EPA approves CO2 permit for Texas steel maker; anyone notice?

June 19, 2014

Here’s the press release from EPA’s Region 6 office:

EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Permit for Voestalpine Iron Production Plant
$740M facility in San Patricio Co., TX, will bring 1,400 construction jobs and150 permanent jobs

DALLAS – (June 16, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to Voestalpine for an iron production plant in San Patricio County, TX. The facility’s process for producing iron will use minimal natural gas and will be 40 percent more efficient than traditional methods. The permit is another in the series of permits drafted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and issued by EPA under a program to facilitate timely permitting for applicants in the State of Texas.

“Voestalpine shows energy efficiency is a common-sense strategy for success, not just in business but for the environment as well,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “The joint EPA and TCEQ permitting program is helping Texas business grow while building greener plants.”

The plant will reduce iron ore pellets, which will be used as raw material input at steel mills. The direct reduced iron process will use only clean-burning natural gas instead of solid fossil fuels. The estimated project cost is $740 million and will bring 1,400 construction jobs to the area. Once complete, the facility will create around 150 permanent jobs.

In June 2010, EPA finalized national GHG regulations, which specify that beginning on January 2, 2011, projects that increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit.

EPA believes states are best equipped to run GHG air permitting programs. Texas is working to replace a federal implementation plan with its own state program, which will eliminate the need for businesses to seek air permits from EPA. This action will increase efficiency and allow for industry to continue to grow in Texas.

EPA has finalized 43 GHG permits in Texas, proposed an additional six permits, and currently has 21 additional GHG permit applications under review and permit development in Texas.

For all of the latest information on GHG permits in Texas please visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r6/Apermit.nsf/AirP

Connect with EPA Region 6:
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eparegion6
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/EPAregion6
Activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.htm

Headquarters of Voestalpine, head-turning building by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, located in Linz, Austria.  Architecture News Plus image

Headquarters of Voestalpine, head-turning building by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, located in Linz, Austria. Architecture News Plus image. Voestalpine plans to build a $740 million steel plant near Corpus Christi, Texas.

This is big news, really.  Texas constantly complains about regulations on greenhouse gases, and regularly and constantly sues EPA to stop regulation.  Texas and it’s wacky governor Rick Perry constantly complain that EPA regulation harms jobs, and that permits never really get issued.  So this announcement should be front page news in most Texas newspapers.

How was it covered?

That’s it for Texas media.  Where are the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express, the El Paso Times?  Big market TV and radio?

National coverage was limited to low-circulation newsletters.

Seems to me that these issues of actual action on climate change, are under-reported.

More:

Groundbreaking for Voestalpine facility near Corpus Christi, Texas

Caption from Voestalpine LLC: After about a year of preparation, Wolfgang Eder, CEO of voestalpine, broke ground today for the construction of a direct reduction plant in Texas (USA). This EUR 550 million investment is the largest foreign investment in the history of the Austrian Group. The voestalpine Texas LLC plant is being constructed at the La Quinta Trade Gateway Terminal in close proximity to the City of Corpus Christi. Starting in 2016, the plant will produce two million tons of HBI (Hot Briquetted Iron) and DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) annually and will supply Austrian locations, such as Linz and Donawitz, with “sponge iron” as a premium raw material. With the new facility, voestalpine can significantly reduce production costs in Europe. The highly automated plant will create 150 jobs.


Legacy of DDT abuse: Cleaning up old pesticide dumps

February 15, 2014

Contrary to science denialist claims, DDT is not harmless.  Users and abusers of DDT, abandoned stocks of DDT and other pesticides around the world, after the stuff had become essentially useless against insect or other pests originally targeted.

In the U.S., EPA moves in to clean up DDT dumps, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), or Superfund.  In much of the world, various UN agencies find the old pesticides, and clean them up as funding allows.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) documents its cleanup efforts with photos of sessions training technicians to find and catalog dump sites, repackaging of old drums when necessary, extraction, packing and shipping to a disposal site.

