You Ought to Have a Look: Fighting DoE Efficiency Standards, Fracking to Go Global, and a ‘Hairy Panic’

You Ought to Have a Look is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger.  While this section will feature all of the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic. Here we post a few of the best in recent days, along with our color commentary.

Let’s begin this installment of You Ought to Have a Look with a peek at the heroic attempt by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) to try to reel in the fanatical actions by the Department of Energy (DoE) to regulate the energy usage (operation) of virtually all the appliances in your home. The DoE effort is being undertaken as part of President Obama’s broader actions to mitigate climate change as directed under his Climate Action Plan. It is an extremely intrusive action and one that interferes with the operation of the free market.

We have been pushing back (through the submission of critiques during the public comment period of each new proposed regulation), but the sheer number and repetition of newly proposed regulations spilling forth from the DoE overwhelms our determination and wherewithal.

Rep. Burgess’s newly introduced legislation seeks to help lighten our suffering.

Bill H.R. 4504, the “Energy Efficiency Free Market Act of 2016” would “strike all government-mandated energy efficiency standards currently required on a variety of consumer products found in millions of American homes.”

Burgess reasons:

“The federal government must trust the American people to make the right decisions when it comes to the products they buy. When the government sets the efficiency standard for a product, that often becomes the ceiling. I have long been a firm believer in energy efficiency; however, when the market drives the standard, there’s no limit to how fast and how aggressive manufacturers will be when consumers demand more efficient and better made products.”

“Government standards have proven to be unworkable. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution was meant as a limitation on federal power. It was never intended to allow the federal government to micromanage everyday consumer products that do not pose a risk to human health or safety.”

 

Bravo!

The full text of H.R. 5404, the “Energy Efficiency Free Market Act of 2016” can be found here.

The bigger point is that the free market will drive efficiency improvements at the rate that the market bears. It doesn’t need government “help.”

Take the shale gas revolution that came about via the technologies of fracking and horizontal drilling. Not only did this unlock loads of natural gas from geologic formations never thought to relinquish their holdings economically, but the fuel being recovered (natural gas) produces fewer climate relevant carbon dioxide emissions to generate electricity than does coal, in effect, doing the DoE’s and President Obama’s work for them.

But is the President happy about this? Of course not. In fact, buried with the now stayed Clean Power Plan are disincentives to further build out natural gas fueled power plants.

But, the Administration efforts to reign in natural gas development aren’t anticipated to constrain the adoption of the natural gas extraction technologies to the rest of the world.

In its recently-released Annual Energy Outlook, BP anticipates:

Technological innovation and productivity gains have unlocked vast resources of tight oil and shale gas, causing us to revise the outlook for US production successively higher…

Globally, shale gas is expected to grow by 5.6% p.a. between 2014 and 2035, well in excess of the growth of total gas production.  As a result, the share of shale gas in global gas production more than doubles from 11% in 2014 to 24% by 2035…

As with the past 10 years, the growth of shale gas supply is dominated by North American production, which accounts for around two-thirds of the increase in global shale gas supplies. But over the Outlook period, we expect shale gas to expand outside of North America, most notably in Asia Pacific and particularly in China, where shale gas production reaches 13 Bcf/d by 2035.

The rapidly expanding global production of natural gas means that when it comes to business-as-usual projections of future greenhouse gas emissions, we ought to be favoring the ones with faster declines in the carbon intensity of the energy supply. These BAU scenarios, coupled with an equilibrium climate sensitivity towards the low end of consensus estimates means that the overall global temperature rise (over the pre-industrial conditions) of somewhere in the neighborhood 2.0°C by the end of this century is well within the realm of possibilities—even without an international climate agreement (or a carbon tax in the U.S.).

You are not hearing of this possibility many places besides here (for example, here and here). So stay tuned in!

Finally, on the lighter side, in the all-bad-things-come-from-climate-change department, is a story a town in Australia that is experiencing a “hairy panic.” No, it’s not a crisis brought about by a local shortage of razor blades, or the lingering effects from no-shave November,  but rather an invasion of a type of Australian tumbleweed.

Check it out!

Of course, no opportunity to relate any sort of human misery to global warming passes by. In this case, to shield yourself from the exposure to unnecessary nonsense, you probably ought not have a look!