The Countertop Chronicles

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Monday, March 29, 2004

The Green's Real Agenda

The market leaders in the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry like Greenpeace, the rascist Sierra Club, the extortionist Natural Resource Defense Council, and their partner of the last 15 years the Democratic Party, are all trying to sell their new fund raising scam to average American's ie: President Bush's proposals are destroying the environment and only the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry cares enough to save you from Armageddon (and terrorist attacks and economic collapse).

Well, it seems to me that President Bush must be doing something right when the worst criticism the New York Times can raise in its lead editorial is that both of Bush's recent air pollution proposals are ambitious (mercury "seems impressive" and IAQR is "generally a good proposal") but ultimately flawed because they don't push utilities to the brink of bankruptcy fast enough.
The administration's proposal aims at a 30 percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2010 and a 70 percent reduction by 2018, mainly through a market-based trading system that would let companies choose to reduce their own emissions or to buy credits from other companies. . .

These targets seem impressive. . . . .

Mr. Leavitt has also discovered that even the target of 70 percent cannot be achieved because of quirks in the proposed trading system. So he is now promising a new or amended version. By all accounts, he is going about it the right way (consulting his experts, for once) and asking the right question: what can industry reasonably be expected to achieve with current technologies without going broke? And what he's likely to find is that the power companies can afford bigger reductions on a quicker timetable.
First, industry really can't achieve greater reductions because the technology simply doesn't exist. While its true some plants can achieve a 90% reduction of mercury emissions from the national average chemical and engineering quirks prevent the same reductions from being realized across the industry. The problem is that the boilers at power plant are designed with little tolerance for changes in fuel sources. Before construction begins an analysis of the fuel source (focusing on the specific seam of coal to be used) is undertaken and the boilers are then designed around the heat charecteristics of that coal. To acheive the 90% reductions extra low sulfur coals need to be used ... this is the cleanest of the clean coals and is not only much rarer (one of the lingering Clinton conspiracy theories, that seems to play out, is that designation of the Escalante National Monument in S.E. Utah prevented access to one of the worlds largest supplies of low sulfur coal. Industry, for all intents and purposes, is now dependent for purchase of their low sulfur coal upon the same Asian businesses men who provided the political donations that were the source of much concern during the Clinton Gore years) but much more expensive. It burns at a different temperature than the vast majority of US fired plants and simply cannot be used absent the construction of new boilers.

That of course leads to the second point. Cost. Sure, the power industry can always afford new facilties, especially when those costs are passed directly onto consumers. It seems to me the better question here is what can the American public and economy afford. I think we will see that costs in excess of 19 billion a year are too much.
The same message applies to the other proposal on Mr. Leavitt's desk, a rule aimed at major reductions in sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to both smog and acid rain. This is a generally good proposal. The Adirondack Council says that the reductions the plan calls for a "70 percent drops for each pollutant by 2015" will end the scourge of acid rain in the Adirondacks.

This would be a huge achievement, but here again the cuts could be faster and deeper.
Again, this begs the question, how much can the American public afford. If it was as easy as the Times claim, don't you think President Clinton and his environmental pal Al Gore would have proposed anything close to it? Nope! The truth is that the Interstate Air Quality Rule is the most ambitious clean air proposal EVER proposed and calls for far greater reductions than even the original Clean Air Act.

Bush's legacy ought to be one of making the hard calls and realizing great environmental improvements. NRDC has already admitted that the diesel sulfur rule is the most important air program since lead was removed from gasoline and catalytic converters placed on auto exhaust systems. However, the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry can't afford to tell the truth because that just might cut into their multi billion dollars a year profits. Rather, like the executives of Enron they continue to spin a web of lies, deceit, and half truths, all in the name of tricking more and more dollars out of the average American consumer.


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