Virginia Could Get Its Own Clean Power Plan

Would the Chesterfield Power Station get the axe under new state carbon emission rules? (Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Terry McAuliffe’s days as governor of Virginia are rapidly drawing to a close, but proposed carbon-dioxide regulations working through the administrative process could prove to be his most lasting legacy. If adopted, the rule would cap carbon emissions at large power plants in 2020 and then require 3% reductions annually for 10 years, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

After convening a working group more than a year ago to develop recommendations on cutting power plant emissions, McAuliffe signed an executive order in May directing the Department of Environmental Quality to prepare the regulations. The State Air Pollution Control Board is expected to vote on the measure Thursday.

The regulations will be tied to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative including nine other states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. The regional initiative will allow power companies to purchase carbon allowances from one another. The regional approach allows utilities in one state to purchase offsets from utilities in other states that might be able to reduce carbon output more cheaply.

DEQ models indicate that Virginia’s rule could increase the wholesale cost of electricity by about 7% by 2030, although the actual impact on consumers should be lower, say backers of the rule. In other states, expanded energy efficiency programs have offset the higher electricity rates with lower consumption with the result that electric bills are no higher.

While Attorney General Mark Herring has rendered the opinion that the state air board has the power to regulate carbon under its existing authority, others disagree. Air board regulations prevent it from enacting regulations more stringent than federal requirements, Jay Holloway, a partner with Williams Mullen, told the Times-Dispatch.

Republicans also have problems with the rule, arguing that it will weaken the Virginia economy. John Whitbeck, Republican Party chairman, accused McAuliffe of catering to liberal votes in Iowa and New Hampshire for his presidential bid.

Dominion Energy has remain notably silent as the carbon-cap proposal has wended its way through the system. “We already are a low-carbon producer of energy, and have continued to work to lower emissions both in anticipation of future state or federal regulation and because it’s the right thing to do,” said Dominion spokesman David Botkins.

The carbon-cap initiative ties back to the debate over the electricity rate freeze. Critics have lambasted Dominion for the freeze, which arose from fears of the impact of the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Dominion agreed to keep its base rates fixed, which has locked in excess profits for the first couple of years, in exchange for taking the risk of asset write-downs if the federal carbon regulations forced the utility to close one or more of its coal-fired power plants. The Trump administration is rolling back the Clean Power Plan, so Dominion critics say the freeze is no longer justified. But Dominion countered that the McAuliffe initiative still could compel a reduction in carbon emissions, and that the company still is at financial risk.

Bacon’s bottom line: The point that intrigues me is the argument that a 7% increase in electricity rates would not harm Virginia consumers because, by adopting energy efficiency measures, they would offset the higher rates with lower consumption. Voila! With this new alchemy, we can impose regulations that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with, and miraculously, everybody wins and nobody loses! 

Pardon my skepticism. The carbon-reduction rule may be justified (if you buy into the more alarmist predictions of the global warming movement) but let’s not pretend there is no cost to consumers. Yes, it’s true, business and homeowner investments in energy efficiency can counter the higher rates. But someone has to pay for those investments!

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27 responses to “Virginia Could Get Its Own Clean Power Plan

  1. My primary question is whether you support the need to address global climate change. If one does, (and how any other position can be factually supported remains a mystery), then there may well be some immediate costs to avoid the horrendous costs of climate change. But if we’re any society capable of looking ahead 50 years or so to forecast disasters that can be mitigated, those immediate costs are unquestionably reasonable. In fact, it’s by no means evident that these immediate costs won’t be vastly reduced, if not eliminated.

    One might wish to avoid the risks of immediate costs that are unproven, in order to reduce the horrendous costs to our children et al. if we’re capable as a democracy to have that kind of sense.

  2. Sorry, that last paragraph should read:
    One might wish to INCUR the risks of immediate costs that are unproven, in order to reduce the horrendous costs to our children et al. if we’re capable as a democracy to have that kind of sense.

