|Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)
|Ended on 4/9/2018
Dear Members of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality:
As a resident of Virginia, and knowledgeable of its poor scientific basis, I strongly oppose the concept: “Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)”. It is based upon speculation, not science, has no hard evidence, will increase electricity bills of citizens of Virginia, and endanger their health and welfare with unreliable electricity. At the same time, it provides an excuse for not addressing the real problem facing Tidewater, Virginia.
In the 1970s, the US government promoted the fear that the world was about to run out of oil and the nation would run out of natural gas. The fear was buttressed by state-of-the-art mathematical models that had doubtful assumptions, faulty logic, and highly exaggerated results. As a young economist versed in mathematical modeling, I was hired under a government contract to give an independent review and reported that the models were unsuitable for government policy.
However, President Carter declared the “moral equivalent of war” to find replacements for hydrocarbons and Congress passed the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Act of 1978 with great enthusiasm, preventing new powerplants from using oil and natural gas as their primary fuel.
According to statistics from the Energy Information Agency, in 1978 America produced about 14% of its electricity from natural gas. In 2016, America produced about 34% from natural gas while producing 85% more electricity. What happened?
In 1987, the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act was repealed, demonstrating that the science, and its improperly tested models, were a danger to Americans and that regulations cannot replace nature. Later, independent US oil and gas companies developed a method of extracting oil and natural gas from dense shale, well-known as source rock, and US energy boomed. Many have made false claims of drinking water contamination. In certain parts of Texas and Oklahoma, all oil and gas production produce excess water, a form of brine, which needs proper disposal, but the process of extracting oil and gas from shale does not contaminate drinking water.
Similarly, the fear that carbon dioxide is causing severe global warming is based on doubtful assumptions, faulty logic, and highly exaggerated results. I call this bureaucratic science, others call it junk science. The government is advocating fears, myths, and calling it science, without hard evidence.
The Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) was formed 25 years ago to examine the science behind government policies affecting health, environment, and energy. Its weekly newsletter, “The Week That Was,” is directly or indirectly distributed to over 30,000 scientists, engineers, and other professionals. Parts of it are translated into at least two other European languages, and it is circulated in universities and laboratories in Russia and China. If a factual error occur, the criticisms are prompt.
A major focus is examining hard evidence supporting fears raised by government entities, such as global warming, accelerating sea level rise, and ocean acidification, a woefully named concept. Further, energy policies based on questionable assumptions are discussed.
We have been called many names, because we insist of hard evidence to support any claims that drastic action is needed “fight” a popular fear created by faulty science. As seen with the fear of running out of oil and natural gas, questionable computer models are not hard evidence. Further, the results of any experiments or models must be reproducible, requiring that procedures and data used must be transparent. The only exceptions are clear interests for national security – such as secret, deadly weapons.
Among the fears greatly exaggerating evidence-backed science are:
Greenhouse Gas Warming:
About a century of laboratory experiments show that greenhouses gases warm the planet and prevent drastic daily temperature swings. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor. Carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas and has a minor effect. Doubling carbon dioxide in today’s atmosphere will benefit green plants, and the environment, but does little to increase the earth’s temperatures.
A 1979 report published by the National Academy of Sciences, called the Charney Report, triggered a fear of warming from increased greenhouse gases. The report speculated that the modest warming produced by increases in carbon dioxide would be greatly amplified by increases in water vapor. The greenhouse effect (both from water vapor and carbon dioxide) occurs in the atmosphere. At that time, no one had atmospheric temperature data to support or refute the claim, it was pure speculation by climate modelers.
Today we have almost 40 years of comprehensive atmospheric temperature data from satellites compiled by four different entities, independently supported by weather balloon temperature data from over 560 weather stations, world-wide, showing that the atmosphere is warming very modestly, about 0.1ºC (0.2 ºF) per decade.
The indicated warming trend by greenhouse gases is even less. In the early part of the data record, tiny particles from volcanoes caused an atmospheric cooling and in the later part of the record sea surface warming from El Niños caused an atmospheric warming.
Using widely accepted statistical techniques these effects can be eliminated, which would bring the trend consistent with what atmospheric scientist Richard Lindzen stated twenty years ago. “Indirect estimates, based on response to volcanos, suggest sensitivity may be as small as 0.3–0.5°C for a doubling of CO2, which is well within the range of natural variability.”
Simply put, we have no hard evidence that increasing carbon dioxide is causing a significant warming of the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs.
Other Health Issues – PM2.5
Other than a highly doubtful increased greenhouse effect, the major argument for capping CO2 emissions from modern fossil fuel power plants is the health concerns from PM2.5, but no one has stepped forward with hard evidence supporting health hazards from PM2.5. One of the great breakthroughs in public health was the realization that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer in some people. This realization required rigorous statistics and open discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of studies, because no firm causal mechanism was found. No such open discussion on PM2.5 is found because the evidence is not public.
Replacing Fossil Fuels:
Another popular myth advanced by politicians is that solar and wind power can replace reliable electricity generated by thermal sources such as coal and nuclear. Driven by nature, wind and solar are unreliable. They are not dispatchable, that is, not capable of being generated and transmitted when and where needed. Thus, they must be fully backed-up by a reliable system, greatly increasing the cost of the entire system. They are unsuitable to provide power where reliability is required such as medical facilities, elevators, street lights, and subways. Modern civilization runs on reliable electricity. Solar and wind are inferior replacement for reliable coal and nuclear.
The experiences in Germany, Denmark, the UK and South Australia demonstrate how inferior solar and wind are. Skyrocketing electricity prices, major blackouts, and desperate efforts to build large batteries that last a short time are a few illustrations of the problem. The only reliable back-up is pumped hydro storage. In the US, the largest such facility is in Bath County, VA, and it backs-up reliable nuclear and coal for periods of high demand for a short time. Physical attempts demonstrate pumped storage cannot back-up solar and wind because weather conditions may cause lack of generation for a long time.
Although batteries are improving, for a century utilities have been searching for an affordable, commercially available method that can provide back-up over a long, sustained period. It does not exist. Government regulations will not create one.
The grid can be looked upon as an energized system, serving all on it, consumers and producers. It is similar to a nervous system serving all organs in the human body. Solar and wind power do not reliably serve all the consumers and producers on the grid. Thus, they can be looked upon as similar to junk food, pleasing to some senses, but not needed or beneficial to the entire system. They can be called junk electricity
Sea Level Rise:
NOAA has two systems of measuring sea level rise: tidal gages and satellites. Tidal gages have been around a long time, some in Europe for over 1000 years. They are affected by local conditions such as changing currents, wind patterns, and tectonic movements. For example, the tidal gages in the Gulf of Bothnia, between Sweden and Finland, indicate sea levels are falling. This is because the land is rising, rebounding from thousands of feet of ice pressing on it during the last Ice Age.
The calculations of rising or falling global sea levels have been an issue for some time. Changing wind patterns such as El Niños can affect sea level in the Western Pacific (South Asia including Hong Kong) by several feet. It is extremely important to incorporate all possible data, and not draw conclusions about long-term change from short-term data. Long-term data indicates that the sea level rise for the past several thousand years has been about 7 inches per century.
NOAA is now using measurements from satellites, but it now appears that it has failed to properly test and calibrate these measurements. Unfortunately, its reports have been interpreted as an increase in the rate of sea level rise. Also, NASA has done this. These reports have been interpreted as a significant increase in sea level rise from CO2-caused warming. As stated above, any CO2-caused warming is tiny. What is not discussed, is that NOAA measurements show sea levels did not rise in 2016 and 2017. One can speculate as to cause.
Problems in Tidewater:
As with many urban areas on the Atlantic coastal plain, Tidewater Virginia has a problem – salt water intrusion. As careful research shows, Tidewater’s problem of salt water intrusion is not from increasing sea level rise, but from sinking land, largely from ground water extraction.
In the past, coastal communities had one alternative to solve the problem of increasing population or sinking land from ground water extraction. Build reservoirs and pipelines, either nearby or at considerable distance. For example, Los Angeles and New York City rely on piped water from a considerable distance. Houston built major reservoirs nearby. Recently, an alternative has been developed that appears to be cost effective: desalination using reverse osmosis.
The concept has been around for some time, but reverse osmosis can be expensive for desalination because algae thrive in the filters, forcing expensive replacements. The Israelis are widely expanding desalination through reverse osmosis by using porous lava rock for prefiltering the water, removing the algae. Carlsbad, California, implemented a similar system, using layers of anthracite (hard coal), gravel, and sand for filtration. After over a year of operation the operating costs seem reasonable – under $7 dollars per 1,000 gallons.
Pretending that the problem can be solved by cutting carbon dioxide emissions is an absurd waste of resources that does not address the problem.
For these and many other reasons, I strongly oppose the Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17) plan. Its supposed benefits are not based on hard evidence. Its costs to citizens of Virginia are real and considerable. It endangers public health and welfare by emphasizing unreliable electricity. And it hides the need to address a real problem to Tidewater Virginia.
Kenneth Haapala, President
Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Home address and office telephone number
9634 Boyett Court
Fairfax, VA 22032
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science
Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, 2013
Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, 2014
Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming
The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus
By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, NIPCC, Nov 23, 2015
Download with no charge
Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate
S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008
Effects of Greenhouse Gas Warming:
Examination of space-based bulk atmospheric temperatures used in climate research
By Christy, Spencer, Braswell, Junod, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Mar 8, 2018
Can increasing carbon dioxide cause climate change?
By Richard S. Lindzen, PNAS, Aug 5, 1997
Other Health Issues – PM2.5:
Air quality and acute deaths in California, 2000—2012
By S. Stanley Young, Richard L. Smith, and Kenneth K. Lopiano, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, June 13, 2017
Air quality environmental epidemiology studies are unreliable
By S. Stanley Young, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Mar 8, 2017
Land Subsidence and Relative Sea-Level Rise in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region
By Jack Eggleston and Jason Pope, USGS, Circular 1392, Dec 9, 2013
Real Solutions to Tidewater Problems:
How a New Source of Water Is Helping Reduce Conflict in the Middle East
Scientists and others look to desalination as a way to unite longtime adversaries in a common cause.
By Rowan Jacobsen, ENSIA, July 19, 2016
Nation’s Largest Seawater Desalination Plant Marks One-Year Anniversary
Press Release, Claud “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Dec 14, 2016