November 22, 2014

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Climate change strategy called a shell game

 

Train cars containing coal roll into an unloading facility at Dominion Terminal Associates' coal terminal in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Train cars containing coal roll into an unloading facility at Dominion Terminal Associates’ coal terminal in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s energy leftovers to other parts of the world — where they create even more pollution.

This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

“This is the single biggest flaw in U.S. climate policy,” said Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. “Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don’t consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world.”

Over the past six years, American energy companies have sent more coal than ever before to other parts of the world, in some cases to places with more lax environmental standards.

The consequence: This global shell game shifts some pollution — and the burden for cleaning it up — onto other countries’ balance sheets.

“Energy exports bit by bit are chipping away at gains we are making on carbon dioxide domestically,” said Shakeb Afsah, an economist who runs an energy consulting firm in Bethesda, Md.

As companies look to double U.S. coal exports, with three new terminals along the West Coast, America could be fueling demand for coal when many experts say that most fossil fuels should remain buried.

But the administration has resisted calls from governors in Washington and Oregon to evaluate and disclose such global fallout, saying that if the U.S. didn’t supply the coal, another country would.

White House officials said U.S. coal has a negligible global footprint, and reducing coal’s use worldwide is the best way to ease global warming. The U.S. in 2012 accounted for 9 percent of worldwide coal exports, the latest data available.

“There may be a very marginal increase in coal exports caused by our climate policies,” Rick Duke, Obama’s deputy climate adviser, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Given that coal is widely available from many sources, our time is better spent working on leading toward a global commitment to cut carbon pollution on the demand side.”

Guidance drafted by White House officials in 2010 did outline how broadly agencies should look at carbon emissions from U.S. projects. Four years later, that guidance is still under review.

“They have sat on their hands,” said George Kimbrell, a senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, which has sued the administration over this delay.

Changing the global system to account for production would carry political risks, especially for the U.S., which is trying to boost production of energy and exports even as it addresses global warming.

“The U.S. needs to be pragmatic on this,” said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “If our coal exports are very small and having no or little impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, the government has to take into account the economic and foreign policy costs of restricting exports.” He was a National Security Council energy and climate change adviser to Obama until January 2013.

Over the past six years, as the U.S. cut coal consumption by 195 million tons, about 20 percent of that coal was shipped overseas, according to an AP analysis of Energy Department data.

Less coal being burned here has helped the power sector reduce carbon emissions by 12 percent and left more U.S. coal in the ground. But a growing share is finding its way abroad.

Analyses suggest U.S. exports could be reducing by half or wiping out completely the pollution savings in the U.S. from switching power plants from coal to natural gas.

The nexus of the challenge can be found in and around Norfolk, Va., which exports more coal than any other place in the U.S. and already is experiencing one of the country’s fastest rates of sea level rise.

When the Prime Lilly, a massive cargo ship, set sail from Norfolk recently, its 80,000 tons of coal were destined for power plants and factories in South America. The 228,800 tons of carbon dioxide contained in that coal disappeared from America’s pollution ledger. But it still pollutes the planet.

It’s a planet hungry for American coal. U.S. exports to Germany have more than doubled since 2008, providing a cheaper alternative to cleaner-burning natural gas and a replacement for nuclear power, which is being phased out after Japan’s nuclear accident.

Last year, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions grew by 1.2 percent, in large part because the country burned more coal.

German environmental officials said the recent boom in coal-fired power is making it harder for the country to meet its climate-protection goals, even as it has increased renewable energy and participates in a carbon market that has lowered emissions throughout Europe.

Activists partly blame the U.S.

“This is a classic case of political greenwashing,” said Dirk Jansen, a spokesman for BUND, a German environmental group. “Obama pretties up his own climate balance, but it doesn’t help the global climate at all if Obama’s carbon dioxide is coming out of chimneys in Germany.”


  • Pablo Jones

    “Last year, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions grew by 1.2 percent, in large part because the country burned more coal.

    German environmental officials said the recent boom in coal-fired power is making it harder for the country to meet its climate-protection goals, even as it has increased renewable energy and participates in a carbon market that has lowered emissions throughout Europe.”

    Germany for the last 10 years has been on a big solar power push. Huge tax credits for solar panels and alternative energy. But apparently the alternative energy can’t provide the power they need.

  • todd

    BS liberal agenda article

    • reallyoldfarts

      That’s what happens when the CT takes it’s national news from the Associated Press.

