Obama’s recent executive order on carbon emissions

A round-up of reactions to Obama's announcement. Work gets the FT, so I saw Obama proposes biggest ever US push for carbon cuts in print on the front page, and I think Obama will be happy with that, and with what the FT have written:

Under the plan, each US state is given a different target for cutting carbon emissions from its power sector. They will decide how to achieve the cuts by switching to cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear or wind power, by improving grid efficiency or by reducing electricity consumption

And, in US carbon curbs raise hopes for Paris deal we have His backers are already hailing the move as an effort that will define his presidency. According to his opponents, however, it will kill thousands of jobs and fail to stop other countries blah blah blah you know all that stuff I'm sure.

mt thinks its good and so does Timmy. Timmy explicitly rejects the worry about job losses, FWIW.

The people who like CCS are a bit sad because the plan doesn't mandate CCS. Which is to the plan's credit, because mandating CCS would have been stupid. WUWT hated it, sort of, or rather they hated the caricature they were shown and didn't think to look for the reality.

There's a funky interactive map here.

In other news, Gareth reports that The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme has failed and should be replaced by a carbon tax according to NZ greens. Unfortunately there's special pleading in there already, in that different industries get different prices. No-one will ever learn.

Oh, and my opinion? I thought you'd never ask. I'm with the "yeah, this is about as good as you could expect, and its the right direction, so fine" school of thought. Which is, effectively, everyone except the nutters. Anything that both Timmy and mt can agree on must be very nicely judged.

[Update: in the comments, JS provides EPA’s Proposed Power Plant Regs: Solid Legal Footing, Considerable Flexibility
by William Buzbee
which addresses the "will it survive legal challenge" question.


* Take Notes, Mr. Steyn - Barry Bickmore continues to provide helpful advice to Mark Steyn.
* The conservative family values of Christian man Anthony Watts-VV finds nastiness at WUWT (in other news, the Pope is Catholic :-). However, VV has found the Key Quote from AW: he wears his contempt on his sleeve – Anthony. That's right, the one unforgivable sin is to Diss Da Man.
* Random impressions following the Obama's move on climate - Brian


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By David B. Benson (not verified) on 03 Jun 2014 #permalink

The Watts reply is somewhat ambiguous. I would argue that you wear your contempt on your sleeve. I am a pretty agreeable friendly chap. Not?

Thanks for pointing me (on twitter) to the longer Watts response, which contains even more treasures. Could be the Vatican. Have written a short update.

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 03 Jun 2014 #permalink

Good Lord, there's that "even mt" thing again. Why doesn't everybody understand that I hold the exactly central opinion while everyone else is arrayed to my left and to my right?

[Who said "even mt"? I didn't -W]

Apropos, I have been called a "denier" this week, which admittedly is a first for me.

Climate conversation is more and more serious and informed with every passing week, isn't it? Our work is nearly done.

yeah, this is about as good as you could expect, and its the right direction, so fine.

By thomaswfuller2 (not verified) on 03 Jun 2014 #permalink

Good move. There were a lot of good moves early in Obama's first term before Congress became close to useless in 2011. EPA moves have the weakness of being more easily overturned in the event of a change in executive leadership, and we know where the other party stands on this issue, denying the science that is the basis for greenhouse gas reductions, while attempting to scare voters into believing great economic calamities will result from these moves. Taking a look at the polls, voters aren't buying it.

The coal rules are being characterized as the most significant to date but the fuel economy standards of cars and trucks are in the same ball park.



Coal and oil: the 2 biggest culprits. The main criticism seems to be that the targets aren't aggressive enough considering that emissions are already lower than the 2005 baseline, which is partly a product of recent successes. Nat. gas and fracking is still an issue.

All of these are moderate steps, as are various emissions trading schemes (to varying degrees). All of them add up. All of them potentially create momentum, politically and technologically.

Hard to pick a favorite WUWT comment, but I'll go with:

"Dark. In so many senses of the word."

for its brevity, its sadness, and its subtle racism.

I think you and Bickmore are side-stepping the gist of Mr. Steyn's comments. Why is Michael Mann the ulimate tribunal regarding who is "anti-science" and who is not? His "anti-science" list now includes Hulme, Bengtsson, Curry, and a cast of thousands. His pronouncements are especially ludicrs since his behavior and methods have been subect to harsh criticism from Hulme, Broecker, Liebreich and a cast of thousands.

You, Bickmore, Mann, and others are fanatical leftists but that does not make your scientific judgment reliable. Quite the reverse. Good luck in your rhetorical battle with the great wit Steyn. You will need more than your leaden-witted apparatchik style.

Gee, now even Republicans like Barry Bickmore are "fanatical leftists"...

But I guess that if you are on the extreme right, just about everyone is a fanatical leftist.

Tom C;

Truth/fact does not pick sides. It is. It may seem, though, that the converse is not the case...

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 04 Jun 2014 #permalink

Tom C: Are you guys still on about Mann? Time to flip the tape dude. (Personally I'm waiting to see how his lawsuit again Tim Ball works out. Tim of course already lost one....)

I think Carbon Tax is the way to go...

I think pushing Natural Gas is likely to bite us. At this time its known to be far far worse than Coal. Tony Ingraffea showed that emissions from natural gas were a concern especially when you consider natural gas leaks, and how strong a green house gas it is.

I didn't know how bad it was until I watched The Years of Living Dangerously Part 7(?). We are currently showing leaks well in excess of Ingraffea's upper limits. Measurements show 10 to 17% leaks, and the industry is touting 1%.

[I think that's dubious; well actually I think its completely wrong. I know I've seen hard figures on this, though I can't immeadiately find them. There are a number of studies; one, often quoted, is way outlier on the high side -W]


Journal of Industrial Ecology
Volume 18, Issue 1, pages 125–144, February 2014

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Electricity Generated from Conventionally Produced Natural Gas
Systematic Review and Harmonization

Article first published online: 17 JAN 2014
DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12084

"Of over 250 references identified, 42 passed screens for technological relevance and study quality, providing a total of 69 estimates for NGCT and NGCC. Harmonization increased the median estimates in each category as a result of several factors not typically considered in the previous research, including the regular clearing of liquids from a well, and consolidated the interquartile range for NGCC to 420 to 480 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2-eq/kWh) and for NGCT to 570 to 750 g CO2-eq/kWh, with medians of 450 and 670 CO2-eq/kWh, respectively. Harmonization of thermal efficiency had the largest effect in reducing variability; methane leakage rate is likely similarly influential, but was unharmonized in this assessment as a result of the significant current uncertainties in its estimation, an area that is justifiably receiving significant research attention."

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 04 Jun 2014 #permalink

WMC: each US state is given a different target for cutting carbon emissions from its power sector

I looked for my state (Vermont) on the list, and saw that we have no target. Which makes sense, because we already have a completely fossil-free power sector (basically, nuclear, hydro, biomass, wind, and solar in approximately that order).

Tom C: ... [Barry Bickmore is a fanatical leftist] ...

In other words, you know nothing at all about Barry Bickmore.

AnOilMan: [... concern about CH4 leaks from nat.gas ...]

Well, so far there doesn't seem to be much of an uptick in actual concentrations of CH4 in the atmosphere. Well, a small uptick compared to the basically flat trend of the late 1990s-early 2000s. But it's still nothing like the 1970s, when CH4 was increasing fast.

At the current rate of increase, it will take a *very* long time for the forcing from CH4 to matter much compared to CO2, I think. It's been a year since I did the math, and don't remember all the details.

OilMan, Tim Ball lost one, but Dan Johnson paid a hefty personal price.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 04 Jun 2014 #permalink

any thoughts as to why Obama left it to the last minute of his failed presidency to do anything worthwhile? he is going to be rated up there with Warren Harding and all those other presidents that you cannot remember unless they are in a city grid..Tyler,.Polk, Fillmore, Hayes, etc. A grave disappoinmtement.

By elmer fudd (not verified) on 04 Jun 2014 #permalink


"Tom C: … [Barry Bickmore is a fanatical leftist] …"

Republican mormon from Utah is a fanatical leftist, that's pretty funny, Tom C.

Good reminder: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/06/industry-and-…

As Tom Zeller notes at Bloomberg View, the adoption of the 1970 Clean Air Act triggered the same kind of hysterical industry denunciations we are seeing today in response to Barack Obama's move to force the electric power industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ford Motor Company claimed the 1970 act "could cut off automobile production in just five years, lead to huge price increases for cars even if production were not stopped, do 'irreparable damage' to the American economy—and still lead to only small improvements in the quality of the air." The auto industry reprised that act in 1972, when Congress was considering forcing them to adopt catalytic converters: the vice president of General Motors said "complete stoppage of the production line could occur," while Lee Iacocca, then president of Ford, claimed it would "cause Ford to shut down", cut gross national product by $17 billion, and raise unemployment by 800,000. The mining and electric power industries made the same sorts of wild claims. In 1974, as Congress debated amendments to the act cutting sulfur emissions, the head of American Electric Power spent $3.1m on an ad campaign to convince the American public that installing scrubbers on coal-fired power plants would be a disaster.

Needless to say, this was all nonsense.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 05 Jun 2014 #permalink

WC: Don't leave me hanging! Could you send me data links\papers? (even privately) I am definitely interested.

Ingraffea originally put the numbers at 3-7% for distribution.

[I can find http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/04/fracking-methane/ which looks at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/greeninc/Howarth2011.pdf and -aha- that leads me to Howarth and that leads me to my http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2013/09/09/mackay-and-stone-potential-gre… which is what I was looking for. Howarth say "3.6% to 7.9%" leak rate. But the MacKay report (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fi…) appendix A, table A3 says (I think) that Howarth is about a factor of ten higher than most others -W]

> Republican mormon from Utah is a fanatical leftist

From the viewpoint promoted by and for benefit of the 0.01%, a.k.a the "right wingtip position" -- yes, that's true.

