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Setting the Record Straight on the Chamber of Commerce’s Report

2014 May 28
Tom Reynolds

May 28, 2014
3:24 pm EDT

Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report that makes unfounded assumptions about the EPA’s upcoming proposal for commonsense standards to cut the harmful carbon pollution from power plants.

First, before EPA even put pen to paper to draft the proposed standards, we gathered an unprecedented amount of input and advice through hundreds of meetings with hundreds of groups—including many members of the Chamber.  That input fed into the draft proposal we’ll release on June 2, and we plan to kick off a second phase of engagement as we work through the draft and get to a reasonable, meaningful final rule.

Second—the Chamber’s report is nothing more than irresponsible speculation based on guesses of what our draft proposal will be.  Just to be clear—it’s not out yet. I strongly suggest that folks read the proposal before they cry the sky is falling.

Third, there are some major gaps in the numbers touted by the Chamber:

The Chamber report assumes that States would need to require carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for new natural gas plants to hit their goals under the proposal for existing power plants.  That’s not true.  Not even the EPA’s proposal for new power plants requires that technology for natural gas.  And EPA has indicated frequently that CCS would not be considered for existing power plants.  Given that three-fourths of the Chamber’s alleged cost estimates come from power plant construction—namely, natural gas with CCS plants—this assumption drives up the topline cost associated with this study.

EPA relies on science to protect public health and the environment—that’s our North Star.  We’ve shown over and over again that commonsense action to protect the health and safety of our families doesn’t hurt economic growth; it helps it.  As states and businesses across the country have already shown, climate action sharpens America’s competitive edge and spurs innovation. ENERGY STAR and emissions standards for the auto industry are prime examples.  With standards that will essentially double the distance our cars go on a gallon of gas, we will slash carbon pollution and spur innovation and economic growth.

Today, billions of dollars are going to rebuilding from more devastating storms, rising sea levels raise the cost of keeping our drinking water clean, and extreme heat and wildfires destroy towns and hurt local economies and businesses that depend on tourism. In 2012, we saw the 2nd costliest year in U.S. history for natural disasters. Even the strongest sectors like agriculture and recreation can’t escape the pressures of a changing climate, and they are paying the price today – the cost of not acting on climate, a cost conspicuously absent from the Chamber of Commerce report.

Unfortunately, the Chamber is using the same tired play from the same special interest playbook that is engineered to continue polluting and stall progress.  But the American people know better.

The science is clear, the risks are clear and together we will fulfill our mission to protect public health and leave our kids a safer, cleaner world—all while supporting a strong, growing economy.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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30 Responses leave one →
  1. ChicagosPete permalink
    May 28, 2014

    If the Chamber is using made up information you should look behind the curtain on the issue of HCFC and HFC phase out and the Montreal Protocol. EPA uses a very creative way of meeting the countries obligations to benefit Corporate Profits to the detriment of the environment. Check the facts

  2. Laura Sheehan permalink
    May 29, 2014

    EPA’s blind disregard for reality was on full display in its response to a compelling and urgent new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; a report that reaffirms the manifold economic consequences of the agency’s climate change regulations.

    While EPA claims to rely on science as justification for its radical climate change agenda, the agency, quite to the contrary, blatantly ignores the facts and unabashedly lies to the American people—time and time again.

    On the other hand, numbers don’t lie, and the Chamber’s report mirrors what the industry has been saying all along.

    Shuttered businesses, fractured family budgets, widespread job losses and dire threats to electric reliability are undeniable consequences of EPA’s rulemaking, and we await the day when EPA will finally get its story straight and come clean about the reality of its ideological crusade.

    Laura Sheehan
    Senior Vice President for Communications
    American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)

    • Greg permalink
      May 30, 2014

      There’s no such thing as clean coal.

      • Dave permalink
        June 1, 2014

        If you make a mess, clean it up. You dirty tap water every time you bathe or brush your teeth. We have a system that cleans up the water before discharging back into the stream. Rather than prohibiting showering (or coal, in this case), just require that folks clean-up after themselves. But then again, is this really about cleaning up a “mess” or another Ponzi scheme by Feds in the name of “social responsibility?”

    • Mike R. permalink
      June 2, 2014

      Just the response you would expect from the coal industry’s mouthpiece. EPA is taking the first step in a long process to bring us back from the brink of global chaos. A healthy economy depends upon a healthy planet. That has been shown to be true time and again. Fossil fuels like coal are making our planet sick and soon unlivable. How will the economy respond to that?

