Political Climate
Aug 03, 2014
Potential Economic Impacts of the EPA’s Stricter Ozone Standards

A new study by NERA Economic Consulting and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reveals that a new ozone regulation from the Obama Administration could cost $270 billion per year and place millions of jobs at risk. This would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public.

In December 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will likely propose a more stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, lowering the existing standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to as low as 60 ppb.

To date, the EPA has only identified one-third of the controls needed to meet the possible new standard; the other two-thirds must come from controls the EPA has not identified. NERA’s report looked at the types of controls needed to fill that unknown gap and found that they will be much more expensive. This is because they are likely to include the shutdown, scrappage or modification of power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles, off-road vehicles and even passenger cars. As a result, the negative impacts of a new NAAQS for ground-level ozone will reverberate throughout the entire economy. Total compliance costs could measure in the trillions of dollars, and barriers to energy production could severely limit economic growth and hinder the nation’s manufacturing comeback.

The study found that a stricter new ozone regulation could:

Reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040;

Result in 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040;

Cost the average U.S. household $1,570 per year in the form of lost consumption; and

Increase natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households across the country.

In brief, such a rule could place tremendous cost and compliance burdens on states and their resources. The study also found that the EPA has yet to adequately address two critical issues related to revising the existing ozone standard:

There are major gaps in data on compliance technologies and their costs in the EPAís most recent analysis. Only about one-third of the emissions reductions necessary to get to the low end of the standards the EPA is contemplating can be achieved with known controls.

This means that the agency has yet to identify what, if any, controls are available to achieve the majority of the necessary emissions reductions and adequately address what those controls might cost.
New oil and natural gas production could be significantly restricted in parts of the country classified as “nonattainment” areas, limiting supplies of critical energy resources and potentially driving up costs for manufacturers and households. The EPA has yet to address the potential impacts tighter ozone standards could have on energy production and costs.

The study considered the potential implications of energy curtailment by estimating the economic impacts if limits to new natural gas development were added to compliance costs. The study found that restrictions to new natural gas production from tighter ozone regulations, in combination with the costs to reduce emissions, could:

Reduce the present value of GDP by nearly $4.5 trillion through 2040, result in a loss of 4.3 million job equivalents per year and cost households $2,040 annually; and Increase industrial natural gas costs by an average of 52 percent and electricity costs by an average of 23 percent over what they would be if the ozone standard was unchanged.

Such cost impacts could crush the manufacturing comeback by removing our nation’s energy advantage. The NAM urges the EPA and the Obama Administration to abandon plans to revise and tighten the NAAQS for ground-level ozone. The current standard of 75 ppb the most stringent standard ever has not even been implemented yet, while emissions are as low as they have been in decades, and air quality continues to improve.

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The NAM makes this statement based on compliance costs measured by NERA Economic Consulting and White House Office of Management and Budget reports to Congress assessing the costs of regulations back to 1988.



Jul 22, 2014
Should you trust NOAA claims about May and June records?

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Last month was the hottest June since record keeping began in 1880, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday. It marked the third month in a row that global temperature reached a record high. According to the NOAA data, April and May were also global record-breakers. The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2014 was record high for the month at 16.22 degrees Celsius, or 0.72 degree Celsius above the 20th century average of 15.5 degrees Celsius,’ the NOAA said in its monthly climate report. “This surpasses the previous record, set in 2010, by 0.03 degrees Celsius.”

Nine of the ten hottest Junes on record have all occurred during the 21st century, including each of the past five years, the U.S. agency said.

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However as we have shown here, the warming is all in the questionable adjustments made to the data, with a major cooling of the past and allowance for UHI contamination in recent decades. The all time record highs and days over 90F tell us we have been in a cyclical pattern with 1930s as the warmest decade.

