The Competitive Enterprise Institute is contributing to the festivities leading up to the UN Climate Summit on 23rd September with a daily post on Facebook. Here is the first one.
The Heritage Foundation will host a talk by Rupert Darwall on his book, The Age of Global Warming: a History, on 24 September at 2 PM. Rsvp here.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Heritage Foundation are holding an energy and climate policy conference 25-26 September in Houston. Texas Governor Rick Perry is the dinner speaker. Register here.
In the News
McConnell: Make Me Majority Leader, I'll Give You Keystone XL
Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill, 18 September 2014
Voters Care About Jobs and Economy, Not Green Agenda
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, 17 September 2014
Secretary of State Kerry Explains the Greenhouse Effect
Myron Ebell, GlobalWarming.org, 16 September 2014
E-Mails Show Collusion between Obama’s EPA and Environmental Lobby
Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, 16 September 2014
Chevron’s Search for Alternative Fuels Stumps Best Minds
Joe Carroll, Bloomberg, 16 September 2014
Leo vs. Science: Vanishing Evidence for Climate Change
Tom Harris and Bob Carter, New York Post, 15 September 2014
News You Can Use
Leftists Disagree on the Costs of Cutting Emissions
Paul Krugman claims in his 19th September New York Times column that new studies from the International Monetary Fund and the New Climate Economy Project both conclude that “strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth and might even lead to faster growth.”
Another leftist guru, Naomi Klein, disagrees. Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate, argues that, “…[W]e have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism….” In a long excerpt published last week in the Guardian, Klein writes: “What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity's use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature.”
Inside the Beltway
Air-Conditioners and Refrigerators Again Targeted Under President's Climate Agenda
Last month, the Obama EPA proposed restrictions on the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants in several types of newly manufactured air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment. This week, the White House launched additional steps to limit the production and use of HFCs. EPA considers HFCs to be potent greenhouse gases, and the administration asserts that these “actions demonstrate significant U.S. leadership in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit next week….”
A phaseout of HFCs could prove to be very bad news for consumers. Americans currently own hundreds of millions of home air-conditioners, car air-conditioners, and refrigerators that rely on HFCs. A phaseout of these refrigerants would lead to higher repair bills as the cost of the dwindling supply rises--as happened when CFCs were phased out in the 1990s over fears about depletion of the earth’s ozone layer. Eventually, the unavailability of HFCs might necessitate expensive retrofits or even premature replacements of HFC-dependent equipment. And new air-conditioners and refrigerators will have to run on alternatives to HFCs, which may cost more and not work as efficiently.
Republican House Passes Energy Package, Which Democratic Senate Will Ignore
The House of Representatives on 18th September passed an omnibus package of most of the energy-related bills passed during the 113th Congress. The final vote was 226 to 191 with 14 not voting. Seven Republicans voted No, and nine Democrats voted Yes. When the Senate returns after the 4th November elections, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will ignore this package just as he has ignored the thirteen separate bills contained in it.
House Science Committee Takes Testimony from Holdren and McCabe on Obama's Climate Plan
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on 17th September titled, “The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design.” The witnesses were Dr. John Holdren, the President’s chief scientific adviser and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Janet McCabe, acting assistant EPA administrator for air and radiation.
Holdren and McCabe were predictably unforthcoming. However, in response to claims that the EPA’s proposed rules for power plants will have negligible effects on carbon dioxide levels, they stressed that these were just the first steps. Regulated utilities might want to keep that in mind as they decide how to respond.
E&E Legal Files IRS Complaint Against Sierra Club
The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service that claims that the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation have violated tax laws for non-profit organizations. In a report released along with the complaint, David W. Schnare, the institute’s general counsel, explains and documents the Sierra Club’s violations of the tax code.
The Sierra Club’s tax violations fall under two general areas, according to Schnare. First, eight of the Sierra Club Foundation’s eighteen directors own or operate organizations or companies that stand to benefit financially from the Sierra Club’s War on Coal campaign. E and E Legal’s press release states, “These directors are the captains of the renewable energy industry.”
Second, the Sierra Club has not paid taxes on unrelated business income, which is required under the tax code regulating non-profit organizations. Again, according to the press release: “The Sierra Club sends its members into communities to sell the products of a selected local solar panel company in Maryland, Utah and dozens of other states in exchange for contributions to the group. In Maryland, for example, theSierra Club makes a $750 profit from every sale and has never paid taxes on that commercial enterprise. As the Sierra Club’s Chief of Staff Jesse Simons has stated, ‘This has been a great revenue-generating tool for the Sierra Club.’”
