Gov Mead wants White House to scrap climate consideration for coal exports

By Dustin Bleizeffer
— April 26, 2013

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead came out swinging at Pacific Northwest governors this week for asking that an environmental review of the Gateway Pacific Terminal include considerations for potential CO2 emissions related to the project and the contributions to global warming. The primary purpose for the Gateway Pacific Terminal is to export Powder River Basin coal to Asian markets. It is one of several proposed new coal terminals in the northwest.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

Gov. Mead said in a press release Friday afternoon, “I do not support the novel use of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) as a political opinion piece on global warming.”

Mead was referring to arguments made by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a March 2013 letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In his own letter to the CEQ this week, Gov. Mead asks the council to scrap draft guidance regarding consideration of climate change in the NEPA analysis of the project.

“I note that Governor Kitzhaber’s and Governor Inslee’s letter does not mention northwest commodities – like lumber – for climate change analysis under NEPA; rather, their letter targets one commodity – coal – and the producers, transporters, and workers who deal with it. This undermines the fundamental fairness of the process and potentially sets U.S. regions, states and resources at odds with each other,” Gov. Mead writes.

“I am respectful of the opinions of these fellow Governors, but I disagree with them on the potential misuse of the National Environmental Policy Act with respect to coal leasing and exports,” Gov. Mead said in a press statement. “Coal will provide electricity across the globe in the coming years and I believe these export facilities will power economic growth here in America. I support a thorough site-specific environmental and economic analysis of these projects. I support addressing all of the concerns and questions raised by the citizens of Oregon and Washington. However, I do not support the novel use of NEPA as a political opinion piece on global climate change.”

Gov. Mead also expressed disapproval of Gov. Kitzhaber’s and Gov. Inslee’s call for a review of pricing for federal coal leases. Mead insists that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2011 demonstrated that its practice ensures fair market values are received for leases. In his letter to the CEQ, Mead writes, “With all due respect, the CEQ should neither be determining policies for pricing federal coal leases nor establishing new policies for the issuing of coal leases based on a global climate change analysis.”

Mead said in a press statement, “Coal is the fastest growing fuel source in the world and 40 percent of the electricity in this country comes from coal. I welcome an environmental analysis that is legally consistent, based in science and also provides a fair opportunity for American coal to compete with coal around the globe.”

— Dustin Bleizeffer is WyoFile editor-in-chief. Contact him at 307-577-6069 or dustin@wyofile.com. Follow Dustin on Twitter @DBleizeffer

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Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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  1. just remember that thirty years ago the media and a few scientists were stating that we were doomed from a soon coming ice age. environgelic and evangelic fear sells.

  2. How pays this guy’s bills and re-election? He sure has no concern for our survival as a species.

  3. Guv Matt sez, as he stands naked before the handwriting on the wall , flaming red script that reads …” Coal Is Dying. “.

    What’s Plan B for Wyoming, Matt ?

  4. Axel Morner concludes that Australian government claims of a 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 are greatly exaggerated, finding instead that sea levels are rising around Australia and globally at a rate of only 1.5 mm/year. This would imply a sea level change of only 0.13 meters or 5 inches by 2100. Dr. Morner also finds no evidence of any acceleration in sea level rise around Australia or globally.

    Morner’s findings are inline with the longest running sea-level measurements recorded at Amsterdam, in the Netherlands (think of it like the England CET record) beginning in 1700. Since 1850, the rise in Amsterdam has averaged 1.5 mm/year.

    Figure and link to full paper follows.

    Present-to-future sea level changes: The Australian case (PDF)

    Nils-Axel Morner, Albert Parker

    Abstract:

    We revisit available tide gauge data along the coasts of Australia, and we are able to demonstrate that the rate may vary between 0.1 and 1.5 mm/year, and that there is an absence of acceleration over the last decades. With a database of 16 stations covering only the last 17 years, the National Tidal Centre claims that sea level is rising at a rate of 5.4mm/year.We here analyse partly longer-term records from the same 16 sites as those used by the Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project (ABSLMP) and partly 70 other sites; i.e. a database of 86 stations covering a much longer time period. This database gives a mean trend in the order of 1.5 mm/year. Therefore, we challenge both the rate of sea level rise presented by the National Tidal Centre in Australia and the general claim of acceleration over the last decades.

