Cooler Heads Digest 16 September 2011

In the News

Ford Ad Slams Washington Bailout
Henry Payne, Planet Gore, 16 September 2011

Clouds of Climate Change
Deepak Lal, Business Standard, 16 September 2011

Making Sense of Solyndra
Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 16 September 2011

Why Raising Taxes on the Oil and Gas Industry Doesn’t Make Sense
Thomas Pyle, U.S. News and World Report, 15 September 2011

Duke-Progress Merger Provides Shakedown Opportunity for Activists
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 14 September 2011

Harry Reid Goes Nuclear on Waste Storage
Washington Times editorial, 14 September 2011

Is Climate Policy Activism Merited?
Marlo Lewis, Master Resource, 13 September 2011

Green Jobs Welfare Queens Defend Their Indefensibleness
Chris Horner, AmSpecBlog, 12 September 2011

Canada’s Oil Sands Are a Job Gusher
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2011

EPA Got It Wrong, Obama Got It Right on Ozone Limits
Editorial, Bloomberg, 11 September 2011

News You Can Use
Nobel Physicist Quits American Physical Society over Its Global Warming Alarmism

The International Business Times this week reported that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society Tuesday over the group’s 2007 official statement that evidence of global warming is “incontrovertible.” In his resignation letter, Giaever stated "In the APS, it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?...The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period."

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Solyndra! Solyndra! Solyndra!

The Solyndra scandal got much juicier this week.  The Washington Post on September 14 released a bunch of e-mails which show that White House political officials repeatedly pressured the Office of Management and Budget to approve the $535 million loan guarantee to the solar panel manufacturer, so that Vice President Joe Biden could go to a groundbreaking ceremony in Fremont, California for the company’s new factory in September 2009 and announce it.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), held a hearing the same day on the burgeoning scandal.  I was only able to watch parts of it on C-SPAN, but caught two extremely damaging revelations.  The first is that OMB in 2009 before the loan was approved had predicted, using a simple financial model, that the company would run out of cash in September 2011.  They were off by three days: Solyndra declared bankruptcy on August 29.  The question is, how could the loan be approved if they knew the company was going to burn through it?

Second, the Department of Energy agreed to re-structure the loan in February of this year.  Part of the deal subordinated the federal loan to a new private cash infusion.  This means that when a bankruptcy court distributes Solyndra’s assets to its creditors, the private lender will get paid before the federal government.  The private lender is a major donor to the Obama presidential campaign.  Moreover, the subordination violates the federal statute creating the loan program.  The witness from the Department of Energy tried to claim that February change in the loan was not a restructuring but a “buildout.”  I’m no expert, but I think that a buildout is a type of restructuring.

The CEO of Solyndra, Brian Harrison, was invited to testify, but declined to do so.  That’s because the FBI has launched a criminal investigation of him and his company.  Harrison had been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill up till now.  In July, he assured several Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), that all was well with the company’s finances.  They now look pretty foolish for defending the company.  Waxman called the Subcommittee’s investigation of the Solyndra loan guarantee “a fishing expedition.”  Chairman Stearns has landed a big fish. Darren Samuelsohn in Politico asks “Solyndra Scandal: Is It a Big Deal?” The answer appears to be yes.

EPA Delays Greenhouse Gas Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday, September 15, that the New Source Performance Standards regulating greenhouse gas emissions for electric power plants was going to be delayed indefinitely beyond a September 30 deadline.  The EPA had originally agreed with a bunch of States and environmental pressure groups that are suing it to have the NSPS rule out by July 26, but negotiated an extension to September 30.  The plaintiffs have not yet announced what they will do about the EPA missing this second agreed deadline. 

Jeff Holmstead, a former assistant administrator for air at the EPA, told Greenwire that the greenhouse gas rule will do much less to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the forthcoming Utility MACT Rule.  "In the agency's view, they'll have a much bigger impact on all kinds of emissions with the utility MACT rule.  Because of the way they've structured the MACT rule, they'll shut down a lot more coal plants and reduce a lot more CO2 emissions under MACT than they ever could under the NSPS."

Across the States

EPA Regulatory Train Wreck Already Killing Jobs

In July, the EPA issued the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to control emissions from upwind States that affect air quality in downwind States. Texas was excluded from the proposed rule. In the final rule, however, Texas was included, due to the supposed need to slightly reduce emissions as monitored 500 miles away in Madison County, Ill.—a locale that meets the EPA air-quality standards in question. The EPA ordered the Lone Star State to reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions 47 % within 6 months, despite the fact that it takes 3 years to install sulfur “scrubber” retrofits on coal-fired power plants. EPA asserts that the emissions reductions can be achieved immediately through fuel-switching.

After the regulation was issued, Luminant, the largest merchant power producer in Texas, stated that the only way to meet the EPA’s “unprecedented” and “impossible” timeline is to shut down power plants and close mines. This week, the company announced that it will shut down two of its coal-fired boilers and close three lignite coal mines, in order to comply with the rule. As a result, 500 people will lose their jobs.

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,