Jeffords/Snowe/Collins Environmental and Energy Policy

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Jon Reisman
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Jeffords/Snowe/Collins Environmental and Energy Policy

As a counterpoint to Reisman's and Bush's " It ain't true. It ain't true. It ain't true. And nothing can be done about it."::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Preserving options: Short-term action required to avoid long-term climate damageThe world still has a realistic chance of avoiding some, although not all, of the more disruptive effects of global warming, according to a new analysis.Doing so, however, will require substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, consistent with those required by the Kyoto Protocol, scientists from Princeton and Brown universities reported in the June 14 issue of Science.The researchers focused on three possible consequences of global warming, reflecting a range of likelihoods and potential for disruption: the destruction of coral reefs, the potential rise of sea levels caused by melting of an Antarctic ice sheet and the shutdown of large-scale ocean currents. They found that if aggressive measures are taken by 2010, maintaining the ocean currents is "likely," but saving the coral reefs is "probably not feasible" and preventing the ice-sheet melting is "plausible, but by no means certain.""The Bush Administration regards large climate changes as inevitable and proposes adaptation as the main response," said Princeton geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer who co-wrote the report with Brian O'Neill of Brown University. "But some climate changes are so disruptive that avoiding them through emissions reduction is the only sensible alternative."Some have argued that the Kyoto Protocol would have little effect on long-term climate change," Oppenheimer added. "But we find that the total emissions reductions it envisions appear to be an important first step toward avoiding dangerous warming."Oppenheimer and O'Neill wrote that they conducted their analysis in response to a growing demand for well-defined long-term objectives in dealing with climate change. A central question has been to define what would constitute a "dangerous interference" with the natural climate system. They selected coral reefs because they represent a unique ecosystem that could be decimated. They addressed the ice sheet melting and ocean circulation shutdown because they are examples of "large-scale discontinuities" that could occur in the climate system.In looking at these three systems, the researchers focused on what would happen if the nations of the world were successful in stabilizing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million, with a corresponding increase in average global temperature of 1.2 to 2.3 degrees Celsius in this century. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that comes from burning fossil fuels and destroying forests. The current level is 370 parts per million. Before the industrial revolution, it was about 280 parts per million.The researchers drew these conclusions: * Coral reefs are likely to undergo annual "bleaching" and eventually experience severe damage if the average global temperature increases more than 1 degree Celsius.
* The potential for the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet to disintegrate is highly uncertain, but is likely to require an increase of 2 degrees Celsius or more. Complete disintegration, which could take hundreds of years or longer, would result in an increase in sea level of 13 to 20 feet. That would submerge much of the world's coastlines, including large sections of Manhattan and southern Florida.
* A shutdown of the "thermohaline" ocean current would probably require a 3-degree Celsius increase during this century. The extent of the disruption that would result for societies and ecosystems is uncertain, but "it would be unwise to find out by continuing to pump up levels of greenhouse gases," said Oppenheimer.A key finding in the paper is that if the industrialized world delays in curbing its carbon dioxide emissions until 2020, the actions needed to stay within the 450 parts-per-million limit would become dramatically more difficult, if not impossible. Currently, a large amount of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere is reabsorbed and rendered harmless by forests and other natural systems. Rapid cutbacks in emissions beyond 2020 would only be possible if this reabsorption remains strong, the researchers found. It is not clear how strong this effect will be in coming decades. "It makes a big difference," said Oppenheimer. "If the biosphere is taking up carbon fast, it gives us more time. If we delay and the biosphere takes up carbon slowly, we could be out of luck." The uncertainties associated with this effect play much less of a role if emissions are reduced sooner, he said.The researchers conclude by comparing their analysis to the cutbacks outlined in the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement -- rejected by the United States, but recently ratified by the European Union and Japan -- for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They found that the Kyoto reductions would be an adequate first step for staying with the 450 parts-per-million limit. Further steps, however, would be required after 2010."There is a lot of uncertainty," said Oppenheimer. "But we are asking, 'What policies would be consistent with the science as we know it today?' Here is a framework for decision-making, and it points in the direction of action now. If you don't act now, you risk letting one of the important options, the 450 parts-per-million limit, drop off the table. It's really about keeping options on the table even in the face of uncertainty. How do we keep ourselves in a position where, as uncertainty is resolved, we can still avoid dangerous levels of warming?"###Oppenheimer holds joint appointments in Princeton's Department of Geosciences and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.Images associated with this release can be found at: [url=http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/l-r/oppenheimer/]http://www.princet...