  3. re: ” The point that intrigues me… ”

    whether you LIKE it or not – the facts are that the higher the price of electricity the lower the consumption.. True in California and New York and Europe and Asia and most of the worlds islands:

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    and of course the lower the consumption the lower the pollution.

    the price of electricity also affect the ROI on buying more energy efficient appliances and hot water heaters, heat pumps…

  4. “but let’s not pretend there is no cost to consumers” ….. RGGI’s are lower!

    … “business and homeowner investments in energy efficiency can counter the higher rates. But someone has to pay for those investments!” …. RGGI regulation compliance actually frees money for economic development when good loans are available that are cash flow positive from reduced utility costs.

     Average electricity prices across the region have decreased by 6.4% since RGGI took effect, while electricity prices in other states have increased by 6.2%.

     Since RGGI launched member states have reduced emissions by 15% more than other states and experienced 4.3% more economic growth.

     In 2016 RGGI states emitted 79,228,039 tons of CO2, falling 8.4% below the RGGI cap, and emissions have fallen 40% since RGGI launched.

  5. energy efficiency – actually creates jobs.. pollution abatement creates jobs.

    high efficiency heat pumps, water heaters, on-demand water heaters, programmable thermostats.. insulation, LED lights – all create jobs AND save money to be spent on other things.

    The primary “loser” is the company selling the commodity – like electricity.

    The question is what does the utility that sells electricity going to do to maintain it’s profitability?

    A company like Kodak – cannot control the market for it’s products and has to adapt or lose to other competitors.

    But can a monopoly hold back the forces in the market especially if the price of it’s product increases?

  6. Much of our “Virginia Carbon Footprint” comes from out-of-state. So this proposal, in so many words says, we will ban future fossil fuel plants in Virginia, to hold at the current low CO2 levels, and commit to importing energy from other states. The only reason RGGI worked at all is because natural gas started replacing coal in a big way, not to mention Canadian imports to the Northeast. If the proposed Bill could be put in terms of reducing our Carbon Footprint (which includes coal power from West Va. etc.) then I think it might make some sense.

    • TBill, you’ve raised this before and I’d like to understand the “footprint” calculation better. There are two issues here and we need to discuss them separately. First, how will Virginia’s total carbon emissions cap be determined year to year. That’s what you are addressing. Second, how will the cost of that cap be allocated. It probably will be allocated directly to carbon generators based on the generator’s physical size and location in that State. Conceivably it could be allocated as a surcharge on electricity at the wholesale energy market or retail level and charged back to carbon generators by the grid operator but that would negate the price signal to individual generators.

      If this cost is allocated directly to Virginia and other-States’ generators by location, then I assume PJM will continue to do as it does today and dispatch across its 13-state portion of the grid based solely on each generating unit’s bid price, without regard for fuel type, and that each unit’s owner will internalize the cost, if any, of carbon emissions credits bought/sold just like other operating costs including fuel. That means Virginians will not see those carbon costs from grid generation identified separately. But the total number of kWh consumed in Virginia and thus Virginia’s pro-rata share of the total of PJM carbon-based generation in any time period will be known, and that could be used to calculate the carbon emitted to generate PJM grid electricity as consumed both inside and outside Virginia.

      I foresee generation owners in the RGGI States complaining that generators located in States not participating in RGGI will have an unfair competitive advantage in the wholesale energy markets — in other words, that they will run more than they should, thus negating some of the benefit of carbon capping in the first place. The only practical solution is to get all 13 PJM States to join RGGI — or seek a federal mandate compelling them to do so. Absent that, I’m sure some in the RGGI States will propose to limit PJM from choosing which generators to dispatch based solely on bid price but require it also to consider the fuel type or degree of RGGI participation behind that price. IMO that would be disastrous interference with the regional wholesale electricity market concept, which has worked superbly now for over two decades.

