J.C. Moore Online
Current events from a science perspective.

Carbon Fee and Dividend: How Much Fuel Makes a Ton of Carbon Dioxide?

     Posted on Mon ,11/01/2016 by J.C. Moore

In Paris, 196 countries agreed to develop plans to reduce their carbon emissions in such a way as to keep global warming below 1.5°C.  Although each country will develop its own plan,  the best plan for the US, and many other countries, would be a carbon fee and dividend system such as that developed by the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), which has broad bipartisan support.  CCL’s proposal would place a fee on carbon at the source, and market forces would then encourage reduced emissions, energy conservation and investments in renewable energy.  The fee collected is not a tax as it would be distributed equally to every household as a monthly energy dividend.

CO2 equivalent emissions: CCL’s legislative proposal would set an initial fee on carbon at $15 per ton of CO2 emission or CO2 equivalent emissions with the fee increasing by $10 each year until the US emissions drop to 1990 levels. The main contributors to CO2 are combustion of coal, natural gas, and gasoline, with minor equivalent emissions coming from other industrial chemicals.  A little chemistry allows us to calculate the tons of CO2 that a ton of each fuel produces.

Coal: It is hard to calculate coal’s contribution exactly as it has from 65% to 95% carbon and the rest is impurities. Those include mercury, cadmium, lead, manganese, selenium, sulfur, nitrogen, and some radioactive elements. Much of the environmental damage and many cases of lung disease can be traced to the impurities and to the mining of coal. For calculation purposes we will assume that coal is all carbon as graphite, but keep in mind that each source of coal is different.

The chemically equation for the reaction of carbon with oxygen is:

co22

 

 

 

 

Carbon       +     Oxygen    =>        Carbon Dioxide

The mass of each atom or molecule in atomic mass units (MU) is written on the atom. The equation says that 12 mass units of carbon react with 32 mass units of oxygen to produce 44 mass units of carbon dioxide. The equation is like a recipe and once you establish the basic relationship, it can be scaled up to tons quite easily, i.e. :

C            +          O2               =>                 CO2

12 MU Carbon + 32 MU Oxygen  =>   44 MU Carbon Dioxide    – or –

12 Tons Carbon + 32 Tons Oxygen    =>  44 Tons Carbon Dioxide

Thus, each ton of carbon produces 3.6 tons of carbon dioxide.

Natural gas: Natural gas is composed mostly of methane, CH4 , with small impurities of other hydrocarbon gases. Following the method above:

Rx

 

 

 

 

 

CH4            +         2O2                =>                 CO2                  +          2H2O

16 MU Methane + 64 MU Oxygen   =>  44 MU Carbon Dioxide  +36 MU of Water

16 Tons Methane + 64 Tons Oxygen    =>   44 tons Carbon Dioxide  +36 tons of Water

Each ton of methane produces 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide.

Gasoline: Gasoline is composed of many volatile liquid compounds, but it can best be represented as octane, which has eight carbon atoms and 18 hydrogen atoms, C8H18. (The model for Octane is large so here we will just work from the equation. )

C8H18     +         25/2 O2   =>        8CO2        +         9 H2O

114 AMU  Octane +   Oxygen  =>  352 AMU  Carbon Dioxide  +   Water

114 Tons Octane +   Oxygen  =>  44 tons Carbon Dioxide  +  Water

Each ton of octane produces 3.1 tons of carbon dioxide.

Note: This means that the initial carbon fee on fossil fuels would be around $40-$50 per ton of fuel. This would pay part of the external costs of using the fuel as well as encourage conservation and a shift to renewable energy. One gallon of gasoline is about 7 pounds and it produces about 21 pounds of CO2. That means that 95 gallons of gasoline will produce 1 ton of carbon dioxide. The $15 per ton carbon fee would increase the cost of 95 gallons of gas from about $200 to about $215, or about 7%.

Heat of Combustion: Each fuel releases a different amount of energy when burned, measured in kilojoules  of energy per  mole of fuel burned. Those are listed below along with another important quantity, the amount of heat released per mole of carbon dioxide released.

Fuel

 

 

 

 

Note that Methane releases more than twice as much energy as coal for each mole of carbon dioxide produced. This was the impetus to convert coal-fired power plants to natural gas-fired plants. That would help in the short term as natural gas has fewer impurities and produces more energy per mole of CO2 released.  However, there is another factor to be considered which is the Global Warming Potential of each greenhouse gas.

