November 25, 2019 - Below is a recent interview with Fred Palmer, who explains the Saving US Coal campaign to Bill Reid, Publisher and Managing Editor of CoalZoom.com and CoalMinerExchange.com.
CoalZoom: We’re with Fred Palmer who is Senior Fellow for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. Welcome Fred!
Fred Palmer: Great to be on the phone with you today, Bill.
CoalZoom: You're well known for your highly respected years of industry experience, first at Western Fuels Association being CEO, and secondly, at Peabody Energy, where you served from 2001 through 2015 as Senior Vice President-Government Relations. You've also chaired the Greening Earth Society, served on the board of the National Mining Association, served as chairman of the World Coal Association and are presently very active and involved in the National Coal Council, which gives advice to the Secretary of Energy. During all that time, you have of course focused on coal and climate change. You've now partnered with internationally known climate scientist Craig Idso, who is Founder and Chairman for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. Last week, you launched a campaign called “Saving U.S. Coal.” Tell us about that please, Fred.
Fred Palmer: The “Saving US Coal” effort is aimed at repealing the 2008 EPA CO2 Endangerment Findings which is the proximate cause of today’s greatly reduced coal market. So long as those findings remain in effect, the US coal market will continue to contract. If we can repeal them, the legal justification for coal plant closures by utilities that need regulatory blessings to “decarbonize” will disappear.
In 2008, 1 billion tons of coal were mined and used for electricity generation in the United States. This year that number is about 550 million tons; in 2020 it is estimated by EIA at 490 million tons. EIA estimates an additional retirement of 17 GW of coal generation by 2024. Moody’s projects 2030 US coal electricity generation at just 11% of the total market, maybe 275 million tons.
Obama warned of a coming war on coal while running for his first term in office when he said he would send those involved in the coal electricity market Into bankruptcy. He has achieved the goal through an abuse of the EPA process, turning an agency designed to protect people into an agency operating outside of the law harming working men and women in the coal fields, their communities, states and all of US society. Low natural gas prices are a large part of coal’s decline, but those prices are low because of hundreds of billions in borrowed money imprudently invested relying on Team Obama taking out coal.
The EPA CO2 Endangerment Findings were proposed in 2008 and finalized in 2009. Those findings were appealed and affirmed by the DC Court of Appeals; the US Supreme Court did not take it up. In the findings, EPA completely relied on second hand UN “science” in holding that CO2 emissions are adverse to human health and welfare for “current and future generations”. The UN “science” of course is based on flawed, flux adjusted computer models, EPA knew this and relied on them anyway.
At the heart of the findings is computer modeled conjecture of a present and future catastrophic global warming. Yet as to warming, which is key, in the face of ever-growing CO2 in the atmosphere from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the UN computer models and the Obama EPA are 100% contradicted by US satellite data going back 40 years showing minimal warming far below computer projections. The satellite data is 100% corroborated by daily weather balloon readings, so we know both are correct as different methods give the same answer.
As to a “health threat” to current and future generations from CO2, in the same 40-year period with robust CO2 loading in the atmosphere, we have a literal greening of planet earth confirmed by satellite pictures, meaning a vastly improved biosphere for all living things. Too, in the same 40-year period of CO2 loading, there are billions of additional people living longer and living better while more and more coal has been used to generate life giving electricity. Some threat! Give us more of that
CoalZoom: Fred, have any other parties filed for endangerment relief, and, if so, what makes the “Saving U.S. Coal” effort different from those other ones that are being considered at present?
Fred Palmer: The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and electric consumers represented by lawyers from Atlanta have all filed petitions since President Trump was elected. I have read each and they are fine, but we are different. We start with a basic premise that this is all about CO2; is more CO2 in the air positive or negative? We answer the question based on scientific observations of an ever-greener earth, we rely on satellite and weather balloon temperature readings and we rely on human development since the advent of coal and other fossil fuel use. In short, in answering the question, we focus on and embrace coal use and CO2 emissions from a scientific, enhanced biosphere and human development standpoint.
We put answering the questions in the proper context; the “human environment” as used in the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act and defined in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration. Both look at human impact on the natural environment but also look at the environment where people live. EPA didn’t come close to doing either. NEPA and Stockholm are on the books, EPA has a statutory role in administering NEPA, but in the CO2 Endangerment Findings EPA ignores NEPA and the lynchpin, statutory “human environment” requirement.
EPA instead focuses myopically on a conjectural atmospheric warming, based on UN flawed, flux adjusted computer models. The remedy we seek is different as well. We are not asking EPA to redo the scientific process based on identified errors that may be barred anyway under the appellate doctrine “it stands decided”; we seek a declaration that using more coal, for electricity and other industrial uses with resulting CO2 emissions, is good and not bad, and that there is no context where humans can create a hostile atmosphere no matter the resulting atmospheric CO2 content using fossil fuels. We like to say, metaphorically of course, “fossil fuels forever”.
CoalZoom: Well, thank you, Fred, for taking the time to describe your campaign and for explaining the important differences between “Saving US Coal” and the other petitions now filed. Many friends of coal will be keeping an eye on your progress and we wish you every success.
Fred Palmer: Thank you Bill. I appreciate it very much!