Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hansen Wins

About four years ago, James Hansen wrote a letter

A year ago, [ER-2008] I wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other leaders. The reason is this -coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.
 Today, from the Washington Post
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions  from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.

The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt. 
 From the New York Times
According to people briefed by the Environmental Protection Agency, all existing plants — including the 300 or so coal-fired power plants that now release the highest level of these emissions and yet-to-be-built plants that have already received E.P.A. permits — will be grandfathered in at current levels, meaning they are exempt from the new proposed rule. . . .
The White House official explained that the goal of the rule is to hasten the introduction of carbon controls on new coal-fired power plants, while not causing immediate economic harm from the shutdown of existing plants. The rule is certain to face stiff challenges in Congress and the courts. 


Nick Barnes said...

Pounds per megawatt? How many things are wrong with that unit?

John said...

However, so as not to make us too uncontrollably ecstatic, Obama made clear he will "issue a memo to federal agencies directing them to make ... a 'top priority' in permit decisions" that part of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast.

Is that a "stay in jail" card for Hansen?


John Puma

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Coal is the greatest threat, except if you're in China, in which case the coal cools the atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

"Coal is the greatest threat, except if you're in China, in which case the coal cools the atmosphere." but makes it unbreathable. Especially in Beijing in summer when you have a nice combination of car pollution, coal pollution, sand storms and heat.
If someone could find for me the Onion video with clean coal snacks ...


Thomas said...

Grandfathering has to be one of the worst practices, both from an economic and an environmental perspective. This rule may prevent new coal plats, but it also prolong the lifetime of old, inefficient plants that are profitable only because they operate under much more relaxed environmental rules than anything you can build today.


We look forward to DrJayCadburyPhd's forthcoming Climate Depot article on the energy cost of converting pounds per megawatt into dynes per new pence.

Aaron said...

The time to celebrate is after we have seen declines in atmospheric CO2, have allowed for lags in the climate system, and are reasonably sure that we have dodged the carbon feedback (clathrate) issues.

We are not going to make real progress until we deal with coal in China and Russia.

I am not trying to rain on a parade. I love this, but I am a realist who worked on the 1970 CAA, the 1990 CAA. Both times, we got language that did not end up making as much difference as we had hoped. Enforcement policy makes a big difference, and I do not see the political will for stern enforcement.

Keep writing those letters.

Aaron said...

Here is the proposed rule: http://epa.gov/carbonpollutionstandard/pdfs/20120327proposal.pdf

Read and comment! They will!

Anonymous said...

Gosh aren't those agency rule-making processes tedious, bureaucratic, technical, scientific, and just plain dull. And sure regs are only as good as the agency legal divisions that enforce them.

Nevertheless, while the rest of the world slings mud endlessly debating the big picture, those darn bureacrats, are quietly doing their jobs, and actually making a difference.

CONGRATULATIONS to all the air quality folks at US EPA and Administrator Jackson: You are true American patriots and planetary citizens. LOVE YA!

- sloop

Brian said...

I argued a while back that Clean Air Act regulation of GHGs would be an interative process, so the initial weak stuff would get better:


I anticipated it would happen through litigation by enviros, but this is even better.

Thomas: re grandfathering, this is where science meets political science. Better political science solutions are welcome if you can come up with them, though.

Anonymous said...

"coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet."

Unfettered hysteria, gotta love it.

Thanx Jim for saving all life on the planet. Now go and take your meds.

Johnnie Walker

Anonymous said...

D. Robinson

Stupid Question - older sub-critical coal plants are a dirty mess.

Goes without saying that gas is better. But wouldn't you guys prefer a power company in the coal states to be allowed to build a new more efficient, cleaner coal plant than leave the old ones running that much longer? Seems like a dis-incentive to improve.