Sept 23 2020 Wheeler Rebutted

 

I opened a newsletter-email and was forewarned not to read Wheeler’s recent speech to American Enterprise Institute, to read it sitting down. It should have said “don’t read with sharp objects near by.” It was upsetting and I wrote to an environmental group to which I belong and said “where’s the rebuttal?”. Well, here’s a good one reprinted. Do read this sitting, standing, or lying on a beach!

Wheeler seeks to paint EPA regulatory rollbacks as environmentally
 friendly

By Rachel Frazin <https://thehill.com/author/rachel-frazin> – 09/21/20 
12:54 PM EDT

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler 
<https://thehill.com/people/andrew-wheelerr> on Monday sought to portray 
some of the agency’s most significant regulatory rollbacks as 
environmentally friendly.

During a speech at the right-wing think tank American Enterprise 
Institute, the country’s top environmental official touted rules 
governing regulation from power plants, vehicle emissions and methane 
emissions as actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He also praised the agency’s move to regulate aviation emissions.

“Just at EPA, the Trump administration in its first term has taken four 
concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gases,” Wheeler said.

However, some of the rules are expected to provide significantly fewer 
emissions reductions than the Obama-era rules they replaced.

One rule Wheeler highlighted was the SAFE vehicles rule 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/490318-trump-administration-rolls-back-obama-era-fuel-efficiency-standards>, 
which requires automakers to produce vehicles whose fuel economies 
average 40 mpg by 2026 instead of the Obama administration’s 55 mpg by 2025.

The change is expected to result in an additional 867 million metric 
tons 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/491608-trump-rollback-of-obama-era-mileage-standards-faces-challenges-in>of 
carbon emitted into the atmosphere through 2029.

Another rule touted by Wheeler is the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, 
which replaced 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/449303-trump-admin-submits-final-rule-to-kill-obama-clean-power-plan>the 
Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The new rule gives states more 
time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to 
ease emissions from coal plants and does not set emissions caps.

Wheeler said Monday that the rule would reduce carbon emissions from 34 
percent from 2005 levels by 2030, while the Obama administration said 
its rule would reduce emissions 32 percent.

However, the agency’s analysis of the rule said that, compared to no 
regulation, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million tons 
by 2030, while the agency estimated that the Clean Power Plan would 
reduce emissions by 415 million tons.

The Supreme Court issued a decision in 2016 that temporarily halted the 
Obama rule’s implementation.

Wheeler on Monday also touted rules “making it easier and less expensive 
for natural gas companies to capture fugitive methane emissions,” 
referring to emissions that accidentally leak out.

A new agency rule reduces the frequency of monitoring 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/511915-epa-rescinds-methane-emissions-regulations-from-oil-and-gas-sector>for 
fugitive emissions from facilities that help process and transport 
natural gas by half and exempts small wells from monitoring for this.

His comments come as a Rhodium Group analysis estimated that actions 
taken by the Trump administration could cause the release of an extra 
1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/517064-trump-rollbacks-could-add-18-billion-tons-of-greenhouse-gas
by 2035.

However, Wheeler also toed the line between characterizing his actions 
as good for the environment and criticizing the prior administration as 
too focused on climate change.

He criticized what he described as the Obama administration’s 
“overweening focus on climate change took the form of virtue-signaling 
in foreign capitals.”

During the appearance, he also sought to downplay the role of climate 
change on wildfires currently ravaging the West Coast.

“I believe that the forest fires in the west are mostly caused by poor 
forest management and not climate change,” Wheeler said.

Scientists have expressed 
<https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/climate-change-is-worsening-californias-hellish-wildfires/
concern 
<https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/climate-change-and-wildfires>that 
climate change contributes to heat and dryness that allow fires to 
spread more rapidly.

Many forests in these states are managed by the federal government 
rather than the states.

In a call hosted by the Biden campaign on Monday, former EPA 
administrators including Republicans, criticized Wheeler’s speech.

“All I can say is if he would just substitute ‘delete, destroy’ for the 
word ‘improve’ he’d be right on,” said Christine Todd-Whitman, a former 
New Jersey governor who also served as EPA administrator under the 
George W. Bush administration.”This administration has done more to roll 
back protections for human health and the environment than any I can 
think of.”

“Honestly this reminds me of President Trump 
<https://thehill.com/people/donald-trump>’s claiming to have done more 
for African Americans than Abraham Lincoln,” said former administrator 
Bill Reilly, who served under George H.W. Bush. “You go through these 
specific rules that have been proposed by the administration and an 
invariable characteristic of the defense of those rules is their 
reduction in cost.”