Acid Rain - Monitoring SO2 in a Flue Gas Desulfurization Unit

by Applied Analytics


From the 1970s through the 1990s, acid rain was the main environmental concern. Lakes1, vegetation2 and animals3 were affected.

The New York Times reported in 1979:“The rapid rate at which rainfall is growing more acidic in more areas has led many scientists and governmental officials to conclude that acid rain is developing into one of the most serious worldwide environmental problems of the coming decades.”4

What is acid rain?
 
Acid rain simply refers to rain or other precipitants that have uncommonly high acidity. This is a result of SO2 in the air that dissolves in water creating sulfuric acid. The source of this SO2 is largely power plants that burn fossil fuels.
 
EPA
 
The EPA, under the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, created the Acid Rain Program (ARP). The aim was to reduce the amount of NO2 and SO2 emissions, while allowing for the industry to employ cost-effective technology to achieve this goal. As the following graph shows, the program was a remarkable success.

Figure 1. SO2 Emissions from CSAPR and ARP Sources, 1980–2016 (ARP- The Acid Rain Program; CSAPR -Cross-State Air Pollution Rule)5

The EPA reports concluded that experience with the Clean Air Act since 1970 has shown that protecting public health and building the economy can go hand in hand.6 Furthermore, “The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe. Between 1990 and 2017, national concentrations of air pollutants improved... 88 percent for sulfur dioxide”7


Figure 2. Note. Data for SO2 concentration from SO2 Air Quality, 1980-2017 (Annual 99th percentile of Daily Max 1-hour Average) National Trend based on 42 sites. 90% decrease in national average8

The Technology
 
Flue gas desulfurization units are used to remove SO2 from flue gas; the process is also called scrubbing. The most common type is limestone scrubbing, in which the flue gas is stripped by dissolution into water. The stripped gas reacts with the limestone (CaCO3) resulting in solid residue, in this case calcium sulfite (CaSO3). The scrubbing efficiency is usually higher than 90%. To achieve this level of efficiency, the concentration of SO2 must be monitored both before and after the process.
 
The Analysis
 
The OMA-300 measures a full, high-resolution spectrum. This allows for both applications to be monitored continuously by the same analyzer, from 4000 ppm to 10 ppm full scale. Hence, it provides an indication of the process’ effectiveness by measuring the SO2 before and after the flue gas desulfurization unit.


Figure 3: Absorbance spectra of SO2 40 ppm and 4000 ppm, demonstrating that one analyzer can be used for both applications simultaneously. The absorbances at different wavelengths are correlated to the SO2 concentration.

The Future
 
While controlling industrial SO2 emission in North America and Western Europe has been largely successful, acid rain is still a problem in rapidly growing economies such as China and India. Even the famous Taj Mahal in Agra is facing corrosion of its marble9. Hopefully, in the very near future, these burgeoning regions will implement the same technology and regulations that worked so well in more established countries.
 
References
 
1. WILLIAM K. STEVENSJAN , ‘Study of Acid Rain Uncovers a Threat To Far Wider Area’, New York times, 16, 1990.
2. WILLIAM K. STEVENSAPRIL, ‘The Forest That Stopped Growing: Trail Is Traced to Acid Rain’ New York Times, 16, 1996 .
3. LES LINEMARCH ‘Acid Rain Leading to Moose Deaths’ , New York Times, 12, 1996.
4. (BAYARD WEBSTERNOV. “Acid Rain: An Increasing Threat” New York Times 6,11, 1979).
9. Henry Fountain and John Schwartz ‘Have We Passed the Acid Test?’ New York Times May 2, 2018


EPA restores common sense to overaggressive water regulations

by Tim Huelskamp and James Taylor


The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it is rolling back some of the excessive, and possibly illegal, water regulations imposed by the Obama administration. EPA’s announcement is a welcome relief for homeowners and property owners impacted by overly aggressive EPA officials.

As a federal executive agency, EPA can only enforce laws that have been passed by Congress. While EPA has some rule making authority, it cannot make up laws of its own and then decide to enforce them. This is a very important check against a dictatorial presidency or executive branch. Regarding water regulations, Congress, via the Clean Water Act, has given the executive branch authority to regulate only those bodies of water that are “navigable waters of the United States.”

