Greenhouse Gases-- There's a Pony in There Somewhere! #carbondioxide #control #pauto #globalwarming #ruminants

The ISA Will-DuPage Section stays active, in part, because of the quality of the speakers and programs they have. This month's meeting was no exception.

The speaker was Patrick Truesdale, a Senior Member of ISA, and Senior Consultant at Emerson Process Management Process Systems and Solutions in Houston. Truesdale's presentation wasn't anywhere close to an Emerson sales pitch, and was even on the ISA presentation slide template.

"This is not about global warming. The debate is not material to what I am going to talk about," Truesdale said. "This is about the regulations that your plants have to meet in measuring the Greenhouse Gas emissions they are responsible for...and that you will eventually have to control."

"Right now," he said, "the EPA has only mandated monitoring. But soon there will be intense pressure on the agency to institute control regulations, and mitigation."

"What we need to do is to de-mystify GHG monitoring and reporting," he said.

"Is Global Warming fact or fiction? The greenhouse gas effect dates back to Fourier in 1824," Truesdale said. "Although Congress and the Kyoto Accords have branded Carbon Dioxide as a hazardous material under the EPA's jurisdiction, the fact is, CO2 is a plant food-- and halting all combustion will not measurably affect atmospheric CO2."

He went on to discuss the serious global problem of cow farts. Seriously. "Are cows the cause of warming?” he asked.  Methane/yr for each cow is equivalent to ca. 2,300 kg CO2/yr … agriculture is
responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide... and there are lots of other ruminants like elephants, rhinos, hippos, buffalo and more. Even human farts emit methane. The only way to control those things of course, is to have them all die off.

Probably not going to happen.

None of that matters, anyway, because Congress has decided that CO2 is a dangerous and toxic emission, and it must be monitored and controlled under the Clean Air Act.

And here's the part where Truesdale got to the Pony. You know the old story about the optimist and the pessimist looking at a manure filled barn? The pessimist says, "Look at all that manure!" The optimist says, "There's gotta be a pony in here somewhere!"

"Energy efficiency projects are triple winners!" Truesdale announced. "First, they reduce operating costs, second, they improve safety, and third, they aid regulatory compliance by reducing emissions--and the reduced costs pay for it all! Winner!"

There are several kinds of emissions that must be monitored. There are direct emissions: process, combustion, and fugitive. There are upstream emissions-- this one is a little hard to follow (and to swallow)-- this is the amount of GHG content in the products of the plant. Then there are indirect emissions-- another one that's difficult for us to understand-- the GHG content in purchased fuel, power and so forth. And then there are mobile emissions.

Truesdale led his audience through the intricacies of the regulations, including how to calculate CO2 equivalents (CO2e) for a variety of materials...for instance, 8,930,000 single patty hamburgers are equivalent to 25,000 CO2e.

So here's my take on this. Truesdale is absolutely right. Just as when the EPA was founded, and the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act were first introduced, this gave the opportunity for plants to fund needed projects, using the regulations as the economic excuse. This new set of regulations will permit significant sustainability projects that might have had dubious economic justification in the very short term to be undertaken-- and the benefits realized over the long haul.

We've posted, with permission, a PDF of Pat Truesdale's slides in the white paper library. Go HERE to see the slides.