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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Air Pollution Control Board
Regulation for Emissions Trading [9 VAC 5 ‑ 140]
Action Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 3/6/2019
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3/6/19  8:04 pm
Commenter: Kenneth Haapala, SEPP

Opposed: A threat based on poor science, contradicted by evidence, and hides a significant problem

Distinguished Officials:


We oppose the proposal to “Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)” because it is based on poor science, using assumptions that are out of date and contradicted by evidence; would replace reliable, consistent electricity with expensive, erratic electricity creating a threat to public safety; and hides a significant problem occurring in Virginia with a false solution.


The Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is a Virginia non-profit formed in 1990 to examine the scientific bases of government policies regarding the environment and energy. Of particular concern is the use of long-term predictions from poorly tested computer models to establish policy in many fields. To be useful, computer models must be tested against all available hard evidence, data from experiments and observations. The testing must be continuous as relevant new data may appear. If critical data is omitted, the models are misleading, and policies based on them may be unnecessary or cause outright harm.


For example, in the late 1970s many in Washington believed the US would run out of oil and natural gas by the end of the 20th century. This belief was supported by poorly tested computer models. Congress passed and President Carter signed the 1978 Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act forbidding the construction of baseload power plants without the capability to use coal or another alternate fuel as a primary energy source.


The act effectively forbade the use of natural gas for baseload power. Yet, virtually all new baseload plants built in recent years use natural gas. The 1978 law was repealed about 10 years later when it became evident that the US was not about to run out of natural gas. Today, the Energy Information Administration estimates the US will become a net exporter of oil by 2022. The US is exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), for example from Cove Point, on the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland. Anyone using the out-of-date energy models would be ridiculed.


This government policy which wasted resources illustrates that computer models must be constantly tested against hard evidence and updated when evidence shows the models are wrong.


The proposal to “Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)” is based on myths stemming from computer models that are directly contradicted by hard evidence. As such, it is a waste of resources and establishes a policy that may endanger the public health and welfare of citizens of the Commonwealth. The primary issue is the assumption that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. This assumption is contrary to language, logic, and science (hard evidence):


  • Carbon dioxide is a scarce gas necessary for all green plants, thus the building block for life on this planet as we know it.


  • As satellite photos show, increasing carbon dioxide is greening the planet, benefiting the environment.


  • Thousands of laboratory and field experiments show increasing carbon dioxide increases plant productivity and makes plants more resistant to stresses such as drought. Routinely, modern greenhouses increase the concentrations of carbon dioxide to promote healthy growth.  (Citation #1)


Myth One: Carbon Dioxide Is Causing Significant Global Warming


Fears that increasing carbon dioxide will cause dangerous global warming and climate changes are based on global climate models which continue to use untested assumptions formed in 1979 for the Charney Report published by the National Academy of Sciences. The critical issue is the “greenhouse effect” or how “greenhouse gases interfere with the energy flow from the surface into space. (Citation #2)


At the time of the Charney Report there were no systematic observations of the earth’s atmosphere. The only measurements were from weather balloons, which cover only a small part of the atmosphere. One critical assumption in the Charney Report was that a modest warming from increased carbon dioxide, established in laboratory experiments, would be greatly amplified by increased water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas.


A second critical assumption was that the modest warming caused by carbon dioxide would result in a pronounced warming from condensing water vapor occurring over the tropics at an altitude of about 30,000 to 35,000 feet, which is used to claim that the carbon dioxide-caused warming will cause an increase in violent storms, extreme weather events, etc. (Citation #3)


Scientists have been collecting data to test these critical assumptions – the assumptions fail when tested against hard evidence.


In 1990, scientists Roy Spencer and John Christy published a method for calculating atmospheric temperature trends from satellite data, starting in 1979. Small errors in initial calculations were quickly corrected, and the trends are independently verified by measurements taken by instruments on weather balloons. Other researchers make similar calculations. The atmosphere is not warming as assumed or predicted by climate models. (Citation #4 and #5)


In 2002, NASA launched the first of a number of satellites when was joined by other satellites in 2004 and 2006, including those from France and Japan, began a coordinated, systematic effort of measuring the atmosphere from space called the A-Train and the C-Train. These provide direct observations of the flow of energy from the surface into space. We now have an extensive record three independent sources of what is occurring in the atmosphere, rather than what was assumed. (Citation #6)


The global climate models and the key assumptions in the Charney Report are directly contradicted by data from these three independent sources, which confirm decades of laboratory experiments that if increasing carbon dioxide will cause a warming, it will be modest. The sources of the data are 60 years of balloon observations, 40 years of satellite observations, and over 10 years of energy flow observations by the A-Train. Those promoting global climate models ignore the hard evidence of what is happening in the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gas effect occurs.