  3. Jeff permalink
    May 29, 2014

    “The science is clear”

    Actually no it is not, but of course that won’t stop the EPA from pushing their agenda.

    • Mike R. permalink
      June 2, 2014

      Actually the science is very clear. Every reputable scientific organization in the world supports the main conclusion of 97% of the worlds climatologists that 1) overall the climate is becoming hotter; 2) the increase of carbon dioxide and methane emissions are the root cause of the temperature rise and, finally, 3) the increase in those emissions is due to the burning of fossil fuels. Oh, and it’s not just EPA’s agenda, it’s also the agenda (although much more aggressive) of most of the European countries.

  4. Wayne permalink
    May 29, 2014

    I wonder if Tom Reynolds reads these comments. Hey Tom, if you do read these, how about leaving one of your own, just so we know someone is listening.

    Now, regarding Climate Change: Most of us are not disputing the fact that the climate is changing (by the way, when did ‘Global Warming’ become ‘Climate Change’). What we ARE disputing, is the so-called ‘fact’ of MAN-MADE Climate Change. You see, on the ‘man-made’ part, the science is far, far from clear. We are spending billions of dollars to ‘fix’ something that could very well be part of a natural cycle that is totally out of our control.

    • Tom Reynolds
      Tom Reynolds permalink
      May 30, 2014

      Hi Wayne. I’m reading the comments, and we’ll read all of the comments on the proposal once we publish it.

    • Gordon Roper permalink
      June 1, 2014

      W..if you haven’t all ready…you should read The Climate Casino by W Nordhaus…helps clarify issues/risks in an intelligent way without being dogmatic.

    • john permalink
      June 2, 2014

      Hi Wayne

      over at the NSA they read all the comments and make sure the IRS audits you if they are not Pro Big Brother and Pro Big Govt.

    • Cindy Stoppa permalink
      June 2, 2014

      Or we may be spending billions on a solution that won’t mean jack in the big scheme of things, because China is not going to follow our lead. Come on people, let’s wake up…

  5. Richard Brudzynski permalink
    May 29, 2014

    I’m looking forward to seeing the actual regulations and the EPA more-or-less plain English analysis and explanation that typically accompanies them.

    How about posting a link to the Federal Register when the regs come out? Interested folks can get the info straight from the horse’s mouth!

  6. Ron permalink
    May 30, 2014

    why do we need more regulations? just stop. just stop.
    we know it is all crap, just stop.

  7. Milt permalink
    May 30, 2014

    EPA needs to work with the facts not ideology. Please, give the scientific facts from EPA as well as industry leaders.
    Be responsible!

  8. Gunslinger permalink
    May 30, 2014

    Why now?
    Why the huge rush?
    The economy has been crippled for over a half-decade, with 2 NEW quarters of measured recession. If there is even a chance of 1 lost job, we should postpone this. We cannot, as a leading society, continue on this path of lost jobs, lost jobs, lost jobs.

    Why are new taxes always the answer with the left? If it’s “for the children,” forget it. Without jobs to put food on the table, there will be no children.

    By many of the left’s admission, taxes are a way of curbing an action or behavior. It has been proven over and over that taxes result in lost jobs.

    Why are you so opposed to creating jobs?

  9. Ryan permalink
    May 30, 2014

    Thanks Tom for a clear and concise note giving insights into the upcoming rule-making process and the state of the conversation with Commerce. We have great potential in America for leadership on climate; we have great capacity for industrial innovation, and we are motivated by our vulnerability to increasing climate disruptions. We can overcome our collective action problems to accept lower profits for energy companies and higher electricity bills for households in order to secure our homes for future generations. Keep up the good work.

  10. Jim permalink
    May 30, 2014

    Where are the Billy Goats Gruff when you need them?

  11. Brian Paddock permalink
    May 30, 2014

    I am a 30+ lawyer and I know scientific evidence when I see it. I also teach Environmental Law to undergraduates here in TN. The basic physics of carbon pollution increasing the amount of solar energy in our land, sea and air has been know for hundreds of years. Our increasingly improved data collection and modeling have made it clear that we are, as a species and as a nation, releasing so much carbon that we will increase the amount and rate of climate disruption. Those deny the problem or want to delay effective action to reduce carbon and other GHG emissions are condemning us to a terrible future. New York and New Jersey need to spend more than a Billion dollars to partially armor themselves against landfalling hurricanes. There may be no saving the Florida coast from sea level rise in this century. We are almost too late and the internationally agreed target to limit temperature rise to 2 degree C looks lost but we must try. America needs to lead.