Global Warming Potential (GWP):   The amount that each greenhouse gas contributes to global warming depends upon its concentration in the atmosphere, it’s effectiveness at trapping heat, and its lifetime in the atmosphere. The focus is on carbon dioxide as it is the greenhouse gas whose concentration has increased the most by burning fossil fuels. Methane is very efficient at trapping heat and has a GWP 28 times that of CO2. Though methane’s concentration is low, it has more than doubled since pre-industrial times. There are other greenhouse gases which are more effective at trapping heat and have longer lifetimes, such as N2O, but their contributions are small because they have such low concentrations. Below is a table comparing those. Source.

co2 table

 

 

 

 

Although converting coal-fired power plants to natural gas might be advantageous in the short term, we should be concerned about methane’s volatile prices, the link between fracking and earthquakes, and its GWP. Large amounts of methane are lost from fracking operations, leaking gas wells, and pipeline leaks.  If even 4% of the methane produced is lost to leaks, then any advantage of converting to methane will be lost.  The EPA has taken steps to reduce methane loss to the air, but is a very difficult thing to measure. One study found that infrastructure leaks in the Boston area accounted for about 2.6% of the methane transmitted. And methane, when burned, still ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere. You can see from the table that the amount of methane in the air is growing, and rather than count on it for the future, we should focus on converting to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible.

(C) 2016  –  J.C. Moore

Note: Here is a model of octane for the curious:

octane

 

Please Nominate Your Candidates for the 2015 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

     Posted on Sat ,02/01/2016 by J.C. Moore

It is important that we keep in mind those who have most affected the environment by words or action.  Each year, this site Earthrise2takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Environmental Hall of Shame. Please send  your nominations  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact the Author”   link or put it in the comment section . If you would, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until January 31st, 2016. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll to determine the winner in each category.   You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site

Past years winners and their awards were:

Hall of Fame Winners – Award

2014       Pope Francis  – for his Protect Creation efforts.  – A strong agreement from the Paris climate conference.

2013       Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org – Many new members so subscribe to his  weekly newsletter .

2012       President Barack Obama – A little coöperation from Congress, so please write your Representatives.

2011        James Hansen – A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby 

2010        RealClimate.org  – A recommendation from this site. ( Priceless)

2009       Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger – A Subscription to Science News.

Hall of Shame 

2014    Freedom Industries ( Gary Southern ) –  A prison cell with drinking water from the Elk River he polluted.

2013      The Koch Bothers -A boycott of their products: less money, less lobbying.

2012       Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – An IRS investigation of their of their tax-exempt status.

2011        Halliburton (Cheney) –  A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

2010        Koch Brothers – A petition to the Wizard of Oz for  the grant of a social conscience.

2009       SpaceGuy,  Newsvine Blogger – The movie Wall-E,  representing his view of the future of Earth.

 

(C) 2015  J.C. Moore

James Taylor: EDF’s Top 10 Global Warming Lies – Or Not

     Posted on Sun ,06/12/2015 by J.C. Moore

 

James Taylor has published an opinion piece in Forbes about the Top 10 Global Warming Lies put forward by “climate edfalarmists”. The climate alarmists are the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as they recently sent out a mailer, “10 Global Warming Effects That May Shock You,”. The EDF’s  positions sound very much like the things you read in reputable news sources and peer-reviewed science articles, so it is hard to see them as lies. According to a search of Google Scholar, James M. Taylor has not published any research in peer-reviewed journals, but he has published numerous articles with the Heartland Institute. As one Forbes reader commented, “If you take the time to check Taylor’s linked references, you’ll find they are to his own articles, debunked papers, or to papers that don’t even support his conclusion or statement. It’s all smoke and mirrors!”

Smoke certainly. James Taylor once wrote articles for the Heartland Institute claiming that smoking and secondhand smoke were harmless. He has now turned his talents to writing articles that deny the effects of global warming. His work earned Forbes third place in the 2011 Environmental Hall of Shame contest. The award went to: ”Forbes Magazine (James Taylor) for a ridiculously misleading article, New NASA data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism, that described climate scientists as “alarmist” 15 times. Award: A copy of the book Ethics And Journalism and a complete ban on ever using the words ‘alarmist’ again.”

Apparently neither he nor the Forbes’ editors paid much attention to the book on ethics, or the ban on using the word “alarmist” . This article uses the word “alarmist” more times than you would care to count. Forbes does now require that Mr. Taylor put a disclaimer on his articles saying that they are his own opinion. James Taylor is a lawyer and his client is the Heartland Institute and the fossil fuel companies they represent. His job is not to enlighten you, but to cause doubt about whether his client is guilty. Scientists publish their work in peer-reviewed journals along with the data that backs up their conclusions. If Mr. Taylor thinks they make mistakes, it is up to him to provide evidence that refutes their work. However, he does not do that as he has little  evidence. Links in his article take you to other articles he has written which sometimes have a few references to blog sites or occasionally an article in a magazine which has not been peer-reviewed for its accuracy.  As one Forbes reader commented,  “This paid propaganda brought to you by the donors to the Heartburn Institute. Enjoy it with a pack of cigarettes.”

To avoid confusion, I have listed what Mr. Taylor calls EDF’s Alarmist Assertions. This is followed by Mr. Taylor’s attempt to discount the EDF’s assertion, which is labeled Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal . This is then followed by – Or Not which compares Mr. Taylor’s rebuttals  to reliable sources and peer-reviewed literature. It may take two packs for you to get through all this – or, you may just jump to the topics that interest you.