Photos tell a story words on paper cannot.

Caption from FAO: TN (Tanzania) before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN - : M. Davis

Caption from FAO: TN (Tanzania) before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN – : M. Davis

Sometimes the toxic wastes did not stay neatly stacked.

FAO caption:  TN before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN

FAO caption: TN before: 40 tonnes of 50 year old DDT were found in Menzel Bourguiba Hospital, TN View real size

DDT use against insect vectors of disease essentially halted in the mid-1960s.  The Rockefeller Foundation’s and UN’s ace mosquito fighter, Fred Soper, ran into mosquitoes in central Africa that were resistant and immune to DDT. Farmers and businesses had seized on DDT as the pesticide of choice against all crop pests, or pests in buildings.  By the time the UN’s malaria-fighting mosquito killers got there, the bugs had evolved to the point DDT didn’t work the malaria eradication campaign.

Also, there were a few DDT accidents that soured many Africans on the stuff.  Around lakes where local populations caught the fish that comprised the key protein in their diet, farmers used DDT, and the runoff killed the fish.

Use of DDT ended rather abruptly in several nations.  Stocks of DDT that had been shipped were abandoned where they were stored.

For decades.

FAO caption:    Obsolete DDT in Luanda, Angola - July 2008 -  : K. Cassam

FAO caption: Obsolete DDT in Luanda, Angola – July 2008 – : K. Cassam

Prevention and disposal of obsolete chemicals remains as a thorny problem throughout much of the world.  Since 2001, under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty, (POPs), the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has coordinated work by WHO and a variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as governments, to make safe the abandoned pesticides, and detoxify or destroy them to prevent more damage.  FAOs efforts, with photos and explanation, is a history we should work to preserve.

DDT provided powerful insect killing tools for a relatively short period of time, from about 1945 to 1965.  In that short period, DDT proved to be a deadly killer of ecosystems to which it was introduced, taking out a variety of insects and other small animals, on up the food chain, with astonishing power.  One of DDT’s characteristics is a long half-life — it keeps on killing, for months or years. Once that was thought to be an advantage.

Now it’s a worldwide problem.


Punchline too brutal for work: Why it is that environmentalists are the real humanitarians (a necessary encore)

March 1, 2013

I wish it weren’t true.  I wish people didn’t appear to be getting stupider, less scientifically literate, and less knowledgeable of history (see Santayana‘s thoughts in the upper right-hand corner of the blog . . .).  My e-mail box is filling today with notes from people claiming environmentalists want to rid the Earth of humans, urging that we should oppose them and let poisoning of our air and water continue . . . oblivious to the irony of the claim coupled with their supposed opposition to the idea.  Here’s the truth, in large part, an encore post from several months ago (I apologize in advance for the necessary profanity):

The fictional but very popular memes that environmentalists hate humans, humanity and capitalism wouldn’t bother me so much if they didn’t blind their believers to larger truths and sensible policies on environmental protection.

One may argue the history of the environmental movement, how most of the originators were great capitalists and humanitarians — think Andrew Carnegie, Laurance Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and all the early medical doctors who warned of the dangers of pollution-caused diseases — but it falls on deaf ears on the other sides.

Here’s the 30-second response, from Humon, in cartoon form:

Mother Gaia explains why environmental protection is important, from Humon at Deviant Art

Facts of life and environmental protection – from Humon at Deviant Art

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers, and Mia, whoever she is.  Myers noted, “Environmentalism is actually an act of self defense.”

More:

Wall of Shame; sites that don’t get it, or intentionally tell the error:

English: 1908 US editorial cartoon on Theodore...

1908 Rense cartoon in the St. Paul, Minnesota, Pioneer Press, celebrating Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation of U.S. forests; image from Wikipedia, and Boundless blog


Texas’s Superfund cleanup sites, listed by county

September 21, 2012

I got a notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:

The Texas Superfund Registry has been published in the September 21, 2012 issue of the Texas Register.

