An Average Person

with a little Liberal Commentary, Progressive News, Opinions and Ranting.

It's a mad world out there, folks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The War on the EPA

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Tea in hand to watch my morning news. In the midst of a hot sip I looked up to see a commercial openly blasting the EPA. The EPA? Really?

It was akin to watching a car crash, because I just Couldn't Look Away.

I have to admit, I thought I might have fallen asleep and dreamed this commercial. But no, this ACCCE ad airs nationwide under the name "America's Power". But is it really fooling anyone? I shudder to think of the family who wants to save a few bucks at the gas pump, but in exchange are willing to except anything less than quality air, water and soil for their children. And yet this is what the debate comes down to. Money versus Nature. The position of the ACCCE, as well as a number of Republican candidates for president, is that the Environmental Protection Agency has "killed jobs" with their environmental standards and regulations. This is actually happening now, and many of us knew it would. Rick Perry's campaign contributors must be so proud. The National Institute on Money in Politics states that the oil and gas industry has contributed $4,902,958 to Rick Perry's Campaign, so methinks this may have something to do with the 12.47% of the contributions Perry has brought in from the Oil and Gas industry.

Why is this an issue we need to be passionate about? Because what the opposition is stating  is so obviously flawed. According to the World Research Institute:
In her February 9th testimony (PDF, 218 Kb) before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Dr. Margo Thorning based her primary conclusions regarding possible negative economic implications of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on modeling and policy analysis supported by questionable assumptions that have been criticized by expert economists on several recent occasions. Dr. Thorning’s approach to economic modeling has been commonly used by opponents of environmental regulations for years. Peer-reviewed studies, based on more supportable modeling assumptions (i.e., grounded in empirical data), have demonstrated that her pessimistic assumptions and one-sided, cost-only modeling practices will inevitably yield gross over-estimates of the economic costs of such regulations. Based on our careful review of Dr. Thorning’s testimony and our own research on the subjects of public policy, industrial energy efficiency and economic modeling, we reached the following conclusions:

    The EPA is proceeding in a reasonable manner with the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on cost-effective opportunities for energy efficiency and by limiting requirements to the largest pollution sources.

    Dr. Thorning makes the unrealistic, unfounded assumption that the U.S. economy is constantly operating under optimal conditions – and that all resources are efficiently allocated at all times – leading her directly to the following incorrect conclusions of core significance to her testimony.

        First, Dr. Thorning’s economic model operates under the assumption that business-as-usual is always optimal and any public policy – including energy efficiency policies – can only slow economic growth and yield net job losses.

        Second, she asserts, without supporting evidence, that U.S. manufacturers are currently operating at optimal energy productivity and that public policy has no role to play in removing barriers or otherwise increasing private sector investments in industrial energy efficiency.

    In fact, there are many untapped opportunities for cost-effective investments in industrial energy-efficiency. With roughly half of industrial boilers in the United States now more than 46 years old (Energy and Environment Analysis, 2005), for example, there is abundant evidence that facility upgrades could increase productivity, with net benefits for manufacturers and for the economy as a whole.

Full text of statement available for download

We learn, essentially, that the model which gave us these "jobs lost" numbers is flawed and unsupported by evidence. It's not a surprise, but it gives us a glimpse at the slight of hand these companies are willing to perform in full public view. It has been argued that the effect of EPA regulations on jobs lost is pretty much neutral, as new regulations provide employment to new inspectors and a variety of other positions within the private sector and the EPA. So Big Oil and "Clean Coal" are lying? What now?

We get more informed, more angry and more passionate than ever.

Let's break up the monotony with a fun little music video about the dangers of fracking, shall we?

Knowing is Half the Battle.

What else do we know? Well we know that Oil and Gas have numerous EPA violations for contamination of water and air. Let's explore these. From the EPA website:

The CWA violation settled in U.S. v. Berry Petroleum was part of a multi-agency (federal and state) case relating to a crude oil spill of 2,000 barrels from an oil production facility in a wetland area located adjacent to a California state beach. The spill contaminated the wetlands, adjacent ocean, and nearby beaches. It was determined that the spill occurred, in large part, because the facility failed to implement its EPA-mandated SPCC plan. Berry Petroleum paid $800,000 to EPA for the CWA violation in addition to $1.06 million in penalties to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other federal and state agencies. Berry also transferred $1,315,000 to a trust fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that will be used for long term restoration of the site.

Here you can find a multitude of EPA non-compliance cases.

So the EPA is regulating, and it seems some companies just don't want to comply. One would think that in order to sell your product you would want your customers...what is that word I'm looking for...Alive. Pollution is estimated to cause about 40% of world wide deaths. That is a significant statistic, and one we cannot afford to ignore any longer.

In my opinion, the Big Oil, Natural Gas and Coal industries are fear-mongering. That isn't a term I like to throw around lightly, but when you have a significant amount of people living in poverty or economic uncertainty and you are feeding them lies about losing their already threatened jobs, you might be a fear-monger. Americans are stressed, we're tired, and above all else we are poor. The last thing any hard worker wants to hear is that the EPA wants to make him lose his job so the Hippies will be happy. But that is not the case at all, as we've been seeing. So why do these Natural Resource mega-companies think they cause persuade the American voter to vote against his or her best interests?

The answer is simple. They believe you are stupid. They put nuggets of misinformation out there, along with the "jobs, jobs, jobs" rhetoric, in order to scare you into letting them kill you. They may not be knocking on your door with a shotgun, but the pollution spewing from these industries is effecting your air, water and soil quality.

The ACCCE, otherwise know as America's Power has this on their website:
What exactly do we mean when we say clean coal technology?

“Clean coal technology” is a term of art meaning the entire suite of technologies that can be used to reduce the environmental footprint of coal-based electricity plants. These technologies include devices that increase the operational efficiency of a power plant, as well as those technologies that reduce emissions. Early work to promote clean coal technologies focused on efforts to reduce traditional pollutant emissions like sulfur dioxide (SO2); nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are a precursor to urban smog; and particulate matter. And because technology is often evolutionary, the role and definition of what constitutes clean coal technology will change as we develop and deploy new technologies to respond to new and emerging environmental challenges.

When you look at the results, it is clear that clean coal technologies have provided substantial benefits to our nation.

To date, the coal-based electricity sector’s investments in clean coal technology have provided measurable benefits through improved air quality and continued access to affordable electricity to the American consumer. Because of those investments to date, the environmental performance of coal-based generation for traditional emissions such as SO2, NOx and particulate matter has been significantly improved.

But there is still work to be done.

Climate-change concerns represent a serious challenge. Today, energy companies are working with the federal government to develop, demonstrate and deploy the next generation of advanced technologies. These technologies will make it possible to reduce emissions to very low levels for traditional pollutant emissions, as well as capture and safely store carbon dioxide, while ensuring a reliable supply of affordable electricity to meet America’s growing energy needs using America’s most abundant, domestically produced fuel.

And why, do you suppose, are these technologies more "Clean"? Because the EPA forced them to be, for your safety. The EPA has this overview posted to their website, documenting a few policies that have effected pollution in surrounding ecosystems:

Today we've done some good work, maybe we've become more informed. Tomorrow we look at what's next. How will new, green systems impact our energy capabilities in an oil-depleted future?

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