Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why the NRDC must be carefully watched

Chip wrote:

> The Kate sets the record straight on why the EPA's proposed power
> plant CO 2 emissions go easy on methane. Because power plant rules 
> per se don't address methane. . . they address power plants.
> Not for nothing is she The Kate.

Sorry Chip, I'm not buying it.

I'm not sure why you go so hard on the EDF but give NRDC a free pass.

It sounds to me like NRDC is running cover for the EPA,
which, with these rules,  are clearly promoting fracking
(at the expense of coal).

Everyone who has a casual understanding of the facts
knows the intent and expected outcome of these rules
will be



-- each of these have massive environmental impacts.

Three points:

1: EPA's rule must include impacts of "related projects" under NEPA

While Kate @ NRDC claims,

"Simply put, there is no place in [the EPA's new power plant rules]
to tackle emissions from so-called "upstream" production of oil and gas."

Sorry-- There clearly IS such a mechanism, and it's NEPA:

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a proposed action must consider the impacts
of all "closely related" projects
, avoid project segmentation, and take into account
Cumulative Impacts.

This was the big takeaway from the recent Delaware Riverkeeper vs. FERC* case,
where the Circuit Court of DC ruled that FERC had allowed project segmentation
of "closely related projects" and thus failed to take into account cumulative impacts
in four separate pipeline projects involving the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company
(Kinder Morgan).
  • New EPA rules demand conversion of coal-fired plants to gas-fired,
  • Gas-fired power plants require a connection to a transmission line
    (which all leak, have blowdowns, etc),
  • ...which requires compressor stations (notorious emittors of GHGs and other pollutants), 
  • ... which requires storage facilities (which all leak)
  • and which require SHALE GAS FRACKING, which leak methane via multiple vectors,
    and also are known to contaminate groundwater:

Thus, there is a clear argument under NEPA that FRACKING, and Pipelines are
"closely related" to gas-fired power plants, thus the cumulative impacts of these
MUST be examined by the EPA power plant rules (but are not).

I am a little surprised that Kate either doesn't know this (unlikely) or is unwilling
to make this clear argument under NEPA.

Why would NRDC basically give EPA a pass, citing some (as yet)
theoretical regulation of methane emissions of fracking directly?

And why should we trust the EPA?

Let us recall the EPA abruptly cancelled THREE investigations into groundwater
contamination from fracking
during a Presidential election year.

This maybe pleased Mr. "All of the Above" Obama, but the people in Pavillion WY,
Parker Co. TX, and DImock PA, and MANY other affected people as the
map above shows, are NOT SO HAPPY with the EPA.

I think someone should file lawsuit against EPA  claiming these new
Power Plant rules violate NEPA using the argument in Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC.

But it doesn't sound like it will be NRDC.
Unless Kate has a change of heart?

2: NRDC understimates GHG potential of Methane

In their comments arguing for "direct regulation of the Oil and Gas Sector" they are using obsolete conversion factors
for Greenhouse Gas Potential of Methane.

They cite the 2013 IPCC report as authoritative that
methane is 87x the GHG potential of CO2 @ 20 years,

However, neither the IPCC report nor the NRDC's comments cite the 2011 paper
by Howarth, Santoro, and Ingraffea
which says that it is more likely
105x CO2's effect @ 20 years.

Also several studies recently have reported that methane leaks from
a) gas development areas, b) the entire distribution system--
from gathering line systems, transmission lines, and local distribution
networks, are all occurring at much higher rates than previously estimated.

Thus, the combination with the understated GHG potential of methane
@ 20 years, PLUS the leaky production/distrubution network -- which
gas fired plants will require (more if which the new EPA rules will demand)
will pose an extremely serious threat to Global Warming.

I believe Kate/NRDC should take a much more aggressive posture at fighting these rules.

3: NRDC & "Gang Green" do some good work, but must be carefully watched

I will admit that NRDC has done some good work recently.

e.g.,  I recall a recent lawsuit in the Town of Sanford over a gag order on
public comments, a clear violation of the First Amendment and NY Open Meetings Law:

Good stuff NRDC!
Thanks! Keep it up!

However, I can easily recall many other times the NRDC
(and similar orgs) have betrayed the public interest,
and NEGOTIATED AGREEMENTS which opened up the doors
to great environmental destruction.


Implicit in many of these comments is the concept of
"special places" vs. "sacrifice zones"

i.e., the people who live in densely populated areas get special protections (e.g. NYC Watershed)
along with a few "Trout Streams" and "exceptional value watersheds" (Delaware River Basin), etc.,
while people who live in other areas (Susquehanna River Basin), and people generally
in "Class 1" remote or rural areas
(generally poor, indigenous, with little political power) get fracked.

What I see is that NRDC, Earth Justice, Riverkeeper, Sierra and others in this class
DO NOT seem to  ever argue for a complete ban everywhere, due to the fact
that these activities
(fracking, etc) are inherently toxic.

Because maybe a ban would put them out of work?

Their bread-and-butter activity seems to be writing the "safe regulations" and arguing
for special protections for special places.

If you don't happen to live in a "special place" according to them... well sorry, you get fracked.

Since my watershed is already getting fracked,
you might imagine that I'm not fond of that kind of reasoning.

Bottom Line: Thank them for the good work that they sometimes do,
but NEVER take your eyes off these folks.

I don't know what it is, but Gang Green (inc. NRDC) seems to have a great tendency
towards making deals with the devils of industry.

Read every word they say,
and NEVER give them a free pass.


On Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 8:10 PM, Chip Northrup <> wrote:
 The Kate sets the record straight on why the EPA's proposed power plant CO 2 emissions go easy on methane. Because power plant rules  per se don't address methane. . . they address power plants. Not for nothing is she The Kate.


May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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