Tag Archives: Barack Obama

United States Carbon: Climate study predicts a watery future for New York, Boston and Miami

miami

More than 1,700 American cities and towns – including BostonNew York, and Miami – are at greater risk from rising sea levels than previously feared, a new study has found.

By 2100, the future of at least part of these 1,700 locations will be “locked in” by greenhouse gas emissions built up in the atmosphere, the analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found.

The survey does not specify a date by which these cities, or parts of them, would actually fall under water. Instead, it specifies a “locked-in” date, by which time a future under water would be certain – a point of no return.

Because of the inertia built into the climate system, even if all carbon emissions stopped immediately, it would take some time for the related global temperature rises to ease off. That means the fate of some cities is already sealed, the study says.

“Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level,” said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper. Dramatic cuts in emissions – much greater than Barack Obama and other world leaders have so far agreed – could save nearly 1,000 of those towns, by averting the sea-level rise, the study found.

“Hundreds of American cities are already locked into watery futures and we are growing that group very rapidly,” Strauss said. “We are locking in hundreds more as we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere.”

A recent study, also published in PNAS by the climate scientist Anders Levermann found each 1 degree Celsius rise in atmospheric warming would lead eventually to 2.3 meters of sea-level rise. The latest study takes those figures, and factors in the current rate of carbon emissions, as well as the best estimate of global temperature sensitivity to pollution.

For the study, a location was deemed “under threat” if 25 percent of its current population lives below the locked-in future high-tide level. Some 1,700 places are at risk in this definition. Even if bar is set higher, at 50 percent of the current population, 1,400 places would be under threat by 2100.

The list of threatened communities spans Sacramento, Calif. – which lies far from the sea but would be vulnerable to flooding in the San Joaquin delta – and Norfolk, Va. The latter town is home of America’s largest Navy base, whose miles of waterfront installations would be at risk of being locked in to future sea level rises by the 2040s. The Pentagon has already begun actively planning for a future under climate change, including relocating bases.

About half the population of Cambridge, Mass., across the Charles River from Boston and home to Harvard and MIT, could be locked in to a future below sea level by the early 2060s, the study found. Several coastal cities in Texas were also vulnerable.

But the region at highest risk was Florida, which has dozens of towns that will be locked by century’s end. The date of no return for much of Miami would be 2041, the study found. Half of Palm Beach with its millionaires’ estates along the sea front would be beyond saving by the 2060s. The point of no return for other cities such as Fort Lauderdale would come before that.

“Pretty much everywhere it seems you are going to be under water unless you build a massive system of dykes and levees,” Strauss said.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

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United States Carbon: A Republican Case for Climate Action

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.

The president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons and encourage the United States to join with other nations to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out these chemicals. The landmark international treaty, which took effect in 1989, already has been hugely successful in solving the ozone problem.

Rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in Congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them — domestically and internationally.

As administrators of the E.P.A under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, we held fast to common-sense conservative principles — protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.

That approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world: the pollution of our rivers, dramatized when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969; the hole in the ozone layer; and the devastation wrought by acid rain.

The solutions we supported worked, although more must be done. Our rivers no longer burn, and their health continues to improve. The United States led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering, market-based emissions-trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critics’ warnings, our economy has continued to grow.

Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Obama Unveils Sweeping Carbon Reduction Plan

President cites moral, economic and weather concerns in call for climate action

Citing moral, economic and weather related concerns, President Barack Obama is set to unveil sweeping measures aimed at reducing U.S. carbon emissions Tuesday during a speech at Georgetown University on climate change. In addition to cutting carbon emissions in America, Obama hopes to prepare the United States for climate change and lead a global effort, working with countries such as China, India and Brazil to accomplish similar goals.

Obama will double-down on several policies already in place, including a widely anticipated move to extend a proposal to regulate carbon standards for new power plants to include existing plants as well, according to a White House fact sheet. Many experts have said the expected Environmental Protection Agency regulation would end the building of new coal plants because doing so would no longer be profitable.

The president also will call for greater energy efficiency in appliances and direct federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense, to meet new renewable energy and energy efficiency goals,

“Last year alone, there were 11 different weather and climate disaster events with estimated losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States,” said a White House report released Tuesday. “Taken together, these 11 events resulted in over $110 billion in estimated damages, which would make it the second-costliest year on record.”

The Obama administration also says it will work to improve infrastructure such as the electricity grid by streamlining new transmission project siting, permitting and review processes at the federal, state and local levels.

The announcements come as Obama’s nominee to lead the EPA, Gina McCarthy, is working her way through a contentious nomination process. Though she garnered praise from both the environmental and business communities, the career regulator was approved by a committee vote only after Republicans forced a delay on the scheduled vote by refusing to meet with Democrats. Republicans said the EPA and McCarthy, by extension, were not forthcoming enough with information requests they had made, despite the fact that McCarthy answered more than 1,000 submitted questions.

