By Fred Palmer, Senior Fellow CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Head of Saving US Coal
June 23, 2020 - During the primary process for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, every candidate declared support for 100% elimination of the use of fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal. Candidate Biden was no exception. With the nomination now secure, a review of the Biden Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice shows he means what he says. This can be found at the Biden Official Campaign Website, joebiden.com.
If you review the narrative there, you will find the overarching goal of a 100% clean energy economy. You will also see a prominent declaration of intent for “Day One Unprecedented Executive Actions” to reduce CO2 emissions. As we are a nation of laws, and not men (women), Biden’s executive actions must be authorized under law, but make no doubt the sweeping power of the Executive Branch will be employed as promised.
The US Coal Industry has already been cut in half in large part because of the overt hostility of President Obama, supported by Vice President Biden, to CO2 emissions from coal to electricity generation. The primary demise of coal combustion resulted from the still existing EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding, where Team Obama declared that CO2 emissions are adverse to human health and welfare for “current” and future generations.
These findings apply as well to oil and natural gas production and use, so expect as a first step immediate Biden action on fracking, making it more expensive no matter where performed. Too, also expect severe limits on future oil and gas permitting and operations of federal oil and gas resources, including offshore and onshore fracking. Ultimately expect the call for a ban on fracking by Senator Sanders and others to be implemented.
Oil and natural gas company executives were quoted last week that their biggest future concert is a future President Joe Biden. Given where Biden and the Democratic Party is, in lockstep, the executives have very sound reasons for being concerned
To ultimately forbid and eliminate the production and use of oil and natural gas along with coal, it may be that a Biden Administration could simply use EPA, and ignore Congress; this was the path taken by President Obama with the CO2 Endangerment Finding. And it just happens that there is a Petition on file, I acted on, at EPA that could be the vehicle chosen by a President Biden to achieve his goals.
On April 9, 2019, almost 50 environmental groups across the country filed a Petition with EPA demanding CO2 be regulated as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. EPA also refers to HAPs as “Air Toxics” in its regulatory activity. The environmental petitioners are a group led by Food & Water Watch, a well-known DC based organization in the very large and very well-funded anti-fossil fuel use industry.
If the Petition is granted by the Biden EPA, the regulatory regime for all fossil fuel combustion would require eliminating CO2 emissions using Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT), with the cost of such deployment and use not relevant. Such a regulatory tool would immediately doom the remaining coal plants and cause major disruption and consumer costs for continued oil and natural gas production and use.
A CO2 as Air Toxic finding could also be an effective tool for the ultimate goal of eliminating fossil fuel use without the need to seek Congressional legislation and consent. It would be the Biden extension of the President Obama CO2 EPA Endangerment Finding under the rubric that CO2, a benign gas required for life on earth, is actually toxic.
The climate showdown is now front and center and will be a major campaign issue. The eliminate oil, natural gas and coal movement and agenda has advanced for decades as a seemingly inexorable force aimed at the elimination of all fossil fuel use. Of course, it has not happened yet but there is no denying we are closer now to the potential of a federal government in Washington DC that becomes the enemy of fossil fuel production and use, with great harm to the American people.
There is an antidote for it, however, no matter what happens in the political arena.
The key is education of policy makers and civil society at a sophisticated, ongoing level; the message is human development and life itself along with an improved and improving natural environment through a greening earth. The industrial evolution of the human community advanced through fossil fuel use; the Human Environment benefits from such use and more CO2 in the atmosphere as a result allow more people to live longer and live better.
Failure to so engage means conceding the playing field to the concept that CO2 is in fact an Air Toxic, and that fossil fuels use should ultimately be banned as a result. This is a plausible if absurd result and it could happen.
So how do you educate effectively? Let’s use this incredible CO2 as Air Toxic Petition as our Poster Child for how absurd the anti-fossil fuel agenda is. Let’s educate all, including the Democratic Party leadership from Joe Biden to Speaker Pelosi. Let’s tell them what we have filed at EPA, which we did on Earth Day, April 22, demonstrating how ridiculous the Petition is: the filing was done by The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CO2 Center) asking for Summary Dismissal of the CO2, Air Toxic Petition.
In the same document we incorporated the superb work of Dr. Idso in the CO2 Center Petition to repeal the CO2 Endangerment submitted to EPA on March 9. We also underscore the absolute necessity of taking these matters on now, given the pendency of the Air Toxic Petition.
In the request for relief, we point out that EPA at the same time could simply Declare the 2009 CO2 findings as no longer in effect given changed circumstances based on the passage of time. The new circumstances include the ongoing failures of the computer models that consistently run “hot” without regard to satellite temperature readings and radiosonde results. As important, we will also provide detailed metrics showing more people on earth, living longer and better, using more and more fossil fuels along with a greening of planet earth based on more CO2 in the atmosphere.
But to be effective, have a broad reach and succeed for the long term, financial support is needed. Please provide the necessary financial resources for The CO2 Center as we end the nightmare of CO2 Endangerment by defeating the CO2 as Air Toxic play led by Food & Water Watch.