Texas Pollution Apologist Weighs in on Kansas Coal Fight

Thu, 2008-03-13 15:41Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Texas Pollution Apologist Weighs in on Kansas Coal Fight

With the final decision on the future of coal-fired power in Kansas now resting on a veto by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, the industry-friendly think tankers are pulling out some pretty desperate rhetoric.

Case in point is this article penned by Kathleen Harnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Harnett White claims that she courageously made the decision to approve the first new coal-fired plant in Texas in 20 years because she was convinced that, “…equipped with groundbreaking emission controls [the new plant], was a net environmental benefit for Texas.”

Harnett White goes on to explain what strange logic one would require to come to the conclusion that a coal-fired generation plant can have a net environmental benefit:

“Lost in the outcry over carbon dioxide are these considerations:

CO2 represents only 5 percent of global greenhouse gas. CO2 added by human activity such as power plants constitutes only 3.4 percent of all CO2.

As predicted by the reigning science of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the risk of global warming from human-induced greenhouse gases such as CO2 is an uncertain, remote, gradual risk with impacts predicted in 100 years or more.”

I guess once you ignore the entire body of conventional science around human-induced global warming, it is quite easy to make the leap to coal plants having a net environmental benefit.

As the Wichita Eagle's Editorial blog rightly states:

She [Harnett White] also makes misleading, unsupported assertions on science, claiming that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change portrays global warming as an 'uncertain, remote, gradual risk with impacts predicted in 100 years or more.' To the contrary, the panel’s study is unequivocal on the high risks of warming, the environmental damage already under way, and the urgency of controlling carbon and greenhouse gases now.”

And more to the point, the Dallas Morning Star penned a devastating editorial on Harnett White in July, 2007 that makes her strange net environmental benefit logic even more clear:

She [Harnett White] has been an apologist for polluters, consistently siding with business interests instead of protecting public health. Ms. White worked to set a low bar as she lobbied for lax ozone standards and pushed through an inadequate anti-pollution plan. She also voted to approve TXU's pollution-intensive Oak Grove coal units, ignoring evidence that emissions from the lignite plant could thwart North Texas' efforts to meet air quality standards.

With all that explained, the only question I have left is, why did any newspaper print such garbage in the first place?


CO2 represents only 5 percent of global greenhouse gas.” – Harnett White

Great, yet another instance of the common denialist practice of making up “facts” from nowhere.

Outside the alternate universe, CO2 represents way way way more than half of all greenhouse gases, and accounts for 9–26% of the greenhouse effect:

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/221.htm (note the different units: ppm, ppb, ppt)


Frank Bi, fact-addict and anti-lie bigot

“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Using the IPCC WG1 figures:

Concentration of all greenhouse gases except CO2
= (1,745 + 314)ppb + (80 + 3 + 4.2 + 14 + 7.5 + .5 + 268 + 533 + 4 + 84 + 15 + 7 + 102 + 69 + 132 + 10 + 11 + 3.8 + 2.5)ppt
= 2,060,350.5ppt

CO2 concentration
= 365ppm
= 365,000,000ppt

Fraction of greenhouse gases that are CO2
= 365,000,000ppt / (365,000,000 + 2,060,350.5)ppt
= 99.4%

- - -

Edit: Barton Paul Levenson pointed out that the above calculation only includes well-mixed greenhoue gases, and doesn’t take water vapour (which is about 3,900ppm) into account. But even then, the percentage of CO2 in greenhouse gases is still not 5%.

Frank Bi, fact-addict and anti-lie bigot

“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

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