A conservative energy lobbyist says Obama’s announcements were widely anticipated and won’t likely poison the well further for McCarthy’s nomination.

“Everyone knows this is coming,” says the lobbyist, who spoke on background but declined to be named in order to speak freely. “I think the Republicans are going to try to hold up Gina McCarthy, I don’t think [Tuesday’s speech] is going to change anyone’s decision on her, though.”

Obama’s speech is likely going to be more notable for what he didn’t say than what he did, the lobbyist says.

The administration has yet to make an announcement about whether the State Department will permit a vast oil pipeline known as Keystone XL through the middle of the country, to connect oil sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf coast. For environmentalists, it’s a make-or-break issue, as it is for energy companies, businesses and Republicans on the other side.

“I still think Keystone is everything; everything is a decision tree off of Keystone,” the lobbyist says, referring to what Obama’s energy policy will look like moving forward.

By making a big, flashy speech on reducing carbon emissions, Obama may be attempting to placate those on the left ahead of approving the pipeline project, he speculates.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Can Obama’s Climate Change Policy Reduce Carbon Emissions?

carbon emissions

President Obama recently presented the latest version of his Climate Policy.  In addition to expanding on the scope of previous plans that would increase clean energy supplies, energy efficiency, and reduce high global warming potential gases, the President now recommends better preparing the country for future climate impacts, and has directed the EPA to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants.  While the current plan covers a very broad range of climate related strategies, the question is: how successful can this new proposed policy be in actually reducing U.S. carbon emissions in the future?

History of the Current Administration’s Climate Policy

The Democratically controlled House developed and passed the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACESA) in 2009.  Besides creating a U.S. carbon cap-and-trade program, ACESA 2009 would have established an initial carbon emission target of reducing 2005 levels by 17% in 2020.  Despite the apparent strong support by the Democratic Party and the President, the Democratically controlled Senate failed to consider any form of ACESA 2009.

Prior to the recent Copenhagen Summit negotiations the President announced his Climate Policy plans to possibly commit the U.S. to carbon reductions identical to ACESA 2009.  Once again the Democratically controlled Senate did not support the Copenhagen Summit due to issues concerning the economy (and political?).

The Administration’s next round of developing a Climate Policy was to incorporate different elements into a combined Energy-Climate Policy proposal.  Besides including many yet to be realized ‘all of the above’ energy strategies, the policy covered diversifying energy sources including renewable power, clean coal and nuclear.  Clean coal development was somewhat sidelined by the EPA’s new ‘mercury and toxic standards’ (MATS) that effectively prevented the construction of new coal power plants.  Due to a combination of the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster and historic anti-nuclear opposition, U.S. nuclear power capacity has stagnated and possibly peaked in recent years.

On June 27, 2013 President Obama presented a speech on his most recent version of a Climate Policy.  Besides proposing the U.S. become more involved internationally, the issue of controlling carbon emissions from power plants has clearly become a new priority.

Recent U.S. Carbon Emissions Performance

U.S. carbon emissions (from consumption of fossil fuels) peaked in 2007 at 6023 million metric tons per year (MMT/yr.) and total emissions have since declined by about 12% in 2012.  This reduction in carbon emissions has been due primarily to reduced coal and petroleum consumption.  Natural gas consumption actually increased by almost 10% 2007-12.

The reduction in overall U.S. carbon emissions has been due to a number of factors.  The largest contributing factor is due to recent increases in domestic production and decline in natural gas prices.  This development led to substantial ‘fuels switching’ from more expensive coal to cheaper natural gas.  The second largest contributing factor is due to increased light vehicle fuel efficiency standards (CAFE) put in place by past Administrations and recently updated by the current Administration.  The third largest carbon emission reduction factor is due to a combination of general energy efficiency upgrades and the 2007-09 economic recession.  The combination of these top-3 factors accounted for about 83% of reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2007-12.

Wind and solar power generation capacities have increased by 600% and 300% respectively over the past five years.  Expansion of these renewables have accounted for about 13% of total reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2007-12.

Current Projected U.S. Carbon Emissions

The DOE/EIA routinely develops projections for U.S. energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.  These projections include the impacts of all significant regulations and market factors that can affect energy production and consumption.  The latest projection, ‘Annual Energy Outlook 2013’ (AEO 2013), includes the impacts of the latest new CAFE standards, increased oil & gas production, further recovery from the most recent economic recession, and growth in population and GDP.

The AEO 2013 (reference case) report projects that total U.S. carbon emissions are expected to increase 2013-20.  This increase is due to projected growth in natural gas and coal consumption over the next 7 years.  These results are somewhat surprising considering the recent progress made since 2007 in reducing U.S. carbon emissions, particularly in the growth of renewables and improved energy efficiency.  While the EIA projects that renewables and energy efficiency will continue to grow significantly through 2020, the full recovery of the economy and growth in population are anticipated to more than off-set these gains in clean energy and efficiency.

