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Apr052014

Cooler Heads Digest 4 April 2014 

4 April 2014

Announcement

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast and scientists from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change will be in Washington, DC the week of April 7 for meetings with members of Congress, the press, and allies to announce the release of two new reports on why global warming is not a crisis: Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies. On Tuesday, April 8, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m, they will participate on a panel at a luncheon event at the Cato Institute. To see RSVP, click here. To see the full schedule, click here.

In the News

How Green Policies Hurt the Poor
Bjorn Lomborg, The Spectator, 5 April 2014

End of Climate Exceptionalism
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 4 April 2014

Adults Reject Climate Catastrophe, Alarmists Bring in the Kids
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 April 2014

Environmentalist Foundations Fund Anti-Fossil Fuel Echo Chamber
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 3 April 2014

IPCC Insider Rejects Alarmist Report
Alec Torres, National Review Online, 3 April 2014

Big Green “Sue & Settle” Strategy Draws Pushback from States, Congress
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 1 April 2014

The IPCC’s Latest Report Deliberately Excludes and Misrepresents Important Climate Science
Joe Bast, Forbes, 31 March 2014

The Troubling Basis for EPA’s Cost/Benefits Analysis of the Clean Air Act
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 31 March 2014

News You Can Use
Auto Deaths and Regulation

GM is currently embroiled in an ongoing scandal over the company’s alleged cover-up of a design flaw that is responsible for the death of 13 motorists. By comparison, federal fuel economy regulations are responsible for up to 2,000 deaths per year, due to the fact that a primary means by which carmakers increase fuel efficiency is by decreasing vehicular mass, which renders the automobile less safe.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Wind PTC Clears Senate Committee

The Senate Finance Committee marked up a big package of tax cut extenders on Thursday, 3rd April. A two-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit retroactive to 1st January 2014 was included.  The bill was voted out of committee on a voice vote.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penna.) offered an amendment to “eliminate crony capitalist energy tax credits.”  These included the wind PTC, biofuels, electric motorcycles and golf carts, fuel cell vehicles, energy efficient appliances, and alternative fuel infrastructure.  Senator Toomey’s amendment failed on a vote of 6 to 18.

The Senators voting in favor of the amendment in addition to Senator Toomey were: Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.), Pat Roberts (R-Ks.), Mike Enzi (R- Wyo.), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).  Those voting against the amendment were: Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Penna.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), Mike Crapo (R-Id.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), John Thune (R-SD), and Rob Portman (R-Oh.).

Although the amendment only got six votes, Senator Toomey is to be commended for requesting a recorded vote.  The 18 Senators who voted against the amendment are now on record in favor of raising electric rates by encouraging the construction of more wind farms. 

White House Releases Methane Plan

The White House on 28th March released a plan to reduce methane emissions.    It includes new BLM regulations to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands; updated limits on emissions from new landfills; soliciting expert comments on updating limits on existing landfills; and putting out technical papers for expert review on how best to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector, including upstream and downstream.

The plan also includes several voluntary programs, most notably a “Biogas Roadmap” to be released in June by the dairy industry (and its federal partners—USDA, DOE, and EPA). It is designed to encourage the adoption of technologies to cut methane emissions from dairy farms 25% by 2020.

Methane (CH4) is the principal gas in natural gas and occurs in coal deposits.  Marshes and swamps produce methane as do cattle through belching, flatulence, and manure.  It has been estimated that over 15% of global annual methane emissions into the atmosphere come from cattle.  In the U. S., approximately 20% of bovine emissions come from dairy cattle. 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the EPA’s proposed 2015 budget on 2nd April.  Representative Lee Terry (R-Neb.) asked her whether the administration was planning to regulate methane emissions from cattle.  According to a story by Erica Martinson in Politico, McCarthy replied: “No one that I know of at this point is talking about anything in a regulatory context.”

Rep. Terry replied, “Most farmers, when they hear ‘voluntary,’ they know it’s followed by ‘mandatory.’”

