UPDATE: Predictably, Swift Boat smearer Morano has made Hansen’s post his top story at ClimateDepotted, again revealing that Hansen’s recent attacks are helping the deniers and delayers.
Much as I am happy to devote many Climate Progress posts to publicizing Hansen’s leading edge climate science analysis (see links below), I am unhappy to have to waste any time at all debunking his bleeding edge climate policy analysis (see “Memo to Hansen: Your opposition to Waxman-Markey is ill-conceived and unhelpful. There isn’t going to be a carbon tax nor should there be. Get over it and move on” and “Memo to Hansen 2: Why is the country’s top anti-science blog reprinting your stuff?“).
Still, his arguments need debunking because he is mostly recycling myths that others are pushing — and with the country’s top climate scientist putting his name on this collection of false and misleading statements, they will no doubt be parroted by yet more people. Hansen has just written, “G-8 Failure Reflects U.S. Failure on Climate Change” for The Huffington Post.
Let me go straight to his needlessly (and pointlessly) provocative attacks on the “counterfeit climate bill known as Waxman-Markey,” which is filled with right-wing and left-wing myths — and very little understanding of the basics of either this bill or cap-and-trade systems.
Hansen claims “For all its ‘green’ aura, Waxman-Markey locks in fossil fuel business-as-usual and garlands it with a Ponzi-like ‘cap-and-trade’ scheme.” Not so. I have previously explained why W-M takes us sharply off of the BAU emissions path over the next decade, probably reducing coal use more than 25% by 2020 (see “Game changer, Part 2: Why unconventional natural gas makes the 2020 Waxman-Markey target so damn easy and cheap to meet“). And then it requires a 42% emissions reduction by 2030 and an 83% reduction by 2050, which will drive a massive energy transition over the next few decades.
The global economy is indeed a Ponzi scheme, but this is the first piece of legislation by any major country that makes a serious effort to end that Ponzi scheme.
Hansen then lists “a few of the bill’s egregious flaws”:
- It guts the Clean Air Act, removing EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants.
No. The EPA doesn’t have the “ability to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants.” EPA might well use its recent endangerment finding to get that ability [partially and eventually], but it hasn’t asserted that regulatory capability yet.
More importantly, the CAA authority is most readily translated into regulating emissions from new power plants. Regulating CO2 emissions from existing power plants would take a long time, engendering a great deal of litigation. As John Podesta, former Clinton Administration Chief of Staff and now CEO of CAP, recently said, “it would be difficult for the EPA to enact a CO2 cap and trade without congressional cooperation.”
Moreover, for a man who wants to “phase out coal emissions over the next two decades,” as Hansen does, this is a pretty pointless complaint. The Obama EPA was certainly never going to use the endangerment finding to do anything like that.
This “EPA can solve the problem on its own” myth is so commonplace that I will do separate post next week addressing it. I certainly agree with NRDC that the bill should be changed to allow EPA to retain its CAA authority, but I wouldn’t list this among the bill’s top 4 flaws, let alone put it first.
Hansen’s next “egregious” flaw in W-M: