Climate

Cheerleading for Waxman-Markey — not!

Gimme a ‘B’ … B!  Gimme a ‘minus’ … Minus!  What’s that spell?

My friend A. Siegel wrote on his blog last week (and republished on DailyKos and Grist):

Joe Romm, who has been cheer-leading Waxman-Markey recently (despite much on-the-record work that provides a basis for highlighting its inadequacies), says that it might (MIGHT) give us a 10-20% chance of stabilization at 450 ppm and avoiding catastrophic climate change. Hmmm “¦ what wonderful odds.

I don’t see how giving a B- grade to the bill and asserting it has a small chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change qualifies as “uncritical enthusiastic support for somebody or something,” to use Encarta’s definition of “cheerleading.”

Needless to say I was rather unhappy with this misrepresentation.  After all, he left out a central point of my post, which is that “Waxman-Markey is the only game in town” and if it fails, then there is no chance of averting catastrophe.  So I complained to him and he added this:

[UPDATE: 1. To try to clarify, Romm believes (with reason) that this is an improvement over the odds without Waxman-Markey. He is stating his perspective that Waxman-Markey improves the chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change. 2. That Romm is strongly supportive gives pause to what might otherwise be harsher criticism & conclusions. 3. For those who aren’t aware, Romm’s Hell & High Water is perhaps the top book on the intersection of climate change and US politics. Of it, I wrote that “This work might be called the work to read after seeing An Inconvenient Truth.”]

Modified rapture!

How long did it take before we got a chance to take up serious health care legislation after it died?  How long since we reconsidered an energy tax after the BTU tax died?  How long since we have passed major legislation to strengthen the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act to deal with obvious dangers to public health?  Still waiting!

I happen to be a political realist as well as a climate science realist, and while the two can be hard to reconcile, they ain’t impossible.

I disagree with much of Siegel’s critique, such as his view of the allowance allocations.  I agree with him on the 2020 target.  It is, as I’ve said many times, too easy.  From my perspective, the only other serious issue on the cap that Siegel raises is his claim that “The bill’s 2020 target is such that it could well be met with zero actual reduction in US emissions from the EIA’s latest BAU analysis. (This is from a comment from the EIA’s acting director in a public session yesterday.)”  Siegel omits mention of the fact that EIA’s acting director is a George W. Bush holdover and no friend of climate action, strong or weak (as I have blogged here).  He is hardly a credible source.  Siegel might just as well quote The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) if he wants sources without credibility.

And, in fact, Siegel’s concern — that domestic and international offsets could be used in place of U.S. emissions reductions — is the same one TBI has been pushing hard on the media (see “Memo to media: Don’t be suckered by bad analyses from the Breakthrough Institute the way Time, WSJ, NPR, and The New Republic have been“).

Now The Breakthrough Institute are trying to spin Andy Revkin (among others) hard on this. I’d warn Revkin not to be suckered by TBI, but that is a lost cause.  He loves TBI Fellow Roger Pielke, Jr. like a brother, even at the cost of his own credibility (see Unstaining Al Gore’s good name 2: He is not “guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements” and is owed a correction and apology by the New York Times).  But I digress (a tad).

Yes, it is true that the bill’s 2020 target could be met with zero actual reductions, but only if clean energy strategies are expensive and limited while offsets are cheap and plentiful.  In fact, the reverse is true, as I’ve discussed (see “Do the 2 billion offsets allowed in Waxman-Markey gut the emissions targets? Part 1” and yes, more parts are coming).  Let me go further than mere analysis.

I’ll bet anyone $1000 right now that if something like Waxman-Markey passes, then under 200 million metric tons of offsets will be used by emitters in 2020.  All you folks out there who are certain the offsets gut the target should view this as a no-brainer.  Yet I have offered a similar bet privately to many critics, but so far no takers.

I would add that the same exact critique — the target can be met without any real emissions reductions — could have been made against the entire European target under Kyoto, but the EU-15 are “poised to meet their Kyoto target” with minimal use of offsets and most U.S. progressives seem to admire European leadership on climate.

No, I’m not a cheerleader for this weak, cheerless bill.  But it is precisely because it is weak that no one’s going to waste much money on expensive offsets when the 2020 target is so straightforward to meet with the cheap, clean energy strategies that some of us have been arguing for decades are available in abundance.