He and cattle farmers and ranchers have good reason to worry.  While serving as assistant EPA administrator, McCarthy testified at a House hearing that the EPA would not require fuel switching from coal to natural gas when it promulgated regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, but then went ahead and proposed regulations that required fuel switching.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Governor Pence Expresses Disappointment, Then Allows Efficiency Repeal Bill To Become Law

The bill passed by the Indiana legislature to eliminate the state’s energy efficiency program became law after Governor Mike Pence (R) declined either to sign or veto it.  In a statement, the Governor said, “I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base.”

The initial Senate Bill 340 was strengthened by an amendment offered by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) on the House floor to eliminate the efficiency program entirely, and then passed by the Senate and sent to the Governor.  Special interests that benefit from efficiency mandates were caught unprepared by this quick legislative action, but mounted a last-minute effort to convince Pence to veto the bill.  A number of large corporations, including General Electric, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, Honeywell, and United Technologies sent a letter to Pence that warned of job losses in the efficiency industry. 

Governor Pence also expressed “disappointment” that the legislature had ended the energy efficiency program without producing an alternative and asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to develop recommendations for a new program that would allow large electric consumers, such as manufacturers, to opt out. 

The Sierra Club noted that Indiana became the first State to roll back its energy efficiency programs.  This is not quite true.  For example, California has scaled back its ridiculous Zero Emission Vehicle mandate several times.   

States Move to Pre-empt EPA on Power Plant Regulation

Sometime this summer, EPA is expected to propose regulations for greenhouse gases from existing power plants. Although the section of the Clean Air Act that authorizes these regulations gives primacy to the States, there exists wide-spread concern that EPA will try to impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that effectively mandates a cap-and-trade energy-rationing scheme or fuel-switching from coal to natural gas.

With these fears in mind, a number of States are trying to get ahead of the curve by enacting laws that would pre-empt EPA’s measure. Yesterday, for example, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) signed into law HB 388, a bipartisan bill that forbids state regulators from fuel-switching to implement EPA’s power plant regulation. Last month, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed into law a similar measure, HB 4346, which disallowed state regulators from “limiting the economic utilization of the unit.” Lawmakers in Missouri, Virginia, and Kansas are working on similar measures. As reported by InsideEPA, these bills were modeled on legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Around the World
Marlo Lewis

Dueling Assessments of Climate Change Impacts: IPCC vs. NIPCC

Late last week, Working Group II (WG2) of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a tentative draft of its climate change impacts report. This is a companion document to the IPCC WG1 report, published last year, on the physical science of climate change.

The actual WG2 report is less scary (or less silly?) than the media hype about it. For example, the Summary for Policymakers (SP) states that, “At present the world-wide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified” (p. 7).

But, as Institute for Energy Research economist Robert Murphy points out, the IPCC wants to have it both ways – offer what looks like a sober analysis yet scare people green. To accomplish this rhetorical feat, WG2 confronts readers with an overwhelming litany of allegedly probable climate change damages while invoking the risk of “catastrophic changes” and “tipping points” (SP, p. 19).

Vague language also plays a part, as in the projection of “more severe and/or frequent extreme weather events” (SP, p. 19), a category that readers may assume includes hurricanes. As Heritage Foundation economist David Kreutzer points out, however, the IPCC’s WG1 report pours cold water on the oft-asserted warming-hurricane link: “Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

The WG2 report’s alarmist tone was too shrill for economist Richard Tol, who last week withdrew his name from the long list of co-authors. “The idea that climate change poses an existential threat to humankind is laughable,” Tol explained in a Financial Times column.

The good news is the Heartland Institute has just published the first half of a comprehensive, fully-referenced, skeptical alternative to the WG2 report. Authored by the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts clearly presents the scientific evidence for the following key findings:

  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
  • The ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is causing a great greening of the Earth.
  • There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • Terrestrial ecosystems have thrived throughout the world as a result of warming temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric CO2.
  • Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life.
  • A modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperature-related events.

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.

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