Cooler Heads Digest 23 September 2011

23 September 2011


  • The Reason Foundation this week published an excellent new report, “The Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather, 1900-2010,” by Indur Goklany and Julian Morris. The study demonstrates that aggregate mortality attributed to all extreme weather events globally has declined by more than 90 percent since the 1920s, in spite of a four-fold rise in population and much more complete reporting of such events.
  • The Institute for Energy Research today released a great new video on the burgeoning Solyndra scandal.

In the News

Are Carbon Credits the New Blood Diamonds?
Josh Kron, New York Times, 22 September 2011

Blame China for Solyndra’s Downfall?
Marlo Lewis,, 22 September 2011

Unlearned Cap-and-Trade Lessons
Roger Calazza, Master Resource, 22 September 2011

How Much Green for Green Jobs?
Steven Hayward, The American, 22 September 2011

Liberate Ohio’s Energy Policy
Paul Chesser, Akron Beacon-Journal, 22 September 2011

Ecofads: Bad for the Economy, Bad for the Environment
H. Sterling Burnett, Planet Gore, 21 September 2011

Why the “Ethical Oil” Argument Is Bogus
Jonathan Kay, National Post, 21 September 2011

Commercially Viable = Can’t Get Financing?
David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 20 September 2011

Welcome to the Carbon Cult
Ross Kaminsky, American Spectator, 19 September 2011

News You Can Use
HarperCollins Apologizes for Global Warming Alarmism

On Tuesday, the publishing company HarperCollins issued an apology for grossly exaggerating Greenland’s ice melt in The Times Comprehensive Atlas 13th Edition, which was released last week. The Times Atlas incorrectly claimed that Greenland's ice pack had melted 15 percent; in a statement to the Guardian, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre said, “The loss of ice from Greenland is far less than the Times Atlas brochure indicates.”

Inside the Beltway

House Passes TRAIN Act
William Yeatman

By a 233-180 bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011, legislation that would create a committee tasked with calculating the cumulative economic impact of 11 major pending or final environmental regulations.

In addition, the legislation includes an amendment that would postpone for one year the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Utility MACT,” the most expensive regulation ever proposed, which is expected to be finalized in November. According to the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, this rule would cost as much as $100 billion annually, and a study by Bernstein & Associates estimated that it would result in the premature closure of almost 33,000 megawatts of coal fired power capacity. EPA’s primary justification for this ultra-expensive regulation is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisher-women.

Solyndra Execs Plead the Fifth
Marlo Lewis

At a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing today, “From DOE Loan Guarantee to FBI Raid: What Solyndra’s Executives Knew,” the witnesses, Solyndra President and CEO Brian Harrison and Solyndra VP and CFO W.G. Stover, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to every question asked by Committee members. Harrison and Stover told the committee nothing about what Solyndra’s executives knew.

Nonetheless, the hearing spotlighted information that can only build public support for the Committee’s ongoing investigation. [Click here to read the whole post on today's Solyndra hearing.]

Across the States
William Yeatman

Appalachia Coal Mining Lawsuit against EPA Is off to Promising Start

Surface coal mining in Appalachia, which is sanctioned by the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, is loathed by the President’s environmentalist base, but it is essential to the economies of West Virginia and Kentucky. Since June 2009, the EPA has been second-guessing scores of Clean Water Act permits issued by Appalachian states and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to surface coal mine projects. On January 13 2011, the EPA went so far as to veto a Clean Water Act permit that had already been issued to Arch Coal for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia. It was the first time the EPA ever used this authority to veto a Clean Water Act permit that had been issued to a surface coal mine. The EPA justifies its “permitorium” in order to protect a short-lived insect that isn’t even an endangered species.

In 2010, the National Mining Association, Kentucky, and West Virginia sued the EPA, alleging that the EPA violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to follow the proper procedural steps before it substantively altered the Clean Water Act permitting regime for surface coal mining projects in Appalachia. Last Friday, the Washington D.C. District Court heard arguments on a motion for summary judgment, during which it indicated that the EPA likely overstepped its bounds.  According to Energy and Environment News, D.C. District Court Judge Reggie Walton said that, “The role EPA is playing now is significantly different that it was in the past.”

EPA Rejects North Dakota Visibility Plan; State Likely to Sue (and Win)

This week the Environmental Protection Agency rejected North Dakota’s plan to improve visibility at National Parks and Wilderness Areas and imposed a federal plan in its stead. The EPA’s plan is at least $500 million more expensive than the State’s, and would affect visibility at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park by such an insignificant amount that only 40 percent of people would be able to perceive the “improvement.” North Dakota Attorney General  Wayne Stenehjem had approved the legality of the State’s visibility plan before it was issued, so it is almost certain that North Dakota will sue the EPA over the federal plan. The State likely would win in court, due to the fact that the Congress structured the visibility improvement program such that state decision-making would trump the EPA’s.

Texas Sues EPA over Interstate Plan

Last week, the Cooler Heads Digest reported on how Luminant, the largest merchant power producer in Texas, announced that it will shut down two of its coal-fired boilers and close three lignite coal mines, in order to comply with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. As a result, 500 people will lose their jobs. The regulation, which was issued in July, is meant 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 at a monitor 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 percent within six months, despite the fact that it takes three years to install sulfur “scrubber” retrofits on coal-fired power plants. EPA asserts that the emissions reductions can be achieved immediately through fuel-switching.

This week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against the EPA in a D.C. Circuit Court, alleging that it violated the Administrative Procedures Act by including Texas in the final Cross-State Air Pollution Rule without adequate notice and opportunity for the State to comment.

Around the World
Brian McGraw

Shale Gas Revolution Hits U.K.

Hydraulic fracturing, the American technological innovation that has tripled U.S. gas reserves in the last decade, is now unlocking vast shale gas reserves in the United Kingdom. A recent discovery by Cuadrilla Resources estimates that there are up to 200 trillion cubic feet of recoverable reserves in the Lancashire area. The responsible cultivation of these gas reserves would have excellent implications for energy security and prices in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately (and perhaps unsurprisingly), British environmental groups are peddling unsubstantiated claims that hydraulic fracturing would pollute drinking water, in an effort to have the practice banned.

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,