President to Bypass Congress on Climate Change

By
Steven Dennis, Roll Call Staff (June 25, 2013)
1 Comments

 

Congress had its chance on climate change. Now, the president is ready to go it alone.

That’s the subtext lawmakers can expect Tuesday from President Barack Obama when he outlines his strategy to combat global warming at Georgetown University.

And given that Congress has had a hard time passing much of anything lately — even bipartisan mainstays such as the farm bill — it’s not a particularly surprising strategy. Republicans have been busy pushing for more oil drilling and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and generally want fewer, rather than more, regulations on existing power plants.

But those plants are expected to be a major focus of the president’s remarks, given that they account for 40 percent of carbon emissions.

“I think his view reflects reality,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday in unusually blunt remarks. “We’ve seen Congress attempt to deal with this issue and fail to, and the president’s made clear that he will act where he can — with Congress where possible — but where he can on this and a range of issues.”

While the White House would not talk specifics Monday, Obama is expected to announce that he is directing the Environmental Protection Agency to draft rules to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. He’s also expected to say that he will handle a host of other climate-related issues across the government using regulatory and other powers, regardless of whether Congress approves.

Carney did mention that the White House would be happy if Congress were willing to take on climate change, but no one expects much on that front before the midterm elections.

“If there is a sign that Congress has the will to take up matters related to reducing carbon pollution and — and doing other things to positively affect the development of clean energy ... or reducing the impacts of climate change on the American people, then we will obviously be more than happy to engage with Congress and we’ll do that,” Carney said. “But the president will — as he did in his first term — take the actions that he can, using his authority, to address this challenge.”

Carney noted the administration’s fuel efficiency standards in Obama’s first term as an example of something that did not require congressional action.

But there is already substantial pushback on any new climate efforts on Capitol Hill, and House Republicans have passed numerous measures in the past few years aimed at reducing regulations in the name of boosting American energy production.

 

(story continues in Roll Call)

Comments
25 June 2013 08:31am
Reply
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Coal Fired plants are under attack for emissions, and Fracking has freed up large Natural Gas reserves, lowering the cost of this alternate fuel.

One has to ask some questions, though.

What are the environmental costs of the Natural Gas via Fracking?

The jury is still debating that issue, but it does appear that ground water, and wells near fracking operations are seeing increased levels of Methane and other gasses.

Coal Fired plants have been under EPA scrutiny and installed smokestack scrubbers starting in 1970. What percent of pollution was reduced from this, and how much more could be reduced while still using coal?

Coal mining (visibly STRIP mining) has not been an environmentally friendly activity.

Coal fired plants do have a side benefit as a result of EPA regulations - The Sulfur Dioxide Flu Gasses scrubbed out of the emissions, greatly reducing acid rain, are processed in a way that generates "Synthetic" Gypsum - the stuff of Drywall in every home or building around.

This is not the dangerous "Chinese" high-free-sulfur content Gypsum that caused so many problems in Florida and other "spec" markets. This is very pure, chemically locked Gypsum that is a little lighter and stronger than naturally mined gypsum.

Another benefit - natural gypsum doesn't have to be mined as much because there's significantly more synthetic gypsum available than the power plants can use.

All of the plants built in North America in the past several years are high speed synthetic plants. Older, slower, traditional gypsum plants have been mothballed or disassembled as manufacturers have switched. Most of these plants have been situated on or near the grounds of Coal Fired Power Plants. I know of at least one plant that actually pumps the treated slurry directly from the Power Plant to the Gypsum Manufacturing Plant.

A material the power companies once had to pay to safely dump as hazardous material, is now being converted very economically into one of our most common building materials - and a very safe one.

This web article is from 2010 - the picture has only gotten greener since.

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2010/7/30/Synthetic-Gypsum/

As someone who spent his Summers as a teen in the Adirondacks at Scout Camp, I remember the weeping sap and dieing Red Pines, the too crystal (and void of life) lakes of the early '70s. I laud efforts to become ever closer to a zero net environmental footprint - the "build the smokestacks taller so the upper winds push our crap further downwind" solution that predated the Clean Air Act was a NIMBY greed based "solution",and it is good it has been replaced.

I hope we make sure we look at ALL of the costs associated with the various options, so we don't shoot ourselves in the foot on the one hand, while trying to tackle a problem on the other.

As with most things, I suspect Balance is needed - as is the case with most things in life.

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