Tag Archives: Pollution

New study: the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to plant more trees

What's the best solution to higher carbon emissions?
What’s the best solution to higher carbon emissions?

Many people favor Big Government solutions to the problem of carbon emissions. For example, the Green New Deal proposed by the Democrats would abolish all gas, oil and coal energy. That plan would raise taxes and require massive restrictions on free markets and individual consumers. But there is a better way, and it was just published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science.

Economist Robert P. Murphy wrote a very interesting article about the new study for the Mises Institute.

He writes:

A recent article in the Guardian trumpeted the findings of a new study published in Science that found massive tree planting would be — by far — the cheapest and most effective approach to mitigating climate change. Ironically, the new thinking shows the pitfalls of political approaches to combating so-called “negative externalities.” The good news about tree planting disrupts the familiar narrative about carbon taxes that even professional economists have been feeding the public for years.

He quotes the Guardian article so:

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

[…]“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zurich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

OK, so this plan will work, but will it cost less than the $52.6 to $93 trillion dollars over 10 years needed for the Green New Deal?

Yes:

Citing a figure that planting a new tree costs roughly 30 cents, Prof. Crowther remarked that we could plant the target of 1 trillion trees by spending about $300 billion.

Just FYI, the cost per household for the Green New Deal is between $361,010 and $653,010, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

As a conservative, I recognize that sometimes I have to be willing to spend taxpayer money on a small government solution in order to  avoid other big government solutions to a problem. The same thing is true for individual health savings accounts funded by a government voucher. I don’t like spending taxpayer money, but sometimes spending a little is better than creating a huge bureaucracy that will require spending a lot more.

New study: fracking does not contaminate drinking water

Hydraulic fracturing also known as "fracking"
Hydraulic fracturing also known as “fracking”

The study comes out of Yale University, and was published in PNAS. Pretty good school, pretty good peer-reviewed journal.

Here’s the introduction:

Organic compounds found in drinking water aquifers above the Marcellus Shale and other shale plays could reflect natural geologic transport processes or contamination from anthropogenic activities, including enhanced natural gas production. Using analyses of organic compounds coupled with inorganic geochemical fingerprinting, estimates of groundwater residence time, and geospatial analyses of shale gas wells and disclosed safety violations, we determined that the dominant source of organic compounds to shallow aquifers was consistent with surface spills of disclosed chemical additives. There was no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers. Encouragingly, drinking water sources affected by disclosed surface spills could be targeted for treatment and monitoring to protect public health.

So, the fracking – which happens deep below the earth – didn’t introduce any new chemical additives into the water. Basically, fracking involves fracturing rocks using high pressure water, sand and chemicals. The question is whether chemicals and/or the fracking fluid contaminate the water supply used by humans. The answer, according to this study, is no. The distance between the water supply and the shale is simple far, far, far too great for the cracks to traverse. The minor contamination from surface spills is easy to detect and cleanup. This is not what you see on far left web sites and Hollywood movies, but it is what you see in studies down by Yale University scientists published in prestigious peer-reviewed science journals.

Anyway, this study is consistent with a report from the far-left radically environmentalist Environmental Protection Agency.

This is reported in the radically leftist National Public Radio, of all places.

Excerpt:

The Environmental Protection Agency says it finds no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study while environmental groups criticize it.

“We found the hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” says Tom Burke, Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “In fact, the number of documented impacts to drinking water resources is relatively low when compared to the number of fractured wells,” he adds.

The EPA’s draft assessment was conducted at the request of Congress. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date,” says Burke, “including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”

Fracking has allowed drillers to tap oil and natural gas reserves once thought off-limits deep underground. That has led to drilling booms across the country and boosted the country’s oil and natural gas production significantly. But environmental groups have long argued fracking comes with a cost to the environment, especially to water. Those groups have called for stronger regulations and even bans on fracking altogether.

[…]The American Petroleum Institute says the conclusions echo what the oil industry has argued all along. “Hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices,” says Erik Milito, API upstream group director.

