The Heritage Foundation published a study this week titled, EPA Power Plant Regulations: A Backdoor Energy Tax, by Nicolas Loris, Kevin Dayaratna, and David Kreutzer. The authors modeled the economic impact of pending EPA greenhouse gas regulations and found that a family of four’s income would drop by more than $1,200 per year by 2023.
In the News
The Great Green Lie: CCS Today Is Not Like Sulfur Scrubbers in the 1970s
William Yeatman, Master Resource, 6 December 2013
Interior Department To Allow More Killing of Bald Eagles for More Wind Power
Ben Geman, National Journal, 5 December 2013
EPA’s New “Science Integrity” Czar: the Blind Leading the Blind
Henry Miller, Forbes, 4 December 2013
Poor Countries Need Electricity More Than Relief from Climate Change
Charles Kenny, BusnessWeek, 25 November 2013
News You Can Use
Record Cold Temperatures
According to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center, the U.S. had 9,023 daily record high temperatures through Dec. 1, compared to 9,932 daily record lows. About 1,000 cold temperature records were set or tied during the last week alone. For example, Bryce Canyon Airport in southern Utah set the two coldest temperature records for the entire month of December: -28 degrees F on 5th December and -27 degrees F on 6th December. The previous December low was -26 degrees F on 8th December 1975.
Inside the Beltway
How Many Eagles and Endangered Bats Can Windmills Kill?
Wind turbines kill lots of birds and bats, and many of them are protected by the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. How many dead endangered birds and bats is too many? The Obama administration is trying to get it just right.
On 22nd November, Duke Energy pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and agreed to pay a $1 million fine. The Department of Justice had charged Duke with the killing of 14 golden eagles and dozens of other birds at two wind farms it owns in Wyoming.
On the other hand, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week it will publish a new rule on 9th December to allow the permits it issues to wind farms for killing eagles and migratory birds to be extended from five to 30 years. That gives the operators of wind turbines some regulatory certainty so they don’t have to worry a permit will not be renewed when the turbines are still new and capital costs have not yet been recovered.
And in a specific permitting decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service on 5th December decided to issue an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act to allow a proposed 100-turbine wind farm in West Virginia to kill up to 53 Indiana bats and 14 Virginia big-eared bats in the next 25 years.
White House Doubling Down in Favor of Renewables
President Obama announced this week a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. According to a memorandum, Obama wants all federal agencies to reduce their emissions by 20 percent before 2020. This extends the president’s promise earlier this year to reduce GHG emissions by, among other things, reducing funding for international coal projects and stringent regulations on new and existing power plants within the United States.
Calling for agencies to incorporate more renewable for their power needs, the plan has received warm regards from the green left. Some of the strongest support for the plan has come from Environmental Defense Fund. The pro-renewable environmental organization has hailed the plan as being “an important step toward doubling down on a clean industry energy.”
Around the World
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, U. S. State Department climate envoy Todd Stern, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, Bianca Jagger, and I were all in Warsaw in late November to attend COP-19, the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. They were there to try to save humanity from global warming and gender inequity. I was there to try to save it from global warming policies.
COP-19 was a sedate affair, especially compared to COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009. Instead of 40,000-50,000 people trying to get into a convention center that would hold fewer than 20,000, approximately 8,300 people were accredited to attend the Warsaw conference. Many of the more colorful environmental NGOs either have stopped sending delegates or have been excluded by the UN.
I missed Pachauri, but went to a briefing put on by the IPCC. Three top IPCC scientists talked a lot about how they were more certain in the new Fifth Assessment Report that climate change was being caused by burning coal, oil and natural gas than they were in 2007 (and they were pretty darned certain back then). Their increasing certainty is because of “multiple lines of independent evidence,” although they talked mostly about model results, which aren’t evidence. No one on the IPCC panel mentioned the fact there has been no increase in the global mean temperature for the past 17 years, despite the model predictions, and so no one had to make up a story about where all the warming is hiding and how scared (and sorry) we will be when it leaps out from behind a melting iceberg (no doubt with a dead polar bear on top).
Michel Jarraud, the head of the World Meteorological Organization, which co-founded the IPCC in 1988, said on another panel that it was now an indisputable fact that natural disasters are increasing as a result of climate change. Apparently, he hasn’t read the chapter on extreme weather events in the Fifth Assessment Report, which can find no trend, despite the best efforts of the authors to find one. At the same panel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon remarked that just a few years ago we were bothered by climate skeptics spreading all kinds of rumors, but now the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report has laid to rest those nasty rumors.
Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, the extremely capable and extremely well-connected executive secretary of the UNFCCC, moderated the high-level event on Gender Equity Day. The all-woman panel included Bianca Jagger. Figueres exhorted her fellow genderites (and later exhorted official delegates at a plenary session) to keep their feet on the ground but raise their eyes to the stars. I tried to do this for the rest of the day, but the ceilings in the rooms and hallways at the National Stadium where COP-19 was being held obscured my view of the stars. I was more successful in keeping my feet on the ground.
Besides all these jolly events, there were endless official sessions, many of which went late into the night and some into the early morning, which were devoted to: negotiating a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2020; discussing the new Green Climate Fund and when it is going to get the $100 billion per year promised by President Obama at Copenhagen; and creating a new “Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage,” which is intended to pay reparations to poor countries for the losses and damages caused by climate change they are already experiencing. I’ll discuss the outcomes of these official negotiations in future articles.
What Does Legislative Intent Reveal about EPA Permitting for Greenhouse Gases?
Next week, petitioners’ merit briefs are due in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the first Supreme Court case to examine the legality of an EPA greenhouse gas regulation.
The Court is reviewing the EPA’s April 2010 Timing Rule, which asserts that the agency’s greenhouse gas motor vehicle emission standards automatically subject major stationary greenhouse gas emitters to the Clean Air Act’s preconstruction permit program, known as New Source Review (NSR), and the Act’s Title V operating permit program.
Using Thomas, the Library of Congress search engine, I examined all 692 bills introduced during the 101st through 111th Congresses that contain the term “greenhouse gas,” as well as all 55 bills that contain “best available control technology” – the emission standard associated with NSR.
I found that neither Congress as a whole, nor the House or Senate separately, nor any congressional committee approved legislation authorizing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases through the permitting programs. The agency’s Timing Rule clearly exceeds any discernible legislative intent. My analysis is available here.
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.