64 of Texas’s 254 counties have Superfund sites, either state or federal; many of them have been cleaned up, but many are active.  My count shows 161 sites total for Texas.

You can go to the site and find the information in several different sorts — here is the list, by county, unedited, straight from TCEQ (Not sure why Parker County is listed differently).

Index of Superfund sites by county.

If a county does not appear on this list, it is because there is no state or federal Superfund site in that county. This index includes all sites—those where cleanup is complete as well as those for which cleanup or assessment is in progress.

On the county maps, a light blue star designates a federal Superfund site. A red star designates a state Superfund site.

Related Categories:
Superfund Sites in Anderson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Anderson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Angelina County Current and former Superfund sites located in Angelina County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Bell County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bell County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site..
Superfund Sites in Bexar County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bexar County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Bowie County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bowie County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Brazoria County Current and former Superfund sites located in Brazoria County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Calhoun County Current and former Superfund sites located in Calhoun County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cameron County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cameron County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Carson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Carson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cass County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cass County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cherokee County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cherokee County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Collin County Current and former Superfund sites located in Collin County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Dallas County Current and former Superfund sites located in Dallas County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Eastland County Current and former Superfund sites located in Eastland County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ector County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ector County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in El Paso County Current and former Superfund sites located in El Paso County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ellis County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ellis County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Fort Bend County Current and former Superfund sites located in Fort Bend County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Galveston County Current and former Superfund sites located in Galveston County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Grayson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Grayson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Gregg County Current and former Superfund sites located in Gregg County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Guadalupe County Current and former Superfund sites located in Guadalupe County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hale County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hale County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hardin County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hardin County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Harris County Current and former Superfund sites located in Harris County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Harrison County Current and former Superfund sites located in Harrison County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hays County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hays County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Henderson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Henderson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hidalgo County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hidalgo County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hockley County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hockley County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Houston County Current and former Superfund sites located in Houston County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Howard County Current and former Superfund sites located in Howard County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Howard County Current and former Superfund sites located in Howard County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hunt County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hunt County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Jasper County Current and former Superfund sites located in Jasper County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Jefferson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Jasper County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Karnes County Current and former Superfund sites located in Karnes County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Kimble County Current and former Superfund sites located in Kimble County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Knox County Current and former Superfund sites located in Knox County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Liberty County Current and former Superfund sites located in Liberty County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Llano County Current and former Superfund sites located in Llano County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Matagorda County Current and former Superfund sites located in Matagorda County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in McCulloch County Current and former Superfund sites located in McCulloch County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Midland County Current and former Superfund sites located in Midland County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Mitchell County Current and former Superfund sites located in Mitchell County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Montgomery County Current and former Superfund sites located in Montgomery County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Moore County Current and former Superfund sites located in Moore County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Nacogdoches County Current and former Superfund sites located in Nacogdoches County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Navarro County Current and former Superfund sites located in Navarro County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Newton County Current and former Superfund sites located in Newton County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Nueces County Current and former Superfund sites located in Nueces County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ochiltree County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ochiltree County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Orange County Current and former Superfund sites located in Orange County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Rusk County Current and former Superfund sites located in Rusk County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in San Patricio County Current and former Superfund sites located in San Patricio County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Shelby County Current, proposed, and former Superfund sites located in Shelby County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Swisher County Information from the EPA about this federal Superfund site in Swisher County. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Tarrant County Current and former Superfund sites located in Tarrant County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Taylor County Current and former Superfund sites located in Taylor County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Titus County Current and former Superfund sites located in Titus County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Tom Green County Current, proposed, and former Superfund sites located in Tom Green County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Van Zandt County Current and former Superfund sites located in Van Zandt County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Waller County Current and former Superfund sites located in Waller County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Zavala County Current and former Superfund sites located in Zavala County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Topics Under This Category:
Superfund Sites in Parker County Current and former Superfund sites located in Parker County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.