[UPDATE:  Siegel never mentions offsets or the TBI analysis in his post.  I do not mean to suggest that he is directly endorsing their analysis or associating himself with them at all.  My apologies for that confusion.  I was making an analytical leap that I did not explain fully to readers — namely that the only basis I can see for the EIA quote he cited is the use of very large amounts of offsets in place of emissions reductions, something that could happen in theory, but, as I’ve argued, almost certainly won’t in practice.]

And now let me turn my attention to The Talented Mr. Pielke of The Breakthrough Institute.

Pielke, like Siegel, is unable to reconcile earlier statements of mine with current statements of mine.  [Note:  When Pielke agrees with your analysis, be afraid, be very afraid.]

in a recent post, The Talented Mr. Pielke uses as evidence of my supposed inconsistency an earlier criticism of the USCAP proposal on which Waxman-Markey is based:

I can sort of understand why, say, Duke Energy, signed on to this, but NRDC and EDF and WRI have a lot of explaining to do. As we will see, this proposal would be wholly inadequate as a final piece of legislation. As a starting point it is unilateral disarmament to the conservative politicians and big fossil fuel companies who will be working hard to gut any bill.

Well, duh!

That statement doesn’t contradict my view of Waxman-Markey.  It states my view.  Waxman-Markey is wholly inadequate as a final piece of legislation — hence the only 10% to 20% chance it gives us of avoiding catastrophic climate change.  And politically, I thought — and still think — that it was a mistake for NRDC and EDF and WRI to embrace it as a starting point.

What does that have to do with the situation we are in now?  Two of Congress’s leading progressive environmental champions have embraced USCAP and managed to get a modified version of it through the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Previous political judgments about whether enviros should have pushed it — or could have gotten a better deal pushing something else — are now utterly irrelevant.

The Talented Mr. Pielke than launches into a singularly uninformed critique comparing my previous discussions of offsets with my current discussions.

It is always worth noting that Pielke and TBI never change their positions no matter what the facts.  Climate science — and climate scientists — become more dire almost every month.  But TBI and Pielke have never advanced a serious solution to avoiding catastrophic global warming.  Not even close.  And they have never done anything but attack those who do.  Since they are on a monomaniacal quest to spread disinformation to the media, I will have to do yet another post on them, although I’d prefer to ignore them and all people, like Pielke, whose “proposed climate policies will take us to 5-7°C warming or more.”

I have spent 15 years actively participating in the debate about offsets, talking to leading experts, doing my own analysis, writing, and speaking.  I am constantly trying to improve my understanding of them, since they are so important in the climate debate.  My biggest concerns have always been about unregulated domestic offsets.  But those concerns — and my previous writings criticizing unregulated domestic offsets — simply are not terribly germane to domestic offsets in Waxman-Markey, which introduces a cap and strong regulatory oversight of the market, as I explained in “How I learned to stop worrying and love Waxman-Markey, Part 2: In praise of domestic offsets.”  And yes, though it was lost on Pieke, that headline was intentionally sardonic (see Wikipedia entry on the movie Dr. Strangelove).  And yes, as cinephiles know, The Talented Mr. Pielke is a too-apt moniker for Roger, Jr.

International offsets are certainly more worrisome.  Many of those offsets have been almost completely fraudulent.  Indeed, the West got suckered into giving China some $6 billion to destroy greenhouse gas refrigerants (HFCs) that probably cost Chinese companies $100 million to capture and destroy (as I discussed in “You can call a rip-offset a CDM project, but it’s still a rip-offset“).  But there will be no new HFC projects.  And the international offsets market is under more scrutiny now and quality is likely to improve.  Under Waxman-Markey, it is certain to improve, since the bill has a variety of provisions to ensure that happens.  And once we join the international offsets market, prices are certain to rise, as I have discussed, making them far more expensive than the myriad clean energy strategies available.  Indeed, if the world ever gets on a path to avoid catastrophic global warming, the price of international offsets will soar.  More on that in a future post.

I base my posts — and my support of Waxman-Markey, such as it is — on my analysis and my desire to give current and future generations the best chance of averting catastrophe.  If that makes me a cheerleader, well, then all I can say is, in the words of that once-above-average TV show, Heroes:

http://www.heroes-tv.com/modules/xcgal/albums/userpics/15751/masiandhayden.jpg

24 Responses to Cheerleading for Waxman-Markey — not!

  1. A Siegel says:

    It seems that the problem is

    A: That I used “cheer leading” rather than writing “strongly supporting”? That I responded to a comment from you by adding information from you and reminding readers that there is reason to respect you (and that I’ve recommended your work to them)?

