Cooler Heads Digest 24 May 2013

24 May 2013


A team of independent filmmakers are raising funds through crowd funding to produce a short film depicting the irrational basis for climate change mitigation policies. “50 to 1” will show that “it is 50 times more expensive to try and stop global warming than it is to adapt to it as (and if) it happens.” To learn more, click here, where you can also donate to the project.

In the News

Carbon Tax: Just Say No
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 24 May 2013

The Enviro Fix Is in
Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review, 23 May 2013

Peak Oil Columnist Should Say “Never Mind”
Sam Kazman, Falls Church News-Press, 23 May 2013

Alarmism Makes for Poor Policy
Rep. Lamar Smith, Washington Post, 21 May 2013

Global Warming Revised Downward
Ron Bailey, Reason, 21 May 2013

Soaring Energy Costs Are Making Europeans Poor
Milton Catelin, EurActiv, 21 May 2013

Arctic Council Meeting Proves It’s a Circular World
Teresa Platt, National Center Blog, 17 May 2013

News You Can Use
Sequester Is Working

Due to the sequester, the Environmental Protection Agency furloughed nearly all its employees without pay for one day on May 24th. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) quipped to Politico that, “China will be unhappy if the EPA closes down on Friday. That’s fewer jobs that they’ll be getting from us.”

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Reid Delays Vote on McCarthy Nomination till July

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that confirmation votes on several of President Obama’s nominees for top positions, including Gina McCarthy for EPA Administrator, would be delayed until July.  Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters that he wasn’t sure that McCarthy and Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez had the sixty votes necessary to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Senator Durbin also speculated that, “Unless we start seeing a more co-operative atmosphere around here … there’s going to continue to be speculation about changing the rules.”  This refers to the so-called “nuclear option”—changing Senate rules so that confirmation votes cannot be blocked by a 41-vote minority.

Heritage Action for America has joined eleven other non-profit groups officially opposed to McCarthy’s confirmation.

Congressional Budget Office Kinda Likes a Carbon Tax

The Congressional Budget Office this week released a study on the “Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment.”  CBO admits that a carbon tax would raise the costs of producing goods and services and raise consumer prices.  On the other hand, some of the negative effects could be offset by using the revenues generated to lower the federal deficit and to lower marginal rates of other damaging taxes, such as corporate and individual income taxes.

In terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the best the CBO can come up with is this: “Given the inherent uncertainty of predicting the effects of climate change, and the possibility that it could trigger catastrophic effects, lawmakers might view a carbon tax as a reflection of society’s willingness to pay to reduce the risk of potentially very expensive damage in the future.”

Professor Robert Murphy commented on the CBO study for the Institute for Energy Research here, and Dr. David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation posted his comment here.

Another contribution to the carbon tax debate from earlier in the month has just come to my attention.  On 2nd May, fifty-four trade groups sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee explaining why they are opposed to a carbon tax.  Attached to their letter is a study produced by NERA Consulting earlier this year for the National Association of Manufacturers that details the negative economic effects of a carbon tax. 

House Passes Keystone Pipeline Permitting Bill Again

The House of Representatives on 22nd May passed a bill to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline by a vote of 241 to 175. Only 19 Democrats voted for H. R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which is intended to put pressure on President Barack Obama to relent and grant the permit. The White House announced that the President would veto the bill if the Senate also passes it.  Sixty-two Senators, including 17 Democrats, voted for an amendment to their budget bill earlier this year approving the Keystone Pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to the U. S.

Boxer and Whitehouse Blame Republicans for Oklahoma Tornado

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) were quick to use the giant tornado that obliterated Moore, Oklahoma to chastise Republican members of Congress for failing to get on board the global warming bandwagon.  Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) noted that he has seen a lot of tornadoes during his lifetime in Oklahoma and called the attempt to make tawdry political points out of the Moore tragedy “outrageous” and “immoral.”

For the record, the Digest noted two weeks ago that tornado activity in the past twelve months had been the lowest in 60 years.  If the tornado that hit Moore can be attributed to global warming, then so too must the low level of activity across the U. S. in the past year.  Anthony Watts compiles the facts here, while James Delingpole tees off on Boxer in his Telegraph blog.   

Are House Republicans Going Green?

National Journal published an article in their 18th May issue titled, “The GOP Energy Tent Is Slowly Getting Bigger.”  Reporter Coral Davenport, who is a reliable promoter of environmentalist views, writes a puff piece on House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) efforts to add a green tinge to the House Republicans’ wardrobe. 

In the last Congress, McCarthy, who is number three in the Republican leadership, started the House Energy Action Team (HEAT) in order to develop messaging points for the 2012 election.  Now, he is trying to broaden HEAT’s messaging to include support for subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.  That is no surprise: McCarthy is not a movement conservative, but he does have the country’s largest concentration of wind farms in his Bakersfield-area district.  McCarthy has received many major campaign contributions from the wind industry.

Davenport’s story includes a long quote praising McCarthy’s green turn: “‘I think it’s smart,’ Republican strategist John Feehery said of McCarthy’s new tactics. Republicans’ aggressive campaigning against Obama’s clean-energy agenda was ‘an overreaction,’ Feehery said. ‘It made us seem like enemies of the environment. The idea that government has absolutely no role, that the climate is absolutely not changing—it’s not smart,’ he said. ‘It’s also not smart if you’re talking about all the farmers in red states that make money off windmills. A lot of the base is there.’  Davenport does not mention that Feehery is a top lobbyist at Quinn Gillespie, who represents clients in the renewable energy industry and started a front group to lobby for the wind production tax credit and other subsidies called the Red State Renewables Alliance.

Across the States
Anthony Ward

Rich States, Poor States

The American Legislative Exchange Council this week released the latest version of its “Rich States, Poor States” report, which compares the economic performance of the fifty States.  It finds that eight of the top ten States for economic growth are controlled by Republican elected officials, while eight of the ten bottom States are controlled by Democrats.  Not co-incidentally, energy costs are lower in the States with the strongest growth.  Nine of the top ten States have lower electric rates that the average of the bottom ten.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Rising Energy Costs Focus of EU Leaders Summit

Leaders of European Union member states met for a summit meeting this week in Brussels, and rising energy costs were the primary topic of discussions. According to The Financial Times (subscription required), “a single, eye-popping chart that has been making the rounds in Brussels” depicting the fact that, since 2005, electricity prices in the EU have increased 37 per cent relative to those in the US, and almost 20 per cent higher than those in Japan. This is a notable development. Whenever previous summits addressed energy, it was always in the context of global warming alarmism, and how “de-carbonizing” the economy would create “green jobs.” This week’s summit is the first time that EU leaders have acknowledged the fact that global warming policies result in undesirable increases in the cost of energy.

New Study: Allowing Energy Exports Would Slash Deficit

More than two–thirds of America's $750 billion annual deficit can be eliminated if the Obama administration and Congress allow expanded drilling and energy exports, according to a report published this week by the Manhattan Institute. Click here to read “The Case for Exports: America’s Hydrocarbon Industry Can Revive the Economy and Eliminate the Trade Deficit,” by Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Mark Mills.

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,