Cooler Heads Digest 7 March 2014

7 March 2014

In the News

Video: CPAC Panel on Global Warming

Quadrennial Defense Review 2014: Lions, Tigers, and ManBearPigs, Oh My!
Marlo Lewis,, 7 March 2014

Why Energy Companies Are Fleeing California
Joel Kotkin, City Watch, 7 March 2014

Harsh Winter Reveals Necessity of Coal
Christopher Prandoni, Forbes, 6 March 2014

EPA Workers Used Tax Dollars To Buy Gym Memberships, Gym Cards
Kelly Cohen, Washington Examiner, 6 March 2014

Chasing a Ghost in Windland
Kevon Martin, Master Resource, 5 March 2014

Chevron Gets Justice from Green Frauds
Investors Business Daily editorial, 5 March 2014

Obama’s Pseudo-Scientism
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, 4 March 2014

Personal Score-Setting Is the New Climate Agenda
Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 28 February 2014

News You Can Use
WaPo-ABC News Poll: Overwhelming Majority of Voters Support Keystone XL

Americans support the idea of constructing the Keystone XL oil pipeline between Canada and the United States by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, with 65 percent saying it should be approved and 22 percent opposed, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

House Moves to Block EPA Climate Regulations

The House of Representatives on Thursday, 6th March, passed by a 229 to 183 vote H. R. 3826 that if enacted would block the EPA’s rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new coal and gas-fired power plants.  Ten Democrats and 219 Republicans voted in favor of the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the chairman of the energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  Three Republicans and 183 Democrats voted no.  Republican no votes were cast by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Chris Gibson of New York, and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey.  

The EPA’s final rule, which was published on 8th January after a nine-month delay, would effectively prevent the construction of any new coal-fired plants.  Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, but it is hard to see how it will ever reach the Senate floor.  Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is strongly opposed as are most of Manchin’s Democratic colleagues.  If Reid would allow a vote, then it would be very close because several Democratic Senators in pro-energy States face tough re-election races this year.   The White House has threatened that President Obama would veto the bill if the Senate does pass it.       

Senate Majority Leader Reid Echoes Kerry’s Climate Threat Claim

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), whose behavior has grown increasingly creepy in recent weeks, has now agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry.  He told reporters this week that “Climate change is the worst problem facing the world today.”

Sen. Whitehouse Holds Global Warming Slumber Party on Senate Floor

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), with the help of some of his Democratic colleagues, plans to speak about the dangers of global warming on the Senate floor beginning on Monday (10th February) afternoon and continuing through the night into mid-morning on Tuesday.  It has not been reported whether Senator Whitehouse plans to buy carbon credits to offset all the hot air that will be produced during this frat house pajama party.

Judging from past performances, Whitehouse and most of the other global warming alarmists in the Senateand the House, such as Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), have little understanding of climate science and regularly make outlandish claims that have little or no support in the scientific literature.  The mainstream media have not reported their appalling ignorance, but instead often repeat their claims that the few Members of Congress who have studied the science, led by Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), are “know-nothing deniers.” 

EPA Administrator McCarthy Misleads in Keynote Speech

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking at the annual IHS-CERA energy conference in Houston this week, sought to re-assure energy executives about EPA’s intentions.  According to Ben Geman reporting for National Journal, McCarthy said, “EPA is not going to threaten energy reliability,” and called reliability a priority.  As William Yeatman, my CEI colleague, notes, McCarthy’s statement is contradicted by the EPA itself, which does not include electric reliability in its semi-annual list of agency priorities, and by an analysis by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the EPA’s Utility MACT Rule, which became final last year. 

McCarthy also downplayed the economic effects of EPA’s rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and its use of the Department of Energy’s guidance document on the Social Cost of Carbon to justify new rules to reduce the use of coal, oil, and natural gas.  Of course, McCarthy promised Congress while serving as EPA deputy administrator for air and radiation that the greenhouse gas rule for new power plants would not require fuel switching from coal to natural gas.  The rule as originally published did require fuel switching. 

Across the States
William Yeatman

How much Will EPA Climate Regulations Cost YOU?