The claim that carbon dioxide is causing significant global warming and extreme weather events is becoming a myth, directly contradicted by scientific hard evidence.


Myth Two: Wind and Solar Power Can Easily Replace Fossil Fuel- and Nuclear-Power on the Grid.


During the oil and gas “crisis” of the 1970s, when it was expected that the US would soon run out of oil and gas, the Federal government began major tax credits (subsidies) for wind and solar power based on the electricity generated. With changes, the subsidies continue, even though there is no shortage of oil and natural gas. The justification for the existence of the subsidies no long exists.


From sewer plants to the cloud, modern civilization runs on reliable, consistent, electricity. The only thing reliable about solar and wind is that they fail, frequently. Solar fails daily, both sources fail with changing weather patterns and changing seasons. Promoters try to hide these failures by using annual statistics or other meaningless numbers. Real-time generation show how erratic they are. Who would undergo a lengthy, critical operation if the necessary electric power was supplied by only wind and solar? (See graph in Citation # 7)


Pumped-hydro storage is the only form of electricity storage that has been shown to be successful on a commercial scale. The largest US facility is in Bath County Virginia, and it is used to supplement reliable nuclear and coal-fired power plants, not back-up erratic wind and solar.


Efforts have been made on isolated islands to rely on wind power and pumped-hydro storage. One example is El Hierro in the Canary Islands, where the trade winds “blow all the time.” It failed significantly. In the fourth quarter of 2018, wind and pumped-hydro storage accounted for “only 27.7 % of El Hierro’s electricity and 6.4% of its total energy consumption.” Diesel was need for the rest. During 2018, wind and pumped-hydro storage “supplied 56.6% of El Hierro’s electricity and 13.0% of its energy, up from 46.3% and 10.6% in 2017.” The seasonal variation is enormous and greatly underestimated. Further, it is doubtful that a major pumped-hydro storage facility would be approved in the US today. Going 100% wind and solar is a pipedream. (Citation # 7)


As the UK, Germany, and certain US states are discovering, making erratic wind and solar consistent and reliable is expensive, difficult, and requires fossil fuel power plants operating inefficiently at high costs. Unfortunately, in the US, the responsibility and costs of supplying consistent and reliable electricity are borne by the transmission company, the Independent Systems Operator for the Grid. Thus, the costs to the consumers are largely hidden.


For Virginia and nearby states, the Systems Operator is PJM, which extends to New York, and west to Indiana plus the Chicago area. Rather than making the wind or solar generators of unreliable electricity pay for the costs of making unreliable electricity reliable, the costs are spread to all consumers on the system. To the consumer, it is like a baker mixing sawdust into wheat flour, calling the product healthy, diet bread, and charging more.


Myth 3: Carbon dioxide caused warming is causing dangerous sea level rise.


One of the more pernicious myths based on untested computer models is the claim that carbon dioxide-caused warming is causing significant increases in sea level rise. Sea levels rose rapidly after the last ice age began ending, about 18,000 years ago, and rose by a total of about 400 feet. For centuries, sea levels have been rising about 7 to 8 inches per century. They will continue to do so until the next ice age. Based on tidal gage data, NOAA states:


“The variations in sea level trends seen here primarily reflect differences in rates and sources of vertical land motion. Areas experiencing little-to-no change in relative sea level are illustrated in green, including stations consistent with average global sea level rise rate of 1.7-1.8 mm/yr.” (about 7 inches per century) [Boldface added] (Citation # 7)


Recently, computer modelers in NOAA and other organizations are claiming that this rate of rise is increasing significantly, without hard evidence. The modelers claim their predictions are based on measuring sea levels by satellites. But these measurements need proper calibration against actual instruments, such as tidal gages, which is not being done. It’s similar to the estimates of temperature trends using satellites, which changes were needed for imperfections in orbits and the temperatures trends verified by independent instruments.