  12. Bridget permalink
    May 31, 2014

    That the climate change, or global warming, or whatever you choose to call it, is caused by human actions is absolutely certain. It is not a matter of modeling; it is a matter of repeated and carefully calibrated measurements taken by thousands of climate scientists over decades of time.

    Now, how is it certain that the rapidly increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is from human actions? It’s a matter of simple physics. Each of the 92 natural elements on the periodic table have isotopes, i.e., slightly different forms of the same element. The difference among the isotopes of any one element is the number of neutrons it has in the nucleus; every isotope of, say, carbon, has the same number of protons and electrons.

    “Normal” carbon, or C-12 (with 12 neutrons), does not decay radioactively. However, carbon has an isotope known as carbon-14 (with 14 neutrons) that does decay radioactively. Carbon-14 is only found in organic objects. For example, we humans all have C-14 in our bodies, as do animals, plants, and anything living now or that lived in the past.

    We also know the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in any current living or recently dead organic object. That ratio was the same thousands of years ago as it is now.

    Over time, however, organic objects lose their C-14 because it breaks down and becomes ordinary C-12. Archaeologists use C-14 to date organic artifacts from ancient history. They measure how much of the C-14 is left compared to the C-12 and then compare that to how much C-14 is found in a fresh organic item. The difference tells how old the object is.

    The important thing about C-14 for global warming (and for archaeologists) is that it has a “half-life” of about 5600 years. In other words, an organic object that is 5600 years old will only have half the C-14 that it had when it was new 5600 years ago. After 11,200 years, it will only have a quarter of the C-14 it had when it was new. Another 5600 years, it only has an eighth. Then a 16th, a 32nd, a 64th, etc. This halving happens every 5600 years.

    Now why do we call coal, natural gas, oil, etc., FOSSIL fuels? Because they are millions and millions of years old. In other words, they are so old that they have NO C-14 left in them at all. None. Zero. Zip. Bupkis. Nada. Zilch. Zip.

    So when scientists take a sample of air and measure the ratio of C-14 in it, they can easily tell whether the carbon came from something recent or from fossil fuel. This is physics. Physics doesn’t lie. And when physicists around the globe measure this over decades, the conclusion is definite. The carbon dioxide heating up the atmosphere comes from burning fossil fuels because it lacks C-14. And the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased dramatically since the 1980s.

    As for the argument that the carbon in the air is from volcanoes—no, sorry. The carbon in volcanic eruptions is the wrong isotope. It’s not what we find in the air in such large quantities.

    Finally, some people argue that, well, maybe the warming is due to the sun. The amount of warming the planet has experienced is the same amount we’d get if the sun had become 1.6 percent brighter since 1980. But the sun hasn’t gotten any brighter. The sun is studied all the time by platoons of physicists and astronomers and other scientists. They check each others’ results, as do the climate scientists. If the sun had gotten any brighter, you’d have heard about it. The whole world would have heard about it. There would probably be a lot more cases of skin cancer.

    It’s not the sun, and it’s not volcanoes. It’s fossil fuel.

    • Tracy D. Johnson permalink
      October 27, 2014

      So LONG story short, what you’re saying is that it takes a non-Carbon 14 catalyst to create Carbon Dioxide. I refer you to the third paragraph in your comment where you say, “we humans all have C-14 in our bodies”. Every time we exhale, CO2 is created. Your argument is invalid.

  13. Bill permalink
    June 1, 2014

    I have no doubt that the CoC report is a pack of intentional exaggerations, obfuscations, and misrepresentations. The U.S. has an obligation to future generations (and, increasingly, it seems, to the current generation) to do what it can to cut carbon emissions from 1,000 coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest collective source of such emissions. But how much of a difference will that make by itself?

    As flawed as the CoC report may be, there also may be some truth in its assertion that the U.S. “policy case” – an “economy-wide reduction in gross U.S. GHG emissions of 42 percent below the 2005 level by 2030 – will result in just a 1.8 percent reduction in global emissions, which are expected to rise by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030, according to the CoC. In other words, the main function of power plant reductions, and all other reductions the EPA can force and enforce, is as an example of moral leadership for the rest of the world, not as a standalone solution to the human impact on the earth’s climate.

    The next chapter of this saga is not what the EPA does, but rather what the Congress does – that is, write laws to economically favor those nations that also act in a moral fashion and penalize those who do not.