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NOAA and NASA (which uses data gathered by NOAA climate center in Asheville) has been commissioned to participate in special climate assessments to support the idealogical and political agenda of the government. From Fiscal Year (FY) 1993 to FY 2013 total US expenditures on climate change amounted to more than $165 Billion. More than $35 Billion is identified as climate science. The White House reported that in FY 2013 the US spent $22.5 Billion on climate change. About $2 Billion went to US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The principal function of the USGCRP is to provide to Congress a National Climate Assessment (NCA). The latest report uses global climate models, which are not validated, therefor speculative, to speculate about regional influences from global warming. (SEPP)

The National Climate Data Center and NASA climate group also control the data that is used to verify these models which is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. At the very least, their decisions and adjustments may be because they really believe in their models and work to find the warming they show - a form of confirmation bias.

Please note: This is not an indictment of all of NOAA where NWS forecasters do a yeoman’s job providing forecasts and warnings for public safety.

NCEP gathers real time data that is used to run the models. When we take the initial analyses that go into the models and compute monthly anomalies, we get very small departures from normal for the 1981 to 2010 base period on a monthly or year to date basis.

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The satellite data from RSS and UAH only available since 1979 also shows no warming for over a decade (two in the RSS data). It needs no adjustments that NOAA claims are required for station and ocean data.

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This government manipulation of data may be simply a follow up to the successful manipulation of other government data that has largely escaped heavy public scrutiny.

Over the last 12 months, the CPI has increased 2.1%. Real inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter. The BLS U6 measure, the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force is 12.1%.

CPI is used to adjust social security benefits and military pay and to a large degree as one factor in industry wages. if you are feeling you are falling behind, it is because the real costs of goods and services have risen more than any income or benefits you receive. That is why the GDP actually fell early this year - between the high cost of energy and food, the discretionary income for spending retail and in restaurants fell.

Unemployment fell to 6.1% according to the government but the real unemployment is much higher. Using the employment-population ratio, the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has been below 59 percent for more than four years in a row. That means that more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job.

The sad news is if NOAA keeps providing the government with tainted data to justify its EPA assault on our country’s only reliable energy sources, inflation will skyrocket and unemployment will follow.



Jul 18, 2014
EPA ban on wood stoves is freezing out rural America

Larry Bell

It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore. The EPA has recently banned the production and sale of 80% of America’s current wood-burning stoves, the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents. The agency’s stringent one-size-fits-all rules apply equally to heavily air-polluted cities and far cleaner plus typically colder off-grid wilderness areas such as large regions of Alaska and the American West.

While the EPA’s most recent regulations aren’t altogether new, their impacts will nonetheless be severe. Whereas restrictions had previously banned wood-burning stoves that didn’t limit fine airborne particulate emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) of air, the change will impose a maximum 12 μg/m3 limit. To put this amount in context, the EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 μg/m3 of particulates.

Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast to coast cannot meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.

The impacts of the EPA ruling will affect many families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey statistics, 2.4 million American housing units (12% of all homes) burned wood as their primary heating fuel, compared with 7% that depended upon fuel oil.

Local governments in some states have gone even further than the EPA, banning not only the sale of noncompliant stoves, but even their use as fireplaces. As a result, owners face fines for infractions. Puget Sound, Washington, is one such location. Montreal, Canada, proposes to eliminate all fireplaces within its city limits.

Only weeks after the EPA enacted its new stove rules, attorneys general of seven states sued the agency to crack down on wood-burning water heaters as well. The lawsuit was filed by Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, all predominantly Democrat states. Claiming that the new EPA regulations didn’t go far enough to decrease particle pollution levels, the plaintiffs cited agency estimates that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20% of wood-burning emissions by 2017. A related suit was filed by the environmental group EarthJustice.

Did EPA require a motivational incentive to tighten its restrictions? Sure, about as much as Br’er Rabbit needed to persuade Br’er Fox to throw him into the briar patch. This is but another example of EPA and other government agencies working with activist environmental groups to sue and settle on claims that afford leverage to enact new regulations which they lack statutory authority to otherwise accomplish.

“Sue and Settle” practices, sometimes referred to as “friendly lawsuits,” are cozy deals through which far-left radical environmental groups file lawsuits against federal agencies wherein court-ordered “consent decrees” are issued based upon a prearranged settlement agreement they collaboratively craft together in advance behind closed doors. Then, rather than allowing the entire process to play out, the agency being sued settles the lawsuit by agreeing to move forward with the requested action both they and the litigants want.

And who pays for this litigation? All too often we taxpayers are put on the hook for legal fees of both colluding parties. According to a 2011 GAO report, this amounted to millions of dollars awarded to environmental organizations for EPA litigations between 1995 and 2010. Three “Big Green” groups received 41% of this payback, with Earthjustice accounting for 30% ($4,655,425). Two other organizations with histories of lobbying for regulations EPA wants while also receiving agency fundIng are the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Sierra Club.

In addition, the Department of Justice forked over at least $43 million of our money defending the EPA in court between 1998 and 2010. This didn’t include money spent by the EPA for its legal costs in connection with those ripoffs, because the EPA doesn’t keep track of its attorneys’ time on a case-by-case basis.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has concluded that Sue and Settle rulemaking is responsible for many of EPA’s “most controversial, economically significant regulations that have plagued the business community for the past few years.” Included are regulations on power plants, refineries, mining operations, cement plants, chemical manufacturers, and a host of other industries. Such consent decree-based rulemaking enables EPA to argue to Congress: “The court made us do it.”

Directing special attention to these congressional end run practices, Louisiana Senator David Vitter, top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has launched an investigation. Last year he asked his Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to join with AG’s of 13 other states who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking all correspondence between EPA and a list of 80 environmental, labor union, and public interest organizations that have been party to litigation since the start of the Obama Administration.

Other concerned and impacted parties have little influence over such court procedures and decisions. While the environmental group is given a seat at the table, outsiders who are most impacted are excluded, with no opportunity to object to the settlements. No public notice about the settlement is released until the agreement is filed in court...after the damage has been done.

In a letter to Caldwell, Senator Vitter wrote: “The collusion between federal bureaucrats and the organizations entering consent agreements under a shroud of secrecy represents the antithesis of a transparent government, and your participation in the FOIA request will help Louisianans understand the process by which these settlements were reached.”

Fewer citizens would challenge the EPA’s regulatory determinations were it not for its lack of accountability and transparency in accomplishing through a renegade pattern of actions what they cannot achieve through democratic legislative processes.

A recent example sets unachievable CO2 emission limits for new power plants. As I reported in my January 14 column, a group within the EPA’s own Science Advisory Board (SAB) determined that the studies upon which that regulation was based had never been responsibly peer reviewed, and that there was no evidence that those limits can be accomplished using available technology.

Compared with huge consequences of the EPA’s regulatory war on coal, the fuel source that provides more than 40% of America’s electricity, a clamp-down on humble residential wood-burning stoves and future water heaters may seem to many people as a merely a trifling or inconsequential matter. That is, unless it happens to significantly affect your personal life.

As a Washington Times editorial emphasized, the ban is of great concern to many families in cold remote off-grid locations. It noted, for example, that “Alaska’s 663,000 square miles is mostly forestland, offering residents and abundant source of affordable firewood. When county officials floated a plan to regulate the burning of wood, residents were understandably inflamed.”

Quoting Representative Tammie Wilson speaking to the Associated Press, the Times reported: “Everyone wants clean air. We just want to make sure that we can also heat our homes.” Wilson continued: “Rather than fret over the EPA’s computer-model-based warning about the dangers of inhaling soot from wood smoke, residents have more pressing concerns on their minds as the immediate risk of freezing when the mercury plunges.”

And speaking of theoretical computer model-based warnings, where’s that global warming when we really need it?

See more HERE.

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Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director for the Heartland Institute, and one of the nation’s most respected and widely cited experts on air and water quality, climate change, and biotechnology, broke ground in revealing his comprehensive plan to reform the EPA in his remarks as a Keynote breakfast speaker at Heartland’s recent International Conference on Climate Change held in Las Vegas from July 7- 9.  Jay Lehr, Ph.D. introduced a legislative plan to replace the United States Environmental Protection Agency with a Committee of the Whole of the State Environmental Protection Agencies, utilizing a phased five-year transition period. See the detailed plan here



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