Barack Obama’s standards pollution

Strange moment in history of the word “standard”

Feeling unable to pass climate legislation through the legislative bodies of the country he was elected President of, Barack Obama turned to the country’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set regulations on the emissions of carbon dioxide.

The New York Times reported early in July that a lobby group produced much of the complex legislation, and because it’s an anti-nuclear lobby group, Rod Adams of Atomic Insights was noting by the end of the summer that the complex regulation appeared to reward states for replacing nuclear with natural gas.

The other day I read a tweet attributing the following graph to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF):

Curious, I hopped over to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and grabbed a couple of data tables from the most recent Electric Power Annual page.

I’ve calculated the CO2 intensity per kWh (CIPK – g/kWh) for each state as per 2012 CO2 emissions and generation figures from the EIA data (in this spreadsheet), and produced the same type of chart, with the lowest CPIK states indicated in blue (as honest people assuming an honest President might think the states the EPA figures can increase emissions intensity currently have low emissions intensity), medium in grey, and the highest CPIK states in orange.

The graphs should allow people to draw their own conclusions, but here’s a few of the things that struck me:

  • West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska are contiguous, all have CPIK’s amongst the highest third now but all may go higher under the EPA “standard” according to the BNEF map
  • South Carolina is shown in the BNEF map as requiring a decrease of 36% and Ohio of 2% – SC’s 2012 CPIK is ~350 g/kWh, OH’s about 736
  • California is shown in the BNEF map as having latitude to increase it’s CPIK, while New York is to cut 53%; CA’s 2012 CPIK is higher than NY’s

When Barack Obama forced the phrase “carbon pollution” I thought that was pushing the boundaries linuistically – like referencing the drowned as victims of “water pollution.”

This EPA tool isn’t functionally about carbon pollution – it’s demonstrative of standards pollution.


see also: Emission-free nuclear industry blasts EPA plan


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