The Cato Institute will host a presentation by Alex Epstein on his new book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” on Friday, November 21st, 9:00-10:00 AM at B-369 House Rayburn Office Building. Click here to learn more and RSVP.
In the News
Obama Touts Energy Taxes as a Way To Fight Global Warming
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 14 November 2014
Interstellar’s Rejection of Climate Change Hysteria
Sonny Bunch, Washington Free Beacon, 14 November 2014
Tom Steyer Provides a Lesson in How To Waste $67 Million
Thomas Pyle, Investor’s Business Daily, 13 November 2014
Carbon Tax Advocates Discuss Post-Election Prospects
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 12 November 2014
IPCC’s Latest Report: The End Is Nigh Unless Mankind Repents Its Fuelish Ways
Marlo Lewis, CNS News, 10 November 2014
News You Can Use
The One Statistic Climate Catastrophists Don’t Want You to Know
According to the Cato Institute’s Pat Michaels, in the decade from 2004 to 2013, worldwide climate-related deaths (including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and storms) plummeted to a level 88.6 percent below that of the peak decade, from 1930 to 1939.
Inside the Beltway
Reid Rushes Senate Vote on Keystone Pipeline To Try To Save Landrieu
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) strategy to keep Democratic incumbents from being voted out of office by keeping floor votes to a minimum failed miserably on 4th November. Voters sent Democratic incumbents packing in Arkansas, Colorado, Alaska, and North Carolina. As a result of those defeats plus Democratic losses in open seat races in West Virginia, Montana, Iowa, and South Dakota, Republicans will take control of the Senate when the 114th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd.
Now, to try to save Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) from defeat in a 6th December runoff with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Reid wants to have a vote on a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands, across the Canada-U.S. border and down to Cushing, Okla., where it would hook up with the southern leg of the pipeline that has already been constructed and is operating (because pipelines that don’t cross an international border don’t require presidential approval). The Senate is currently scheduled to vote on the bill on Tuesday, 18th November. However, with Reid in control of the Senate schedule, that could change several times.
It can be seen from past votes that all 45 Republican Senators and 12 Democratic Senators will vote yes on Keystone. That is three votes short of the 60 needed to surmount procedural hurdles and pass the bill. So Senator Landrieu, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been lobbying several Democratic colleagues furiously to come up with three more votes. As of Friday afternoon, Senators Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) have announced that they will switch.
It really doesn’t matter whether Landrieu finds the sixtieth vote or not. She is almost certain to lose to Cassidy in the runoff because she got 42% of the vote on election day, while Cassidy got 41% and Rob Maness, the other Republican in the race, got 14%. Nor is it clear what passing Keystone out of the Democratic-controlled Senate will do to help Landrieu. The White House is still signaling that President Obama may veto the bill. And if it doesn’t reach the president’s desk this month, it surely will early next year when Republicans control the Senate.
That’s why the Republican leadership in the House did not stand in the way. On Friday, 14th November, the House voted 252 to 161 in favor of H. R. 5682, which approves the Keystone Pipeline. Thirty-one Democrats votes Yes. This is the ninth time the House has passed a Keystone bill. Oh, and by the way, the sponsor of H. R. 5682 is Rep. Bill Cassidy.
If the Senate goes along next Tuesday, expect anti-Keystone activists led by billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer and Bill McKibben’s 350.org to form a human chain around the White House, as they did on 4th March. Currently, 350.org is planning a rally on the Mall in Washington on 17th February 2015, which is Presidents’ Day.
Across the States
Southern Co. CEO: EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan Would Cause Rolling Blackouts
In an interview two days ago with Bloomberg, Thomas Fanning, the CEO of Southern Company, which provides electricity service to a four state region in the southeast, said that “I don’t think we have the ability to maintain a reliable system” and also comply with EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan.
Fanning’s statement is only the latest warning about the threat to electric reliability posed by EPA’s rule. In recent testimony before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Philip Moeller voiced his concern about the possibility of cascading blackouts within the 15 state region served by the Midcontinent Independent Service Operator. And in October comments to the EPA, the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization that serves an 8 state region, warned that the rule, if left unchanged, would cause rolling blackouts within its footprint. Thus, grid operators & federal energy regulators have issued warnings that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan could turn out the lights in 27 States.
