Monday, June 7, 2010

Still addressing lies regarding EPA regulation of greenhouse gases

Obviously recent letters were not considered enough shilling for Lisa Murkowski's Dirty Air Amendment. Today we get in the Herald a contribution from Scott Hennen.

First, a note that a very similarly cut letter from Hennen can be found in today's Bismarck Tribune. Maybe it will be freely available on the web longer there. Also of note is that today's Tribune also has a letter from several ND scientists that counters Hennen's letter. Perhaps Hennen spread his letter around the state more than the scientists did with theirs. Perhaps the Herald got the scientists letter too and plan to run it a different day to play the 'journalism is trying to portray a controversy' game more spread out in time. Perhaps the Herald think it is just the turn for rejectionism after publishing another contribution from Dr. Dexter Perkins disputing the ramblings of Dan Hennessy. Who knows?

But back to Hennen. At least he does not spend any time here trying to claim global warming does not exist or is not affected by human activities, though I take little solace in his not explicitly making that claim here. All he takes the time to really do is grossly mischaracterize the potential EPA greenhouse gas regulations then attack his strawman.

I can actually agree with the notion that the Clean Air Act is not an optimal instrument for greenhouse gas regulations. But I feel that should drive legislative action soon whereas Hennen uses that argument simply since that is convenient to oppose action to protect the climate. The quote containing it is from Kevin Cramer, but Hennen also pushes the absurd line of attack against action "during these trying economic times." First off, it would be at least July 2011 before any sources would need to seek permits, and those would only be about 550 in number and certainly nobody's lawn mower. More absurd is the notion that Hennen and others who use this argument would actually support regulation during better economic times. It is all about the easy excuses available at the moment.

Of course cost is always being pulled out to try to keep us on the fast path to climate devastation. The problem is that we cannot simply continue to dump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like we have. Clean energy and a price on (decreasing usage of) dirty energy are simply necessary even if there is some cost, like obeying traffic signals is necessary even though it may have some cost in terms of time. Hennen and his like are frequently overstating the projected costs of climate legislation and ignoring the costs of inaction.

The most barefaced deception from Hennen here though is the notion is that the EPA is a "rogue agency" trying to execute a "power grab". As the scientists' letter mentioned above notes, in 2007 the Supreme Court ruled greenhouse gases were air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act and that the EPA must assess whether they threaten public health, and in late 2009 the EPA issued findings confirming the threat. How dare the EPA do its job and what it was judicially mandated to do! Next thing you know the big, bad government may be harassing poor oil companies about oil spills.

I assume that Hennen is simply of ignorant of the things he gets so wrong. But I may be giving him too little credit - perhaps he does understand the issues and is simply lying in misleading about them. Despite Hennen's hysterical claims, the EPA is clearly not going to be regulating kitchens and homes.

The recently finalized greenhouse gases tailoring rule was set up specifically to avoid having the regulate smaller sources while still covering facilities emitting about 2/3rds of stationary source emissions. No source could possibly be affected until at least May 2016 if it emits less than 50,000 tons per year, which is half the amount originally considered for the initial threshold level. The levels were raised specifically because the EPA wanted to avoid having to deal with permitting for facilities like large apartment buildings and commericial sources, and there is no indication the EPA would be jumping at having to deal with much smaller sources several years from now.

The Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA originated from mobile sources, and though Hennen hyperventilates about regulation of motorcycles, forklifts, etc, you can see for yourself what the planned regulations are. It is not at all like Hennen says but rather a lot of fuel efficiency improvements. Does Hennen own a lot of oil company stock and hate the idea of consumers saving money on fuel?

The power grab that concerns me is by the likes of Hennen who constantly stonewall serious efforts to protect the climate with one-sided claims that are typically unsubstantiated or debunked, if not both. The real rogues are those who insist on ignoring or denying science that tells us things we need to do to maintain the livability of the planet because they think their wallets will be made lighter today. We see an example of that sort of short-sighted thinking at work throughout the path to the Gulf oilcano situation.

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