Alarmist Assertion #1 “Bats Drop from the Sky – In 2014, a scorching summer heat wave caused more than 100,000 bats to literally drop dead and fall from the sky in Queensland, Australia.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal: Objective science proves extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and droughts have become less frequent and less severe as a result of the Earth’s recent modest warming.  … Global warming alarmists’ preferred electricity source – wind power – kills nearly 1 million bats every year (to say nothing of the more than 500,000 birds killed every year) in the United States alone.

– Or Not: Bat experts have noted that bats are very sensitive to high temperatures and Australia had its hottest summer on record in 2014. Research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society shows that global warming was responsible for making 14 natural disasters more extreme, including the Australian heat wave. His claim that that wind turbines kills more than 1 million bats every year is irrelevant and not supported by reliable research. His reference leads to a previous article he has written which referenced a self-published magazine article whose author came up with that number by using estimates from unpublished sources. Try following his references and see where they lead.

Alarmist Assertion #2  “Lyme Disease Spreads” – Warmer temperatures are contributing to the range expansion and severity of tick-borne Lyme disease.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal: Lyme Disease is much more common in northern, cooler regions of the United States than in southern, warmer regions…. Any attempts to claim global warming will cause a few more Lyme Disease deaths must be weighed against the 36,000 Americans who are killed by the flu each year. The U.S. National Institutes of Health have documented how influenza is aided and abetted by cold climate.

– Or Not:  This  Scientific American article describes how the vectors for Lyme disease are growing in the northern regions of North America and declining in the South – more evidence for climate change. The flu comment is just a red herring as flu is a communicable illness spread from person-to-person when cold weather brings more people in contact.

Alarmist Assertion #3 “National Security Threatened – The impacts of climate change are expected to act as a ‘threat multiplier’ in many of the world’s most unstable regions, exacerbating droughts and other natural disasters as well as leading to food, water and other resource shortages that may spur mass migrations.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal: The alarmists’ asserted national security threat depends on assertions that (1) global warming is causing a reduction in food and water supplies and (2) migrations of people to places with more food and water will increase risks of military conflict.

– Or Not:  The Department of Defense’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap  explains how our military leaders plan to address the reality of global warming.  CIA Director John Brennan offered a  candid assessment of the security issues:

Last year was the warmest on record, and this year is on track to be even warmer. Extreme weather, along with public policies affecting food and water supplies, can worsen or create humanitarian crises. Of the most immediate concern, sharply reduced crop yields in multiple places simultaneously could trigger a shock in food prices with devastating effect, especially in already fragile regions such as Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

 A recent New York Times article explains that the drought caused by global warming was a major factor in triggering the Syrian civil war.

 Alarmist Assertion #4 “Sea Levels Rising – Warmer temperatures are causing glaciers and polar ice sheets to melt, increasing the amount of water in the world’s seas and oceans.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal: The pace of sea level rise remained relatively constant throughout the 20th century, even as global temperatures gradually rose. Also, the alarmist assertion that polar ice sheets are melting is simply false. Although alarmists frequently point to a modest recent shrinkage in the Arctic ice sheet, that decline has been completely offset by ice sheet expansion in the Antarctic. Cumulatively, polar ice sheets have not declined at all since NASA satellite instruments began precisely measuring them 35 years ago.

– Or Not: Studies have confirmed that more than 90% of the world’s glaciers are retreating and that Glacier National Park may become ice free in this century. Alsonote that Mr. Taylor does not claim that the sea levels have not risen, but that it is the pace of the sea level rise has remained constant,( i.e, the sea levels are most surely rising). The only reasonable explanations for this sea level rise are that the oceans are getting warmer and expanding – and that glaciers are melting and adding more water to the oceans.

Both the Antarctic and the Arctic are losing substantial amounts of ice. (See  #10 for an explanation about the Antarctic ice. ) As shown in the satellite pictures below,  the Arctic ice extent has declined about 35% in the last 30 years. You might wonder why Mr. Taylor would distort data which can be so easily checked . Apparently Forbes editors do not check such things.

Current Sea Ice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alarmist Assertion #5  “Allergies Worsen – Allergy sufferers beware: Climate change could cause pollen counts to double in the next 30 years. The warming temperatures cause advancing weed growth, a bane for allergy sufferers.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:  Pollen is a product and mechanism of plant reproduction and growth. Indeed, NASA satellite instruments have documented a spectacular greening of the Earth, with foliage gains most prevalent in previously arid, semi-desert regions.

– Or Not: Pollen producing weeds such as ragweed are experiencing longer growing seasons and extending their ranges further northward. This is further evidence of climate change. Keep your antihistamines handy.

 Alarmist Assertion #6 “Beetles Destroy Iconic Western Forests – Climate change has sent tree-killing beetles called mountain pine beetles into overdrive. Under normal conditions those beetles reproduce just once annually, but the warming climate has allowed them to churn out an extra generation of new bugs each year.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:  Alarmists claim warmer winters are causing an increase in pine beetle populations. This assertion is thoroughly debunked by objective, real-world data.

– Or Not: The extra generation of bark beetles each season has caused an exponential increase in their population causing a plague of bark beetles that in the last quarter-century has killed more than 30 billion pine and spruce trees from Alaska to New Mexico. Perhaps Mr. Taylor can explain why the plague of beetles started about the time winter temperatures began increasing in their range.

Alarmist Assertion #7 “Canada: The New America – ‘Lusher’ vegetation growth typically associated with the United States is now becoming more common in Canada, scientists reported in a 2012 Nature Climate Change study.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:  Only global warming alarmists would claim that lusher vegetation and more abundant plant life is a bad thing.

– Or Not: Climate scientists point to this as further evidence that Canada’s climate is changing in response to global warming. It may be a bad thing for Canada, as much of the growth may be from invasive species.

Alarmist Assertion #8  “Economic Consequences – The costs associated with climate change rise along with the temperatures. Severe storms and floods combined with agricultural losses cause billions of dollars in damages, and money is needed to treat and control the spread of disease”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:  Severe storms, floods and agricultural losses may cost a great deal of money, but such extreme weather events – and their resulting costs – are dramatically declining as the Earth modestly warms.

– Or Not: Mr. Taylor needs to check with the large secondary insurance company Munich Re, which  has a department which studies insurance losses from natural catastrophes. Their graph below shows that while losses from geophysical natural catastrophes ( in red ) have remained relatively constant  over the past 35 years – the climate related catastrophes have increased about 2 1/2 times. Coincidence?

Permission Courtesy of Munich Re.

Permission Courtesy of Munich Re.

Alarmist Assertion #9 “Infectious Diseases Thrive – The World Health Organization reports that outbreaks of new or resurgent diseases are on the rise and in more disparate countries than ever before, including tropical illnesses in once cold climates.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:   For example, DDT had all but eliminated malaria in the United States and on the global stage during the mid-20th century. However, environmental activists championed false environmental accusations against DDT and dramatically reduced use of the life-saving mosquito killer throughout much of the world.

– Or Not: The World Health Organization reports that, “though global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. ” Who should you believe, the World Health Organization or Mr.  Taylor? He claims that the real problem is that we are not using DDT anymore, but he is apparently not aware that insects built up a tolerance to it. Since he was quite concerned in #1 about wind turbines killing bats and birds, should he not be concerned that DDT almost wiped out many species of birds, including Eagles in North America?

Alarmist Assertion #10  “Shrinking Glaciers – In 2013, an iceberg larger than the city of Chicago broke off the Pine Island Glacier, the most important glacier of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. And at Montana’s Glacier National Park glaciers have gone from 150 to just 35 over the past century.”

Mr. Taylor’s Rebuttal:  Calling attention to anecdotal incidents of icebergs breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet, while deliberately ignoring the overall growth of the Antarctic ice sheet, is a misleading and favorite tactic of global warming alarmists.

– Or Not:  There are two processes occurring in Antarctica. The warmer oceans around Antarctica are causing more snow to fall on the mountains in East Antarctica, so the glaciers there are growing. The warmer oceans are also eroding the ice sheets in West

Antarctic ice mass from GRACE satellite data.

Antarctic ice mass from GRACE satellite data.

Antarctica, causing ice loss and huge icebergs to break off.  The GRACE satellite data at the right shows that overall the mass of ice in Antarctica is declining.The extent (or area) of the Antarctic ice is irrelevant as the area of thin ice sheets grow and shrink with the seasons and the weather.

If glaciers are not melting and the oceans are not warming, then Mr. Taylor needs to explain what is causing the sea levels to rise.

 

 

Paris: Mr. Taylor uses a word “alarmist” as a pejorative to discount what the scientists are saying, but it is one of the few things he has right. Climate scientists are very alarmed that the world is on a path to end civilization as we know it by 2100, and that he, Forbes, the Wall  Street Journal, Investor Business Daily, and our Congress is in denial. Here is what will happen to the world if we do not listen to the scientists and take binding action at the Paris Climate Conference. The graph below charts three paths, no action on carbon emissions, current commitments in red, and the path we need to be on if the world as we know it is to survive. Which path would you choose?Temp paths

 

 

 

 

(c) 2015   –  J.C. Moore

Sue the EPA over Clean Power Plan? The Public Does Not Support It

     Posted on Thu ,05/11/2015 by J.C. Moore

The leaders of the Republican Party in 26 states plan to sue the EPA to stop the Clean Power Plan. Those same leaders often justify what they want to do by claiming it is what the people want. But in this case, they are doing more what the fossil fuel companies want. The public in 23 of the states does not support the lawsuits, as in the chart below.

00support

The governors and attorney generals of the states want to make a name for themselves as “conservatives”, but it is a losing proposition for a number of reasons. The lawsuits do not actually represent a conservative position, as the EPA’s plan will lead to a shift to renewable energy which will keep billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In that respect, the EPA has the more conservative position.

The reason often given for the lawsuits is saving money on energy, but the politicians seem more interested in campaign money than saving money for their citizens. The EPA’s plan may lead to increased electricity costs in the present, but will lead to lower electric rates in the future. Coal and transportation prices are certain to increase in the future while the cost of renewable energy is falling. It costs upfront to build wind turbines and solar installations but, once they are in place, they are expected to function for 30 years or longer without any need for fuel.

It will cost the states lots of money for the lawsuits, and their chances successes is slim.   And, it will likely harm a number of citizens of the states if the lawsuit succeeds. There are many coal burning power plants in the US which operate without scrubbers to remove particulates, because coal is cheap and  scrubbers are expensive. The EPA projects the Clean Power Plan’s  proposed guidelines for particulates alone could  prevent up to 3,600 deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days per year. As a result, for every dollar Americans spend on the Clean Power Plan, we will gain up to $4 worth of health benefits.

So in terms of future energy costs, environmental benefits, and health benefits the EPA Clean Power Plan is a winner for the citizens. Perhaps the Republican Attorney Generals clamoring to sue the EPA should reconsider.

(c) 2015 J.C. Moore

 

Newsflash: The Earth’s Temperature Is Still Going up

     Posted on Wed ,04/11/2015 by J.C. Moore

Conservative politicians and columnists like to say,”The Earth’s temperature hasn’t gone up since 1998″. That is certainly wrong, and creates doubts about them actually being “conservative”. Just a few weeks ago my Congressman said in a letter, “The Earth’s temperature hasn’t gone up since 1997”, stretching it a bit. That’s his excuse for not supporting action on climate change.

That untruth about the Earth’s temperature was popularized by George Will when he used it to attack John McCain during the 10warmest2008 election. George Will was apparently upset that a conservative Republican was recommending action on global warming. When I contacted George Will for an explanation, he said that 1998 was the warmest year on record and no year since had been hotter. Actually 2005 was, destroying his argument. There have been several warmers years since – as shown in the graph at the right. And so far, 2015 is setting a new record.

Not willing to give up on a good excuse, the politicians and pundits now claim the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed their deception. That’s not right, either. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report  stated that the global surface temperature “has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years [1998-2012] than over the past 30 to 60 years.” The apparent slowdown was termed a “hiatus” and cheered by the Skeptics, although a “smaller increasing linear trend” is not a hiatus. And it turned out that the “smaller increasing linear trend” was caused by a change in the way the Earth’s temperature was measured, not by an actual decrease in the rate of warming.

Dr. Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information,  is the lead author of the  study published in the journal Science. He explained the discrepancy came from a change in how ocean temperatures were measured. “Global ocean temperatures are estimated both by thousands of commercial ships, which record the temperature of the water entering their engines and by thousands of buoys. The buoys tend to get cooler temperature readings than the ships, likely because ships’ engines warm the water. Meanwhile, in recent years, buoys have become increasingly common.”  The result, Karl says, is that the oceans did not appear to be warming as much because more buoys are now being used instead of ships. So Karl’s team adjusted the buoy data to make them line up with the ship data. The corrected data,  shows that since 1998, the rate of warming is about the same as it has been since 1950: about two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit per decade.

That should settle the matter but some politicians just are not willing to accept science  and, interestingly enough, one of them is the chair of the Congressional Science Committee.  Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has spent much of the last few years pressuring the National Science Foundation to ensure that it only funds science he thinks is worthwhile and “in the national interest.” He certainly didn’t think that Dr. Karl’s research,  showing the Earth’s temperature was still going up an alarming rate, was in the national interest. So, he sent a request that Dr. Karl and NOAA provide his office with “[a]ll data related to this study and the updated global datasets” along with the details of the analysis and “all documents and communications” related to part of that analysis.

The request was meant to be burdensome, but apparently Congressman Smith does not understand how science publications work. NOAA responded to Rep. Smith’s request by pointing him to the relevant data and methods, all of which had already been publicly available. Undeterred, Representative Smith asked for even more data, explanations, and communications. NOAA did not respond to that request or the following subpoena, citing a “confidentiality interest”.   Committee Member Bernice Johnson (D – TX), intervened  with a letter sent to Rep. Smith revealing and criticizing his actions. In it, she noted that Rep. Smith was looking into a scientific study and not a Federal policy decision. “As such,” she wrote, “this is not an area of delegated legislative authority by Congress  (unless you are proposing that Congress should somehow legislatively overrule peer-reviewed scientific findings).” Of course that is what Rep. Smith would like to do, but he will likely have to content himself with just harassing Dr. Karl and NOAA.

(C) 2015 J.C. Moore

 

PowerPoint Presentation: The Citizens’ Climate Lobby

     Posted on Wed ,28/10/2015 by J.C. Moore

 

This is a presentation given at Ecofest 2015 by Darrel Hart, Mark Shobe, and J.C. Moore. It is designed to promote the Citizens’ Climate Lobby carbon fee and ccl1dividend proposal as it is the best way to build the political will to address climate change. Part 1. of the presentation was  on the Science of Climate Change and explained the urgent need to address climate change. Part 2. was on a bipartisan way to address climate change as described in the presentation below:

Part 2. : Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Please click on the link above. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides – or you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer.