Around the World
Obama, Xi Agree on Meaningless Climate Deal
U. S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a commitment by both countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2025-30, at the end of the APEC summit meeting in China on Wednesday. President Obama pledged that the United States would reduce it emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, while President Xi pledged that China’s emissions would peak by “around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early, and to increase the share of non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20% by 2030.” That quote is from the White House fact sheet on the agreement.
The Obama Administration’s long-stated goal has been to reduce emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. That works out to an annual cut of 1.2% from 2005 onward. The new goal would require a much faster rate of cuts. The White House calculated that if the faster rate doesn’t begin until 2020, then the annual cut would work out to 2.3-2.8% from 2020 to 2025.
It is not clear what President Xi’s commitment means, but President Obama’s signature on the deal has no legal force. And it will be up to future Presidents and Congresses after he leaves office in January 2017 to decide whether to require the emissions reductions agreed to.
Leaders of the official climate establishment quickly claimed that the U. S.-China agreement will provide new momentum to the international negotiations on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which will continue at the annual United Nations climate conference in December in Lima. A new international agreement is supposed to be signed at the next UN conference scheduled for December 2015 in Paris.
Here for example is what former Senator Timothy Wirth said in a written statement: “Today’s announcement is the political breakthrough we’ve been waiting for…. If the two biggest players on climate are able to get together, from two very different perspectives, the rest of the world can see that it’s possible to make real progress.” Wirth is the vice chairman of Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and served as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs during the Clinton Administration, where he prepared the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
However, it doesn’t appear that there is much that is new in the agreement. The Reuters story by David Stanway reporting from the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing got it right in the headline: “China, US agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new.”
For China, the targets add little to its existing commitments to wean itself off carbon, environmental experts said. ‘The statement is an upbeat signal to motivate other countries, but the timeline China has committed to is not a binding target,’ said Li Junfeng, an influential Chinese climate policy adviser linked to China’s state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.
There is also the little obstacle of Congress. Republicans take control of the Senate in January. Majorities in both the House and Senate will be opposed to the Obama Administration’s climate agenda. It seems certain that they will be even more opposed to the new 26% cut by 2025 goal than they are to the 17% by 2020 goal. My guess is that there will be votes on a resolution disavowing President Obama’s new commitments in both the House and Senate early in the 114th Congress.
That would complicate the State Department’s plans to announce its commitments that will be part of the Paris accord by the end of March. In fact, if the House and Senate do disavow the deal with China, it would be a major international embarrassment to President Obama and would be a severe blow to the chances for a significant agreement in Paris in December 2015.
Reactions to Obama-Xi Climate Agreement
Among many insightful commentaries on the O-Xi deal, I recommend my CEI colleague Chris Horner’s post on GlobalWarming.org on the potential legal consequences and Rupert Darwall’s post on National Review Online on the economic consequences. The Onion had the best headline: “China Vows To Begin Aggressively Falsifying Air Pollution Numbers.”
The establishment press and leftist columnists were ecstatic. Here’s a sample. New York Times editorial headline: “A major breakthrough on climate change.” Washington Post editorial headline: “A landmark climate deal.” Paul Krugman in the NY Times: “We have a deal, and it’s pretty big.” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “A game-changing climate deal.” And Al Gore’s group, the Climate Reality Project, began its e-mail on the O-Xi deal: “Climate wins don’t come much bigger.”
Politico reporter Michael Grunwald damped down the enthusiasm in a long article that points out the agreement was “just words.” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave Politico this pithy analysis: "We have plans to continue to reduce emissions and we have agreed to continue to increase those plans to reduce emissions. And we have, over the years, shown our good faith by actually doing that. So, that's our quid. What's the pro quo? They're going to continue to emit carbon and then after 16 years, they're going to freeze that emission, as far as I can tell, at the level they bring it up to in 16 years.” Investor’s Business Daily had a good editorial slamming the deal that included a useful graph.
Republican leaders in Congress were quick to announce that the President’s climate deal with China didn’t stand a chance in Congress. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) called it a charade. And here is Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reaction. Inhofe will become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in January. McConnell will become majority leader of the Senate.
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.