    [JR: The second sentence is not a “problem,” is it? Are you saying that “the problem is … reminding readers that there is reason to respect you.” I hope that is not what you are saying. I never said there is no reason to respect you. I just disagree with your analysis.]

    B. That I cited, accurately, public comments by the acting director of EIA but did not go out of my way to question / challenge attack him (Howard Gruenspecht) publicly? (And, by the way, this issue (for which you link me to your … attacks on Breakthrough and Pielke) is at best a throw-away example of issues with W-M and far from what I focused on in this discussion. My post did not focus on international (or domestic) offsets in any significant way.

    [JR: I have responded to this in the post. I apologize for the inartfulness of my original response.]

    My post focused, as you are aware, on questioning what is the right political judgment on how to proceed. Many have determined that it is to strongly support, even to cheer lead. (Mea culpa, thus, for applying the word to you: how about “strongly support in absence of anything else”?)

    [JR: I will consider that a retraction of your use of that word. Thank you.]

    Others question whether “political realism” means that strong statements of celebration and support, accompanied by pleas for strengthening, are the best path to improving a bill as opposed to fighting, strongly and loudly, hard for strengthening a bill … Some believe that the first path leads to further weakening while the second is more likely to lead to some strengthening … and others the reverse. My post laid out three principles:

    * Scientifically Sound
    * Polluters Pay
    * Socially Equitable

    Examined how W-M is falling short on all three. And, provided three examples of possible paths for strengthening a bill within the context of those principles.

    PS: And, by the way, offsets aren’t mentioned at all in that discussion.

    [JR: The problem is that, in offering your suggestions, you decided to use what I’m doing as a counterexample — what not to do — thereby suggesting that I’m doing something dramatically different than you are, something different than working as aggressively as possible to pass as strong a bill as possible, ideally stronger than this one.

    And to repeat, Siegel is absolutely correct that he never mentions offsets. I did NOT mean to imply that he was somehow directly embracing the Breakthrough analysis. I apologize for that confusion. That said, there is no way to parse EIA’s statement without offsets.]

  2. Tim R. says:

    Let me try this again. Without Waxman-Markey, we have the Mass. v. EPA Supreme Court decision and the Clean Air Act. Many, take Georgetown Law’s Lisa Heinzerling for example, have laid out how an Administration that wants to could use the EPA and the CAA to use good old fashioned command and control regulation to immediately address GHG pollution.

    But W-M guts the Clean Air Act and gives us the title on global warming. Can you tell your readers why it wouldn’t be better for the climate of our planet to pass the other titles, skip the global warming title, leave the CAA in place and let EPA start cranking down on climate polluters. If the Administration is truly serious about emission reductions, industry will beg Congress for specific climate legislation.

    My point is, W-M failing doesn’t leave us with nothing. It leaves us with a very strong tool — the CAA. Passing W-M blunts that tool.

    How is this analysis wrong?

  3. PaulK says:

    Joe,
    Your view that Waxman – Markey is the only game in town is the root of your error. There are alternate paths. You just don’t agree with them. If you understood that there is more than one way to skin a cat, you would not be in the position if defending such poor legislation.

    [JR: What is the other game in town? Of course there are “alternate paths” — but none of them involve a climate bill for a long time.]

  4. jorleh says:

    You should understand Joe that cap and trade without tax is nothing. We have noticed the fact in Europe. The only ones to win and they win enormously are directors and oligarks of oil and coal and nuclear and water dam power firms. No effect as to emissions.

    [JR: No. The lesson is a weak target doesn’t accomplish much. Actually, many European economies have accomplished a lot in terms of pushing renewables and efficiency.]

  5. Jim Beacon says:

    Perhaps the real problem here is semantic loading: Even a B- is considered a “better than average grade”, with C being average. When looked at realistically — and not as “historic first-time ever legislation” — Waxman-Markey as it was diluted in committee barely qualifies for a C-minus. Forget the politics for a second; what serious climate scientist would actually give it a passing grade as it stands now?

