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Aug302014

Cooler Heads Digest 29 August 2014 

29 August 2014

In the News

Taking the Lead on Carbon Is a Losing Game
Chip Knappenberger, Providence Journal, 29 August 2014

Six Threats Bigger Than Climate Change
Sen. John Barrasso, Wall Street Journal, 29 August 2014

American Oil Bonanza Keeps Gas Prices Affordable
Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 28 August 2014

U.S. Fracking Boom Stabilizes Global Oil Market
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 28 August 2014

Watchdog: Germany Needs Coal To Balance Dependency on Russian Gas
Christopher Steitz, Reuters, 27 August 2014

James Hansen: “I Struggle To Sleep” (with current energy trends, energy policy)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 26 August 2014

Government Science Advisors: Where Are the Honest Brokers?
Roger Pielke, Jr., Guardian, 26 August 2014

Under Assault from Big Green, Coal Is Fighting Back
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 26 August 2014

Obama’s Green Unicorn
Peter Roff, U.S. News & World Report, 25 August 2014

EPA on Mann’s “Fraud” Invective (be sure to read this)
Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 22 August 2014

News You Can Use
Arctic Ice Up 60% over Last Two Years

Steve Goddard today noted Danish Meteorological Institute data showing a 63% increase in Arctic sea ice extent since the same date in 2012, and an increase of 76% since the 2012 summer minimum.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

GAO Whitewashes Social Cost of Carbon

The U. S. Government Accountability Office this week released a “regulatory impact analysis” on the development of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates. The GAO report finds nothing to criticize in the federal interagency working group’s process that produced a guidance document in 2013 that raised its estimates of the social cost of carbon by roughly 50-60% over those it had made in 2010.  On the other hand, the GAO did not attempt to evaluate the actual estimates that the process generated. 

This is a whitewash, as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis shows in detail in a post on www.GlobalWarming.org. In short, the GAO concludes that the process by which the interagency working group came up with the SCC estimates was unexceptionable and therefore that there is no reason to second guess those estimates.  But in fact, the interagency working group did not follow the White House Office of Management and Budget’s directions, contained in Circular A-4, in two major respects.  First, it did not apply the standard discount rates specified by A-4 of 3% and 7%, but instead used 2.5%, 3%, and 5%.  If the standard OMB discount rate of 7% had been applied as well, then the lower-end SCC estimate would drop dramatically, as has been shown in an analysis by David Kreutzer and Kevin Darayatna of the Heritage Foundation.  

Second, the interagency working group used estimates of global costs and benefits, while OMB Circular A-4 requires that domestic costs and benefits be included (whereas global costs and benefits are merely optional according to A-4).  Using domestic costs and benefits would again dramatically lower the SCC.  As Marlo Lewis shows, a $50 a ton of carbon dioxide SCC could be as low as $3.50 if domestic costs and benefits were the measuring stick.

This is important because federal agencies have used the SCC in 68 rulemakings since 2008 and will be using it even more often in the future.  This information the GAO helpfully provides in an appendix on pages 22-29 of its report.            

Obama Seeks international Climate Agreement That Won’t Require Ratification

Coral Davenport, the climate advocate-reporter for the New York Times, had a top-left-of-the-front-page story on 27th August on the fact that the Obama Administration is pursuing an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that will not be a treaty and therefore would not require ratification by the Senate. This is not exactly news.  I have written about it several times in the Digest over the past few years; and my CEI colleague Chris Horner wrote an exhaustive scholarly article for the Federalist Society about the legal perils of unratified treaty commitments.In a subsequent FedSoc piece, Horner also explained in 2009 the pressures and evidence already accumulating that Obama would end up pursuing Kyoto II not calling it a treaty

But Davenport’s article is still worth reading.  The Obama Administration believe that they can sign a new international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions that will include commitments from all the major emitters and most of the minor emitters, but that will somehow not be a treaty.  The negotiations are supposed to be concluded at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Paris in December 2015.  And the new agreement is supposed to go into effect in 2020.

Domestically, this would mean that a future administration could achieve its commitments to reduce emissions through regulatory actions under existing laws (as the Obama Administration is already doing through the Clean Air Act rules on coal and natural gas power plant emissions and higher CAFÉ standards for vehicles) and through enactment of legislation by Congress.  The thinking is that this will be much easier than Senate ratification, which requires a two-thirds majority.  It is not a co-incidence that the Obama Administration’s chief climate negotiators at the State Department were involved in the negotiations that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which was dead on arrival in the Senate.     

Rupert Darwall, writing in National Review Online, agrees that a new climate treaty would never be ratified, but also thinks that the attempt to negotiate a non-treaty agreement is doomed to fail as well. Darwall may be right, but I nonetheless think that President Obama will work overtime to sign such an agreement at COP-21 or during the last year of his presidency in 2016.  It would be a feather in his cap, and it would be up to his successor to implement the agreement.  It also fits in well with his contempt of the constitutional powers of Congress, as Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, discusses on GlobalWarming.org

Science Update
Myron Ebell

Australia Fiddles with Climate Records

Australian biologist Jennifer Marohasy has created a major controversy over the manipulation of temperature records by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Close inspection of historical data from a number of stations revealed that the BOM had adjusted the data in order to show a significant warming trend in the twentieth century that does not appear in the raw data.  

Marohasy’s revelations expose shenanigans similar to those that have been discovered in temperature data set adjustments by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and the U.S. National Climate Data Center.  For some mysterious reason, the adjustments are always in the same direction: temperatures in the early twentieth century are adjusted downward, and more recent temperatures are adjusted upward.  A scholarly article by Marohasy, John Abbot, Ken Stewart, and Dennis Jensen, presents much more evidence of this scientific misconduct in Australia.

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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