Saturday, October 10, 2009
Lawsuit Says CO2 Is a Pollutant in Texas
From a Houston Chronicle article, "Public Citizen's lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Travis County District Court, accuses the [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] regulatory agency of violating the state's Clean Air Act by refusing to issue standards for controlling the emissions of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants." The environmental group seeks to force the state of Texas to regulate CO2 emissions because, they say, CO2 causes global warming.
One can imagine how this plays with the public in Texas, the state with more refineries than any other, the greatest oil and gas production after Alaska, and hundreds of associated chemical and petrochemical plants. The comments following the article are excellent reading.
A limit on CO2 emissions, if restricted to coal-fired power plants, would be damaging enough. But, such a ruling would open the door to additional regulation of CO2 emissions from refineries, petrochemical plants, and chemical plants, plus other industries (steel and cement spring to mind), and of course natural gas-fired power plants.
TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw, a realist, hit the nail on the head when he stated “Reducing CO2 in Texas will do nothing to lower CO2 globally, but will have the effect of sending U.S. jobs to China and India.”
As I show in my speeches on California's AB 32, a state law that requires massive reductions in CO2 emissions, one state cannot possibly make a difference. California produces approximately 2 percent of all CO2 emissions in the world due to energy consumption. Texas produces approximately the same. A 20 or 30 percent reduction from a 2 percent base, implemented 11 years from now, would never be noticed in the world, and would be instantly overwhelmed by one year's modest increase in developing countries.
The science is not supportive of the position embraced by the US EPA, that CO2 causes atmospheric warming globally. The supposed mechanism for the global warming effect is that CO2 molecules in the atmosphere absorb electromagnetic radiation in the infra-red range, or heat, as that heat is traveling upward toward outer space. The CO2 molecules then, the theory goes, re-radiate their absorbed energy in all directions, such that roughly half the energy is directed downward toward the earth's surface. The downward-directed heat then slightly increases the earth's surface temperature, and causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. The additional water vapor in the atmosphere then traps yet more heat, causing a runaway heating effect. Climatologists use the word "forcing" to describe the mechanism. The climate models are hopelessly inaccurate and have not yet predicted any of the events of the past 10 years - colder air, colder oceans, fewer hurricanes, growing ice caps, shorter growing seasons, early snowfalls in Autumn, late snowfalls in Spring, normal or zero ocean level increase, and indeed, lower sea levels in many areas including offshore San Francisco. The climate models have a basic assumption of constant relative humidity in the atmosphere, and if the air is indeed warmer, more water vapor should be held in the atmosphere.
Several real mechanisms act to thwart the climate modelers and their models. First, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, is clouds. More humidity creates more clouds, which cool the earth in at least two ways. One way is to increase the albedo or reflectivity of the earth, which allows less sunshine (heat energy) to reach the surface. Another way is increased rain, whereby great amounts of heat is released at high altitude where the water vapor condenses to rain drops. Water releases approximately 1000 Btu per pound upon condensing.
The second real mechanism is normal cycling of ocean basin temperatures. Third is the flow and position of the northern hemisphere jet stream. Fourth is the action of arctic winds and currents, and their effect on the floating ice pack. Time-lapse photography shows that the recent decrease in arctic ice is largely due, if not entirely due, to the effect of wind pushing the ice out of the arctic and into warmer waters where the ice melts. Such an event created the iceberg that sank the Titanic.
There is plenty of sound science for the state of Texas to rely upon that leads to the opposite conclusion reached by the US EPA: CO2 is not a dangerous pollutant, and therefore should not be regulated as one.
Let us hope that Texas does the right thing. Declare CO2 to not be a dangerous pollutant.