Cooler Heads Digest 16 May 2014

16 May 2014


  • This evening at 6:30 PM, CEI’s Myron Ebell will debate, “Climate Change: Is There a Scientific Consensus,” with University of Maryland lecturer James Stillwell. Watch the debate here at Public Square.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will present his plan for achieving EPA’s pending regulations for existing coal-fired power plants, while preserving the States’ prerogatives under the Clean Air Act, this Tuesday at a lunch panel hosted by the Federalist Society at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.. For more information, click here.

In the News

EPA Cracks Down on Oil Refineries…Without Offering Any Public Health Benefits
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 16 May 2014

Environmentalists Have Substantially Greater Carbon Footprints Than Average American
Washington Free Beacon, 15 May 2014

Electric Reform Needs a Pro-Market Voice
Ken Milloy, Master Resource, 14 May 2014

The Myth of a Global Warming Consensus
Joseph Bast & Taylor Smith, Heartland Institute, 14 May 2014

Science Doesn’t Support National Climate Assessment’s Scare Tactics
Robert Murphy, Institute for Energy Research, 14 May 2014

The Fix Is In: On Ozone NAAQS, EPA Relies Exclusively on EPA Science
William Yeatman,, 13 May 2014

Study: Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting After All
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 12 May 2014

News You Can Use
EIA: China’s Coal Consumption Nearly Equal to Rest of World’s

According to an Energy Information Administration analysis released this week, Chinese production and consumption of coal increased for the 13th consecutive year in 2012. Currently, China accounts for 46% of global coal production and 49% of global coal consumption—almost as much as the rest of the world combined.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA’s Forthcoming Rule for Existing Power Plants May Require Set-Asides

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a meeting of the Association of Climate Change Officers on 13th May that the agency is on track to propose new rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal and gas power plants by 2nd June.  That is the deadline that President Barack Obama set when he announced his climate agenda last June.

Mark Drajem, Jim Snyder, and Jonathan Allen report in a Bloomberg story on 16th May that the administration is close to deciding to require electric utilities to reduce emissions from sources other than the existing power plants being regulated.  Rumors about this have been circulating for some time, but the Bloomberg reporters claim to have inside sources.  They write:

“People familiar with the discussions say the administration is seeking steep reductions -- as much as 25 percent -- that could be met if power plant owners expand renewable energy, improve the efficiency of their grids or encourage customers to use less power….  According to two people familiar with the discussions, the administration is considering an approach that would require a cut of 25 percent in emissions in two stages. In the five years starting in 2019, only limited reductions at the plants would be mandated. Deeper cuts would required from 2024 to 2029 to reach 25 percent, one of the people said.”

Drajem, Snyder, and Allen also note that:

“There’s disagreement even within the administration about what’s allowable under the Clean Air Act, the law that gives it the authority to curb emissions. Some administration attorneys are warning that the government could lose a legal challenge if it seeks to regulate beyond a plant’s smokestack, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the rule is still being written.”

Given the legal difficulties in fashioning such a rule and the questions that will likely be raised by the Office of Management and Budget, I will be surprised if EPA meets the 2nd June deadline. 

Senate Republicans Stand Up to Harry Reid

The Senate this week failed to invoke cloture twice on energy and tax bills that would pass easily with strong bi-partisan support if there were final votes.  The Republicans stuck together on both cloture votes because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to allow any votes on amendments to either bill.

On Monday, 12th May, the Senate voted 55 to 36 on cloture on S. 2262, the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. Sixty votes are required to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote on the bill.  Republican Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Susan Collins of Maine voted with 52 Democrats for cloture.  All 36 No votes were by Republicans, except for Reid, who changed his vote in order to preserve his ability to bring up the bill again.  Two Democrats and seven Republicans did not vote.

Republicans wanted votes on permitting the Keystone XL pipeline over President Obama’s endless delays and on several other energy-related issues.  After two weeks of dangling the possibility of a Keystone vote, Reid said that the Republicans were not being co-operative enough, so there would be no votes on Keystone or any other amendments. 

