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Heartland Institute Submits Public Comments on Repeal of Clean Power Plan

January 17, 2018

On January 17, 2018, The Heartland Institute submitted public comments on EPA's proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

Coal power plant at dusk

The Environmental Protect Agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) titled Repeal of Carbon Dioxide Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (Clean Power Plan). Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara and Research Fellow Isaac Orr submitted a comprehensive and extensively documented (more than 20 figures and more than 175 footnotes) public comment in support of that repeal on January 17, 2018.

They note,

EPA issued the Clean Power Plan (CPP) under the authority of Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. That section authorizes EPA to establish emission guidelines for existing sources to reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) at each of those single sources themselves. But the CPP guidelines could be followed only by changing the power sources themselves, from coal to natural gas, and from fossil fuels altogether to renewables such as wind and solar.

The comment addresses the following topics:

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I. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) Is Based on an Erroneous Interpretation of Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.
   A. Consequently, There Is No Legal Authority for the CPP, and It Must Be Repealed.
   B. The Costs of the Short-Lived CPP Have Already Vastly Exceeded Even EPA’s Expected Benefits.

II. Fossil Fuels Are Essential to American Prosperity and the American Dream.
   A. Worldwide, and for hundreds of years since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuel use is and has been associated with higher economic growth, GDP, incomes, wages, health, life expectancy, population, and reduced poverty.
   B. Even after decades of government subsidy and favoritism, alternative energy sources such as solar and wind play only a niche role in U.S. energy supplies.
   C. Official U.S. government projections show fossil fuels will be essential for 50 to 100 years at least.
   D. Phasing out fossil fuels would amount to a policy of mass poverty for the American people, unless America turns to nuclear power, which is opposed by the same extremists who oppose fossil fuels.

III. Continued Use of Fossil Fuels Will Produce an American Economic Boom, Creating Millions of New Jobs and Restoring Rising Real Wages for the Middle Class and Blue Collar Workers.
   A. America has the natural resources to be the world’s no. 1 producer of oil, no. 1 producer of coal, and over the near future, the no. 1 producer of natural gas, achieving energy dominance.
   B. That virtually unlimited supply of reliable, low-cost energy will bring manufacturing back to the United States, a process that has already begun.
   C. The resulting American economic renaissance would ultimately eliminate poverty in America.

IV. Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Continued Use of Fossil Fuels Pose No Threat of Catastrophic Global Warming.
   A. Carbon dioxide (CO2) cannot be considered “pollution.” It is essential to plant photosynthesis and is a beneficial substance produced by the natural environment. Massachusetts v. EPA was wrong to decide it is an air pollutant and so authorize EPA to create global warming regulation under the Clean Air Act.
   B. If the CPP had been fully implemented, it likely would have increased the cost of electricity to American consumers by a factor of five or more, costing businesses and consumers hundreds of billions and ultimately trillions of dollars each year.
   C. Even EPA’s own climate models show the Clean Power Plan would have a negligible effect on climate, meaning CPP cannot possibly survive any valid cost–benefit analysis.
   D. The Greening of Planet Earth: Increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 promote plant growth, fostering the process of photosynthesis. Far from being a pollutant, CO2 is essential to the survival of all life on the planet.
   E. Even the official “global temperature” record, which has been adjusted to promote global warming hysteria, has not followed the pattern of increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2, but rather has followed the pattern of natural causes, primarily solar activity and ocean cycles.
   F. “Global temperature” projections of unverified “climate models,” which involve hypothetical forecasts of, not evidence of, global warming, have increasingly diverged from the most reliable temperature records computed from the data collected by U.S. satellites. In fact, satellite data indicate global warming stopped 20 years ago, further falsifying the models.
   G. Because of higher humidity in the tropics, EPA’s own climate models show an accumulating “hot spot” in the atmosphere over the tropics, considered “the fingerprint” of human-caused global warming. But such a tropical “hot spot” does not appear in any observed temperature record, contradicting the theory of human-caused global warming.
   H. There is a natural limit to any CO2-induced global warming, as the effect of increasing CO2 in causing warming declines logarithmically to zero as CO2 concentration increases.
   I. Based on the record of CO2 proxies, Earth’s concentration of CO2 has been several times higher in geological history, with no record of any catastrophic results.
   J. The surrogate record also shows the historical pattern is for temperatures to rise first, and CO2 to rise centuries later, reversing the notion that increased CO2 causes increased warming.
   K. The oceans are not rising any faster than they have since the end of the last ice age, polar ice caps and glaciers are not uniformly melting, and weather is not getting more extreme.
   L. Even IPCC has slashed climate sensitivity assumptions, or the rate at which warming is expected to increase due to rising CO2 concentrations.
   M. Solar sunspot patterns indicate future global cooling, rather than global warming, may be on the way
   N. Conclusion: While increased CO2 concentrations probably have some effect in increasing “global temperatures,” natural causes are the dominant factors causing climate change. There is no prospect of catastrophic, human-caused global warming, and absolutely no foundation for the CPP.

Ferrara and Orr conclude:

EPA relied almost exclusively on IPCC “science” and models; if they are wrong, EPA is wrong, and there is no valid scientific basis for its conclusion that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas “pollution” endangers public health and welfare The real threat to public health and welfare is the previous administration’s regulatory agenda, which would have slashed fossil fuel use and raised energy costs to catastrophic levels. Policies that will so fundamentally and dramatically impact America’s energy sector, economy, living standards, lifestyles, health and welfare absolutely have to be based on solid, incontrovertible evidence. EPA’s case for its Clean Power Plan falls far short of this very fair and rational standard that the plan and anti-coal policies must be reversed.

The comment was accepted on January 24. Click the download PDF link above or click here to download the comment from Heartland's website, or view the accepted comment at Regulations.gov.

Author
Peter Ferrara, J.D., is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and senior advisor for entitlement reform and budget policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation.
pferrara@heartland.org
Author
Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues.
isaac.orr@americanexperiment.org