Among other things, the modelers blame the “collapse” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet for rapid sea level rise. There is little question that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be slowly melting from geothermal activity below the ice. It is on a geological hot spot similar to what is found in Iceland. It will melt over the next 7,000 years unless another ice age comes. Yet climate model promoters call this slow melting a “collapse” due to carbon dioxide. However, satellite temperature trends show the atmosphere over the ice sheet is cooling, so any melting is not from carbon dioxide. Further, the bulk of Antarctica is gaining ice, again contradicting the claims of carbon dioxide-caused increases in sea levels.


What is pernicious about this false claim is that it disguises a significant problem for Virginia. Tidal gages show the sea level along Tidewater Virginia is rising by more the 7 to 8 inches per century. As the NOAA “Tides and Currents” section states:


“Stations illustrated with positive sea level trends (yellow-to-red) are experiencing both global sea level rise, and lowering or sinking of the local land, causing an apparently exaggerated rate of relative sea level rise. Stations illustrated with negative trends (blue-to-purple) are experiencing global sea level rise and a greater vertical rise in the local land, causing an apparent decrease in relative sea level.” [Boldface added] (Citations # 8 & # 9)


Research shows that Tidewater Virginia is sinking, primarily from land compaction as a result of groundwater extraction. Two major wells are largely responsible: one in Franklin and one in West Point. The major problem can be addressed by replacing wells with desalination plants, similar to the one in Carlsbad California, using a technology developed in Israel to prefilter the algae that clogs expensive filters before salty water goes through reverse osmosis. The costs seem very reasonable. (Citations # 10 & 11)


Blaming the problems caused of Tidewater Virginia sinking on sea level rise is like the captain of the Titanic blaming the sinking of his ship on rising seas.




We oppose the “Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17).”


Hard evidence contradicts the myths used by its promoters


Perhaps one day, affordable storage may be available to provide the required back-up for wind and solar on a commercial scale. Today, it is not. Providing the necessary back-up is a massive financial drain, payable by all the consumers on the grid. There is no reason for it. The generators of unreliable electricity should pay for its unreliability. Politicians supporting this measure are being misled by great salesmanship from promoters.


It is critical to solve the problem of the sinking of Tidewater Virginia, and desalination plants as a possible solution.


It is one thing to be optimistic about the future, it is another thing to be blinded by myths contradicted by hard evidence.




Kenneth A. Haapala, President

Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)




# 1. What Rising CO2 Means for Global Food Security

By Staff Writers, The CO2 Coalition, Feb 25, 2019


# 2. Ad Hoc Study Group on Carbon Dioxide and Climate

By Jule G. Charney, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chairman, et al. to the:

Climate Research Board, Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, National Research Council, National Academy of Science, 1979


# 3 A Test of the Tropical 200? to 300?hPa Warming Rate in Climate Models

By Ross McKitrick and John Christy, Earth and Space Science, AGU 100, July 6, 2018


# 4 UAH Global Temperature Update for December 2018: +0.25 deg. C

By Roy Spencer, His Blog, Jan 2, 2019


# 5 December 2018 Maps and Graphs

Including 40 Year Trend (Jan 1979 to Dec 2018)

By Staff, ESSC Global Temperature Report, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Accessed Jan 4, 2019


# 6 The Afternoon Constellation

By Staff Writers, NASA, Accessed Feb 15, 2019


# 7 El Hierro fourth quarter 2018 performance update

By Roger Andrews, Energy Matters, Jan 6, 2019

Contains a graph of real-time generation from wind power.


# 8 US Tidal Gage Data,

By Staff Writers, NOAA, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, Tides and Currents, Revised, Aug 8, 2018


# 9 U.S. Linear Relative Sea Level (RSL) trends and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) in mm/year and in ft/century

By Staff Writers, NOAA, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, Tides and Currents, Revised, Aug 8, 2018


# 10 Water Intrusion in the Chesapeake Bay Region: Is It Caused by Climate-Induced Sea Level Rise?

By Roger H. Bezdek, Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, Aug 2017


# 11 50 Million Gallons a Day

The Pacific is Now on Tap

Claud “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant web site