Cooler Heads Digest 25 May 2012

25 May 2012


On Tuesday, May 29th, noon to 1:30 PM, at 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Freedom Works will host a Capitol Hill briefing on “Taming the EPA: a Discussion on the Congressional Review Act.” The panel will feature members of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Republican staff, Chris Prandoni of Americans for Tax Reform, and FreedomWork’s Dr. Wayne Brough. The panel will address an upcoming Senate vote to overturn EPA’s Utility MACT. RSVP to Josh Withrow at by Monday, May 28th.

In the News

How about the Record of DOE Capital?
William Tucker, American Spectator, 25 May 2012

Clean Coal Means No Coal
Nash Keune, NRO, 25 May 2012

The Climate Change Debate: Where Are We Now?
Rick Moran, PJ Media, 24 May 2012

Wind Power Is Decimating Bat Population
Randy LoBasso, Philadelphia Weekly, 23 May 2012

Politics and the Nation’s Next Nuclear Plant
Jim Clarkson, Master Resource, 23 May 2012

Fukushima’s Risks Far Less Than Feared
Geoff Brumfiel, Nature, 23 May 2012

Fracking: A Tale of Two States
H. Sterling Burnett, Planet Gore, 23 May 2012

Will the War on Coal Unplug Obama in November?
Investor’s Business Daily editorial, 23 May 2012

News You Can Use
Another Clueless Celebrity on Climate Change

On Wednesday, London’s Telegraph reported that recording artist Will.I.Am, one of the most successful musicians in the world and also an ardent environmentalist, this month took a personal helicopter to a climate change debate at Oxford University. Upon arriving, he switched to a bicycle, which he rode the final few hundred yards to his speaking engagement. He then told the audience that, “Climate change should be the thing that we are all worried and concerned about as humans on this planet, how we affect the planet, our consumption, and how we treat the place that we live in.” The Telegraph estimated that the helicopter ride emitted as much carbon dioxide as the average Briton does in a month.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

President Stumps for Wind Subsidies

President Barack Obama called on Congress to extend the 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy at a campaign rally held at a plant that manufactures wind turbine blades in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday, 24th May. 

The President said that since he became president the production of renewable energy had nearly doubled, but that unless wind’s taxpayer subsidies aree extended, “that progress is in jeopardy.”

The wind PTC is due to expire at the end of this year.  The Congressional Research Service has estimated that extending the PTC for ten years would cost $4.1 billion.

Iowa is a major manufacturer of wind turbines and has a number of wind farms.  It is also a swing State in the election.

President Obama argued that, “If Congress doesn’t act, companies like this one will take a hit. Jobs will be lost. That’s not a guess. That's a fact. And we can't let that happen.” He didn’t mention that wind power raises electric rates and that higher electric rates destroy jobs in energy-intensive industries and take money out of consumers’ pockets, which is then not available to be spent on other goods and services.   

Senate Committee Checks Obama’s Push To Green the Military

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of two amendments this week to block key parts of the Obama Administration’s program to green the military.  Politico Pro reported that all Republican members of the committee were joined by two Democrats to pass the amendments by one-vote margins, 13-12. 

An amendment offered by Senator John McCain (R-Az.) would prohibit the Department of Defense from building biofuel refineries unless authorized by Congress.  If enacted, this would halt the Navy’s plan to build a $170 million biofuel facility.  Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and James Webb of Virginia joined the committee’s eleven Republicans in voting for the amendment.

Another amendment offered by Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) would prohibit expenditures for alternative fuels “…if the cost of producing or purchasing the alternative fuel exceeds the cost of producing or purchasing a traditional fossil fuel that would be used for the same purpose….” Democratic Senators Manchin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri joined the Republicans to pass this amendment.  A similar provision was passed in the House of Representatives last week.