    But Joe seems to believe — and I partially agree with him — on the need to get something, anything, out of committee and over to the Senate where it can be (perhaps) strengthened before finally getting to the President’s desk. As far as I can tell, nothing about having Waxman-Markey signed into law would prevent the EPA from moving on to some form of ‘outlawing’ CO2 emissions as a public health hazard should the situation deteriorate further and it becomes obvious that something more drastic than Waxman-Markey is necessary. Some legal eagle correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    Personally, I prefer going the way we did with DDT and CFCs and have the EPA outlaw/freeze/mandate forced reduction of CO2 emissions or go-out-of-business, but I doubt there is currently the political will for that. Besides, there’s no doubt that such an EPA ruling would be challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court, taking many years to be decided (and no guarantee that today’s Supreme Court would uphold the EPA). But even if the EPA won in the end, the long delay would cost precious time. On the other hand, they ain’t even planning to start implementing Waxman-Markey for 3 1/2 years, so precious time is being squandered that way as well.

    It’s a toss-up. We should really do both: First hit the polluters (which in the end is all of us) with Waxman-Markey, then hit them again with an EPA ruling, then continue hitting them with a continuing, ever-growing consumer revolt. Make them/us stop toasting our atmosphere.

  6. Jeremy Johnson says:

    Jim Beacon,

    I’m pretty sure that in the W-M bill the EPA is removed of the ability of mandating CO2 emissions as a public heal hazard and that power is transfered solely to congress. Somebody would have to wade through the bill to find a reference, but I’m sure I’ve heard reference to that in the never ending W-M commentary. SO I think Tim is right on that one. It’s W-M or EPA not both. :(

  7. Steven Biel says:

    It’s irritating to have your position oversimplified and caricatured as a strawman isn’t it? Now you know how Greenpeace feels! :-)

    [JR: Nice try. Except I quoted Greenpeace exactly.]

  8. Lou Grinzo says:

    I probably need a mental exam for stepping into this discussion, but I never did know when to keep my mouth shut…

    I think we have a classic example here of how likely each of us views alternatives.

    I think we agree on the following: Doing nothing leads to environmental catastrophe, and WM is pretty weak, giving us only a 10-20% chance of avoiding some awful consequences.

    But what alternatives are there if WM is or isn’t passed? Will passing it neuter the EPA, as mentioned in the comments? What is the probability of rejecting WM and getting something better? Where each of us stands on those questions, and probably some others, determines our view of what we should be doing right now re: public policy.

  9. K L Reddington says:

    Another word for cheerleading is zeal. If the science seems to soft, it can easily be offset by ramped up zealousness.

    Kinda stretching it here.

    A widespread problem
    Hypoxia occurs throughout the world. Two of the best-known hypoxic areas are in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. In the U.S., dead zones occur regularly in Long Island Sound, the Chesapeake Bay, and the northern Gulf of Mexico. In the Baltic Sea, hypoxia has contributed to the collapse of the Norwegian lobster fishery. There is evidence that the hypoxia off the coast of Louisiana has harmed the valuable shrimp fishery and possibly contributed to the replacement of bottom-dwelling species such as snapper with less valuable mid-water species such as menhaden.

    Hypoxia can occur naturally. For example, the bottom waters of the Black Sea have been depleted of oxygen for thousands of years. Hypoxia has also occurred naturally in the Chesapeake and the Gulf of Mexico. But there is little doubt that, by increasing the level of nutrients in the ocean, human activities have increased the frequency, extent, and severity in these areas and throughout the coastal ocean.

    http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=2487

    Al Gore reference to O2 depleted dead zones and hypoxia is a stretch.

    There is no science that had demonstrated CO2 emission is a health hazard. There have been studies where certein levels of CO2 become toxic. Same with O2.

  10. EDaniel says:

    Hey Joe, what’s the Carbon Footprint for that thousand bucks?

    A thousand bucks that was bought with carbon but will be expended on no useful product or service that will benefit any aspect of the health and safety of anyone.

    How about making it a thousand bucks donated to a worthy carbon-displacement cause in the third world. An actual carbon displacement; not any of this fake carbon-credit / carbon-neutral stupidity.

  11. AB says:

    Re: Waxman-Markey v. Clean Air Act

    If Waxman passes, EPA won’t be able to regulate CO2 like it can now, because Waxman directly amends the Clean Air Act. See p.374 of the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute draft:

    Subtitle A—Reducing Global Warming Pollution
    SEC. 311. REDUCING GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION.
    The Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. and following) is amended by adding after title VI the following new title:
    ‘‘TITLE VII—GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION REDUCTION PROGRAM
    ‘‘PART A—GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION REDUCTION GOALS AND TARGETS”

  12. Leland Palmer says:

    I’m kind of reminded of problems that I encounter at work.