      • Let’s look at the EPA Clean Power Plan numbers:

        Virginia
        2012 CO2 27 million tons
        8.4 million population 2016
        3.2 tons CO2/year per person

        West Virginia
        2012 CO2 72 million tons
        1.8 million population 2016
        40 tons CO2/year per person

        Hard to believe those WV numbers, but anyways CO2 in Virginia is already quite low because: (1) a lot of our power is imported (eg; from WV) and (2) we are already phasing out coal here, and we got a lot of nukes, so our carbon intensity (lbs CO2/MWhr) is quite efficient.

        It should reduce overall CO2 , if WV shuts down a coal plant, and VA replaces it with an efficient natural gas power plant. It is good for two reasons: (1) global CO2 is reduced, and (2) we are trying to create jobs and favorable business environment in Virginia. But that may require higher CO2 within our own boundaries, which is arbitrary.

        The question is not how much CO2 is released within our Va. boundaries, the question is how much CO2 is released within USA boundaries. As long as our Va. carbon-efficiency per Kilowatt/hr is excellent, we are doing our eco-job.

      • Well, you highlight the problem: the regional nature of electric generation, the regional nature of the electric grid, and the regional nature of the air mass that’s being polluted, all are ignored by the EPA calculation if EPA calculates CO2 emissions as generation located in Virginia divided by Virginia population. And in that case you are absolutely correct: “It should reduce overall CO2 , if WV shuts down a coal plant, and VA replaces it with an efficient natural gas power plant [on the same grid]. It is good for two reasons: (1) global CO2 is reduced, and (2) we are trying to create jobs and favorable business environment in Virginia. But that may require higher CO2 within our own boundaries, which is arbitrary.”

        The fact is, a huge amount of power is moved around on the grid because of where the nukes are, and where the renewable resource generation is (such as the huge wind farms in Indiana). and because the utilities in the Rust Belt (including WV, as you point out, and OH, IN, KY etc.) overbuilt their baseload in the ’60s, much of it coal-fired, and now that they are stuck with too much baseload they have been slow to add enough gas cycling, or new NGGC (gas) baseload, to balance their profiles — so they are preponderantly coal fired and among the dirtiest utilities in the Country. If PJM needs new cycling units they are likely to be built elsewhere than the Rust Belt. So the Rust Belt states have a lousy carbon profile (overall or per capita) and will stay that way for a while.

        Should Virginians pay for Ohio’s coal profile? I hope not. It will depend on how the State-by-State annual carbon caps are set up by agreement among the RGGI states, and whether WV and OH and IN and the others out there join RGGI. And there’s the unfair-competition-by-non-RGGI-states issue, discussed above.

        • re: ” I foresee generation owners in the RGGI States complaining that generators located in States not participating in RGGI will have an unfair competitive advantage in the wholesale energy markets — in other words, that they will run more than they should, thus negating some of the benefit of carbon capping in the first place. ”

          so that looks to be an unsolvable problem as long as all generators are not participating in the plan and those that cut generation end up buying it from other generators still running dirty plants.

          This is how the EPA actually came into being… when – as Acbar might remember – one state trying to clean up it’s rivers could do little about the state next door and upstream on that same river.

          Air sheds worked the same way with Acid Rain – you get partial participation and the states that do something about it end up expending resources to limit it and they still end up with it – coming from non-participating states.

          Fast forward to day to where people want to limit the power of the govt, gut the EPA and don’t believe in the benefits of emissions reductions towards carbon dioxide in the first place …

          So in some respects the RGGI is symbolic and actually self-inflicted harm to the states that adopt it – unless those states – actually do build new, cleaner plants – that allow them to no longer have to buy dirty generation from the non-compliant states.

          The starts are aligned for this to happen now – with gas being lower polluting than coal but do older coal plants fully expensed generate cheaper electricity than new gas plants? that’s a question.

        • I am not in favor of RGGI. Basically what we have now is PA, WV, and Canada are the elec exporters to our region, and they are not in RGGI. Then we have RGGI (NY, New England, DE, NJ, MD ) as the importers of power. Those RGGI states have basically banned new power plants and are passively expecting imports to fulfill their needs.

