Saturday, August 1, 2015

I Don't Believe Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush said recently the GOP should become the "party of science," being quoted as saying:
I think as conservatives we should embrace innovation, embrace technology, embrace science. It's the source of a lot more solutions than any government-imposed idea and sometimes I sense that we pull back from the embrace of these things. We shouldn't. We're the party that should be the party of discovery, the party of science, the party of innovation and tear down the barriers so that those things can accelerate in our lives to find solutions for all these things.
Interesting and promising, especially when he goes on to say this about climate change:
The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it.
So, why do I not believe him? Because, he also said this:
I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core.

I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it. We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable.

U.S. emissions of greenhouse gasses are down to the same levels emitted in the mid-1990s, even though we have 50 million more people. A big reason for this success is the energy revolution which was created by American ingenuity—not federal regulations.
Ah, the party line - literally, the party line. All he has done is add a twist. Now that they have been thoroughly embarrassed by denying the science for so long ("I am not a scientist, but ...), they are now adopting the tactic of 'yes, manmade climate change is real, but we shouldn't do anything about it. The free market will take care of everything.'

Doubts? Take a look at this quote:
Bloomberg BNA:Should the Keystone XL pipeline be approved?

Bush: Yes. Construction of the Keystone pipeline is a no brainer. It moves us toward energy independence and creates jobs. The President’s politically motivated veto of the pipeline is an example of how this administration supports policies that suppress economic growth.

Or, this one:
Bloomberg BNA: Do you support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan? What should the next step be for states?

Bush: Obama’s carbon rule is irresponsible and ineffective. First, it does virtually nothing to address the risk of climate change. Second, it oversteps state authority. Third, EPA has gone far beyond its statutory authority, regulating how people consume energy. Fourth, it threatens the reliability of the electricity grid. Finally, as proposed, it will unnecessarily increase energy costs on hard-working families and will cause job losses in many states.
Ah, Mr. Bush is going to the "I'm not a scientist" standard by ignoring the science and repeating lies designed to help the fossil fuel industry. Let's examine each of his claims.

"First, it does virtually nothing to address the risk of climate change."

The CPP will reduce carbon emissions in this country by 30% by 2030. Since CO2 is the principle driver of global warming and climate change, this would be a significant step towards addressing climate change. One of the criticisms is this does nothing to address emissions by other countries and that is a lie. When the U.S. fails to act, other countries take note and follow suit. Likewise, when the U.S. does act, other countries will do the same. This is already happening with even China reducing its carbon emissions.

Bush lied.

"Second, it oversteps state authority."

Mr. Bush has apparently discovered time travel and has returned to the 1850s. The authority of the federal government to regulate environmental issues is well established and irrefutable. So, why did Mr. Bush do that?

Bush lied.

"Third, EPA has gone far beyond its statutory authority, regulating how people consume energy."

The CPP addressed carbon emissions, it says nothing about consumers at all. People will be able to consume energy the same way as they do now and it will not be affected. So, why did Mr. Bush say so?

Bush lied.

"Fourth, it threatens the reliability of the electricity grid."

The North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) released a report on the CPP. NERC is a federal non-profit organization charged with overseeing reliable delivery of power. One issue it drew attention to was how the timeline may problematic with regards to building facilities and infrastructure to replace the carbon emitters.
“You will need a lot of work and a lot of construction to get to the CO2 emission cuts the EPA is proposing, and that is going to take a lot of time and coordination,” added NERC Director of Reliability Assessment John Moura. “This study paves the way for that discussion.”
In other words, some states will need more time. That is not the same as saying it will "threaten the reliability of the energy grid." Again, John Moura:
“We are not prescribing a specific date, but we do think 2020 is too soon for many states," he said. "Only when the states start developing their plans and coordinating with other states will they know what they need to do and how long it will take. That might not be until 2023 or 2025. They need to take advantage of EPA’s flexibility to work those things out.”
So, no, the CPP does not threaten the grid, but some adjustments will need to be made. Let's give Bush the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Bush exaggerated the issue.

"Finally, as proposed, it will unnecessarily increase energy costs on hard-working families and will cause job losses in many states." 

This quote is from a report produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Retail electricity prices and expenditures rise under the Clean Power Plan. Retail electricity prices increase most in the early 2020s, in response to initial compliance measures. Increased investment in new generating capacity as well as increased use of natural gas for generation lead to electricity prices that are 3% to 7% higher on average from 2020-25 in the Clean Power Plan cases, versus the respective baseline cases (Figure 14). While prices return to near-baseline levels by 2030 in many regions, prices remain at elevated levels in some parts of the country. In Florida and the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest regions the projected electricity prices in 2030 are roughly 10% above baseline in the Base Policy case (CPP). Electricity expenditures also generally rise with Clean Power Plan implementation, but expenditure changes are smaller in percentage terms than price changes as the combination of energy-efficiency programs pursued for compliance purposes and higher electricity prices tends to reduce electricity consumption relative to baseline. By 2040, total electricity expenditures in the CPP case are slightly below those in the AEO2015 Reference case, as decreases in demand more than offset the price increases.
In summary, they found energy will become more expensive at first, especially during the 2020s, but will drop by the 2040s. Twentyfive years from now is far enough away for us to discount the projection.

However, other studies show the CPP will result in lower energy bills. Not only that, it will lead to an increase in jobs and result in billions of dollars in improved health benefits. By the year 2030, it is estimated the annual costs of the CPP will be $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion, but the benefits will amount to $55 billion to $93 billion. Even if those calculations are off, it is easy to see the benefits far outweigh the costs. Among the benefits, these things will be avoided:

  • 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths
  • 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children
  • 340 to 3,300 heart attacks
  • 2,700 to 2,800 hospital admissions
  • 470,000 to 490,000 missed school and work days

This is a far cry from what Mr. Bush claimed. Why would he be opposed to these benefits? Even if the EIA estimate on increased costs of energy is correct over the EPA estimate, the other benefits outweigh those increased costs.

Bush lied.

Out of five claims, we see Bush lied about four and exaggerated the other one.

This blogger at Scientific American stated, "And what's clear right now is that Jeb Bush has set a high bar for his party." I disagree. Bush is exhibiting the same anti-science policies his party has become famous for. You cannot acknowledge science with one hand and then reject it with the other and claim to be the 'party of science.' You have to accept it all, and Jeb Bush has shown he favors his industry supporters more than the science.

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this post I read how 365 companies have signed a letter supporting the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP). General Mills, Nestle, Staples, Adidas and Mars were among the 365 businesses and investors - which ranged from small companies to industry giants - to sign it. This letter was being sent to 29 state governors. It is said "the businesses signed the letter to dispel the myth that any sort of regulation would be bad for the economy."

Explain to us again, Mr. Bush. If the CPP is so bad for the economy, why are so many big companies is support of it?

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