      • SniperFire

        True. But the C-T is very selective and only posts the hardest Left of the AP as their ‘national news’ to promote agenda by lie-by-omission.

        Has there even been ONE C-T article put out on the collapse of border security in their National news reporting? The most recent Gallup survey cites Obama’s flooding of the border with illegal aliens to be the #1 concern of voters, but the C-T has ignored this.

        Why does the C-T ignore the top concern of the Nations voters and run ‘climate change’ stories which nobody cares about as the ‘National News’?

        • Julie Wallace

          You might try reading the print edition of the paper, where the national news appears. This is our free website, where only a handful of stories appear and we generally push for those to be of a local nature.

      • Air and Light

        …or reality…

      • Air and Light

        It’s also called “Learn Something New Everyday”.

    • Guest
    • Air and Light

      Factual scientifically proven stuff. @#$!!

      • Pablo Jones

        Actually it hasn’t. There are theories but nothing proven.

  • SniperFire

    ‘NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming’

    Way to base your entire story on a false accusation.

  • alreadyfedup1

    Global Warming was a HOAX. Climate Change IS a HOAX. A duck is duck is a duck not a goose as the liberals redefine the lexicon.

    • Mark B

      1970′s it was the coming of the next ice age and we were all going to die if we didn’t change our ways and give the government more money.
      1980′s it was the hole in the ozone layer and we were all going to die if we didn’t change our ways and give the government more money.
      1990′s It was Acid Rain and we were all going to die if we didn’t change our ways and give the government more money.
      2000′s Global Warming and we were all going to die if we didn’t change our ways and give the government more money.
      2010′s Climate Change and we were all going to die if we didn’t change our ways and give the government more money..
      None of the dooms day Hoaxes ever happened , nor will they , stop believing all the crap the government and the media feed you . Remember Al Gore invented the internet . . HAHAHAHAHA . Anyone who believes everything spouted from a politicians mouths needs their head examined.

      • Air and Light

        Anyone who doesn’t believe 97% of the worlds scientists is completely delusional.

        • Starryeyes63

          could you provide data that says 97% believe it? you have nothing intellectual to add to conversations aside from you silly You-tube videos…….Go play with your celeb buddies. Leave the conversations to the grown ups.

        • Pablo Jones

          That 97% was based off a study of global warming papers. They contacted the authors (about 1200 papers written by 72 different authors). They then asked them if they still believe in man made global warming. Naturally since they wrote papers supporting global warming it was a targeted crowd.

          This would be like going to a Catholic church asking who believes in God and who is Catholic. Then based on that survey you say 97% of religious people in the world believe in God and are Catholic.

    • Joe Smith

      Climate change is not a hoax, it has been going on for millions of years before humans walked the earth.
      I wonder if they blamed it on Bush way back then?

      • Simon Jester

        Everyone knows the dinosaurs caused their own demise driving SUVs…

    • Air and Light

      Friend you really, really need to go back and further your education. Because you are very, very wrong. My suggestion would be, “Take anything that improves your critical thinking process.”

      • alreadyfedup1

        My dear hot air and light on facts “97 percent” of ALL the scientists Hokem and “anything that improves your critical thinking process” hardy har har. Maybe you should stop drinking the kool aid and that will increase your critical thinking process to see what is truly real and what is spoon fed to you by the democrats and other assorted politicians.

  • Phil Blank

    Australia’s carbon tax has been axed as repeal bills clear the Senate
     JULY 17, 2014 6:07PM
    http://mobile.news.com.au/national/australias-carbon-tax-has-been-axed-as-repeal-bills-clear-the-senate/story-fncynjr2-1226991948152

    They fear global cooling, not global warming or climate change!

    Brand new research published today (Friday 27th June 2014) in the journal Nature Specific Reports has provided a major new theory on the cause of the ice age that engulfed large parts of the Northern Hemisphere 2.6 million years ago.
    http://www.heritagedaily.com/2014/06/research-provides-new-theory-on-cause-of-ice-age-2-6-million-years-ago/103828

    • Mark B

      They will claim that its still the fault of humans and our use of carbons.

      • Phil Blank

        Read the articles!

  • Joe Smith

    “This global shell game shifts some pollution — and the burden for cleaning it up — onto other countries’ balance sheets.”
    Also shifts cheaper power and jobs to these other countries, things we used to have.

    • Air and Light

      Sources please, because I call B.S.