          >>Ralph Northam is going to have huge issue on his hands. The Va. environmentalists say even Va.’s small amount of CO2 is abhorrent and destroying life as we know it (as Malcolm has agreed with this outlook above). Meanwhile the Va. Gov’s are trying to create jobs in Virginia, which requires some dependence on clean, domestic natural gas. Virginia has decide if we are going to go into a Blue Cocoon of fear over non-zero carbon emissions, or grow with a sustainable amount of CO2 emissions .

          • well actually – this might well explain while Dom is building new gas plants and what some say is more than is needed.

            I don’t think there is any real fear of a “blue cocoon” that’s sort of a made up bugaboo .. .. yes there are some crazies out there but they’re not anywhere near really affecting policy even with Dems.

            Most Dems are normal folks who do want to do what can be done but they are not going to go along with nutty stuff .. the main difference is that most of them DO BELIEVE we need to do something and that Global Warming is real and demands that we try to do what we can… as opposed to just disbelieving it at all and opposing any/all changes in response to it.

            Somewhere – there is a middle ground here .. if we can resist the urge to gravitate to the extremes left or right.

            Doing nothing is not acceptable. Doing everything is not either.

          • Larry- You gotta admit incoming Gov. Northam is between a rock and hard place, either he caves to the left and bans fossil fuels in Va., or else there will be interesting times in Richmond. I used to think NA3 fate was in Gillespie’s hands, I was wrong…Northam is the potential NA3 savior whereas carbon is just too poisonous to allow.

  7. “DEQ models indicate that Virginia’s rule could increase the wholesale cost of electricity by about 7% by 2030, although the actual impact on consumers should be lower, say backers of the rule. In other states, expanded energy efficiency programs have offset the higher electricity rates with lower consumption with the result that electric bills are no higher.” —

    I suspect the “DEQ models” failed to incorporate the latest projections of renewable resource generation on the grid (and off it, for that matter). Therefore they would overstate the cost of compliance with these carbon caps, perhaps substantially.

    LG is correct, electricity consumption is “price-elastic” meaning if the retail price goes up, consumers find ways to reduce consumption. But regulators and local government can help by pushing for high efficiency appliances and better home insulation, and, by publicizing the importance of these to consumers. Yes those are already happening, but from what I read, the lower the education level, the less likely the consumer will pay more for the higher efficiency even with a predicted cost-payback of one year or less. And where the tenant pays for the electricity separately, landlords don’t like to reveal the energy inefficiency of crappy apartments. Same for some homebuilders.

  8. Deciding these issues on the basis of averages is bad public policy. A 7% increase in electricity prices will affects both businesses and individuals differently. Those with vast resources or captive customers/taxpayers can afford to make costly investments and will certainly have the chance of saving more than the amount of the increase. Similarly, some residential customers can do the same thing.

    And Larry’s point about people buying energy-efficient devices rings true. But most of these devices have a higher price than less energy efficient devices. Go to Giant or Safeway and see the price of LED bulbs. Most are well over $10 each. A new thermostat can be $150 to $200 before installation. And then move to the big ticket items – water heaters, AC, furnaces, new windows and doors. etc. And going bit by bit means payback can be a long time for many people. And a lot of people cannot afford these expenditures.

    Plus, savings by large users will mean Power Companies will recover more of their fixed costs from those that are not highly energy efficient. A 7% average increase in electric bills will mean significantly higher utility bills for many people and businesses.

    I’d also like to see honest estimates of the cost of climate change (not done by businesses invested in fossil fuels, environmental groups, or people/entities funded by the same or a government agency with an agenda). Then I’d like to see the costs for reducing carbon emissions also calculated in a bias-free manner. If the former is higher than the latter, we ought to take many of the steps recommended. If the latter is higher than the former, we should not take steps that push cost over benefit.

