Cooler Heads Digest 15 February 2013

15 February 2013


On Sunday, February 17, the Sierra Club,, NRDC, and scores of other environmental groups will lead what they are billing as ‘the world’s largest ever climate rally,” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Forward on Climate rally is to agitate against the Keystone XL pipeline. Click here to learn more.

At the same time and place, the Center for Industrial Progress and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow will hold a counter-rally, which they are calling the Light Brigade, in order to “debunk false claims, open people’s eyes and underline the importance of energy to our economic recovery.” Click here to learn more.

In the News

There’s No Reason To Oppose Keystone XL
Paul Driessen, Washington Times, 15 February 2013

Green Battery Factory Used Stimulus To Pay Employees to Play Board Games
Daniel Halper, Weekly Standard, 15 February 2013

Lessons from North Dakota’s Oilfields
John Hoeven, American Spectator, 14 February 2013

Wanted: Business Leaders To Aid President on Climate
Darren Goode, Politico, 13 February 2013

GOP: It’s Time To Look into Dodgy Wind-Credit Business
Erika Johnson, Hot Air, 13 February 2013

Obama Must Drop Green for Real Energy
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Real Clear Markets, 12 February 2013

Taxpayer Millions and Green Batteries Don’t Mix Well
Paul Chesser, National Legal & Policy Center, 12 February 20013

Solar Industry Grapples with Hazardous Wastes
Jason Dearen, Associated Press, 10 February 2013

News You Can Use
Interested in Buying a Tesla?

The average electric vehicle gets less than 100 miles on single charge, and this limited range is a primary reason sales have fallen well short of expectations. The $79,000 Tesla Model S was supposed to be the antidote for such “range anxiety.” In addition to the Model S’s extended range (265 miles), the company is building a network of “supercharger” stations along coastal highways, in order to facilitate refueling.  At the behest of Tesla Motors, New York Times reporter John Broder last week took a long road trip in the Model S. According to his review of the experience, the Model S ran out of power 14 miles short of a Connecticut supercharger station, leaving him stranded on a freezing winter day. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, disputed Broder’s account in a rebuttal. Broder’s response is here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

State of the Union Raises Hope for America

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress on 12th February gives me new hope for America’s economic prospects.  The fact that a president who is so thoroughly misinformed and misguided has not been able to totally wreck our economy is evidence of the resilience of America’s institutions and of the entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens.  This does not mean that I expect our current robust one percent economic growth will continue; on the contrary, I expect a colossal recession in the next few years as a result of the disastrous policies being pursued by the Obama Administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The President spent more time talking about energy and climate than any other issues.  He noted that greenhouse gas emissions (which he called “dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet”) have declined in the past four years, but did not mention that economic stagnation is one of the major causes.  Nor did he mention that global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase rapidly because of robust economic growth in China and other industrializing countries.

He went on to say: “But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”

These claims are contrary to the scientific literature.  There has been no increase over the twentieth century average in the incidence or intensity of heat waves, droughts or floods.  Sandy was a big storm, but far less powerful than many hurricanes that have hit New York City in the past century.  There have been some big wildfires in the West due to criminal mismanagement of the National Forests and other federal lands.  And as Roger Pielke, Jr. (who is not a global warming skeptic) has demonstrated from the data, Atlantic hurricanes are currently in a low phase.

But the President is making these claims because this year the global warming alarmists have decided to make “wacky weather” their featured catastrophe.  Any severe weather event is now being pushed by the alarmists as caused by global warming.  Since the global mean temperature has not increased noticeably in the past fifteen years, their claims are a notable instance of effects preceding cause.

In terms of policy prescriptions, the President called on Congress to “pursue a bi-partisan, market-based solution to climate change like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.”  Since cap-and-trade legislation is dead for the foreseeable future, the President went on to add, “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.  I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take….”  It is not clear what further actions he has in mind beyond all the new EPA regulations designed to kill coal that are already in the pipeline. Federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing is perhaps a likely new initiative.

The President then sketched out several specific anti-energy proposals.  Full speed ahead on subsidizing windmills and solar panels.  Divert an unspecified amount of federal oil and gas royalties to a new Energy Security Trust to fund more boondoggles in the miracle fuels and electric vehicle sector.  And make an expensive new push for higher energy efficiency in buildings. 

President Obama also provided some humor when he said, “That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.”  His delivery was so deadpan that the Members of Congress in the House Chamber who were listening (and some of them probably were) didn’t laugh out loud.  But I’m sure anyone trying to drill on federal lands and offshore areas who was watching the teevee broadcast guffawed heartily.

Senators Sanders and Boxer Introduce Carbon Tax Bill

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Independent Socialist-Vt., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Feb. 14 introduced the Climate Protection Act, which has as its centerpiece a new tax on carbon dioxide emissions.  S. 332   would set an initial tax of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions or equivalent and increase the tax by 5.6 percent per year.

Since Sen. Boxer is chairman and Sen. Sanders is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, it is quite possible their bill will get a speedy hearing and mark-up.  The Democratic majority can pass the bill out of committee by a straight party-line vote of 10 to 8.  I’d like to see a vote on a carbon tax by the entire Senate, but it is unlikely Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will allow it.  Even Democratic Senators who support a carbon tax want to get re-elected.

A carbon tax will raise the price of energy and of all products and services that involve the use of energy.  The sponsors of the legislation estimate that it would raise $1.2 trillion in federal revenues in 10 years.  It would not measurably lower global greenhouse gas levels.       

Across the States
William Yeatman

ALEC Making Progress in Campaign to Repeal Green Production Quota

Over the last decade, 29 States have enacted Soviet-style green energy production quotas, known as renewable electricity standards, that force consumers to use increasing amounts of expensive, intermittent renewable energy. This year the American Legislative Exchange Council—a nonpartisan partnership of America’s state legislators, non-profit organizations, and businesses—is leading a campaign to try to roll back these mandates in a number of states. In Kansas, ALEC’s efforts are starting to meet with success.

ALEC member and Kansas State Rep. Dennis Hedke (R) this week introduced HB 2241, a bill that would effectively freeze the state’s renewable production quota. The legislation is schedule for a hearing before the House Energy and Environment Committee next Thursday. A similar bill, SB 82, this week was passed by the Senate Utilities Committee, and is now before the full Senate. According to ALEC, Rep. Hedke is confident that the legislature will enact one of the two bills. Unfortunately, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) is a staunch proponent of wind power, and it is unclear whether he would veto such a bill.

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,