Across the States
William Yeatman

Another Coal Protest Vote against the President in Kentucky

Two weeks ago, Keith Russell Judd, a convicted felon currently imprisoned in Texas, won 41 percent of the vote against President Barack Obama in the West Virginia Democratic Party primary. The West Virginia Democratic Party described the shocking results as a protest of the President’s war on coal, which is the state’s most important industry.

Obama suffered a similar embarrassment this week, when “uncommitted” won 42 percent of the vote against the President in the Kentucky Democratic Party primary. Kentucky is a major coal producer, with significant underground coal mining in the eastern part of the State and surface mining in the western part. Of 28 counties in Kentucky where there are active coal mines, Obama lost to “uncommitted” in 18.

West Virginia Holds Three Day Forum on EPA’s Regulatory Assault

The West Virginia Coal Forum, a state funded safety and advocacy program, this week held events in Charleston, Wheeling, and  Beckley to highlight how President Obama’s anti-coal policies are hurting the state’s leading industry. Prominent state Democrats, including Governor Earl Tomblin, Representative Nick Joe Rahall, and Senator Joe Manchin, inveighed against a suite of pending and final regulations, known collectively as EPA’s war on coal.

There are numerous EPA regulations that target the coal industry, but there is one that uniquely affects the Appalachia coal industry in general and West Virginia in particular. In July 2011, EPA issued a final Guidance document directing Appalachian States and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to account for saline effluent when they issue Clean Water Act permits to surface mining projects, including so-called mountaintop removal mines. The EPA set the regulatory threshold for salinity “pollution” so low that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said that “no or very few [surface mines] are going to meet this standard.” EPA’s justification for the Guidance is to protect a short-lived insect that isn’t an endangered species.

Around the World
Brian McGraw

Airline Emissions Fight, Round XVII

It’s the song that will never end. This week, those who predicted that this dispute would end in a trade war will feel a twinge of gratification: India has threatened to ban European airlines from Indian airspace if the Europe Union begins to impose sanctions on Indian airlines. Last week, both the Chinese and Indian governments forbade their airlines from providing the EU with data on their carbon emissions, signaling that this situation is not going to be resolved amicably anytime soon. The EU now seems to have backed off, to some extent, from the tough talk and complete refusal to back down. A spokesman for Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate commissioner, stated that the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization was hoping to reach a mutually agreeable solution prior to April of 2013. It remains unclear what this solution will involve, as India and China have shown little interest in international negotiations to limit their economic growth through carbon taxation.

Carbon Markets Work, Until They Don’t

Having added layers of bureaucracy and complexity to their energy markets, the United Kingdom is struggling with a number of different problems in their electricity markets: rising prices, lowered reliability, and record low prices on carbon emissions. The UK’s answer involves granting the government further power to intervene in electricity markets. Under a draft energy bill put forth by Edward Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the new legislation would ban new coal-fired power plants absent carbon capture and sequestration, set a price floor for carbon dioxide emissions, and provide guaranteed rates of return on new low-carbon energy sources to encourage the increased investment that has yet to materialize. Like many bureaucrats, Davey is confident his proposal is a blueprint for success: “If we don't secure investment in our energy infrastructure, we could see the lights going out, consumers hit by spiraling energy prices and dangerous climate change. These reforms will ensure we can keep the lights on, bills down and the air clean.”

German Trading Market to Drop Carbon Trading

The European Union’s carbon market has seen brighter days. Last month, EU carbon prices fell to a record low of €6 per tonne (~$9.5/ton) from an initial high of €18 per tonne (~$28.5) in early 2011. In response to these low prices and “excess” permits, the Bavarian stock exchange announced this week that beginning July 1 it will abandon its carbon emissions trading operations, also attributing the Euro-zone debt crisis as a contributing factor. Head of the exchange Christine Bortenlaenger noted: “Emissions trading will never find its feet again without radical political action.” In the midst of the European debt crisis, it is unclear if the political will exists within the EU to make significant changes to the program, especially given the number of industry stakeholders who are happy with low prices.

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,