Cooler Heads Digest 22 March 2013

22 March 2013

In the News

Lights On! Celebrate Human Achievement Hour Tomorrow Night
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 22 March 2013

Dow Chemical’s False Alarm Campaign against Natural Gas Exports
Marlo Lewis,, 22 March 2013

Garbage Collecting a Green Job? According to Government, Yes!
David Kreutzer, The Foundry  , 22 March 2013

Green Jobs Haven’t Lived Up to Obama’s Promise
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Market Watch, 22 March 2013

Climate Hustlers Are Destroying Our Civilization for a Lie
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 22 March 2013

Here Comes Team Obama’s Carbon Tax
Phil Kerpen,, 21 March 2013

Corn Ethanol Fuels Riots
Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, 20 March 2013

The Hyprocrisy of Obama’s Energy Boasts
Jonathan DuHamel, Tucson Citizen, 18 March 2013

Obama’s Energy Failure Factories
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 18 March 2013

Sir David Attenborough Should Check His Facts on Polar Bears
Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 16 March 2013

New You Can Use
More Ethanol = Expensive Gasoline

According to a new study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute and performed by NERA Economic Consulting, U.S. ethanol policy will increase the price of gas 30 percent by 2015.  

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Congress Discovers Ethanol Has Problems

The problems with the ethanol mandate (also known as the Renewable Fuels Standard) are becoming more and more evident.  Even Congress is beginning to notice.  This week, Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation of the Environmental Protection Agency, asking for action to protect consumers from increases in gasoline prices caused by the mandate. McCarthy’s nomination to be EPA Administrator is pending before the Senate.

The issue is complex and technical, but the basic issue is that the mandate, which increases every year until it hits 36 billion gallons in 2022, is this year requiring refiners to purchase more ethanol than they can blend into gasoline (10%).  This is called hitting the blend wall.  One way out would be to sell more E-85, which consists of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, but consumers won’t buy E-85 because it is considerably more expensive than gasoline once the lower energy content of ethanol is taken into account.  It appears that some refiners are already using another way out—they are exporting gasoline instead of selling it in the U. S.  Exported gasoline is not covered by the mandate.  Less gasoline for the U. S. market means higher prices. 

The Big Corn lobby argues that the answer to hitting the blend wall is to sell E-15, which is gasoline blended with 15% ethanol.  EPA last year approved E-15 for sale over the objections of the automotive industry and consumer groups.  The dispute concerns whether E-15 will damage engines in tens of millions of vehicles already on the road.  Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) earlier last month introduced a bill that would block the sale of E-15 until the EPA completes further studies on its effects on engines.

To address this and other problems with the mandate, Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), ranking Democrat on the committee, have launched a bipartisan review. The review’s first white paper, which was released this week, just happens to be on the blend wall and fuel compatibility issues.  The committee has asked for comments, which are due by 5th April.

Forty-six Democratic Senators Refuse Chance To Oppose Carbon Tax

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seldom lets Senators vote on amendments to bills, but this week he agreed to a “vote-a-rama” on the budget bill.  Hundreds of amendments on all sorts of issues were offered and many of them are being voted on.  Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered an amendment (#261) to put the Senate on record against any tax or fees on carbon dioxide emissions.  The Senate voted on this anti-carbon tax amendment on Friday, 22nd March.  Fifty-three Senators voted in favor, with 46 opposed. Sixty votes were required for passage under Senate rules. 

All the no votes were from Democratic members.  The 45 Republican Senators were joined by eight Democrats in voting for Blunt’s amendment.  The Democrats were: Max Baucus of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. 

Across the States
William Yeatman

RPS Repeal Gains Steam in North Carolina

A bill that would freeze North Carolina’s green energy production quota is gaining steam in the state legislature. In 2007, North Carolina enacted a law, known as a renewable portfolio standard, which required electricity ratepayers to buy increasing percentages of renewable energy. This year, the target is 3 percent. It would rise to 12.5 percent by 2025. Green energy is more expensive than conventional energy, so the effect of the renewable portfolio standard has been to increase the cost of electricity in North Carolina.

Thanks to these price increases, State lawmakers are now reconsidering this green energy mandate. On March 13, Rep. Mike Haeger filed H.B. 298, the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act, a bill that would freeze the renewable portfolio standard at 3 percent. The bill, which already has 23 co-sponsors, has been referred to the Commerce Committee. Last week, a companion bill (S. 365) was filed in the State Senate by Sen. Andrew Brock.

The introduction of the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act clearly has the attention of the greens. EDF, TreeHugger, DeSmog Blog, and many others are up in arms about the possibility of the bill’s enactment. Before, none of these green groups particularly cared about energy policy in North Carolina, where the Republican Party holds a super-majority in the Legislature. Environmentalists are engaged now because they know that a rollback of North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard could have a domino effect on the other 28 States that have enacted green energy production quotas.

Science Update
Anthony Ward

Sun and Cosmic Rays--Not Humans--Control the Climate

The Marshall Institute held a presentation this week on Capitol Hill on the influence of variations in solar activity and cosmic rays as a contributor to climate change. Dr. Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist and climate scientist from the Racah Institute of Technology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, discussed how an increase in global temperature can occur from the interaction of cosmic rays with atmosphere.

According to Dr. Shaviv, twentieth century increases in global temperatures are not due primarily to anthropogenic sources. Instead, variations in solar activity influence the amount of cosmic rays hitting the upper atmosphere. This changes the rate of ionization, which in turn changes the amount of cloud formation. Changes in global temperatures closely track changes in cloud cover.

Dr. Shaviv’s talk will be posted at the Marshall Institute web site.

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,