Those “devastating” EPA reductions

Budget and personnel cuts reflect environmental progress and essential regulatory reforms

Paul Driessen – Those -devastating- EPA reductions

The Trump White House wants significant reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency: two dozen or more programs, including a dozen dealing with President Obama’s climate initiatives; a 20% downsizing in EPA’s 15,000-person workforce; and a one-fourth reduction in its $8.1 billion budget.

The plan requires congressional approval, and thus is hardly a “done deal.” Not surprisingly, it is generating howls of outrage. Former U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the proposal would be “crippling,” and “devastating for the agency’s ability to protect public health.”

One employee resigned because the cuts would prevent him from serving “environmental justice” and “vulnerable communities.” A congressman claimed EPA is “already operating at 1989 staffing levels,” and the reductions could mean “cutting the meat and muscle with the fat.”

A deep breath and objective assessment are in order.

1) Since EPA was created in December 1970, America’s environmental progress has been amazing. Our cars now emit less than 2% of the pollutants that came out of tailpipes 47 years ago. Coal-fired power plant particulate, mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions are 10-20 % of their 1970 levels. The white plumes above factory and power plant “smoke stacks” are 90% steam (water vapor) and plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide (which Obama EPA officials disingenuously called “carbon pollution”).

Our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal areas are infinitely cleaner and far safer to drink from or swim in. The notorious lead contamination in Flint, Michigan water occurred under Gina McCarthy’s watch, because her agency didn’t do its job. It was her EPA officials who also triggered the infamous Gold King Mine blowout that contaminated hundreds of miles of river water with arsenic and other toxic metals.

So much for “protecting public health,” ensuring “environmental justice,” and safeguarding our most “vulnerable communities.” It’s as if we’ve come full circle, and now need to be protected from EPA. In truth, that goes all the way back to the agency’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, who ignored his own scientists, banned DDT, and sentenced tens of millions of Africans and Asians to death from malaria.

2) EPA became bloated, incompetent and derelict in its fundamental duties largely because it became ideological, politicized and determined to control what it was never intended to regulate. Through mission creep, sue-and-settle lawsuits, and an eight-year quest to help “fundamentally transform” America’s energy and economic system, it attempted to regulate every rivulet, puddle and other “Water of the US,” stuck its nose in numerous local affairs – like the road to a nickel mine in Michigan – and colluded with environmentalists to block Alaska’s Pebble Mine before a permit application had even been submitted.

Most egregious was the agency’s use of alleged “dangerous manmade climate change” to justify its “war on coal,” its “Clean Power Plan,” and its determination to slash fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions by regulating nearly every factory, farm, hospital, mall, drilling project and vehicle in America.

EPA’s other chief climate crusade target was methane, which it called “an extremely powerful climate pollutant” and absurdly claimed is responsible for “a fourth of all global warming to date.” Methane is a tiny 0.00017% of Earth’s atmosphere – equivalent to $1.70 out of $1 million (and compared to 0.04% for CO2) and U.S. energy operations account for less than a tenth of all annual natural and manmade methane emissions. To control that, EPA wanted industry to spend billions of dollars per year.

It also demanded that cars and light trucks get 54.5 mpg by 2025. To meet that standard, automakers would have to downsize and plasticize vehicles, making them less safe and causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths – a reality that EPA ignored in its cost/benefit and environmental justice analysis.

When states, industries or experts raised questions about EPA’s “CO2 endangerment” decision, its biased and dishonest “social cost of carbon” analysis, or its use of “secret science” and highly suspect computer models to justify “climate chaos” claims – the agency railed about “intimidation” and “interference” with its mandate to “protect public health and welfare.” It’s time to take those questions seriously.

3) EPA obviously has too many anti-energy, anti-development staff, programs and dollars looking for more activities to regulate and terminate, to justify their existence. As these programs are properly and necessarily cut back, EPA budgets and personnel should likewise be reduced.

4) Complying with EPA and other government regulations inflicts staggering costs that reverberate throughout our economy, as businesses and families struggle to read, comprehend and comply with them. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculated that federal regulations alone cost $1.885 trillion per year – prior to the epic regulatory tsunami of 2016 – with the Obama era alone generating $800 billion to $890 billion in annual regulatory burdens, the American Action Forum estimated.

EPA alone is responsible for well over $353 billion of the cumulative annual federal regulatory bill, CEI’s Wayne Crews estimated, based on 2012 data from the first four years of the Obama presidency. Just as disturbing, the total federal regulatory bill is equal to all individual and corporate tax payments combined.

Even more frightening, embedded in those federal regulations are fines and jail terms for some 5,000 federal crimes and 300,000 less serious criminal offenses. An absence of intent to violate the law, even failure to know and understand millions of pages of laws and regulations, even the mistaken assumption that no agency could possibly implement such an absurd rule, is no excuse. You’re still guilty as charged.

