Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 2, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

CO2 AND THE EPA....This comes as a surprise to me, but the Supreme Court ruled today that the EPA does indeed have both the authority and the responsiblity to regulate greenhouse gases:

In a 5-to-4 decision, the court found that the Clean Air Act expressly authorizes the E.P.A. to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, contrary to the E.P.A.'s contention, and that if the agency still insists that it does not want to regulate those emissions, it must give better reasons than the "laundry list" of invalid considerations it has offered so far.

....The majority did not declare that the E.P.A. must find that greenhouse gases are a danger because they contribute to global warming. But the justices said the agency can escape its regulatory duties "only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change, or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do."

Even the Bush EPA is going to have trouble arguing that greenhouse gases don't contribute to climate change — though I'm sure they'll give it their best shot. This should be an interesting show to watch.

Kevin Drum 4:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

So much for Roberts trying to forge consensus- he couldn't even get a single "conservative" Justice to accept that Massachusett's had standing- sad.

Posted by: Jason Scorse on April 2, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

The question is what caused Kennedy to take pro-environment side...

Posted by: JD on April 2, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I find it really interesting that they didn't even try to address the "carbon dioxide is not a pollutant" argument in the dissent and went purely with the standing question.

Posted by: mw on April 2, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm, sounds like a good time to trot out The Flying Spaghetti Monster as the most likely cause of green house gases. That'll be just as hard to dispute at it is for gays to deal with the contention God doesn't want them to marry.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 2, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

The question is what caused Kennedy to take pro-environment side...

Kennedy is an intellectual lightweight. He has not had some kind of awakening or tilt to the left. What he has found out though, is the thrill of being the swing vote.

He will vote with the center-right bloc, as he did here, to establish his credentials as a power broker before he gives another big vote to the far-right bloc.

Posted by: Jon on April 2, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

In a 5-to-4 decision, the court found that the Clean Air Act expressly authorizes the E.P.A. to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, contrary to the E.P.A.’s contention...

An odd situation when an entity in the Bush administration claims they have less power rather than more.

Posted by: Ali Blahblah on April 2, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty horrible decision Kevin. First the decision allows the Supreme Court to second guess every scientific and regulatory decision made by federal agencies. Who made the judges scientists and experts on everything? Second, it gives States the right to sue in federal court even when they suffer no harm or injury. This is an overruling of 250 years of American judicial history. Unforturnately another bad decision by the liberal judicial activists on the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Al on April 2, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

First the decision allows the Supreme Court to second guess every scientific and regulatory decision made by federal agencies. Who made the judges scientists and experts on everything?

It does no such thing. It merely commands the executive branch to obey the law as passed by the legislative branch. The judges only need be experts on constitutional law to do that. Actually, they probably only need to have read the document once to know that.

Posted by: Jon on April 2, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

And they, of course, didn't really explicitly rule on the science (i.e., by forcing the EPA to issue regulations) but simply said that the EPA had to do better if it wished to continue to justify its inaction, particularly in light of the fact that it did not contest the plaintiffs' affidavits detailing the dangers of these gases.

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

But then the Al-bot is simply a mindless troll, here to regurgitate White House spin, not to engage in actual thought or debate. My apologies for responding to it.

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Who made the Judges scientists.UM Bush did when he went to the Supreme Court.God that was easy.Smatrer trolls please.Next

Posted by: john john on April 2, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

So according to Al, the Supreme Court has (a) discarded the arbitrary and capricious standard for review of agency actions and (b) completely eliminated the injury in fact requirement for standing.

color me skeptical...

Posted by: Paternover on April 2, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

This should be an interesting show to watch.

So was the Titanic.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on April 2, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The EPA under the current administration has not exactly been a fully effective agency, greatly easing litigation against corporate polluters and trying to lower clean air standards (New Source Review).

While I think we need to reckon with CO2 emissions, I am far more concerned about lower standards for, say mercury. It makes no sense to ALLOW greater toxic pollution of the air with a known (no fuzzy science on this element!) poison.

We fool ourselves by focusing on CO2 at the expense of much more lethal and immediate toxins, all of which can be reduced by alternative energy initiatives.

Smog is not healthy for any one. Allowing King Coal to spew greater levels of toxins helps only corporate profits.

More mercury in the air = dumber kids.

More dioxins in the air = all kinds of human hormonal interferences and immune system havoc.

More sulphur = acid rain.

