Campaigning in San Francisco during the Democrat Party primaries in January 2008, Presidential Candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” Upon election, President Obama tried to keep his promise with the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, that narrowly passed the House June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219 to 212.
Among many features of this bill is cap-and-trade on carbon dioxide emissions. This put a price on carbon dioxide emissions and gradually reduced allowed emissions until they were 17 percent of the 2005 level by 2050. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions are at the level they were at after the Civil War.
After the November 2010 election losses, Democrat Senate leaders told President Obama cap-and-trade was dead. President Obama exclaimed “cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat.” From that point the cat is slowly being skinned by regulations from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit fossil fuel use.
In its war against fossil fuels, the EPA has a variety of tools of which one powerful help is the ability to give grants to a variety of organizations such as governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations called non-government organizations(NGOs). The home page for the grant database is here.
The database show grants for the past ten years, including earlier grants that started before that time and still continuing, are 46,977 for a total cost of $69.746 billion. In spite of Americans being numbed by annual federal deficits exceeding one trillion dollars, $70 billion is a lot of money. Using a conservative estimate of $100,000 grant money equaling one man-year of effort, this sum represents 700,000 man-years employment. Many of these workers do the bidding of EPA on supporting its policies. Enthusiastic support may be necessary for grant renewals.
NGO grants the past ten years are 7,355 grants for $3.835 billion. The American Lung Association is very supportive of the EPA on air pollution with ten years of grants totaling $22,100,000. Donations to NGOs are tax-deductible, so their activities are considered tax supported.
The last two years, EPA posted three rulings that severely restrict use of coal and oil in boilers such as for power plants. In 2011, there is the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). In March 27, 2012, there is the First Carbon Pollution Standards for Future Power Plants (FCPSFPP).
EPA Head Lisa Jackson testified before Congress, September 2011, in defense of MATS and CSAPR, as reported by Steve Milloy in the Washington Times.
Mr. Milloy’s Washington Times article contained information using the Freedom of Information Act on EPA human experiments with PM2.5. These experiments were conducted in 2010 to mid 2011 on 41 individuals to ascertain effects of PM2.5 exposure on their health. With the exception of one person who had heart problems, the results of the experiments were not reported. EPA established it wants to limit PM2.5 exposure to 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period or 15 micrograms per cubic meter annually. These numbers translate by weight as 28 parts per billion and 12 parts per billion, respectively.
EPA human experiments had PM2.5 concentrations as high as 740 micrograms per cubic meter. This is 21 times the recommended highest exposure over a 24-hour period. If PM2.5 is as dangerous as maintained by EPA, Mr. Milloy wrote their experiments could be compared to human experiments conducted by Nazi Dr. Joseph Mengele during WWII. Or closer to home, the experiments could be compared to Syphilis experiments conducted at Tuskegee during 1930s to late 1940s. Most certainly the EPA is not this brutal, they simply know PM2.5 is not as dangerous as they try to portray.
The EPA chooses to attack power plant emissions of mercury–which is an abundant element found in soils, trees, oceans, and the mouths of millions who choose mercury-amalgam fillings. In defense of using MATS to drastically reduce mercury emissions from coal and oil combustion in boilers, the EPA issued a FACT SHEET PROPOSED MERCURY AND AIR TOXIC STANDARDS that stated by 2016 the rule would avoid 6,800 to 17,000 premature deaths. The FACT SHEET stated the rule would eliminate 91 percent of mercury emissions from power plants.
Annual mercury emissions from coal combustion would be a maximum of 50 tons. This compares to annual mercury emissions due to natural and man-made sources in excess of 8,280 tons given by the journal article on mercury sources in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol 13, pp 5951-64, 2010 found here.
Seventy percent of global emissions are due to natural sources such as forest fires, volcano eruptions, and ocean emissions.
The EPA contends that 50 tons of mercury emissions from U. S. coal-burning power plants may cause 6,800 to 17,000 premature deaths and the total annual deaths due to mercury emissions may be 2.8 million. This would cause international concern because in a few decades the number of mercury-caused deaths would rival 14th century bubonic plague.
From the cited mercury reference, combustion of one ton of petroleum emits 0.058 grams of mercury; which is comparable to emissions from one ton of coal. The United States annually consumes 660 million tons of oil for transportation which produces 38 tons of mercury emissions. Will the EPA later demand scrubbers on car exhausts?
While the EPA is attempting to eliminate mercury from power plant emissions at an annual cost from their FACT SHEET of $10.9 billion; it is also promoting elimination of incandescent light bulbs in homes with replacement by compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs contain 4 milligrams of mercury and the more than one billion currently in homes contain more than 4 tons of mercury. Breakage of CFLs would confine mercury to small areas inside homes where people spend most of their time and produce mercury concentrations far higher than in the vast outside areas of the country. If there ever is a health threat due to mercury, CFLs is the culprit.
