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Archive for May, 2017

James Watt’s 1775 improved steam engine allowed the efficient removal of water from coal mines kicking off the industrial revolution.  The age of cheap, abundant energy saw global life expectancy double, and real personal income grow twenty-five fold.  The United Nations Economic Development Index compares the development stage of countries to the amount of electricity available to its citizens.  Access to cheap energy could free the 20% of the world’s population still living at subsistence levels to lower infant mortality and birth rates, and to increase income, education, health, and life expectancy.  Innovations continue today.  The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing unleashed natural gas production that saw an 80% price drop which forced other fuels to follow saving the average American family $1500 a year.

The United Nations Paris Climate Accord is specifically designed to end the use of coal, oil, and natural gas globally over time, in essence trapping billions in extreme poverty, for no real environmental gain.  Expensive and intermittently available wind and solar power are not a suitable replacement for low cost, reliable conventional fuels.  President Obama signed the agreement by executive action, ignoring the fact it was a treaty requiring two thirds approval in the Senate, knowing the Senate would not approve.

Candidate Donald Trump promised to remove us from this treaty and to expunge pervasive climate related regulations adopted by the Obama Administration.  Now President Trump is meeting with principle members of his staff to decide whether to keep his promise.  Several key members of the Administration are urging we stay in the agreement to avoid diplomatic blow back, and to have a seat at the table for future negotiations.  They claim we can repeal domestic regulations while staying in the Paris Treaty.  Pulling out of the Treaty might lead to diplomatic blow back once.  Staying in, but not meeting the commitments, will be a constant irritation.  As a major energy producer and consumer we will always have a seat at the diplomatic table.  We didn’t join the Kyoto Climate Agreement, but continued as a key player in future negotiations.

President Obama bragged the Paris agreement created enforceable carbon dioxide emission reduction commitments that would make his domestic climate agenda “bullet proof” from future efforts at repeal.  We agree.  Article 4 of the agreement requires a review of commitments every five years, and only allows changes in one direction – tighter.  The initial goals are not enough to have any significant impact on future global temperatures.  They are just a down payment on future cuts.  There is also a U.S. commitment to pay large sums into a wealth transfer fund for poor countries, but past such efforts mainly fed graft.  Section 115 of the U.S. Clean Air Act requires the EPA and individual states to meet goals established in foreign agreements.  Environmental groups are lining up lawsuits to force compliance with the commitments.

The President needs to keep his campaign promise and get out of the Paris Climate Treaty.  The most effective way to accomplish that is to send the Treaty to the Senate for a vote that would certainly lead to a rejection in U.S. participation.  We can then move on to review and repeal domestic regulations that do nothing for the environment, but raise energy costs, hurt electric grid reliability, and impede economic growth.

David T. Stevenson, CRI Director 

Member Trump Administration EPA Transition Team

E-Mail:  DavidStevenson@CaesarRodney.org

                                               

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