    But that should not end the economic analysis. We also need to know who benefits and who pays. Should a school bus driver in Lynchburg pay to protect someone’s million dollar summer home on the beach? And, if so, how much? How much money should be transferred from say Kansas to Delaware? Etc.

    And there needs to be some recognition that a warming climate would benefit some people. A farmer, for example, might be able to plant two crops per year in a warmer climate or plant more profitable crops that need warmer weather. A warmer climate might reduce heating bills in some states and government snowplowing and road repair costs from winter damage. These interests need to addressed in any fair system.

    I’m not arguing here against reducing carbon emissions. Just against the way that decisions are made and programs implemented in the world of big government. Washington is a big filthy swamp. State capitals are medium-sized filthy swamps.

    • Agree with all you say, here. Two observations: (1) it’s complicated; reducing these various impacts to market costs and letting the marketplace sort it all out is usually the most efficient way to go. (2) it’s complicated; that’s why the SCC ought to sort it out for us. To the extent we interfere with markets and politicize the SCC, we shoot ourselves in both feet! At least, if we are going to have an emissions trading system imposed by regulation, it should be uniform across State lines as that does the least damage to both markets and local utility rates.

    • No question LED lights cost more than incandescents but they use what ?, 1/10th the electricity so they pay for themselves quickly – – which I totally admit – you’ll probably never be able to precisely tease that cost savings out from analyzing your electric bill…and that’s the basic problem that Acbar relates to with folks who only see the increased cost of the light bulb and are not convinced that they actually do save money.

      The local school system completely retrofitted more than 30 schools from all fluorescent to ALL LED when a company signed a contract promising to refund money if they did not pay for themselves in a year. They DID.

      So maybe ask TMT – if he believes and has bought LEDs or not? (I’ve replaced virtually every bulb in the house except for the appliances.

      Our electric company REC also now provides hour by hour usage .. actually minute by minute and from that – I’ve been able to deduce what our “base” use is by looking at the data on the days we are not here and have dialed the heat/cool back.

      You can actually STILL see some spikes in the data and I’ve been able to actually verify some of them by comparing the timeline for the electricity to the timeline from the thermostat which records when the HVAC cycles. Obviously there is no clothes or dishwashing going on.. no TVs.. but the computers DO stay on…

      Other spikes I THINK are when the fridge cycles on and off.. and perhaps the water heater as it cools down … and cycles back on.

      If someone told to to find a place to cut back further -… not sure what it would be…

      re: ” And there needs to be some recognition that a warming climate would benefit some people. A farmer, for example, might be able to plant two crops per year in a warmer climate or plant more profitable crops that need warmer weather. A warmer climate might reduce heating bills in some states and government snowplowing and road repair costs from winter damage. These interests need to addressed in any fair system.”

      Have you considered the spread of tropical disease as well as insects that eat crops and multiple and increase their numbers in warmer weather? Have we considered the impacts from storms – both number and intensity?

      Here’s my take on it. Do we know? Why would we speculate about what might be good and basically ignore what might be bad – as a justification for not doing anything about it?

      You complain about “process”. What about a “process” where we refuse to act and refuse to really want to do a real analysis of what might be good AND bad?

      Is that a way to do public policy on an issue that could well adversely affect all of us? What do we call a “swamp” when we have a see no evil attitude and refuse to find out and refuse to act because we do not really want to know?

      • There is no easily seen feedback on energy savings from using LED bulbs. That’s a problem for those who argue the savings pay for the added upfront cost. And it’s why so many people only see the higher cost. And “no,” I haven’t replaced all my bulbs with LED bulbs. I replace bulbs when they burn out. And my outside lights don’t seem to come in LED, so I buy what’s available.

        Your school example proves one of my points – big institutions backed by taxpayer money can afford to do major retrofits.

        I’m not aware Dominion offers any real-time usage info. And I’ve got too many things going on to follow it even if I could get the information.

