U.S. Senate Hearing: Climate Action Plan

Click to View U.S. Senate Hearing (4 hours)

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony from Administration officials and others on the President’s Climate Action Plan (pdf).

Testimony was given by four current Administration officials, one former governor, one environmental lobbyist, one former environmental regulator and two climate scientists.

It was broken down into two panels. Each panelist read their prepared testimony.  At the end of each panel, committee members asked questions.

The most meaningful question cutting to the core of the President’s Climate Action Plan came literally at the very end of four long hours of testimony.

By then committee chairman Barbara Boxer was long gone and there were only three committee members left in the hearing room.

Worse yet, few were present for the most important testimony of all.

The Question

Kathleen White

(you testified) the good news was that carbon emissions and carbon intensity were both declining.
Why is that good news?
– Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), U.S. Senate Hearing, 1/16/2014

The question was directed at Kathleen Hartnett White in a superficial effort to discredit her Administration-critical testimony.

It’s true, though. U.S. CO2 emissions fell 3.7% in 2012 and were down to 1994 levels. That is great news!

The reason it is such a vitally important question is because the answer identifies a monumental flaw in Administration CO2-centric energy policy that will misdirect $100s of billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars through the President’s Climate Action Plan.

Those costs will directly affect every American citizen in every walk of life. That concerns everyone.

The Answer

With all due respect to Ms. White… she royally botched her answer to the unexpected question!

White muddled, “it’s a measure of efficiency in our economy”. Then she awkwardly blurted out stuff about emission standards and the economy.

The reasons U.S. CO2 emissions are down since 2007 – listed in order of effect – are:

  1. Conversion of coal-fired to natural gas-fired electric plants
  2. The downturn in the economy
  3. Reduced energy usage and increased energy efficiency

The direct intent of Obama energy policy from day one has been to reduce carbon emissions, yet it has contributed little or nothing to the observed decrease.

The downturn in the economy has reduced CO2 far more than Obama energy policy. A weak economy requires less energy sector support which, in turn, generates less CO2. Since the Great Recession Americans are driving less and using less residential power.

Administration energy conservation efforts and vehicle cafe standards have made a minor contribution to observed reductions.

By far, though, the biggest contributor to the CO2 plunge has come from coal-fired to gas-fired electric power plant conversions begun in earnest in 2007. Electric power generation produces around 40% of total U.S. CO2 emissions. In practice, natural gas electric plants produce about half the greenhouse emissions of coal. Conversions have proven a highly effective reduction process.

Conversions have cost taxpayers nothing. They are entirely private-sector driven.

The Most Important Testimony

Carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS), however, have not yet been commercially demonstrated in a single successfully operating power plant
– Kathleen Hartnett White, U.S. Senate Hearing, 1/16/2016

Ironically, not a single question was asked about Kathleen White’s far more important testimony… that EPA’s proposed emissions standards for electric power plants through CCS technology are infeasible.

White added that CCS has failed every time it has been tried and is plagued with cost overruns.

That was, by far, the most important testimony given. White was last to provide testimony. By then most committee members were disinterested and left.

Chairman Boxer, gone herself, had shunted the two panelists providing testimony critical to the Administration to the back of the bus so that no one would be left to hear. Boxer does stuff like that.

So far, Obama policy has directly cost around $165 billion and costs taxpayers $15 billion/year. The proposed EPA regulations on electric power plants will add $100s of billions more to the cost of electricity through EPA-required CCS technology.

The President’s Climate Action Plan ignores the proven contribution of natural gas to CO2 reductions in favor of CCS, a non-existent technology that will cost ordinary consumers billions in the future if it becomes EPA mandated.

The Climate Action Plan should be altered to push conversion of coal to natural gas… not inhibit it.

To bad no U.S. Senators were present to find out why.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jan 20, 2014, in Business, Climate, climate change, economics, Economy, Energy, energy policy, environment, Government, news, Opinion, Politics, science, technology, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Fuel poverty is the real problem, not AGW, and candid information about nuclear forces and nuclear structure is the only solution:


    Mankind “shot himself in the foot” by promoting misinformation as “settled science” after 1945.


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