Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

04 November 2012

The More Flexible Obama EPA Post-Election Ambush

Obama has had several of the new rules promulgated by his radical EPA put on hold until after the election.  Apparently, missile defense shields are not the only topic on which he will have more flexibility after the election.  He is well aware that these rulings will cause the loss of many jobs and he does not want those job holders and their families to know this before the election.  This is especially a dirty trick on the poor and those on fixed incomes that the Democrat Party used to pretend to champion.  They are already spending about 24% of their very limited incomes on energy largely due to the out-of-control efforts of the EPA to raise energy prices for fossil fuels and to mandate the increased use of very expensive alternative energy sources.  With friends like these, the poor need no enemies.

Senator Jim Inhofe has had a report written by the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works which was published in October and documents the long list of new rulings that EPA is going to slam the American economy with after the election when Obama will be more flexible.  The results of the EPA rulings on hold will be the virtual elimination of the use of our huge coal reserves which have provided Americans with the least expensive electricity and energy in general in the world.

This Obama administration is also intending to limit the use of oil, not just foreign oil, but also U.S. oil.  This is the real reason that Obama prevented the building of the Keystone XL pipeline which would have brought a much needed supply of Canadian oil from Alberta and American oil from the shale oil deposits of North Dakota to Cushing, Oklahoma and to the Gulf of Mexico oil refineries which have been getting less and less oil from mismanaged nationalized oil companies in Venezuela and Mexico.  Killing the Keystone XL pipeline cost us 20,000 jobs immediately and about 465,000 jobs total by 2035.  That dependable supply of oil would have increased jobs in the Bakken shale oil formation of North Dakota, increased refinery jobs, increased other chemical industry jobs, and provided lower cost oil, gasoline, plastics, and fertilizer to all of the economic activities dependent upon them.  Our exports of products would have been increased.

The Obama administration is planning to replace state regulation of tight shale oil formation fracturing with federal regulations so that oil and gas from our huge shale oil and gas formations can be reduced and made more expensive.  Oil companies have been using hydraulic fracturing since 1949 when it was pioneered in Duncan, Oklahoma.  Since then it has been used 1.5 million times without any proven case of water contamination, which has even been admitted by the radical EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Yet, it is in the name that such contamination might happen that very expensive regulations are to be slapped onto frakking operations.  The real reason is to prevent the use of fossil fuels because the Democrat Party has bought into the nonsensical hypothesis of catastrophic man-made global warming and has little care about how many jobs are eliminated and how much the cost of living rises as they chase that chimera. 

The Obama administration has succeeded in reducing the production of natural gas on federal lands and in federal waters by 11% in 2011 compared to 2010.  They decreased oil production from these areas by 14%.  But oil and gas production on private land is regulated by the states and such states as Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan have been allowing oil and natural gas production to boom.  This has created a shale gas industry with 600,000 jobs, which is expected to grow to 870,000 by 2015.  By 2035, there may be 1.6 million jobs in the industry.  In 2010, this nascent industry was already adding $76.9 billion to the U.S. GDP.  If re-elected, Obama and his many henchmen are determined to keep this wondrous development for jobs and our standard of living from happening.

According to an April study released by the U.S. Geological Survey, North America has 26% of the world's recoverable conventional oil resources.  This excludes our rich shale oil, tight oil, and heavy oil resources, which are gigantic.  We have 30% of the world's technically recoverable conventional natural gas resources.  We have the largest coal reserves in the world.  The oil and gas industries are already adding nearly a billion dollars a day to the economy and this is all that has keep us from falling back into a state of contracting GDP.  American households have saved about $566 million a day in natural gas expenses due to the drop in natural gas prices due to hydraulic fracturing.  All of this the Obama team wants to make useless and take away from Americans because they are foolish enough to buy into the unproven, and indeed failed, claim that CO2 emissions by man are catastrophically warming the planet.

What are the slew of new regulations intended to strangle Americans use of energy?

Greenhouse Gas Regulations:  Intended to be worse than the Cap and Trade legislation that could not make even through the totally Democrat House and Senate of 2009 and 2010.  The rules will cost $300 to $400 billion a year.  Gasoline and home energy bills will go up greatly.  Energy use in power plants, schools, restaurants, hospitals, churches, and farms will all be regulated, though they will be phased in so the frog will not jump out of the pot.  The first restrictions implemented will kill most coal-fired electric power plants in keeping with Obama's promise to do that.  At least 175 coal-fired power plants are on the chopping block.  At least 37,000 farms and ranches will require greenhouse gas permits at an average cost of $23,000 a year.  This will cause the cost of meat and dairy prices to rise.

Ozone Rule:  The EPA places a low-ball cost on this rule of $90 billion a year.  Others say it will cost $1 trillion a year and obliterate 7.4 million jobs.  Why so much destruction?  Because 650 additional counties will likely be placed in the non-attainment category for ozone limits.  These counties will be prohibited from further development, so no new jobs can be created in them and existing plants will be forced to close.

Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations:  14 Obama administration agencies are trying to wrest control of hydraulic fracturing regulations from the states.  These include the EPA, the Energy Dept., the Bureau of Land Management, the Center for Disease Control, the Dept. of Agriculture, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The cost for new permits and well workovers to bring them into compliance will cost from $1.50 to $1.62 billion.  Added costs per well of $253,800 are estimated and bringing a well back into use to re-stimulate fracture will cost $233,100.  Obama has efforts underway to apply the Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Effluent Limitations Guidelines to shale gas extraction and to coal-bed methane gas.

Florida Numeric Nutrient Criteria:  In 2009, the Obama EPA determined that it would set federal numeric nutrient water standards under the Clean Water Act for the state of Florida.  The standard the EPA said it was going to set in 2010 was widely criticized as infeasible both technologically and economically.  The state of Florida set its own standard and was upheld in doing so by a Florida administrative judge in June 2012.  The state submitted its standard to the EPA and the EPA had to approve it in 60 days or disapprove it in 90 days by law.  The EPA has done neither, once again demonstrating the lawlessness so common in the Obama administration.  It appears that the EPA is just waiting until after the election in the important state of Florida before asserting its arbitrary will.

EPA Control of Water Sites:  The EPA has proposed a new guidance document of April 2011 under the Clean Water Act that allows it to govern almost every body of water in the U.S., no matter how small.  This is based on their reinterpretation of recent Supreme Court decisions.  The EPA estimates that 17% of the non-jurisdictional determinations will be reversed under the new guidance.  This new guidance was unable to pass the heavily Democrat House and Senate when it came up for approval.  The new guidance would force state and local governments to perform many new duties many of them do not want to do.

Storm-Water Regulation:  As part of the Chesapeake Bay Settlement Agreement in 2009, the EPA announced setting new nationwide storm-water rules.  The proposed rule will establish a post-construction storm-water run-off standard and massive changes to storm-water systems.  Green infrastructure techniques such as green roofs, rain gardens, and permeable pavement will be required.  States, municipalities, and property owners will incur huge costs.  This may be the most expensive rule in the EPA's history.

Tier III Gasoline Regulations:  The current limit on sulfur in gasoline is 30 ppm and the new limit will become 10 ppm.  The initial cost to achieve this in refineries will be $10 billion and the annual cost thereafter will be $2.4 billion.  Gasoline cost may be increased by 9 cents a gallon.

Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Rule:  This rule would apply to about 200,000 boilers and their emissions of mercury, dioxin, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, and carbon monoxide.  They burn natural gas, coal, fuel oil, biomass, refinery gas, or other gas to produce steam used to heat buildings, produce heat for manufacturing purposes, or to produce electricity.  The EPA claims the capital cost will be $9.5 billion, though IHS Global Insight did a study that concluded it will cost $20 billion.  The Small Business Administration says it will cause a major increase in regulatory costs for businesses, institutions, and municipalities.  The Department of Commerce says it would cause job losses of 40,000 to 60,000, which is much higher than EPA estimates.  The Senate Minority Report says it will reduce GDP by $1.2 billion and destroy nearly 800,000 jobs, but that combination of costs and jobs lost does not make sense to me.

The methodology for producing the requirements of this ruling is terrible.  The initial ruling had 5,800 comments citing technical and statutory errors.  21 governors and more than 100 Congressmen had objections.  EPA officials finally admitted they had failed to "calculate standards that fully reflected operational reality."  The most current version of the proposed standard says that a boiler already in existence must have an average emission limit achieved by the best performing 12% of boilers in the given boiler category.  A new boiler must have emissions equal to or better than the best existing boiler.  There is a terrible catch here as well.  The best is defined for each of the controlled substances.  The best fuel and design to reduce mercury emissions may be very different than the best to reduce particulate matter, for instance.  In fact, the best boiler for each of the six substances does not meet the new MACT standard for this reason.  The standard is not technologically and economically feasible.  What is more, four of the regulated substances meet the statutory requirements for health-based standards and were so treated in previous versions of boiler MACT rules.  The proposed rule now establishes no threshold beyond which the emissions are thought to have no significant consequences.  The EPA argues that they cannot set such a threshold, but this negates their argument that they can calculate the health benefits of their new proposed ruling.  Furthermore, the EPA misstated the health benefits by assuming that all particulates, no matter their composition, have the same harmful health consequences.  I have already discussed the issues relating to mercury emissions extensively here and here.

Cement MACT Rule:  This EPA rule is expected to shut down 18 cement plants and cost up to 80,000 jobs.  This will increase our importation of cement from China and increase the cement cost of construction of roads, bridges, and buildings by 22 to 36%.

316(b) Cooling Tower Rules:  Provides for stricter protection of fish in cooling tower reservoirs.  The costs are estimated to be between 384 and 460 million dollars a year.  The value of the benefit is thought to be $17 million.

Coal Ash Ruling:  The proposed EPA coal ash rule declaring coal ash a hazardous substance will cost from $79 to $110 billion over 20 years.  It will destroy between 184,000 and 316,000 jobs with especially bad consequences for Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Missouri.

Farm Dust Regulations:  The EPA is considering tightening its controls on farm dust under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for coarse particulate matter (PM10).  The new standard may require farmers and ranchers to stop many common practices and activities.  Many businesses may have to decrease their output drastically and many may go out of operation.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Rule:  Farmers and ranchers will be required to develop and implement costly oil and gasoline spill prevention plans.

The overall impact of these EPA rulings on the economy and on employment will be huge.  If implemented at all in their present proposed or EPA-favored form, the economy will go into a recession of the GDP reduction kind.  There is a pattern of EPA lack of concern for any rational weighing of the value of health or environmental consequences with economic and human consequences.  Whether people are allowed to earn a living is of little concern to the EPA under Obama.  Being responsive to radical environmental groups and to global warming alarmist groups is their top priority, aside from Obama's re-election.  Since Obama will have much more flexibility after his last election, as he famously told the Russian Medvedev, many of these rulings by the out-of-control and radical EPA will haunt American consumers, workers, and producers under a second Obama term.

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