EPA has always asserted a broad definition for navigable waters. Dating back to the 1980s, EPA has asserted it can regulate smaller, streams and tributaries that cannot be navigated but that flow into navigable waters. EPA has also asserted it can regulate wetlands that are adjacent to navigable waters.

The Obama administration attempted in 2015 to further expand the definition of navigable waters to include such entities as isolated ponds, dormant stream beds that are dry most of the year, and minor depressions in the land that hold water only in the immediate aftermath of significant rainfall.

The consequences of the 2015 regulatory overreach can, and have been, devastating. Overly aggressive EPA officials tell farmers they cannot manage or cultivate farmlands that hold isolated puddles merely a few days of the year. Homeowners are told they cannot landscape or fill in nuisance depressions in their property that hold water briefly after a heavy rain. Federal bureaucrats have stripped homeowners and families of practical ownership rights to property they have purchased and managed for generations. Property owners who defy the EPA and other federal bureaucrats face steep penalties and fines.

Citizen lawsuits have been moderately successful challenging the Obama administration’s overreach. Courts have blocked enforcement of the Obama administration’s 2015 regulations in 28 states. Still, homeowners and landowners in the remaining 22 states remain subject to the oppressive 2015 regulations. The issue has been a likely candidate for eventual Supreme Court review, but in the meantime, people remain subject to the unfair policy.

The Trump EPA is thankfully proposing to restore common sense to EPA regulatory authority. The agency proposes to walk back the Obama administration’s asserted authority to regulate stream beds and land depressions that are usually dry. EPA will no longer regulate wetlands unless they are “physically and meaningfully connected” to waters under EPA jurisdiction. EPA will also eliminate subjective criteria for determining whether land or water features qualify under navigable waters jurisdiction, granting individuals more certainty about how they can use their property. These corrections are long overdue, and represent another example of President Trump keeping campaign promises to reduce environmental and regulatory overreach.

Environmental activists are sounding an alarm about potential environmental harms, but their arguments are weak. EPA will still regulate all navigable waters, as well as meaningful permanent and intermittent tributaries to navigable waters. Also, very importantly, all 50 states have their own environmental laws and regulations, allowing regulation above and beyond navigable waters as defined by EPA. For normally dry streambeds, isolated depressions that only occasionally hold water, and other land features that the Obama administration sought to regulate, regulations will once again come from state and local governments that are more responsive and accountable to the people and communities being regulated.

EPA’s proposed rule will continue to provide strong environmental protection for the waterways Congress authorized EPA to regulate. At the same time, the proposed rule will roll back executive branch overreach and protect the rights of homeowners and landowners.


Voters Consider Energy Price Hikes in Arizona, Nevada, Washington

by H. Sterling Burnett


Voters in Arizona, Nevada and Washington state will soon decide if they want to pay more for less reliable electricity.

Progressive California billionaire Tom Steyer is trying to take California’s energy policies on the road. California energy prices are among the highest in the country, and Golden State residents suffer more non-disaster-related blackouts and brownouts than any other state. In a vain effort to control the weather 100 years into the future, California has adopted policies that restrict fossil-fuel use and severely limit residents’ energy choices. The result: high energy prices and unreliable electricity that works only when the sun and wind cooperate.

At a time when residents and businesses are fleeing California to seek more affordable energy and homes, California is now trying to export its misguided energy policies beyond its borders.

This November, voters in Arizona and Nevada will consider ballot proposals that would mandate an increase in the proportion of electricity generated from renewable power sources to 50 percent by 2030. Both measures are bankrolled by Steyer.

Additionally, Washington state voters, for the second time in three years, will consider a ballot initiative to impose the nation’s first tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.

The plain truth is, if voters approve these initiatives they will be paying higher prices for energy with little or no environmental benefit. Numerous studies have revealed that states with renewable energy mandates have experienced increased energy prices. The Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices by 50 percent. Even worse, replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs. In short, the higher the mandate, the higher the costs.