These regulatory burdens crush innovation, job creation, economic growth, and business and family wellbeing. They kill jobs, raise the cost of energy, food, products and services, reduce living standards, harm health and shorten lives. They violate any honest concept of “environmental justice.” Poor, minority, working class and other vulnerable families are hardest hit.

5) In fact, environmental justice is little more than a meaningless, malleable, phony concoction whose primary purpose is promoting progressive programs. Whatever EPA seeks to do advances justice and protects the vulnerable. Whatever an industry does or wants is unjust. Whenever anyone criticizes an agency action, it reflects racism or callous disregard for public health.

Only the effects of government regulations, and the actions of government regulators, appear to be exempt from recrimination, intimidation and penalties imposed in the name of environmental justice.

6) Fully 98% of all counties in the United States voted for Donald Trump and his vision for a less regulated, more prosperous nation, with fewer diktats from a Washington, DC that exempts itself from rules it inflicts on others. They did not vote for rolling back real environmental progress – and know full well that President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are doing no such thing.

They also know there is ample room – and abundant need – for the proposed EPA reductions. That’s why a CNN/ORC poll after Mr. Trump’s February 28 speech found that 70% of Americans who watched felt more optimistic about the nation’s future, and his policies and priorities were what the country needs now.

7) If President Trump’s program, budget and personnel proposals for EPA are approved, many highly paid agency employees will lose their jobs. That’s always painful, asthousands of coal miners, power plant operators and other employees in communities impacted by heavy-handed EPA regulations can attest – and as the powerful new documentary film “Collateral Damage” demonstrates.

However, downsizing is often essential to the survival of a company – or a country. As President Obama was fond of saying, elections have consequences. Let’s hope Congress and the Trump Administration move forward on EPA restructuring, stand firmly in the face of the predictable forces of professional outrage, and do a good job explaining why these changes are absolutely essential.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books on the environment.

Richard Lindzen Petition to President Trump: Withdraw from the UN Convention on Climate Change

lindzen

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Dr. Richard Lindzen has sent a petition to President Trump, asking the President to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.

The petition contains the names of around 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals, including physicists, engineers, former Astronauts, meteorologists, immunology specialists, marine biologists, chemists, statisticians, doctors, military weather specialists, geologists, accountants, a former director of NASA, economists, soil specialists, mathematicians, hydrologists, environmental scientists, computer modelling specialists, and many more. It is a long list.

Let us hope that President Trump acts quickly on Dr. Lindzen’s request.

If anyone you know claims the climate debate is over, show them a copy of Dr. Lindzen’s petition.

Diogenes searching for honest policies

Renewable energy is defective solution in search of a problem, money and power

Paul Driessen

The Greek philosopher Diogenes reportedly carried an oil lamp during the daytime, the better to help him find an honest man. People everywhere should join Congress and the Trump Administration in search of honest energy and climate policies – as too many existing policies were devised by special interests seeking money and power, and often using imaginary problems to justify their quest.

The health and environmental impacts from fossil fuels are well documented, though often exaggerated or even fabricated by activists, politicians, bureaucrats and companies with lofty agendas: securing climate research grants, and mandates and subsidies for renewable energy projects to replace fossil fuels; reducing economic growth and living standards in industrialized nations; and redistributing the world’s wealth, fundamentally transforming the global economy, and telling impoverished countries what kinds of energy and what level of economic development they will be permitted to have.

More often than not, proponents justify these agendas by insisting we must prevent dangerous manmade global warming and climate chaos, prevent unsustainable resource consumption, and safeguard people against purported technological risks. My multiple articles on the catechism of climate cataclysmsustainability realities, absurdities and duplicities … and selective application of precautionary pabulum address the conceptual fallacies of these interchangeable, agenda-driving mantras.

All three are routinely defined, twisted, used and abused to block technologies that activists despise, and promote technologies and policies that advance their agendas and fill their coffers.

But beyond their glaring, often insurmountable conceptual problems are the practical issues. With what, exactly, will these agitators replace fossil fuels? Applying the same health and environmental standards they use against oil, natural gas and coal – just how clean, green, Earth-friendly, sustainable, climate-stabilizing, healthy, and human rights/social justice-oriented are their renewable energy alternatives?

If their alternatives are so wondrous, why do they still need permanent mandates, renewable portfolio standards, investment tax credits, production tax credits, feed-in tariffs, myriad other subsidies, exemptions from endangered species and other regulations, and laws requiring that utility companies buy their electricity whenever it is produced (even if it is not needed)? Why must they build and run fossil fuel “backup” power plants for the 50-85% of the time that wind and solar are not producing?

