Obama plan to reduce emissions allows coal-heavy states to increase emissions

Well, that cat’s out of the bag, or out of the coal mine.

Remember when we first considered what could go wrong with a cap-and-trade “encouragement” system? I listed seven ways a cap-and-trade system could be gamed — designed to accomplish the opposite of its stated goal.

One of those ways was this:

Second, the allocation method can favor some emitters — for example, those with the highest cost to reduce emissions. Let’s create an extreme case. Say you were implementing a cap-and-trade system that included just Kentucky (a coal-burning high-emissions state) and Oregon (a non-coal low-emissions state). Then you gave 95% of the permits to Kentucky, enough to force only small changes there for the next 10 years, and put most of the burden (but not all) of reduction on Oregon.

You’d get the opposite of the result you wanted — if your goal was to eliminate emissions from coal plants. On the other hand, you’d get exactly the result you wanted — if you wanted to appear to reduce emissions from coal plants while making sure that coal profits weren’t terribly impacted. (In the latter case, you want to be careful to force some changes on Kentucky; otherwise, you couldn’t point to them later and claim credit.)

Here comes The Guardian to prove us right (my emphasis and paragraphing throughout):

Obama plan to reduce pollution will allow some states to increase emissions

Coal-heavy states like West Virginia will be allowed to increase emissions while still meeting overall target of 30% cut nationally

Barack Obama’s new power plant rules will still allow some states to increase their share of the carbon pollution [CO2 emissions] that causes climate change, officials admitted for the first time on Wednesday.

A coal mine in Wyoming, United States. The United States has the world's largest coal reserves.

A coal mine in Wyoming, United States. The United States has the world’s largest coal reserves.

Obama and supporters cast the new rules for power plants as an historic step to fighting climate change and protecting public health. But some of the dirtiest and most coal-heavy states – such as West Virginia and Kentucky – will be allowed to maintain or even increase their emissions under the plan, according to analysts.

It also hasn’t stopped leaders from those same states, West Virginia and Kentucky, from trying to block the rules in Congress or through the courts.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which produced the 645-page regulation, said it was possible individual states could increase their emissions while still meeting the overall target of the plan for a 30% cut in national emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. But the official said the EPA expected states to adopt energy-efficiency programmes which would help reduce demand for electricity. “So, theoretically, a state could increase emissions, but nationally the carbon intensity and emissions both decrease,” the official said in an email.

The new rules would require only modest effort from heavy coal states such as Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky while requiring big cuts from Texas, Louisiana, and New York, according to an analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance research company. … “The bottom line is pretty clear. There are some major differences between what states are being asked to do in terms of being asked to reduce their total CO2 emissions on a volume basis,” said Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis for BNEF. …

Read the article for the stark differences between what “winner” states — Kentucky, West Virginia — and “loser” states — Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana  — are being asked to do.

My belief is that this is a heavily lobbied — and heavily watered down — draft; that the lobbyists were allowed to get at it even before the “120-day comment period” allowed to the public. Think it’s going to come out of that public comment period stronger? Me neither.

And yet we’re still marinating in this:

Obama and supporters cast the new rules for power plants as an historic step to fighting climate change and protecting public health.

Nope; won’t do either. Certainly not as currently designed.

Obama’s new rules are slanted toward methane

I don’t want to expand this too much yet, so I’ll tack it here. One of the other ways we noted that cap-and-trade could be slanted was by picking the wrong “measurable,” a yardstick slanted to create the wrong outcome:

Fourth, the scheme could fail by regulating the wrong “measurable.” In the case of carbon emissions from electricity plants, the measureable could be either “carbon dioxide” or “all hydrocarbon emissions.” Using the former would prevent you from counting leakage from methane-burning (natural gas) plants. You could also measure either “total emissions” or “emissions per megawatt-hour generated.” Measuring the latter also favors methane-burning plants, since methane plants already generate more power per unit of emission.

From the same Guardian article:

The regulations unveiled on Monday would allow states to come up with their own plans for achieving their target emissions rate – the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for every megawatt hour of electricity generated.