        “Have you considered the spread of tropical disease as well as insects that eat crops and multiple and increase their numbers in warmer weather?” Yes, that should be considered as a cost, but so should the benefits. I’m looking for an accurate cost-benefit analysis.

        “Have we considered the impacts from storms – both number and intensity?” I’m not sold on this argument. Climate change extremists claim everything is related to carbon. There are many other factors, El Nino, La Nina, snow cover in Siberia, the Bermuda High that affect weather and storms. We had a bad hurricane season this year, but it had been many years without any big storm hitting the U.S. mainland. What is the connection? And what is the proof? In the 1970s, scientists were telling us a new mini-ice age is coming.

        Climate change is risk management. What are the risks? What are the odds of various results? Where do the costs outweigh the benefits? There is no reason not to view changes in climate outside risk management principles. Note I am not arguing to ignore this, but rather, to treat it as any other risk to be managed. What measures are cost effective? What do we get for spending billions and likely transferring wealth up the income scale?

        My problem is no one tests the arguments, assumptions and data and most especially the efficacy and efficiency of proposed measures to mitigate climate change. Every science class I took from grade school through college was based on testing everything, challenging the status quo. Look at the history of science. There have been huge arguments over science. I sometimes work with engineers and scientists from Carnegie Mellon University. They are always challenging accepted knowledge and often don’t agree with each other. The lack of arguments among so many scientists seems inconsistent with the history of science.

        Every VDOT meeting I’ve attended looks at pros and cons for various solutions. Ditto for the Fairfax County Police. There is no reasoned discussion over the costs and benefits of how to address climate change. That is so inconsistent with the experiences of my life that I have a hard time buying into the program.

        “Is that a way to do public policy on an issue that could well adversely affect all of us? ” Again, you lump everyone and everything together. The world has had much warmer periods than are forecast. How did they survive and prosper? Why wasn’t that the end of the world when alarmists are calling a 2-3 degree change the end of the world? Why aren’t questions like this answered?

        When I came to Washington more than 30 years ago, I was told to have any chance of success in this town you need to be able to answer your opponent’s arguments. I don’t see your side of the debate even trying to do that.

  9. Can we conceive what life on earth was like before mankind lived on earth?

    That’s a pretty tall order, guy and what does it really mean to demand that answer anyhow when the earth was not a hospitable place for humans for much of that time?

    What we don’t know can hurt us and assuming best case outcomes is just not “conservative” in my view. We need to take this seriously – it’s real and there is likely catastrophe .

    If we took the same “skeptic” stance about the ozone holes – what might have happened? nothing? it was just a big scientific conspiracy because the earth likely had ozone holes before and it survived?

    I just cannot fathom thinking this way.. reminds me of cigarette smokers.

    • I was thinking of the Medieval Warm Period, not pre-human history. And I’m not arguing to assume the best case. I’m arguing that dealing with Climate Change, that portion caused by increased carbon emissions, must be done within the parameters of risk management.

      What are likely outcomes? What are the chances of each result occurring? What are sensible mitigation steps that could counter unacceptable results? What are the benefits of each mitigation step? What are the costs? Then society should logically pick mitigation steps that are expected to be effective and that provide benefits that exceed the costs.

      What I am adding is that accuracy and fairness require balancing of positive benefits from warming be included in the analysis. And the mitigation measures and the funding for them ought to include an analysis of who pays and who benefits.

      It’s not unlike economic studies of price changes. Back before competition in telecommunications, the FCC and state PUCs used to require a carrier to submit cost studies to justify price changes in services. What happens to demand and revenues if long distance prices are raised or lowered by 5 cents per minute? But they generally didn’t stop there, but rather, required an analysis of the impacts of the price changes for long distance on other services, such as the old WATS service (bulk long distance), 800 service and point-to-point private line.

      If climate change is this important, and it appears to be, why don’t we have complete and deep analysis? “We need to take this seriously – it’s real and there is likely catastrophe” just isn’t sophisticated enough. What I suspect is the climate change extremists (just like the far end of the other side) want to put their thumb on the scale.

