Join the Competitive Enterprise Institute and hundreds of thousands of people around the world in celebrating the fourth annual Human Achievement Hour from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on Saturday, March 31. Turn on your lights to express your appreciation for the free enterprise system and the inventions and innovations that make today the best time to be alive and to recognize that future solutions require individual freedom, not government coercion. Or participate in that dark and dismal alternative to Human Achievement Hour, Earth Hour, by turning off all your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on March 31.
In the News
EPA's Regulatory Shell Games Harms Americans' Jobs, Health
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 29 March 2012
EPA's Carbon Pollution Standard for Power Plants: Four Ways Weird
Marlo Lewis, Globalwarming.org, 29 March 2012
BLS Issues Bogus Report on Green Jobs
According to a report released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3.1 million green jobs in America. However, as is explained by the Heritage Foundation’s David Kreutzer, the BLS created a definition of green jobs that is so broad as to make it a meaningless measure of the green economy. For example, there are 33 times as many green jobs in the septic tank and portable toilet servicing industry as in solar electricity utilities.
Inside The Beltway
Obama’s EPA Takes First Big Steps To Kill Coal
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, 27th March, released proposed New Source Performance Standards (or NSPS) to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas fired power plants. The rule will effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they include carbon capture and storage technology that is not commercially available and has poor prospects of ever becoming economically feasible. This is one of several rules EPA is writing in order to implement their 2009 finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
The proposed new rule does not apply to existing power plants fueled by coal or natural gas or to plants that are under construction or have been permitted. However, the Clean Air Act’s section 111d requires that existing sources be regulated as well as new sources.
When asked during a press teleconference on Tuesday when rules for existing power plants might be issued, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson replied, “We have no plans to address existing plants….” What she should have been asked by reporters was how her agency would respond when environmental pressure groups file suit in federal court to compel the agency to issue NSPS rules for existing power plants. A good follow-up question would be to ask whether anyone in her agency is talking to environmental pressure groups about filing a friendly suit that EPA could then settle in a friendly way.
Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) immediately announced that he would do everything he could to block or overturn the rule. The most likely route is to introduce a resolution of disapproval using the Congressional Review Act. However, that cannot be done until the rule becomes final, which is not likely to happen until next year.
Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, explains several of the oddest aspects of the proposed NSPS for greenhouse gas emissions here. Matt Patterson, CEI’s Warren Brookes Fellow, comments in an op-ed published in the Washington Times titled, “Obama kills coal—as promised.” My own views are contained in a CEI press release titled, “Obama turns from raising gas prices to raising electric rates,” that can be read here.
Senate Again Votes Against Renewing Wind Subsidies
The Senate voted this week not to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote on Senator Robert Menendez’s bill, S. 2204, that would repeal tax subsidies (of around $4 billion per year) and standard business deductions (of around $20 billion a year) for the five biggest oil companies and extend tax subsidies for a variety of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency technologies, including the production tax credit for wind power.
The vote was 51 to 47, with 60 votes required to invoke cloture. Forty-nine Democrats and two Republicans—Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.)—voted for cloture. Forty-five Republicans and four Democrats—Senators James Webb (D-Va.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)—voted against cloture.
Across the States
Last Friday, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority when it retroactively vetoed a permit that has been issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Arch Coal for a major surface coal mining project in Logan County, West Virginia. The permit was issued in late 2009; EPA revoked it in January 2011. The Agency claimed that it had the power to revoke Clean Water Act permit issued by the Army Corps at any time. Judge Jackson disagreed. She ruled that, “The language and structure of the entire statutory scheme, and the legislative history, the Court concludes that the statute does not give EPA the power to render a permit invalid once it has been issued by the Corps.” While this is a big win for the Appalachian coal industry, which has been singled out by President Obama’s EPA, a much more consequential case is now pending before the same court. The District Court for the District of Columbia will likely rule later this year on the reasonableness of Water Quality guidance recently issued by EPA. Unless it is overturned by the court, EPA’s new Water Quality guidance would effectively ban surface coal mining in Appalachia, in order to protect the mayfly, an insect that isn’t an endangered species.
Texas this week won its second consecutive court victory against the EPA. On December 30, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Texas’s motion to stay EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. That ruling is an excellent omen for the State’s argument that the Agency violated due process requirements by including Texas in the final CSAPR without providing the State an opportunity to formally object. Last Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals delivered Texas another victory. The court ruled that EPA overstepped its authority when in 2010 it disapproved the State’s Clean Air Act permitting program for the construction of minor stationary sources and imposed a federal plan in its stead. This spring the D.C. Circuit Court is expected to rule on another major case against EPA involving Texas (and other States, non-profits, and industry), in which the petitioners are challenging EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.
Around the World
Aviation Fight Flies On
This week’s developments in the European Union’s decision to impose a cap-and-trade scheme on foreign airlines took place in the United States. First, Airlines for America (an industry trade group), formally dropped its challenge to the law in the High Court of London, citing positive international attention being paid to the issue by the United States, China, Russia, etc. Critics point out that the lawsuit itself was largely symbolic as E.U. courts had previously ruled that the program was legal.
Additionally, a group of lawmakers met to discuss a possible U.S. response. Viewpoints varied, with some Congressional leaders suggesting that a legislative directive forbidding airlines from participating should be pursued. Others want to file a formal complaint against the EU at the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The latter might have the effect of the ICAO agreeing to implement some form of a global carbon cap-and-trade program for aviation, though it is not clear if that option is actually a possibility or if it would find any support in Congress. The Obama Administration, reportedly, has been hesitant to push hard against the E.U. on this, hoping instead that other international pressures will force the E.U. to back down. European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has repeatedly stated that the E.U. will not back down.
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.