Voilà — it’s a methane plan.

We’ll have more on methane-burning plants at another time. But for now — airborne carbon is airborne carbon, and methane is one of the worst of them. Yes, it burns to the “tamer” CO2 (which the plan is trying to reduce, right? But it also leaks, some say heavily, as methane.

If I were a suspicious man, I’d say someone had made a deal with the kind-hearted billionaire owners of “America’s clean natural gas” — like Exxon:

Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. natural gas producer since last year’s purchase of XTO Energy Inc., is evaluating more acquisitions with an eye toward expanding its gas holdings.

Is the fix in? Does the moon circle the earth?

Spread the word, folks. A solution that doesn’t work is worse than none. It inspires apathy when the opposite is needed.


Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
Facebook: Gaius Publi

(Facebook note: To get the most from a Facebook recommendation, be sure to Share what you also Like. )

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

Share This Post

75 Responses to “Obama plan to reduce emissions allows coal-heavy states to increase emissions”

  1. KirstenMundayafy says:

    My Uncle Riley got an almost
    new red GMC Canyon just by some parttime working online with a laptop. visit
    their website F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    I’m not a liberal.

    Stalin consolidated his regime in 1929-30. Get a history book and take the time to read it.

    Violence in social conflicts comes from the right – liberals and conservatives like Obama, who’s both, and who’s environmental policies are a form a violence committed against everyone.

  3. heimaey says:

    You give liberals a bad name. You only want to hear what you want to hear.

    Stalin as Secretary of Terror (in 22) was the official end of the revolution – it had lost its bearings and he took it over the edge after probably killing Lennin in 24.

    I’d like to hear how you plan to just eliminate the wealth from the rich in a peaceful manner. It would be the first time in history.

  4. Bill_Perdue says:


  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    Your lack of knowledge about is hardly believable.

  6. heimaey says:

    Are you a 19 year old poly sci major? You need to grow up.

  7. heimaey says:

    I did not claim that the Bolshevik supporters made a revolution to play Tsar, but after the revolution the heads of movement were corrupted and/or taken hostage by tyrants (depends on your view of history). Either way the red revolution died well by the time Stalin was in power.

    I will not withdraw them because you said “the source of their political power [the rich], is confiscated without compensation.”

    Sounds a lot like a forced tactic that will end in bloodshed. So yes, I extrapolated a little – but trying doing that without deaths.

  8. I come from the anthracite region of northeastern Pennsylvania, from which I left the third and last time twenty years ago last month. Despite the cleaner coal, that industry died around 1970. The rich have squeezed out the better jobs and there’s no way they’ll ever let any coal companies back in. The area remains in the 1930’s and didn’t think the god Reagan was so bad.
    For me, the Philadelphia area is not much of an improvement, although I can finally stop worrying about all that cancer among my relatives from coal dust. Wait until the Chinese find out what burning coal and dirtying industry does to the cancer rates.

  9. eggroll_jr says:

    Thermal coal is a loser in the US. It has to be burned at large fixed locations and monitored in real time. This means a constant threat of liability for e.g. mercury deposition and small particulates only tangential to the climate debate. They are dirty.

    It is this same dirty that is forcing China’s government to react to coal. http://www.rtcc.org/2014/06/05/chinas-curbs-on-coal-a-rising-risk-for-investors-says-report/

    What is interesting is that just days after GP was talking about “stranded” hydrocarbons, the Chinese discussion is talking about “stranded” assets. Apparently,

    Coal = Stranded

  10. lynchie says:

    Here is a funny but serious Carlin take on Mother Nature and the environment. The last couple of minutes are very thought provoking.


    I hope no one really thought O’;Highness was really doing something to counter pollution. Allowing the worst polluting states to actually increase polluting is a stroke of 1% genius. The Progressives he feels are stupid and so the big announcement of new EPA standards which you will notice he did not announce himself gives us a brief feel good moment but as always Obama knows the devil is in the details. What a tool.

