In its Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Sections 202(a) of the Clean Air Act , the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places six greenhouse gases into one basket. All are treated as equal, primary culprits in the anthropogenic enhancement of the earth’s greenhouse effect, and thus the EPA proposes to find that they “endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” The six are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
But for many reasons, one of these gases is not like the others and should be considered separately. That gas is carbon dioxide.
The Green Greenhouse Gas
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to life on earth as we know it. It is a necessary ingredient in the photosynthetic recipe that produces the oxygen that we breathe as well as the carbohydrates that we eat.…
Air quality from America’s coal plants have been improving for decades, even before Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 1970. And since 1970, the six so-called criteria pollutants have declined significantly overall and in the generation of electricity, even though coal-fired generation has increased by more than 180 percent.[i] (The “criteria pollutants”—those for which the EPA has set criteria for permissable levels—are carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide [SO2], nitrogen oxides [NOx], ground-level ozone, and particulate matter [PM]).
Specifically, total SO2 emissions from coal-fired plants were reduced by about 40 percent between 1970 and 2006, and NOx emissions were reduced by almost 50 percent between 1980 and 2006. On an output basis, the percent reduction is even greater, with SO2 emissions (in pounds per megawatt-hour) almost 80 percent lower, and NOx emissions 70 percent lower.
Even if energy realists and their allies fend off Waxman-Markey, wave after wave of global warming regulation could still sweep across the U.S. economy under the aegis of EPA and the Clean Air Act.
As explained in a previous post, the carbon dioxide (CO2) litigation campaign that begat the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision (April 2007) could shut down much of our economy and replace self-government via the people’s elected representatives with the rule of bureaucrats and courts.
Energy realists need to school themselves in this constellation of issues, because the clock is ticking. On April 17, the Environmental Protection Agency, responding to Mass. v. EPA, published a proposed rule concluding that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to health- and welfare-endangering “air pollution.” …