2014 SkS News Bulletin #5: Obama's Climate Change Inititiative

7 reasons why Wall St. isn't buying the 'War on Coal'

Monday's unveiling of the Obama administration's proposal to cut carbon emissions triggered a withering response from politicians and business groups tied to the coal industry—the most vocal of them proclaiming Obama's "war on coal" would decimate jobs and companies, create the next energy crisis and devastate the U.S. economy.

Wall Street must have missed the memo.

On the day the proposal was released, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500—the stock indexes most closely associated with the nation's economic health—rose. Results in the coal sector were mixed. The stock price of the nation's largest coal producer, Peabody Energy Corp., closed down 15 cents, or 1 percent. Natural Resource Partners, Cloud Peak Energy Inc. and Walter Energy Inc. also saw their stocks fall on Monday, while shares of Alliance Resource Partners, Westmoreland Coal Co., and Rhino Resource Partners moved higher.

7 Reasons Why Wall St. Isn't Buying the 'War on Coal' by Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News, Jun 6, 2014

Ahead of the EPA

Is Colorado proof that the EPA’s new standards can work — or that they’re worthless?

Ahead of the EPA by Elizabeth Miller, Boulder (Colorado) Weekly, June 5, 2014

Al Gore praises Obama's pollution cuts proposal

Former Vice President Al Gore praised the Obama administration's plan announced Monday to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants over the next 15 years.

He said the symbolic value was more important that the reduction of emissions that could follow. "It re-establishes the moral authority on the part of the United State of America in leading the world community," Gore said, addressing this year's graduates at Princeton University.

He said it helps set the tone for talks next year on global climate change talks.

Al Gore Praises Obama's Pollution Cuts Proposal by Geoff Mulvihill, AP/The Huffington Post, June 2, 2014

Conservatives and coal industry are rallying troops against Obama’s climate rules

Conservatives and business interests were attacking the EPA’s Clean Energy Plan to reduce power-plant CO2 emissions before it had even been released.

Last year, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed conservative policy organization, drafted a model state legislative resolution opposing EPA regulation of carbon emissions. Last week, the Chamber of Commerce released a study predicting dire economic consequences — a GDP loss of $50 billion per year.

Now that the actual proposal is out, the right is ready to go after it from every possible angle. They will sue to stop it, but courts generally won’t hear challenges to regulations until after they’ve been finalized, which won’t happen until June 2015. So for the next year, the battle will be fought in the court of public opinion, with everything from grassroots lobbying to cable TV sound bites to onslaughts of political ads. Conservatives will organize around two main messages: that forcing power plants away from reliably low-cost coal will drive up the price of energy and jeopardize our energy supply, and that higher-cost energy will hamper economic growth.

Conservatives and coal industry are rallying troops against Obama’s climate rules by Ben Adler, Grist, June 3, 2014

Green states & black states: Obama's climate plan paints U.S. in new colors

At the core of Obama's plan to control greenhouse gas emissions from more than 1,000 power plants is a strategy resembling that of a presidential campaign in search of electoral votes.

The administration wants to get enough states on board to color the map mostly low-carbon green, instead of coal black.

To that end, it has designed a policy that seems intended to isolate the fiercest pockets of resistance, winning over as many fence-sitting states as possible.

That would make it harder for his opponents to paint this regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act as a heavy-handed federal intrusion.

Green States & Black States: Obama's Climate Plan Paints U.S. in New Colors by John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News, June 5, 2014

New greenhouse gas rule will benefit both climate and health

Tomorrow (June 2), President Obama is expected to announce a major step in U.S. carbon regulation. Using executive authority, the President will issue a new rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants in the United States. This ruling could have many other benefits, including reducing soot, smog, and early-deaths due to repiratory and other illnesses.

According to the President, “[in] just the first year that these standards go into effect, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks will be avoided – and those numbers will go up from there.”

New Greenhouse Gas Rule Will Benefit Both Climate and Health, by Melissa C. Lott, Plugged In, Scientific American, June 1, 2014

New pollution rule puts onus on states

A major initiative to cut the pollution emitted from the nation’s power plants set off a scramble Monday in Washington – where Republicans instantly pounced on the proposed rules – as well as in states, where much of the work in implementing the rules will be done.