On Thursday, 14th May, the Senate voted 53 to 40 on cloture on the big tax cut extenders bill, which is technically (because constitutionally only the House can originate revenue bills) Senate Amendment 3060 to H. R. 3474. Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois joined 52 Democrats to vote for cloture, and all 40 No votes were by Republicans, except again for Senator Reid who switched his vote in order to be able to bring the bill up again.  Two Democrats and five Republicans did not vote.

The $85 billion package includes several standard business expense deductions and a long list of tax subsidies to special interests, including the wind production tax credit and other alternative energy credits.

Alexander Bolton in the Hill newspaper reported that Majority Leader Reid has only allowed Republicans to offer and vote on nine amendments since last July.   In my view, Senator Reid has reached a level of dictatorial control of the Senate floor that at least equals Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (R-Calif.) control of the House of Representatives as Speaker from 2007 to 2011 and that has only been clearly exceeded by Speaker Joe Cannon (R-Ill.) from 1903 to 1911.  I am quite happy to be corrected, but I know of no period when the Senate was ruled so completely as a petty dictatorship.  Of course, Senator Reid couldn’t do what he is doing if the Democratic majority didn’t support him.  It has taken the Republican minority a long time to stand up unequivocally against Reid, but now they have done so twice in one week.      

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

Anthony Watts Corrects Gov. Moonbeam

Despite its “no denier publication” policy, the L.A. Times published a letter by Anthony Watts debunking Gov. Jerry Brown’s whopper that sea-level rise from Antarctic ice melt could inundate LAX and force the airport to relocate. Watts wrote:

“LAX airport elevation is 125 feet, the NOAA Los Angeles tide gauge rate of sea level rise 0.83 millimeter/year suggests that it will take over 40,000 years to reach the runways. On the Amundsen Sea ice sheets in Antarctica melting, NASA in their press release on the paper [link] said: ‘The region contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters).’ They offer a worst case scenario of the entire West Antarctic sheet melting, stating 16 feet (5 meters). Neither scenario affects LAX. Governor Brown would better serve the public by checking facts before offering baseless alarm.”

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Climate McCarthyism?

Distinguished Swedish meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson resigned Wednesday from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) only two weeks after being appointed to its academic advisory council.  The GWPF, which was founded and is chaired by Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and now Lord Lawson, has been skeptical of global warming alarmism and of the British government’s climate policies.   Bengtsson’s resignation letter, which does not go into details, indicates fellow scientists viewed his association with the GWPF as a form of apostasy, and decided to make his life hell:

“I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF.”

Professor Bengtsson is 79 years old and is now at the University of Reading in England.  He has held several prominent scientific appointments over the course of his career, including serving as director of the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, and in 2006 was awarded the 51st IMO Prize by the World Meteorological Organization for pioneering research in numerical weather prediction. 

What’sUpWithThat and Judith Curry provide excerpts and links to several commentaries decrying the rise of “climate McCarthyism.” Curry opines that the attacks on Bengtsson have “the potential to do as much harm to climate science as did the Climategate emails.” Steve McIntyre argues that the climate science establishment should have viewed Bengtsson’s association with GWPF as an opportunity to engage “rational skeptics.” Instead, they extended “the fatwa” – behavior that “can only engender and reinforce contemptfor the ‘community’ in the broader society.”

The Times of London’s front-page story on 16th May reveals that Environmental Research Letters recently rejected a paper submitted by Bengtsson and four colleagues.  The paper finds that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change overestimates climate sensitivity. ERL claims the paper was rejected because it “contained errors and did not provide a significant advancement in the field.” However, one internal review mixes scientific and political criticism:

“Summarizing, the simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4 [link] , AR5 [link], and Otto et al [link], combined with the statement they are inconsistent is less then helpful, actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate skeptics media side.”

Here are links to additional commentary by James DelingpoleRupert Darwall, and Roy Spencer, as well as a Spiegel interview with Bengtsson

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,