Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Concurrent with a major climate change address at Georgetown University this week, the President released a climate action plan.

The new plan outlines specific actions for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.

#1 on the action plan list is setting EPA regulations to reduce CO2 emissions from existing coal-fired electric power plants.

Those plants produce 37% of all electricity generated in the United States. The plan says they emit 1/3rd of all U.S. carbon pollution.

The action plan will set EPA standards that will increase the cost of coal electric generation by about 70%.

What is in the rest of the action plan? Are there proposals in it that will replace coal with green energy? Does it propose ways to reduce climate-fighting electricity cost increases for American consumers?

Here are the highlights…

Plan Outline

The President proposes a 3-pronged approach to fight climate change:

  1. Cut carbon pollution
  2. Prepare the U.S. for the effects of climate change
  3. Lead international efforts to combat climate change

Number 1, cutting U.S. carbon pollution, is the only part of the plan that targets CO2 directly.

Cut Carbon Pollution

President Obama cuts natural gas production on U.S. federal lands, bucks national trend

As mentioned, the centerpiece of the Obama strategy is cutting CO2 from existing coal-powered electric plants through new EPA regulations.

In the plan it says there are “abundant clean energy solutions available” to replace it. What the president’s plan doesn’t say is that the only economically viable one within the next several decades is clean burning natural gas.

To its credit, the plan recognizes natural gas as “a critical ‘bridge fuel’ for many countries as the world transitions to even cleaner sources of energy” and “encourages” its use globally.

But, apparently, that does not carry over into the United States.

In 2012, the Administration continued reducing production of natural gas on federal lands. Clean burning natural gas is not being treated as a critical bridge fuel in this country.

The plan proposes other alternative solutions:

  • Issue permits for 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands this year
  • Issue permits for 10 more gigawatts on public lands by 2020
  • DOD will replace 3 gigawatts of its power use with renewables by 2025
  • Federal housing will target 100 megawatts from renewables by 2020

That adds up to 23.1 gigawatts of electricity. In 2012, the U.S. used 4,100,000 gigawatts of electricity. Coal produced 1,517,000 gigawatts.

At the president’s proposed growth rate, it would take 9,000 years for renewables just to eliminate coal.

With this new plan, renewables won’t be replacing fossil fuels any century soon.

Other CO2 Reduction Proposals

Fuel efficiency will cut CO2 about 866 million metric tons per year

The President’s plan makes other reasonable proposals to speed up reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mostly through conservation.

By far, auto/truck fuel efficiency (cafe) standards introduced by the Obama Administration to be in place by 2017-2018 will reduce CO2 the most.

Unfortunately, the new plan muddies up just how much that is. Fortunately, the government provides enough data to swag it.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Note: Estimated CO2 savings from auto/truck fuel efficiency standards

According to EIA 2010 figures, transportation generates about 31% of all CO2. Of that total, car and truck exhaust pipes spew 84% of it.

In 2012, average new car auto mileage was 35 mpg. Assuming the 54 mpg plan standard is met in 2017 that would be an increase of 156% in auto fuel efficiency. It would reduce CO2 exhaust by 1/3rd their present levels. We’ll assume heavy duty truck emissions will be reduced by the same percentage.

In 2012, the U.S. generated 5,290 MMTCO2. Therefore:

CO2 reduction = 866 MMTCO2/year = ((5290 X .31) X .84) X (35/54)
—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

All things being equal, if in place today, the new cafe standards would reduce overall U.S. CO2 by a hefty 16% and save money at the gas pump, to!

That assumes, of course, a mileage standard is possible to achieve just by mandating it.

Everything helps. That amount is 3X more than natural gas has already achieved today.

Other Obama Climate Plan Details

Here are a few other things in the plan:

  • $8 billion in “self pay” 2014 budget additions to:$250 million for rural utility upgrades
    • Fund 30% increase federal agency clean energy technology
    • Invest in clean energy R&D
    • Conduct “Quadrennial Energy Reviews”
  • $250 million for rural utility upgrades
  • $23 million for “Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund”
  • Develop and deploy “Advanced Transportation Technologies” (biofuels)
  • New standards for HFC and methane reductions
  • Encourage more hydro and nuclear power
  • Better forest management

Conclusions

The Obama Climate Plan serves as a good framework for identifying the main sources of carbon pollution.

As proposed, though, the Obama plan is exceptionally long-term with a disappointing low bang-for-the-buck cost benefit.

It necessarily will increase electricity rates an estimated 70% for coal customers. Costly retrofitting existing coal-fired electric plants with untested technology to meet new EPA standards will take many years. Customer rates must be raised now to pay for it.

Green energy can’t replace coal. It currently supplies only 5% of electric power. Coal supplies 37%. The EIA’s latest forecast says coal’s contribution will increase to 40% in the next two years before going down again.

