[I have up-dated a piece I wrote last year, “EPA’s Clean Power Plan and its Moment of Truth.” While many people seemingly have forgotten that it was a legalistic nightmare, I think it is important to revisit its many flaws. Ultimately, it was an over-politicized document in search of national problem. Even Gina McCarthy admitted that the Clean Power Plan had no measurable climate impact: one hundredth of a degree or so.
In fact, while testifying in front of Congress, she tried to say that it had symbolic value.
Now that it is just another example of a failed federal over-reach, I wanted to make certain that the Clean Power Plan is not over-romanticized or eulogized. Even after three iterations, it was a Frankenstein monster built by lawyers and environmentalists with little purpose or impact: Symbolism without good economics, good engineering or good democratic sense. Steve]
EPA’s Clean Power Plan and its Many, Many, Many Flaws
By Stephen Heins
While many of us have actively tried to follow the broad-based scientific discussions about climate change including those speeches made at the Paris Meetings, most of us are stuck between to the “alarmist” and the “denier” narratives. The “luke warmers,” as we are called, suspect that the climate change discussion is far from over.
More troubling to some observers was the total politicization of Washington DC bureaucracies, the FCC, DOE and the EPA, during the last administration. They fit the classic mold of federal agencies furiously trying to regulate industries while they themselves are many years behind the investment, technology and innovation of the industries they regulate.
Suffice it to say, the world’s 7.4 billion people of global economy and planetary environment are far too important to be left to silo thinking or national and global politics. This is especially true with the skyrocketing need for big data, huge wireless broadband and ongoing technological innovation, particularly in the under-developed and under-represented parts of the world.
With that in mind, here are several flaws in the final version of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) of 2015:
• The use of several studies (e.g. Harvard’s study of indirect health benefits) are likely examples of “study-bias;”
• Medical computations of indirect health benefits from the reduction of PM 2.5 (or fine particulate matter) have never been well demonstrated;
• The CPP lacks a full accounting of the costs of stranding electrical assets and the large investment in new infrastructure, which essentially just replicate old distribution assets;
• The Clean Power Plan has never been properly vetted by the states, and there never was a state or national political mandate calling for its formulation;
• Currently, a clear cut democratic majority, 28 states, have officially challenged the legality of the Clean Power Plan;
• Indistinguishable from any political campaign, the robust public relations campaign conducted by the EPA and the White House, and a large number of related texts and emails, are shrouded in the lack of proper disclosure not unlike the Colorado Toxic Spills;
• The US is already on a glide path whereby America has reduced more Green House Gas (GHG) than any other country in the world, a fact which even the Sierra Club acknowledges;
• The EPA has never provided a real cost benefit analysis of the Clean Power throughout all versions of the regulations;
• The CPP gives the EPA and state environmental agencies first class status, making all other state and federal agencies (like the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, and State Utility Regulators) virtual second class citizens, with second class powers;
• With “cross state” and regional emission differences, the CPP makes states and regions compete against each other in energy markets previously regulated by states, and is de facto helping to create a national emissions market, which has already been defeated legislatively;
• The Clean Power Plan is fraught with backward looking and silo thinking, with no heed paid to the rapidly expanding convergence of energy, technology and wireless telecommunications. In the case of the above convergence, there is no consideration for the rapidly expanding need for electricity, big data and wireless broadband to allow significantly more energy efficiency, better environmentalism and economic development in all 50 states;
• The CPP has a serious lack of transparency, whereby much of the information remains undisclosed. Much of the grant money provided by the EPA for health and emissions studies (Harvard, Syracuse, George Mason et al) is essentially undeclared;
• The significant input provided by large environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the NRDC is largely buried in the footnotes or hidden in private emails;
Finally, as Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard and the Wall Street Journal point out, the constitutionality of Clean Power Plan and its new found powers probably violated the separation of powers and the long standing principle of cooperative federalism between the states and the federal government.