Is the EPA a 'Jobs Killer'?
Established with support from Congress in 1970 under Republican President Richard Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was once considered “above partisanship.” In that State of the Union address, Nixon said, “We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences.”
Today, Congress and Republicans have launched a war against the organization, claiming that its regulations are too harsh and kill jobs. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson can be seen in various media defending the organization.
Does the EPA kill jobs?
"There's no credible economist who says that our current financial crisis was related to environmental regulation or over-regulation,” said Jackson. “In fact, in the housing market, many people feel that it was the lack of oversight and regulation that helped contribute to the catastrophic failure that has affected so many Americans."
Additionally, polls continue to show that the majority of Americans want the EPA around to protect their health.
"No one believes we're going to create jobs by getting rid of environmental protection,” said Jackson.
In her opinion, the attacks on environmental laws are not backed up with factual arguments and the clean energy sector creates thousands of new jobs every year. She approximates that “less than 0.5% of job losses are attributed to any kind of governmental regulation,” in another interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
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What about President Obama's delay on stricter standards of smog pollution?
The President has been cited saying that there is an importance of reducing regulatory burdens as our economy continues to recover.
Though different from her recommendations, Jackson respects the President's decision and responds, “In light of a new ozone standard situation for 2013, the most prudent course is to wait until 2013 for the latest scientific data.”
She adds that he is firmly behind cross state air pollution rules and expects stricter standards to be set for coal-fired facilities to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
But where are all the promised clean energy jobs?
"They're here—They're coming and they're also here,” according to Jackson.
The President had to deal with an incredible burden of job loss in the beginning of his presidency in all markets. But, “When you look across the landscape of our country and look at the different sectors—recognizing that our housing market and that sector is still recovering—the jobs of the future and the sectors that are going to grow are going to be in the energy sector,” said Jackson.
"The president is saying that we can't move away from giving rules of the road and guidance so that cleaner energy types are not disadvantaged compared to polluting energy types. There are ways to make traditional energy much much cleaner and we should be investing in them. And when you invest in them you create jobs," Jackson concludes.
A recent report released by the Association of Energy Engineers examines green job growth, trends and opportunities:
• ACEEE reports that existing energy efficiency standards created a net 340,000 American jobs in 2010.
• According to the Center for American Progress (March 2010 report): By 2020, clean energy will be one of the world’s biggest industries, totaling as much as $2.3 trillion.
• A Pike Research report (2011) indicates that the U.S. retro-commissioning market could grow from $160 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion by 2014, under an aggressive forecast scenario. The baseline scenario still provides for significant growth, up to $759 million by 2014.
Furthermore, solar jobs have grown 6.8 percent from August 2010 to August 2011--ten times more jobs than the overall economy--according to the Solar Foundation's National Jobs Census.
And the list goes on...
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere