Thursday, March 30, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Donald Trump Declares ‘New Age Of American Energy’








Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama's Climate Policies

In this newsletter:

1) Donald Trump Declares ‘New Age Of American Energy’ As He Destroys Obama’s Climate Legacy
The Daily Telegraph, 28 March 2017
 
2) Trump’s Executive Order On Energy: This Time, He Listened To The Lawyers
Forbes, 29 March 2017
 
3) Has China Faked Its Coal Data?
Radio Free Asia, 27 March 2017
 
4) John Barrasso: Toward A Better Climate Sans Paris
The Washington Times, 29 March 2017 
 
5) Germany’s Green Party Booted Out Of Parliament In State Election
The Daily Caller, 27 March 2017

Full details:

1) Donald Trump Declares ‘New Age Of American Energy’ As He Destroys Obama’s Climate Legacy
The Daily Telegraph, 28 March 2017
 


Mr Trump last night signed a sweeping executive order slashing measures from the Obama era, a move that was welcomed by the oil and coal industries as a bold step to end regulations that were “choking” the economy.
 
Environmentalists condemned the move, accusing Mr Trump of wanting to “travel back to when smokestacks damaged our health” and said they would take his administration to court.
 
The president specifically targeted the Clean Power Plan, Mr Obama’s signature effort to tackle global warming.
 
Mr Obama’s plan required states in the US to cut carbon emissions from power plants collectively by 32 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
 
That measure was introduced in 2014 but has been stalled in the courts following challenges in Republican states.
 
It was key for the US to meet obligations under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries.
 
In the election campaign Mr Trump promised to pull the US out of the Paris agreement but since taking office he has not mentioned it, and neither did the executive order. The issue was believed to be still under discussion at the White House.
 
Last night ExxonMobil, the giant oil company, urged the Trump administration to stay in the Paris agreement, calling it an “effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change”.
 
Signing the order Mr Trump said: “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. With today’s executive action I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations.”
 
Mr Trump, standing next to a group of miners at the Environmental Protection Agency, said it marked a “new era in American energy”.
 
He added: “This is about bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams, and making America wealthy again. We love our coal miners.
 
“We are going to start a new American energy revolution, one that celebrates American production on American soil.”
 
Scott Pruitt, Mr Trump’s Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the president was “setting a new course”.
 
He added: “It’s going to create jobs in the oil and gas sector. For too long, over the last several years, you’ve had certain industries, certain sectors of our economy that were within the cross hairs of the EPA. That is not going to happen anymore.”
 
Mr Pruitt caused controversy recently by saying he was not convinced that carbon emissions from human activity are the primary driver of global warming.
 
In all, Mr Trump’s “Energy Independence” order blocked half a dozen anti-global warming executive orders signed by Mr Obama.
 
It included ending an Obama-era moratorium on leasing government controlled land for coal mining, and eased limits on methane emissions from oil and gas production.
 
The president also made clear that the issue of carbon emissions would be less of a consideration in future when making decisions about infrastructure projects.
 
Full post
 
2) Trump’s Executive Order On Energy: This Time, He Listened To The Lawyers
Forbes, 29 March 2017
Daniel Fisher
 
President Donald Trump’s executive order dismantling large chunks of Barrack Obama’s environmental legacy is a cleverly written document that avoids the pitfalls of Trump’s controversial orders on immigration.
 

President Donald Trump announces his executive order on energy at the EPA. (Photo by Ron Sach-Pool/Getty Images)

 
Unlike those orders, which have been suspended by federal courts, this one leaves the administration with a rich variety of legal and tactical choices on how to proceed with the mission of eliminating Obama-era regulations on fossil fuels.
 
The 7-page order released this afternoon reverses a string of Obama’s executive orders, including findings on the dangers of human-induced climate change and methane emissions. It also orders federal agencies to examine all of their actions related to the previous administration’s scientific findings on climate change with orders to “suspend, revise, or rescind” rules and regulations or begin the notice and comment period to reverse them. These are all legal steps that will spawn lawsuits by states and environmental groups opposed to the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback, but likely to run directly into the broad discretion given to federal agencies to interpret the law under the so-called Chevron doctrine.
 
The order doesn’t rescind Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has been suspended by the Supreme Court while a Washington appeals court considers its fate. But the order lays the groundwork for rescinding it by instructing Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt to review and potentially “take legal action” to reverse the legal memorandum the Obama administration relied upon to justify the CPP’s sweeping controls on the electric utility grid. To accomplish that goal the EPA reversed a decades-old understanding of a tangled section of the Clean Air Act that the incoming administration can choose to reinterpret.
 
“The lawyers really had their way with this one,” said said Thomas Lorenzen, a partner with Crowell & Moring in Washington and former assistant chief of the Justice Dept.’s environmental law section. “It is a very carefully constructed order.”
 
Eliminating the previous administration’s legal memorandum could be a speedier way to get rid of the CPP, although it would still have to go through a notice and comment period as well as the inevitable legal challenges. The government wouldn’t have to delve as deeply into the scientific record, however, which the Obama administration provided in ample detail to justify its plan. Instead, the Trump administration would argue the CPP, which takes a systemwide approach toward reducing CO2 emissions, is based on an incorrect reading of federal law.
 
The new EPA plan could return to “inside the fence” regulations on individual power plants, still holding them to strict efficiency standards that will be hard for coal plants to meet, but not eliminating them entirely. The CPP used “outside the fence” regulations imposed on entire regional electricity grids to effectively remove coal plants from the mix.
 
The order also calls for the elimination of the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, as well as its findings on the cost of global warming, which it pegged at $42 a ton by 2020. Effective immediately, the administration will use Bush-era standards to judge the cost of carbon emissions.
 
The Trump administration still faces hurdles, including a federal appeals court ruling upholding the Obama administration’s findings on the dangers of CO2 emissions from automobiles. But the new administration can use Chevron deference to its advantage here as well, Lorenzen said: The court ruling, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn, says the Obama administration’s finding was reasonable. The EPA under Pruitt need only muster enough scientific evidence to show that its findings are also reasonable, a relatively low bar for an agency to get over.
 
Full post 
 
3) Has China Faked Its Coal Data?
Radio Free Asia, 27 March 2017
Michael Lelyveld 
 

An excavator moves coal onto a truck at a coal port in Lianyungang, eastern China's Jiangsu province, Jan. 19, 2016. AFP

 
China has claimed big gains in energy efficiency for 2016 despite coal and steel production that covered cities in smog during the second half of the year.

Official figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have offered a murky mix of partial data, unexplained results and apparent discrepancies in accounting for the country's energy use in a year of lower economic growth.

In its statistical communique released this month during China's annual legislative sessions, the NBS said that energy use per unit of gross domestic product dropped by a substantial 5 percent last year, although several key indicators rose.

The measure of energy intensity fell almost as much as the 5.6-percent improvement recorded for 2015. But electricity consumption increased by 5 percent in 2016 compared with a much weaker gain of 0.9 percent a year before, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA).

The numbers pose a puzzling question with several implications for China's economy and the environment.

How could the country have made such an advance in energy efficiency at a time when power consumption climbed by such a large amount and GDP grew by 6.7 percent, the slowest pace in 26 years?

Other energy figures from the NBS may only add to the mystery.

According to the official data, consumption of crude oil also rose 5 percent and natural gas increased 8 percent, but coal use fell 4.7 percent in a big decline for China's main fuel.

The reported reduction in coal use for the third year in a row has been hailed by environmentalists, raising hopes that consumption may have peaked in 2013.

On March 17, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) credited China's reduction in coal demand for helping to avoid an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions for the third consecutive year.

China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell 1 percent in 2016, while U.S. emissions were down by 3 percent, the IEA said.

The major drop in coal consumption accounts for China's official calculation that total energy use rose by only 1.4 percent, far less than GDP, allowing the NBS to claim greater efficiency.

Source of confusion

But the coal numbers by themselves have been a source of questions and confusion.

In reporting the percentages for coal, oil and gas, the NBS has provided no actual tonnage or volume figures, making the rates impossible to check or compare.

In an analysis, the environmental group Greenpeace cited conflicting readings of the data on China's low-quality coal.

While the NBS reported a 4.7-percent drop in coal use based on undisclosed tonnage, it also claimed that coal's share of total energy use fell from 64 percent in 2015 to 62 percent last year.

The share numbers imply that coal consumption fell 1.3 percent based on the energy content of the fuel rather than physical tonnage, Greenpeace calculated.

"The difference can be due to either a major improvement in coal quality or data discrepancies," the Greenpeace analysis said.

The NBS has not explained why it reported percentage figures without the tonnage or volume details. […]

Although actual coal use is hard to quantify from such anecdotal evidence, the reports also raise doubts about NBS estimates that coal production last year fell by a whopping 9.4 percent.

If production had declined at double the rate of the drop in consumption, it would imply much tighter supplies.

China energy experts have been unable to substantiate the official figures.

Full story

See also FT 13 March 2017:

Fake China data: was it just one province? Revelations Liaoning fabricated statistics raise questions over rest of rust belt

4) John Barrasso: Toward A Better Climate Sans Paris
The Washington Times, 29 March 2017 

It’s time for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement entirely.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order that promoted American energy security by rolling back several overreaching Obama-era regulations that are central to the Paris climate pact.

The president’s order addressed some of the most economically damaging regulations behind the Paris accords.

The executive order’s goals include reversing the so-called “Clean Power” rules that would shutter American power plants. It also rescinds the damaging moratorium on coal leasing. Additionally, it removes the requirement that federal officials consider climate change when making decisions.

All were put in place without congressional approval.

This executive order sent Washington’s regulatory agencies back to the drawing board to help make American energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs on American families.

The order has taken the legs out from under the Paris climate agreement that President Obama signed in his last year in office.

The international climate deal was negotiated badly and signed out of desperation. In fact, there was enough bipartisan opposition to the pact that Mr. Obama bypassed sending it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. The agreement rests on little more than the former president’s handshake.

The Paris deal imposed on the United States unrealistic targets for reducing our carbon emissions. It set America’s standards higher than for much of the world, while giving countries like China a free pass for years to come.

We all want a cleaner environment, but the Paris agreement, and the ill-conceived regulations that it spawned, disproportionately harm America’s economy and put us at a competitive disadvantage.

According to National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, if the United States met all of its commitments as part of the Paris climate accord, it would cost the American economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040.

This bad deal for America is based on the faulty premise that the United States is the primary culprit of a changing climate rather than a driver of innovative solutions.


America has already reduced its carbon-dioxide emissions dramatically. According to the Energy Information Administration, emissions have dropped 12 percent in the past decade.

The trend line is clear. We can reduce our emissions without the Paris accords.
The U.S. reduction in carbon emissions is not because of government regulations or international agreements. It is in large part because of new and innovative technologies from the private sector, including innovations in natural gas production.

While the climate deal punishes America’s energy producers with expensive and burdensome regulations, it gives other countries much more generous limits and timelines.

The Paris agreement is a great deal for countries like China and India. They were understandably eager to take full advantage of the chance to get an economic leg up on the United States in terms of energy security. With an abundance of low-cost coal, these nations will put our manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

Similarly, with less American oil and natural gas production, OPEC countries and Russia would have greater leverage in global energy markets.

The Paris agreement also created a United Nations climate slush fund, largely underwritten by American taxpayers. In his final year in office, President Obama contributed $500 million from the State Department to this fund on two separate occasions. He did it without authorization from Congress.

Other countries are now questioning their own financial commitments to the agreement. Finance ministers from multiple G20 countries are actively seeking to scale back their government’s pledges to finance the deal.

This agreement is not the solution. According to researchers from MIT, even if every nation that signed on to the Paris pact met all of their commitments until the end of the century; the impact on the climate would be negligible.

Bottom line: the Paris climate agreement is a bad deal for America.

Pulling out of this agreement would help rev the engines of America’s economy, which is necessary if we are going to develop the next generation of technologies to reduce our emissions even further.

It would also get rid of an unnecessary distraction for the State Department. America faces challenges around the world that are more pressing than the Paris accord.

We would be better off if our diplomats focused on security threats like those we face from North Korea, Russia and ISIS, instead of trying to justify remaining in a bad deal with which we do not intend to comply.

In November, President Trump and Republicans in Congress were given a mandate to put this country’s needs first. Walking away from a bad Paris deal would be a good start.

• John Barrasso, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate from Wyoming, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

5) Germany’s Green Party Booted Out Of Parliament In State Election
The Daily Caller, 27 March 2017
Andrew Follett

The Green Party lost every seat it held in a regional German legislature after a crushing election defeat Sunday.



Greens did not receive the 5 percent of votes required to have a representative in the regional assembly of Saarland.

The Greens still control 63 of the 630 seats in Germany’s national legislative body, but this may change during the September elections. Greens received three of the state legislature’s 51 seats in the 2009 election after receiving 5.9 percent of the vote.

Other far-left parties only received a combined 12.9 percent of the vote, which isn’t enough to form a coalition with other left-leaning parties, like the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats saw their percentage of the vote fall in the regional elections as well.

Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel’s party, gained the most, earning 40.7 percent of the vote. The right wing anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party also did well, earning 6.2 percent.

Voters may have punished left-leaning parties because Germany’s power grid almost collapsed in January due to poorly-performing wind turbines and solar panels. Unusually cloudy weather combined with atypical wind speeds set the stage for massive blackouts.

“A major blackout almost occurred Jan. 24 and was only prevented when German energy suppliers “also took the last reserve power plant,” Michael Vassiliadis, head of the union that represents power plants IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie, told reporters. The country’s power grid was strained to the absolute limit and could have gone offline entirely, triggering a national blackout, if just one power plant had gone offline, according to Vassiliadis.

Germany was forced to recommission coal power plants to simply keep the lights on. The country’s green energy plans call for 30 such power plants to shut down by 2019.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

1 comment:

Peter Caulton said...

Applause as long as the pollution from the fossil fuel industry is addressed. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a cash cow for very rich people to get even richer by mugging the general naive, gullible population with false data.