The EPA is not a very healthy agency right-now, rather neutered I'd say.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on April 2, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. dissented, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. The chief justice said his dissent “involves no judgment on whether global warming exists, what causes it, or the extent of the problem.” Rather, he wrote, the kind of dispute in this case is better resolved by Congress and the executive branch rather than the courts."

so is our esteemed chief justice saying that an agency has the right to interpret law to its own choosing? that an agency can ignore or overstep the law and the only recourse is congress and the prez? the courts have no say? why the hell have courts in the first place?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 2, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK
First the decision allows the Supreme Court to second guess every scientific and regulatory decision made by federal agencies.

That the courts may review whether regulatory decisions comply wit the law conferring regulatory power, as here, is not a question in serious dispute. This case establishes nothing new on that front.


Posted by: cmdicely on April 2, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why don't you waltz over to epa.gov and stick "greenhouse" into the search box, click on a few of the links?

I really encourage you to do this, as it might for once reduce the amount of bullshit which appears on your blog.

Posted by: hank on April 2, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

"so is our esteemed chief justice saying that an agency has the right to interpret law to its own choosing? that an agency can ignore or overstep the law and the only recourse is congress and the prez?"

That certainly appears to be the case, although I would hope that Roberts' dissent was a bit more nuanced than that. Interesting that he appears to be not at all concerned about the back door rewriting of the law, essentially overruling the former Congress that passed that law.

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

"I really encourage you to do this, as it might for once reduce the amount of bullshit which appears on your blog."

Can we get some smarter trolls, please? Ones that can actually make a coherent argument?

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, I find it really interesting that they didn't even try to address the "carbon dioxide is not a pollutant" argument in the dissent and went purely with the standing question.

Its also interesting that they misapply the concept of "imminence and immediacy" in a way which is hard to explain in terms of legal reasoning, but follows in lockstep with right-wing arguments on global warming. While the "imminence and immediacy" of harm required to establish standing does not require that the harm materialize immediately, but that it become inevitable immediately absent redress. Nevertheless, the courts focus not on how long it may take before the harm becomes unavoidable absent redress, but on how like before a certain degree of claimed harm is expected to be realized.

That being said, I think that this may be an illustration of the error in the particularized injury standard the Court has adopted in the first place: most of the substantive disagreement centers around that aspect of standing, but that requirement has no real Constitutional basis, its a pragmatic filter the Court has adopted which serves only to frustrate the efforts of the political branches to allow matters to be resolved in the courts. Its particularly odd that it has been attached to the "case or controversy" requirement, since clearly a bona fide controversy exists when one party with that has experienced actual injury or is facing imminent injury challenges, as here, a regulatory action by the executive that is the supposed source of as inconsistent with the legislative grant of power on which the executive agency relies in regulating (or not regulating), whether or not that injury is distinct from that experienced by the general public by that same illegal action.

While certainly the prudential considerations concerning the difficulty of crafting narrow, specific remedies often cited as justification for the particularized injury requirement are valid policy considerations, they are not valid Constitutional bars to justiciability with any grounding in Article III or any other provision of the Constitution; they, therefore, ought not form a part of Constitutional standing analysis independent of the law under which action is brought (of course, particular laws might still create a requirement for particularlized injury for standing).

Of course, a whole lot of "standing" law is judicial caseload-management policy to create barriers to litigation that is, at best, weakly grounded in the Constitution. Strangely, though, the right-wingers who love to chant "judicial activism" never complain about that kind of activism.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 2, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, haven't you guys heard? The Prez knows all about global warming, and has "consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring"...errr, or not:

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/02/08/bush-quotes-on-warming/

...he's ummm....just not sure it's real, or that we have anything to do with it, or that we should do anything about it.

But whatever his opinion is, it's been consistent.

Posted by: pdq on April 2, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK
Can we get some smarter trolls, please? Ones that can actually make a coherent argument?

But, then they wouldn't be trolls, would they?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 2, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

So will this "show" be on American Idol, 24 or some new excuse to pollute (what remains of) the minds of amuricans ?

"...The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way..." - Henry Wallace

Posted by: daCascadian on April 2, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I'm surprised you didn't notice that this will likely have a major impact in California. If the Clean Air Act has to cover greenhouse gases, then the lawsuit by the auto industry against California's attempt to regulate greenhouse gases (using the Clean Air Act language that gives California power to create stricter standards) will have to be thrown out.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 2, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I got lots of pure air in the bunker.
The rest of you maggots?
Go fuck yourselves...