    Carlin has 4 groups that gotta go.


    Miss Carlin a lot.

  11. Hue-Man says:

    Obvious response – President Palin (after President McCain’s early demise in office).

  12. pappyvet says:

    It is already too late for a portion of it Sis. The question is how much and how many.

    The only entity that we know of with the powers that humans have throughout their existence associated with a supreme being is the one we are standing on. She clothes us , gives us food and medicine and fresh water to drink. And when our days are done we return to her bosom.

  13. PolinaWellingsiso says:

    just before I looked at the receipt ov $8130 , I
    didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
    there pretty old laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only
    about 22 months and at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and
    bought themselves a Chrysler . see here M­o­n­e­y­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  14. pappyvet says:

    I know. I wish I could see better than I do. You post good comments 4th Terning. ;]

  15. benb says:

    Kentucky has the cheapest electricity in the Nation–roughly half of the average. Per capita use of electricity is DOUBLE the average. Bizarrely, 40% of residential usage is for heating which is to say they burn coal to make electricity to heat their homes. That state is addicted to coal.

  16. 4th Turning says:

    Jist practicin’ my outrage-all my stuff sounds kind of mooshy compared to the numerous zingers encountered as I attempt my way down the scroll. Do you think I need to kick it up a notch or two?

  17. pappyvet says:

    If an e instead of a u will make it all better for you , not a problem. I am so very sorry for an outrage that is so demeaning as to cause such a response.

  18. 4th Turning says:

    GP, try again with this post. Commenters seem to have followed their gps into Lake Quagmire.

  19. 4th Turning says:

    Will you please spell his freaking name right! Newcomers might get him mixed up with
    the Bill Purdue who actually makes sense. You’re welcome-both Bills.

  20. pappyvet says:

    I am all a tingle with antici……….pation to hear cherylpet’s analysis. ;]

  21. Indigo says:

    Worst so far. Wait for Hillary to consolidate the police/security state. As you say, it’s a downhill toboggan run.

  22. pappyvet says:

    Would love to hear an explanation of all that. And to back up the very fine point made by Bill_Purdue , perhaps you can tell us YOUR name so that we can look you up and partake of some of your insights.

  23. Indigo says:

    I doubt that it’s ever too late for the preservation of the species but as far as the perservation of the global greed economy, that one’s doomed. Survivors will be few but fierce.

  24. Indigo says:

    In the Homeric epics of ancient Greece, the gods rain down disasters on humans just to be entertained, watching how the humans deal with the mess the gods have created. I think that’s closer to what the spirits around us are about than the loving-kindess-peace-on-earth variety.

  25. Indigo says:

    Since you say the slant is obvious, please tell us about your understanding of the events.

  26. Bill_Perdue says:

    You claimed that the Bolsheviks, and their millions of supporters made a revolution so they could play Tsar. That’s absolutely the most bizarre and ahistorical thing I’ve ever read in my life.

    Would you care to withdraw your comment about killing the rich. Or quote me advocating killing them? I did advocate making them work for a living or face the same contitions that Obama and rich impose on working people.

  27. Bill_Perdue says:

    Why are you anonymous?

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama is not better than his Republican opponents – he’s their political mirror image.

  29. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’re not making any sense and you’re showing your ignorance of history. Again. In terms of the Stalinist bureaucracy money meant little because they couldn’t use it buy companies. Political and police/military power were all important and were eventually used to destroy the workers state and replace it with a capitalist state. Now they can buy companies and former Stalinist thugs like Putin are doing just that.


  30. cherylpet says:

    I think there are aspects of this issue that we are not getting from “Gaius Publius!” This person is so afraid to show his/her name; that it is suspicious! This is an obviously slanted article, full of innuendo and biased thought.

  31. pvequalkt says:

    As I said on another thread, the familiar stench of cowardice and betrayal.
    This guy not only is an overt fascist, he lacks a single testicular cell in his body.
    This is another case where he articulates a policy distinction without any difference. He simply cannot bring himself to inconvenience a single large donor… even if it means the life/death of humanity. After all, I suppose some extraction trust or monopoly might hand him 6 or 7 figures to speak at some luncheon after 2016… so… knowing exactly which side of his bread is buttered… why would he be in any way provocative… even to save humanity? Fuck humanity. He’s gonna get his. Let his girls fend for themselves in 50 years.

  32. heimaey says:

    You’re full of shit. Just because you want to believe something doesn’t make it true. Killing the rich is easy and sounds like what an angry child would do. It solves nothing.

  33. heimaey says:

    All the examples you just mentioned have one thing in common: money (they got it all).

  34. Moderator3 says:

    The best I can do is delete this entire post. Let me know what you want.

  35. Ford Prefect says:

    One reason I’m agnostic is I have a hard time believing a godlike thing would implant a self-destruct mechanism in the human race. Unless maybe god destroyed itself at some point. Then maybe the whole “made in its image” thing might make more sense.

  36. Ford Prefect says:

    “USA, Incorporated. Circling the drain since 1968.”

  37. nicho says:

    Well, they’re planning massive dikes around Manhattan to keep the city from drowning. You may not have to wait until 2025. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-04/designing-a-manhattan-superstorm-barrier-that-fits-into-the-neighborhood

  38. nicho says:

    It’s a race to the bottom. Reagan was a terrible president. GBush I was worse. Hill&Bill Inc. was worse than Bush. GBush II was worse than Hill&Bill Inc., and Obama is the worst of all.

  39. nicho says:

    Complete amnesia by all Republicans about what they or their predecessors ever said and did. Blame Democrats.

    You don’t have to predict it. That’s what they do now.

  40. emjayay says:

    I’ve said it too! Then I predicted three things: Complete amnesia by all Republicans about what they or their predecessors ever said and did. Blame Democrats. Advocate measures like filling the upper atmosphere with mirror mylar bits, nuking a volcano to make it go off, bombing all remaining Chinese coal fired power plants, sending mylar mirrors into orbit, etc.

  41. emjayay says:

    The Bentley. I saw her in it. She waved at me. Personally.

  42. BeccaM says:

    I’ve said this before: Humans apparently will not stop burning fossil fuels until our civilization collapses utterly and we’re on the brink of extinction — by which time, it very well may be too late for the survival of the species.

  43. emjayay says:

    Oh puleeese.

  44. emjayay says:

    Jeeze, Liz, you have a perfectly nice Bentley State Limousine. And a more tasteful old carriage. Couldn’t the royal craftspersons have retrofitted video cameras and bulletproof glass? (The new one is actually about a year and a half old.)

  45. emjayay says:

    I think it’s because the ground is going faster there so you get more of an initial toss and don’t have to use as big a rocket and fuel. So, Georgia National Space Center? I think the commercial people are going with New Mexico.

  46. emjayay says:

    Thanks for writing that so I don’t have to. I miss the real “down” button.

  47. Ford Prefect says:

    How else to characterize it? Sure, before BO, Dubya held the title with seemingly no one who could do worse. Now we have this dude, who not only didn’t do anything to reverse W’s worst policies, he even expanded on them.

    So if the fellow who follows the worst comes along and expands on the worst agenda ever, I’d say he earns the title! I remember early on, when people said, “Well, at least he can speak in complete sentences.” Now though, I don’t hear anyone being so smug.

  48. cole3244 says:

    america and the world have no leaders only charlatans, there are leaders out there but here in america the people are too short sighted to even consider electing someone who tells the truth, our last honest pres was carter and it has been all downhill since.

  49. pappyvet says:


  50. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’re confused.

    Ruling classes rule based on their wealth. Bureaucratic elites rule based on their control of political life. They are not a class, they’re a pustule on the life of a revolution.

  51. Indigo says:

    That was W. This is another species of Chicago Swindle entirely.

  52. Bill_Perdue says:

    Correct. That’s the essence of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Opposition to Stalin’s dictatorial polices is why hundreds of thousand of leftists were killed by Stalinists.

