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Friday, Mar. 27, 2015

Facing reality on the president's climate change plan

Friday, July 26, 2013

Last month, President Obama delivered a speech on climate change during which he announced his plans to increase regulations and impose a costly national tax on affordable energy sources. He intends to enact this proposal through executive action, avoiding Congress and the citizens they represent. Specifically, the president will authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new carbon emission standards for existing power plants.

While the President touted his plan as an effort to "do more" to combat climate change, it will actually do more to raise energy costs than reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These burdensome new requirements placed on businesses will increase fuel and electricity prices and kill jobs across the country. Hardworking Americans--who will foot the bill when their energy and electricity bills go up--deserve to know exactly how much this new climate change policy will cost.

I agree it is important to examine the science surrounding climate change. I also believe before a problem can be solved, we must understand the nature of the problem itself. While some blame emissions of carbon dioxide for all kinds of harm--including extreme weather--there are various views even within the scientific community.

Earth scientist and Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Dr. Allison Macfarlane--appointed by President Obama--was asked at a hearing earlier this year what the NRC was doing to prepare for "extreme weather." She responded, "I would not call these events extreme. I would call them normal. They may be extreme because we have very limited experience on this earth with them, but they are normal events."

The President's plan also disregards the fact that the United States is not the primary global emitter of greenhouse gases. The biggest sources are China and India, two of our top economic competitors. Moreover, America's share of global greenhouse gas emissions has actually been declining for nearly a decade--from 25 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, China's emissions have skyrocketed, increasing by 173 percent from 1998 to 2011, and show no signs of slowing down.

This reality raises the question of whether the environmental benefits of the President's plan are even discernible and importantly, whether they will be worth harming our country's economy at a time when so many Americans and middle class families are living paycheck to paycheck.

President Obama's order to the EPA to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants would most adversely impact coal-fired plants. America has more than 1,000 coal-fired generators at nearly 600 plant locations that generate 40 percent of America's affordable, reliable energy.

In Nebraska, nearly two-thirds of our state's electricity is produced from coal-fired plants, which are an integral part of our state's public power system. Under the President's plan, Nebraska's primary source of electricity would be disproportionately penalized, resulting in increased compliance costs on utilities and rising energy prices for Nebraska families and businesses.

Members of Congress have an important responsibility to exercise oversight of federal policy decisions impacting their constituents. That is why I am so troubled by the President's call for unilateral, executive action authorizing EPA to implement these new carbon emission standards without Congressional approval.

I co-sponsored legislation that would require the president to submit his new energy tax proposal for a vote in Congress, rather than enacting it through executive fiat. The American people have a right to have their voices heard, and that means having their elected representatives weigh in.

Instead of promoting a regulatory regime that will raise energy prices, kill jobs, and hurt our economy, the president should be putting forth energy proposals that face reality. It's time to move toward the "all of the above" energy strategy the American people were promised and pursue current opportunities we have here at home to enhance our energy supply and lower prices.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.


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Only fear mongers cling to a 28 year old "maybe"/"could be"/"might be" climate crisis.

*Science DOES NOT agree climate change is a crisis, they agree it "MIGHT" be a crisis and it's been 28 years.

*Find us one single IPCC warning that says a crisis is "imminent" or "eventual" or "unavoidable".

*Science can say a comet hit is real but they can't say their own comet hit of an emergency is as real as a comet hit.

*What has to happen now for science to end this costly debate to save the planet and simply say a crisis is certain, not just another unsustainable 28 years of "maybe" crisis actually happening?

When it comes to the ultimate emergency science must be about certainty not "could be" and if "maybe" is good enough to condemn your own children with CO2 death threats.................................did Bush condemn billions to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated crisis?

And get up to date at least:

*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.

*Science has never agreed it WILL be a crisis, only could be a crisis and it's been almost three decades.

*Not one single IPCC warning has ever said any crisis WILL happen, only 28 years of "maybe" a crisis. Prove me wrong.

*Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

*Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.

*Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.

-- Posted by mememine69 on Fri, Jul 26, 2013, at 7:45 AM

Dear Senator Fischer,

Am I missing something here, or are you just that out of touch with your constituents? Surely you understand that this is the second year in a row that most of the State has had Emergency Drought Declarations (over 80%). Two years in a row that Conservation Land harvesting has been allowed. This scenario is being played out all across our country.

The Farmers I speak with are clearly worried that indeed the Climate is changing. Why do you think so much effort was put in the Farm Bill to secure Federally Subsidized Crop Insurance? Take a minute of your time and look at Craigslist Real Estate Listings for the Mountain States which have Timbered and Brushy habitat. Everyone is trying to get rid of their Forested Property because of the Fire Threat due to drought conditions (and most of these states are Red States). I wonder who all these people are listening to. Maybe they are just watching the news -- fire, after fire, after fire, after fire. Just a coincidence I suppose -- or maybe it is better to be safe than sorry.

-- Posted by Geezer on Fri, Jul 26, 2013, at 10:17 PM
Response by Bruce Baker:
Are you implying we have never had wildfires or drought like we have experienced this year? I don't believe that would hold true even when looking at the small amount of time we have been recording such data.

I think there's plenty of proof for climate change. The hard part is figuring out if its man made or just part of the earths natural cycles.

I am a fan of working towards efficient renewable energy regardless of why the climate is changing for reasons beyond climate change.

-- Posted by npwinder on Sat, Jul 27, 2013, at 11:15 PM

Bruce Baker

The US Drought Monitor Map has expanded to include most of the Western States now. Here is a link to the Drought Monitor Map which is updated every Thursday.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/monitor.ht...

As you can see, nearly every State west of the Mississippi is experiencing drought conditions along with severe heat at various levels. It is no longer only a Plains-Midwest event.

The National Interagency Fire Center tracks all Wildland Fires and their associated acreage. Take a look at the following link which summarizes the Fires back to 1960. From the year 1999/2000 thru 2012 the acreages burned were consistently much higher than the average of all the years combined.

http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_st...

Following is an article from Ag Weekly, July 24, 2013 -- discussing the Northwest Land Value Survey results. One item that is apparent in the report is the decrease in land value due to concerns over irrigation water shortages and drought conditions.

http://www.agweekly.com/articles/2013/07...

As far as your comment about the drought not being a record setter -- I will let the State of Nebraska Natural Resource Survey publication summarizing their preliminary findings on Ground Water Level Changes due to the 2012 drought speak for itself.

http://snr.unl.edu/data/download/water/G...

Following is a Youtube link by the authors of the publication giving additional information and how different natural resource districts are dealing with the situation.

Best Regards

-- Posted by Geezer on Mon, Jul 29, 2013, at 5:24 PM

Oops, forgot the last link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9vAxchPT...

Sorry about that!

-- Posted by Geezer on Mon, Jul 29, 2013, at 5:27 PM

The ice core record shows increased atmospheric CO2 is a result of burning fossil fuels, not natural methane releases.

http://bit.ly/130aO0d

-- Posted by bcrosby on Tue, Jul 30, 2013, at 8:05 AM

Geezer,

That is a wealth of great information and I appreciate it, however, most of it has little to do with my comment.

The drought monitor shows the country is currently facing unusual and widespread drought, I don't dispute that.

The interagency fire tracker actually shows we saw more acres burn in 2006 than in 2012, and as recent as 2010 dipped to 3 million acres burned, which is less than the 4.4 million acres that burned in 1960. I would also add that our knowledge, technology and ability to combat fires has improved dramatically over the years and I would have to think that would impact our philosophy pertaining to when we should let fires burn and when we should invest in the fight. My point is that reporting and fire fighting philosophy can easily shift that report.

I don't see anything in the Real Estate land value report that would leave me to believe that ag land is experiencing any sort of dramatic decrease due to the drought. Some of the states are seeing slight decreases in value, and attribute it as you mention, but the decreases don't appear to be anything out of the norm, considering the typical ebb and flow of real estate.

The groundwater report too offers some great information, but again little to do with climate change and more pertaining to mismanagement of water being pumped at an increasingly excessive rate from several of Nebraska's aquifers.

I love the ice core research that is being done and bcrosby mentions as well. The problem I have with this research is that it is consistently used to place our nation at a competitive disadvantage globally. The U.S. is a SMALL fraction when considering the planets burning of fossil fuels and logically this should be fought on a global level. We should not place costly restrictions on our own energy producers in the politically motivated name of saving the planet when in reality it is an insignificant amount given the whole. Fight the issue globally and perhaps leverage our international aid to encourage compliance, but do not hurt our own economy in the name of a deceptively ineffective cause.

-- Posted by Bruce Baker on Thu, Aug 1, 2013, at 12:06 PM

Bruce

I have to disagree with your assessment in regards to the wildfire/drought connection.

You are making some incorrect assumptions about management of wild fires. Yes, often fires are used to achieve management goals for long term ecosystem health and resilience. Prescribed burns to accomplish this task are done when temperatures, humidity, and other factors are ideal. Wildfires left to burn are usually done so due to a lower priority classification and limited resources, or the remote nature and accessibility of the fire.

Part of the problem is severe drought, resulting in extreme fire weather, very large fires and longer fire seasons. Since 2000, at least 10 States have had their largest fires on record, and some have had their records broken more than once. In 2000, for the first time since the 1950s, more than seven million acres burned nationwide; and in 2012, more than nine million acres burned. In FY 1991, for example, fire-related activities accounted for about 13 percent of our total budget; by FY 2012, it was 40 percent.

Some 70,000 communities are now at risk from wildfires. Following is a link to an April 16, 2013 testimony before the Senate Committee On Energy and Natural Resources by Tim Tidwell, Chief of the USDA Forest Service. He sums up the situation pretty well in my opinion.

http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/inde...

I don't see in the Ground Water Report where it mentions excessive pumping or over allocation as being the root cause of the above normal draw down measurements made this spring. Do you have some information you would like to share with us?

My thoughts were more along the lines of why some of the wells didn't have record low levels in the fall, yet still ended up the following spring with a record drawdown. Recharge rates were lower than historical average -- just a coincidence I guess.

Many areas in the Western States are experiencing drought conditions on Public Lands. Ranchers and Farmers utilizing Grazing Rights and Water Rights on or from Public Lands no longer have the security of ample feed and a constant source of water. Springs are coming earlier, the summers are longer and much hotter, and many of the watersheds are in very poor condition.

The Mountain West has always enjoyed ample sources of natural spring water for drinking purposes. In the Mountains, drilled water sources are rarer than hens teeth. Mountain and Timbered Land has suffered a decrease in value across the board due to lack of adequate spring water and the threat of wildfires.

Your take on the ice cores and CO2 emissions is not quite accurate. The leading emitters in 2011 were China 28%, US 16%, EU27 11%, India 7.5% - amounting to 62% of all emissions. On the other hand the US was the top emitter per person with 20 tons CO2 per capita. China has a per capita rate of 7 tons, one third the rate of the US.

China has a population of 1,359,130,000 -- the US has a population of 316,378,000.

You are right that all countries will have to be part of the solution -- that includes the US.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNBPDl5A2...

-- Posted by Geezer on Sun, Aug 4, 2013, at 2:52 PM

Geezer,

16% says it all.

Just change the campaign slogan from "Saving the planet" to "Setting the example with 16% of the problem, on the backs of your local utility rates" and I will stop using words like deceptive, although, ineffective still holds true.

If you want to set an example, install a solar panel at your home, we have already invested millions in that technology, because someone had to do it.

-- Posted by Bruce Baker on Mon, Aug 5, 2013, at 9:08 AM

Bruce, you are right about the decline in the aquifer. It is not climate change but increase in pumping.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Aug 6, 2013, at 4:10 PM

Bruce and Dennis

Both of you have made statements regarding 2012 water table drawdown amounts being due to over pumping and mismanagement. Do you have some hard facts that support your claims?

Claims of mismanagement of Nebraska's natural resources by those responsible for overseeing those resources is rather strong language, since we are pointing fingers at the local and State level now.

Pumping is definitely the method most commonly used to bring aquifer water to the surface for use -- but claiming drawdown amounts were due to over pumping and mismanagement seems more speculation than fact.

Many areas of the country are now experiencing longer growing seasons along with excessive heat and drought. These factors may play a key role in how and when the crops receive water. Most farmers I know water their crops to meet the plants requirements at certain stages of growth. Sometimes rainfall amounts will be sufficient to satisfy this requirement, sometimes they aren't. The farmer has to meet these requirements one way or the other.

Since some crops are now staying in the ground weeks longer than used to be the case, we should expect the plants water needs to be somewhat greater. The tradition has been to sow the seeds as early as possible since opportunities to perform this important task are not always available at times of your choosing.

I don't believe the farmers are intentionally over pumping, they are merely trying to meet the plants needs in an ever changing environment. That is not a case of mismanagement, but more a case of misfortune brought on by Climate Change. I don't know of any farmers that pump water when they don't need to -- that is just crazy talk.

Following is a link to an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette showing how perceptions toward Climate Change are reversing. Just another coincidence I suppose.

http://thegazette.com/2013/08/10/wacky-w...

-- Posted by Geezer on Mon, Aug 12, 2013, at 11:12 AM

Geezer,

My comment pertaining to mismanagement and over-pumping of several Nebraska aquifers, not all aquifers mind you, came directly from the Youtube video link that you posted, pertaining to how the natural resource districts are dealing with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9vAxchPT...

You might want to take a look at it and watch it all the way through.

I believe the last comment is something to the effect of there being a limit to the amount we can pump and still maintain the local ecosystem.

-- Posted by Bruce Baker on Tue, Aug 13, 2013, at 8:30 AM


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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer
Note from Washington
Deb. Fischer of Valentine, Nebraska, was elected to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 6, 2012. Previously, she served two years in the Nebraska Legislature, representing the 43rd District.