Europe is further along the renewable energy path than the United States, and the results are telling. Despite a 25 percent increase in wind power and 6 percent growth in solar over the past decade, carbon emissions actually increased in 2017, by 1.8 percent, due to the fact that “idling fossil fuel plants must be quickly brought online when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, and, just like cars in traffic, idling engines produce more carbon emissions,” as reported by Nevada’s Sparks Tribune. Meanwhile, electricity costs across the European Union have increased by 23 percent during the past decade.

The same is true in the United States. Under its current renewable power mandate, Arizona produces 7 percent of its energy from wind and solar, an amount required to increase to 15 percent by 2025. The Energy Information Administration reports that meeting the current 7 percent requirement has already added $304 a year to the average Arizonan’s electric bill — meeting the 50 percent standard proposed in Steyer’s ballot initiative could cost Arizona residents an additional $2,100 annually.

The results are the same for Nevada. Over the last five years, the average Nevadan saw his or her electric bill rise by 11 percent, despite that nationally rates fell on average by 1 percent — and declined even more in states without green-energy mandates. This is due in part to Nevada’s existing renewable energy mandate.

A 2013 study commissioned by the Nevada Policy Research Institute showed that simply meeting the current requirement (utilities get 25 percent of the electric power they supply by 2025) would likely raise power prices by an additional 11 percent. This would also cost the state more than 3,000 jobs. Requiring 50 percent renewable energy just five years later, after the low hanging “inexpensive” power switching as already been accomplished, will make rates and job losses skyrocket even further.

Washington state’s carbon-dioxide tax would impose a penalty of $15 per metric ton on carbon-dioxide emissions, rising $2 per ton annually until the state meets its goal of reducing emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels. Evergreen State auditors found residents would pay approximately $2.2 billion more in taxes during its first five years of implementation, with gasoline prices likely to rise by 13 cents per gallon and the costs of home-heating oil likely to rise by 15 cents per gallon in 2020, the year the tax would take effect.

The higher energy prices and increased energy instability will be for naught with regards to preventing global warming. The United States is already reducing its emissions without such draconian policies, but even if it weren’t, nothing done in the United States can prevent a global rise in emissions because developing countries are adding huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they industrialize.

Only the IRS, politicians and climate fanatics could love these high-cost, no-return ballot initiatives. Let’s hope Arizona, Nevada and Washington state residents see through the green smokescreen the ballot initiatives’ advocates are emitting.


Greens Call for Clear Out of Climate Deniers

by Ross Hawkins


{A 2014 article with a disturbing message, truth is subservient to an ideological agenda - ED}


The Green Party of England and Wales has called for a purge of government advisers and ministers who do not share its views on climate change. Published 14 February of 2014.

Any senior adviser refusing to accept “the scientific consensus on climate change” should be sacked, it said.

Party leader Natalie Bennett said the rule must apply to all senior advisers, including those with no responsibility for environmental issues.

David Cameron says he suspects recent storms are linked to climate change.

Speaking recently, the prime minister said that while a single weather pattern could not be attributed to climate change, many scientists were talking of a link between the two and the UK should be prepared for more extreme weather.

But some Tory MPs and peers, Lord Lawson being the most prominent, have cast doubt on scientific theories on climate change which argue human activity is predominately responsible for recent rises in global temperatures. 

‘Emergency’

The Greens are now insisting the government gets rid of any cabinet minister who takes a different view on climate change.

Ms Bennett said: "We need the whole government behind this. This is an emergency situation we're facing now. We need to take action. We need everyone signed up behind that."  Pressed on the issue, she agreed that even the chief veterinary officer should be removed if he didn't sign up to the view on climate change also taken by the Green Party.

A policy document released by the party said: "Get rid of any cabinet ministers or senior governmental advisers who refuse to accept the scientific consensus on climate change or who won't take the risks to the UK seriously."

Ms Bennett added: "It's an insult to flood victims that we have an Environment Secretary (Owen Paterson) who is a denier of the reality of climate change and we also can't have anyone in the cabinet who is denying the realities that we're facing with climate change."

She said her party took the consensus view shared by many other organisations including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In September, the UN-backed body said it was 95% certain that humans were the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s.

The party also wants to see staff cuts at the Environment Agency reversed, a bigger budget for the Agency and tougher rules to prevent development on flood plains.

It says money spent supporting fossil fuels should be redirected to help victims of flooding.


What Sort of Energy Do You Want For Your Future?

by H. Sterling Burnett


The world is facing a stark choice. Should governments restrict energy use by dramatically raising the price of fossil fuels to fight purported human-caused climate change? Or should they permit the continued use of comparatively cheap, entirely reliable fossil fuels by rejecting carbon cap-and-trade schemes, carbon taxes, and mandates restricting the use of fossil fuels?

Put simply: People need to ask themselves whether they want to pay more for the energy they already get.

Advance reports of a new U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study indicate those who believe humans are causing allegedly dangerous climate change are in for some bad news, as The Hill recently reported: “[g]overnments across the globe are ‘nowhere near on track’ to meet their goal of preventing global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial period.”

According to the IPCC report, only a massive, worldwide transformation of electric power, transportation, and agricultural systems can prevent the global temperature from rising the 2 degrees Celsius or less nations committed to as part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Commenting on the report, Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s environment minister, said,“We are moving way too slowly. We have to do more of everything, faster. To reach the goals of the Paris agreement we need large structural changes.

There is a big problem, though: Governments are having a hard time convincing the people in their nations the radical restrictions on fossil fuels many climate alarmists are calling for are worth the minimal climate change benefits that might flow from the living-standard sacrifices they will be forced to make. Worse still, IPCC’s own calculations show these radical policies would be insufficient to prevent the targeted temperature rise.

Even the minimal actions taken or proposed by governments so far carry a steep price tag. For instance, in 2016 and 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted resolutions rejecting a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions based on research showing a modest tax of $28 per ton would result in decreased economic activity, eliminating as many as 21 million job equivalents over the next four decades while potentially reducing workers’ wages by 8.5 percent. A separate study indicates a carbon tax of $37 per ton would incur a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030—more than $21,000 in income loss per family—and lead by 2030 to the destruction of more than 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than one million jobs overall.

Canada’s Financial Post reports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s $50-per-ton carbon tax would cost households in Nova Scotia $1,120 per year. In Alberta, the tax would cost $1,111 annually. Even in Manitoba and Quebec, the two provinces where energy prices are projected to increase the least as a result of the tax, households will still pay an additional $683 and $662, respectively, for their electric power each year.

There’s more bad news for Canadians: Many climate alarmists say to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to the degree necessary to avert catastrophe, carbon prices must increase to $100 per ton or more. Under such a scenario, “households in Alberta will pony up $2,223, in Saskatchewan they’ll pay $2,065 and in Nova Scotia, $2,240. In fact, at $100 a ton, the average price for households in all provinces is well north of $1,000 per year,” says theFinancial Post.

In response to rising energy prices, the premiers of four of Canada’s provinces have decided to scrap provincial taxes, programs, and fees imposed to implement Trudeau’s carbon tax.

Canada isn’t alone, either. A report by IHS Markit says the average price per ton of carbon emissions in G20 nations that have established a carbon trading market to reduce emissions is just $16 per metric ton, but the price needed to meet the minimal targets of the Paris Climate Agreement should be closer to $80 per ton, according to those who believe such measures are necessary to fight climate change.

A recent article published by Vox cites research indicating even a $50-per-ton carbon tax in the United States would be too low to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050—a stated goal of the Obama administration.

The Rhodium Group estimates to reach “80 percent (or more appropriately, 100 percent) reductions, carbon prices would likely need to exceed $100/ton by mid-century.”

Politicians, faced with the punishment of losing support from voters unwilling to pay more for less-reliable energy, are proving increasingly unwilling to impose the high price on carbon they themselves state is necessary to avert climate catastrophe. As evidence, leaders in Australia, Brazil, and Canada are publicly eschewing their commitments to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, although they remain unwilling to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement as the United States has done.

Elsewhere, in China, Europe, and Japan, for instance, leaders publicly proclaim their fealty to the Paris agreement while missing mid-term emissions-reduction goals, quietly approving new coal and natural gas power plants, and selling more fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.

I have good news. Since the best evidence suggests humans aren’t causing a climate apocalypse, Paris’s failure is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, its failure means it’s more likely there will be abundant energy for all.