The following brief examination will hopefully guide more rigorous analyses of the impacts of these “technologies of the future” – aka wind, solar and biomass technologies that served mankind rather poorly for countless generations, until the fossil/nuclear era began, and now are supposed to serve us once again.

Probably the biggest single problem with any supposedly renewable, sustainable alternative is its horrendously low energy density: the amount of energy produced per acre. We can get far more electricity or fuel from a few dozen, hundred or thousand acres of oil, gas or coal production operations than we can from millions or tens of millions of acres of renewable energy projects.

Moreover, fossil fuel operations can often be conducted in the middle of farm fields or wildlife habitats – or the land can be reclaimed and returned to those uses once the energy has been extracted. Offshore oil and gas platforms actually create thriving habitats for marine life. Most renewable energy operations displace food crops or destroy wildlife habitats – and must do so in perpetuity.

And so we have corn as high as an elephant’s eye, across an area the size of Iowa (36 million acres) to produce ethanol that replaces 10% of US gasoline but also requires vast quantities of water, fertilizer, fuel and pesticides to grow the corn and turn it into fuel – instead of feeding hungry people.

We find bright yellow canola fields across more millions of acres in Montana, Saskatchewan, Germany and elsewhere, to produce biodiesel – and still more acreage devoted to switchgrass for ethanol and algae ponds for “advanced biofuels.” In Brazil, it’s millions of acres of sugarcane for ethanol, and millions more for other biofuels from palm oil, from areas that once were rainforests, “the Earth’s lungs,” as environmentalist groups like to say. Once teeming with wildlife, they are now monoculture energy plantations – so that we don’t have to desecrate Mother Earth by drilling holes in the ground to produce oil and natural gas: nature’s own biofuels, created over millions of years and stored for mankind’s benefit.

Of course, when these expensive, environment-intensive alternatives are burned, they send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as fossil fuels do – on top of the CO2 that was burned by fuels and released from soils and clear-cut trees to produce the “climate-friendly renewable” energy.

Meanwhile, American and Canadian companies are cutting down millions of acres of forest habitats, and turning millions of trees into wood pellets that they truck to coastal ports and transport on oil-fueled cargo ships to England – to be hauled by truck and burned in place of coal to generate electricity. The pellets cost more than coal (which Britain still has in abundance), so utility companies receive huge taxpayer subsidies to make up the difference. One power plant received £450 million ($553 million) in 2015.

The financially and environmentally unsustainable scheme is justified on the ground that trees are renewable; so the scam helps Britain meet its climate change and renewable fuel obligations under various laws and treaties. Even though the trees-to-pellets-to-power process emits more carbon dioxide and pollution than coal-based power generation, the “wood fool” arrangement is considered to be “carbon neutral,” because growing replacement trees over the next century or two will absorb CO2.

If this sounds freaking dishonest and insane, it’s because it is freaking dishonest and insane. Diogenes must be turning summersaults in his grave. But there’s more.

On top of all this biofuel lunacy, we also have tens of thousands of wind turbines towering above fields, lakes, oceans and homes – butchering millions of birds and bats, and impairing the health of thousands of humans whose wellbeing is sacrificed to Big Wind profits. We’ve also got millions of solar panels sprawling across countless acres of desert and grassland habitats, to produce well under 1% of the world’s electricity. Their expensive, intermittent power reaches distant urban areas via thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. They all require greenhouse gas-emitting backup power plants.

Those turbines, panels, transmission lines and backups require millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete, rare earth and other exotic metals, fiberglass and other materials – much of it produced under nonexistent health and environmental laws in faraway countries, where injury, illness, child labor and death run rampant … and are ignored by local, national and United Nations authorities and human rights activists.

Removing all these worn-out turbines and solar panels will cost billions of dollars that state and federal governments don’t have, and developers have rarely had to cover with bonds.

Finally, the energy produced from all these “planet-saving” enterprises is far more costly than what could be produced using fossil fuels. Poor families are hit hardest, as they must spend a much larger portion of their incomes on energy than middle class and wealthy families. Businesses, factories, hospitals and schools also face rising energy costs, and must lay off workers, reduce services or close their doors.

The impacts ricochet throughout communities and nations, adversely affecting living standards, nutrition, health and life spans. We are reminded once again: Corporate fraud affects a limited number of customers; government and activist fraud affects every taxpayer, citizen and consumer.

The essence of all these renewable fuel programs is embodied in the notion that we must capture methane from cow dung, to safeguard Earth’s climate from this “potent greenhouse gas.” The operable term is BS.

The US Congress and Trump Administration could become world leaders in returning honesty and sanity to energy, climate, economic and environmental discussions and policies. Let’s hope they do.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Com