Cooler Heads Digest 17 August 2012

17 August 2012

In the News

The Regulatory Cliff Is Nearly as Steep as the Fiscal One
Sen. Rob Portman, Wall Street Journal, 17 August 2012

We Don’t Know If Global Warming Is Causing Droughts
Bjorn Lomborg, Slate, 17 August 2012

Obama’s Federal Land Grab
William Tucker, American Spectator, 17 August 2012

“Revenue-Neutral” Carbon Tax: Merely Implausible or Mathematically Impossible?
Josiah Neeley, Master Resource, 16 August 2012

GM Is Alive, Patriot Coal Is Dead
Chris Horner, Washington Examiner, 17 August 2012

The Case for Natural Gas Exports
Michael Levi, New York Times, 15 August 2012

To Protect Ethanol, Obama Seeks To Raise Meat Prices
Washington Examiner editorial, 14 August 2012

Pressure Grows on EPA To Suspend the Ethanol Mandate
Marlo Lewis,, 13 August 2012

The Great Wind Delusion Has Hijacked Our Energy Policy
Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 11 August 2012

News You Can Use
The Obama Effect?

On August 9th, President Barack Obama visited a wind turbine tower factory in Pueblo, Colorado. On August 13th, the plant laid off 20% of its workforce.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Gas Prices Heading Up

Gasoline prices have started to go up again in the past several weeks, which almost guarantees that energy is going to be a top issue in the presidential campaign and in many House and Senate races.  Reuters today reported that the White House is preparing to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) if gasoline prices don’t fall after the Labor Day weekend in early September.  The SPR is intended to be used in times of emergency.  The ostensible emergency here is that the Iran sanctions have cut Iranian oil exports by more than half.  Some might think that the real emergency is the threat posed by high gas prices to the President’s re-election.     

Obama, Romney Sharpen Differences on Energy Policy

This week, both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made it clear that they have sharp differences on energy policies across the board. Speaking at a rally in Oskaloosa, Iowa, on 14th August, President Obama attacked Romney for opposing an extension of the wind production tax credit.  The 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour federal tax subsidy is due to expire at the end of the year unless renewed by Congress.  Wind farms already in operation by the end of the year still qualify for ten years of subsidies.

The President also made a surprise visit to a farm in Marshall County, Iowa that has several windmills on it.  Unluckily for the Obama campaign, Jarret Heil, the 31-year-old son of the farm family that Obama visited, issued a press release explaining that although they were honored by the President’s visit and would pray for him, they were not going to vote for him.

Former Governor Romney, appearing at a rally on 14th August at a Murray Energy coal mine near Beallsville, Ohio, attacked the President for waging war on coal.  He said, “We have 250 years worth of coal. Why in the heck wouldn't we use it?”

Romney’s choice for vice president, Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), broadened the attack on Obama’s energy policies at a rally on the same day in Lakewood, Colorado.  Ryan said, “President Obama has done all that he can to make it harder for us to use our own energy.  His cap-and-trade agenda is designed to make energy more expensive.  His EPA has given us an unprecedented barrage of burdensome regulations. He has 10 different agencies in four executive offices regulating hydraulic fracturing.”

Across the States
William Yeatman

Some Good News for Coal Mining in Central Appalachia

Surface coal mining in Appalachia has endured an unprecedented regulatory assault during the Obama administration. (See here, here, and here). Recently, however, the industry has enjoyed some good news for a change. Two weeks ago, the federal district court for the District of Columbia vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s July 2011 water quality guidance, which had effectively banned surface coal mining in order to protect an insect that isn’t an endangered species. And this week, operators in the Central Appalachian coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky signed a $7 billion deal to sell 9 million short tons of coal to India. The coal will be barged down the Mississippi to a Gulf of Mexico port and then shipped to the Asian subcontinent. The export deal helps mitigate the effects of a depressed domestic market for affordable energy caused by the President’s war on coal.

Expensive Energy Initiative Set for November Ballot in Michigan

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers this week approved the title (“Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs”) of a ballot initiative that would increase the State’s production quota for renewable energy from 10 percent to 25 percent by 2025. It was the final regulatory step to make the initiative eligible for a statewide vote on November 6th. Because renewable energy like wind and solar power is unreliable and expensive, the initiative would undoubtedly raise electricity rates. Indeed, the existing 10 percent mandate already has pushed up the price of electricity in Michigan. Last year, for example, Detroit Edison increased rates 13 percent.

Around the World
Brian McGraw

State Department: International Spending On Climate Change Plagued with Problems

A report recently unclassified by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) casts an unflattering light on the use of federal funds for international climate change projects. The full report, here, discovered that money spent by the State Department’s Bureau of Ocean and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Administration often lacked suitable documentation to ensure that the money was spent in accordance with agency policy. Among many other failures, the report also noted that the agency often did not follow guidance on Data Quality Assessments to ensure that the results of money spent internationally could be tracked. has more.

U.S. Environmentalists Succeed in Stopping Washington Coal Export Terminal

After successfully crippling the domestic coal industry in the United States, professional environmental activists have turned their attention towards stopping coal exports, which are on the rise as populous countries such as India and China continue to seek low cost energy sources to meet rising energy demand. RailAmerica this week dropped plans for a coal export terminal in Hoquiam, Washington, as the company decided to avoid the long protracted regulatory and legal battle with environmentalists. A similar battle is being waged in Oregon, as Ambre Energy awaits approval from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for a coal export terminal at the Port of St. Helens. It’s worth noting that while environmentalists claim they are preventing theoretical future harm by keeping coal in the ground, they are assuredly causing present-day harm by denying the world’s poor access to affordable energy.

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,