Paris Climate Conference: Pope Francis and CEOs Urge Action

     Posted on Fri ,23/10/2015 by J.C. Moore

On his world tour, Pope Francis called on world leaders to address climate change in November at the Paris Climate Conference. eiffelIt is not just religious leaders and climate scientist who are concerned, but business leaders who are aware that climate change will hurt the world’s economy. A recent study, published in the journal Nature, found that temperature change due to unmitigated global warming will leave global GDP per capita 23% lower in 2100 than it would be without any warming.

Joining the call for action on climate change are companies such as Nike, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, and Voya Financial, all who have adopted a goal of 100 %  renewable energy.  Food Companies are concerned that climate change is threatening our food supply. CEOs of Kellogg’s, Mars, Dannon, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farms, and Nestlé have signed a letter urging US and global leaders to “meaningfully address the reality of climate change.”

By this week, 81 big-name corporations representing 9 million employees and $5 trillion in market capitalization have signed on to the President’s “Act on Climate” pledge.

 

THE AMERICAN BUSINESS “ACT ON CLIMATE PLEDGE”

 “We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.

We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.”

 

The list of the corporations taking the pledge and a summary of their pledges are listed in this White House fact sheet. Their pledges set ambitious, company-specific goals such as:

Reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent,

Reducing water usage by as much as 80 percent,

Achieving zero waste-to-landfill,

Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy, and

Pursuing zero net deforestation in supply chains.

Most importantly, these companies set an example to their peers who will be asked to sign onto the pledge before the Paris Conference.

The plan to reduce emissions with broad bipartisan support in the US is the carbon fee and dividend as proposed by the Citizens’ ccl1Climate Lobby. Their proposal would place a fee on carbon at the source and allow market forces to encourage reduced emissions, energy conservation, and investments in renewable energy. The carbon fee is not a tax as proceeds would be distributed equally to every household as a monthly energy dividend. It would effectively stimulate the economy and add an estimated 2.8 million jobs over the next 20 years. What could be a better plan?

 

(c) 2015 J.C. Moore

Westar Energy’s Rate Request: A Study in Short-Term Thinking

     Posted on Sun ,23/08/2015 by J.C. Moore

Many of America’s power companies have put their profits before the health of our citizens and the 6coalprotection of the environment. The American Lung Association estimates that the EPA’s proposed guidelines for particulates could prevent 38,000 heart attacks and premature deaths, 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma, and 2.7 million days of missed work or school.  Yet, there are many coal burning power plants in the US which operate without scrubbers to remove particulates, because coal is cheap and  scrubbers are expensive.

Scientists have known since 1980 that our increasing CO2 levels were endangering our environment. All the world’s major scientific organizations are now saying that we must take immediate action to avoid environmental disasters.   There is really no effective way to remove carbon emissions from fossil fuel   plants, yet our power companies have fought a shift to renewable energy. Many power companies are now being required  to install costly upgrades to their coal-fired  plants, and  are trying to recoup the cost of their short-term thinking by raising their customer’s rates. Westar energy is a good example, and it is likely  that your electric company may  soon follow suit.

Westar Energy has requested a rate increase by $152 million a year, about 8% over its current rates. Most of the increase will go to upgrade its Wolf Creek nuclear plant, to install scrubbers at some of its coal-fired power plants, and to remove mercury from its La Cynge coal-fired power plant. Westar’s proposed rate design would shift more of its costs  from businesses to residential customers and increase the basic charge for residential service by $3 a month each year for the next five years. That means the cost to just keep the power on would increase from the current $12 a month to $27 a month. Customers who want to install their own solar or wind power would be required to pay a $50 customer charge or pay for power at the peak rate, effectively killing private investments in solar energy. Westar’s customers are understandably unhappy about this.

CEO pay and profits : As a Westar stockholder, I felt bad about the recent rate hearing in Wichita. Speaker after speaker, including several ministers and AARP representatives, testified about how the proposed increase in rates would affect the poor and elderly. The timing of the rate increase seems inappropriate. Morningstar moneyreported that last year the company’s top five executives received 23.5% in salary increases. Westar’s CEO now receives $3 million in compensation, more than 30 times that of our governor. A large portion of the compensation is in stock, which tends to encourage short-term decisions to increase stock value.

Many people also testified that the proposed rate structure would discourage private investments in energy efficiency, energy conservation, and solar panels. A poll by Magellan found that 76% of Westar’s customers oppose the tariff on solar panels, agreeing that Westar’s position was based on increasing its profit. Westar is also requesting a 10% return on investments which seems high for a company which has just invested several million dollars in executive raises.

A misleading process: Although Westar says it is committed to renewable energy and reduced carbon emissions,  their proposal would have just the opposite effect. There are number of red flags for investors evident in the rate proposal and in Westar’s actions over the last several years.  Many investors are now looking for long-term investments in environmentally and socially responsible companies. Westar may no longer fall into that category.  AARP ran a full-page ad in the local newspaper protesting the rate increase.  About 73% of Westar stock is held by  institutional investors and many of those are retirement funds.  If some of those retirement funds  decide to divest of  Westar’s stock,  the effect will certainly not be what the  CEO intended.

