Category — Environmental Pressure Groups
As noted in Part I, EPA’s 1971 sulfur dioxide standard was based on the application of wet scrubber technology. However, most utilities found it was cheaper to meet the standard by switching to low sulfur coal, rather than install expensive wet scrubbers.
Consequently, during the 1970s, demand for low sulfur coal skyrocketed. Western states, primarily Wyoming and Utah, benefitted; eastern coal producing States in Appalachia and the Ohio River valley suffered.
In Congress, lawmakers from eastern coal producing states sought to redress the economic harm resulting from fuel switching precipitated by EPA’s sulfur standards. Their solution was to require scrubbers at all new coal-fired power plants.
If utilities had to install sulfur controls, these lawmakers reasoned, there would be no incentive to switch to low-sulfur coal. (Of course, this is an absurd waste: From an environmental standpoint, there’s no benefit if a utility installs wet scrubbers and also switches to higher sulfur coal. But that’s a different story of legislative sausage-making. See, generally, Bruce Ackerman & William Hassler, Clean Coal Dirty Air, 1981) [Read more →]
December 6, 2013 12 Comments
High-ranking EPA officials, prominent congressional Democrats, and environmental special interests are peddling a great green lie regarding the Carbon Pollution Standard, the Obama administration’s boldest front yet in its war on coal.
These policymakers and environmental special interests would have the public believe that the Carbon Pollution Standard, which requires carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS), is akin to EPA’s 1970s-era requirements that all new coal-fired power plants install “scrubbers” to control sulfur dioxide. What was good and reasonable then is so now, they reason.
Their analogy, however, is false. As set forth below, the history of the two technologies demonstrates that scrubbers, when mandated by EPA, were indeed commercially viable, whereas CCS is not now so. In fact, the comparison between scrubbers and CCS is even worse than wrong for proponents of the Carbon Pollution Standard, because it actually undermines their legal case for the regulation.
Who Is Making the Great Green Lie?
By EPA’s own admission, the Carbon Pollution Standard will have a negligible impact on climate change, due to the fact that the preponderance of present and future greenhouse gas emissions originate in other countries. Given the rule’s inconsequential impact, its proponents need talking points. Thus, in an effort to make the Carbon Pollution Standard seem reasonable, its supporters compare it to a previous mandate for scrubbers. [Read more →]
December 5, 2013 2 Comments
“I have no idea who Jim Wiegand is, but the Master Resource website is highly questionable….”
“Jim: My apologies. I was overreacting…. Perhaps you would be better served if you avoided that [MasterResource] crowd.”
So said Elliott Negin, Director of News & Commentary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, several days ago in the comments section of his Huffington Post piece, Wind Energy Threat to Birds Is Overblown.”
Mr. Negin is a serial user of the argumentum ad hominem. The Free Dictionary defines ad hominem as: “Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason: Debaters should avoid ad hominem arguments that question their opponents’ motives.”
In his piece, Negin takes on journalist and scholar Robert Bryce, whose exposés of politically correct renewable energy have clearly stuck a nerve with mainstream environmentalists whose embrace of industrial windpower is problematic.
Negin’s statements such as “Bryce … likely will continue to attack renewable energy at every opportunity on behalf of his benefactors” are a low blow indeed. Perhaps Negin would like to square off with Bryce in a public debate with media present to see who the real environmentalist is and who has the better facts and arguments.
My money is on Bryce, and not because he is necessarily an effective debater. He is. It is just that wind power is ecologically suspect beyond a best-of-evils forgiveness.
But just hours after Negin’s post went live, Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post reported some big news: Duke Energy Renewables Guilty Plea Nets Big Fine for Bird-Killing Wind Turbines. “The company admitted killing 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows, at two sites in Converse County, Wyo., from 2009 to 2013,” Sheppard wrote. [Read more →]
November 25, 2013 10 Comments
Bird Kills: The Evidence and Publicity Mounts (Sierra Club, Audubon must stop deceiving memberships)
“Combined together, these clever [evasive] techniques mean that most carcasses are ‘missed.’ In fact, 90% or more of the slaughter can easily be hidden. This … is certainly not ‘scientific or ‘green.’ But it is certainly effective.”