Posted by: Growls from the Bunker... on April 2, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: "But, then they wouldn't be trolls, would they?"

Actually, that's not entirely true. It's possible to troll and to make a coherent argument. In fact, it takes real skill to do just that, to carry out the kind of trolling that in the old Usenet days used to end with "YHBT. HAND."

The ones we have here are the crudest of trolls, the ones whose only skill appears to be the ability to relentlessly write really stupid statements, ad nauseam.

Posted by: PaulB on April 2, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: "But then the Al-bot is simply a mindless troll, here to regurgitate White House spin, not to engage in actual thought or debate. My apologies for responding to it."

No apologies needed. The Al-bot is tolerated here merely as a form of comic relief. Please feel free to take a swipe at the blog's right-wing piñata whenever you feel the urge.

Posted by: Comrade Donald from the People's Republic of Hawaii on April 2, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

"An odd situation when an entity in the Bush administration claims they have less power rather than more."

This is a rather hot potato and I doubt they want to be saddled with it, one.

Two, the EPA struggles under the same strangle hold of budget cuts and lack of manpower that other environmentally focused federal agencies are struggling under these past few years.

Nothing new here folks, just look away.

The EPA is just one of this country's forward-looking organizations whose effectiveness is being very effectively reduced by slow budget increases that will not cover the workload increase, money being syphoned off for idiotic expenditures instead of program enhancements like oh, say STAFF. They are top-heavy in management, far too light in actual field workers. The processing of paperwork has increased, the time allowed to effectively apply the law has been curtailed, and the sue-happy litigants (read mulit-millionaire developers who can afford the court costs) has been taking up the agency's time and funds, and reducing by small legal increments their freedom to act.

Now consider THIS particular vital piece of environmentalism that is touted to be the destruction of mankind. Consider all the ramifications this hot potato comes with, no matter who gets it in their lap.

Tag, EPA. You are it. The hot potato goes to an organization already struggling to cover its current directives and mission. The addition will significantly increase their workload and funding needs. Ensure an increase in their budget next year! Absolutely.
But...did anyone say by how much? Anyone?
Make the remaining staff, while not lessening their current duties, learn new duties and take on new responsibilities as part of their job performance. It isn't that the organization is being down-sized. What is happening TODAY is a slow or no replacement of personnel lost to natural workplace attrition, like retirment or overwork. Simply do not replace the ones that leave.

Oh, and don't forget the lobbiests and their special interests up in WA. They know how to really get the public riled up by bleating how AWFUL it is that (multi-millionaire) developers can't make money to FEED their families because ALL the land is under conservation by those nasty liberal environmentalists (can you say spotted owl?). No one cries when environmental agencies funds are cut. There is always some other more heart-bleeding cause put forth which needs the funding.

What happens to an organization with too much job and too little staff. Paralysis. Beautiful beautiful paralysis (of course its beauty depends on your point of view). A calm subtle way of undermining evnironmentalism gently, effectively, without the public show-down.

I don't blame the EPA for not wanting the burden of saving the world on a pauper's budget.

The gut-ripping claws of responsibility need to strike at throats above the EPA, solidly and without mercy. Without the bloodshed, the EPA is powerless and so is any hope of impacting global warming with effective tools, manpower, or funding.

Posted by: Zit on April 2, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK
If the Clean Air Act has to cover greenhouse gases, then the lawsuit by the auto industry against California's attempt to regulate greenhouse gases (using the Clean Air Act language that gives California power to create stricter standards) will have to be thrown out.

Er, no.

Because the EPA being required to regulate won't change the effect of the language that, as you note, gives California the power to create stricter standards; that language includes a non-preemption which explicitly states that any federal standards adopted under the Act do not limit more stringent requirements under State law.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 2, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

The question is what caused Kennedy to take pro-environment side...

Posted by: JD on April 2, 2007 at 4:52 PM

A cynic might say it was the knowledge that a decision going the other way would mobilize the left and, even more importantly, the media, who are finally getting interested in this topic. This decision, on the other hand, allows the right to continue using the "activist judges" thing as a rallying call, while the media can continue to cavort and clown feeling sure that, no matter how badly they behave, nothing truly disastrous will happen, because the courts or some other deus ex machina will always save the day.

That would be a cynic, mind you.

