Cooler Heads Digest 01 August 2014

1 August 2014


On Monday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute published a study by CEI senior fellow William Yeatman on “EPA’s Illegitimate Climate Rule.” The report demonstrates that the agency’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan contravenes congressional intent, lacks an electoral mandate, and was written by special interests.

In the News

Former Employees Allege Widespread Illegality at Taxpayer-Backed Solar Company
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 31 July 2014

Solar Power: Is There a Business Case?
Philip Dowd, WattsUpWithThat, 31 July 2014

Is EPA Really Interested in Your Criticism?
Nicolas Loris, The Daily Signal, 30 July 2014

In Search of Real Environmentalism
Ben Acheson, Master Resource, 30 July 2014

Senate Report Details “Billionaire’s Club” Behind Special Interests Holding Reins at EPA
Chris Prandoni, Forbes, 30 July 2014

EPA Regulations a Dark, Costly Chapter in Our History
Paul Driessen, Investor’s Business Daily, 30 July 2014

Heritage Foundation Panel Addresses EPA’s Unprecedented Climate Change Regulations
William Yeatman,, 29 July 2014

College Professor Uses English Class To Push Global Warming
Samantha Reinis, Campus Reform, 29 July 2014

Average Price of Electricity Climbs to All-Time Record
Terence Jeffrey, CNSNews, 29 July 2014

News You Can Use
Study: Ozone Regulation Would Cost $2.2 Trillion

EPA’s impending ozone regulation could cost $2.2 trillion, reduce the gross domestic product by $3.4 trillion, and eliminate 2.9 million jobs between 2017 and 2014, according to a study published this week by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

EPA’s Climate Regulations Take Center Stage in House of Representatives

This week there were two House hearings given to EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act regulations for greenhouse gases from existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan.

On Tuesday morning, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power heard from all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how EPA’s rule would affect the nation’s electricity grid. My colleague Marlo Lewis reported on the hearing at; his take-away is the rule would fundamentally overhaul the electric system. Regarding electric reliability in particular, it bears noting that EPA’s analysis—which has proven to be unrealistically optimisticconcedes that implementation of the Clean Power Plan would threaten reliability in New England, Florida, and Gulf States. The reality would likely prove to be much worse.

The following morning, I attended a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on “EPA’s Carbon Plan: Failure by Design.” Panelists were Jeffrey Holmstead (partner, Bracewell & Giuliani), Charles McConnell (executive director, Energy & Environment Initiative), David Cash (Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality), and Gregory Sopkin (partner, Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer LLP).

McConnell delivered the best exchanges. During his opening statement, for example, he held up a dime, and notedthat EPA’s Clean Power Plan would limit sea level rise by an amount commensurate with 1/3rd the thickness of the coin. His dramatics aptly demonstrated the fact that EPA's climate rule is all pain and no gain.

However, his most impactful testimony pertained to EPA’s inability to work with other agencies. Before resigning in early 2013, McConnell was assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department. This is the office responsible for facilitating federal assistance in the development of carbon capture and sequester (CCS) technology. In fact, EPA required CCS technology in its controversial carbon rule for new coal-fired power plants, so you’d think that EPA would’ve welcomed collaboration with McConnell’s office. Alas, you’d be wrong. McConnell told the committee that “a true collaborative effort would have been far different from what I observed." According to Mr. McConnell, EPA viewed the interagency process as a “box-checking exercise” and he called the agency’s attitude “disingenuous.”

McConnell’s account raises troubling issues. For starters, EPA has no functional expertise in CCS technology. It is, therefore, strange that the agency would spurn input from a federal office that does possess such expertise. EPA’s failure to do so suggests incompetence, and it perhaps explains why the regulation is rife with legal flaws.  

Taking a step back, his testimony makes me wonder if there’s anyone with whom EPA works well, other than environmental special interests (of course). After all, the Department of Energy is a fellow federal agency. They’re peers, yet EPA refused to get along. Moreover, we know that Obama’s EPA has had an terrible relationship with States, which are supposed to be the agency’s partners under the cooperative federalism framework established by the Clean Air Act. And it goes without saying that this EPA treats “dirty” industry with contempt. Thus, EPA has rejected collaboration with both the public and private sectors. Unfortunately, so long as Congress refuses to act and the judiciary defers evermore to agency action, EPA can go it alone.

Across the States
William Yeatman

EPA Holds Public Hearings on Clean Power Plan

EPA this week held public hearings on its proposed Clean Power Plan in Washington, D.C., Denver, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. The fact that EPA scheduled these hearings in metropolitan areas, rather than the areas of the country that will be most affected by the rule, raised the ire of prominent critics, including Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the hearings a “sham.”

On a personal note, I signed up to speak at the one in Washington, but EPA denied me the opportunity. The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reported that my experience was not unique, and that opponents of the rule seem to have been disproportionately shut out of the D.C. hearing.

Notably, the hearings were bookended by ominous signs. At the last minute, the hearing in Atlanta was moved to a new location, due to power outage. And on the final day of hearings, Alpha Natural Resources announced it would eliminate 1,100 coal mining jobs in Appalachia; the company attributed the decision in part to EPA regulations. These two phenomena—power scarcity and job losses—are likely manifestations of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, if it is finalized in anything resembling its proposed form.

Around the World
William Yeatman

International Monetary Fund Proposes $1.60 U.S. Gas Tax

National Journal’s Jason Plautz yesterday reported on a new book published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose thesis is that “energy prices in many countries are wrong” because they don’t account for global warming. For the U.S., the IMF recommends a $1.60 per gallon gas tax. Thankfully, IMF has no power over U.S. domestic policy. Nonetheless, the Fund’s evident mission creep is eyebrow-raising. Why is the IMF, whose original purpose was to ensure exchange-rate stability, writing white papers about implausible American domestic policies?

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,