Jon Reisman
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Jeffords/Snowe/Collins Environmental and Energy Policy

Multi-Pollutant Madness
The Washington Times
by Marlo Lewis, Jr.
June 12, 2002 Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its fourth hearing on the “Clean Power Act” (S.556) proposed by Sen. James Jeffords, Vermont Independent. This bill, and its House companion, Henry Waxman’s “Clean Smokestacks Act” (H.R. 1256), would establish new controls on power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), mercury and carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is the inescapable byproduct of the carbon-based fuels that supply 70 percent of U.S. electricity and 84 percent of all U.S. energy. CO2 is also the principal “greenhouse” gas targeted by the Kyoto Protocol, the non-ratified U.N. global warming treaty. The Jeffords-Waxman bills aim to make the Kyoto agenda of climate alarmism and carbon suppression the central organizing principle of U.S. energy policy. The Jeffords-Waxman bills, touted by proponents as “integrated” air quality management, rest on a popular fallacy – that the best or only way to clean the air is to curb energy production from fossil fuels. History refutes this gloomy dogma. From 1970 through 2000, total emissions of the six principle (“criteria”) pollutants EPA regulates under the Clean Air Act decreased 29 percent, while vehicle miles traveled increased 143 percent, total energy consumption increased 45 percent, and coal consumption increased 106 percent. How is this possible? As air-quality analyst Joel Schwartz explains, technological advances are slowly but surely “decoupling” air pollution from energy production. A new car manufactured in 1997 or later emits 98 percent fewer volatile organic compounds and 89 percent less NOX per mile than a new car manufactured in 1975. New natural gas plants in California emit 90 percent less NOX per kilowatt-hour than the average California plant. Automobile and equipment turnover will continue to reduce emissions for years to come, with no big changes in regulatory law. For three decades, the Clean Air Act has targeted limited resources at specific pollution problems. The Waxman-Jeffords bills would abandon that common-sense approach and attempt to reduce pollution indirectly, by suppressing energy use. A more wasteful procedure is hard to imagine. In a December 2000 study, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated the individual, aggregate, and “integrated” costs of reducing emissions of NOX, SO2, and CO2. Reducing NOX and SO2 to 75 percent below 1997 levels by 2005 would cost $3 billion each. Reducing CO2 to 7 percent below 1990 levels would cost $77 billion. Implementing those targets one at a time would cost $82 billion. Implement the targets in an “integrated” fashion would cost $77 billion. Five billion dollars would be “saved” due to the fact that CO2 reductions entail ancillary NOX and SO2 reductions, and vice versa. But, if the goal is cleaner air, then the “multipollutant” approach doesn’t save any money at all. Rather, it spends $77 billion for $6 billion worth of NOX and SO2 reductions – it wastes $71 billion. In an October 2001 analysis, EIA estimated that the Jeffords-Waxman multi-emission caps would increase consumer electricity prices 33 percent, increase power producers’ cumulative production costs $177 billion, and cut electric power generation from coal (America’s most abundant fuel source) 55 percent. Those impacts are a steep price to pay for pollution reductions that may not even be necessary for protection of public health, or that could be achieved far less onerously the old-fashioned way. But it is not the direct costs of the Jeffords-Waxman bills that are most worrisome. Because CO2 is neither an “ambient” nor a “hazardous” air pollutant, there are no air quality or health-based standards for regulating CO2. Even with respect to climate change, no one knows how much CO2 in the atmosphere is too much, too little, or just right. Consequently, agencies regulating CO2 would not be constrained by any objective health or welfare criteria. And, as is well known, the avowed goal of many Kyoto supporters is to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Not only are there no limits in principle to the regulatory burdens government could place on individual entities under a CO2 control regime, there are almost no practical limits to the number of entities government could regulate. A recent report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change estimates that, in the United States, more than 186,000 firms emit upwards of 1,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. An earlier study by energy analyst Mark Mills estimated that nearly 1 million U.S. establishments emit more than 100 tons of CO2 per year. The EPA does not currently regulate CO2, and has no authority to do so. The Jeffords-Waxman bills would smash that barrier, rendering as many as 1 million firms vulnerable to new EPA regulation, monitoring and enforcement. Kyoto supporters often say that we do not have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. They are right, but for the wrong reasons. Carbon-based fuels are increasingly abundant, affordable, safe and clean. Only wealthy societies can afford to invest in high levels of environmental protection, and only free societies can invent the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow. The Kyoto agenda is a prescription for poverty and regulatory excess. Policymakers are well advised to shun it and every initiative that would advance it.

Anonymous
Re: Jeffords/Snowe/Collins Environmental and Energy Policy

A lil co2 retention problem again this morn, JR?

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