Cooler Heads Digest 28 March 2014

28 March 2014

In the News

Human Achievement Hour: Light’s On!
William Yeatman, Master Resource, 28 March 2014

Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm
Matt Ridley, Wall Street Journal, 27 March 2014

Anti-Fracking Agitprop Documentarian Josh Fox Is Wrong Again
Ashe Snow, Washington Examiner, 27 March 2014

Earth Hour’s Misguided Premise
Bjorn Lomborg, USA Today, 27 March 2014

Confidential Document Reveals Sierra Club’s War on Coal Strategy
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 26 March 2014

Members of “Independent” EPA Advisory Committee Got $180 Million from EPA
David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 26 March 2014

Global Warming Will Not Cost the Earth, Leaked IPCC Report Admits
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 26 March 2014

Climate Change Debate about To Change Radically
Andrew Lilico, Telegraph, 25 March 2014

Sea Level Rise Decelerated 31% Since 2002
The Hockey Schtick, 23 March 2014

Washington Post Falls for Left-Wing Fraudsters on Koch-Keystone Connection
John Hinderaker, Powerline, 20 March 2014

News You Can Use
U.S. Now Accounts for 10% of Global Crude Production

Thanks to advances in oil and gas drilling collectively known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” U.S. oil production grew by a record 1.136 million barrels a day last year to 8.121 million barrels a day. As a result, the domestic energy industry now accounts for 10 percent of global production.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

SCOTUS Upholds One Front in EPA’s War on Coal

On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively sided with the EPA in a long-running legal battle over the Agency’s controversial 2011 veto of a Clean Water Act “Section 404” permit that already had been issued to Arch Coal for a surface coal mine in Logan County, West Virginia.

As I reported after a visit to West Virginia, EPA’s veto of the permit was deeply unpopular with people in the state, who believed that the Agency was unneccessarily checking job creation. The coal company litigated, and in March 2012, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that EPA did not have the authority to retroactively revoke a permit, a decision which vacated the Agency’s action, and would have allowed Arch Coal to proceed with mining.

EPA appealed Judge Jackson’s ruling. On April 23rd, 2013, a unanimous three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower court, and found that EPA did indeed have the authority to revoke a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit after it had been granted to the company seeking the variance.

Arch Coal then appealed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. But on Monday, the Court declined to take up the case.

Now that it’s been established by the courts that EPA has the authority to retroactively veto Clean Water Act permits, the case returns to U.S. District Court Judge Jackson, in order to determine whether EPA exercised this authority reasonably. As I’ve argued here, this question remains very much in doubt: The agency’s ridiculous justification for revoking the permit is the supposed need to protect a short-lived insect that isn’t an endangered species.

Interior Department Classifies Lesser Prairie Chicken as “Threatened”; Could Be Worse, But Still Bad

Yesterday the Interior Department classified the lesser prairie chicken as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While a “threatened” listing doesn’t automatically trigger the draconian regulations that are required under an “endangered” classification, it gives the Interior Department wide latitude to impose regulations, even those that could be as severe.

The lesser prairie chicken’s habitat coincides with areas that are experiencing for growing oil and gas production in the southwest due to the advent of fracking. Over the last five years, energy companies in the region have voluntarily spent millions of dollars to preserve the species, in collaboration with the federal government. The Interior Department ruled that the “threatened” designation would precipitate regulatory commitments for the oil and gas industry beyond what they already are doing voluntarily. This raises an obvious question: Why was the listing necessary?

Despite the Interior Department’s assurances, there is cause for concern. The Endangered Species Act is known as the “bulldog” of environmental statutes. It affords environmental litigants ample opportunity to sue in federal court and press the case for ever more stringent controls. Notably, yesterday’s “threatened” listing itself was the byproduct of so-called “sue and settle” litigation, or sweetheart lawsuits whereby EPA cedes its regulatory initiative to green special interests.

Across the States
William Yeatman

Pennsylvania, North Dakota Booming Due to Fracking

The American energy boom engendered by fracking is having a big impact on local economies. This week, the Department of Labor released statistics showing that the citizens of North Dakota, the locus of much of the increased energy production, enjoyed the fastest increase in personal income, at 7.6 percent. Current per capita income in North Dakota is $57,000, second only to Connecticut, and has increased by almost 50 percent since 2009.The situation is similar in Pennsylvania, another area that is being revitalized by the U.S. energy renaissance. According to the Labor Department statistics cited above, the Keystone State has added more than 15,000 direct jobs in the oil and gas industry since 2007, which is a 268 percent increase (during a global recession).

Green Energy Mandate Repeal Stalls in Kansas; Introduced in Ohio

Over the last decade, a number of states have enacted green energy mandates, known as renewable portfolio standards (RPS), that require ratepayers to buy increasing amounts of wind and solar energy. Because renewable energy is more expensive than conventional energy, some states are now revisiting their green energy production quotas, as consumer costs mount.

For example, this week the Kansas Senate, by a 25-15 vote, passed H.B. 2014, which would repeal the state’s RPS requirement that Kansas utility companies to receive 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Kansas House spurned the measure, by a 77-44 vote. H.B. 2014, however, is not yet dead. There are two weeks left in the legislative session, and proponents of repeal remain sanguine.

Similarly, House and Senate Republicans in Ohio this week announced their intention to introduce a bill that would suspend the state’s 2008 RPS. The GOP has a large majority in both chambers, so it stands to reason that this effort has an excellent chance of succeeding.

Around the World
William Yeatman

EU Asks Obama to Stop Dragging Feet on Nat Gas Exports

At a European Union–U.S. summit this week in Brussels, EU leaders asked Barack Obama to share the facilitate gas exports to help counter Russia’s influence over European energy markets.

With U.S. gas supplies buoyed by fracking, there exists an economic incentive to increase gas exports. However, under the Natural Gas Act, companies cannot import or export natural gas without approval from the Energy Department. There are more than two dozen license applications pending, but expanded exports are opposed by anti–fossil fuel environmentalists, a key component of the president’s political base. As a consequence, his administration has dragged its feet, and the Department of Energy has processed only six applications.

EU leaders this week requested that the administration hurry up. “What we are asking for is a willingness of the US side to be more pro-active on licences,” João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador in Washington, told The Guardian. EU leaders were galvanized by Russia’s imminent annexation of Crimea; they feared that Russia could use its position in the EU gas market—Russian exports account for a third of European gas—as a geopolitical cudgel.

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,