  53. Naja pallida says:

    I mean “inland” because for rocket launches you want to launch in an eastward direction, and you don’t want populated areas under the launch path. If something goes wrong, raining thousands of pounds of flaming debris over a city would probably be a bad thing.

  54. Indigo says:

    Michigan City!

  55. Bill_Perdue says:

    Good. I like 1776-1783 and 1860-to 1865. America has a proud revolutionary tradition that’s ongoing. It begins with independence from royalism and it’s ls continues with independence from Democrat and Republicans. http://www.labornotes.org/2013/12/2013-review-aiming-higher-labor-tries-new-angles-and-alliances

  56. Indigo says:

    and continues to be so.

  57. Naja pallida says:

    Yeah, but I doubt Stalin ever had to wait in a bread line to feed his family.

  58. Elijah Shalis says:

    Inland, Maybe you have never heard of the Great Lakes. Also Russia launches from the north with no oceans nearby.

  59. Naja pallida says:

    Michigan is too far north and too inland for a viable spaceport, sorry. Sea Launch is the way to go. :)

  60. pappyvet says:

    I would rather start here Bill


  61. Ford Prefect says:

    Well done! I was wondering where the grift was and … boom! There it is.

    Worst president ever.

  62. Bill_Perdue says:

    My history is full of history. Yours is not.

  63. heimaey says:

    Yeah history is full of poor people completely overcoming class struggle. Look at the French Revolution and “Communism” for example. They just replaced one dictator/king for another. There has always been an upper class and there always will be. The problem now is the middle class is shrinking again.”Killing our rich” will do nothing more than open up a new vacancy. We have to find a way to sustain a large healthy middle class that pulls power away from the rich. Your fantasy world seems like a nice place to live in; I haven’t visited there since jr. high though.

    Edit: if you think that there was no ruling class in the USSR; you’re completely out of your mind. That whole revolution was a bait and switch.

  64. Bill_Perdue says:

    Start here:

  65. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s not a view backed by historical data. History says you’re wrong. Bureaucracies like the one that took over the USSR in 1929 are not ruling classes. The Fidelistas are not a ruling class.

  66. pappyvet says:

    Someday we have to stop falling for it.


  67. UncleBucky says:

    Coal will be our undoing. Clean coal, shlean coal, it’s all bad and we had better cut it out.

  68. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Iceland will be the new Malibu. Buy beachfront properties, now.

  69. heimaey says:

    There will always be an elite class and a wealthier class; it’s just gotten out of control.

  70. Indigo says:

    Trade-offs. Just like a poker game. What odds can I get that I’ll want a kayak to cruise the streets of South Beach by the year 2025?

  71. Bill_Perdue says:

    “Nothing will change until the rich suffer the wealth of the rich, the source of their political power, is confiscated without compensation.

    Then they’d have to work for a living or hit the streets. That’s the best punishment.

  72. heimaey says:

    Nothing will change until the rich suffer. Let’s find a way to make them start feeling the effects faster.

  73. 4th Turning says:

    It was reported that the Queen will announce government plans to give communities the right to take a stake in local renewable energy projects in an attempt to boost alternative energy production.
    The plans are designed to counter opposition to similar plans to encourage controversial “fracking” sites.

    The Queen will ride to parliament in a brand new state coach that incorporates more than 100 priceless fragments from British history.

    [RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill to allow permits for fracking in North Carolina was all but a done deal Thursday as it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.
    It was a fast turnaround for the bill after being passed with no debate by the Senate hours after the House approved it with minor changes. McCrory, an ardent proponent of expanding natural gas exploration in North Carolina, will very likely sign the bill.

    (Who do you think browsed the mall last election???)

    Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/05/29/3895740/opponents-rally-against-nc-fracking.html#storylink=cpy%5D


  74. Elijah Shalis says:

    Say goodbye to Florida. Michigan gets first dibs on the space program!

  75. Houndentenor says:

    We’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s time to buy real estate at higher elevations.

© 2020 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS