Cooler Heads Digest 22 February 2013

22 February 2013

In the News

The Electric Car Is an Abomination
Robert Tracinski, RealClearPolitics, 22 February 2013

Biofuel Mandate Destroys Grasslands
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 21 February 2013

Steven Chu’s Legacy of Waste and Failure
Terrence Scanlon, Washington Times, 20 February 2013

Power Density Separates the Wheat from the Chaff
Kent Hawkins, Master Resource, 20 February 2013

Climate Fear-Mongers’ Blind Faith in Suspect and Shoddy Science
Tom Harris, Washington Times, 20 February 2013

‘Gore Effect’ Strikes at Global Warming Rally
Marc Morano, CFACT, 19 February 2013

No Winners in Obama’s Green-Energy Trade War
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner, 18 February 2013

EPA’s Secret and Costly ‘Sue and Settle’ Collusion with Environmental Organizations
Larry Bell, Forbes, 17 February 2013

News You Can Use
Poll: Americans Want Keystone XL

According to a new poll by Harris Interactive, 69 percent of sampled American voters support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Only 17 percent oppose the project.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Secretary of State Kerry Sees Global Warming as Biggest Threat

John F. Kerry gave his first speech as Secretary of State on 20th February.  Instead of discussing how he intends to deal with the major foreign policy challenges the United States faces, Kerry concentrated on the threats posed by climate change. Jeffrey T. Kuhner notes in an op-ed that this is a strange first signal to send to America’s enemies abroad.  

“We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate,” Kerry told his audience at the University of Virginia, which included many students.  He also said he would promote green energy technologies and exports by the American companies that produce those technologies. 

Having led with the need take action to stop global warming, it will be interesting to see whether Secretary Kerry advises President Obama to grant or deny the permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. That decision recently was put off until June. 

In the longer term, it’s pretty clear Kerry plans to take a prominent role in negotiating the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.  The first compliance period to achieve mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions was due to expire at the end of 2012 but was extended at COP-18 (the eighteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Doha, Qatar, in December.  The plan is to conclude negotiations by COP-21 in 2015 and, after allowing four years for ratification, to put the new protocol into effect in 2020.      

Richard Windsor Makes Her Appearance in Second Batch of EPA E-mails

The Environmental Protection Agency released to Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute late in the evening on Friday, 15th February, part of the second of four batches of e-mails that respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.  EPA was forced to turn over the approximately 12,000 e-mails only after CEI filed suit in federal court.  On 20th February, the EPA released some more e-mails in order to get close to the 3,000 they promised the court they would release each month for four months.  All the e-mails have been posted on the web by the EPA and may be seen here.

Since EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently left office, the EPA no longer needs to guard her Richard Windsor alias e-mail address.  Thus Richard Windsor now appears as the recipient or sender of the e-mails.

Many of the e-mails are heavily redacted.  The reason claimed by EPA for most of the redactions is that they are part of the pre-decisional deliberative process and therefore exempt from FOIA.  CEI will be going back to court to challenge many of these redactions as improper and some as laughably so.  The judge will have a lot of fun reading to do.

Two e-mails that were not redacted concern the Coal Ash Rule.  The first e-mail, dated 15th December 2009, is from Allyn Brooks-LaSure in the Administrator’s office and is addressed to Jackson and several other EPA officials.  It can be found as numbered document 476 in Part B of the second release.   Brooks-LaSure writes:

Administrator, you have your own Christmas carols...

And then copies a December 15, 2009 blog post by Rob Perks, Director of the Center for Advocacy Campaigns at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Call it a gift or a curse, but I have a thing for song parody. I'm like the Weird Al Yankovic of environmentalists. Usually my peculiar "talent" gets displayed at the office holiday party. Who can forget my odes to coal belted out last year by NRDC's in-house carolers?

Unfortunately, I missed this year's party due to travel. But never fear, I give to you the 2009 coal carol—ba-rumpa, bum, bum.

Coal Ash Regs Are Comin' To Town

She's making a list/Priority: High/Gonna find out who's wet or dry

Coal ash regs are comin' to town!

Yes, Lisa Jackson/Is making all haste/EPA's cracking down/On combustion waste

Coal ash regs are comin' to town!

She knows which landfill's leaching/She knows which pond might break/She knows they all lack liners/Close 'em down, for goodness sake!

One-thirty million tons/Ev-ery year/Spew from coal plants/Far and near.

Coal ash regs are comin' to town!

So, you better watch out/Coal waste fly/A high hazard/Either wet or dry.

Coal ash regs are comin' to town!

Apparently, putting companies out of business and workers out of jobs adds to the holiday spirit just as much at the EPA as it does at environmental pressure groups.

The second e-mail (document 506 in Part B) regarding the Coal Ash Rule is dated 30th December 2009 and lists the attendees at a forthcoming meeting to discuss the rule.  Eleven EPA officials and staffers are listed as attending along with Lisa Evans and Marty Hayden of Earthjustice, Eric Schaeffer and Jeffrey Stant of the Environmental Integrity Project, Bruce Niles and Mary Ann Hitt of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, Scott Slesinger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Patrice Simms of Howard University, and Jackie Kruszewski of the Southern Environmental Law Center.  To be fair, the very next e-mail reminds Jackson of a fifteen minute phone call scheduled with Steve Leer, CEO of Arch Coal. 

Across the States
William Yeatman

New Mexico Governor Caves to EPA; Ratepayers Suffer Consequences

Last Friday, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a fight with EPA.

At issue was a Clean Air Act regulation known as Regional Haze, the purpose of which is to improve the view at National Parks. In August 2011, EPA imposed Regional Haze controls on a New Mexico power plant that would cost ratepayers in the state almost $375 million, in order to achieve an imperceptible “improvement” in visibility. The State objected to EPA’s plan, and sued in a federal appeals court. That case is pending. Due to the way that the Congress structured the Regional Haze program—such that States were made the lead decision-makers—New Mexico’s litigation was likely to succeed. Oral arguments were heard in October, and a decision was expected soon.

However, just when it appeared that a legal victory was imminent, state officials last Friday unexpectedly announced that they’d reached a deal with EPA. The compromise entailed a fuel switch from coal to gas for almost 800 megawatts of electricity generation. PNM Resources estimates that the capital costs of the settlement are $400 to $430 million, which is greater than the costs of EPA’s original, draconian plan. And this doesn’t account for fuel costs—according to PNM Resource’s regulatory filings, coal is twice as expensive as gas in New Mexico.

It’s entirely unclear what the Martinez administration was thinking. It sued EPA because the original Regional Haze plan was too expensive. Then, the administration negotiated an alternative to litigation that was more expensive than the EPA’s draconian plan. One possible explanation is that natural gas companies, which carry a great deal of weight in New Mexico politics, persuaded the Martinez administration to cave on the lawsuit, and agree with EPA to switch fuels.

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,