Another economic damaging EPA promotion is their attempt to increase the amount of ethanol from corn mixed with gasoline. Stanford University researchers found vehicles running on ethanol generate higher concentrations of ozone than those using gasoline; especially in the winter. That could create new health concerns in areas where ozone hasn’t been a significant problem before.
Evidence of the EPA’s determination to enforce their rules is shown in the April 26, 2012, Wall Street Journal article “EPA Video Prompts Apology“. In 2010, Dallas-based Region 6 EPA Administrator, Al Armendariz, gave a town hall meeting talk on his philosophy for enforcement, saying, “My philosophy of enforcement was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
After recent exposure of a video of this talk one and one-half year ago, EPA apologized for its content. Mr. Armendariz resigned April 30, 2012.
An example of tax dollars being used to support EPA’s war on fossil fuels is illustrated by activities of an NGO called “Interfaith Power & Light (IPL)“. This website shows EPA grants to Interfaith Power & Light. “EPA supports the development and maintenance of ShopIPL.org through a multi-year grant to Interfaith Power & Light.” Founder and director of national Interfaith Power & Light, Reverend Sally G. Bingham, said “Everyone has a stake and role in reducing global warming emissions. Working together people of faith can lead the way and we can change history.”
Rev. Bingham is on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Defense Fund. The material that follows illustrates twelve-months activities of IPL in supporting the EPA’s policies.
The EPA announced public hearings on their MATS rule to be held May 24, 2011, in Chicago, IL and Philadelphia, PA and May 26, 2011, in Atlanta, GA. IPL sent announcements to their members urging participation in the public hearings and provided a letter to use for testimony.
In Atlanta, the hearings ran all day and roughly 90% were from IPL and similar NGOs reading prepared material testifying to the terrifying consequences of mercury exposure. It appeared environmental NGOs members were aware of the hearings and most of the public unaware.
After the public hearings, IPL sent the following e-mail to its members urging them to send written testimony to the EPA supporting the MATS rule and provided a link which allowed instantaneous, no time involved communication:
Subject: Tell the EPA you support safeguards on mercury and air toxics.
I was inspired last week to see the many people of faith and friends of IPL who turned out at public hearings in support of the EPA’s proposal to cut emissions of mercury and acid gases from power plants. Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta were swarming with supporters: doctors, mothers, nurses, clergy, and more. At right, Pennsylvania IPL’s Rabbi Daniel Swartz blessed a stroller brigade in Philadelphia…”
The form letters went on to express duty, as a steward of Creation, to support the regulatory efforts of the EPA. It also explained that Interfaith Power & Light, together with allies in the environmental and public health communities, were collecting an unprecedented two million comments, to ensure the new standards took effect as soon as possible. The letter ended with the admonition to “…leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that people of faith stand on the side of God’s Creation, human health, and climate safety.” Other form letters were also generated.
These form letters by IPL and other NGOs allow the EPA to claim wide-spread public support for their rule. The media will seize upon this and create the illusion the whole country wants this rule adopted. Pro-energy advocates are not organized and provide little in the way of criticism of this rule. Television and the print media have essentially given no coverage to this rule and its grave implications.
At the bottom of the e-mail is a postscript stating, “This new safeguard will affect only new power plants not yet built. The EPA is expected to act soon to limit industrial carbon pollution from existing plants. We will keep you posted.” The postscript implies IPL may have advance notice of EPA intentions to tighten up FCPSFPP at a later date to include all existing fossil fuel-power plants. Applying the rule to existing power plants eliminates use of all fossil-fueled power plants except combined-cycle plants.
FCPSFPP has the potential to shut down all power generation using fossil fuels. All that is necessary is to reduce the requirement of one pound of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour to 0.8 pounds per kilowatt-hour or slightly less and there is no economical method to achieve that high efficiency for electric power generation. This is a frightening future for the United States since we have centuries-long reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas.
A point of confusion about IPL and its state-level subordinates is they use CFLs as a symbol of dedication to energy conservation. On one hand they support EPA’s expensive elimination of non-threatening mercury from power plant emissions and then ask the public to use CFLs in their homes that pose real environmental threats. Nothing like uninformed NGO member influencing national energy policy.
As seen, the EPA with its NGO helpers may eliminate fossil fuels use. All activities are supported by tax dollars. The EPA is paid with tax dollars and NGOs are supported by tax-dollar grants or tax-deductible contributions.
Many pro-energy advocates donate their time and can’t even claim tax deductions for expenses from their activities. You ask what expenses? Attending climate conferences costs thousands of dollars; preparing visual aids materials and handouts for talks cost more thousands of dollars.
This article is reprinted with permission from the author.
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.”