Thursday, July 30, 2015

Play it again Uncle Sam - climate action for the next president without Congressional approval

I was going to write about Clinton's initial climate plan and still will, but I got distracted with a plagiarism proposal I want to suggest. Much of her plan requires Congressional approval, and we all now how problematic that will be. What can be done without it?

I think the answer is a lot - just by doing more of what we're already doing, by plagiarizing Obama's Clean Power and making it stricter. More specifically, wait until the Clean Power Plan has cleared all its legal hurdles, and then set up the sequel.

It's not all the easy to find the guts of the CPP, but it's here (starting on page 8). A modified version of each state's predicted baseline carbon emission rate per MWh is established, and here (page 34837, assuming I've read it correctly) each plant has to meet that average rate or find a way to offset the excess, possibly through some state-established system. If all the above-average emission facilities have to get to average levels in some form, then the total emissions go down.

CPP tries not to be arbitrary, so making it tougher in a non-arbitrary way presents a challenge. OTOH, one factor in determining the predicted baseline rate is each state's future Renewable Portfolio Standard (see first link, page 15). If instead of using the individual RPS, the EPA applies the best-in-class RPS from a similarly-situated state, then that could significantly knock down the baseline average emission that plants would have to match.

Figuring out the best-in-class is somewhat flexible, but you could look at every state with a similar or worse level of existing percentage of renewables, take the one that has the highest RPS for the future, and determine that to be the best-in-class. This wouldn't force each state to match the toughest RPS, because they could find other ways to reduce carbon emissions.

This is my version of the "if ain't broke, do it some more" rule. Regardless, serious presidential candidates need to say what they will do on climate change if Congress doesn't cooperate with reality.


Russell Seitz said...

". Much of her plan requires Congressional approval, and we all now how problematic that will be. What can be done without it?

I think the answer is a lot"

Strict constructionist, isn't he ?

Gingerbaker said...

The Department of Energy, as part of the Executive branch, follows Presidential policy mandates and directives. The people who work in the Executive branch do so at the President's pleasure, not that of Congress.

And if the President really wanted to get down to brass tacks, he could declare U.S. energy policy a matter of National Security, and cut Congress out of the loop altogether.

Jeffrey Davis said...

"Strict constructionist, isn't he ?"

Don't pull our leg(s). Laws are usually rough cut roads that need to be paved with regulations. The Executive Branch writes the regulations.

You may be having a joke there, but the pearl clutching over Executive Branch actions over the last +6 years is blood pressure boosting.

John said...

The number of "serious presidential candidates," in terms of climate change issue, can be counted on a fraction of the digits of one hand. But even that miserable outcome allows "serious" to mean only "does not froth at the mouth while denying ACC."

On my lengthy list of "reasons why Obama should be called 'Obumma' " is his idea of sharing EPA authority with the states.

Currently there are 31 GOP governors with 33 state Houses and 36 state Senates controlled by the GOP.

The GOP in control at the state level is no more likely to lead to "cooperation with the reality" of climate change that will the GOP in control of the federal legislature. Anyone thinking the recent, successful suit brought by several of those states against the EPA rules is the end of legal challenges probably also thought congress would stop trying to kill "Obama Care" after 10-20 tries.

To anyone seriously serious about ACC this implies an electoral effort to not only electing a "serious presidential candidate" (IF one really exists) but going well beyond to regain legislative majorities at the federal and state levels.

John Puma

Russell Seitz said...

Regular defender and upholder, isn't he?

Fernando Leanme said...

I suppose the congress could vote the EPA a budget to pay the minimum wage to one single official, and declare the other employees are surplus. Or they could go the other way and start shouting "Hail Cesar" and recognize the imperial presidency.

snarkrates said...

Imperial Presidency, my sweet ass! Dude, he's still not caught up to Bush in terms of executive orders, and arguably, he is merely executing what is already in legislation Congress already passed (e.g. Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act...)

KAP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KAP said...

The problem with RPS is that different states have different resources. Kansas has a lot of wind; Arizona has a lot of solar; Ohio has neither. So it's really wrongheaded to require every state to be as good as Kansas for wind, and as good as Arizona for solar. Ain't happening.

The problem with the CPP is that it values different zero-carbon sources differently. Wind and solar are valued at 100% of production; nuclear at just 6% of production; and hydro at zero. Where's the logic in that? (Answer: CPP isn't based on logic. It's based on politics. Some of which makes sense, and some of which doesn't.) It's likely that those inequities will not survive court challenges, but one can never really predict these things.

Fernando Leanme said...

If the Bush "imperial presidency" tradition is picked up by Obama (it has), and then it is expanded upon by a third president (as is being proposed), then one has to conclude the ruling elites have condoned it, and the imperial presidency is here to stay. If we couple this to the permanency in power of political dinasties, and the disconnect from popular opinion which drives rule making and legislation, which is intended to satisfy said ruling elites, then we can declare the beginning of the end of the republic.

I saw the destruction of a society with a weak democracy (Venezuela), by a charismatic leader who undermined every democratic institution following a calculated script. What emerged is a monstrosity, corrupt, venal, downright evil.

So we are seeing the emergence of an Orwellian world, on the one side communists who understand their system doesn't work, can't be sold, but use stealth methods to capture countries and destroy them, or build corrupt neofascist rule like in China, Vietnam, and soon we will see in Cuba. On the other hand the old democracies are slowly eroding and becoming more like Ancient Rome during the days when the Republic died and the rule of the Cesars emerged.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

FL: If the Bush "imperial presidency" tradition is picked up by Obama (it has), and then it is expanded upon by a third president (as is being proposed), then one has to conclude the ruling elites have condoned it, and the imperial presidency is here to stay.

BPL: One especially has to conclude that if one is beset by paranoid ideation.

Brian said...

KAP: well, the RPS standard of a similarly-situated state could be defined broadly or narrowly. And meeting Kansas RPS doesn't mean meeting its wind percentage, you can do it with solar instead. Nothing is perfect, the question is it good enough.

States whining that they'll find renewables harder than other states shouldn't get much sympathy. They just need to try harder.

And BTW, got a cite for your statements about nuclear and hydro? For one thing I'll bet that instream hydro is counted.

As for the breathless ZOMG we're on the brink of communism, give it a break. Especially since I've been hearing the same thing for the last 40 years when my grandfather warned me that if Carter was elected, the US would go commie before 1980.