      • Starryeyes63

        why? YOU have never provided any. you make up your own stats

        • Air and Light

          And for the record…look into my eyes. I never make anything up. Ever. Anymore. And I post all kinds of stats, figures, and sources, about 97% of the time, when I educate you and others here. At this present time though, I am sorry, I cannot afford you this luxury. Reminds me of a song. Kind of. A little bit. Damn. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpZDvhrQGa8

        • Pablo Jones

          He is right he never makes anything up. It takes too much mental power to make things up. He pulls all his facts from youtube videos and from his Russian girlfriend that he hopes to meet one day.

      • Joe Smith

        Use your common sense, if it is made harder to produce or use coal here then it has to be replaced with a more expensive option making power more expensive and when less money is available, there are less jobs.

  • golfingirl

    So which of these modern day conveniences are the fossil fuel critics willing to give up? Their car, microwave, computer, cell phone, hot water, flushing toilet, etc.

    How is Al (Oil) Gore doing? I bet really well since he sold his Current TV network to Al Jazeera for $500 million, not to mention he pushed to get the transaction completed before higher tax rates kicked in on January 1, 2013. All paid for with “oil” money.

    I wouldn’t trust anyone who criticizes the fossil fuel industry, and then climbs aboard a personal jet and is whisked quickly and comfortably across the sea propelled by…..fossil fuel.

    Such hypocrisy.

    Anyone who thinks the world can run on the weather, wind and sun, is nuts! Without fossil fuels, the price of energy would be so high, the poor would freeze to death. Only those that could afford it would survive.

    So where is your compassion for your fellow man? Can’t have it both ways, can you?

    • Air and Light

      Oh ! I think you are just upset that Al Gore is richer than Mitt Romney now. I mean, really ? Al Gore uses his money to make the world a better place. Almost like your average reverend, minister, preacher, and unlike the evil Mitt Romney.

      • Pablo Jones

        How is he using his money? He along with his expenses gets paid where ever he goes.

      • golfingirl

        Romney gave 29.4 percent of his income to charity in 2011, donating $4,020,772.

        When Al Gore was Vice President, his 1997 tax return showed only $353 in donations to charity.

        Hmmm…$4M vs. $353!

        That equals 11, 390 times more!

        Oh, and VP Biden?

        Over the decade, the Bidens reported a total of $3,690 in charitable donations, or an average of $369 per year.

        Really?

        So what have you given up to save the workd from “Climate Change?”

  • Phil Blank

    Just like the natural gas from fracking, its piped to the eastcoast for shipping overseas at such a great volume, they had to back-flow the pipes to Texas to ship the gas out.

    Think the Keystone pipeline will helpwith gas prices, guess again!
    We ship out more natural gas and oil product than the US can use because “the overseas customers” are willing to pay the price!

    Its all greed!
    Look into it yourselves!
    Its true!

    • Air and Light

      All the more reason to vote “NO” to fracking *if* you ever see it on a ballot.

      • Pablo Jones

        What are your thoughts on hydrogen cars or hydrogen fuel cell cars?

    • Pablo Jones

      Gas and petroleum products are a global commodity. Whether we keep them here in our storage tanks or ship it off it all comes down to supply and demand on the global scale.

      If you had 100 pounds of gold (roughly $2 million) would you sell it for less than the going price, just because you had a lot of it?

      By us keeping NG, oil, and refined products in the US it won’t drop the going price of oil it will actually prop up the going rate for the products because we are hording it.

      The only way to lower the price is to increase the supply above the demand. Not only does that mean increasing production faster than it is growing but also faster than other countries can cut their production to keep supply below demand.

      Saudi Arabia has been the main balancer of this process since they sell a large volume and have the flexibility to change their production. It has been about a year since I last looked but since oil prices bottomed out in 2009 the supply has been just below the demand every year. Most countries are near full production except for Saudi Arabia. Their production volumes have increased over the years as demand has increased but the percentage of their capacity that they are using has been decreasing.

      Most oil producing countries have been on a buying and building binge base on high oil prices, It has only been about 15 years since oil prices were $15-25 now it is around $100. With that being said they have increased their expenses and need the high oil revenue. If we produce more Saudi Arabia will cut their production to keep prices high. But there is a point where they can’t continue to cut production because they have bills to pay. At that point where they can’t cut any more the price will start to fall. As the price falls they will need to sell more oil to get the same amount of money. As the raise their output the price drops even faster.

  • Phil Blank

    Scam alert!

  • Starryeyes63

    Amen to that!!!!!!!!