In the News
It’s The Cold, Not Global Warming, That We Should Be Worried About
Fraser Nelson, Telegraph, 28 March 2013
Wall Street Journal’s Crony Capitalist Conference Turns Sour
Myron Ebell, GlobalWarming.org, 27 March 2013
Ethanol Mandate: Proud Milestone in the Glorious History of Central Planning
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 26 March 2013
Obama Administration Plans to Spend 150 Million for Green Energy Projects
Michael Sandoval, The Foundry, 25 March 2013
News You Can Use
CalPERS on Green Tech Investments: “A Noble Way to Lose Money”
The Wall Street Journal recently held its annual “ECO:nomics—Creating Environmental Capital” conference amidst a climate of disappointing returns on green energy investments. As CEI’s Myron Ebell wrote on Globalwarming.org, a talk given by John Dears, chief investment officer of the mammoth California Public Employees Retirement System, highlights the extent to which green energy has been a bust. Dears told the conference: “We have almost $900 million in investment expressly aimed at clean tech. We’re all familiar with the J-curve in private equity. Well, for Calpers, clean-tech investing has got an L-curve for “lose.” Our experience is that this has been a noble way to lose money.”
Inside the Beltway
EPA Releases New Tier 3 Standards for Gasoline
The Obama Administration continued its regulatory onslaught against the American economy with a rollout on Good Friday of new Tier 3 fuel standards to reduce sulfur in gasoline. The new Environmental Protection Agency rule will reduce the level of sulfur allowed in gasoline to ten parts per million from the current limit of 30 parts per million, reduce nitrogen oxides produced by burning gasoline by 80 percent, and reduce particulate matter emissions by 70 percent.
The EPA claimed that the costs would be minimal and the health benefits huge. The agency’s press release states: “By 2030, EPA estimates that the proposed cleaner fuels and cars program will annually prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths, 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children, 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, and 1.8 million lost school days, work days and days when activities would be restricted due to air pollution.”
Industry studies suggest the opposite. Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute summarized their research in a press release: “A new analysis for API by Baker and O’Brien shows a Tier III rule reducing sulfur would increase the per gallon cost of manufacturing gasoline by between six and nine cents. Including a vapor pressure reduction, which EPA considered, could increase the costs of manufacturing by as much as 25 cents per gallon. With the pump price of gasoline already above $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, this added burden clearly makes Tier III the wrong regulation at the wrong time. More importantly, EPA has yet to demonstrate any air quality benefits from reducing sulfur in the amount proposed.”
Seventeen Senate Democrats Vote for Keystone Pipeline, While Democratic Fat Cat Rallies the Opposition
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave the Senate a rare opportunity to take some votes on controversial issues. Dozens of amendments to the Senate budget bill were voted on in a two-day “vote-a-rama.” Last week, I reported on the 53 to 46 vote against a carbon tax. Soon after the Digest was e-mailed last Friday, the Senate voted on an amendment to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline over President Obama’s decision last year to deny the permit. The vote was 62 to 37 with seventeen Democrats joining all 45 Republicans in favor. The Senate budget is non-binding (unless in the unlikely event it is reconciled with the House budget), so the vote merely records the sense of the Senate that the pipeline ought to be built.
The Democrats who voted to approve the Keystone Pipeline were: Senators Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Penna.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Kay Hagan (NC), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Tim Johnson (SD), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.).
These Democratic votes put pressure on President Barack Obama to approve Keystone after Secretary of State John Kerry sends him the State Department’s analysis and recommendation later this year. In a sign that the President is still leaning toward denying the permit once again, the Washington Post reported that the President will attend on 3rd April a $5,000 per person fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the San Francisco house of Thomas Steyer, a major opponent of the pipeline.