Across the States
Studies Find No Evidence of Water Pollution from Fracking
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing claim methane released by and chemicals used in the process pollute drinking water. Such allegations have been repeatedly debunked. Two new studies further confirm fracking does not harm drinking water.
The Department of Energy (DOE) this week released a technical report on fracturing in six gas wells in Greene County, Pennsylvania, in the Marcellus Shale. As AP describes the study, “Scientists used tracer fluids, seismic monitoring and other tests to look for problems, and created the most detailed public report to date about how fracking affects adjacent rock structures.”
“Current findings are: 1) no evidence of gas migration from the Marcellus Shale; and 2) no evidence of brine migration from the Marcellus Shale,” the study reports. “After those months of monitoring, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas stayed about 5,000 feet below drinking water supplies,” according to AP.
In a separate study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from five universities analyzed 113 and 20 samples from drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales, respectively, examining concentrations of chemicals in groundwater near shale-gas wells.
The researchers identified seven cases of water contamination in Pennsylvania and one in Texas. However, in each case, the source of the pollution was faulty construction of well shafts near the surface, not fracturing, which occurs thousands of feet below ground level. In the authors’ words, their “data appear to rule out gas contamination by upward migration from depth through overlying geological strata triggered by horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.”
Governor Christie Stands Firm Against RGGI
The Democrat-dominated New Jersey legislature has been trying to overturn Republican Governor Chris Christie’s withdrawal in 2011 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). At a press conference in Trenton on 18th September, Governor Christie re-iterated his opposition. According to the New York Times, Christie said, “I think it’s a completely useless plan.” Christie has been an enthusiastic promoter of building wind and solar energy facilities in his State.
Around the World
UN Climate Summit Next Tuesday in NYC
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week named movie actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a “UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change” and announced that DiCaprio would speak during the opening ceremony of the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit of world leaders, which will be held next Tuesday, 23rd September, at UN headquarters in New York City. Di Caprio will have to talk fast because there are six other speakers listed for the opening ceremony from 8 to 8:30 AM.
The other opening ceremony speakers are: Ban Ki-moon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, Generation Investment Management Chairman and former Vice President Al Gore, actress and UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador Li Bingbing, and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Civil Society Representative from the Marshall Islands.
U. S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in one of three concurrent “plenary” sessions in the morning in which heads of state or prime ministers from approximately 126 nations will each get four minutes to announce their “national actions and ambitions” to fight climate change. Thirty-six more national leaders will announce their actions and ambitions in two concurrent “plenary” sessions in the afternoon, but they will have to compete with multiple sessions devoted to “thematic discussions” and “multilateral and multi-stakeholder action announcements.”
The prime ministers of India, Australia, China, Canada, and Germany have decided not to attend. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the UN later in the week, but his speech is likely to stress that for his country economic growth and lifting people out of energy poverty must take precedence over reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The “People’s Climate March” is being held in Manhattan on 21st September, the Sunday before the UN Climate Summit. Its organizers have billed it as the “Largest Climate March in History.” Bill McKibben’s 350.org is the main organizer of the march, but it’s worth looking at the entire list of co-sponsors or partners, which is now up to 1400. Ron Arnold has analyzed who is really behind the march and hundreds of similar events around the world in a post on the CFACT web site.
Climate Change Precipitation Theory Doesn't Hold Water, Swiss Researchers Find
DDWW – dry gets drier, wet gets wetter – is a longstanding prediction of “consensus” climatology. Supposedly, global warming will reduce rainfall in areas that are already dry and intensify rainfall in areas that are already moist. Result: Droughts and floods become more frequent and severe, making Earth less livable for humanity.
The DDWW theory, however, is based mostly on ocean data, whereas most humans live on land. How is global warming affecting moisture conditions on continental land masses?
In a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, Swiss researchers analyzed “more than 300 combinations of various hydrological data sets of historical land dryness changes covering the period from 1948 to 2005,” and compared the datasets to “an empirical relationship between evaporation, precipitation and aridity.”
They find that while 10.8% of the global land area shows a “robust ‘dry gets drier, wet gets wetter’ pattern,” 9.5% of global land area shows “the opposite pattern, that is, dry gets wetter, and wet gets drier.” In my book, that’s a wash.
As for the rest of the planet’s land surfaces, the researchers “find that over about three-quarters of the global land area, robust dryness changes cannot be detected.” For more detail about the study, see this review article.
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.