In the News
Dear James Hansen: Non-Alarmists Are Intellectually Grounded & Well Intentioned
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 1 February 2012
News You Can Use
Only One Power Plant Meets EPA’s Ridiculous Mercury Rule
The Logan Generating Station in Swedesboro, NJ is the only power plant in America that achieves the emissions limits required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. At $10 billion to $100 billion in annual costs, this regulation is one of the most expensive, ever; its purpose is to protect pregnant fisherwomen who eat at least 300 pounds of self-caught fish per year.
Inside the Beltway
House Natural Resources Committee Votes To Open ANWR and OCS to Oil Production
The House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, 1st February, passed three bills to increase oil production on federal lands and offshore areas. The House Republican leadership plans to include the three bills as provisions in the five-year, $260-billion highway bill that was passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee after a grueling seventeen-hour mark-up that ended at 3 AM on Friday, 3rd February.
H. R. 3407, which passed the committee on a 29 to 13 vote, would open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on Alaska’s North Slope to oil exploration. Three Democrats voted for the bill: Representatives Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), and Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico). No one knows how much oil there may be below ANWR’s coastal plain, but the U. S. Geological Survey estimates recoverable reserves of 11 billion barrels. That is probably a very conservative estimate.
The second bill, H. R. 3410, would require the Department of the Interior to hold auctions for exploration leases in the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas in the Atlantic and Pacific that are considered to have the largest reserves of oil, including off the coast of southern California. That bill passed by a 34-19 vote.
The third bill, H. R. 3408, would require new oil shale leases in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The committee approved it on a 27-16 vote.
A proposal to designate some of the federal revenues from this new oil production to funding highway projects will also be included in the highway bill. Highway projects have historically been funded by the 18.5 cents per gallon tax on gasoline, but the gas tax is not bringing in enough revenue to fully fund the highway bill. Diverting oil royalties to fund highway projects has encountered opposition from several groups across the political spectrum. CEI’s Marc Scribner argues that adding another dedicated source of funding undermines the user-pays principle upon which the Highway Trust Fund is based.
House Insisting on Keystone Pipeline
Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced on 3rd February that his committee next week will mark up the bill that requires permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline. H. R. 3548 takes the decision away from the President and orders the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to permit the 1700-mile pipeline project from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in Louisiana and Texas. The House Republican leadership has made it clear that the Keystone bill will be added to the five-year, $260 billion highway bill. The highway bill was passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at 3 AM on Friday, 3rd February, and is expected to be debated on the House floor the week of 13th February.
House Republicans are also planning to attach the Keystone language to the payroll tax cut extension bill that must be enacted before the two-month extension passed in December expires at the end of February. The two-month extension bill required that President Obama make a decision within sixty days. President Obama denied the Keystone permit on 18th January, but did not base his decision on the national interest as required by the legislation he signed into law.
This should present Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with a problem because a number of Democratic Senators support the Keystone pipeline. Reid and the White House will have to do some arm-twisting to keep the Senate from agreeing to the House’s Keystone provision.
Sierra Club Takes $25 Million from Natural Gas To Attack Coal
Bryan Walsh in Time Magazine broke the big story this week that the Sierra Club received over $25 million from the natural gas industry to serve as a corporate shill for the natural gas industry’s attacks on the coal industry. Walsh wrote: “TIME has learned that between 2007 and 2010 the Sierra Club accepted over $25 million in donations from the gas industry, mostly from Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy—one of the biggest gas drilling companies in the U.S. and a firm heavily involved in fracking—to help fund the Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Though the group ended its relationship with Chesapeake in 2010—and the Club says it turned its back on an additional $30 million in promised donations—the news raises concerns about influence industry may have had on the Sierra Club’s independence and its support of natural gas in the past.”
McClendon and Chesapeake Energy several years ago funded a multi-million dollar advertising campaign against the coal industry called “Face it, coal is filthy.” Two months ago, it was revealed that McClendon and Chesapeake had given as much as $100 million to the American Lung Association, one of the most reprehensible of the environmental pressure groups, to fund the ALA’s “Fighting for air” disinformation campaign.
The Lighter Side
Center for American Progress’s Joe Romm No Show in Debate with Heritage’s David Kreutzer
I and several of my CEI colleagues were looking forward to an informal debate late Friday afternoon on energy policy sponsored by McKinsey and Company, the global consulting firm. As part of their “Drinks and Debate” series, McKinsey’s Washington, DC office invited David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation and Joe Romm of the Center for American Progress’s Climate Progress blog to make some remarks and then take questions from an audience of around 40 people representing all shades of the political spectrum. It sounded like a lot of fun because Romm often seems enraged and slightly deranged in his frequent blog posts, but unfortunately Romm cancelled at the last minute. Our host explained that Romm had pulled out without giving a reason and that his side of the debate would be represented by a bottle of Corona Light. It was still fun: David Kreutzer gave an engaging and stimulating presentation, as he always does, and the bottle of Corona Light proved to be more rational and less misleading than Romm.
Across the States
EPA’s Mercury Rule Already Raising Electricity Prices
Last week, the Cooler Heads Digest reported that Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. would retire six coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. As noted above in News You Can Use, EPA’s mercury rule, which was finalized December 21, is one of the most expensive regulations, ever, and its purpose is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen who eat more than 300 pounds of self-caught fish annually. FirstEnergy Corp. said the decision will affect 530 employees. In addition to causing job losses, the plant closures also will increase electricity prices. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that electricity prices in Ohio regions serviced by FirstEnergy are expected to double, due to the smaller supply of power engendered by EPA’s mercury regulation.
Around the World
Chinese CO2 Emissions Soonn To Be 50% Higher Than U.S. Emissions
According to new research from Ye Qi, a Beijing based professor of environmental policy, Chinese emissions were 20% higher than U.S. emissions in 2010, and are expected to rise to be 50% higher by 2015, as the country continues to develop.
Biofuels Also Expensive in Europe
A new report from Friends of the Earth and Action Aid (a food poverty group) estimates that the European Union’s biofuel program will cost consumers up to $166 billion over the next 8 years. The EU biofuel plan aims to get 10% of transportation energy from biofuels, hydrogen, and renewable energy by 2020. Due to the lack of hydrogen and electric powered vehicles, it is likely that the majority of this will come from various biofuels.
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.