Billionaire Steyer is a major Democratic Party donor and a major donor to global warming activist efforts. He bankrolled and co-chaired the successful effort to defeat Proposition 23 in California, which would have overturned California’s AB 32 energy-rationing law. He is currently threatening to spend money to defeat Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), a Keystone supporter who is running in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry when he became Secretary of State. Lynch is running against Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), an opponent of the pipeline and one of the wackier global warming alarmists in the Congress.
Environmental pressure groups led by Bill McKibben at 350.org have quickly mobilized to hit back at the Democratic Senators who voted for Keystone. Protest rallies have been held in Colorado against Sen. Michael Bennet and in Delaware against Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons. All three Senators have since tried to explain that their votes were really not in favor of building the pipeline.
Interior Releases Climate Adaptation Strategy: More Land Lockups on the Way
The Department of the Interior along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week released the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. The purpose is “to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them.” The report, fact sheets, sample case studies, and other supporting materials may be found here.
Not surprisingly, the strategy concludes that handling climate change is going to need a lot more habitat preservation (and by inference a lot more federal land managers to oversee locking up the land) and a lot less development of natural resources on private as well as federal lands. The benefits to plants and indirectly to animals of higher carbon dioxide levels (which plants need to photosynthesize) are not considered in the strategy.
Across the States
North Carolina Legislature To Hold Hearing on RPS Rollback
A bill to freeze North Carolina’s renewable electricity standard is advancing the North Carolina state legislature. The Commerce and Job Development Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Emerging Markets will hold a hearing on the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act on April 3. In 2007, North Carolina enacted a law requiring electric ratepayers to buy a set amount of renewable energy. For 2013, the target is 3 percent. The percentage would increase to 12.5 percent by 2025.
Around the World
IMF Pushes Carbon Tax in Energy ‘Subsidy’ Report
This week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a report urging the world’s governments to “reform” energy subsidies estimated at $1.9 trillion in 2011. Eliminating government policies designed to rig energy markets in favor of particular companies or industries is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, that’s not the agenda the IMF is pushing – far from it.
The IMF defines lack of a carbon tax as a subsidy. Assuming $25 per ton as the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), the IMF claims the U.S. massively subsidizes coal, gas, and oil. Our total energy subsidy is estimated to be $502 billion a year, making America the world’s biggest subsidizer!
Among other correctives the IMF recommends a $1.40 per gallon gasoline tax. Yet a $25 social cost of carbon translates to a $0.22 per gallon tax – well below the average combined federal and state gas tax ($0.48 per gallon). So to the fine folks at the IMF I say, “Been there, done that, we already gave at the gas pump!” Indeed, the price of gasoline increased by more than $1.40 since the early 2000s. Americans have already paid the IMF’s proposed $1.40 surcharge and then some.
The IMF says don’t worry about poor people paying more for energy, because governments can offset the regressive impact of carbon taxes with “targeted social programs,” i.e. welfare. If you ever doubted the global warming agenda is a strategy to transform the U.S. into a European-style social welfare state, look no further than this IMF report!
Contrary to the IMF, the social cost of carbon is very far from being a known quantity. Try, for example, to discern carbon’s social cost in the following information:
- There has been no trend in the strength or frequency of tropical cyclones in the main Atlantic hurricane development region during the past 370 years.
- As U.S. urban air temperatures increased over the past three decades, heat-related mortality and air pollution levels declined.
- Since the 1920s, global deaths and death rates related to extreme weather declined by 93% and 98%, respectively.
During the past 150 years, explains economist Indur Goklany, fossil fuels “saved humanity from nature and nature from humanity.” That’s a substantial positive “externality”! Implication: The “social cost” of coercive carbon reduction is massive. Of course, the IMF’s social cost calculation completely ignores that side of the equation.
Cold Weather Fuels UK Natural Gas Crisis
Continuing cold weather has been responsible for a shortage of natural gas in the UK. According to the Financial Times, prices reached a seven-year high earlier this month as demand for natural gas for heating and inadequate supply forced prices upwards. For more information about this topic, see my post on Globalwarming.org and Fraser Nelson’s column in London’s Daily Telegraph.
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.