Cooler Heads Digest 23 August 2013

23 August 2013

In the News

Did China Accept Binding Emissions Limits at Kyoto?
Marlo Lewis,, 23 August 2013

An Inconvenient Chill
Washington Times editorial, 23 August 2013

Obama FERC Nominee Opposes All Conventional Energy
Amy Oliver Cooke, Chris Horner, William Yeatman, & Craig Richardson, Wall Street Journal, 22 August 2013

Unraveling the Mystery of ‘Gasland’ Director Josh Fox’s Drilling Lease
Sean Higgins, Washignton Examiner, 21 August 2013

Global Warming Hysteria at the New York Times
Larry Bell, Forbes, 21 August 2013

Conservatives for Carbon Tax Campaign Faltering (Note Second Graphic)
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 19 August 2013

Auto Regulations Are Costly
Detroit News editorial, 18 August 2013

Are Democrats about to Fracture over Fracking?
Alex Roarty, National Journal, 17 August 2013

5 Myths about Fracking
Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist, 16 August 2013

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

An Inconvenient Truth: The Gift that Keeps Giving

In his Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore cited as evidence of global warming’s dastardly influence a record-breaking downpour (37 inches in 24 hours) that occurred in July 2005 in Mumbai, India. Since global warming is hypothesized to affect weather patterns rather than cause specific events, I examined precipitation data from Mumbai’s two weather stations. Turns out, there was no trend up or down in July rainfall in Mumbai since 1959 – the start of the datasets. I had nearly forgotten this tidbit until earlier this week, when I read a review on of a study examining rainfall in India. Guess what—there has been no clear trend of either increase or decrease in rainfall over the entire country and none for a major region as far back as 1871. For more detail, see my post on  

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Gore Hijinks: Everyone’s Favorite Crazy Uncle Al Is On the Loose Again

Congress is in the middle of its August recess, so it was up to Al Gore to provide a little light relief in Washington this week.  He didn’t disappoint.  The Washington Post’s soft lefty blogger Ezra Klein asked the former Vice President some easy questions this week, and once again Mr. Gore made it clear why he’s seldom let out of his box without adult supervision. He claimed that “in quite a few countries in the world and some parts of the United States we’ve crossed that threshold” where electricity produced by windmills and solar panels is cheaper than from coal.  (Which is, I guess, why President Obama wants to make wind and solar tax subsidies permanent.)   

Mr. Gore sees a number of signs and portents that the global warming debate is shifting in favor of the alarmists’ energy-rationing agenda.  For one thing, “The appearance of more extreme and more frequent weather events has had a very profound impact on public opinion in countries throughout the world.”

That may be true, but Mr. Gore doesn’t stop there.  He goes on to claim: “There has been a 100-fold increase in the number of extreme, high-temperature events around the world in the distribution curve.  And people have noticed for themselves — the rain storms are bigger, the droughts are deeper and the fires are more destructive…. Every night on the news, it’s like a nature hike through the book of revelations. Eleven states today are fighting 35 major fires!”

According to Mr. Gore, the “leading scientists” now agree that “every extreme weather event now has a component of global warming in it.”  Furthermore: “The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.”

Even the Union of Concerned Scientists saw that “adding a 6” to the hurricane scale was making the fantasy a little too specific and thus open to contradiction by a simple fact check.  So UCS’s Gretchen Goldman gently corrected the former Vice President’s little mis-statement, while adding that “the rest of the interview included accurate and important information and it’s unfortunate that this blip made its way in.”

For the record, rather than a “100-fold increase” there has been no upward trend in hurricanes or other extreme weather events. The increased number of catastrophic fires in the West is due almost entirely to criminally negligent federal mismanagement of our National Forests.  See my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis’s recent summary of current climate science to see how very far from reality are Mr. Gore’s claims.

And as he always does, Mr. Gore couldn’t resist making some nasty comments about his opponents.  He likened the “raging deniers” (as in Holocaust deniers) to racists who supported apartheid and earlier opposed the abolition of slavery and to homophobes.  Mike Bastasch’s piece on the Daily Caller asked several “deniers” (including me) for reactions to Gore’s attack.  Wesley Pruden mounts a rhetorically brilliant counter-attack in his Washington Times column.  

Lisa Jackson Hires a Lawyer

It was reported this week by C. J. Ciaramella in the Washington Free Beacon that former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has hired a lawyer to defend her in the congressional investigations of her use of alias and private e-mail accounts to conduct official business.  As Ciaramella notes in his story, “Jackson’s e-mail troubles began in November when Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, discovered that she used a secret EPA e-mail address under the alias ‘Richard Windsor.’”  

Last week, it was learned from documents produced by the EPA as a result of a federal court order enforcing a Freedom of Information Act request by Chris Horner that Jackson had replied to an e-mail from an industry lobbyist: “Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly?”

As I commented in a CEI press release, Lisa Jackson has hired a lawyer because she needs one. And as the congressional investigators are finding, it’s not just Jackson who was illegally evading federal transparency laws.  The new EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, is only one of many Obama political appointees who may want to retain legal counsel.

Across the States
William Yeatman

Fuel Switching Plan Threatens Ratepayers in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has had a somewhat schizoid response to EPA’s war on coal. On the one hand, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the state’s largest utility are fighting EPA in federal courts. On the other, the state’s second largest utility, PSO, sought a settlement.

Unfortunately, PSO’s settlement gave away the farm to EPA and the Sierra Club, which was involved in the negotiations. In order to achieve compliance with the agency’s ridiculous regulations, the utility agreed to shutter almost 1,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity capacity, decades early. Relative to retrofitting existing coal units, PSO’s settlement will:

  • Increase costs to PSO ratepayers by $529 million in net present value and $3 billion in nominal dollars;
  • Reduce PSO system capacity by 210 megawatts, thereby stressing reserve margins—a key reliability metric—through at least 2021; and
  • Eliminate fuel diversity on the PSO system, rendering ratepayers vulnerable to rate shock.

PSO’s fuel switching plan in Oklahoma costs more, for less energy and greater risk. It is lose-lose-lose.

To learn more, read this study written by me and published this week by Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma. On Thursday, I spoke about the study in Oklahoma City at a panel discussion with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Click here, here, and here for news accounts of the panel discussion.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Poland, EU on Collision Course over Coal reported yesterday that Poland is proceeding with the construction of two conventional 900 megawatt coal-fired power plants, in direct contravention of a European Union directive requiring carbon capture and sequestration.

Poland has long planned the $3.6 billion project, which would be built in Opole, in order to avoid dependence on state-owned natural gas from Russia. EU officials, however, objected to the project, because they said it would interfere with Poland’s compliance with EU-wide greenhouse gas targets. So the EU ordered Poland to install carbon capture and sequestration, an unproven technology that would pipe carbon emissions underground for long-term storage. Poland has ignored this directive.

Recently, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed the project would proceed, setting up a likely conflict. Jo Leinen, a Socialist Member of the European Parliament, told EurActiv that the proposed plant at Opole was “illegal.”

The outcome of this pending showdown will have significant consequences. If Poland carries the day, EU’s climate regulations will have been severely weakened.

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,