A new Heritage Foundation analysis authored by Nicolas Loris and Filip Jolevski breaks down the costs of the EPA’s climate regulations by congressional district. Click here to find out how much you would pay if President Obama’s global warming policy survives judicial review or is otherwise unimpeded by Congress.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Ukraine Crisis Spurs Common Sense Gas Export Policy

Unrest in the Ukraine has lent impetus to arguments in favor of expanding U.S. exports of natural gas. The thinking behind this anti-Russia, pro-export push entails three steps:

  1. Russia’s geopolitical power is largely derivative of state-control over natural resource exports, primarily natural gas;
  2. Thanks to technological developments in drilling collectively known as “hydraulic fracturing,” the U.S. is now producing unprecedented volumes of gas; and
  3. Therefore, the U.S. could undercut Russia’s geopolitical power by increasing its natural gas exports, and thereby diminishing Russia’s position in international energy markets.

Ultimately, the Department of Energy has authority over approving gas exports. Environmentalists, however, oppose gas exports, and due to their political pressure, the Energy Department has dragged its feet on a growing backlog of applications.

For the reasons enumerated above, the Ukraine crisis has prompted Members of Congress from both political parties to introduce legislation that would facilitate gas exports. On Thursday, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) led Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in filing a bill that would order the approval of the glut of export applications awaiting DOE decisions. Speaker John Boehner then voiced support for Rep. Gardner’s bill in a Wall Street Journal oped. Notably, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Gardner’s rival in this year’s Colorado Senate race, backs a similar measure. Even the New York Times and the Washington Post endorsed expanded gas exports as a means of weakening Russia.  

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

More Studies Find Lower Climate Sensitivity

Climate sensitivity is an estimate of the increase in average global temperature from a doubling of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas concentrations. It is the key variable in both climate model predictions of future global warming and model estimates of the “social cost of carbon” – the damage allegedly inflicted on society by an incremental ton of CO2 emissions.

The 17-year warming pause and the growing divergence of model predictions and observed global temperatures have been the impetus for several studies finding that IPCC sensitivity estimates are too hot.

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger maintain a growing list of such studies, which total 18 as of February 2014. Turns out the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) “best” sensitivity estimate (3°C) is 50% higher, and the average sensitivity (3.2°C) of climate models used in the IPCC’s 2013 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is 60% higher, than the mean of recent estimates (just below 2°C).

Three more sensitivity studies came out this week. The UK Global Warming Policy Foundation published Oversensitive: How the IPCC Hid the Good News on Global Warming by Nicholas Lewis and Marcel Crok. Based on the average of “observationally-based” estimates, the two scientists arrive at a best sensitivity estimate of 1.75°C – “more than 40% lower than both the best estimate in AR4 of 3°C and the 3.2°C average of GCMs [general circulation models] used in AR5.”

Lewis and Croc accuse the IPCC of hiding the good news by refusing to assess the evidence and “declare that some studies are better than others or to adjudicate between observational and model-based lines of evidence.” Michaels and Knappenberger offer commentary here.

In the U.S., the NASA-alumni Right Climate Stuff Research Team published Bounding GHG Climate Sensitivity for Use in Regulatory Decisions. Author Harold Doiron argues that “Transient climate sensitivity” (TCS) – the projected increase in global temperature by 2100 – is a more relevant measure than equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) – the projected increase after the climate system fully adjusts to CO2 doubling many centuries hence. Doiron estimates that TSC is about 1.5°C.

The journal Ecological Modeling published A Minimal Model for Estimating Climate Sensitivity by Craig Loehle of the National Council for Steam and Stream Improvement. Using the historical surface temperature record, Loehle subtracted out the periodic temperature oscillations associated with ocean cycles to identify “the linear warming trend” of the “anthropogenic signal.” When that trend is related to increasing CO2 concentrations from 1959 to 2013, the implied climate sensitivity values are 1.093°C (transient) and 1.99°C (equilibrium).

It can’t be said too often. Climate change is not “worse than we thought.” It’s better than they told us.

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,