Cooler Heads Digest 27 June 2014

27 June 2014


  • The Texas Public Policy Foundation this month published a new study by Kathleen Hartnett White titled, “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case.” Click here to read the report.
  • The Digest will not be published next Friday, July 4. Happy Independence Day.

In the News

$10,000 Bet on Climate Change: Asking the Wrong Question
E. Calvin Beisner, Master Resource, 26 June 2014

ISIS and Doing Stupid S---
David Kreutzer, The Hill, 26 June 2014

House Committee Moves Secret Science Bill; Greens Fret
William Yeatman, Global, 26 June 2014

EPA Employees Told To Stop Pooping in Hallway (actual title!)
Eric Katz, Fedblog, 25 June 2014

EPA Joins IRA Lost E-mails Club
Erica Martinson, Politico, 25 June 2014

On Climate Change, Who Are the Real ‘Deniers’?
Cal Thomas, Washington Examiner, 25 June 2014

Global Warming Believers Deny Reality
Richard Rahn, Washington Times, 23 June 2014

Greenpeace in Financial Disarray
Adam Vaughan, Guardian, 23 June 2014

Act Locally, Wish Globally
Kevin Williamson, National Review Online, 23 June 2014

News You Can Use
Poll: More Than Half of Americans Don’t Believe in AGW

Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch this week reported on a new Pew Research Center poll showing that 35 percent of Americans say there is not enough solid evidence that mankind is warming the Earth, while another 18 percent says the world has warmed due to “natural patterns” and not human activity. That’s a 53 percent majority against AGW.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Supreme Court Talks Tough, Then Turns EPA Loose

The Supreme Court on Monday, 23rd June, handed down its decision on the appeal of the EPA’s endangerment finding. The court’s decision was written by Justice Antonin Scalia.  He used very strong language several times to scold the Environmental Protection Agency for wanting to expand their regulatory authority beyond statutory limits.  For example, on page 19, Scalia writes:

“The fact that EPA’s greenhouse-gas-inclusive interpretation of the PSD and Title V triggers would place plainly excessive demands on limited governmental resources is alone a good reason for rejecting it; but that is not the only reason. EPA’s interpretation is also unreasonable because it would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization. When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy,’ Brown & Williamson, 529 U. S., at 159, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.’”

That sounds good, and many opponents of the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act have hailed the decision as finally pushing back against the EPA.  The Wall Street Journal, for example, called the decision “a constitutional tutorial for Obama” and “a smackdown” and claimed that “the Justices feed several major climate regulations into the wood chipper.”

That is the rhetoric of Scalia’s majority decision, but the substance is quite different.  As Scalia notes, the Court’s decision allows the EPA to regulate 83% of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources instead of the 86% that EPA proposed to regulate.  My CEI colleague, William Yeatman, offers expert commentary on

The opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, with the concurrence of Justice Clarence Thomas, is much more coherent and well-reasoned than Scalia’s decision.  It is worth reading and can be found at the end of the Supreme Court’s online post.

Obama Celebrates First Anniversary of Climate Plan

President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of his climate action plan on 25th June by speaking at the annual fundraising dinner of the League of Conservation Voters.  It was a bland speech except for his excoriation of climate change deniers in Congress.  The president once again did not mention that he never mentioned that he would concentrate on climate policies in his second term during his 2012 re-election campaign.  

On the same day White House officials and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met with Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has spent millions opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline and promises to spend $100 million more to elect Democrats to the Senate this fall, and Hank Paulson, former Treasury Secretary and former head of Goldman Sachs. They discussed a new report that their group, Risky Business, released this week on the economic risks of global warming, particularly for big business.  The other principal in Risky Business is Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City. I never mention Paulson without pointing out that CEI actively opposed his confirmation as Treasury Secretary in the waning years of the George W. Bush administration. 

The visit by Steyer and Paulson to the White House was a bit too much even for Democrats in Congress who are trying to get re-elected by accusing billionaires Charles and David Koch of trying to buy the election for Republicans.  An unnamed House Democrat told the Washington Examiner, “It stinks.” 

House Passes Energy Bills for Senate to Ignore

The House of Representatives this week passed three access-to-energy bills.  H. R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act, was sent to the Senate, where it will die, by a vote of 229 to 185. The bill directs the Department of Interior to expand oil production in federal offshore areas and in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

H. R. 6, the Domestic Freedom and Global Prosperity Act, was sent to the Senate on a 266 to 150 vote. The bill expedites the permitting process for liquefied natural gas export terminals.  It was sponsored by Representative Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).   He is running for the Senate against incumbent Mark Udall (D-Colo.).  After Gardner introduced his bill, Udall quickly followed by introducing a similar bill in the Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been doing his best to keep his Democratic majority by not holding votes on anything, but he may have to allow a vote on Udall’s bill.  The Hill newspaper reported this week that Reid’s strategy may be starting to hurt endangered Democratic incumbents. It pointed out that Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska), elected in 2008 and up for re-election this November, has never been allowed a floor vote on any amendment he has offered. Many other Senators have had the same experience. 

H. R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, was sent to the Senate, where it will die, by a vote of 233 to 173. The bill reforms the process for permitting pipelines that cross national boundaries by, among other things, removing the president from the decision-making process.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Judge Requires Social Cost of Carbon in NEPA Analysis

According to a story by Manuel Quinones in Environment and Energy PM ($), a federal judge in Colorado has blocked the expansion of a coal mine operated by Arch Coal because the Bureau of Land Management did not give an adequate reason for not including an analysis of the social cost of the carbon dioxide emissions that the coal from the mine would produce in its Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The suit was filed by Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club, and High Country Conservation Advocates. 

Around the World
Patrick Hannaford

Australia Set To Repeal Carbon Tax

Australia has taken another step towards repealing its carbon tax, with the Liberal and National Parties Coalition government this week securing the votes for its signature legislation to pass the Senate.

Set to hold 33 out of 76 seats when the new Senate, which was elected last fall,  takes office in July, the Coalition will depend on the support of a collection of independent and minor party Senators in order to fulfil its election promise.

That support was secured on Thursday, with an agreement between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and newly elected MP, Clive Palmer, whose Palmer United Party (PUP) is set to control 4 votes in the Senate.

Mr. Palmer agreed to support repeal of the carbon tax, on the condition the legislation ensured that savings be passed on to consumers. However, in a characteristically inconsistent decision, Mr Palmer announced that the PUP will vote against the abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, and the Renewable Energy Target – all set up in conjunction with the carbon tax.

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,