There was also concern about the integrity of the process, which was unnecessarily secretive and sometimes misleading. A local newspaper article pointed out that, ”Westar’s public notice fails to detail changes in billing, solar rates”.   And, the CEO’s letter to stockholders claimed that outside agitators were responsible for opposition to the solar fee – which was not what the Magellan study found.  His idea that solar customers were “free riders”  who didn’t  pay their fair share came from an ALEC meeting in Chicago.  Chicago?  It was propaganda created by power companies  worried about solar cutting into their market share.  His letter claimed that solar customers  who hooked to the  grid using net metering agreements were being subsidized by other ratepayers, though research has found just the opposite.  I would expect such a well-paid CEO to know about the research.

Solar Research: Studies in Vermont, New York, California, Texas, and Nevada concluded that net metering provided a net positive benefit for utility companies and their customers. A 2015 study done in Missouri is even more relevant to Kansas. A cost-benefit study of net metering in Missouri arrived at the same conclusion as the other studies, “ Net metering provides a net benefit. “ Missouri has 6000 net metering customers while Westar now has approximately 300. It is unlikely that a study done in Kansas would come up with a different result,  but the Westar executives claim differently.

Why should customers who cut their energy use in half by installing solar panels be charged an extra fee, while those who cut their use in half by installing extra insulation be considered differently? Westar claims they should be, but that seems unreasonable. Net metering customers are charged a fee to set up the system and for a safety inspection, but otherwise net energy metering customers should be treated just as any other customer when they use electricity and be reimbursed as any other supplier when they supply excess power. Charging solar customers an extra fee may actually cause an increase in electric rates.

Gaming the system: My son, who worked for a gas company, observed that in gas company rate cases they always asked for about twice what they wanted and settled for half of that.  Other than the money to have Wolf Creek comply with federal regulations, much of the other requests are unjustified. Residential customers are already paying a customer fee, an electricity fee, a fuel charge, a distribution fee, an environmental fee, an energy efficiency charge, and even Westar’s property taxes. Last June, our bill was $24.95 for electricity, but our total bill came out to be $53.27 after all those things were added in. The $12 customer charge is already greater than most other companies charge and Westar’s rates are second highest in our region. Westar has implied that residential customers are not paying their fair share of the cost. However, residential customers use about a third of the energy, but it seems they are being asked to pick up much more than a third of the cost of upgrades and pollution controls.

Westar owes a better accounting of the money it collects. There have been over 20 rate cases in the last six years. Too much time and resources have been devoted to rate cases designed to increase the company’s profits. The executive compensation seems excessive and much of it is in stock, which means a rise in profits will greatly benefit the executives. That tends to lead to short-term thinking, which is evident in this rate proposal. It does not take into account the increasing future regulations of carbon emissions and the need to reduce dependence on coal-fired power plants.

Settlement?  Just before the rate case was to go to the  Kansas Corporation Commission,  Westar cut  its rate request  in half. My  son said, ” See there”.   Westar also asked to postpone its request for a tariff  on solar panels to a later hearing.   Westar is now proposing a reduction in the subscription fee for wind energy customers, building its own solar plant, and selling solar power to customers. That is a big improvement, but Westar is  still relying too heavily on its coal-fired power plants. Three of its smaller plants have no scrubbers and they should be phased out as soon as possible.  Earlier,  $600 million was budgeted for upgrading the LaCynge plant.  I’m not sure how much of that has already been spent , but pouring more money into it to remove mercury may be a bad investment. It is expensive to remove mercury, but it is impossible to remove carbon emissions.

The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, ordered the EPA to make a determination as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant. The EPA found, based on the best scientific evidence, that CO2 is an endangerment to public health and has moved forward with regulations to reduce the carbon emissions from power plants. There will be future environmental regulations which will be costly to the coal plants. Why waste million of dollars in emission control equipment and spend millions importing coal from Wyoming when we could be transitioning to Kansas-based renewable energy?

The future: The Kansas Corporation Commission should approve upgrading the Wolf Creek plant, but carefully consider the amount of money requested. Moving forward with plans to provide customers with wind and solar energy subscriptions is in the right direction and should be encouraged. Other than that, there are better options for Kansas. The Kansas Corporation Commission should send the rest of Westar’s plan back to the drawing board.

(C)   2015 – J.C. Moore

 

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby: A Better Way to Reduce Carbon Emissions

     Posted on Fri ,21/08/2015 by J.C. Moore

The article “Obama orders steeper cuts from power 6coalplants” described how the EPA’s proposed limits on carbon pollution could cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) has a better way, a Carbon Fee and Dividend,  which would produce  deeper cuts in pollution in a shorter time.  CCL’s proposal would place a fee on carbon at the source, and market forces would then encourage reduced emissions, energy conservation and investments in renewable energy.  The carbon fee is not a tax and it would not raise taxes. The money collected would be distributed equally to every household as a monthly energy dividend.

