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The Social Cost of Carbon Is Arbitrary and Capricious: The EPA 2009 CO2 Endangerment Finding Is Moot




By Fred Palmer, Senior Fellow – CO2 Policy, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Leader Saving US Coal


Fred Palmer

March 10, 2021 - Both the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) and the 2009 EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding are computer driven visions of an environmental future that requires the elimination of fossil fuel use. The shared vision of apocalypse from warming and climate change embraced by EPA in CO2 endangerment and the add on SCC for use by all federal agencies across the board, are both 100% based on flawed, flux-adjusted computer models.

Also, both willfully ignore over 40 years of positive human development metrics and actual temperature readings from weather satellites and radiosonde data from weather balloons. The two temperature measuring approaches use different methods and both confirm each other, meaning they are correct.

The US government is prudent in supporting both the satellites and weather balloons to monitor what is going on with climate, yet the US government ignores them in preference to deeply flawed computer models. The satellite and weather balloons validate that the current climate is human friendly, under control and we should be thankful for it, as opposed to the Little Ice Age or an actual ice age. Nonetheless both government and the environmental community portray the current climate as already an existential threat to our future and refuse to give up the approach that we must live our lives based on output from computer models that can’t hind-cast.

All recorded human history and metrics for climate, climate observations and human development 100% contradict the climate conclusions and prescriptions of the United States and Europe across the board. The United States in league with Europe comprise a total population of under 700 million people, albeit with large markets and great wealth. The leadership in both the United States and Europe want to dictate to the rest of the world, over 7 billion people, that they must adopt our virtual world of sack cloth and ashes, give up fossil fuels and adopt life styles consistent with the US/Europe vision of climate apocalypse advanced by them.

As China, India, other Asian countries, Africa and South America continue to embrace the greater use of coal, oil and natural gas to advance their futures and reach our wealth levels, China and the developing world can take great comfort that the claim that fossil fuel use and resulting CO2 emissions are catastrophic in effect for people, is simply wrong.  And in doing so, they can rely on these human development metrics presented by Frank Clemente for this article. To quote Frank:

“Here are some initial observations that establish how wrongheaded the EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding claim that CO2 is a “current” threat to human health and welfare is. Based on what has happened in the last ten years, continuing forces in play for some 200 years, there is no conceptual basis for either the CO2 Endangerment Finding and therefore the SCC at all. Since 2009:

1.    Population increased from 6.78 billion to 7.7 billion. Life expectancy at birth increased from 69 years to 73 years

2.    The Infant Mortality Rate decreased from 43 per thousand live births to only 28 per thousand. A decrease in the IMR is typically seen as one of the leading indicators of societal progress.

3.    Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased from $8,732 to $11,571

4.    Children under five identified as stunted decreased from 32% to 21%

5.    More than 700 million people gained access to safe drinking water.

6.    The global crop production index increased from 122 to 128

7.    Terrestrial protected areas increased from 12.5% of land use to 14.7% of land use.

8.    The female literacy rate increased from 79% to 83%

“During this period fossil fuels accounted for over 60% of all electricity production in every single year. Coal, oil and natural gas use in the aggregate also increased dramatically.

“Note: The US data are not so blatant because we are at the extremely high end of all these beneficial variables. Nonetheless the same forces are at work in the US:

•    population increased from 307 billion to 328 billion
•    life expectancy increased from a little over 77 years to 79 years
•    Gross National Income per capita increased from $46,360 to $65,850
•    The Infant Mortality Rate dropped from 7 to 6 per thousand births”

In addition to Frank’s work, please also refer to the Western Fuels Association videos The Greening of Planet Earth and The Greening of Planet Earth Continues for the correct view of the overwhelming benefits of CO2 to the Human Environment, both from the use of fossil fuels themselves and the CO2 impact on the biosphere, including agriculture. The growing and beneficial greenhouse effect is real and undeniable and the videos have been confirmed by the United States through NASA just two years ago.  These findings can be found in a paper “Earth getting greener, NASA’s new maps confirm; 1/20/20Nature; Nature Reviews Earth & Environment”.

The Biden Administration recent release of SCC figures at $51/ton/CO2 ($102/ton of coal) completely ignores these videos and paper, and fits the textbook definition of Arbitrary and Capricious - “a willful and unreasonable action without consideration or in disregard of facts or law without determining principle”. Black’s Law Dictionary.

As to EPA CO2 Endangerment, it is equally flawed and challenged based on very basic observations over the last 10 years. If you went into a court of law with a fact case based on the world 10 years ago versus today and compared their findings that CO2 in the air is “adverse to human health and welfare” and compared it to what actually transpired and how the human community thrives, you would have a bad day. In my view the matter is moot, and therefore EPA CO2 Endangerment is no longer enforceable.  

The EPA approach to coal, oil and natural gas has been and will continue to be agenda driven until the Supreme Court or the American people tell them to stop. One reason both could happen is if the fossil fuels community is willing to make the investment to protect their business long-term through an educational effort. Facts and words matter in our public debates and in the courts, and the climate agenda has always attempted to turn truth into falsehood and falsehood into truth in their drive to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels.

The words “adverse to human health and welfare” are the Clean Air Act words relied on by EPA in the CO2 Endangerment Finding, but there is no definition by EPA of what that actually means. As seen above it cannot mean what happened in the last decade with the powerful pro-human life and development metrics Frank has provided. The horrific coronavirus in 2020, on the other hand, has now defined the words “adverse to human health and welfare” for ever more, in my view.

Since the onslaught of the coronavirus 2.6 million people have died worldwide in just one year: In the United States over 500,000 lives have been lost. Also in the United States life expectancy in 2020 has dropped by a full year due to the coronavirus!  For the US Government to flippantly characterize CO2, a benign gas required for life on earth, as adverse to human health and welfare and an “existential threat” to quote our leaders, is to demean the lives lost and coming lives that will be lost to the coronavirus.  

To truly advance the health and welfare of the American people it is time to stop the war on fossil fuels, starting with Coal. Immediate steps needed are to withdraw the SCC findings and reject the concept. At the same time, we need to recognize the deep flaws in the concept of the EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding and withdraw it as Moot.