In the News
Chris Horner, Master of FOIA, Bedevils the White House
Erica Martinson, Politico, 28 June 2013
Energy Production on Federal Lands: Handing the Keys over to the States
Nicolas Loris, Heritage, 17 June 2013
How Much Warming Will the President’s Plan Avert? (Hint: It’s Way Too Small To Measure)
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 25 June 2013
Presidential Advisor: “A War on Coal Is Exactly What’s Needed”
Daniel Halper, Weekly Standard, 25 June 2013
News You Can Use
ALEC Report: EPA Regulatory Takeovers Are Way Up
From 1997 through 2009, EPA imposed only two regulatory takeovers of state programs, also known as Federal Implementation Plans. Since 2009, however, EPA has imposed 19 FIPs, representing a 2,750-percent increase from the average FIP rate during the past three presidential terms. These data were part of a new report published this week by the American Legislative Exchange Council, titled “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty.”
Inside the Beltway
President Unveils Authoritarian Climate Agenda…
President Barack Obama unveiled a climate change plan in a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. A transcript of the speech is available here, and a copy of the president’s climate memo is available here.
In the speech, the president struck a far different tone than he did during the presidential debates last year. Back then, on stage during the debates, President Obama was a friend of fossil fuels, and he never mentioned climate change. Indeed, he tried to present himself to the right of Romney on energy policy. On Tuesday, he was a different man. He presented climate change as an existential threat to our children. At one point, he asked whether “we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.” I think it’s fair to question where the president’s courage was when he was up for election.
Another troubling aspect of President Obama’s climate plan is that it is avowedly authoritarian. In his speech, the president effectively declared that the Congress won’t enact climate policies, so he’s going to impose them. Sort of like a king. The president is using congressional inaction as a pretext for a power grab, and that is worrying.
The most important component of the president’ climate plan is an order for EPA to re-propose greenhouse gas regulations for new power plants and also propose such regulations for existing power plants. He didn’t specify what these regulations would entail, but there are clues that they will result in a ban on the construction of new coal fired power plants. For starters, EPA’s original proposal effectively outlawed new coal power plants, so it’s clearly an agency priority. Also, on page 19 of the president’s new climate plan, the administration states that, “going forward, we will promote fuel switching from coal to gas for electricity production.”
In addition to these regulations, the plan includes more subsidies for green energy, fuel efficiency standards for trucks, and federal expenditures on adaptation. The last one is the most dangerous of the three, because virtually any infrastructure improvement can be portrayed as necessary in the face of a changing climate. The upshot is that this adaptation initiative, in practice, would likely become a subsidy slush fund.
…President Then Goes about Implementing Authoritarian Climate Agenda
Yesterday, the president nominated Ron Binz to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This is the perfect next step for an undemocratic plan to impose climate controls by executive fiat.
Previously, Binz had served as the chairman on the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, where he oversaw a fundamental shift in policy. Before Binz, Colorado utilities were required to provide the most affordable electricity. Under Binz’s leadership, the rules were skewed such that utilities had the incentive to provide green energy, at any cost. As a result, Colorado consumers in 2012 paid nearly $484 million, in order to procure energy for which there was no demand. As head of FERC, Binz will be in a position to influence the nation’s energy markets just as he did Colorado's. FERC has a big hand in energy markets—both interstate gas and electric. To wit, FERC can control who pays for what for interstate transmission, which is a big deal, given that “green” energy is located remotely from urban centers of demand. The upshot is that Binz would be in a position to socialize the cost of green energy transmission.
FERC also plays a huge role in the defining the players of the electricity market. Thus, Binz will be in a position to advance “demand management.” In simple terms, this is the practice of paying people to not use electricity. It's as inefficient as it sounds, but it's loved by those, like Binz, who can’t countenance the construction of new supply.
While at the Colorado PUC, Binz proved to be a master of using the administrative state to advance green energy policies, without voters getting any wiser. He's the perfect man to advance climate controls without a Congressional mandate.
Across the States
EPA Quietly Concedes Defeat on Fracking in Wyoming
In December 2011, EPA issued a bombshell press release, alleging that an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyoming, “likely” had been contaminated by “fracking,” a term used to describe the recent technological innovations in drilling that have unlocked enormous reserves of oil and gas. EPA’s press release seemed to contradict industry claims that fracking had never once polluted drinking water with toxic chemicals.
Despite the gravity of the announcement, EPA issued the press release after having reviewed only preliminary data, and before the peer-review process. Problems soon surfaced with EPA’s science, as Wyoming state regulators balked at the federal government’s methodology. Specifically, state officials maintained that EPA’s inexpert drilling to collect the water samples had led to the contamination. Due to these concerns, the U.S. Geological Survey agreed to perform an independent retest of the Pavillion water samples. On the basis of those results, the oil and gas industry called on EPA to withdraw its preliminary conclusions.
Last week, EPA pulled the plug on the peer review of its Pavillion science, thereby effectively conceding that it had been wrong. Notably, EPA didn’t announce the withdrawal in a press release.
Around the World
Shale Gas Reserves in Britain Exceed Expectations
A new report from the British Geological Survey estimates that around 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas remains untapped within the shale rocks of Northern England. This represents a substantial increase from previous reports.
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.