    If we solve the technical problem, a lot of the political problems will go away, I think. If we don’t solve the technological problem, we will simply not be able to agree on a future course of action, and the human race and the biosphere may die while we squabble and recriminate.

    I believe that it is technologically possible to transform the coal fired power plants to biocarbon fuel, oxyfuel combustion, a HiPPS topping cycle, and deep injection of the resulting stream of CO2 into deep saline aquifers deep in the earth. This would result in biocarbon fueled plants that are carbon negative, that actually put carbon underground as they generate electricity.

    Biocarbon is a form of biomass power in which the biomass is locally transformed into compressed charcoal pellets – “biocarbon”. This is a fuel that can be burned as a complete replacement for coal in existing coal fired power plants. Transforming biomass into biocarbon close to where the biomass is produced produces a fuel that is as transportable as coal. Burn this fuel in existing coal fired power plants and they become carbon neutral.

    Google the University of Hawaii, and their flash carbonization of biomass process for an example of how this can be done, using compressed air to rapidly transform biomass into charcoal.

    I have been looking things over using Google Earth, with a kml file imported from CARMA, a database of power plants that can be integrated with Google Earth. I have also been working with some files of existing carbon sources and sinks available from Kansas State University.

    http://www.natcarb.org/ims.html

    The above link is to their natcarb interactive map, but the files this map links to are also available to be downloaded, and with some fiddling Excel will read these dbf files. Using the autofilter function of Excel, it is possible to then filter and sort these database entries to get information on individual states and so on.

    It is also possible to paste the latitude and longitude figures from these files directly into Google Earth and look at each power plant using Google Earth.

    The results?

    It looks like the entire Mississippi basin and its tributaries could become a natural transport network for supplying biocarbon to existing coal fired power plants. Just about all coal fired power plants are located next to a large source of cooling water. Quite often, those sources of cooling water are major rivers like the Ohio, Wabash, Tennessee and Kentucky rivers. Water transport of coal is competitive or cheaper than rail transport, and many of the power plants on the Ohio river are set up to handle coal barges, you can see this on Google Earth.

    Most of these coal plants are located over deep saline formations, which have more than enough capacity to sequester sufficient CO2 for tens or hundreds of years of operation.

    All of the area upstream from these coal plants becomes potential biomass producing area for that coal plant. Many of these areas are awash in waste biomass from agriculture. Transform that waste biomass to biocarbon on site, and then just bring the biocarbon down to the rivers, and float it down to the coal plants on barges, and we have a natural biocarbon collection network.

    We need to seize or nationalize the coal fired power plants, and transform them into biocarbon power plants. We need to then further transform them into carbon negative power plants by retrofitting them for oxyfuel combustion and HiPPS, for example. Finally, we need to deep inject the resulting stream of CO2 into the deep saline formations listed on the NatCarb database.

    Longterm, we need to develop cheap carbon sequestration by mineral carbonation, and put most or all of the carbon we have poisoned our biosphere with back underground, IMO.

    But for right now, to turn the corner on abrupt climate change, we need to deep inject the CO2, I think.

    Solve the technological problems, and the political bickering will go away, IMO.

  13. Leland Palmer says:

    Having said that, I hope that the sections of Waxman/Markey that directly amend the Clean Air Act can be removed when the House and Senate versions are reconciled, and the ability to directly enforce the Clean Air Act retained.

  14. paulm says:

    UK carbon offset schemes ‘failing to reduce emissions’

    Expansion of carbon offsetting and clean development mechanism is locking developing nations into a high-carbon path, report warns
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/02/carbon-offset-friends-of-the-earth

  15. Frank C. says:

    Joe Romm should get a front page post on Kos as a rebuttal.

    Joe, you can do a diary yourself.

  16. Doug says:

    An example to consider:

    When the BART commuter rail system for the San Francisco Bay Area was first being put together in the 1960’s, voters in the south bay (Santa Clara county, which includes San Jose) rejected the proposal, largely (from what I understand) because they felt that it wasn’t good enough, and if they rejected it, another, better one would come along.

