Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Modest Proposal

As my Climate Change and Energy class was talking on Tuesday, I floated a modest proposal. 

Cap and trade CO2 emissions at existing power plants and other industrial consumers of fossil fuels to meet the 80% decrease from 1990 level by 2050 goal, but also put in place a little command and control regulation.  With respect to new coal-fired (and I suppose natural gas) plants, impose a uniform, national technology-based performance standard under the Clean Air Act requiring new plant carbon dioxide emissions to be equal to or less than the emissions from IGCC with carbon sequestration and storage [i.e. roughly zero].  To assure a level playing field, impose a ban on licensing of any new nuclear power plant unless and until there are fully permitted, environmentally safe locations for permanent storage of all nuclear waste produced from existing plants and the plant to be licensed.   This would assure that every new power plant built be roughly carbon neutral and more environmentally benign.

While arguably burdensome NSPS and NSR requirements for new power plants  previously created strong incentives for utilities and others to continue to use old plants, retool them, and game applicability thresholds set on modification/reconstruction, those incentives would be substantially reduced if existing plants faced a relatively steep CO2 phase-down requirement.

So what's wrong with a little command & control?  It would certainly create strong incentives for the power industry to install IGCC or develop alternative technologies, and hasten the establishment of CSS technology and sites.  From what I read, it is technically feasible to require IGCC and CSS.  We have plentiful coal resources.  We could share any clean coal and nuclear waste storage technological developments fostered by these requirements with other countries which undoubtedly will be using more coal and nuclear.

And....the cost per ton of carbon dioxide emissions avoided is likely to be much less than that achieved through ethanol, biodiesel, and hybrid transportation technologies.  So start here now!  Besides, if we can get clean electricity, then the electric car may rise from the dead  and the production of hydrogen for transportation may become economically feasible.

What do you think???

Agriculture, Air Quality, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink

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Almost all wars and terrorism in the world can be stopped. Almost all dictators and tyrants can be rendered powerless. All we have to do is to stop paying them. An alarming amount of the money Western nations pay for oil is going into the coffers of people who terrorists and dictators. All we have to do defund the world’s most violent criminals is to become energy independent.

In the first phase of energy independence we get as much energy as possible from resources which we own or which are in the hands of friendly, stable nations. First we build new nuclear power plants in every state. If the French can make nuclear work what excuse do we have? In addition, we drill for oil off all our coastal waters and we build new refineries and pipelines in every state. Existing energy companies are making plenty of money in the current climate of false scarcity. We will have to find away around them. Usually way around greedy energy companies would require political will. However, almost all existing politicians are in the pocket of the energy companies. This includes democrats and republicans. So every politician currently in office needs to be thrown out. Anyone who works for or who owns an existing conventional energy company is in my view disqualified for public office. We already know from the Bush/Cheney experience that such politicians will work in a way contrary to the national security of the United States and will start pointless wars for oil.

Merely having new politicians willing to clear the legal minefields laid down by oil bought senators and congressmen might not be enough. We might have to get a little bolder. Therefore I suggest that we build terawatts of new nuclear power plans and miles of new oil refineries in Mexico and that we send the power back to the states via pipelines, power lines, hydrogen, or whatever works. This will provide work for Mexicans and energy for us. The Mexican government will have a large incentive to make the plants secure and this increased security might even spill over to the borders and make our borders more secure.

While phase one is going on we need to start on phase 2. In this phase we bring online as many green and renewable technologies as are currently viable and put as much money as is needed into producing more. I would suggest that the model cities be built in the west and south—anywhere that it does not get cold enough to snow. The idea is to build small towns or cities that will go cold turkey. There will be no fossil fuels of any kind allowed in these cities. All vehicles and houses will be powered by wind, solar and bio-mass. The best locations would be those that have year around wind, sun and enough farming in the area to produce the bio mass. These experimental towns would be off the power grid. The only way to get power to them would be to make the green and renewable technologies work. Volunteers who truly believe that the future is green would be invited to apply for residency. We would probably take engineers and farmers over other types because we would need people who were skilled in keeping the power conversion machinery going and others who don’t mind the get your hand dirty hard work of farming.

Posted by: poetryman69 | Nov 25, 2007 12:15:16 PM

I proposed this as a bill in one of the online model congresses I participate in:


to require the Environmental Protection Agency to set more restrictive emissions standards for coal-fired power plants

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled --


This Act may be cited as the Coal Power Emissions Standards Improvement Act of 2007


For the purposes of this Act --

(1) "Administrator" means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

(2) "Permitting authority" means a permitting authority under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 7401 et seq; and

(3) "Congressionally-mandated baseline technology" means Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology in conjunction with scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology with emission rates equal to the rates below --

(i) Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) -- 0.173 pounds per Megawatt/hour (lbs./MWh)
(ii) Sulfur Oxides (SOx) -- 0.169 lbs./MWh
(iii) Carbon Monoxide (CO) -- 0.359 lbs./MWh
(iv) Particulate Matter (PM) -- 0.131 lbs./MWh
(v) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) -- 0.037 lbs./MWh
(vi) Hydrogen Sulfide (H2SO4) -- 0.011 lbs./MWh


Pursuant to the processes set forth in Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. s. 7411), the Administrator shall promulgate a standard of performance for coal-fired power plants reflecting a degree of emission limitation substantially equivalent to or greater than that achievable by the Congressionally-mandated baseline technology, and including emission limitations equivalent to or less than those specified for the Congressionally-mandated baseline technology.


On or after the effective date of this Act, no permitting authority shall issue a preconstruction permit under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration program (42 U.S.C. 7470 et seq.) for a new coal-fired power plant that constitutes a major emitting facility unless that permit incorporates Best Available Control Technology emission limitations substantially equivalent to or less than those specified for the Congressionally-mandated baseline technology.


No later than 10 years after the effective date of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate a standard of performance for coal-fired power plants that requires sequestration of at least 50 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, regardless of whether CO2 or GHG are classified as criteria pollutants under the Clean Air Act.


(a) The Administrator may issue a preconstruction permit, or authorize a delegated permitting authority to issue a permit, for a new coal-fired power plant, notwithstanding section 4 of this Act, if the Administrator finds that --

(1) Construction of the plant is necessary to avert a significant power shortage; and
(2) There is no technologically or economically feasible manner in which the plant could be constructed in a manner that complies with section 4 of this Act.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall have no effect after the promulgation of a standard of performance required by section 3 of this Act.


This Act shall take effect on January 1, 2008.

Posted by: Jim D | Oct 4, 2007 8:55:22 PM

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