Cooler Heads Digest 23 January 2015

23 January 2015

In the News

Feds Enlist Disney To Make a “Frozen” Film about the Melting Arctic
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 23 January 2015

Unintended Consequences of the Climate Crusade
Andrew Montford, Master Resource, 23 January 2015

‘Lukewarmer’ Matt Ridley on How to Debate Climate Change
Marlo Lewis,, 22 January 2015

Tom Steyer Won’t Run for Senate
Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 22 January 2015

EPA Peddles Its Hysteria about the Weather to the Young
Washington Times editorial, 22 January 2015

ObamaAir’s Power Grab
Amy Oliver Cooke & William Yeatman, Journal-Advocate, 21 January 2015

MIT professor Richard Lindzen: Global Warming Alarmists Are a “Cult”
Howie Carr, Big Government, 21 January 2015

The Fracking Fracas over Earthquakes
Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review Online, 21 January 2015

How These Green Companies Are Gouging Consumers with the Government’s Help
Stephen Moore & Joel Griffith, Daily Signal, 18 January 2015

News You Can Use
States Push Back against EPA's Clean Power Plan

According to a report published this week on the responses by the States to EPA’s Clean Power Plan:

  • 28 Governors or Attorneys General have raised major concerns with the rule’s legal foundations;
  • 12 States are suing EPA regarding its authority to promulgate carbon regulations; and,
  • 6 States have passed legislation into law restricting state responses to the rule.

Read the whole report, “A Guide to States’ Concerns Regarding the EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Votes RaiseConcerns

No one thought it was going to be easy for Senate Republicans to roll back the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, but votes on the Senate floor this week make it clear that there is a lot of work to be done.  The votes were on amendments to S. 1, the bill that would bypass President Obama and permit the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But first the good news.  New Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the floor late in the afternoon of 22nd January to note that the Senate had now voted on more amendments to legislation than during all of 2014, when Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was majority leader and allowed only 15 votes on amendments.  Reid’s petty tyranny, supported by a Democratic majority, is over, but this is only the first of many steps that McConnell and his Republican majority will need to take to restore the Senate to full working order.

When they went home for the weekend on Thursday night, Senators had voted on 25 amendments on a variety of energy-related subjects, with more votes to come next week.  The texts of all the amendments and the roll call votes can be found here.

Of these 25 votes, I’m going to look at three related to climate science and one to climate policy.  First, on 21st January, the Senate voted 98-1 in favor of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) amendment #29 that simply states that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”  Yes, indeed, the climate is always changing and there are many causes.

Next, the Senate voted 59-40 in favor of Senator John Hoeven’s (R-ND) amendment #87.  It was offered to provide Republicans a weaker alternative to the Schatz amendment, which was voted on next (and which I discuss below).  The text is similar to the Schatz amendment but omits the word “significantly.”  Hoeven ended up voting against his own amendment to prevent it from passing with the required 60 votes.  

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) then offered amendment #58, which concludes: “[I]t is the sense of Congress that: (1) climate change is real; and (2) human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”  The amendment failed on a 50-49 vote, with 60 votes again being required for adoption.  But it did get a majority, which included five Republicans.  The Republicans who voted Yes were: Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-Me.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

The movement of five Republicans towards agreeing with global warming alarmism got the Republican leadership worried.  They decided to bring to the floor on 22nd January amendment #78 offered by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). 

Blunt’s amendment is based on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which passed the Senate on a 95-0 vote in 1997.  Byrd-Hagel put President Clinton on notice that the Senate would not ratify an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it damaged the U. S. economy or put the U. S. at a competitive disadvantage internationally.

Similarly, the Blunt amendment disavows the climate deal President Obama signed with Chinese President Xi last fall as “a bad deal for United States consumers, workers, families, and communities, and is economically unfair and environmentally irresponsible.”  It goes on to warn the President that any new international climate agreement, such as the one due to be signed in Paris in December, must be submitted to the Senate for ratification and that “United States should not be a signatory to any bilateral or other international agreement on greenhouse gases if it would result in serious harm to the economy” or imposed “disparate greenhouse gas commitments for the United States and other countries.”

The Blunt amendment failed to meet the 60-vote threshold, but did get 51 votes with 46 opposed.  Of the five Republican Senators who voted for the Schatz climate science amendment, two voted for the Blunt amendment—Lamar Alexander and Mark Kirk.  But Senators Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins voted No on the Blunt Amendment as well.  Lindsey Graham missed the vote.  Of the several Democratic Senators who claim to support the fossil fuel industries that provide affordable energy, only Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted Yes on the Blunt amendment.

