EPA should ignore anti-coal activists at listening sessions

Cuyahoga on the Kam River in Thunder Bay loading coal
Cuyahoga on the Kam River in Thunder Bay loading coal
CP Rail hauling coal... is a train the way for the Ring of Fire or would a road make more sense?
CP Rail hauling coal.

By Dr. Howard Hayden and Tom Harris

OTTAWA – DISCUSSION – On January 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is holding three public listening sessions on the proposed repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The sessions will be held on February 21 in Kansas City, February 28 in San Francisco, and March 27 in Gillette, Wyoming.

If the listening sessions are anything like the EPA’s public hearing on the CPP on November 28 – 29 in Charleston, West Virginia, then we can expect anti-coal activists to be out in force. After all, coal-fired power plants are a major emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), which alarmists blame for causing climate change.  CO2 is the only gas restricted under the CPP.

All climate scientists know that the CPP would have an utterly negligible effect on climate, even in the more extreme scenarios in climate models.  Obama-era EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy repeatedly admitted this before Congressional hearings, but testified on September 18, 2013, that CPP is worthwhile because it “is part of an overall strategy that is positioning the U.S. for leadership in an international discussion because climate change requires a global effort.”  It’s all about polishing our image.

Setting a good example would make sense if it were known that developing nations, especially major CO2 emitters China and India, were likely to follow our lead and that a man-made climate crisis was imminent.  Neither is true.

For example, developing countries have made it clear that they have no intention of limiting their development for ‘climate protection’ purposes. They understand that they need to build coal-fired plants to meet their growing power needs. The New York Times reported (“As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants,” July 1, 2017):

“Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin…Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.”

The June 16, 2017, report, “Energizing India,” by National Institute for Transforming India (NTTI) and the Institute of Energy Economic Japan (IEEJ) shows that coal is forecast to rise from its current (2012) 46% of India’s total energy mix to 50% in 2047 in a Business as Usual scenario. Even if the use of renewables in India quadruples (the “ambitious” scenario), coal is still forecast to account for 42% of India’s energy mix in 2047.

“India would like to use its abundant coal reserves as it provides a cheap source of energy and ensures energy security as well,” the authors of the NTTI/IEEJ report state.

As to impending climate disaster, many scientists question CO2’s role in climate change.   The climate models on which climate change concerns are based consistently predict far greater temperature rises than are actually observed.  They are ‘tuned’ to give the results desired for political purposes, as University of Delaware climatology professor Dr. David Legates told the November 9 America First Energy Conference, in Houston, Texas.  Legates concluded, “This is not science!”

Many scientists appear to share his point of view. On January 10, Breitbart News Network reported that “Author Kenneth Richard found that during the course of the year 2017, at least 485 scientific papers were published that in some way questioned the supposed consensus regarding the perils of human CO2 emissions or the efficacy of climate models to predict the future.”

Furthermore, the benefits of increasing CO2 levels are obvious. After all, CO2 is plant food. Dr. Craig Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change told the America First Energy Conference, “the whole of the terrestrial biosphere is reaping incredible benefits from ~40% increase in atmospheric CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

American anti-coal activists can complain all they want about the expected withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan, but, in the real world, the world in which people must heat and cool their homes, cook their food, and run their schools, hospitals, and factories, coal is invaluable. And the climate will continue to change as it always has, independent of what we do.

Howard Hayden, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Connecticut, and publisher and editor of The Energy Advocate, a monthly newsletter promoting energy and technology (http://www.EnergyAdvo­cate.com). Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

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