Feasible Actions to Achieve Obama’s Climate Policy Carbon Emission Target

President Obama’s current Climate Policy addresses a number of factors not included in the AEO 2013 report.  The most significant missing factors appear to be the carbon target of reducing 2005 levels by 17% in 2020 and limiting power plant carbon emissions.  Achieving such a carbon reduction target would reduce U.S. total emissions to 4,979 MMT/yr. in 2020.  Since 2005 actual U.S. carbon emissions have been reduced from 5,999 MMT/yr. to 5,290 MMT/yr. in 2012.  This 709 MMT/yr. reduction in U.S. carbon emissions was due to the combination of fuels-switching, efficiency upgrades and the economic recession.  As the U.S. more fully recovers from the recent economic recession how can the current level of U.S. carbon emissions be feasibly reduced to 4,979 MMT/yr. in 2020?

The AEO 2013 currently predicts that U.S. total carbon emissions will increase to 5,455 MMT/yr. in 2020.  Achieving Obama’s published Climate Policy target by 2020 means reducing current U.S. total carbon emissions by 476 MMT/yr.  While this reduction over the next 7 years only represents 2/3rds of the reduction achieved over the past 5 years, the challenge will likely be quite significant as the overall economy fully recovers from the 2007-09 economic recession and GDP annual growth returns to normal historic average levels.

Many of the newly proposed Climate Policy solutions to reduced U.S. carbon emission, such as increased CAFE, Residential energy efficiency, renewable power, etc., are already included in the current AEO 2013 projections.  Added improvements such as new heavy duty vehicle efficiency standards and further biofuels developments are highly uncertain due to lack of currently proven technologies.  Future technology innovations and breakthroughs in these areas are possible, but yet to be commercially developed.  To most feasibly achieve the 2020 carbon reduction target will likely require building on recent successes in reducing carbon emissions (2007-12) and the EPA’s new mission to substantially reduce power plant carbon emissions.

The largest contributing factor towards reduced carbon emissions over the past 5 years has been fuels-switching from coal-to-natural gas.  Since natural gas power generation carbon emissions are only about 40% that of equivalent coal power generation, this strategy will likely be further required in the near future in order to achieve substantial carbon emission reductions by 2020.  Such a fuels-switching carbon reduction strategy would also be very consistent with the EPA’s mandate to reduce power plant carbon emissions.

Based on coal-to-natural gas fuels-switching a carbon balance was developed from the AEO 2013 reference case total annual carbon emission data.  Refer to the following table.

EIA Reported and Projected Data – 2005/2012 and 2020

Million Metric Tons Carbon Emissions per Year

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Data sources – EIA ‘Monthly Energy Reports’ (MER) and AEO 2013 data performance for 2020.  The (17%) 2020 data are based on displacing coal power generation with cleaner natural gas power.

The above data shows that by displacing coal power with natural gas power generation capacity total U.S. carbon emission in 2020 could be readily reduced by 17% of 2005 levels.  This would effectively reduce current coal power generation capacity by almost half, and, natural gas power capacity would increase by about 2/3rds in 2020.

Obama’s latest Climate Policy includes many strategies that could further reduce carbon emissions or reduce the need for coal-to-natural gas fuels-switching.  Further increased wind and solar power generation is a reasonably feasible action.  The AEO 2013 projects that wind + solar power will only increase by about 25% during 2012-20.  This level of renewable power supply could be possibly quadrupled through increased Government support during the same period.  By effectively doubling current wind + solar power generation 2012-20 this would reduce natural gas power plant fuel consumption by an equivalent of almost 40 MMT/yr. of carbon emissions in 2020.  Similarly, increasing the energy efficiency of the Residential and Commercial Sectors has the potential to reduce the need for future coal power plant generation and associated carbon emissions by up to another 100 MMT/yr.; depending on efficiency upgrade costs, future energy-power costs and the level of new Government subsidies.

Natural Gas Production Will be Critical to Future Reduced U.S. Carbon Emissions.

In an ideal world high carbon intensity coal could be totally replaced by zero-carbon renewable wind and solar power generation.  However, these renewable technologies are still constrained due to their normal variable power generation performance.  While wind and solar can displace natural gas peaking and intermediate power plants fuels consumption, these renewable power sources cannot currently displace significant ‘base load’ coal power generation capacity or the level of required natural gas generation capacity required to backup all variable renewable power supplies.  Only when industrial scale power storage becomes an economically feasible and available reality, will variable wind and solar be able to displace substantial fossil fuels base load power capacity.

