Cooler Heads Digest 18 October 2013

18 October 2013

In the News

Energy Conference Speakers Blast Regulations
Susan Hylton, Tulsa World, 18 October 2013

Balance Is Not Bias
Marlo Lewis, Fox News, 16 October 2013

U.S. Passes Saudi Arabia To Become World’s Largest Energy Producer
James Burgess, Oil Price, 16 October 2013

Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Mortality at Wind Farms
Jim Wiegand, Master Resource, 16 October 2013

Avid Environmentalist Challenges Climate Change Alarmists
Jean Bartlett, San Jose Mercury News, 15 October 2013

IPCC in a Stew: How They Cooked Their Latest Climate Books
Larry Bell, Forbes, 13 October 2013

It’s Showdown Time for Our Insane “Green” Energy Policy
Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 13 October 2013

News You Can Use
Global Warming Benefited Humankind in 20th Century

In a Spectator (UK) cover story this week, titled “Panic Over,” Matt Ridley summarizes this recent research of Richard Toll, estimating that climate change in the past century improved human welfare by 1.4 per cent of global economic output, rising to 1.5 per cent by 2025, due primarily to CO2 fertilization.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal on Greenhouse Gas Regulation of Stationary Sources  

The Supreme Court on 15th October announced that it will accept for review one part of the June 2012 decision by the federal D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The Supreme Court will not reconsider its 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act could be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, the EPA’s 2009 finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, or the EPA’s rule increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for cars and light trucks.

Only one issue will be considered by the Supreme Court: “Whether the EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.”  How much backtracking the EPA may have to do if the court decides that regulating motor vehicle emissions does not trigger similar regulations of stationary sources such as coal and gas power plants is unclear.  Several lawyers at environmental pressure groups were quoted in newspaper stories to the effect that it would only be a minor roadblock.  On the other hand, lawyers for some of the many appellants were cautiously hopeful that a ruling in their favor would be a significant first step in pushing back the EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil, and natural gas.

At the root of all the arguments that the court will hear is the issue of absurd results.  The EPA claimed in making the Endangerment Finding that the Clean Air Act could be used effectively to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without producing absurd results.  But when the EPA started thinking about regulating power plants, it had to ignore the law in order to avoid absurd results.  The statutory language of the Clean Air Act states that all stationary sources that emit more than 100 or 250 tons (depending on the type of source) of the criteria pollutant per year must be regulated.  The EPA’s 2010 Tailoring Rule changed that for carbon dioxide emissions to 75,000 or 125,000 tons.  That’s because carbon dioxide is not an air pollutant, but the necessary product of burning carbon.  Burning one ton of coal can produce more than two tons of carbon dioxide.

Regardless of what the court decides, it is clear that the Obama Administration has acted in bad faith.  Every expert realized from the beginning that all the hundreds of thousands of stationary sources that produce more than 100 or 250 tons of carbon dioxide annually could not be regulated.  But the EPA claimed that they could avoid this absurd result and then did so only by violating the Clean Air Act.

For a much more thorough analysis of the issues involved, see my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis’s article posted at   

Across the States
William Yeatman

California Establishes Another Expensive Energy Mandate

On 17th October, the California Public Utilities Commission, by a 5-0 vote, adopted a requirement that utilities in the state achieve 1,325 megawatts of electricity storage by 2020. Electricity storage is the holy grail of renewable energy advocates, because it solves the problem of wind and solar powers intermittency. However, our current best technology is lithium ion batteries. Barring a technological revolution by 2020, utilities could achieve the mandate by buying a fleet of 82,500 Chevy Volts, whose combined 16 kilowatt lithium batteries could meet the PUC’s target, at a cost of more than $3 billion. Of course, they won’t likely be forced to do so; California has a long history of energy initiatives, like the zero emission vehicle program, that failed to meet their targets and then became an afterthought. For an excellent analysis of how regressive, green policies are helping to drive the middle class out of California, see this Daily Beast article by Joel Kotkin.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Is the Social Cost of Carbon Negative?

A new study by Craig Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change estimates that rising CO2 concentrations increased global food crop production by $3.5 trillion during 1961-2011, and will increase output by another $11.6 trillion between now and 2050.

The study, The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide -- Estimating the Monetary Benefits of Rising CO2 Concentrations on Global Food Production, is based on Food and Agricultural Organization data on food crop production and sales, and the Center’s extensive database on the effects of CO2 enrichment on crop yields.

Most “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimates ignore the immense “positive externality” of CO2 fertilization. Until SCC analysts incorporate CO2’s multi-trillion-dollar monetary benefits, Idso argues, “little if any weight should be placed on current SCC calculations.”

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,