduce carbon pollution from our existing fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants – the largest source of U.S. climate changing emissions.

It has been labeled an historic moment for clean air regulation but was met by a classic knee-jerk reaction from industry and  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose lack of credibility on the proposed rule begins with its continued refusal to acknowledge human activity as a contributor to climate change.

Despite being widely considered modest and highly achievable, even by many electric utilities, the carbon standard was greeted – like all the clean air regulations that have preceded it – with the same unfounded hysteria by a few invested industries and political operatives looking out for their narrow self-interest.

The fossil fuel industry has been predicting economic doom and gloom as a result of Clean Air Act safeguards for decades, but those predictions have never come to pass.  In fact, a series of studies led by Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson has found that implementing the CAA has actually increased the size of the U.S. economy.

Moreover, the total benefits of the Clean Air Act amount to more than 40 times the costs of regulation. For every one dollar we have spent, we get more than $40 of benefits in return.

And the regulation to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants is getting the same doomsday predictions but will likely have the same positive returns. The draft rule, based on EPA analysis for public health benefits alone, would yield between $55 billion to $93 billion in benefits when it is fully implemented, with 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths avoided and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks a year avoided. The cost, by contrast, would be $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion. That’s a bargain.

Even before the standard was introduced, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was making wild claims that the regulation of carbon would result in skyrocketing prices and devastating job loss. The Chamber even issued a report outlandishly claiming the rule

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