Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power stations  in Australia?

I am interested in the following claim made below:  "People who live within 50km of coal-fired power stations face a risk of premature death as much as three to four times that of people living further away."

I have read the large and glossy report from which that statistic is allegedly taken but can find no mention of it there.  It must be a very fleeting mention if it is there at all. There was certainly nothing like the formal research report that one would expect to underlie such a claim:  No details of sampling or control for demographic statistics, no table of results etc.

With all Green/Left writing the thing to identify is what they do NOT say.  They regularly just leave out information that would damage their case.  As it happens I have some research background in this field so I know what they have left out.  They did not do an attitude study.  They did not try to find out how bothered people were by the alleged pollution.  They put up a few anecdotes about that but anecdotes prove nothing. You can always find people dissatisfied with anything if you look hard for them.

My survey of the effect of living near a coal mine showed that people did NOT have elevated environmental concerns as a result of that proximity.  And my study was an orthodox and fully described one.  So there is no doubt in existence a degree of pollution associated with Australia's coal mines but it is at a level that is only a minor irritant to those affected by it.  My study was of coal mines in 1980 but, as the report below mentions, the power stations at the time were generally located just about on top of the mines

The report is a beat up. Just more Greenie deception. It was put out by Environmental Justice Australia so I had no real expectation that it would be a work of objective science.  It is just propaganda

AUSTRALIA is trailing behind places like China when it comes to pollution standards and those living near coal-fired power stations are three times more likely to die a premature death, according to a new report.

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) found Australian power stations are allowed to emit far more pollution than those in the US, China and parts of the European Union, and they are not being regulated well enough to protect human health or the environment.

The toxins produced by coal-fired power stations can have a deadly impact on those living nearby. People who live within 50km are about three to four times more likely to die a premature death as those living further away.

The report looked at four pollutants that are extremely harmful to health and have been linked to asthma, respiratory problems, stroke, angina, heart attack and cancer.

It found coal-fired power stations emitted more than 30 toxic substances and are the biggest sources of fine particles PM2.5, sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.

“The mercury limits for some NSW power stations are 666 times higher than the US limits. This is unacceptable,” the report said.

“In almost all cases the emissions limits applied to Australian power stations are significantly less stringent than the standards in the European Union, United States and China.”

What controls that are in place are also not well monitored and rarely enforced.

The EJA has made eight recommendations including that the Federal Government commission an independent assessment of health impacts, develop national emission standards, ask for better monitoring and commit to not building, financing or approving any new coal-fired power stations.

When it comes to air pollution, the report suggested “ultra-supercritical” or “high efficiency low emission” (HELE) power stations were not very effective at reducing pollution.

“The best improvement ultra-supercritical technology can offer over subcritical is about a 14 per cent reduction in pollution emissions,” the report said.

NSW Central Coast resident Gary Blaschke OAM said a lot of the downside of living close to coal-fired power stations had been swept under the carpet.

“If pollution was purple, people would be up in arms. Because we often can’t see it — whether it’s in the air on in the ground — many people don’t even think about it.”


The report Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities mainly looks at four pollutants. They are coarse particles called PM10, fine particles known as PM2.5, sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.

In particular PM2.5 has been linked directly to health risks including asthma, bronchitis, acute and chronic respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and painful breathing, and premature deaths.

It’s been estimated that PM2.5 exposure has led to 1590 premature deaths each year in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

These particles can travel long distances so Sydney residents may feel the impacts of pollution produced by Hunter Valley power stations, but local communities are the most at risk.

People who live within 50km of coal-fired power stations face a risk of premature death as much as three to four times that of people living further away.

It’s been estimated that 18 people living near the now-closed Hazelwood power station in Victoria died premature death due to air pollution in one year.

“The annual health costs of coal-fired power stations across Australia has been estimated at about $2.6 billion a year,” the report said.

“These costs are not factored into wholesale electricity prices or licence fees, and are therefore borne by the community rather than affecting the profits of the power station owners.”



I received the following email from a reader:

I am a follower of your blog.  I saw that you picked up on the outrageous false claims made recently by Environmental Justice Australia.

You may be interested in the results of the Upper Hunter Valley Fine Particulate Matter Characterisation Study undertaken in 2012/2013 by the EPA and CSIRO.

The EPA found (much to their disappointment) the following things:

1.       The dominant source of fine particulate pollution in Muswellbrook is household wood heaters.  Other significant sources are sea salt and biomass smoke.

2.       There is no detectable sulphate particulate pollution from the power stations

3.       There is no detectable unique fingerprint for coal dust in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Indeed, the PM2.5 levels for the Upper Hunter are not too much different from those found in Antarctica (annual average of 4.3ug/m3) when adjusted for factors like wood smoke and biomass burning. (

Crookedness at the EPA -- and how to hit it

Washington D.C., the hub of the federal government, is notorious for extravagant spending and overpriced salaries. For this reason, President Trump ran on a campaign of “draining the swamp”, the swamp being Washington D.C. seemingly endless federal bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the swamp is much bigger than just D.C. A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General highlights the need for a nationwide swamp draining.

According to the EPA website, the mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. For the mission, the EPA has deployed employees and offices across the nation. The EPA has divided the nation into ten regions, each with its own regional director. Region 10 is known as the Seattle region, and serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and the 271 Native tribes therein. A recent inspector general’s report highlighted several disturbing pay related matters in the region.

Government employees are paid on a bi-weekly basis. The rate of pay depends on their General Service (GS) level. The levels go from GS-1 through GS-15, then on to Senior Executive Service (SES) levels. With each pay rate, there is a pay cap. However, the pay cap may be waived for GS employees while conducting work designated as emergency or mission-critical.

