Cooler Heads Digest 20 September 2013

20 September 2013


On Monday, September 23, there will be two opportunities to attend a briefing by Robert Carter, Ph. D and Willie Soon, Ph. D on Climate Change Reconsidered: Science the U.N. Will Exclude from Its Next Climate Report. The first is at Heritage Foundation from 12 Noon – 1:00 PM (RSVP here). The second is at 2325 House Rayburn Office Building, from 3:00 – 4:00 PM (no RSVP required). The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change’s massive new report, also titled Climate Change Reconsidered, was released this week by the Heartland Institute. It has been posted here.

In the News

World’s Top Climate Scientists Told to “Cover-Up” Pause in Global Warming
Tamara Cohen, Daily Mail, 19 September 2013

Another EPA Power Grab
James Valvo, Americans for Prosperity, 19 September 2013

Obama Donor Gained Nearly $1Billion in Tax Credits from Solyndra Bankruptcy
Conn Carroll, Washington Examiner, 19 September 2013

Climate Change Ice-Capped
Cal Thomas, RealClearPolitics, 19 September 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown on the Climate “Crisis”
Lance Christensen, Master Resource, 19 September 2013

Study Confirms Low Methane Leakage from Shale Gas
Steve Everley, The Energy Collective, 19 September 2013

Climate Change Is Real! (OMG!)
Marlo Lewis,, 18 September 2013

Ecotality Fatality: Another Green Energy Stimulus Beneficiary Goes Belly Up
Lachlan Markay, Washington Times, 17 September 2013

Impending Climate Catastrophe May Be Called Off
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 16 September 2013

News You Can Use
Keystone Application Turns 5

Five years ago Thursday, TransCanada submitted its first application to the Obama administration for approval of Keystone XL, the shovel-ready, 1,700 mile pipeline that would transport oil from Alberta, Canada to the American refining hub along the Gulf Coast. There is still no definitive date as to when President Obama will decide whether to approve the project, which would create almost $9 billion in wealth in addition to thousands of construction jobs.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Proposes Rule That Would Ban New Coal Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, 20th September, released its revised New Source Performance Standards for new coal and natural gas-fired power plants.  The new rule will require new natural gas-fired plants to emit no more than 1,000 thousand pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced.  New coal plants will be allowed up to 1,100 pounds.

Since latest-technology coal plants emit 1,800 pounds or more CO2 per MWH and gas plants emit less than 1,000 pounds, this means that no new coal plants will be built.  In announcing the new rule at a breakfast at the National Press Club, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy denied this was the case because coal plants could be fitted with carbon capture and storage technology.  She claimed that CCS was proven and available technology because several small CCS test plants have been constructed and a big one is being built.  She didn’t mention that it is partly being funded by the Department of Energy and is incredibly expensive.  The fact is that CCS technology has not been “adequately demonstrated” as an emissions reduction system, which the Clean Air Act requires and has been defined in a federal court decision as “one which has been shown to be reasonably reliable, reasonably efficient, and which can reasonably be expected to serve the interests of pollution control without becoming exorbitantly costly in an economic or environmental way.”

EPA has made some cosmetic changes to the rule it first proposed in April 2012 and then withdrew in April of this year when it became clear that the rule would be overturned in federal court.  But the rule is still likely to be thrown out by a legal challenge.  In the meantime, no one will invest in planning or trying to build a new coal-fired power plant.

In its analysis of the economic impacts, the EPA claims once again the new rule will have no costs and no benefits.  It will have no costs because it predicts natural gas prices will remain low for decades and therefore it will be just as cheap to produce electricity from a gas plant as from a coal plant.  But since they forecast that no new coal plants will be built anyway, that means that the rule will not do anything to reduce emissions.  Then why have the rule?  It will be a backstop in case EPA’s projections prove faulty and will also provide regulatory certainty for utilities. Right.

The complete text of the rule, the report on the economic impacts analysis, and two fact sheets may be found here.  Here are a variety of reactions from CEI, the Institute for Energy Research, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the House Science Committee, Senator David Vitter, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Al Gore

FERC Nominee Ron Binz Has a Bad Week

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on 17th September on the nomination of Ron Binz to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  It was not a pleasant day for Mr. Binz, but his week went downhill from there.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking Republican on the committee, asked Binz why he had told her in a private meeting that he wasn’t working with an outside PR firm to support his confirmation, when e-mails released soon after showed that he was working with the hard-left firm Venn Squared Communications plus two lobbyists who have many energy company clients.  In response, Binz said, “I apologize if I have left a different impression from what we now agree has happened.”

It didn’t work.  Senator Murkowski announced at the end of the hearing that she could not support Binz’s confirmation.  The next day Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would vote no.  Then Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who always has to worry about what his fellow Nevada Senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, can do to him, sent out a press release announcing that he would vote no.  By the end of the week, all the Republican Senators on the committee had come out against Binz.  If Manchin plus all the Republicans vote against him in committee mark-up, the nomination will fail on an 11 to 11 tie.   

House Committee Tries To Find Out What’s in the President’s Climate Plan

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing this week on President Obama’s climate policies.  Energy Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) invited the heads of thirteen federal departments and agencies to send witnesses to explain their programs and offices dedicated to implementing the president’s plan.  Unfortunately, the White House allowed only two witnesses to testify—Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

On the whole, it was not an enlightening hearing, but there were several entertaining exchanges.  My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis transcribed one of them between McCarthy and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Ks.) and discusses it on  The committee has posted a video of the entire hearing on YouTube.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

New Australian Government Moves Quickly on Climate Promises

New Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered his government to prepare legislation to repeal the carbon tax.  He has also moved quickly to dismantle and downsize Australia’s climate bureaucracy.  The Climate Change Ministry has been abolished.  Greg Hunt, MP, the new Minister of the Environment will take over the duties of the Climate Minister.

In total, 33 climate programs run by seven departments and eight agencies will be downsized into three programs run by two departments.  The Climate Commission, chaired by Tim Flannery, has been abolished.  The Liberal and National Parties Coalition Government has also announced that it will introduce legislation to abolish the Climate Change Authority.

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,