EPA Estimates Its Greenhouse Gas Restrictions Would Reduce Global Temperature by No More Than 0.006 of a Degree in 90 Years

By Chris Neefus | October 6, 2010 | 4:05am EDT

Coal-burning power plant. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Tough new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency restricting greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the global mean temperature by only 0.006 to 0.0015 of a degree Celsius by the year 2100, according to the EPA's analysis.

As a side effect, these rules would “slow construction nationwide for years,” the EPA said in a June 3 statement.

Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highlighted those findings in a report released last week.

The GOP minority report, issued last Wednesday, said a series of proposed and partially implemented new regulations on industrial boilers, greenhouse gas emitters, and ozone levels will put over 800,000 jobs at risk with little environmental benefit.

The authors cite the EPA’s own staff to show that greenhouse gas regulations, which would require major sources of CO2 (carbon dioxide) to obtain permits and limit their output, could seriously harm the economy if implemented.

“It is clear throughout the country, PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) permit issuance would be unable to keep up with the flood of incoming applications, resulting in delays, at the outset, that would be at least a decade or longer, and that would only grow worse over time as each year, the number of new permit applications would exceed permitting authority resources for that year.” the EPA wrote in the Federal Register on June 3.

The EPA permits, under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration program, are already in place – but would be significantly expanded to include greenhouse gases.

“(D)uring this time, tens of thousands of sources each year would be prevented from constructing or modifying,” the EPA staff wrote. “In fact, it is reasonable to assume that many of those sources will be forced to abandon altogether plans to construct or modify. As a result, a literal application (of the permit requirement) to GHG (greenhouse gas) sources would slow construction nationwide for years, with all of the adverse effects that this would have on economic development.”

Because of these concerns, the EPA decided to create the “tailoring rule,” which changes the thresholds for being considered a major source of carbon; they claim this will limit immediate 2011 exposure to the regulations to only 900 sources.

But Republicans on the Senate EPW committee said that a federal court could strike the tailoring rule because it does not follow explicit guidelines set out for the process of issuing permits for pollutants in the Clean Air Act (CAA), which has its own threshold of 100-250 tons of CO2 equivalent a year.

“(T)he tailoring rule violates the plain language of the CAA. The Act defines ‘major sources’ as those that emit more than 100-250 tons per year of a regulated pollutant. In the tailoring rule, however, EPA arbitrarily changes those thresholds -- to 75,000 and 100,000 tons. For this reason, the rule likely won’t survive judicial scrutiny,” the staff wrote.

The Republicans point in their report to a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which concludes that if the tailoring rule were stricken, the EPA “could be forced to regulate” about 260,000 office buildings, 150,000 warehouses, 92,000 health care facilities, 92,000 health-care facilities, 37,000 churches, and 17,000 farms, among other things.

All of these complications stem from EPA’s desire to regulate mobile sources of greenhouse gases -- primarily automobiles. By issuing a finding last Spring that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health, the EPA is able to regulate mobile output of the gas; but the ancillary effect is that stationary CO2 emitters -- factories, schools, office buildings -- are now subject to those Clean Air Act regulations as well.

But the benefit of regulating those mobile sources is, also by the EPA’s own estimations, as little as less than two thousandths of a degree in temperature reduction over a century.

In rulemaking documents from April 2010, the EPA writes, “Based on the reanalysis the results for projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations are estimated to be reduced by an average of 2.9 ppm [parts per million] (previously 3.0 ppm), global mean temperature is estimated to by reduced by 0.006 to 0.0015 ˚C by 2100.”

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the EPW committee, said the proposed rules would have “no meaningful” impact on the environment.

“(T)hese rules would have no meaningful environmental benefits. Consider EPA’s rules to regulate greenhouse gases: they would reduce global temperatures by 0.0015 C by 2100, an amount so small it can’t be measured on a ground-based thermometer.”

He also said all of the rules in the report had “sparked bipartisan opposition.”

Indeed, several Democrats in the Senate wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last February to express their concern over the greenhouse gas regulations, including Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“We remain concerned about the possible impacts on American workers and businesses in a number of industrial sectors, along with farmers, miners, and small business owners, who could be affected as your agency moves beyond regulations for vehicle greenhouse gas emissions,” they wrote in the letter.

Other proposed EPA regulations include:

-- pending regulations on emissions from industrial and commercial boilers which the Republican staff says are stringent enough to make some factories shutter rather than become compliant, and risking 798,000 jobs;

-- higher emissions standards for cement plants, which involves 15,000 jobs;

-- and increased National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the amount of ground-level ozone to 60 parts per billion, which the EPA estimates could cost $19 billion to $90 billion to implement.

Top House Republicans have formed the Rural America Solutions Group aimed at working on issue that effect agricultural areas of the country, and held a forum Wednesday on what they termed “the EPA’s Assault on Rural America.”

They heard from witnesses representing the beef and cattle industry, farmers, coal workers, and others affected by the many new and proposed regulations laid out in the report.

At the forum, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said, “In many instances, the EPA is overreaching its authority. Instead of operating within the law, EPA believes it can dictate to Congress that legislation needs to be passed for more government authority. And if Congress doesn’t act, it threatens to regulate anyway.”

“Every day, the EPA seems to demonstrate how vastly disconnected it is to the folks who feed us.”

Republicans invited EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to attend the forum, but she did not appear, nor did she send a representative.

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