In the News
Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, Cato Institute, 14 August 2014
News You Can Use
Inside the Beltway
Fifty-four House Republicans Send Letter Opposing Renewal fo the Wind PTC
Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Ks.) on 13th August released an open letter to the House Republican leadership that opposes renewing the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which expired at the end of 2013. The letter highlights the stupidity of using taxpayer funds to increase the cost of electricity for all Americans.
According to the letter, since President Obama took office, federal subsidies for wind energy have increased from $476 million per year to $4.98 billion. This increase has provided incentives to expand the wind energy sector to levels far beyond natural market demand. It has crowded out cheaper sources of electricity, such as coal and natural gas, and has increased the cost of electricity for all Americans.
The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that a one-year extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit will cost American taxpayers over $13.35 billion. There is no reasonable justification for these funds to be used to artificially inflate the cost of electricity, particularly at a time of skyrocketing US debt. Even if the Wind PTC is not renewed, wind energy projects that began “construction” in 2013 could receive subsidies until 2026. This means that this policy will continue to cause harm long after it has ceased to exist. If Congress wants to minimize this future harm, it should refuse to extend the credit beyond 2013.
Congressman Pompeo and the other 53 signers ought to be commended for their efforts to end this reckless government policy and restore market incentives to the energy sector. The full text of the joint letter can be found here.
IRS Extends Wind PTC by Retroactive Fiat
The Internal Revenue Service on 8th August released revised guidance on which facilities can qualify for the Wind Production Tax Credit. This is odd because the Wind PTC expired on 31st December 2013. The retroactive guidance makes it easier for projects that began in 2013 but have not yet been constructed to qualify for the ten years of taxpayer subsidies. Lisa Linowes provides a full analysis on Master Resource.
DC Circuit Court Rejects Multiple Challenges to Order 1000
A three-judge panel of the federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals on 15th August ruled unanimously to uphold the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000, a sweeping set of new requirements for regional electric transmission infrastructure planning. The 97-page opinion rejected all of the many challenges to Order 1000 brought by over forty plaintiffs—state regulatory agencies, regional transmission organizations, utilities, and industry trade groups.
Among the many controversial requirements in Order 1000, perhaps the most objectionable is that the huge costs of new transmission lines and other infrastructure required to integrate renewable sources, such as wind and solar farms, into the grid must be shared by retail customers who will not receive electricity from those sources. The court’s decision is available here.
Even Slurpee Machines Impacted by Obama Global Warming Agenda
As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new restrictions on the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants and aerosols. Ironically, HFCs came into widespread use as the alternative to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were banned in the 1990s over fears about depletion of the ozone layer. Now, EPA wants to crack down on HFCs because of their assumed contribution to global warming.
The proposal would ban HFCs in nearly all the types of commercial refrigeration systems used by restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores, such as refrigerated cases, freezers, ice-makers, and other specialty equipment like slurpee machines. It would also apply to vending machines, car air-conditioners, aerosols, and several other products. For refrigeration systems, the proposed ban would take effect as of January 1, 2016 and apply to all newly manufactured equipment.
Many manufacturers are concerned that substitutes will not be up to the task, especially given the extremely tight timeframe to make the change. Among other drawbacks, most of the acceptable alternative refrigerants are inflammable, raising both safety and building-code concerns. EPA did not include a cost-benefit analysis in its proposed rule.
Across the States
Wyoming Approves Huge New Wind Farm, Owned by Major GOP Donor
The Wyoming Industrial Siting Council voted unanimously last week to grant a final permit to build a 1,000 turbine wind farm in Carbon County. If built, it would be the largest wind facility in the United States. The wind farm would be built by the Power Company of Wyoming (PCW), a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation, on a ranch also owned by the Anschutz Corporation.
The Anschutz ranch includes some land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The BLM still has to complete two Environment Assessments required by the National Environmental Policy Act before construction can begin. In addition, PCW has applied for an incidental take permit that will allow its windmills to kill eagles protected by federal legislation. PCW reported that it is negotiating contracts with utilities in California, Arizona, and Nevada to purchase the electricity produced by the Wyoming wind farm.
The Anschutz Corporation is based in Denver and owned by multi-billionaire Phil Anschutz. He is a major donor to Republican candidates and owns a bewildering array of oil and gas, railroad, entertainment, and resort businesses. Anschutz also owns the Weekly Standard, the Washington Examiner, the Oklahoman, and the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Around the World
As Threats Multiply, Secretary Kerry Still Focused on Climate Change
What is the greatest foreign policy challenge facing the United States? Russia invading Ukraine? Iraq and Syria versus the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? Israel and Hamas? The Ebola outbreak? Guess again. In a speech in Honolulu on 13th August, Secretary of State John Kerry continued to insist that it’s climate change. “…[T]he biggest challenge of all that we face right now, which is climate change in terms of international global effect….” As Investor’s Business Daily remarked in an editorial, “Can he be serious?”
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.