The Obama plan calls for replacing only a paltry 23.1 gigawatts of electric power with green energy sources by 2025. That is less than 0.0015% of total U.S. coal-based electricity.

Fuel efficiency improvements have the best chance of reducing CO2 by 2018 and could reduce carbon pollution by as much as 16% and save customers at the gas pump, too.

The plan contains over $8 billion in new spending added to the 2014 budget for projects with infinitesimal impact on CO2 emissions.

The Obama plan looks at the main sources of CO2 and proposes solutions. Unfortunately, those solutions are costly, impractical and take far to long to be effective.

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Posted on Jun 29, 2013, in Business, Climate, economics, Energy, environment, Government, news, Politics, science, technology. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Obama is desperately trying to control the unrest that may finally end sixty-eight years of misinformation disguised as science.

    When I return from vacation next week, I hope to finish and submit a manuscript showing that:

    Well-intentioned but foolish international agreements to save mankind from the threat of nuclear annihilation – by obscuring the energy (E) stored as mass (m) in cores of atoms, planets, stars and galaxies – instead destroyed credibility in post-1945 world governments, the integrity of science and the inalienable right of mankind to self-govern.

    Recent government spying on citizens is as desperate as the actions of a drowning person. They will only hasten the end of this tragic drama.

    Grants and awards inflated the egos of post-WWII scientists, as invisible new clothes fooled the emperor in a classic fairy tale.  Ego deflation by acceptance of reality will restore sanity to society and destroy man’s dangerous illusion of control over Nature.

    I regret being so slow to decipher this post-1945 web of well-intentioned deceit.

    With deep regrets,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    PS – These post-1945 discoveries will likely be confirmed:

    1. Two forms of one fundamental particle – the neutron and its expanded form, the hydrogen atom – comprise the whole universe. It can be understood by all.  This reality has been obscured by imaginary a.) Subdivisions of fundamental particles (quarks, gluons, God particles, etc.) and elements (Ne-A, Ne-B, Ne-C, etc.) and b.) Processes (superheavy element fission and interstellar grains in meteorites). 

    2. The Sun made our elements and then exploded five billion years ago to birth the solar system.

    3.  Light elements existed only in the outer layer of the stellar debris that formed the outer planets.  Heavy elements of different isotopic composition in different stellar layers are “normal” in inner planets and “strange” in outer planets. 

    4. The Sun’s core is a pulsar, energized by neutron repulsion. 

    5. Self-sustaining nuclear reactors operated on the early Earth.

    6. Nuclear reactors still operate in cores of some planets.

    7. “Cold” fusion is a viable energy source.

    These seven consensus models of reality will likely be falsified:

    1. The Standard Solar Model of Hydrogen-filled stars.

    2. Yukawa’s model of all attractive nuclear forces.

    3. Models of pulsars as dead embers of ordinary stars.

    4. Theoretical models of black holes.

    5. Sub-particles of neutrons & protons: quarks, gluons, etc.

    6. Oscillating solar neutrinos, and

    7. AGW/AGC models of global warming & cooling induced by humans.

    Oliver K. Manuel
    28 June 2013

  2. Of course the big assumption in the plan is that vehicle efficiencies can be improved to that extent. A 154% improvement on top of what have already been heroic improvements in fuel efficiency cannot be met by diktat. I would expect to see NG powered trucks instead, but domestic vehicles will be much more intractable ( sorry ).

    For example consider the mess that bio fuels are in regarding the prescribed methanol content. It can’t be done.

    • You are right about biofuels…

      Not all renewable energy ideas are good ones. Biofuels top the worst ideas list.

      Biofuels exchange one problem – rising CO2 levels – for another – starvation!

      Biofuels don’t get more than passing mention in Obama speeches, but they are the single largest renewable energy source in the United States. They exist because of the government’s 2005/2007 ethanol mandate.

      The original purpose of the mandate was for national security. It was to reduce dependence on Middle East oil. Mandated biofuel additives have only existed 7 years. Things have changed since then. The U.S. is no longer dependent on Mid-East oil.

      The current Administration has re-branded biofuels as a tool to fight global warming.

      Up from practically nothing in 2004, over 40% of all corn grown in the U.S. today goes towards making biofuels. The government ethanol mandate will continue increasing the amount of ethanol blend required through 2023.

      Soon more corn will be grown to make biofuels than to feed a starving world. American’s may be willing pay higher food costs to fight global warming, but 3rd world countries who depend on the U.S. corn crop don’t have that option.

      That hit home in the drought of 2012 that devastated the corn crop. Even after the UN pleaded with the U.S. to temporarily ease its ethanol mandate to maintain enough food corn production for 3rd world countries, the Obama Administration refused to do so.

      Biofuel priorities are totally out of whack with practical reality.

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