  14. Joe Bastardi permalink
    June 2, 2014

    This is nonsense. We have record corn yields steadily climbing. Global wheat and rice are climbing Global ACE activity is at record lows. Tornadoes well below normal. Wildfires well below normal yet again Global temps since the PDO flip have started a slow descent as per climate cycle theory. Global sea ice is well above normal. The US generated CFSV2 the climate model is forecasting the arctic ice to be above normal this summer at the height of the melt season due to the AMO starting its shift to colder, the very summer that there was opinion a few years ago the ice cap would be gone. There is no support for trapping hot spots over the tropics, quite the opposite mixing ratios ARE DROPPING INDICATING WET BULBS ARE DROPPING. 90% of the record highs in this country occurred in the 1930s. The palmer drought index was much worse in the 1950s and 1930s. 35 major hurricanes hit the US 1931-1970, since then ( 43 years) ONLY 20. COMPUTER MODELS HAVE BUSTED and solar based models are now showing a descent of temperatures the next 20-30 years. I can go on and on, Your lines of evidence for the endangerment are NOT BACKED BY FACTS.

    This is taken apart.. YOUR 3 LINES OF EVIDENCE are plainly wrong.

    I am a big supporter of the overall epa mission. Soot and particulate are one thing, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas that is .04% of the atmosphere, 1/100th of the GHG in air that has ONE ONE THOUSANDTH THE HEAT CAPACITY OF THE OCEAN, which are doing exactly what Bill Gray at CSU said 40 years ago , is not pushing the climate arrive
    Bills paper, which explained the cyclical nature of the ocean

    I have read everything that comes out from your agency. I can come to know other conclusion then this is being driven by an agenda that refuses to pursue the correct answer, but only the answer that you have pre-determined, for fear of losing credibility. This is a shame since the vast good the EPA does is being blown away as your ideas are shackling the very freedoms this country needs to support and agency like yours, and the infrastructure we all know is needed for society. This is a fools errand and is hurting all around them. There is no metric left outside of trying to point out the events that have always occurred and stand out even more today now that we can observe them, and use that as propaganda. I can not believe its come to this

  15. Steven permalink
    June 2, 2014

    The new EPA guidelines would seem to be one of the most sweeping diktats ever imposed by a bureaucratic agency without explicit congressional authorization. I think that such overreach is going to undermine public support for the EPA, and given that the EPA leadership changes with the end of a presidential term this will introduce considerable uncertainty into energy policy. Moreover, atmospheric CO2 levels are an international problem and require a solution that will be affordable for developing nations, so we should be focused on developing technologies that can achieve real progress. Near term limits on CO2 generation will require expensive changes made from a limited menu of inefficient options and will do little to lead to the types of developments that will enable affordable and feasible global change.

  16. Patrick Gabriel permalink
    June 3, 2014

    A few years ago, I watched a special documentary on the discovery channel that explained the phases the earths atmosphere goes through every so often that went on over hundred and thousands of years ago, before man made carbon emission sources were a factor and the earth still went through its phases, cool down, wet cycles, storm cycles etc.

    So this phenomena isn’t any thing new about the recent cycles the earth goes through, yet without more proof of the extent of mans contribution to this phenomena, we have to endure pain and no gain, and
    the earth is going to go on its same old path as show in past articles and scientific evidence set forth.

    I am for reasonable, measured/balanced conservation efforts but I think the current proposed measures are extreme and will ultimately
    prove futile.
    Balance the new source of electricity production first before you go spending money on hampering current electrical production. Good grief, we could be cut short on electrical supply and
    rising prices before anything gets done except hurt the consumer and economy.
    This sounds like the left hand of government doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and that will be the ultimate catastrophic event.

    Your honor, I think we need a new government because the current one is being paid to much and is performing very poorly, not doing their job for the American people.
    If the government was run like a business, the whole lot of them would be fired and replaced with qualified people.
    God save us from our current oppressor, the US Government.

  17. Christopher Hart permalink
    June 5, 2014

    Mr. Reynolds,

    Please clarify the statement, “And EPA has indicated frequently that CCS would not be considered for existing power plants.” I hope, following the President’s comments that all technologies would be a part of our future energy solution, that the intent of this statement is that CCS would not be required for existing power plants.