Acknowledging the potential vulnerabilities outlined in the EPA report, Milito says, “Continuous safety improvements have been an ongoing part of hydraulic fracturing for 65 years.”

Indeed. This is not the first time that the radically leftist EPA has cleared the fracking industry, either. I blogged about the last one for Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Here’s an excerpt from the EPA press release that exonerates fracking:

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has completed its sampling of private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa. Data previously supplied to the agency by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells, and following requests by residents EPA took steps to sample water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants. Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.

[…]Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap. EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.

So, if you want to worry about fracking, it will have to be because of something other than facts. We have facts piled on facts piled on facts, and they all say that fracking is a great way for us to get cheap, clean energy that doesn’t pollute the environment or contaminate our water supply. You have to be anti-science to doubt this data. Democrats do oppose fracking. They don’t know about the science, they just oppose it because that’s what’s in the popular culture, in Hollywood movies, etc. We have to fight them with the science. Democrats are the anti-science party, so don’t expect this to alter their rhetoric.

EPA dumped a million gallons of mine waste into Animas River in Colorado

EPA dumps 1 million gallons of mining waste into river
EPA dumps 1 million gallons of mining waste into river

Yes, the Environmental Protection Agency is polluting rivers. They are not admitting responsibility, and the mainstream news media is covering for them.

Let’s get the story from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Imagine if a business dumped a million gallons of mine waste into Animas River in Colorado, turning it into what looked like Tang, forcing the sheriff’s office to close the river to recreational users, and prompting the EPA to warn farmers to shut off water intakes along the river.

Oh, and imagine that the business also failed to warn officials in downstream New Mexico about the spill.

Such a calamity would probably lead the nightly news, with calls from environmentalists and the EPA for investigations, fines, lawsuits, and tougher pollution controls.

Except in this case it’s the EPA itself that is to blame.

Newsbusters notes that the mainstream media is mum – because they are all for big government, and big government never makes mistakes:

Yet here we are four days later, and the story has gotten very little visibility outside of center-right blogs and outlets. That’s largely explained by how the wire services have handled the story. After the jump, readers will see headlines and descriptions of the stories which have appeared thus far at the web site of the New York Times:

No headline acknowledges the EPA’s admitted responsibility for the spill. Only one headline mentions the EPA at all.

[…]Although the first AP report parroted the EPA’s claim that “that there was no threat to drinking water from the spill,”a story at the Denver Post yesterday indicated that “Tests show (Animas River) water (is) acidic as coffee,” and that“EPA officials on Saturday morning also said they are bracing for another surge of acid discharge from mines above Silverton.” In other words, the ordeal is far from being over.

But look on the bright side – at least the EPA is hard at work banning coal production so that we all have to pay more for electricity, including heating and cooling our homes.

If I could close four departments out at the federal level, I would choose the EPA, the Department of Energy, the IRS and the Department of Education. Get rid of failure.

United Nations climate chief explains the real motive of global warming alarmism

Previously, I’ve documented many problems with global warming, and I’ve also noted that contrary to the predictions of the global warming socialists, we have had no significant warming in 17 years and Arctic ice is at a 35-year high. If global warmists are trying to convince us of something that is true, then they will have to show us better evidence for their views. A lot of us have given up on global warming as science, especially after the whole Climategate scandal, where it was proved that scientists at the University of East Anglia sent e-mails showing how they were trying to “hide the decline” in temperatures and suppress scientific articles critical of their theories.

My good friend Letitia posted this Daily Caller article, which discusses a possible motive for pushing a theory that is in conflict with the evidence we have.

Excerpt: (links removed)

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.

China may be the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggling with major pollution problems of their own, but the country is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming says Figueres.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

Figueres added that the deep partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to passing any sort of legislation to fight global warming. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, can push key policies and reforms all on its own. The country’s national legislature largely enforces the decisions made by the party’s Central Committee and other executive offices.

Communism was responsible for the deaths of about 94 million people in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe in the 20th Century. China alone was responsible for 65 million of those deaths under communist rule.

Environmentalists often hail China as a model for fighting global warming, since they are a “leader” in renewable energy. The country set a goal of getting 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. In 2012, China got 9 percent of its power from renewables — the U.S. by contrast got 11 percent in 2012.

However, the country still gets 90 percent of its power from fossil fuels, mostly from coal. In fact, Chinese coal demand is expected to explode as the country continues to develop. China has approved 100 million metric tons of new coal production capacity in 2013 as part of the government’s plan to bring 860 million metric tons of coal production online by 2015.

China has publicly made big efforts to clean up its environment. The country’s booming industrial apparatus has caused so much pollution that the skies have been darkened over major cities and the air quality has heavily deteriorated.

The Wall Street Journal notes that China’s air quality was so bad that about “1.2 million people died prematurely in China in 2010 as a result of air pollution” and Chinese government figures show that “lung cancer is now the leading cause of death from malignant tumors. Many of those dying are nonsmokers.”

The Soviet bloc’s environmental track record was similarly dismal.

Letitia also posted this USA Today article from last Thursday to show you just how far off base this UN communist is.

Excerpt:

Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe.

[…]The city’s air quality is often poor, especially in winter when stagnant weather patterns combine with an increase in coal-burning to exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog for days at a time. But the readings early Thursday for particles of PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above 500 micrograms per cubic meter.

The density of PM2.5 was about 350 to 500 micrograms Thursday midmorning, though the air started to clear in the afternoon. It had reached as high as 671 at 4 a.m. at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization, and was the highest reading since January 2013.

It seems tha the global warmists are very fond of big government, such as we find in the (mostly) communist China. This is not surprising since many of them receive government money (e.g. – Solyndra) if a global warmist President gets elected. In my experience talking to people about global warming, I am generally able to win the debate about the science, but then they explain to me that we must promote global warming alarmism because we need the public to do something about overpopulation and natural resource depletion. The comments of the UN woman seems to indicate that the something they want is bigger government, which can be used to nudge people away from having more children and restrict their use of natural resources.

So I think we need to be careful when science is being misused to support an ideology, especially one that is obviously false. (Global birth rates are dropping below replacement and shale oil reserves are abundant)

Having said all that, I want to reiterate that science itself is a great thing, and I support it. If it wasn’t for real science, Christian theists would not have the argument from the origin of the universe, the argument from the origin of life, the cosmic fine-tuning, the Cambrian explosion, molecular machines, galactic habitability, stellar habitability, planetary habitability, and so on. We also would not have many good things that make us freer, more prosperous and more healthy. Science is a good thing. But hijacking science to serve a power-hungry ideology (or just greed) is not a good thing. I oppose it.

New PNAS study finds fracking emissions far lower than EPA estimates

From Investors Business Daily. Before you read the article, you should know that “fracking” is short for hydraulic fracturing. This is a technique for extracting shale oil by creating fractures in rocks.

Excerpt:

Whether naturally occurring or not, environmentalists claim that fracking would release huge amounts of what they consider the most potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, far outweighing the value of producing huge quantities of clean-burning natural gas.

Now comes a study, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — and co-financed by one of the highest-profile environmentalists in the country — that shows much smaller amounts of methane emissions associated with fracking, far less than environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency have contended.

[…]The study, billed as the first to measure the actual emissions of methane from natural gas wells, finds these emissions were, in some cases, only about 2% of the most recent national estimate by the EPA in 2011. An upcoming EPA rule, effective January 2015, requires all methane to be captured when liquids are removed after drilling.

Seen by many as an attempt to stop fracking, which has boosted the economy through its ability to tap previously inaccessible oil and gas riches, the rule might be redundant. Two-thirds of the wells studied already were capturing or controlling the methane to reduce emissions.

“For those wells with methane capture or control, 99% of the potential emissions were captured or controlled,” the study notes.

This proves once again there is no problem technology can’t solve and that when decisions are made based on technology, rather than ideology, good things happen.

An interesting aspect of the study is that it was funded in part by Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist who has become highly active in national politics in the past year, backing environmentalist Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Steyer’s support for the University of Texas came by way of the Environmental Defense Fund, which helped finance the study. He and his wife Kat Taylor are listed among individuals who provided “major funding for the EDF’s 30-month methane research series, including their portion of the University of Texas study.”

[…]Thanks in large part to fracking, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were the lowest in the U.S. since 1994, at 5.3 billion metric tons. With the exception of 2010, emissions have declined every year since 2007.

Back in May 2013, Associated Press reported that the EPA had already lowered their estimates before this study completed.

Excerpt:

The new EPA data is “kind of an earthquake” in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. “This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks.”

The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.

So there’s no harm to the environment, but about the economics benefits of fracking? Well, when states have embraced fracking, their economies have greatly benefited.

Here’s what happened when North Dakota lowered its regulatory barriers to energy development.

This:

North Dakota had the highest payroll-to-population rate (P2P) and the lowest underemployment rate in 2012, thanks mostly to the state’s booming oil & gas industry.

According to Gallup’s “State of the States” analysis released today, North Dakota ranked number one among the lower 48 states, with a payroll to population rate of 53.6 percent.

Gallup said it measured each state’s P2P rate by the percentage of the adult population aged 18 and older employed full-time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week.

The analysis noted that the numbers are not seasonably adjusted and variations across states reflect a number of factors, including the overall employment situation for each state as well as the demographic composition of that state’s population. P2P rates in Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia were not considered in the analysis.

Factoring in the most recent unemployment data is key to the Gallup analysis. North Dakota reported just a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number one ranking should not come as much of a surprise given the Peace Garden state’s rise in oil and gas production and the subsequent rise in jobs over the past few years.

According to North Dakota Jobs Service data from 2011, the most recent available, the number of oil and gas jobs in North Dakota has risen 57.5 percent since 2010 – going from 10,660 jobs in 2010 to 16,786 jobs in 2011, with the oil and gas payroll nearly doubling — going from $852 million in 2010 up to $1.5 billion in 2011.

North Dakota now produces more oil than any other state, including Alaska, which ranked number one in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In New York, Chesapeake Energy just decided to pull up stakes and leave the state.

Excerpt:

After more than five years of a fracking moratorium, a leading energy company walks away from its leases, leaving New York, its natural gas riches — and the jobs and wealth they could generate — unrealized.

In 2000, people from Chesapeake Energy began arriving in Broome County, New York, a few miles north of the Pennsylvania border. Broome had seen better economic days but was lucky to be sitting right atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches through much of the Northeast.

[…]Interestingly, New York’s very own Department of Environmental Conservation website on Marcellus drilling says, “No known instances of groundwater contamination have occurred from previous horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing projects in New York.”

A recent Department of Energy study has concluded that fracking chemicals do not taint drinking water.

After a year of monitoring wells in western Pennsylvania, researchers found these fluids stayed thousands of feet below the areas that supply drinking water.

A 2010 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection report concluded that “no groundwater pollution or disruption of underground sources of drinking water have been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations.”

But Pennsylvania allows fracking, and they are seeing the same economic boom as North Dakota:

A recent study by the Manhattan Institute highlighted the economic impact of fracking in New York’s neighbor to the south, Pennsylvania, which has had 5,000 wells fracked since 2002.

The data are compelling, as counties with more than 200 wells, drilled between 2007 and 2011, saw a 19% increase in per-capita incomes, versus just 8% income growth for those with no wells fracked.

Further, the number of county jobs grew by 7% in those with more than 200 wells fracked, against a 3% contraction in counties with no wells drilled.

According to the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth, “Income of residents in the 28 New York counties above the Marcellus Shale has the potential to expand by 15% or more over the next four years if the state’s moratorium is lifted.”

In Pennsylvania, according to the report, each well in the Marcellus Shale formation creates $5.5 million in direct economic benefits and 62 jobs, and the wells endanger no one. Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry estimates that fracking in its part of the Marcellus created 72,000 jobs from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011, as New York’s job- and growth-killing moratorium got underway.

Now tell me again why progressives are supposedly smarter than conservatives.