CCL’s legislative proposal would set an initial fee on carbon at $15 per ton of CO2 or CO2 equivalent emissions.  The fee would increase by $10 each year until the CO2 emissions were reduced to 10% of the 1990 US levels. To protect American businesses and agriculture, adjustments at the  borders would be made on exports and imports by the US State Department to ensure fairness. The carbon fees would be collected by the US Treasury Department and rebated 100% to American households, with each adult receiving a dividend and each child one half dividend up to a limit of two children per household.

A similar Fee and Dividend policy is successfully working in Canadian British Columbia. In 2008, BC enacted a revenue neutral carbon tax which set an initial rate of $10 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent emissions, increasing by $5 per year until it reached $30, which it did in 2012. The revenue went straight back to taxpayers as tax reductions with a tax credit paid to low income households of $115.50 for each parent and $34.50 per child annually. The tax raised the price of gasoline by about $0.25 per gallon and the price of coal by about $60 per ton. Though there were winners and losers under the BC plan,  it’s GDP grew in relation to the rest of Canada’s.

bc

British Columbia gets most of its electricity from hydroelectric power, so it is difficult to estimate the effect it had on the price of electricity. There are now no coal-fired plants in British Columbia and the consumption of fuel there is now 19% below that of the rest of Canada.

In the US, all the money collected from the carbon fee would be distributed to US households as a dividend – which would effectively stimulate the economy. President Bush’s Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 provided a $600 rebate to each household. A 2012 study by Christian Broda found the increase in disposable income was an effective stimulus to the economy. President Bush’s stimulus, however, was only for one year and the money came from taxes. CCL’s proposal does not come from taxes, and a $30 per metric ton fee on CO2 is estimated to provide about $876 annually per person in the US. Though the price of gasoline and fossil fuel generated electricity will certainly go up, it will be offset by the dividend. People who reduce their energy consumption, or choose lower cost renewables, will be able to  increase their disposable income by saving more of their dividend.

The CCL Fee and Dividend proposal has a wide range of supporters such as notable climate scientists James Hansen, Katharine Hayhoe, and Daniel Kammit.  It has the support of both conservative and liberal economists such as Gary Becker, Gregory Mankiw, Art Laffer, Nicholas Stern, and Shi-Ling Hsu. CCL’s advisory board is bipartisan as it includes George Shultz, former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, conservative former US Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC), and RESULTS founder Sam Daley-Harris, who is an advocate for solutions to poverty.

A study by Regional Economic Models Inc. found CCL’s proposed carbon fee and dividend would achieve better pollution reduction than regulations while adding 2.8 million jobs to the economy over 20 years. Ccl

What could be a better way to reduce carbon emissions?

 

(c) 2015  J.C.Moore                   

Credit: Darrel Hart, Wichita CCL leader, who helped greatly withthe editing.  

 

Just Raise Taxes

     Posted on Sat ,18/07/2015 by J.C. Moore

Being fiscally conservative requires making a sound national budget and raising the revenue to fund our nation’s needs.  The logical approach to paying off our national debt is to find middle ground between raising taxes and cutting spending. The tax rates, particularly those at the top of the earning scale, need to be adjusted upward,and there is also a grave need for spending restraint, elimination of duplicate efforts, and the elimination of waste and wasteful projects driven by special interest groups on both sides of the aisle. Since few Congressmen are willing to vote to cut pet projects, and perhaps lose their own, it leaves us with just one alternative:        ” Just raise taxes”.

As the chart below shows, cutting taxes does not necessarily lead to greater economic growth, but it certainly means a large increase in our national debt. The high tax rates and increasing national debt under the Eisenhower administration were mostly to pay off our war debts and rebuild Europe, yet there was also growth in GDPand and jobs. Reagan dramatically cut taxes, and experienced a lower growth in GDP, more jobs, but also a large increase in peacetime national debt.

Article PhotoTax Rates and Economic Indicators

 

If you wonder why a country as rich as ours is going broke, it may be because of Arthur Laffer‘s economics, Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, and ALEC.   We should not let men we did not elect or some secretive organization that represents special interest groups determine our tax policy. If you will remember, under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 90% and we used the money to take care of our soldiers, send them to college, rebuild the countries devastated by war, and build the interstate highway system that fueled economic development for the next several decades. Now we have cut the top tax rate, the corporate tax rate, the capital gains tax, and were now working on cutting the inheritance tax, while we are also cutting the safety nets and help for the poor because we cannot pay for them. We are better country than that.

Norquist claims 235 US Representatives and 41 US Senators have signed his Pledge. In doing so, they have clearly given up their responsibility as our elected representatives.   Those in the US Legislature who have signed the pledge are listed here. You may wish to check see who from your state has signed the pledge and contact them. Since Norquist claims that signing the pledge is binding into perpetuity, I would suggest that we make sure none of those who signed his pledge are re-elected.