      Are you opposed to use of standard risk management techniques?

  10. TMT – “risk management” for cigarette smoking?

    You’re asking for proof positive there WILL be a catastrophe and you’re saying that if you do not get proof positive and/or you don’t believe the majority of climate scientists worldwide -that you refuse to take action.

    We ALREADY HAVE “deep analysis” guy – you just don’t believe them and you’re basically calling Climate Scientists – around the world – who have spent their entire lives studying this – “extremists” and instead take the word of bloggers who don’t even have degrees in science because they ask questions that cannot be answered with “proof”.

    When you disbelieve 98% of the scientists around the world and call them extremists- the wheels have come off of logic and reason.

    can’t hide behind “risk management” when there is truly a prospect of irreversible damage… that’s just plain irresponsible.

    We don’t take chances when people’s lives are at stake – usually – in all manner of things.. take airplanes.. the possibility of a disaster are remote but all the systems have double and triple redundancies on the remote chance something we did not count on – does happen. And ever then we have failures.

    What you’re advocating here is essentially not having any safety systems in place for the possibility that the deniers are wrong.

    Why would we have safety systems out of the wazoo for just about everything in our lives – and then be so irresponsible about climate change?

    it makes no sense.

    • Yes, there’s been risk management analysis of smoking. States have looked at data to determine the impact of cigarette tax increases on sales, people quitting, Social Security life spans, Medicare, Medicaid, state revenues, cigarette smuggling into high tax states. Insurance companies do risk management analysis for smoker versus non-smokers. And no one has confiscated cigarettes or shut down factories. We are dealing with the risks.

      Similarly, airlines, airplane manufacturers, the FAA and its counterparts around the world engage in risk management. They tend to set standards that are very strict, but not fail safe forever. A part may be required to last for 50,000 take-offs and landing to prevent accidents, but the rules may not require a part to last for 75,000 take offs and landings. And there is still the risk of infant mortality on parts. There is also analysis of trade-offs. A preventative fix that increase safety by 30%, but also decreases fuel efficiency by 25% might be rejected in favor of a fix that increases safety by 25% but only decreases fuel efficiency by 5%.

      Regulations require cabin voice recorders and flight data recorders in certain planes, but not others even though those devices provide important data with respect to crashes and have provided evidence that has led to important safety improvements. It’s risk management.

      Highway engineers deal with risk management. Often we adopt changes to roads, bridges and intersections to improve safety. But we also prioritize projects and tend to fund and implement those that produce the most benefits for the costs or that have over-the–top results. It’s risk management.

      We don’t see risk management analysis from climate scientists. For example, what would be the impacts of taking action to reduce warming by one degree from three or one and 1/2 degrees from 3. It’s all or nothing and it also assumes climate at time X is normal and should be the point upon which analysis and action is based. What if the climate trend is naturally heading to warmer or heading to colder? The entire analysis should change.

      And you have no idea that a temperature increase of say 2 degrees is irreversible. And neither does any scientist.

      I’m not advocating doing nothing about carbon emissions or climate change. I am arguing these risks should be treated with normal risk management. Common sense and life experiences suggest society should probably take actions somewhere between what climate scientists want and what skeptics would concede. Why is climate change different than any other risk we deal with all the time?

  11. re: ” What if the climate trend is naturally heading to warmer or heading to colder? The entire analysis should change.”

    how would you ever know that?

    “And you have no idea that a temperature increase of say 2 degrees is irreversible. And neither does any scientist.”

    and neither do you that it’s not. how do you reconcile that? Some things you can make a guess then if you’re wrong – re-calibrate. Other things , not.

    Do you take a statin? why would you take it when there is no guarantee that you’d die if you did not?

    Do you have smoke detectors because you know for a fact that if you don’t have them that you’d have a fire? Nope.

