Monday, May 14, 2007

Full circle. . .

Anonymouse 6:49 in the comments points to an article in today's Washington Post Federal Loans for Coal Plants Clash With Carbon Cuts which describes how low interest federal loans to rural electric coops are being used to build coal plants. The Rural Electrification program was a key New Deal (1930s, FDR) initiative that brought a progress and prosperity to farmers and others who lived in isolated areas. Essentially it was a subsidy for electrification where low density made it unprofitable or less profitable. Given the costs of transmission, these are the places where (somewhat) off net power makes the most sense.

Of course, many of these electrical coops are now at the urban fringe, and a lot of the new capacity is for anything but farmers and miners and all around hermits who live in cabins with candles, and as the every perspicuous mouse points out (our mice are smarter than your psychologists) are very heavy into coal

...which, of course, is why renewable energy has a hard time competing with fossil fuel and nuclear power plants (or nukyaler, to those from Texas)
But Eli digresses. Cast your minds back to yesteryear (7/2006) and the great Is Pat Michaels Virginia State Climatologist or Who Appointed Pat Debate. That was touched off when
RealClimate received a copy of a letter from the General Manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA, an energy cooperative in Colorado), Stanley R. Lewandowski (Jr), to other utilities (G&T's in the jargon) in the US discussing fundraising and tactics for a new disinformation campaign on climate change
The letter starts out
Most of the electrical power furnished by rural electric cooperatives is produced by coal fired power plants. That will also be true for the foreseeable future. This then raises a concern about all of the publicity on global warming and costly measures being advocated to control CO2 emissions
They sign on to the then popular there is no such thing as global warming
Al Gore and others state that the scientific community has reached consensus and that the debate is over. That is simply not true. Disputing this contention are climatologists, meteorologists and astrophysicists like Richard Lindzen, William Gray, Fred Singer, Roy Spencer, Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling and Craig Idso and the 17,000 signatories to Dr. Arthur Robinson's Petition Project who said of the Kyoto Accord: "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will in the foreseeable futher cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate.
but of greatest interest wrt [(c) Stoat] the Washington Post article was the statement towards the end of the letter
The lobbying effort in the political arena will be done by the professionals at the NRECA (National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association [(c) anti-Stoat].
and the other action item was, btw
We decided to support Dr. Patrick Michaels. ... In February of this year, IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr. Michaels. In addition, we have contacted all the G&T's in the United States ... and obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr. Michaels' group. We will be following up the remaining G&T's over the next several weeks.
Which, of course, leaves open the question as to what they did when Pat jumped ship. Is the money now supporting retirees in Boulder and other resort towns (yes'm very unfair, but there are strong links, both geographic and other). Eli also wonders how much those additional contributions and pledges amounted to.

But as importantly, the penultimate paragraph outlines the strategies for the evil day (defined as release of the AR4 WGIII report)
Realizing that this issue is not going to go away, the next best solution in our opinion is for any carbon reduction to be voluntary and let technological advances solve the issue, if it even exists. The least desirable would be a carbon tax or a mandatory cap and trade program. It this occurs the following criteria should be used (one that is supported by the administration and some members of Congress)

1. China and India must be included
2. All emitters of Co2 must be included in a program (not just power plants)
3. The US economy must not be damaged
Hmm. . a strident call for inaction were there ever one


James Aach said...

With your bunny-centered interest in global climate and energy issues, I'm guessing you might find my book "Rad Decision" of passing interest. No cost for the online version at Reviews are in the homepage comments, and it's also been endorsed by Stewart Brand, founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog". The original title was "Rad Hare Day".

Steve Bloom said...

Pat jumped ship, meaning...?

Anonymous said...

Meaning he is hedging his bets.

Paul Higgins said...

“It this occurs the following criteria should be used (one that is supported by the administration and some members of Congress)

1. China and India must be included
2. All emitters of Co2 must be included in a program (not just power plants)
3. The US economy must not be damaged”

Actually, these three criteria aren't that tough to meet.

A price on carbon would end the economically harmful subsidy to pollute that emitters receive by being able to treat the atmosphere like a free sewer.

Conditional responses (we do more if you cooperate we do less if you don't) and trade penalties against countries that subsidize their industries' climate pollution would include China and India, make US efforts more effective, and make meaningful climate policies more politically feasible.

Including all net emitters of CO2 makes sense and isn't that hard to do with either a cap and trade or pollution fee (e.g,. carbon tax) approach.

I wrote about the first two on For the problem of uncooperative nations see this post For the economic benefits of reducing pollution subsidies, see my comment to Jim Clarke in this post

EliRabett said...

Watch the moving Pat

Look this new UN report comes out and it says human beings are warming the surface temperature. To me that is like a breathless announcement that there is gambling in Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

...or that there is prostitution in Las Vegas.

Steve Bloom said...

I suspect it's quite clear to the coal crowd, and indeed it serves their interests in the most effective manner, that Pat maintains a sort of minimim credible skeptical position on AGW that of necessity must shift over time. IMHO much if not most of the present corporate posturing should be seen in the same light.