In the News
President Obama’s Never Ending Drilling Moratorium
Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore, 29 December 2010
Pennsylvania Legislature Should Repeal Expensive Energy Mandate
Paul Chesser, Harrisburg Patriot-News, 26 December 2010
News You Can Use
Global Warming Science Jumps the Shark
Over the last decade, the “scientific consensus” has been that global warming would cause warmer winters and the absence of snow in the United Kingdom. Now that the U.K. is in the grip of the coldest winter in 1,000 years, the consensus has shifted. In an oped last Sunday in the New York Times, atmospheric scientist Judah Cohen explained how freezing temperatures in Europe are in fact due to global warming.
Inside the Beltway
EPA Issues Schedule for Greenhouse Gas Regulations
Just in time for Christmas, the Environmental Protection Agency released further plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act. The EPA announced on December 23rd that it would release performance standards for power plants by July 26, 2011 and have the final rule adopted by May 26, 2012. Performance standards for oil refineries would be released by December 10, 2011 and a final rule by November 10, 2012. The new performance standards would cover about 40% of total U. S. greenhouse gas emissions—primarily carbon dioxide.
EPA is going to begin regulating large stationary sources of emissions on January 2, 2011, but those regulations will only apply to permits for new or expanded facilities. The performance standards for power plants and refineries will apply to existing facilities. Few details were given in the announcement, but there has been speculation that EPA is thinking about devising a cap-and-trade program within the Clean Air Act and without any further involvement by Congress. Further performance standards for other sources, such as cement kilns, may be on the way as well.
Robin Bravender in Politico provided a good overview of EPA’s announcement, which can be found here. Gabriel Nelson’s more detailed story in Greenwire was picked up by the New York Times’s web site and can be found here.
Will Rep. Fred Upton Stand up to the EPA?
Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the incoming Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on December 28 on “How Congress Can Stop the EPA's Power Grab.” They mention that, “The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright.” However, most of their article discusses two more limited alternatives. Upton and Phillips favor delaying EPA until the court cases challenging EPA’s legal authority are decided over the proposal originally made by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) for a two-year delay. They call a two-year delay arbitrary and express some confidence that the federal courts are going to find that EPA lacks legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
I believe their confidence is misplaced. There is a long history of federal courts deferring to the EPA as long as the EPA is asserting broader regulatory authority. What worries me more is that Upton and Phillips seem to be implying that if the federal court tells EPA that they can go ahead and regulate, then Upton and Phillips will be happy and the Congress should be happy with that outcome. It seems to me that a senior Member of Congress should be arguing that it is up to Congress to decide whether and how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and therefore that the court’s decision is irrelevant. Moreover, as a matter of political strategy, I think it is dangerous for the Congress to wait for a court decision before acting. If the court allows regulation under the existing Clean Air Act, then environmental pressure groups will use that as an argument against any attempt in Congress to block or limit EPA.
Interior Issues Anti-Energy Regulations
Also just in time for Christmas, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on December 23 ordered the Bureau of Land Management to manage millions of acres of federal lands as “Wild Lands” and thereby prevent such human uses as mining and oil and gas production. Salazar’s action effectively overturns a 2003 deal between the Department of the Interior and the State of Utah that prevented the BLM from arbitrarily withdrawing land from management under the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act and putting it under de facto wilderness management. The new “Wild Lands” category is an arbitrary bureaucratic classification that has no status in law and should not be confused with Wilderness Areas designated by Congress and managed under the Wilderness Act.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert reacted angrily, as did Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the incoming chairman of the House public lands subcommittee. Bishop told the Salt Lake Tribune, “Make no mistake about it, this decision will seriously hinder domestic energy development and further contributes to the uncertainty and economic distress that continues to prevent the creation of new jobs in a region that has unduly suffered from this administration’s radical policies.” An editorial in the Washington Examiner asked, “Who's doing the most to hobble the productive power of the U.S. economy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson or Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar?” The answer is that they’re both acting on behalf of President Barack Obama and that what they’re doing is part of his multi-front war against American energy and the large part of our economy that runs on that energy.
Across the States
The EPA last week seized partial control of Texas’s air quality permitting authority, after the state refused to regulate greenhouse gases. Texas is one of three states (the other two are Alabama and Virginia) to have filed a lawsuit against the EPA alleging that the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but the federal courts have yet to rule on the case. In the meantime, the EPA’s climate regulations start on January 2, and Texas is the only state to refuse to implement them. As a result, the EPA will bypass Texas regulators, and directly issue greenhouse gas permits. Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has vowed to fight the EPA.
In an excellent column today, George Will noted that Cowlitz County in Washington state recently approved the construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. As the Cooler Heads Digest has reported in the past, the Obama administration’s crackdown on coal has forced U.S. coal companies to seek other markets, primarily China. As such, this President’s anti-energy policies are putting the U.S. on the path to a future whereby: (1) we export our affordable energy to China; (2) China uses this affordable energy to build energy-intensive renewable energy generation, like massive wind turbines and solar panels; (3) and then the U.S. buys these expensive, renewable energy goods from China, using money borrowed from China. What a deal!
Around the World
New Zealand Climate Skeptics Fight Back
The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition this week presented convincing evidence that the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) overstated the robustness of its alarmist climate data. In a recent paper, NIWA claimed that New Zealand temperatures rose 1 degree Celsius. Last week, NIWA issued a “peer review” of its paper by the Australian Bureau of Meteorologists, which, NIWA claimed, confirms its findings. The Climate Science Coalition this week noted that a true peer review is impossible, because NIWA has lost the underlying data. NIWA’s embarrassing inability to back up its temperature claims with raw data only became public after the Climate Science Coalition asked for it.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org