Cooler Heads Digest 4 October 2013

4 October 2013

In the News

Keystone XL: Safe & Prepared
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 October 2013

Tesla Stock Dips after Car Ignites
Angelo Young, International Business Times, 3 October 2013

EPA’s Emissions Rule Would Likely Increase Carbon Dioxide
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 3 October 2013

Environmentalists Blame GOP for Government Shutdown
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 2 October 2013

EPA Mandates That New Coal Plants Prevent Nonexistent Problem with Unavailable Solution
Larry Bell, Forbes, 1 October 2013

Global Warming: The Planet’s Most Hyped Problem
Marlo Lewis, National Journal, 30 September 2013

Owen Paterson: Global Warming Can Be Beneficial
Rajeev Syal, Guardian, 30 September 2013

Global Warming Alarmism Is No Longer Scientifically or Politically Sustainable
Peter Lilley, City AM, 30 September 2013

EPA Urged to Update Rules on Secret Email Accounts
Dina Cappiello, Associated Press, 30 September 2013

A Final Blow in the War on Coal?
Lawson Bader, Human Events, 30 September 2013

Climate Data Case in Virginia Supreme Court May Affect FOIA
Bryan McKenzie, Daily Progress, 27 September 2013

Good News You Can Use
Only 6.6% of EPA Employees Are Essential

Only federal employees classified as “essential” can work during a government shutdown. At EPA, that means just 6.6 percent of its 16,205 employees, according to Reuters.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

FERC Nominee Ron Binz Gives Up When Senate Defeat Becomes Clear

Ron Binz, President Obama’s nominee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, withdrew his nomination on 30th September after it had become clear that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would not send his nomination to the floor for a confirmation vote. 

In an interview with Politico the next day, Binz said of his opponents: “The caricature that they created had nothing to do with who I am and nothing to do with what I might’ve brought to FERC. It was just a blood sport.”

There are two reasons why Binz’s nomination became so controversial.  First, President Obama wants to transform an agency that makes boring decisions about electric transmission and gas pipelines based on technical data into a highly politicized promoter of policies that he has no hope of getting through Congress.  Second, Binz is exactly the sort of activist that Obama is looking for.  He is a crusader who used his position as chairman of Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission to further his radical anti-fossil-fuel agenda far beyond the PUC’s normal regulatory authority.  

Those are the factors that created strong opposition to Binz.  What defeated his confirmation is that he happened to lie in a private meeting to Senator Lisa Murkowski, ranking Republican on the committee.  She probably would have let his nomination go through until e-mails were released soon after the meeting as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request for the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic by my CEI colleague Chris Horner, which made it clear that Binz had lied when he denied cooperating with a hard-left PR firm and two lobbyists with energy company clients to promote his confirmation.    

CEI Files Suit To Stop EPA From Continuing To Destroy Text Messages

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed suit in federal court on 3rd October to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from continuing to destroy illegally electronic text messages sent and received by the agency’s top political appointees.  Beginning in April, Chris Horner of CEI filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for text messages from the government-issued smartphones of Gina McCarthy, then-assistant administrator and now administrator of the EPA, and her predecessor as administrator, Lisa Jackson, on eighteen days when McCarthy testified before Congress.

After EPA replied that no such records existed, a subsequent FOIA revealed that McCarthy had sent 5392 text messages over three years.  After months of obfuscation by EPA, it became clear that the agency had allowed the text messages to be destroyed.  Government agencies are legally obligated under FOIA and the Federal Records Act to preserve agency communications, including those transmitted electronically.  Jackson and McCarthy were in charge of compliance with FOIA and the Federal Records Act.

Both McCarthy and Jackson have said that they only used their government-issued smartphones to send text messages that were not official government business but were strictly of a personal nature.  Since their text messages have not been maintained as is required by federal law, it appears that there is no way to determine whether they are telling the truth. 

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

IPCC Calls Off Planetary Emergency

Okay, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doesn’t do so in as many words. But in addition to being more confident than ever (despite a 16-year pause in warming and the growing mismatch between model projections and observations) that man-made climate change is real, they are also more confident nothing really bad is going to happen during the 21st Century.

The scariest parts of the “planetary emergency” narrative popularized by Al Gore and other pundits are Atlantic Ocean circulation shutdown (implausibly plunging Europe into a mini-ice age), ice sheet disintegration raising sea levels 20 feet, and runaway warming from melting frozen methane deposits.

As BishopHill and Judith Curry report on their separate blogs, the IPCC now believes that in the 21st Century, Atlantic Ocean circulation collapse is “very unlikely,” ice sheet collapse is “exceptionally unlikely,” and catastrophic release of methane hydrates from melting permafrost is “very unlikely.” You can read it for yourself in Chapter 12 Table 12.4 of the IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report.

But these doomsday scenarios have always been way more fiction than science. For some time now, extreme weather has been the only card left in the climate alarm deck. Climate activists repeatedly assert that severe droughts, floods, and storms (Hurricane Sandy is their current poster child) are now the “new normal,” and they blame fossil fuels.

On their respective blogs Anthony Watts and Roger Pielke, Jr. provide excerpts about extreme weather from Chapter 2 of the IPCC report. Among the findings:

  • "Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”
  • “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”
  • "Based on updated studies, AR4 [the IPCC 2007 report] conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated."
  • “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extra-tropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”

Pielke Jr. concludes:

“There is really not much more to be said here -- the data says what it says, and what it says is so unavoidably obvious that the IPCC has recognized it in its consensus. Of course, I have no doubts that claims will still be made associating floods, drought, hurricanes and tornadoes with human-caused climate change -- Zombie science -- but I am declaring victory in this debate. Climate campaigners would do their movement a favor by getting themselves on the right side of the evidence.”

For further discussion, see my post “Global Warming: Planet’s Most Hyped Problem” on this week’s National Journal Energy Insiders blog.

Around the World
William Yeatman

U.S. Overtakes Russia as #1 Global Oil and Gas Producer

Using data from the International Energy Agency, the Wall Street Journal today published an analysis demonstrating that the United States this year has overtaken Russia as the leading global producer of oil and gas. Thanks to a series of technological breakthroughs in drilling, collectively known as hydraulic fracturing, domestic oil production is up 30% since 2008, and gas production is up 20%. Currently, domestic drillers are producing 22 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, which just beats out Russia’s 21.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Notably, rapidly increasing oil and gas production is occurring despite the Obama administration. Thanks to bureaucratic foot dragging and endless red tape at the Department of the Interior, drilling on federal lands is actually down.

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,