Cooler Heads Digest 16 August 2013

16 August 2013


The Department of Energy today initiated a thirty-day day public comment period on the Obama administration’s new social cost of carbon estimates. By grossly overstating the social cost of carbon, the administration is trying to justify expensive, anti-energy policies that serve no public purpose. To learn more about the budgeting tricks that the administration used to inflate the social cost of carbon, read this post by CEI’s Marlo Lewis. To comment on the administration’s proposed social cost of carbon, click here.  

In the News

Ethanol Quotas Pump Money from Your Pocket
USA Today editorial, 15 August 2013

EPA’s Ethanol Folly
Bob Beauprez, Washington Times, 15 August 2013

Energy Grid Report Clouded by Misleading Data
Anthony Ward,, 15 August 2013

Carbon Taxes Are a War on the Poor
Elizabeth Nickson, Vancouver Sun, 14 August 2013

Germany’s Green Energy Bluster Is Running out of Wind
Larry Bell, Forbes, 13 August 2013

Wind Energy’s Future Not So Bright
Marlo Lewis, National Journal, 12 August 2013

Government Giveaways Give Tesla Another “Profitable” Quarter
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 12 August 2013

Do Not Fracture America’s Unity over Energy
Marita Noon, Amarillo Globe-News, 11 August 2013

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

2% of Climate Models Reflect Reality

Are climate models consistent with observations? A new discussion paper by German climate scientist Hans von Storch explores this key question.

Storch compared the nearly flat global temperature trend of the past 15 years with 62 projections from the latest IPCC climate models. Only 2% of the model trend computations were as low as or lower than the observed trend.

“In other words,” Storch explains in a Der Spiegel interview, “over 98% of forecasts show CO2 emissions as high as we have had in recent years leading to more of a temperature increase.”

If the “pause” in warming persists for another five years, the observed trend “would lie outside the ensemble of all model-simulated trends.”

Implication: If the warming hiatus persists five more years, then the data will have invalidated the models.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Transparency Scandals Grow at EPA (and IRS)

Greenwire reporter Emily Yehle this week broke the news that then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson intentionally used her private e-mail account to conduct official business, which is contrary to federal transparency and record-keeping laws.  In an e-mail to Alison Richards, a lobbyist for Siemens Corporation, Jackson wrote, “P.S. Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly? Tx, Lisa.”

This e-mail was made public as part of the latest tranche of “Richard Windsor” e-mails released by the EPA in response to federal court order enforcing a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute last year.  Chris Horner, my CEI colleague who filed the FOIA request, commented that the e-mail to the Siemens lobbyist is the smoking gun that proves Jackson was deliberately evading the rules in order to conceal some of her official business from public scrutiny.

In another FOIA lawsuit against the EPA, federal District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled on 14th August that the Landmark Legal Foundation can question top EPA officials about their use of private e-mail accounts to conduct official business.  Lamberth wrote that, “The possibility that unsearched personal email accounts may have been used for official business raises the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure under the FOIA.”

As Chris Horner told the Washington Times, “FOIA works on an honor system, and those systems only work with people of honor. So you see the problem.”

And in related news, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has sent a letter to IRS official Lois Lerner asking her to turn over all e-mails from her private account in which official government business was conducted. Lerner is a central figure in the scandal over IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.  The committee’s investigation turned up evidence that Lerner was forwarding official IRS documents to her “Lois Home” account at 

R Street Institute Attracts Zero Conservative Support for a Carbon Tax—Again

In a 25th June press release, the self-described free market R Street Institute proposed a carbon tax as the “conservative alternative” to President Obama’s latest climate action plan.  The House of Representatives considered a carbon tax on 2nd August and voted 237 to 176 against it.  All 176 votes in favor of a carbon tax were cast by Democratic Members.  All 225 Republicans voting were against a carbon tax.   In addition, nineteen conservative and free market groups sent a joint letter to the House supporting the anti-carbon tax amendment. 

But that clear signal apparently didn’t register with the R Street Institute.  Last week at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national association of state legislators who support free markets, limited government, and federalism, a resolution opposing a carbon tax was considered by two task forces.  In the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, Andrew Moylan, senior fellow and director of outreach at the R Street Institute, offered an amendment that would have limited the resolution to opposing only those carbon taxes that are not “revenue neutral.”

Moylan’s amendment was not considered because it failed to attract a second from anyone on the ALEC task force, which includes private sector members as well as state legislators.  So I think it’s fair to conclude that a carbon tax enjoys no support among conservative elected officials or within the conservative movement.  The idea that it does is a fantasy promoted by the mainstream media.       

Science Update
Anthony Ward

Climate Sensitivity Less than IPCC Prediction

According to Cato Institute scholars Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, two new reports have been published suggesting that the “mainstream” estimate of the IPCC has overemphasized the extent of equilibrium climate sensitivity. Climate sensitivity is the temperature rise that would occur given a doubling of CO2. The two papers predict a best estimate climate sensitivity of 1.98°C and 2.0°C.

Since 2011, sixteen studies have been published predicting much lower climate sensitivity than the IPCC numbers.  When averaged, the equilibrium climate sensitivity of the sixteen new reports is about 2.0°C.  The IPCC’s AR5 model (3.4°C) is thus 70 percent higher than the average of the sixteen new estimates.

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,