    Figure 3 : Comparison among different sea level data sets; (1) the Official Australian claim (AFGCC, 2011; ABSLMP, 2011), (2a) the Australian 39 station record, (2b) the Australian 70 station record, (2c) the Australian 86 station record, (3a) the 2059 station PSMSL (2011) average, (3b) the 159 station NOAA (2011) average, (4) the reconstruction of sea level changes by Church and White (2011), and (5) the Topex/Jason satellite altimetry record (CU, 2011). All the data are shifted for a zero MSL in January 1990. The differences are far too large not to include serious errors in some of the records. The official Australian trend (1) lies far above all the other curves, indicating a strong exaggeration. The Australian (2a-c) as well as global (3a-b) curves vary between 0.1 and 1.5 mm/year. The satellite altimetry records (5) include “calibrations” previously questioned (Morner, 2004, 2011c, 2013). The record (4) of Church and White (2011) lies between the satellite altimetry curve (5) and all the graphs representing global (3a-b) and Australian (2a-c) tide gauge records. The acceleration in curve 4 is strongly contradicted by all the other records. The same absence of acceleration is found in many other records (further discussed in the text) indicating that the concept of acceleration ought to be revised.

    Conclusions:

    In view of the data presented, we believe that we are justified to draw the following conclusions:

    (1) The official Australian claim [2,3] of a present sea level rise in the order of 5.4mm/year is significantly exaggerated (Figure 3).

    (2) The mean sea level rise from Australian tide gauges as well as global tide gauge networks is to be found within the sector of rates ranging from 0.1 to 1.5 mm/year (yellow wedge in Figure 3).

    (3) The claim of a recent acceleration in the rate of sea level rise [2,3,12] cannot be validated by tide gauge records, either in Australia or globally (Figure 3). Rather, it seems strongly contradicted [19,21,24,39-41]

    The practical implication of our conclusions is that there, in fact, is no reason either to fear or to prepare for any disastrous sea level flooding in the near future.

  5. The Japanese government is moving to speed up the environmental assessment process for new coal-fired power plants. According to Japanese media reports, the government intends to make 12 months the maximum period for assessing and approving new coal-fired power plants as its utilities seek to develop more power stations to stem surging energy supply bills. With the government considering the closure of much of the installed nuclear capacity over the medium term, the spotlight is back on coal as the cheapest energy source, notwithstanding plans to cut carbon emissions. A commitment to slice 2020 carbon emissions by 25 per cent from their 1990 level will be revised by October, according to Japanese newspaper reports. –Brian Robins, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 2013

    Japan is likely to abandon an ambitious pledge to slash greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter, the top government spokesman said on Thursday. Asked to confirm if the new administration would review Tokyo’s 2009 pledge, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government was “moving in that direction in principle”. “I have been saying for some time that it is a tremendous target and would be impossible to achieve,” he told a regular news conference. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party ousted the Democratic Party in December elections after pledging to review the emissions cut target in light of the post-Fukushima switch to fossil fuels. –AFP, 24 January 2013

    New technology and a little-known energy source suggest that fossil fuels may not be finite. Estimates of the global supply of methane hydrate range from the equivalent of 100 times more than America’s current annual energy consumption to 3 million times more. –Charles C Mann, The Atlantic, May 2013

    Across Europe, both policy makers and the public remain wary of the potential environmental impact of technologies like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract shale gas. A slowdown in Europe’s efforts to exploit its shale gas reserves, roughly 10 percent of the world’s deposits, could not come at a worse time for Europe’s companies, which are already suffering from a continental debt crisis and anemic growth and are becoming increasingly uncompetitive compared with rivals in the United States. –Mark Scott, The New York Times, 25 April 2013

    MPs criticised the government on Friday for unnecessarily delaying development of shale gas, saying it should now encourage companies to come up with more accurate estimates of recoverable reserves. The lack of progress over the past two years in exploration and development of UK shale gas is disappointing and needs to speed up, members of the influential cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee in parliament said in a report. –Reuters, 26 April 2013

    The 18-month moratorium on shale gas drilling was a “scandal”, member of the UK House of Commons select committee on climate change Peter Lilley said late Monday. Lilley said that a fortnight’s trip to the US — the birthplace of the shale gas revolution — could have answered all the questions surrounding the risks of hydraulic fracturing, enabling shale gas production to start that much earlier. “Most of the concerns are either exaggerations or lies,” he said. –Platts, 24 April 2013

    Europeans have spent hundreds of billions of euros on renewable energy – ultimately borne by taxpayers, consumers and Europe’s competitiveness – for no gain. As the shale gas revolution spreads, it promises to swamp the economics of green energy, leaving it dependent on unaffordable subsidies. –Rupert Darwall, City A.M. 25 April 2013