In the News
House Committee Opens New Front in Fuel Economy Battle
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 13 July 2011
News You Can Use
Poll: Fewer Americans Believe in AGW than Ever
According to a Harris public opinion poll released this week, 44 percent of Americans say they “believe the theory” that carbon dioxide emissions are warming the Earth, down from 51 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2007. It’s the lowest percentage since Harris began asking the question, “"Do you believe the theory that increased carbon dioxide and other gases released into the atmosphere will, if unchecked lead to global warming and an increase in average temperatures, or not?” in 1997.
Inside the Beltway
House Votes To Block the Light Bulb Ban
The House on Friday passed the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012. Included was an amendment adopted on a voice vote that would block the ban on standard incandescent light bulbs that is currently scheduled to start going into effect on January 1, 2012. The amendment was offered by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.).
On Tuesday, the House failed to pass a stand-alone bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), H. R. 2417, that would repeal the ban permanently. The vote on the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act was 233 to 193, but failed because it was brought to the floor under a special, expedited procedure that requires a two-thirds majority. Ten Republicans voted No, but more surprisingly only five Democrats voted Yes. Democratic support for repealing the light bulb ban collapsed when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then the White House cracked the whip.
The Energy and Water Appropriations bill also includes deep cuts for funding of renewable energy programs. The total budget for the Department of Energy and some related programs is $30.6 billion, which is only down $1 billion from last year, but is $6 billion less than President Obama requested.
House Appropriations Committee Handcuffs EPA
The House Appropriations Committee this week marked up the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill for Interior, EPA, and Related Agencies. The bill as presented includes a provision to block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act regulations of greenhouse gas emissions for stationary sources (such as power plants).
Several other amendments were adopted to handcuff the EPA from implementing new job-killing regulations. The most important was an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) that would prevent the EPA from moving ahead with new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles beyond the current requirement of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The Obama Administration has announced that they want the CAFE standards to be raised to 54.6 mpg by 2025.
Another amendment offered by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) that was adopted would require the EPA to do a cumulative economic and jobs impact analysis of all the Clean Air Act rules that the Obama Administration has proposed.
EPA, Green Groups Collude To Ruin Economy
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, this week held a hearing at which he explained how the Environmental Protection Agency colludes with environmental pressure groups to circumvent federal regulatory rules and the Congress. It’s well known and quite simple, but it was great to hear a Member of Congress understanding the scam and complaining about it.
In testimony before Whitfield’s subcommittee, William Kovacs, Senior Vice President of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, detailed how EPA invites and then settles friendly lawsuits from environmental pressure groups. The resulting consent decrees create new regulatory requirements that have not gone through the rulemaking process and cannot be overturned without legislation.
Whitfield added that the federal government awards millions of dollars of grants to these groups annually and then awards them millions more in legal fees for “winning” their lawsuits against EPA.
Senate Committee Passes Green Bank Bill
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday marked up the 21st Century Energy Technology Deployment Act (CEDA), which would create a federally-funded clean energy investment fund. It is not clear how much this “Green Bank” would cost, but it is clear that it is insane to be undertaking huge new spending commitments at a time when the federal government is facing insolvency. The bill was reported out of committee with the support of Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Three Republicans opposed the measure: Senators John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Hoeven (ND), and Dan Coats (Ind.).
Across the States
AEP Drops Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project in West Virginia
American Electric Power, an Ohio-based utility, on Thursday shelved a project to retrofit a 1,300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in New Haven, West Virginia with carbon-capture and sequestration (CCS), an as-yet-undemonstrated technology that would capture millions of tons of greenhouse gases, concentrate them, and then pipe them into underground geologic formations for permanent storage. The $668 million project became too risky for AEP after regulators in West Virginia and Virginia refused to guarantee cost recovery from ratepayers.
In the summer of 2009, some lawmakers representing coal-dependent districts in the House of Representatives agreed to vote for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy-rationing bill (the American Clean Energy and Security Act) in exchange for generous taxpayer subsidies for CCS. AEP’s decision this week demonstrates that this bargain was imprudent. The utility discontinued the New Haven CCS project despite the fact that the Department of Energy had agreed to pay for half its cost. Moreover, even if AEP had continued with the CCS retrofit, environmental extremists, for whom coal is an evil, would have litigated at every turn. Given the uncertain science of permanently storing millions of tons of gases underground, there would be virtually unlimited opportunities for these special interests to sue.
Another major inhibition to the deployment of CCS is the unwillingness of communities to live above the storage site. In Germany, for example, a CCS project is facing dogged resistance from wary locals. It is almost impossible to build a transmission line in America, due to “Not in My Backyard” opposition; undoubtedly, CCS would engender the same sort of obstruction.
Around the World
China Continues to Sail Forward with Coal
As the U.S. government wages war on coal, China is moving ahead with a number of large coal-mining projects to provide cheap, reliable energy to meet their ever-growing demand. The latest, in the Xinjiang region, is a project with U.S. based Peabody Energy Co. It is expected to produce 50 million metric tons per year, about 2% of China’s 2010 production of 3.3 billion metric tons and 3 times the annual U.S. production of roughly 1 billion metric tons. As China’s energy needs continue to increase, their production and consumption of coal is projected to steadily rise well into the future.
‘Fuel Poverty’ Soars in EU, ‘Green’ Energy to Blame
A new report from the Consumer Focus group in the United Kingdom discovered that roughly 20% of residents in the UK are living in ‘fuel poverty,’ meaning they might be required to choose between heating their homes and a hot meal this winter. This is only expected to rise as utilities continue to raise the price of electricity in response to various EU caps on carbon dioxide emissions. Current electricity prices in the United Kingdom are roughly 50% higher than the U.S. average. In other EU countries, such as Denmark – the so called ‘leader in the expensive energy revolution—average electricity prices per kilowatt hour are over two-and-a-half times the U.S. price.
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.