Thought Piece

With all the hand-wringing and teeth-knashing being done since the two international Lancet Reports and EPA’ s recent environmental report, I thought that I would reprint this piece from 2016: “EPA and the Clean Power Plan,” where I delineate over 20 flaws in the Clean Power Plan. The CPP would reduce US emissions by 00.01, according to Gina McCarthy in Congressional Hearings as later as 2015.

Also, it is worth repeating that the Paris Agreement is a voluntary accord, with many unreliable countries, and to date, there is no protocol for accounting or verification. Steve

The EPA and The Clean Power Plan: The Climate Science is Far from Settled

(…and the EPA hasn’t yet addressed any of the important issues surrounding the energy, technology and telecommunication convergence.)

By Stephen Heins

While many of us actively try to follow the broad-based scientific discussions about climate change, most of us don’t even play a weatherman, climatologist or scientist on TV. By the way, like all weather, science and climatology, the climate change discussion is far from settled.

For some observers of Washington DC bureaucracies, the FCC and the EPA are classic examples of federal agencies trying to regulate industries while being many years behind in terms of technology and innovation of their regulated industries.

Given the large size of groups and people involved in the discussion and implementation of the coming convergence of energy, telecommunications and technology, the world’s economy and environment are too important to be left to silo thinking or national and global politics.

That said, it is worth doing a final critique of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and its many, many flaws:

  • Medical computations of indirect health benefits from the reduction of PM 2.5 (or fine particulate matter) have never been well demonstrated;
  • The use of several studies (e.g. Harvard’s study of indirect health benefits) are likely examples of “study-bias;”
  • The CPP places complete faith in the advancement of technology responding to political dictates instead of the marketplace;
  • The CPP lacks a full accounting of the costs of stranding electrical assets and the large investment in new infrastructure, which essentially just replicate old distribution assets;
  • The Clean Power Plan has never been properly vetted, and there never was a state or national political mandate calling for its formulation;
  • To date, 27 states have officially challenged the legality of the Clean Power Plan;
  • President Obama and Secretary McCarthy are likely to be in the rear view mirror by the time it is fully implemented;
  • The CPP has been sold to the American public with a current administration PR effort indistinguishable from a political campaign;
  • Actual greenhouse gas reductions from the Clean Power Plan are miniscule, and, according to Scientific America and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), by 2015, 47 states have already achieved sharp decreases in emission from 2007 levels, with over 1,000 million tons of reductions;
  • The US is already on a glide path whereby America has reduced more GHS than any other country in the world, which even the Sierra Club acknowledges;
  • The Clean Power Plan has used either no real cost benefit analysis, like many other recent federal initiatives, including the unconstitutional Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) regulation, throughout all versions of the EPA’s regulations;
  • The CPP gives the EPA and state environmental agencies first class status, making all other state and federal agencies (like the Department of Energy and State Utility Regulators) second class citizens, with second class powers;
  • With “cross state” and regional emission differences, the CPP makes states and regions compete against each other in energy markets previously regulated by states, and is de facto helping to create a national emissions market;
  • The CPP is fraught with silo thinking, with no heed paid to the rapidly expanding convergence of energy, technology and telecommunications;
  • In the case of the above convergence, there is no consideration for the growing need for electricity to allow significantly more energy efficiency and economic development in all 50 states;
  • The CPP has a serious lack of transparency, whereby much of the information remains undisclosed. Most of the grant money provided for health and emissions studies is under-declared;
  • The significant input provided by large environmental groups is largely buried in the footnotes;
  • The robust public relations campaign conducted by the EPA and the White House, and a large number of related texts and emails, are shrouded in the lack of proper disclosure;
  • The EPA (and particularly Administrator Gina McCarthy) has used its legal and quasi-legal bully pulpit, afforded it in the media and through the questionable use of Social Media, to sway public opinion for its environmental crusade, much as it has done with the Clean Water Act;
  • Finally, and most importantly, the Clean Power Plan lacks any judicial proof that it can withstand any or all of the constitutional challenges, to date, in the Supreme Court.