The EPA has given the authority to declare disasters or emergencies to management officials in the regions. If an emergency is located in one spot and not spread across two regions, the Regional Administrator will if the event is worthy of lifting the cap. The Regional Administrator may redelegate the authority to declare an emergency to the Assistant Regional Administrator or Deputy Regional Administrator. After the waiver is requested, it then goes to Human Resources Officer (HRO).

The OIG report showed 79 instances of employees exceeding the pay cap in FY15, FY16, and up to January 7, 2017. However, only one of the instances had a waiver request from the regional administrator or another designee, and the approval of the HRO.

There is also one more problem, what is the emergency? What is the emergency that has been going on for two years that no one has heard about? Have these federal employees been bilking taxpayers for two years? Clearly the system broke down, and taxpayers literally paid the price.

Clearly over payments were made, and several people within the chain of command failed to correct the mistake. Congress should immediately investigate the over payments. The funds do not belong to the federal employees, it belongs to the taxpayer’s and should be treated as such.

Firing a government employee is extremely difficult, but Congress does have two options. The first is impeachment. Congress could impeach the Human Resources Officer or the acting Region 10 Administrator for improper disbursement of funds. This would be a long drawn out process, and highly unlikely. The second option is the best.

This is a chance for Congress to implement the Holman rule. The rule allows Congress to reduce the pay of a specific federal employee, fire specific federal employee, and cut a specific program. This can happen because the rule allows amendments to appropriations legislation. It was reinstated earlier this year after being rescinded in 1983.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning stated, “This is a perfect opportunity for the Congress to use the Holman rule to defund the salaries of whichever human resources officers failed to follow the rules in administering additional pay. Additionally, then-Deputy Regional Administrator of EPA region 10 Michelle Pirzadeh, now acting administrator, should be replaced and have her salary defunded if she was aware of the overpaying scheme and failed to take action. Federal rules governing pay to federal employees were not followed, resulting in the overpaying of EPA employees in region 10, and those responsible are not entitled to keep their jobs.”

Using the Holman rule would send a clear message to government employees bilking the system. Congress has often complained about improper disbursement of funds in committee hearings, and now they have a chance to act. If Congress truly wants to restore the first branch of government to its’ rightful place.


Global Ocean Cooling Continues

July Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are now available, and we can see further ocean cooling led by plummeting temps in the  Tropics and the Southern Hemisphere, continuing the downward trajectory from the previous 12 months.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.

The chart below shows the last two years of SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 including July 2017.

In May despite a slight rise in the Tropics, declines in both hemispheres and globally caused SST cooling to resume after an upward bump in April.  Now in July a large drop is showing both in the Tropics and in SH, declining the last 4 months.  Meanwhile the NH is peaking in July as usual, but well down from the previous July.  The net of all this is a slightly lower Global anomaly but with likely additional future cooling led by the Tropics and also SH hitting new lows for this period.

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back to its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added two bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one. Note that Global anomaly for July 2017 matches closely to April 2015.  However,  SH and the Tropics are lower now and trending down compared to an upward trend in 2015.

We have seen lots of claims about the temperature records for 2016 and 2015 proving dangerous man made warming.  At least one senator stated that in a confirmation hearing.  Yet HadSST3 data for the last two years show how obvious is the ocean’s governing of global average temperatures.


Britain Suffers Coldest Summer Holidays In 35 YEARS

BRITAIN is in the grip of its coldest summer holidays for 35 years. Temperatures in London have failed to get any higher than 73F (23C) since schools broke up on July 19. It has been a similar story in Birmingham, while in Newcastle the thermometer has been stuck below a modest 68F (20C).

The depressing figures for July 19 to August 11 show it is the coolest start to the holidays since 1982. Met Office forecaster Charlie Powell said: “As soon as they started it took a bit of a turn for the worse.”

In 20 of the past 35 years, London has seen a temperature of 86F (30C) or more at least once in the first three weeks of the holidays.

Even last year, the top temperature recorded in the capital for the period was 84F (29C). But this year, the country has seen 43 per cent of its usual August rainfall inside the first ten days of the month. It follows the wettest July since 2012. Forecasters say rain will return today with storms later in the week.


Trump To Repeal Obama Executive Order On Sea Level Rise

President Donald Trump will rescind an Obama administration policy requiring government agencies to take into account global warming-induced flooding and sea level rise for federally-funded projects.

Trump will repeat the climate order that President Barack Obama signed in 2015 as part of a broader effort to streamline infrastructure permitting. Administration officials said the current process is long and cumbersome.

“For far too long, critical projects have been delayed by duplicative permitting and environmental requirements which added time and unnecessary expenses to much needed projects,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.

Trump wants to push a $200 billion infrastructure spending bill through Congress this fall, which he hopes will mobilize $800 billion in state and private funding. A cumbersome permitting process could hold up infrastructure projects.

Furthermore, Obama’s executive order to “improve the resilience of communities and federal assets against the impacts of flooding” could increase the upfront costs or even eliminate projects in the pipeline.

Obama wrote sea level rise and flooding are “anticipated to increase over time due to the effects of climate change and other threats.”

Obama’s order required federally-funded projects to be two feet above the 100-year floodplain. Hospitals and other critical buildings must be three feet above the historic floodplain.

The Obama administration also issued a rule requiring federally-financed single family homes must be built two feet above the 100-year floodplain. The National Association of Home Builders worried this rule could increase construction costs and make it harder to build low-income affordable housing.

Environmentalists were critical of Trump’s plan to rollback the 2015 order, as was the right-leaning R Street Institute.

“Taxpayers have been made to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars in disaster-related spending over the past decade, including more than $136 billion for just the two years from 2011 to 2013,” senior fellow R.J. Lehmann said in a statement.

“By contrast, evidence shows that every $1 spent on disaster mitigation can save $4 in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding costs,” Lehmann said.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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