These votes indicate to me that the supporters of blocking EPA greenhouse gas regulations through appropriations riders and/or Congressional Review Act resolutions later in the year, are going to need to work hard to shore up support from this small group of wavering Republicans and Democrats, such as Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).   

President Obama Admits He’s Not a Climate Scientist

The New York Times got the tenor of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress exactly right in its headlines for a front-page analysis by Peter Baker: “A Bold Call to Action, Even if No Action Is Likely.”  The sub-headline was even better: “Obama Speaks as Though His Party Won the Midterms.”

Here is the punchline of Baker’s analysis: “But after the lights went out and the presidential motorcade had made its way back up Pennsylvania Avenue, the party balance had not changed. For all of Mr. Obama’s confident demeanor, the question raised by the speech was whether advancing initiatives with little or no hope of passage constituted an act of bold leadership or a feckless waste of time.”

The President devoted 315 words in a 6500 word speech to climate change and another 69 words to energy production.  He again claimed that “[N]o challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”  He responded to the refrain from many Republican office holders: “I've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists…. Well, I'm not a scientist, either.  But … I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.”

President Obama went on to note that, “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  That's why, over the past six years, we've done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it….  And that's why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts.”  So much for working with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. 

Finally, the President called the meaningless climate deal he signed last fall with Chinese President Xi “historic” and went on to claim that, “[B]ecause the world's two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we've got.

For critical commentary on the President’s pathetic climate confusion, see my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis’s post on

Across the States
William Yeatman


Acting with only hours to spare, new Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday suspended the promulgation of a regulation targeting the state’s coal-fired power plants that was issued during the final days of the administration of his predecessor, Martin O’Malley (D). It was one of Hogan’s first acts in office. O’Malley, who reportedly has presidential ambitions, had rushed to implement the rule before he left office, as a sop to the green base of the Democratic Party. However, in so doing, he skipped important procedural steps that would have afforded the public an opportunity to scrutinize the rule, which would effectively require the state’s coal-fired power plants to install an emissions control technology known as “selective catalytic reduction,” regardless whether or not it was cost-effective. Governor Hogan announced his intention to subject the rule to proper procedural requirements.


In what is the best evidence to date that Iowa’s first-primary-in-the-country is terrible for America, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) this week announced the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign that will pressure presidential contenders to support the Renewable Fuel Standard. To be sure, the RFS is great for Iowa, because it grows a great deal of corn, the primary feedstock for ethanol. But it’s horrible for the rest of the world, as it causes the price of both food and fuel to increase.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Global Temperature Hype

“2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record,” President Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union speech. Obama cited the separate findings of two federal agencies, NASA and NOAA, which announced Jan. 16 that, “The Year 2014 ranks as the warmest since 1880.” To Obama, the record-breaking year is evidence Congress and the American people should rally round EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.

When will the spinning end?

In the first place, 2014 was likely not the warmest year in the instrumental record. NASA and NOAA’s analyses are based on data from thousands of land- and sea-based weather stations.

But, as is well-known, surface station records have many gaps (both spatial and temporal) and many quality-control issues. Moreover, they do not measure temperature in the bulk atmosphere (the troposphere), where most of the warming from an enhanced greenhouse effect is predicted to occur.

And as NOAA’s press release acknowledges, the 2014 temperature in the troposphere was the third highest in the 1979-2014 record, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) satellite program, and the sixth highest on record, as analyzed by the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite program.

So why don’t the agencies’ press releases proclaim 2014 the third or sixth warmest year? Because “warmest on record” feeds the sense of crisis – a boon to agency budgets. Thus we find this bit of shameless self-promotion in NASA’s press release: "The observed long-term warming trend and the ranking of 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance for NASA to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the role and impacts of human activity."

Even based on surface station records alone, 2014 may not be a record breaker. NASA scientists subsequently acknowledged they are only 38% sure 2014 was the warmest year, because the supposed record is only 0.02°C warmer than 2010, whereas the margin of error – about 0.1°C – is 50 times larger!

Most importantly, “warmest year” blather distracts public attention from the big picture, which has two components. First, despite any small warming increment that may have occurred in 2014, climate model predictions increasingly overshoot observations. Second, the 0.8°C warming since 1880 is moderate, non-alarming, and coincides with dramatic improvements in life expectancy, health, and per capita income, and dramatic reductions in mortality related to extreme weather.

For additional commentary on warmest year hype, see Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger’s “You Ought to Have a Look: Record Global Temperatures.”

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,