Skip to main content

Greenhouse Gases Officially Hazardous

JetBarbecue We wonder if industries will have to affix Surgeon General labels on their plants:

Having received White House backing, the Environmental Protection Agency declared Friday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a significant threat to human health and thus will be listed as pollutants under the Clean Air Act — a policy the Bush administration rejected.

You’ll remember that this became a point in the last election, with fears of backyard barbecues being shut down. But the intent is more likely this:

The move could allow the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, but it's more likely that the Obama administration will use the action to prod Congress to pass regulations around a system to cap and then trade emissions so that they are gradually lowered.

As you might expect, the usual suspects have lined up. One one side:

The EPA should be required "to follow up with standards under the Clean Air Act, the nation's most effective environmental law, to curb carbon pollution from our cars, power plants and other industrial sources," said David Doniger, climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And on the other:

"It will require a huge cascade of (new clean air) permits" and halt a wide array of projects, from building coal plants to highway construction, including many at the heart of economic recovery plan,” Bill Kovacs, a vice president for environmental issues at the [Chamber of commerce], said when the EPA's recommendations were made last month.

We suspect EPA Director Lisa Jackson has at the least put Congress on alert that fussing too much about cap-and-trade may not be too wise, since EPA regulation can cover a lot of territory – in other words, a little political gameplaying.

When you have a yen for kabob – or a quick trip to Canada.

Comments

Ioannes said…
I have to wonder in this economy if people can afford the increase in electric rates that the EPA regulation of green house gas emission will entail since 50% of US electricity comes from coal. Don't get me wrong: fossil fuel plants don't have the right to use the atmosphere as their sewer, and if the same level of environmental regulation were levied on fossil plants that is levied on nuclear power plants, I think the economy would naturally favor nuclear energy. I'm just thinking about all those people who can't afford their electric bills now.

Also, what happens to regulation of green house gas emissions from automobiles, trucks, trains, aircraft, ships and almost all other modes of transport? Will a green house tax be put on gasoline and diesel fuel and jet fuel, making (for instance) gasoline prices rise above the $4.00 / gallon we experienced in 2008? Who can afford that with the economy tanking, businesses folding and people losing their jobs?

Oh, maybe I am just a pessimist, but this doesn't look economically like a good time to start regulating green house gases. Can anybody out there see a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an on-coming train?
Alex Brown said…
This can have VERY far reaching consequences. Should fat people be taxed more than skinny people since they emit more CO2? Should meat be made illegal since cows produce so much CO2 and methane? Should we nuke China for emitting more CO2 then the USA, Japan and EU combined?
I wouldn't be too upset if the Federal government placed sin taxes on carbon dioxide pollution. But I think it would better for the government to simply mandate that a gradually growing percentage of electric power produced in the US be from non-carbon dioxide polluting technologies (nuclear, urban and rural bio-waste, hydroelectric, wind, solar) and that a gradually growing percentage of liquid transportation fuels in America be composed of carbon-neutral fuels.

Utilities could then be fined with carbon taxes if they failed to meet these percentages. And a carbon sin tax could also be placed on transportation fuel (gasoline, methanol, diesel fuel, jet fuel) sold in America if they also did not contain a certain Federally mandated percentage of carbon neutral fuel.

We've known how to build power plants that don't produce carbon dioxide for decades. And we've also known how to produce carbon-neutral synthetic fuels (gasoline, methanol, diesel fuel, jet fuel) for decades.

We're not going to go from a fossil fuel economy to a non-fossil fuel economy overnight. Its going to take a few decades. But we're never going to get there if we don't get started in that direction-- right now!

http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/
Anonymous said…
"Should fat people be taxed more than skinny people since they emit more CO2?"

This is a bit silly. The average metabolic rate for humans is about 100 watts. In the U.S., enjoying the lifestyles we lead, we use about 30 times this much energy (thus so little manual labor anymore).

Carbon controls are all about cutting back on our use of coal. In the U.S. we mine and burn 1.2 billion tons per year, which works out to 4 tons for every person in the U.S. Carbon controls are about cutting back the size of this coal pile, not about controlling people's weight.

France was 45% coal-fired electricity in 1975, but closed its last coal power plant in 2004. The technology we need to cut coal use and carbon emissions is obvious.

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…