More, Superfund news from other states:


EU climate authority approved Britain’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

July 11, 2012

It’s stunning to listen to radio, or read newspaper letters-to-the-editor sections in the U.S., and see people who argue we have no need to control carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the European Commission (EC) Climate Change Committee (CCC) approved Britain’s plan to auction pollution rights, part of the UK plan to control and limit carbon emissions.

You’d think we don’t share the same planet.

Here’s the news, from Britain’s Department of Environment and Climate Change:

EU Emissions Trading System: European Commission approves the UK’s national auction platform

Press Notice 2012/081

11 July 2012

Today the European Commission (EC) Climate Change Committee (CCC) voted to approve the UK’s national auction platform for phase III and aviation auctions under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Welcoming this important vote, Greg Barker said:

“This announcement is a further step towards ensuring that we can start auctioning phase III and aviation allowances as planned. The endorsement by the EU Climate Change Committee reflects the strength of the UK’s proposal and continued leading role in carbon auctioning.”

The CCC endorsement is the latest step in the UK’s preparations for auctioning phase III and aviation allowances. Under EU rules, the Commission and Member States in the form of the CCC must first approve the platform. This will be followed by a three month scrutiny period by the European Council and Parliament. The UK expects auctioning to start in November 2012, subject to successful completion of this scrutiny process.

Following a decision by the CCC last year, Member States are due to start auctioning some 120m phase III emissions allowances early before the end of this year. The UK’s share of these allowances is 12m. Subject to EU approval, it is expected that these allowances will be auctioned in November and December this year. In addition, the UK is expected to auction approximately 7m aviation allowances by the end of 2012.

Auctions of these allowances will be held separately during the same period.

Further detailed information on the UK’s phase III and aviation auctions, including the proposed auction calendar and how to access the auctions, will follow in due course.


Notes to editors

  • The European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS) is at the heart of UK Government policy to tackle climate change
  • The rules governing the system are set out in the EU ETS Directive; it covers sectors responsible for around half of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions
  • In 2008, the EU ETS Directive was revised to make auctioning the main method for allocating emissions allowances in Phase III of the EU ETS (2013-2020). In Phase III, at least 50% of general emissions allowances will be auctioned across the EU. In addition, EU member states will auction 15% of aviation allowances
  • Under the rules set out in the EU Auctioning Regulation, Member States have the option to either auction via a common EU platform, or set up their own, national platform. The UK, Germany and Poland have opted to set up national auction platforms.
  • In April DECC announced that ICE Futures Europe was its preferred supplier for the contract to conduct auctions of phase III and aviation EU ETS. This followed an EU-wide competitive tender process that launched in December 2011.
  • Before auctions can begin on the UK platform, the platform must first be approved by the Climate Change Committee and then be subject to a 3 month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and Council. These requirements are set out in the EU Auctioning Regulation.
  • Both Germany and the European Commission (auctioning on behalf of 24 Member States) have announced their intention to start auctioning after the summer.

Further information can be found on:


Meanwhile, back in reality, Superfund cleanup of Torrance DDT site continues

July 11, 2012

English: Map of Superfund sites in the US stat...

Map of Superfund sites in California. Red indicates sites currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed for the list, green means a site deleted (usually due to having been cleaned up). Data from United States Environmental Protection Agency CERCLIS database available at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/phonefax/products.htm. Retrieved April 24, 2010 with last update reported as March 31, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s near midsummer, so the sputtering of right-wing and anti-science propaganda calls for a “return to DDT” should begin to abate, absent a serious outbreak of West Nile Virus human infections, or some fit of stupidity on the part of DDT advocates.