They don't think of themselves as being on the right wingtip, though. They think they're at the Right Pole, and every direction going away from them is toward the Wrong.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 05 Jun 2014 #permalink

More: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/04/3443211/energy-department-l…

includes links, e.g.
Scot M. Miller, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314392110
and this press release:
Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States

and more links, I have my differences with the prose style over at JR's so I'll leave it to others who want to dig them out of the text, they're there, just a bit obfuscated, but he does have more and newer cites on the subject. After citing those, he writes:

"... the recent observation-based calculations of methane leakage are quite similar to that estimated in the much-maligned (but apparently correct) 2012 Cornell study led by Cornell’s Bob Howarth...."

So let's look on the bright side -- how about, instead of piping the compressed gas around in old leaky infrastructire, and instead of building new expensive natural gas infrastructure, we catalyze the stuff:
Science 9 May 2014:
Vol. 344 no. 6184 pp. 616-619
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253150
Report: Direct, Nonoxidative Conversion of Methane to Ethylene, Aromatics, and Hydrogen

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 05 Jun 2014 #permalink

William: Thanks. I know what a pain it is to relook stuff up. (I used to do it for trolls... but I pretty sure it was a waste of time.)

Anyways I think The Years of Living Dangerously was based on data from several NOAA measurements;

Here's the measurements from California showing 8% from oil and gas;

3 other states have been measured and show similarly large numbers. The implication is that fracking emissions are currently worse than coal.

The EDF study was extremely limited, and was only measuring emissions from capping wells using the 'green completions' equipment seen in the documentary. (That fact is buried deep in the report.)

One other factoid... LNG is about 8% higher for emissions. That's how much is burned to compress it + losses in transportation.

[You really can't trust headlines from TP. Anyway, I looked at the study they cite - http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/11/20/1314392110.abstract - and the abstract is all about fossil fuels in general, not about fracking or natural gas in particular. And the paper itself seems much the same. Ditto http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/news/2013/140_0514.html (well, that one says 40% of methane from landfill and such, too). So I'm not sure why the big picture ends up worrying about fracking -W]

WMC; AnOilMan

Thanks for the various links. Copied shamelessly.

I have no side to take here; simply interested in the (slowly and imperfectly) emerging picture.

> TP
Oh, I know, I know ... he knows what he's doing and why. I don't have to agree with him to admire his effectiveness at doing what he's aiming to do, and it does work.

Aside -- did you notice the California election results?

Proof if anyone needed it that there' s no such thing as bad publicity, and name recognition is what the public relies on. Watch the funding on that. JR manages to get the kind of attention that the majority of people remember.

> fracking
I think the big picture about methane is whether it's smart in the long view put our money and materials into building more infrastructure to burn fossil gas -- fracking and long pipelines.

Such new infrastructure would also serve those who have emergency proposals to "depressurize" all that Clathrate of Damocles that's lurking-- since selling it off is their answer to what to do with the stuff.

And of course replacing all the old high pressure gas distribution infrastructure would improve the gross national product no end. So to speak.

I haven't seen anyone discuss the alternative -- using the existing old low pressure systems and local methane digesters and piping methane from the local landfills.

That'd be a very different kind of infrastructure development.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 07 Jun 2014 #permalink

The law professors over at the CPR blog have weighed in on how Obama's plan will work.
It's a mix of cap and trade, encouraging low emissions technology, and conservation. They think it will survive legal challenges because it is using sections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) that have been tested in the courts already.

It's not everything the enviro's want, but it's the best that can be hoped for in the current political climate. A carbon tax is not possible under the CAA, so that is off the table.

The methane studies are a bit like a Rorschach test where everybody looks at it and sees something different. The PETA types are trying to use it to push vegan/vegetarian lifestyles while some enviro's are quick to blame fracking. The industries are blaming each other or bashing the studies completely.

[Thanks for that link; I'll add it to the refs -W]

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 08 Jun 2014 #permalink

"... NASA plans to launch the ... Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 1, 2014.  The OCO-2 mission will be NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.....

Why has it taken so long? There was an attempt to launch a climate satellite early in the Bush administration… a launch that mysteriously (even suspiciously?) blew up. After a second failure, budgets for climate science were slashed and satellites cancelled, while the GOP Congress passed measures eliminating Earth studies from the NASA mission and tried to do the same to NOAA! There were some interim sats and their work has universally confirmed global warming models, but at levels of accuracy that still allowed denialists to wriggle and squirm.

One can hope the new satellite will put doubts to rest and that mature citizens will rally behind whatever the science shows. One can hope...."

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ June 7, 2014

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 08 Jun 2014 #permalink

There is a brief but informative post about the recent Supreme Court decision on the EPA's regulation of CO2 with the Clean Air Act at the CPR blog.

The EPA is doing as much it can under the current law, the Clean Air Act, and how the majority conservative wing of the court will let them interpret it. Two of the conservative judges, Thomas and Alito want to revisit Mass. v EPA and completely remove greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act. They don’t want to abide by settled law. The other conservative judges want to substitute their judgement for the EPA’s, again not wanting to accept a previous Supreme Court decision, this time Chevron v NRDC.

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 25 Jun 2014 #permalink