Cooler Heads Digest 17 May 2013

17 May 2013


The Competitive Enterprise Institute will hold a Congressional staff and media briefing on “EPA’s FOIA Scandals: ‘Richard Windsor,’ Gina McCarthy, and the Abuse of Power,” given by Chris Horner, author of The Liberal War on Transparency and CEI Senior Fellow, from 3 to 4 PM on Monday, May 20, in room 406 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. Please email from more information.  

In the News

Vitter: EPA FOIA Scandal ‘No Different than the IRS Disaster’
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 17 May 2013

No Fine if Wind Farm Kills Endangered Condors
Marlo Lewis,, 17 May 2013

Wind Behaving Badly
Lisa Linowes, Master Resource, 16 May 2013

North Dakota Proves Obama Doesn’t Get Energy
Thomas Pyle, Real Clear Energy, 16 May 2013

Obscure White House Climate Warrior Wields Vast Powers
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 16 May 2013

Ex-EPA Region 8 Administrator To Receive Award, Despite Resigning in Transparency Scandal
William Yeatman, Energy Policy Center, 16 May 2013

From the IRS to the EPA?
Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2013

Wind Farms Get a Pass on Eagle Death
Dina Cappiello, Associate Press, 14 May 2013

Farm Bill Wastes More Taxpayer Money on Green Subsidies
Nicolas Loris, The Foundry, 13 May 2013

News You Can Use
EPA Demonstrates IRS-Like Bias on FOIA Requests

The IRS isn’t the only federal agency to discriminate against conservative groups. The EPA waived fees from Freedom of Information Act requests by green groups 92% of the time. Meanwhile, EPA denied fee waiver requests from the Competitive Enterprise Institute 93% of the time.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPW Committee Sends McCarthy’s EPA Nomination to Senate Floor on Party Line Vote

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 16th May approved the nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency of Gina McCarthy on a straight party line vote of 10 to 8.  This sends the nomination to the Senate floor for a vote on confirmation.

Last week, the committee could not take a vote because all eight Republicans boycotted the meeting, thereby denying a quorum.  This week they showed up for two reasons.  First, the Democrats managed to get Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) down from his sickbed in New Jersey to the meeting.  Lautenberg’s presence meant that all ten Democratic members and thus a majority of the committee were present, which under Senate rules constitutes a quorum.  Thus the Democrats could vote the nomination out whether the Republicans were present or not.

Second, Senator David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the committee, announced in a press release that real progress had been made in a meeting with EPA Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe on complying with their five requests for greater transparency at the agency.  When the committee met, Vitter went on to say that if Perciasepe commits to making further significant progress, then he will not try to block a floor vote on confirmation by requiring cloture (which requires 60 votes rather than a majority), and that if the EPA fully satisfies all five requests, then he would vote to confirm McCarthy.

A loose coalition opposing McCarthy’s confirmation is forming.  Here are the non-profit free market and conservative groups that I know are opposed: American Commitment, American Conservative Union, American Energy Alliance, Americans for Limited Government, Americans for Tax Reform, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Action, Let Freedom Ring, National Center for Public Policy Research, and 60 Plus Association. 

Carbon tax drumbeat continues

The apparently well-funded effort to convince conservatives to support a carbon tax continues.  This week, Ike Bannon, a senior fellow and research director at the R Street Institute, published an op-ed titled, “Why you just may come to like a carbon tax.”  Bannon makes a point that I have made many times: in putting together a comprehensive tax reform or budget deal, the only huge new source of additional revenues on the table is a carbon tax.  Unlike me, however, Bannon thinks that that is a good thing.

Even worse, Bannon argues that a big advantage of a carbon tax is that it’s hidden and therefore people won’t notice that it’s why they are paying more for energy and other goods and services.  He writes: “Besides its intended purpose of reducing carbon emissions, it is politically advantageous, in that it is a tax that is relatively hidden.”  If any conservatives in Congress fall for this, they deserve what voters will give them. 

Across the States
William Yeatman

California Governor Brown Takes  Enviro Heat for Endorsing Fracking

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) this week caused a stir among environmentalists by mildly endorsing more drilling in the Golden State. California’s Monterey Shale, which covers much of the southern half of the State, is believed to hold as much as 15.5 billion barrels of petroleum that has become recoverable only in the last half decade, with the development of smart drilling technology. Governor Brown told EnergyWire (subscription required) that the Monterey Shale could be a “fabulous opportunity.” This is an uncharacteristically sound energy policy pronouncement by the Governor, who during his two stints as the State’s chief executive has done more than anyone to implement the environment regulatory regime that chased away the State’s heavy industry.

Naturally, Governor Brown was quickly rebuked by both the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. He’s likely to hear further protests next week, when he’ll be in Maryland for the Democratic Governor Association’s spring policy session. On May 22, the alarmist activist group will hold a protest at National Harbor, near Washington, D.C. to pressure Democratic Governors “to stop fracking.”

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Matt Ridley Warns that Rising Energy Prices Threaten UK Economy

Matt Ridley, the highly regarded science writer, devoted his maiden speech in the British House of Lords to the threat that rising energy costs pose to the British economy.  According to NE Business, the fifth Viscount Ridley said that, “Household energy costs have doubled in the past 15 years. In the US, where [natural] gas prices used to be the same as they are here, they are now one-quarter or one-fifth of the level here.  That is an enormous competitive advantage to the US and a disadvantage to us.  The chemical industry, as a result, is very keen to move to the United States, and other industries, including the cement industry, are feeling the pinch from high energy costs.” 

Ridley continued: “Near where I live at Lynemouth on the North East coast, the country’s largest aluminium smelter recently closed with the loss of 515 jobs, largely due to the rising cost of energy.  A nation can compete on the basis of cheap labour or cheap energy, but if it has neither,then it is likely to be in trouble.”

Ridley, who earned a Ph. D. in zoology, writes a column for the weekend Wall Street Journal and is the author of several books, including Genome, Nature versus Nurture, and most recently The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.  He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Hayek Prize and CEI’s Julian Simon Memorial Award.  Here is the sparking lecture about the bogus claims of eco-pessimism and global warming alarmism that Ridley gave at the Simon Award presentation in 2012.    In 2011, he gave the Royal Scottish Academy’s Angus Millar lecture on the subject of “Scientific Heresy.” 

Science Update
Anthony Ward

Greenland Expected to Have Little Effect on Sea Level Rise

According to a study published in Nature, melting ice in Greenland will make an insignificant contribution to sea-level rise. Researchers now predict the melting of the Greenland ice sheet will cause sea-level rises amounting only to 0.75 to 1.25 inches by 2200.

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,