In the News
Carbon Tax? Sorry, But I Already Gave at the Gas Pump
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 10 August 2012
Green Stimulus Loser Could Leave Taxpayers in the Lurch
Michael Sandoval, The Foundry, 7 August 2012
Who Knows Best: Energy Regulators or Energy Consumers?
Travis Fisher, Master Resource, 6 August 2012
New You Can Use
Facts about the Wind Production Tax Credit
- According to the Heritage Foundation’s David Kreutzer, the wind production tax credit subsidy is equivalent to 50 percent to 70 percent of the wholesale price of electricity.
- Paul Driessien of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow reports that wind turbines are responsible for an estimated 500 deaths of Golden Eagles annually.
- Contrary to the wind lobby’s claim that the industry deserves subsidies because it is still in its infancy, wind turbines have been generating electricity for 125 years, notes Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle.
Inside the Beltway
President Pushes Wind Subsidy in Colorado
President Barack Obama in a speech in Pueblo, Colorado on 9th August blasted Mitt Romney’s opposition to extending the wind production tax credit. The President said, “At a moment when homegrown energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers. Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state. Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, including potentially hundreds of jobs right here, would be at risk.”
Pueblo has a major wind turbine manufacturing facility owned by Danish company Vestas, which employs 400 people. Speaking later on Thursday at Colorado College (my alma mater and also that of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) in Colorado Springs, the President accused former Massachusetts Governor Romney of pursuing “top down economic policies.”
He did not mention that the wind industry and the jobs it provides are entirely dependent on the top down economic policies: state mandates such as Colorado’s renewable electricity standard plus federal tax subsidies. Electric utilities must still meet renewable mandates in many States, so it’s not clear why ending the federal subsidy will kill the wind industry.
Nor did the President mention that adding wind power increases electric rates. When consumers have to pay higher electric bills, they have less money to spend on other things, which destroys jobs. When manufacturers have to pay more for electricity, that raises production costs, which makes them less competitive and destroys jobs. Nor did the President mention the various regulatory decisions made by his administration that are destroying jobs in non-subsidized industries.
The 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour for ten years production tax credit for wind is set to expire at the end of this year. On 2nd August, the Senate Finance Committee voted out a package of business tax extenders which includes renewing the wind PTC for another year. A number of House Republicans have come out in favor of renewing it as well. They include House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and sixteen House Republican freshmen. Nonetheless, getting a renewal through the House appears to be an uphill effort because of the opposition of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other conservatives in leadership positions.
Support Grows for Ethanol Mandate Waiver
Twenty-six Senators have sent a letter that urges the Environmental Protection Agency to adjust this year’s corn ethanol mandate downwards in order to take account of the Midwest drought that is reducing the U. S. corn crop. Under the Renewable Fuels Standard included in the 2007 anti-energy bill, refiners are required to buy 13.2 billion gallons to blend into gasoline this year.
The letter was organized by Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and signed by Senators from both parties, but none from corn-growing States. It follows a similar letter sent last month by 156 House Members.
International pressure to lower the corn ethanol mandate is also growing. The director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Jose Graziano da Silva, wrote an op-ed published in the 10th August Financial Times that urges the United States to lower the mandate so that more of the corn crop can go for food and livestock feed.
On 10th August, the U. S. Department of Agriculture lowered its estimate for the 2012 corn crop by 17%. USDA now predicts that it will be the smallest crop since 1995. A number of non-profit policy groups from the right and the left are also calling for suspension of this year’s corn ethanol mandate, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Friends of the Earth. Big Corn is now arguing that it is premature to lower this year’s mandated level. The Renewable Fuels Association told the New York Times that, “So far we have nothing more than speculation…. We need to take a wait and see approach.”
House Committee Report and New Book Expose Obama’s Lack of Transparency
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report on 31st July titled, “Promises Made, Promises Broken: the Obama Administration’s Disappointing Transparency Track Record.” The report finds that President Obama’s campaign pledge in 2008 to conduct the “most open and transparent administration in history” has not been achieved. Instead, the report details White House attempts to keep secret visits by lobbyists and donors as well as meetings and communications with special interests in the development and passage of Obamacare.
As it happens, my CEI colleague Chris Horner has a new book coming out in late September that documents the Obama Administration’s strenuous attempts to conceal information from the public and evade complying with Freedom of Information Act requests in a wider range of policy issues. Of special interest to readers of the Digest, The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information ‘Criminal’ contains numerous examples of the tricks used to hide questionable activities in the energy and environmental arena, including “green jobs,” Solyndra and other Department of Energy loans, subsidies for wind and solar power, and climate science at NASA and NOAA.
Alarmist Rubbish Refuted
A persistent heat wave over much of the middle and eastern United States has encouraged global warming alarmists to come out of their caves in the past few weeks. Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, published an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Conversion of a Climate Change Skeptic.” Next, James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies based at Columbia University, published an op-ed in the Washington Post titled, “Climate Change is Here—and Worse Than We Thought.” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, drew the conclusion in his Wall Street Journal op-ed (“A New Climate-Change Consensus”) that, “It’s time for conservatives to compete with liberals to devise the best, most cost-effective climate solutions.”
Anthony Watts responded to Muller in a post on Watts Up with That. Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, responded to Hansen in a post on GlobalWarming.org. And Craig D. Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change responded to Krupp here. As for NOAA’s announcement that July was the hottest on record in the United State, see Steve Goddard’s response here. It might also be noticed that this week saw snow across South Africa.
Across the States
Gov. Chris Christie Contradicts Himself on Energy Policy
Two weeks ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie increased state subsidies for solar power installations. That same week, he affirmed New Jersey’s withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme for northeastern States. Of course, these two announcements are contradictory. As my colleague Myron Ebell told Paul Mulshine of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, “It’s [the expanded solar subsidy approved by Governor Christie] a way to raise electricity prices so that the more expensive forms of electricity become competitive with conventional forms. That’s what cap-and-trade does as well.”
Wyoming Elected Officials Announce Opposition to EPA’s All Pain, No Gain Regional HazeWyoming’s entire Congressional delegation and Governor Matt Mead this week announced their opposition to the Agency’s May proposal to take over the state’s visibility protection program known as Regional Haze. EPA’s plan would cost Wyoming ratepayers almost $90 million per year more than the state’s plan, in order to achieve an improvement in visibility that is imperceptible to the naked eye. For more on EPA’s Regional Haze takeover in Wyoming, see this study.
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.