We do not know what we do not know.

Bill and Tabitha fracking rallyWilliam Lochstet was a Professor of Physics at The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (now retired).  He is a member of the PA IPL Board, and the Penn Central Conference of the UCC’s Green Justice Team.  PA IPL’s remarks are posted on this blog.  Link to submit a written comment of your own.  

I support implementation of the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standard.

We know from climate science, that if we do not limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the weather will become very hostile and dangerous.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2013 report of Group 1 estimate that the world could emit up to about 1.1 teraton of carbon dioxide before reaching this limit, as illustrated by their RCP 2.6 scenario. This scenario involves a decrease in CO2 emissions from a maximum today to a rate about one third smaller in 2030, for the world as a whole.  This scenario is expected to result in a maximum temperature rise of less than 2 degrees Celsius, and slowly cool to normal after the year 2300.  They considered three other scenarios with greater emissions, all of which have global temperatures increased by more than 2 degrees Celsius beyond the year 2300. These alternatives are dangerous security risks, with major migrations and famine.  As a person of faith, I cannot condone to leaving such a legacy, with very violent weather, for future generations.  We must decrease carbon dioxide emissions, nationally and internationally.

Currently, the United States emits about 19% of the world’s carbon dioxide, or about 6.5 gigaton per year.   A third of this, or 6% of the world’s carbon dioxide comes from our generation of electricity.  This industry must reduce its emissions just as much as any other group. As responsible citizens of the world, this nation must follow, if it cannot lead,  other nations to cut its emissions by one third by 2030.  Such a decrease would be a compromise that gives the states and the industry time to chose, plan, and implement the details.

The EPA has solicited comments on “Concerns from Stakeholders” in the present proposed rule notice at 79 FR 34888.  At issue is whether EPA has authority to “identify re-dispatch, low- or zero-emitting generation, or demand side energy efficiency measures (building blocks 2, 3 and 4) as components of the ‘best system of emission reduction.’“  The purpose of the rule is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and these items can be considered suggestions.  Then EPA can approve a plan for a state if it achieves a reduction in emissions in a way that is efficient and cost-effective, with or without the use of these specific techniques.

Comments were also solicited at 79 FR 34836 on utilization of building blocks 1 and 2 only.  Since zero carbon generation in block 3, and energy efficiency in block 4,  have such huge proven ability to reduce carbon dioxide, their elimination would be inappropriate.

Block 3 does include nuclear generation.  I recognize that this is current policy, but it is wrong. Nuclear power depends on the ability of people to anticipate in the original design everything that might go wrong.  ”Human knowledge seems endless, and yet we do not know what we do not know.” [Quote modified from the Iona Community Worship Book.]  This was evident at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi.   Waste disposal has not been solved.

I would commend EPA on this significant step.  Thank You.

Find recent Letters to the Editor by William Lochstet on energy issues at Lancaster Online and the Centre Daily Times

The EPA hearings on the (finally) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place the last week in July in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Denver.  PA IPL members offered testimony both in Pittsburgh and Washington.  Testimony posted here is shared by permission of the authors.  Remarks by PA IPL supporters are published on this blog alongside PA IPL’s official remarks. When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.