Posted by: Steppen on April 2, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

hank, why don't you waltz over and stick "greenhouse" into your search box. And hon, as long as trolls like you post here, there can be no reduction in bullshit.

Now let the grown-ups talk.

Posted by: Search Box on April 2, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This is a truly distressing developemnt.

CO2 is not a pollutant, Kevin. WE BREATHE OUT CO2! CO2 is a natural part of the ENVIRONMENT! Maybe they don't teach this in your public school education, but I learned it in the first grade.

This is nothing more than a conspiracy foisted on us by liberal academics greedy for more grant money. Grant money dries up unless these "scientits" can invent dramatic new catastrophes that never have to be proven and are so far out in the future they can never be proved wrong. It's all a very convenient game.

The planet has been warming since the last ice age. That's another thing you should learn in firts grade science.

This ruling establishes a dangerous prescident. Basically now the academics have cart blanche power to invent whole new problems and foist their socialist command control visions on American capitalism.

Posted by: egbert on April 2, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kennedy is an intellectual lightweight. He has not had some kind of awakening or tilt to the left. What he has found out though, is the thrill of being the swing vote. He will vote with the center-right bloc, as he did here, to establish his credentials as a power broker before he gives another big vote to the far-right bloc.

This is exactly correct. You cannot be a swing vote unless you occasionally swing.

Posted by: Disputo on April 2, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Anent the CO2 is not a pollutant gag.

That's so coy as to be insane. We regulate SO2 as a pollutant, but the body produces that as well.

Don't be stupid.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 2, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ok I'll go along with the supremes on this. CO2 in too large amounts can be bad for animals. So let's make sure we don't sufficate. But then of course if we decrease CO2 too much all the plants will die so let's not go over board. And if we ever prove that humans cause global warming then we'll have to look at that. Oh well let's all support President Bush's ethanol Initiative to save the planet and free us from mideast tyranny.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 2, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik;
Too much CO2 will kill plants as well.

CO2 is not a pollutant, Kevin. WE BREATHE OUT CO2!
Posted by: egbert on April 2, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

We breathe it out because it's a pollutant. If it was good for us, we'd keep it in our bodies.

CO2 is a natural part of the ENVIRONMENT! Maybe they don't teach this in your public school education, but I learned it in the first grade.

Yes, and salt is a natural part of the environment. Why don't you eat a pound of it in one sitting and then let us know how you feel?

This is nothing more than a conspiracy foisted on us by liberal academics greedy for more grant money. Grant money dries up unless these "scientits" can invent dramatic new catastrophes. . .

I *KNOW*!!! just last Sunday I was listening to this academic "Bible Scholar" telling me that my soul would experience a catastrophe of eternal damnation if I didn't accept Jesus as my personal savior! The nerve of that scam artist!

The planet has been warming since the last ice age. That's another thing you should learn in firts grade science.

Didn't you also learn that there were cooling periods since the last ice age? I guess not. Where did you go to school? Were you taught about the dinosaurs that were too big to fit onto Noah's Ark, and were therefore wiped out by the great flood?

This ruling establishes a dangerous prescident. Basically now the academics have cart blanche power to invent whole new problems and foist their socialist command control visions on American capitalism.

. . . as opposed to the Republican carte blanch to foist a massive Trillion Dollar subsidy to the oil industry based on the whacky theory that religious fundamentalists in the middle east want western-style democracy.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on April 2, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Basically now the academics have cart blanche power to invent whole new problems and foist their socialist command control visions on American capitalism."

To do that, them academics will have to tell the Republicans to shove over. And that ain't gonna happ'n, Cap't. Like you, when common sense tries to take over.

bwhahahahahahahaha......

Posted by: Egbert's Id on April 2, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Just wondering Has congress set limits on pollutants or are they leaving it up to the epa. If the democrats are serious I would think that they would set the pollution limits and take the credit for saving the world or the blame for ruining the economy.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 2, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK


Federal law does give the authority to limit emissions.
A big bite of the reality sandwich for the administration.
It will be hard for those in denial to refuse in the face of all the facts, and now this!
Congress will have to set limits for new cars, most likely...to get 'er done.
Wow, will the historians go to town on this administration.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 2, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

And, asking whether CO2 is really a "pollutant" so as to fend off global warming action is about as dumb as saying that since water isn't a pollutant, we shouldn't try to build levees, worry about floods and hurricans, tsunamis, ople drowning, etc.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on April 2, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

1) The standing argument is genuinely tricky under current standing precedent, but it is not tricky under the goals & purposes of the standing doctrine. There is not question this is a case or controversy. There is no question that both parties had every incentive to present their arguments clearly. It involved exactly the type of things (interpreting the law) the Courts are (supposed) to be good at. It was not moot.