    Stating that a technology will not be considered, one that many people are heavily vested in and working hard to develop, is regulatory overreach at best, and ethically suspect at the worst. Other technologies, such as nuclear and hydroelectric power generation, seem to be absent from the discussion as well, despite the overwhelming advantage to reducing carbon emissions that they may present.

  18. Frank Joseph permalink
    June 6, 2014

    Besides investing in more cleaner, renewable and natural resources like solar, wind and hydroelectric to cut carbon emissions which I think is awesome; another feasible answer to our problems could be Industrial Hemp. Power Plants run on coal, oil or natural gas but what about biofuel? Industrial Hemp can be made into a biofuel that cars and even kitchen appliances like stoves can run on. Which is a healthier alternative for the environment and humans as a whole. Just type into your google search bar “industrial hemp turned into biofuel.” This could cut our dependence on importing oil and even stop fracking for other resources, which most find to be an awful practice to begin with. We have more than enough farmland within the United States to successfully grow and produce industrial hemp, which will create new jobs! Besides that, Industrial Hemp can even be made into paper, which saves us from cutting down trees. We all know that trees take in carbon and produce oxygen, which is also the air we breathe.

    Food For Thought

  19. Tracy D. Johnson permalink
    October 27, 2014

    Mr. Reynolds,
    I had posted this comment on another thread, but it seems more appropriate here. If my figures are incorrect, I would invite you to set me straight since finding any concrete information on Monsanto, the use of Roundup and it’s chemical makeup has been extremely difficult.

    “This is going to be an extremely long comment, so I apologize in advance. I would also implore you to take the time to read it. I know may sound like a crazy person, but I don’t believe anything coming from the Environmental “Protection” Agency anymore. …or the USDA or the FDA, for that matter, but especially the EPA. The reason why I feel this way is because of the Obama administration’s close ties to the Monsanto corporation – people in key roles in these agencies and beyond. Most notably would be Lidia Watrud, Michael Taylor, Roger Beachy, Islam Siddiqui, and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Although I would agree that dirty coal emissions are a big problem and more stringent regulations should be put in place and enforced, what people aren’t being told is that Monsanto’s Roundup has come to be a much larger CO2 producer than coal is. I’ve been able to find a fair amount of information on the subject after researching it for a little over a year. It hasn’t been easy. Finding ANY information on coal – easy. Just trying to find how many gallons or barrels of Roundup are used each year – I dare you. But I’ll save you the trouble. By 2016, it’s projected that we’ll be using 1,136,160,000 gallons of Roundup in the United States on corn and soybeans alone. We will also be planting 422,904,000 pounds of “Roundup Ready” (GMO) corn and soybeans in the U.S. comprised of 84 million acres and 73.8 million acres, respectively. Cash receipts for these crops in 2011 were $63.9 billion for corn and $37.6 billion for soybeans. That is roughly a $1 trillion per year investment – and maybe this is why Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act as a rider on another bill, and saw to it that it passed through Congress at 3 minutes to midnight to avert a government shutdown without it first going through the Judiciary Committee like it was supposed to. Anyway, to get to my point – the 1980’s is when Roundup began to be widely used across the globe. This is also the time when CO2 levels began to dramatically increase. The reason for this (besides the increase in deforestation, air pollution and other factors) is because of the decrease in plant life due to overuse of herbicides. Less plant life = less CO2 being taken out of the air and less oxygen produced. But the worst part is that when Roundup (chemical name Glyphosate) breaks down, it creates CO2. To be more specific, glyphosate is broken down by microbes in the soil to AMPA (an acid) and CO2. AMPA is further broken down by magnesium oxide in the soil to ammonium, inorganic phosphate and more CO2. This is common knowledge in Europe and Russia and this is why they have put a trade embargo on all U.S. corn and banned the use of all GMO’s and “neonicotinoids”, such as Roundup and other Monsanto products. Neonicotinoids have been proven to cause death in amphibians and fish due to run off from fields. They have also been proven to be the reason that the honeybee is now an endangered species due to Colony Collapse Disorder and a major reason as to why the Monarch butterfly is now considered a threatened species. They have also been linked to a population decrease in birds and bats. Glyphosate and AMPA have also been found in high concentrations in drinking water, which is a major concern since studies have shown that it is a cause of cancer and birth defects. But the water filtration process is also a large source of CO2 emissions. Long story “short”, Roundup usage on corn and beans, and the use of GMO corn and beans in the United States alone will emit approximately 220,520 metric tons of CO2 in 2016. That number is set to increase by 7 to 12% per year unless people are made aware and changes are made.”

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