Cooler Heads Digest 19 April 2013

19 April 2013

In the News

Reps. Upton and Waxman Issue 2nd White Paper on Renewable Fuel Standard
Marlo Lewis,, 19 April 2013

Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) Should Walk the Plank
Iain Murray & H. Sterling Burnett, Master Resource, 19 April 2013

The Climate Horror Picture Show
Patrick Michaels, RealClearPolitics, 19 April 2013

With Science Unsettled, a Carbon Tax Is Even More Useless
Nicolas Loris, The Foundry, 18 April 2013

Keystone Driving Big Labor’s Green Schism Wider
Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner, 16 April 2013

Peak Bloom Is Here—DC’s Global Warming Canary Lands with Front on Its Feet
Adam Sandberg,, 14 April 2013

Stubbed Toe? Blame Global Warming
Walter Russell Mead, Via Media, 14 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: On Two of the Great Issues, the Lady Was Indeed for Turning
Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 13 April 2013

The Electric Car’s Short Circuit
Bjorn Lomborg, Project Syndicate, 11 April 2013

News You Can Use
Electric Vehicles = Money Pits

Fisker Automotive, an electric car manufacturer that received $211 million in stimulus subsidies, this week filed for bankruptcy. A Fisker electric car cost $103,000, but the company spent $660,000 for each one it sold, according to Bloomberg. Chrysler CEI Sergei Marchionne told the Detroit Free Press that losing $557,000 on every case it sold would be “masochism to the extreme.” He then said that his company is only losing $10,000 on every battery powered Fiat 500 it sells. Presumably, Chrysler makes it up on volume.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

President Obama’s Budget Proposes to Make Wind and Solar Subsidies Permanent

President Barack Obama submitted his proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget to Congress on 10th April, 66 days after the legal deadline.  The law does not subject the President to any penalties for missing the 4th February deadline, but no previous President has submitted his proposed budget more than a few days late.  The budget proposes to increase federal spending by nearly five percent over the current fiscal year.

Subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency total $23 billion over ten years.  Astonishingly, the President proposes to make wind, solar, and geothermal subsidies permanent.  According to a White House fact sheet: “To provide a strong, consistent incentive to encourage investments in renewable energy technologies and to help meet our goal to double generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources by 2020, the Budget would make permanent the tax credit for the production of renewable electricity.  The Budget makes the Production Tax Credit refundable so new, growing firms can benefit and provide renewable electricity generation.”

For decades, the leaders in the wind and solar industries have told Congress that they just need a few more years of subsidies before they become competitive with energy produced from conventional sources.  Last December, during the debate over whether to extend the wind subsidy for another year, the American Wind Energy Association came forward with a plan to phase out the subsidy over six years. The Obama Administration has concluded that wind and solar will never become competitive with coal and natural gas.

EPW Republicans Set Five Markers for McCarthy Confirmation as EPA Administrator

Senator David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter on 16th April to Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, that re-iterates five requests for information that the agency has withheld from the committee or commitments to increase transparency in the future. The letter, which was signed by all eight Republican members of the committee, in effect sets down a marker for McCarthy’s confirmation as EPA Administrator by the Senate.  If McCarthy fails to satisfy the five requests, then the Republicans on the committee will have good reason to vote against her confirmation.

Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said this week that the committee could vote as early next week on McCarthy’s nomination.  That now seems unlikely.  It’s more likely that the committee will vote soon after the Senate returns from a week-long recess on 6th May.

The letter states, “…[W]hile you acknowledged serious problems with EPA’s transparency record, acknowledgement does not equal action.  We want to hold you to your word and ensure that EPA will be fully transparent on the science, economics, and negotiations related to EPA decisions and rulemaking.  For too long, EPA has failed to deliver on the promises of transparency espoused by President Barack Obama, former Administrator Lisa Jackson, and by you.”

The first request is that McCarthy commits the EPA to issue new guidance requiring that all official business be conducted through official e-mail accounts.  The second is that McCarthy turn over to the committee unredacted private e-mails that were used to conduct official business.  These two requests arise out of the “Richard Windsor” scandal.

The third request is the whopper.  EPW Committee Republicans ask McCarthy to turn over the underlying data used to promulgate Clean Air Act rules.  Specifically: “That the EPA release a full set of data files for the American Cancer Society Study; the Harvard Six Cities Study; HEI/Krewski et al. 2009; Laden et al. 2006; Lepeule 2012; and Jerrett 2009.”  Congress has been trying to get this sort of data since the late 1990s, when Carol Browner was EPA Administrator.  McCarthy herself agreed to turn over data underlying major Clean Air Act rules in 2011, but has since refused to do so.  It is widely believed that if the data in the studies can be re-analyzed by objective experts, it will show that the health claims for reductions in particulate matter have been wildly exaggerated by the EPA.      

The fourth request is that the EPA commits in writing to do economy-wide cost-benefit analyses for all future Clean Air Act  rules, as is required by executive order and by the act.  The EPA typically only looks at benefits to one section of the economy, such as the number of new jobs that will be created by a regulation, and ignores much larger job losses and other negative effects in other sections of the economy.  The fifth request is that the EPA publishes on its web site all petitions for rulemaking, promulgations of new guidance, and notices of intent to sue. In addition, the eight Republicans request that the EPA also make public and give thirty days notice when it enters into negotiations to settle a citizen lawsuit.  This will allow interested parties to intervene before the EPA is able to do one of its notorious “sue-and-settle” deals. 

The complete text of the letter may be found here.  

Across the States
William Yeatman

States Ask SCOTUS to Take Up Climate Case

Twelve States (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota) today filed a petition to have the Supreme Court review the D.C. Circuit’s decision not to strike down EPA’s climate regulations. The States argue that the Congress never intended for the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. The Clean Air Act was designed in 1970, in order to fight smog. The law’s tools and mechanisms are totally inappropriate for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, which are much more prevalent than the pollutants that cause smog. The States allege that EPA has overstepped its legal authority as the Agency tries to square the circle of fighting global warming with a law that was written at a time when people were scared of global cooling.

Around the World
William Yeatman

EU Cap-and-Trade Again Downed, This Time for the Count

The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, a cap-and-trade energy rationing program with participation from all 27 EU Member States, collapsed again this week, after the European Parliament refused a lifeline to the beleaguered policy. Due to the economic downturn, the price of carbon rationing coupons traded in the Emissions Trading Scheme had plummeted from $39 in 2008 to $3 this month. At that level, industrial suppliers and consumers of energy had no incentive to reduce emissions. In order to defibrillate the carbon market, the European Commission had presented a plan to the European Parliament to “backload” carbon permits. In practice, this meant discontinuing auctions of carbon rationing coupons, so as to reduce their supply and increase their price. However, this measure failed in the European Parliament, by a 334 to 315 vote. According to news reports, German industry was especially influential in securing the measure’s defeat.

This is the second time that the Emissions Trading Scheme has failed. During its first phase, the over allocation of carbon rationing coupons led to windfall profits for utilities, but no actual emissions reductions, as the carbon price plummeted.

Greens are terribly upset. Comments to EUractiv by Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, are indicative of what professional environmentalists in European are now saying: “They [the EU] have lost all credibility on climate leadership.” The Emissions Trading Scheme is such a disaster that leading environmental pressure groups in Europe actually came out in favor of abolishing it in the days before the vote.

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,