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September 26, 2007

Coal compared to green measures

There is website that compares various CO2 reduction efforts against the increased CO2 from new coal plants. There are 151 coal plants in various stages of construction in the USA.

Hat tip to Kirk at the thorium energy blog for finding this

Many efforts do not equal the CO2 of even one medium sized coal plant for one year.

All the corporate efforts and plans involving more efficient light bulbs and slightly more efficient cars, reducing all college campuses to zero emissions and a cooperative effort by 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce their CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2014 would combined be offset by 18 new medium sized coal plants.

Those plans should still go forward, but new coal needs to be stopped and old coal needs to be replaced. The best versions of the climate change bills would increase the cost of coal power and make utilities switch to nuclear power and renewables. The right terms for the McCain/Lieberman climate stewardship bill where international substitution is not counted has been projected by the EIA (energy information administration) to reduce coal from supplying 50% of electrical power now to 11% by 2030.

If the societal costs of coal are added into coal via legislation then the market will be forced to address this and replace coal. The replacement will mostly be nuclear energy because it is the next most affordable after coal where the damage from coal is not included.

Forbes takes a look at the progress of the energy and climate change bills Based on the progress and differences in bills that need to be reconciled it appears that meaningful energy and climate change bills will not pass until 2009.

The [Bush presidential] administration opposes mandatory emissions targets, and there is probably not enough time to get a meaningful climate change bill to the president's desk by the end of the year.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says "her priority right now is to get those [energy] bills reconciled and to get them to the president's desk."

That doesn't mean the issues aren't near the top of the legislative--or corporate--agenda. It stands to reason that industry would want to see legislation, if it is to come, passed while a Republican is in the White House. Already, the major industries that would be most affected have spent heavily in an effort to influence lawmakers. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks political spending, electric utilities have ponied up $49.5 million in lobbying so far this year. The automotive and oil and gas industries are not far behind, spending $37 million and $36 million, respectively.


The two climate change bills with the most support are the Bingaman/Specter and Lieberman/Warner bills

The "Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007," which was introduced by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Arlen Specter (R-PA) in July with endorsements from some major electric utilities and labor unions. The second is a 16-page outline of a cap-and-trade proposal by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) that was released in August. They have been collecting input on the outline and intend to introduce a bill for consideration in the fall. Chairman Boxer has said that the Lieberman/Warner (America’s Climate Security Act) bill, when ready, will be the primary vehicle in the EPW committee.


Comparing the Bingaman/Specter and Lieberman/Warner proposals:
Emission targets
The Bingaman/Specter bill and the Lieberman/Warner outline would both establish cap-and-trade programs to limit emissions beginning in 2012. Bingaman/Specter calls for GHG reductions to 2006 levels by 2020. The Lieberman/Warner outline is somewhat more stringent, calling for a 10% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020.

Regulation
The Bingaman/Specter bill would regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from petroleum and natural gas consumption on an "upstream" basis, by regulating petroleum refiners and natural gas processors. The bill would reach CO2 emissions from coal consumption on a "downstream" basis, i.e., by regulating large consumers of coal (primarily coal-fired electric power plants).

The proposal by Senators Lieberman and Warner also would regulate petroleum on an "upstream" basis. However, they otherwise would regulate large sources of CO2 emissions on a "downstream" basis. Their program would require practically all electric power plants to submit allowances. It also would regulate industrial and commercial facilities that emit 10,000 metric tons or more of CO2-equivalent GHG emissions per year.

Offset and International Credit Provisions.
Both proposals would allow for the use of offset credits for emission reductions achieved by projects outside the scope of the emissions cap. Bingaman/Specter would streamline approval procedures for certain types of projects and authorize the President to promulgate rules allowing a regulated entity to use allowances or credits from foreign programs to cover up to 10% of its annual allowance requirements.

Senators Lieberman and Warner propose to limit the use of domestic offset credits to 15% of a regulated entity’s allowance requirements, but would have a slightly more generous limit for use of foreign credits than the Bingaman/Specter bill (15%).


FURTHER READING:
A collection of quotes and links to reactions by environmental groups on the Lieberman/Warner bill

The 17 page pdf outline of the Lieberman/Warner bill

Comparing all of the climate change bills


The first of the two pages of bill comparisons, which has the leading bills under consideration

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