DDT remains a deadly poison, and you, American Taxpayer, are on the hook for millions of dollars needed to clean up legacy DDT manufacturing sites across the nation.  Contrary to bizarre claims, DDT really is a poison.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works constantly at these cleanups.  Comes this press release from EPA talking about a small success, a $14.6 million settlement with past property owners or users of sites in Torrance, California, designated for cleanup under the Superfund.  The money will pay for cleanup of groundwater at the sites.

Links to sources other than EPA, and illustrations are added here.

EPA Reaches $14.6 million Settlement for Groundwater Cleanup at Torrance Superfund Sites

Release Date: 07/10/2012
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov, 213-244-1815

Plant will Treat a Million Gallons per Day, Prevent Spread of Contamination

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $14.6 million settlement with four companies for the construction of a groundwater treatment system at the Montrose and Del Amo Superfund sites in Torrance, Calif. Construction of the treatment system is the first step in the cleanup of groundwater contaminated by chemicals used to manufacture DDT and synthetic rubber over three decades.

Once operational, the system will extract up to 700 gallons of water per minute, or a total of a million gallons each day, removing monochlorobenzene and benzene, and re-injecting the cleaned, treated water back into the aquifer. The treated water will not be served as drinking water, but will instead be re-injected to surround the contamination and prevent it from any further movement into unaffected groundwater areas. Construction of the treatment system is expected to be completed in 18 months. EPA will pursue further settlements with the four companies and other parties to ensure that additional cleanup actions are taken and the groundwater treatment system is operated and maintained until cleanup levels are met.

“One of the toxic legacies of DDT and synthetic rubber manufacturing is polluted groundwater,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The treatment plant will be a milestone for the site, protecting the groundwater resources for the thousands of people who live or work near these former facilities.”

Montrose Chemical Corporation of California manufactured the pesticide DDT from 1947 until 1982. Monochlorobenzene was a raw material used in making DDT. The Montrose site was placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. The Del Amo Superfund site, located adjacent to the Montrose site, was formerly a synthetic rubber manufacturing facility that used benzene, naphthalene and ethyl benzene. The Del Amo site was placed on the NPL in September of 2002. Groundwater contamination from both sites has co-mingled and will be cleaned up by this single treatment system.

The four responsible parties for this settlement are: Montrose, Bayer CropScience Inc., News Publishing Australia Limited, and Stauffer Management Company LLC. In addition to constructing the treatment system, these parties will also pay oversight costs incurred by EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

To date, extensive investigations and cleanup actions have been performed at both sites. EPA’s DDT soil removal actions in the neighborhood near the Montrose site were completed in 2002. In 1999, Shell began cleaning-up the Del Amo Superfund site, constructing a multi-layer impermeable cap over the waste pits and installation of the soil-vapor extraction and treatment system. Additional soil and soil gas cleanups at the Del Amo site are slated to begin in 2013.

The proposed consent decree for the settlement, lodged with the federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice on July 9, 2012, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed decree is available on the Justice Department website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

For more information on the Del Amo and Montrose Superfund Sites, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/socal/superfund/index.html

###

Follow the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EPAregion9
And join the LinkedIn group: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/1823773/

More: 

Map of NPL sites in contiguous US

Map of NPL sites in contiguous US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Tea partiers: Constipated, now in the dark — what else can they screw up?

July 9, 2011

Life is just a constant bitch for tea partiers.

Rand Paul revealed why he’s full of . . . that certain fecality, shall we say.  He did that in a hearing about light bulbs, and appliances.  Energy conservation gives Rand Paul formication (look it up).

Joker burns money - Warner Brothers publicity still, with Heath Ledger as the Joker

Burning money: Republicans prefer more heat than light, less energy conservation, and the libertarian, self-help yourself to others' money philosophy popularized in recent movies.

But what about efforts to undo the energy conservation bill that practically forces long-lived, low-energy light bulbs on us?  The Tea Party doesn’t like that idea, either.  Michael Patrick Leahy, writing at the blog for Rupert Murdoch’s Broadside Books, explains why he thinks the Tea Party should oppose Fred Upton’s bill to repeal the energy standards Rand Paul castigated.