    “I’m not advocating doing nothing about carbon emissions or climate change. I am arguing these risks should be treated with normal risk management. Common sense and life experiences suggest society should probably take actions somewhere between what climate scientists want and what skeptics would concede. Why is climate change different than any other risk we deal with all the time?”

    yes you are… you’re basically saying if they don’t do want you think – that you’re opposed to doing anything. There is no compromise here where you’ll agree to some things and not others pending more info. You’re basically opposed to ANY plans .. admit it TMT…

    you’re laid down a requirement that “proof” be provided before you’ll agree to ANY changes..

    I’m not advocating that we do the full monty. For instance, we’re simply not going to be able to rid ourselves of all emissions – and even that might lead to disaster – we just don’t know but to do nothing unless you have proof – is not risk management… it’s the farthest thing from it when no changes will be supported until absolute proof is provided.

    • Larry – we are just talking past each other and eating up 1s and 0s. Another topic, another day.

      Cheers,
      TMT

    • Interesting hypothetical – let’s say 3 big volcanos bring an unexpected and alarming cooling trend to Earth. Does the American Left now change their No. 1 priority ( which I assert is elimination of U.S. fossil fuel industry)? I don’t think so, it will still be “off with their heads!!!” I do not think our fundamental divisiveness has much to do with climate change or CO2, to be honest.

      • geeze – making the left a monolithic boogeyman of the most extreme elements of the left is silly and counterproductive.

        Most folks who don’t vote “right” – are not going to do without electricity or automobiles or other wanted tenets of modern civilization.

        But they’re also not going to stand by and do nothing if they think the planet they live on could be seriously damaged by our own activities when we could have done something about it.

        that’s not an unreasonable position in my view. It’s prudent and actually “conservative” in the sense of what that word used to mean.

        If some natural disaster befalls the earth – we fold that in to the other issues and try to find a way through it so that the world we live in is still the one we want to live in.

        People don’t want to “kill” fossil fuels no more than they want to “kill” other chemicals and materials that are necessary components of civilization but must be intelligently used so their impact is within acceptable limits.

        the world is not black/white.. … it’s an evolving conundrum where we “learn” as we go along and if we learn something is a greater danger than originally thought – we have to change but in ways that we can… and maintain our way of life.

        The politics of this have gotten so crazy … common sense is now the enemy.

        If we had the ozone issue today – we would not ban CFCs.. that’s how bad the politics have become.

  12. “American Left now change their No. 1 priority (which I assert is elimination of U.S. fossil fuel industry)?”

    Sure thing … over time … and why not?
    Whether fundamental changes in the generation mix are driven by the economics of energy markets or by public policies, including state and federal de-carbonization plans, timely investments in transmission will likely produce substantial cost savings for consumers over the long term and health for people and the planet too.
    http://www.wiresgroup.com
    WIRES: Voice of the Electric Transmission Industry

    “Virginia has decide if we are going to go in a Blue Cocoon of fear over non-zero carbon emissions, or grow with a sustainable amount of CO2 emission”
    No ‘Cocoon of fear’ and no such thing as ‘sustainable CO2’…

    http://www.citigroup.com/citi/sustainability/
    Norway is about to fossil divest. CitiGroup isn’t looking to maintain the fossil industries.
    “Solar and wind generation have grown exponentially. Frankly, it is now a bit of a misnomer to call them ‘alternative energy.’ They have become mainstream.” SANDIP SEN Managing Director, Global Head of Alternative Energy and Power, Citi

    “investors such as pension and insurance companies are crying out for yield and longer-term income streams to match against their long-term liabilities. Many infrastructure assets such as renewables can provide these longer-term returns, potentially at lower risk than conventional assets due to fewer variables such as fuel costs.”

    “So, the money is there, as is the technology. It is the role of banks and financial markets to bring these two together and to facilitate this change with innovative financial instruments, such as green bonds.”

    “This activity is not philanthropy or a ‘nice to do.’ It’s good business”.
    BRANDEE MCHALE President of the Citi Foundation

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