2) The statutory interpretation presented by the EPA was laughable. Laughable. The dissent doesn't even cite Ethyl Corporation - the prior decision which already laid out this standard, which Congress then codified. If you read the EPA's reasoning, they included all sorts of factors not listed in the statute in their analysis. They depended on a single report written by about 12 scientists. Many of those same scientists wrote an amicus brief in favor of Massachusetts. This was not a hard case. EPA was trying to to rewrite the law without going to Congress. The Court said: "no, you can't do that - go to Congress." That's the right answer.

The depressing thing is not that the 4 conservatives all agreed on the standing issue - that was expected. The depressing thing is that all 4 of them deferred to the EPA on the statutory interpretation. Even under Chevron deference, this was laughable.

The case was clear cut. The Justices were just applying the law.

Posted by: MDtoMN on April 2, 2007 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

God, please get Bush and Cheney out of the White House before the last liberal on the Supreme Court dies.... PLEASE!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 2, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

And I don't think Kennedy should be considered a lightweight. These are often genuinely hard issues (I don't think the statutory analysis here was, but the standing was under current precedent). Kennedy if open minded and tries to find good law. So do many of the other Justices. The fact that Kennedy is in the middle doesn't mean he is less correct than all the others. Personally, I think it means he's less correct than 4 of them and more correct than 4 others.

Posted by: MDtoMN on April 2, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

And one defense of the conservatives - they did not depend on Brown & Williamson. So, even they managed to do something good in today's opinion. Woohoo!

Posted by: MDtoMN on April 2, 2007 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't quite on-topic, but there was a recent editorial by Walter Williams about CO2 that has my temperature rising. In Global Warming Heresy he says

Annually, volcanoes alone produce more carbon dioxide than all of mankind's activities.

That was a surprising fact---I did not know that. But when I Googled the question, the first web page returned said this

Present-day carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from subaerial and submarine volcanoes are uncertain at the present time. Gerlach (1991) estimated a total global release of 3-4 x 10E12 mol/yr from volcanoes. This is a conservative estimate. Man-made (anthropogenic) CO2 emissions overwhelm this estimate by at least 150 times.

I miss the days when conservatives were the tough-minded realists who paid attention to the facts while liberals were the mushy-minded dreamers who followed their hearts. Modern conservatives seem unacquainted with head or heart.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 3, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Ok let's assume that global warming is happening. I'd like to see a real honest plan to do something about it. Let's see the democrats do something other than play politics. It seems that Al Gore isn't sacrificing his life style. Why should anyone else?
We have to face the fact that no one wants to make drastic life style changes. It seems to me that the best solution is Bush's bio-fuel plan although not ethanol but bio-butanol. But instead of playing politics we need to get going and do it.

I really don't know if man is creating Global Warming or not or if it really matters. But we have to face a few facts the fossil fuels will someday run out and right now we have to buy oil from countrys which aren't very friendly from us.

So Let's get going with home grown bio-fuels

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 3, 2007 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Notice the byline on the Times article that Kevin linked to: Linda Greenhouse!
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/02/washington/02cnd-scotus.html?ei=5090&en=b79eeb5b2def7093&ex=1333166400&adxnnl=1&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1175571625-p7KCmIP822mQC2r8VmP//Q

So now we know what rule the EPA will issue - Linda Greenhouse, remove your excess gases from our atmosphere.

James Inhofe and the AEI will continue to claim it's a hoax perpetuated by the liberal media: "And then they got together and decided to scare us all with ridiculous stories about gases in the atmosphere. They needed a fancy name to call these gases, and looked at Linda and said 'Name them after Linda - she's got a fancy last name!'"

Kerkira

Posted by: Kerkira on April 3, 2007 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

"It seems that Al Gore isn't sacrificing his life style. Why should anyone else?"
The Gore's purchase all of their electricity at a higher rate by purchasing only power from renewable, non-polluting sources. That is, in fact, a step in the right direction.
DK2

Posted by: DK2 on April 3, 2007 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Truthpolitik

Biofuels 'home grown' is currently a crock.

The US gains at best marginally more energy, and at worst a lot less, from corn ethanol than it takes in fertiliser, pesticide, tractor and truck fuel and distillation fuel, to produce it.

The popularity of ethanol 'multi fuel' vehicles is because the CAFE credit the manufacturer gets, whether those vehicles are using biofuels or not.

Brasilian sugar cane ethanol (or better yet, Cuban!) would work much better (sunnier climates, fewer pesticides and fertilizers, more of the plant energy can be used in the process). But there's no way the US is going to import that duty free.

Bioethanol is all about the Iowa primary and the importance of the midwest in the US electoral college and Senate, not about saving the world, or the US from Arabian oil.

Biodiesel is an interesting fuel, if made from soybeans, say, and waste fat from fast food restaurants. Beware the European example though: the Indonesians and the Malaysians are ploughing under virgin rainforest to grow palm oil, to feed European legislation.

www.biofuelswatch.co.uk

*cellulosic* bio ethanol could be a good fuel, but we don't know how to do it yet-- it's surprisingly hard.

However you stack it, given the energy inefficiencies in the process, and the high pollution, it's very hard to see the US being more than 10% biofueled in the next 20 years, without massive distortions and environmental costs.

The best solution to Peak Oil, is to *burn less oil*. And the way to do that is to *drive more fuel efficient cars and trucks*.

Europeans and Japanese get 50% higher MPG than Americans for their vehicles. This is on existing technology, and with highway speeds which (in Europe) are typically much higher. no strings attached: you raise gas prices, and you promote diesel engines.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (soon to be on the market) offer possibilities as high as 80mpg (Imperial Gallon).

The US cannot easily substitute away from its dependence on foreign oil (arguably, if that oil comes out of the Alberta Tar Sands, who cares? It's not as if, by Treaty and trade links, Canada can stop selling it). But it can burn less energy. In the long run, assuming the CO2 problem can be cracked, the US will produce oil from coal (as the Nazi Germans did, the South Africans do, and the Chinese are gearing up to do) and from natural gas (as Qatar does).

On global warming, it is very real. And it is a good deal more frightening than the IPCC is letting on: the report was deliberately edited to get rid of some of the latest data, and some of the current concerns scientists have. There is at least a 20% chance we will increase world temperatures by 5 degrees centigrade or more (ie as much as they have increased since the last Ice Age), and we really don't know how to run a world civilisation of 9 billion people on that much hotter a world.

Some of the possible outcomes are shocking. 50% (or more) extinction of all existing plant and animal species due to habitat disappearance. Acidification of the oceans. End of regular rainfall west of the Mississippi (and the Ogala Aquifer is already depleted). End of agriculture in Australia, once the world's third largest grain producer. Collapse of the Greenland and even the Antarctic Ice Sheets (those possibilities are *specifically* *excluded* from the IPCC forecast.

The question is, in 20 years time, by the time we have agreement that it is a problem enough for the political system to act, will it be too late?

Posted by: Valuethinker on April 3, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

"The question is, in 20 years time, by the time we have agreement that it is a problem enough for the political system to act, will it be too late?"

My question is exactly what do we have to do.
Let's see the democrats set mileage limits.
Don't leave it up to the epa. Just go out and take everybodys suv away.

Seems to me the dems complain a lot and do nothing.

Posted by: TruthPolitic on April 3, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

"The Gore's purchase all of their electricity at a higher rate by purchasing only power from renewable, non-polluting sources. That is, in fact, a step in the right direction.
DK2"

That's a cop out. He isn't sacrificing any thing. I can't afford to purchase renewable power. Let's see him reduce his energy use like I have to.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 3, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik wrote:
> I can't afford to purchase renewable power.

Baloney. I purchase green power in Oregon. It only costs about 10% extra--for me, an extra $3/mth.

Posted by: Thomas on April 3, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas

I only use a third of the energy that you do. Isn't that better?

I've always wondered why wind energy should cost more. After all there is no fuel cost. But then wind
can't supply all our power. So come on Albert Gore stop being an energy hog.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 3, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Let's see the democrats do something other than play politics." TruthPolitik

Is this a fair statement? Politics in Washington? Really. Democrats in WA are up to their noses in politics, they are swimming against a very strong torrent of rather nasty politics and not only are they holding their own up there, but they might be making some headway. I have grumbled about the molasses pace myself, but the pace is moving and the direction is a good one.