In many states, the move away from carbon-heavy coal to cleaner sources of energy is already under way, and those states could have an easier time adapting to new rules proposed Monday by the federal government.

Other states – those in the Rust Belt, for example – still are heavily dependent on coal to produce electricity. Those states might struggle.

New pollution rule puts onus on states by Chris Adams & Lesley Clark, McClatchy,  Washington Bureau,  June 2, 2014

Obama to take action to slash coal pollution

The Obama administration on Monday will announce one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to people briefed on the plan who spoke anonymously because they had been asked not to reveal details.

The regulation takes aim at the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, the nation’s more than 600 coal-fired power plants. If it withstands an expected onslaught of legal and legislative attacks, experts say that it could close hundreds of the plants and also lead, over the course of decades, to systemic changes in the American electricity industry, including transformations in how power is generated and used. 

Obama to Take Action to Slash Coal Pollution by Coral Davenport, New York Tiomes, June 1, 2014

The Climate Domino

Maybe it’s me, but the predictable right-wing cries of outrage over the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on carbon seem oddly muted and unfocused. I mean, these are the people who managed to create national outrage over nonexistent death panels. Now the Obama administration is doing something that really will impose at least some pain on some people. Where are the eye-catching fake horror stories?

For what it’s worth, however, the attacks on the new rules mainly involve the three C’s: conspiracy, cost and China. That is, right-wingers claim that there isn’t any global warming, that it’s all a hoax promulgated by thousands of scientists around the world; that taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions would devastate the economy; and that, anyway, U.S. policy can’t accomplish anything because China will just go on spewing stuff into the atmosphere.

I don’t want to say much about the conspiracy theorizing, except to point out that any attempt to make sense of current American politics must take into account this particular indicator of the Republican Party’s descent into madness. There is, however, a lot to say about both the cost and China issues.

The Climate Domino, Op-ed by Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 

Three key components of Obama’s carbon pollution plan

President Obama's plan to cut US emissions was launched with great fanfare earlier this week. Analysts are now scratching their heads trying to work out the details. Here are three of the plan's key components.

Intensity, pragmatism & flexibility: Three key components of Obama’s carbon pollution plan by Mat Hope, The Carbon Brief, June 5, 2014

Will new EPA rules change our carbon future?

The EPA released tough new regulations this week, part of an ongoing, Holy Grail/Lord of the Rings/Horcrux Hunt kind of effort  to cut U.S. carbon emissions. But, as is true of all global energy-use questions, is the Obama Administration just playing whack-a-mole, while the coal it tries to curb just finds its way to other customers?  And, is cutting carbon emissions really the Holy Grail, or is it keeping hydrocarbons in the Earth forever, as global warming advocates say we must? Will anything do that?  We put this question to a panel of top energy and environmental experts:

Will the new EPA standards mean that a meaningfully greater volume of hydrocarbons will stay in the Earth forever? If not, why not? If so, how? Or are we asking too much of some regulations passed in the second-term of a Presidency gummed up by sclerotic politics?

Will new EPA rules change our carbon future? by Fuzz Hogan, The Weekly Wonk, June 5, 2014

Will the new EPA rules for coal plants inspire other countries?

The Environmental Protection Agency's new proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants is getting mixed reviews in the coal-intensive Midwest, but it is playing well in the international community.

Experts on climate negotiations said that the EPA's proposed carbon dioxide regulations would help ensure that the U.S. meets its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, part of an international agreement forged in talks in Copenhagen in January 2010.  And with preparations underway for reaching a pact on post-2020 emissions at a summit scheduled for Paris in December 2015, international negotiators said the EPA measure would encourage other nations to step up efforts to curb greenhouse gases by greater amounts.

"This is important domestically but also internationally," Kevin Kennedy, director of the World Resources Institute's climate initiative, said in an interview. "It is a demonstration that the Obama administration is ready to follow through and implement the president's climate action plan. It's important for the world to see as well as domestic getting reductions in the United States."

Will the new EPA rules for coal plants inspire other countries? by Steven Mufson, Wonkblog, The Washington Post, June 4, 2014 

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 7 June, 2014

Creative Commons License The Skeptical Science website by Skeptical Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.