Cooler Heads Digest 6 July 2012

6 July 2012


The Majority Staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week released an excellent new report, “Not Very Green, Not Many Jobs: An Assessment of the Obama Administration’s Green Jobs Agenda.” Click here to read the study.

In the News

U.N. Proposes Global Green Tax
Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, 6 July 2012

Are Any of the Green Projects Backed by Obama Solvent?
Ronald Bailey, Reason, 5 July 2012

Oil and Gas: America’s Brightest Job Spot
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 5 July 2012

Court Decrees Global Warming
Washington Times editorial, 5 July 2012

When It Comes to Nuclear vs. Warming, It’s Cult vs. Cult
William Tucker, Nuclear Townhall, 5 July 2012

Europe’s Coal Use Jumps
Rakteem Katakey, Bloomberg, 3 July 2012

Video: CEI’s Chris Horner on Global Warming Science
Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News, 3 July 2012

Rep. Jeff Flake’s Commonsense Fix for Cellulosic Biofuel Folly
Marlo Lewis,, 2 July 2012

News You Can Use
Poll: Americans Care Less about Climate Change

According to a Washington Post-Stanford University poll released this week, 18 percent of respondents cited climate change as their top environmental concern, down from 33 percent in 2007. Water and air pollution was cited as the top environmental problem by 29 percent of those polled.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Sixteen House GOP Freshmen Forget Principles in Support of Wind Subsidies

Eighteen freshmen Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter last week to House Republican leaders urging them to “take up an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy as soon as possible.”  Sixteen of the eighteen signers are Republicans. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also recently announced his support for extending the wind PTC, which is set to expire at the end of the year.   

The signers of the letter were: Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD), Rick Berg (R-ND), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), David Rivera (R-Fla.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Robert Dold (R- Ill.), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Penna.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Charles Bass (R-NH), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Jon Runyan (R-NJ), John Carney (D-Del.), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), David Ciciline (D-RI), and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.).

House Republicans have made a great show of voting to reduce federal spending and of attacking programs that benefit crony capitalists.  The letter, which Rep. Noem circulated for signatures, shows how quickly Members of Congress can park their avowed principles at the door when the pork-barrel spending benefits their districts or an industry that provides significant campaign contributions.  

This is especially true of the eight Republican signers who are members of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative Republicans that focuses on reducing federal spending and balancing the budget.  The RSC members signing the letter are Noem, Berg, Buerkle, Crawford, Griffin, Gardner, Rivera, and Tipton.

Unlike subsidies intended to reduce costs for consumers, the wind PTC actually increases costs by encouraging the building of more wind farms.  Since electricity produced from wind is much more expensive than from conventional sources, every additional wind farm constructed will cause the total costs of generating electricity to go up by more than the 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour subsidy.  This does not bother electric utilities because they simply pass the costs on to consumers.  While consumers are harmed, investors in wind farms benefit from the federal subsidy combined with state renewable mandates.   

As Tom Pyle of the Institute for Energy Research notes in a post here, the sixteen freshmen Republicans would be well advised to consider the defeat of Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) in the June 26 Republican primary election.  Sullivan’s opponent, Jim Bridenstine, attacked Sullivan for championing another federal boondoggle, the NAT GAS Act, which would provide huge subsidies to businesses owned by Oklahoma native T. Boone Pickens.  The Tulsa World reported that during a debate between the two candidates, the only issue they disagreed about was this federal boondoggle.  

Across the States
William Yeatman

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Payoff

In mid-June, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) led the opposition against S. J. Res. 37, legislation that would have blocked EPA’s all pain, no gain Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulation. On the floor of the Senate, he explained that the Utility MACT would prevent out-of-state pollution from hurting business in Tennessee, but this claim is false. According to EPA data, Tennessee’s compliance with Clean Air Act regulations is not adversely affected by air pollution from neighboring States. In light of the evident falsity of his avowed rationale for protecting the Utility MACT, Sen. Alexander’s true motivations for opposing S. J. Res. 37 were inexplicable.

This week, however, the mystery of Sen. Alexander’s support for the Utility MACT appears to have been solved. The Environmental Defense Action Fund announced on Tuesday that it will spend $200,000 on television advertisements in Tennessee thanking Senator Lamar Alexander for "protecting the children."

Around the World
Brian McGraw

India Still Struggling to Keep the Lights On

Energy shortages are wreaking havoc in India, as state-owned energy utilities are losing billions of dollars attempting to provide subsidized electricity to satisfy the energy demands of a rapidly growing population. Though India has taken numerous steps towards economic liberalization over the past two decades, much of the energy industry remains under state control. This has lead to coal shortages in a country which boasts some of the largest coal reserves in the world. Electricity rationing has forced businesses to purchase backup generators to ensure that they can keep the lights on during periods of disruption and has wasted significant medical resources that rely on constant refrigeration. A push towards privatization of the energy industry doesn’t appear to be on the table at this point in time.

Australia Implements Carbon Tax

The carbon tax passed by the Australian government came into effect on July 1. For a quick refresher, the carbon tax has initially been set at AU$ 23, though somewhat confusingly, the tax will transform into a cap-and-trade program in 2015. Assuming the cap-and-trade program allows for a similarly high price, the Australian cost of carbon will exceed the current price of carbon in the European Union by over 100%. The price to emit a ton of carbon in the EU currently sits at around $10, down from a high of $23 in 2011. Voters remain turned off by the carbon tax, with 62% of Australians opposing the tax. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal the carbon tax if he wins the 2013 election against current Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Cost of German Solar Subsidies Continues to Rise

Though Germany recently agreed to begin to cut back on subsidies for the installation of solar panels, the “baked-in” subsidies will continue to cost the country billions of dollars into the future. According to a study by Georg Erdmann, a professor of energy systems at Berlin’s Technical University, current energy taxes will need to rise from 3.5 cents (€) per kilowatt hour to over 10 cents per kilowatt hour by 2030 in order to pay for the subsidies promised to operators of photovoltaic panels. Despite providing only about 4 percent of the country’s power supply, solar panel operators (including home owners) will pocket $11.3 billion in subsidies this year.

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,