"Let's see him reduce his energy use like I have to".

I don't agree with this statement either. Aren't you making decisions about your personal way of life, and the person you want to be? I assume you are middle class? Middle class means folks live better above us and folks live worse below. You looking upward and saying "but he don't..." is exactly what folks below you on the economic ladder are saying. You aren't sacrificing for those below you, now are you, giving up your computer or tv so a deserving family can have them? You are leading by example too, don't be a hypocrite by blaming your lack of intiative on someone else. Invest in your own conscience.

v/r :)

Posted by: Zit on April 3, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik wrote:
> I only use a third of the energy that you do.
> Isn't that better?

No, in fact it is not. Your energy produces greenhouse gases. Mine does not. That's the whole point.

Posted by: Thomas on April 3, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Actually it should be easy to prove that impact of GHGs don't merit regulation. However, I doubt they will. It would be much easier to statergically ally themselves with the people who will benefit from regulation and control. GW is the polical equivalent of windfall profits.

Posted by: aaron on April 3, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Truthpolitik

This is hardly a 'Democratic' issue, any more than it is a British Tory (Conservative) Party issue (although they have endorsed carbon taxes).

This is a fate of the world depends on this issue.

The optimal scheme from an economic efficiency point of view is one of carbon taxation for emissions *or* tradeable permits to emit carbon dioxide.

The latter scheme is already in use for US electric power production for sulphur dioxide, and has led to 60% reductions in emissions since 1992, at a much lower cost than expected.

But saying 'why don't the Democrats do something?' when the President will veto any legislation, and the Democrats (barely) control either legislature, is absolutely silly.

Why don't the Democrats do something about cancer? About heart disease? About Darfur?

Because, in truth, it's a bipartisan issue.

Posted by: Valuethinker on April 3, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

This "Co2 is natural so its not a pollutant" stuff is really silly. Lots of pollutants have natural sources. So2 comes from volcanos. Trees emit volatile organic compounds. Particulate matter is essentially just dirt blown in the air.

The question is whether CO2 is an air pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act. The Act defines an air pollutant as "`any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, radioactive * * * substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air."

Posted by: Snacktime on April 3, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's the usual concern troll classic. Whenever you hear "Why don't the Democrats do something about ... ?" , you never hear Why don't the Republicans do something about ... ? They are the one's in power, after all!" When one party is being berated, the other party's efforts should aways be mentioned for comparison purposes.

And Truthpolitic, in answer to your question, the cost of generated electricity does not only include the fuel cost, but also the cost of the installation, and this total is divided by the amount of power the installation can generate.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on April 3, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that CO2 is harmful.

Posted by: aaron on April 3, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oops. That's "isn't" harmful. Or maybe I'm coming around...

Posted by: aaron on April 3, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Oops. That's "isn't" harmful. Or maybe I'm coming around"

aaron you're "RIGHT" in both posts. It isn't harmfull in the right amounts and the right situation. But it is harmfull in the wrong amounts and the wrong situation.

It seems that the EPA and the democrat congress dissagree on these amounts and situations. So I'm wondering why the dems don't just pass laws banning Suvs, Coal powered power plants and other sources of pollution. Or is the whole thing politics.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 3, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik - the Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act. The President signed it. The EPA is supposed to promulgate regulations for emissions based on their expertise, the risk of harm, and the cost of the regulation.

This entire case was about the executive trying to change the law without going to Congress. Bush is the person who refused to actually take the action he was obligated to do.

Posted by: MDtoMN on April 3, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"TruthPolitik - the Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act. The President signed it. The EPA is supposed to promulgate regulations for emissions based on their expertise, the risk of harm, and the cost of the regulation."
MDtoMN

I agree with you. And I also agree with the supreme court that the epa has the power to regulate co2. But I don't think that, with the current evidence, The risk of harm outways the cost of regulation. I'd like to see the epa do a thorough non-political investigation.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 3, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

"I agree with you. And I also agree with the supreme court that the epa has the power to regulate co2. But I don't think that, with the current evidence, The risk of harm outways the cost of regulation. I'd like to see the epa do a thorough non-political investigation."
And what do you base your "amount of harm" and on what do you base your "amount of costs"? You haven't shown much willingness to accept the figures from the IPCC on the former, or offered up any facts to support the latter...
DK2

Posted by: DK2 on April 4, 2007 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly