The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a three-year deferral put in place in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that temporarily exempted paper and wood product manufacturers and ethanol producers from curbing the release of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2.

The Appeals Court’s decision cited the U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark 2007 decision in which the justices found that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Without a legislative move the law as written by the Supreme Court will move ahead.  Judge David Tatel writing for the Appeals Court said, “There is no statutory basis for exempting biogenic carbon dioxide” from the EPA’s rule making process.

The judicial moves simply reinforce the lax language of the Clean Air Act that opened the door to regulating things that are nearly senseless.

The deferral that the EPA has been using to keep the industries from disaster applies to biogenic carbon dioxide emissions generated from processes including incinerating wood chips and residue like bark and sawdust to make electricity, decomposition of waste in landfills and fermentation during ethanol production.  All are carbon systems in a cycle with the atmosphere.  No ‘fossil’ carbon is involved.

Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Centre for Biological Diversity, which brought the suit said, “We needed to get a handle on this pollution to get a handle on the American carbon footprint. Now carbon dioxide emissions, and other greenhouse gases, from these sources have to be a part of the overall equation.”

The reality is quite different.   Science, responsible journalists and industry understand and maintain that bio sourced CO2 is “carbon neutral” and should not be regulated like fossil fuels, since plants absorb the carbon dioxide while they are alive and growing.

Paul Noe, an official at the American Forest and Paper Association points out the fact saying, “Trees take the CO2 from the atmosphere when they are growing and when you burn them for energy they are just releasing that back. It’s a cycle. The net contribution to the atmosphere is zero.”

Those facts are going to apply to trees, corn, algae, bacteria, and all the life we might be using to soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and refuel the economy and our lifestyles.

Environmental groups hailed last Friday’s US appeals court decision.   Environmentalists originally brought the case against the EPA but the Forest and Paper Association had to intervene on the government’s behalf to support the temporary suspension of carbon emissions rules on appeal.

The EPA wanted to further study how much of the emissions linked to climate change come from burning plant matter before issuing emission regulations and permit requirements that could be costly to industry and consumers and perhaps derail efforts to switch from fossil fuels to biofuels.

The CO2 matter gets more bizarre with each news event. Its as if no one remembers high school biology.  We inhale oxygen and exhale CO2.  Plants inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen.  One with out the other is a death sentence for all.

The Congress better wake up.  This whole matter is possible over a law that was poorly written, with a history of both good moves and disinformation supporting bad moves on to insanities like regulating ‘dust’.

There is no, repeat no likelihood the EPA, chased by environmentalists will factor into the coming regulations the cost for us to eat, buy a book, build a house, or get some biofuel for our cars.

The immediate effect will be more economic uncertainty to slow down the economy.


1 Comment so far

  1. Graham on July 15, 2013 2:40 AM

    If the argument stands that when trees burn they are simply releasing the CO2 they absorbed when living and there’s no net change in CO2, please remind me what the orginal material for fossil fuels was.

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