    Didn’t happen that way. The rest of the Bay Area went ahead with the project, and the south bay still has only poor access to public transportation that can reach San Francisco and the rest of the bay area. There is now talk of connecting San Jose’s light rail system to BART, but rights of way have gotten much more expensive since then, and it can only be done at the cost of billions of dollars.

    So I think Joe’s attitude towards W-M is sound: *some* sort of mechanism needs to be set up, even if it has issues. As time goes on, learning will occur about exactly where the problems are, and they can be addressed in an incremental fashion. In the meantime, everyone becomes accustomed to working within the cap-and-trade framework to begin with.

    That’s how big things generally get done — take the development of orbit-capable rockets, for example. Von Brown and his partners didn’t sit around arguing how to get to orbit, trying to make it there on the first shot in one big project; rather, they *iterated* on loop of design, test, and redesign to figure out the solutions to all the problems as they became more familiar with the problem space.

  17. W Churchill says:

    Test post

  18. Robert says:

    Hi Joe

    I’m back!

  19. W Churchill says:

    So it looks like you block email addresses and IP addresses of people who don’t agree with you.

    Fascinating. You learn something new every day.

  20. Start Loving says:

    You GO Joe! You are a breath of fresh air on a dying, polluted planet. Please continue your vital work.

  21. Leland Palmer: There isn’t enough land surface on earth to replace coal with biomass. You need an additional 2 or 3 Earths.

    AB: Thanks for the info.

  22. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Edward Greisch-

    Leland Palmer: There isn’t enough land surface on earth to replace coal with biomass. You need an additional 2 or 3 Earths.

    Thanks for the input and interest.

    Not true, I’m happy to say, although you’d never know this listening to the gloom and doom about biomass orginating from the fossil fuel companies:

    From Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL), in their biomass faq:

    http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/faqs/index.html#resource

    1. How much biomass exists right now?

    Worldwide, total “standing crop” biomass (99% on land, and 80% in trees) is a huge resource, equivalent to about 60 years of world energy use in the year 2000 (1250 billion metric tonnes of dry plant matter, containing 560 billion tonnes of carbon). For the U.S. alone, standing vegetation has been variously estimated at between 65 and 90 billion tonnes of dry matter (30-40 billion tonnes of carbon), equivalent to 14-19 years of current U.S. primary energy use. However, the Earth actually grows every year about 130 billion tonnes of biomass on land (60 billion tonnes of carbon) and a further 100 billion tonnes in the rivers, lakes and oceans (46 billion tonnes carbon). The energy content of this annual biomass production is estimated to be more than 6 times world energy use or 2,640 exajoules (2500 Quads) on land, with an additional 2024 exajoules (1920 Quads) in the waters.

    So standing biomass in the U.S. is equivalent to 14-19 years of U.S, primary energy use – and we are the most energy intensive society on Earth. I don’t advocate cutting significantly into standing biomass that is actively sequestering CO2, even though trees go through a rapid growth phase when they are young during which they absorb more CO2 from the air. The main source of biomass that ORNL counts in their studies are crop residues such as cornstalks and agricultural waste.

    I also don’t propose gathering biomass waste equivalent to our entire primary energy use – just biomass equivalent to our present coal use. I propose to put that entire 1 billion tons of carbon back underground as CO2 deep injected into deep saline aquifers, by transforming the coal fired power plants to more efficient carbon negative bioenergy plants. To do this would require approximately tripling the ORNL 1.2 billion tons of “waste” biomass per year that they located in their “Billion Ton Vision” biomass study a few years ago. I suggest making up the difference by planting biomass plantations, every scrap of carbonaceous waste we can get our hands on, dead trees generated by wildfires, imports, manure, and any other source of biomass we can scrape up without significantly affecting the CO2 absorbing capacity of standing forests.

    The main problems with biomass are energy density, water content, and transport. That is what the transformation of biomass into biocarbon on site is about – carbonization into biocarbon makes biomass as transportable and energy dense as coal. Biocarbon should also be able to be a 100% replacement for coal in current coal fired power plants.

    I’m very excited about my recent realization that rivers constitute a natural biocarbon transport network in the U.S., and that river transport is actually cheaper (though slower) than rail transport.

    Carbonization and pelletization of biomass into biocarbon also makes it as water resistant and decay resistant as coal. It would also be possible to build large stockpiles of biocarbon, for example during the summer, fall, and winter, for river transport during high water in the spring.

  23. David Stock says:

    I hope they implement these laws well. It will benefit everyone.