During the interim until industrial scale power storage becomes available, lower carbon natural gas will be required to maintain power grid supply-demand balances, stabilities and overall general reliabilities.  Other low-zero carbon power generation alternatives are currently available to displace natural gas including hydropower, geothermal, solar thermal and possibly nuclear.  However, a broad range of economic, permitting, environmental impact and political barriers continue to hold back more significant development of these lower-zero carbon alternatives to natural gas.

Domestic Natural Gas Production will be Another Critical Factor

The AEO 2013 projects U.S. domestic natural gas production will only increase by about 1.5% per year 2012-20.  This is a relatively conservative forecast based on recent history.  Since 2005 U.S. natural gas production (dry) has increased an average of 4% per yr. due to innovative hydraulic fracturing technology.  Increasing natural gas power generation as shown in the above data table would increase the Power Sector’s natural gas consumption by about 3.3 Trillion cubic feet per year above the maximum production levels in the AEO 2013 report.  If this EIA estimate was accurate, fuels-switching to reduce half of coal power generation could result in a very significant shortage of available domestic natural gas supply and create a new need for imports before 2020.  However, if more recent actual increases of domestic natural gas production continue for at least the next several years, supplying the future need for fuels-switching and reduced carbon emissions should not be an issue.  This domestic natural gas production-supply concern will also be reduced if proposed Climate Policy strategies to further increase wind + solar power capacity and increased energy efficiency are significantly successful.

Another natural gas supply and disposition issue that will be impacted are the recently approved LNG export projects.  The Administration recently approved projects in Pennsylvania and Texas to allow LNG exports in the near future.  With the apparent need to reduce coal consumption most likely via fuels-switching, any future approval of LNG export projects could be inconsistent with the proposed Climate Policy carbon reduction target.  Substantially increasing the level of coal-to-natural gas fuels-switching may also make it necessary to shutdown approved U.S. LNG exports-facilities in the near future.

Reduced U.S. Carbon Emissions Cost Impacts

Shutting down almost 50% of all existing coal power generation and expanding natural gas power generation capacity by up to 67%, plus some level of further expanded wind + solar power, will require substantial capital and operating cost increases 2014-20.  As natural gas consumption rapidly increases, the current excess domestic production-supply market condition could rapidly disappear, leading to substantial increases in future natural gas prices.  These added costs to reduce U.S. total 2005 carbon emissions by 17% in 2020 will substantially increase power costs.  Consumers could experience on the order of 50%+ increases in future power costs compared to AEO 2013 projections.  How much of this increase in power costs will be possibly off-set by the proposed Climate Policy energy efficiency upgrades or further increases of other renewables will likely be strongly debated in the near future as the Obama Administration begins implementing the new policy actions through different Executive Orders.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: President Obama’s Climate Plan

President Obama rolled out a “Climate Action Plan” in an outdoor speech on a sweltering June afternoon in Washington D.C. today.

On a hot and muggy Washington afternoon, President Obama, wiping sweat from his brow, announced that his administration intends to place limits on the greenhouse gas emissions of current and planned power plants and take a variety of other measures to reestablish American leadership in combating global warming while also making the country more resilient to the effects of climate change that are already evident.

The administration’s “Climate Action Plan” relies solely on actions that can be taken without Congressional approval, and in his 47-minute address, the President chided Congress for failing to address the issue through the legislative process.

In laying out the case for taking action on climate change, the President cited recent extreme weather events, including Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 drought and more recent flooding in the MIdwest, as well as the ongoing heat wave in Alaska and Western wildfires. “In a world that is warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet,” Obama said.

He also rejected the view of climate change skeptics who doubt that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the climate, noting that 97 percent of scientists agree on the science and saying, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the ‘Flat Earth Society.”

“Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change.  Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times,” Obama said. “But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet. The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago — that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.”

During the speech, the president addressed the controversial construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined and shipped to other countries.

“But I do want to be clear,” Obama said. “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest.  And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”

Climate activists opposed to the pipeline cautiously welcomed the news, while noting that it still leaves the White House with enough “wiggle room” to approve the project.

riends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization, released a statement that included this comment about what the president said pertaining to Keystone:

“Finally, in his speech, the president suggested that the administration would not issue a permit for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if it is shown that the project will significantly exacerbate climate change and harm our national interest. We applaud this commitment by the president. As it is clear that the pipeline will increase net carbon emissions, we look forward to the president rejecting the permit.”

The president said that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector would spur innovation and job growth, but that such a move would be portrayed by political opponents as a “job-killing” measure.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a statement in response to Obama’s speech, stating:

“The president’s plan runs a serious risk of punishing Americans with higher energy bills, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy, while delivering negligible benefits to the environment.”

“The administration must fully, transparently, and continually evaluate the impact of its proposed rules on jobs and the economy — just as the law requires. American consumers, workers, and businesses simply cannot afford another smothering layer of new regulations whose benefits are unproven and whose true costs are hidden.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com