The Wall Street Journal recently published several letters and articles on the environmental impacts of wind energy, adding to a growing body of reportage of wind power’s cruel, ironic byproduct.
Making the public aware of this extremely important issue is essential, because the wind industry has been using bogus research and other methods to hide its slaughter of millions of birds and bats that are supposedly protected by law, putting some species on a path to extinction.
1. Delayed Search: At Altamont Pass in California, mortality studies have employed 30-90 day search intervals since 1998. These excessively long search intervals ensure that most carcasses disappear before the next search is conducted. In addition, even as wind turbines have grown larger and larger over the years, search areas for carcasses have deliberately been left unchanged. [Read more →]
November 21, 2013 8 Comments
The statistics are startling. Johns Hopkins University scholar Nick Nichols found that in 2010, 13,716 environmental groups filed as tax-exempt 501(c)(3)’s with combined revenue of $7.4-billion. Their total assets? $20.6 billion.
Here are some specifics Nichols reports:
- 2012: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), $112 million revenue, $173 million assets;
- 2011: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), $97 million revenue, $249 million assets;
- 2011: Three Greenpeace organizations, $39 million revenue, $21 million assets.
And just what are these organizations doing with their money? Precious little in the way of environmental restoration or protection—lots in the way of advocating for policies that will fulfill Senator Barack Obama’s promise, when he ran for President in 2007, that if he were elected electricity rates would “skyrocket.” 
“I wonder whether the tax-paying coal miners of West Virginia realize that they are subsidizing progressives intent on destroying their jobs?” Nichols writes. “Do they consider Greenpeace charitable? I can’t speak for the coal miners, but I can confirm that both New Zealand and Canada have stripped Greenpeace of its charity status.” [Read more →]
October 8, 2013 1 Comment
“EPA should not be allowed to fund illegal experiments, hire surrogates to scare and propagandize us, or impose excessive, fraudulent rules that kill jobs and harm human health and welfare. Nor should it have so much fat in its budget that it can waste our money on useless, unethical programs.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s neo-Malthusian-inspired ecological battle against the economy centers upon mitigating emissions of the green greenhouse gas: carbon dioxide (CO2). But there is another part to the story: EPA’s rushed, hyper-restrictive standards for ozone.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must set standards for ozone and other pollutants – and periodically review existing standards, to determine whether they are adequately protecting public health, or need to be tightened further.
In 1997, the agency reduced the permissible ambient ozone level to 84 parts per billion (equivalent to 8.4 cents out of $1,000,000). In 2008, it lowered the standard again, to 75 ppb.
However, due to public outcry, and because EPA’s own clean air science advisory committee said the reduction wasn’t necessary, in 2009 the agency suspended the 75 ppb rule’s implementation, pending “further study.”
Shortly thereafter, though, Lisa Jackson’s EPA decided to slash allowable ozone levels to 60 ppb – without doing any further analysis. Sensing how politically volatile the issue could become, President Obama told EPA to postpone the hyper-restrictive rule until after the 2012 elections. [Read more →]
July 30, 2013 2 Comments
“Obviously, nobody wants dirty air, but the American Lung Association’s knee-jerk renewables advocacy is mainly emotional and not grounded in fact.”
Last month, New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) disapproved Antrim Wind, a 30-megawatt wind energy facility proposed along a remote and environmentally sensitive ridgeline in rural Antrim, NH. After eleven days of evidentiary hearings and three days of public deliberations, the Committee ruled that the ten monster turbines, each standing 492-feet tall, would pose a significant impact on aesthetics with no satisfactory means of mitigating the effect.
The Committee’s ruling surprised New England wind proponents who wasted no time calling the decision a serious setback for clean energy and urging the SEC to reconsider its decision.
Among those objecting was the American Lung Association. In a letter to the SEC, Edward Miller, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in the Northeast, wrote: [Read more →]
June 19, 2013 1 Comment
“Contrast West Virginia’s ridgeline wind turbines to a single fracking site hosting a dozen or more underground wells. Those wellheads produce ’round the clock, something that wind proponents cannot honestly claim. Not even all those the lawyers of the Southern Environmental Law Center can make the wind turbines regularly spin.”