Basically, none of these guys knows beans about energy, nor much about the technology or science of electricity and lighting — they just like to whine.

Leahy wrote:

Section 3 [of the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” HR 2417] states that “No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using lamps containing mercury.” This reads to me that Congress is attacking the mercury laden CFL bulbs. The point of the individual economic choice guaranteed in the Constitution, however, is that Congress ought not to favor CFLs over incandescents, just as it ought not to favor incandescents over CFLs. I’m no fan of CFL bulbs personally, but look for CFL manufacturers like GE to make this argument against the bill at every opportunity.

Section 4 of the Act is designed to repeal the light bulb efficiency standards in effect in the State of California since January 1 of this year. The standards are essentially the federal standards that will go into effect January 1, 2012, but moved up a year. While I personally question the legal status of these very specific rules promulgated by the California Energy Commission based on a vague and non-specific 2007 California statute, it seems to me that there are serious Constitutional questions surrounding a Federal law prohibiting a State to establish its own product efficiency standards. While a good argument can be made that the Commerce Clause grants Congress the right to repeal California state regulations, a reasonable argument could be made by opponents of the bill that Congress can’t do this because the state of California is merely establishing local standards, which is its right.

Given these concerns about Sections 3 and 4, what purpose does it serve to include them in the bill? Both raise potential objections to the passage of the bill on the floor of the House if it comes to a vote this week.

Now, granted this is the House of Representatives, and not the Senate where Sen. Paul keeps a chair warmed, occasionally.  Still, is it too much to ask the Tea Party to support the bills it asks for?  Leahy said:

A full and open discussion of these issues in public hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would have been the right way to begin a legislative process that would have identified and addressed these potential objections. That’s the course that a Committee Chairman seriously committed to repealing the light bulb ban would have taken. Instead, Chairman Upton has followed this secretive, behind closed doors, last minute rushed vote approach.

There was a hearing in the Senate — good enough for most people — and of course, there were hearings on the issue in the House.  The Tea Party was unconscious at the time.  The bill they’re trying to repeal was a model of moderation as touted by the president when it passed, President George W. Bush — and it’s still a good idea to conserve energy and set standards that require energy conservation (the law does not ban incandescent bulbs).

Also, while they’re complaining about the mercury in Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), remember, Dear Reader, they oppose letting our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protect you from mercury in your drinking water or the air that you breathe.  Pollution is only worrisome to them if they can use worry as a tool to whine about people making life work without pollution.  A rational person would point out that the mercury released by coal-fired power plants to produce the energy required by repeal of the conservation law would more than equal the mercury from all the CFLs, even were all that mercury to be released as pollution (which it isn’t, if properly disposed of):

8 hours: The amount of time a person must be exposed to the mercury in a CFL bulb to acquire the same mercury level as eating a six-ounce can of tuna, according to Climate Progress’s Stephen Lacey.

Is it too much to ask for reason, circumspection, and a touch of wisdom from these guys?  You’re supposed to drink the tea, Tea Party, not smoke it.

Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller (can we get on the no-call list?) says Republicans plan to vote for darkness instead of light next Monday.

A wet shake of the old scrub brush in the general direction of Instapundit, who never met a form of pollution he didn’t prefer over clean water or clean air.

_____________

Update:  Mike the Mad Biologist talks sense about the light bulb vote planned by the dim bulbs:

Because it’s not like more efficient light bulbs would be helpful at all:

The American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy says that the standards would eliminate the need to develop 30 new power plants – or about the electrical demand of Pennsylvania and Tennessee combined.

Only Republicans can make the current crop of Democrats look good…

Mike provides more points that make the Upton bill look simultaneously silly and craven:  The current law does not ban incandescent bulbs at all, for example, one manufacturer has introduced two new incandescent bulbs in the past year.  Tea Party Republicans:  No fact left unignored, no sensible solution left undistorted and unattacked.

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