The City of Charlottesville, VA is home to some notable landmarks, which include Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and his university, the University of Virginia. It is also home to the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), whose mission is “to use the power of the law to protect the environment of the Southeast.”
Under the Case Summary for “Fracking in the Southwest,” the SELC notes:
The drilling technique known as “fracking” is widely used around the country to extract natural gas from deep shale deposits. Notoriously linked to flaming water taps and contaminated streams and groundwater in the Northeast and out West, hydraulic fracturing has recently emerged as a looming environmental threat in the Southeast…As pressure mounts to tap into southeastern shale deposits, SELC is working on multiple fronts in our six states to prevent fracking in special natural areas like our national forests….
The latest SELC anti-fracking diatribe was authored by Carl Jaffe, director of the Charlottesville office, and published in the May 28-June 3, 2013 issue of the local weekly C-Ville. He mentioned–but did not specifically document–concern over drinking-water pollution, methane leakage, impacts on forests, and recreational opportunities. In response, I submitted the following letter-to-the-editor to C-Ville (V.25, No. 23, not online: scan available from author): [Read more →]
June 18, 2013 5 Comments
[Ed. note: Tomorrow's post, "'Deep Ecology' versus Energy," will examine radical environmental metaphysics in more detail.]
An influential branch of the modern environmental movement rejects a human-centered anthropocentric view of the world in favor of a nature-first ecocentric view.
Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in a 1973 essay differentiated between shallow ecology, a concern with pollution and resource depletion in the developed world, and deep ecology where “the equal right to live and blossom” ends what is seen as a master-slave relationship between human and nonhuman (lower animal and plant) life. 
The platform of the Deep Ecology Foundation, formulated by Arne Naess and George Sessions, declares that “present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening” and calls for
changes in policies affect[ing] basic economic, technological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature (1992: 216) identifies the “terminal sin” of man’s altering nature and complained about how “the greenhouse effect is the first environmental problem we can’t escape by moving to the woods.” He laments how “the cheap labor provided by oil” makes the “deep ecology model” difficult to fathom much less implement (200).
In chapter 12 of Earth in the Balance (1992), Senator Al Gore complained about a “dysfunctional civilization” predicated on fossil fuels.
The Sierra Club’s ‘Deep Ecology’ Turn
Mainstream (Washington, DC-based) environmentalism embraced natural gas in the 1980s as a “bridge” to a sustainable future. But no more. The Sierra Club is at war with natural gas, as it is with oil, coal, hydro, and nuclear. Biofuels is also out of favor with Big Environmentalism, which leaves wind and solar and not much else. [Read more →]
May 22, 2013 4 Comments
What’s the Sierra Club’s position on the development and use of natural gas from shale? Depends on whom you ask . . . within the actual organization.
By now, of course, we’re all well aware of the Sierra Club’s newly staked-out position in opposition to natural gas, notwithstanding the fact that the Club used to support it.
With its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign, the Sierra Club now proclaims (without even a shred of irony) that natural gas is “environmentally damaging and harms public health.” Yet empirical evidence–even studies commissioned by none other than the Sierra Club itself–shows the opposite is true (also see here, here, and here).
But no one ever accused the Sierra Club of being constrained by novelties such as consistency, accuracy, or metaphysics.
The shift toward ideological opposition to an energy source they once pragmatically supported was in some ways predictable. The Club couldn’t sit on the sidelines as American oil and natural gas production soared to record highs due to the development of shale and other tight resources. The activist uprising around “fracking” posed too great a fundraising opportunity for them to ignore.
But that rapid 180-degree turn on natural gas has also put the Sierra Club in an uncomfortable position. With the near-daily news stories explaining the air quality and climate benefits of natural gas, the Sierra Club’s opposition to natural gas undermines its stated goal of protecting the environment.
In response, the Sierra Club has come up with a bold and fascinating strategy: Say whatever the heck they want, regardless of whether it contradicts their statements elsewhere. [Read more →]
March 18, 2013 6 Comments