The Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Institute for Energy Research, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council submitted a joint comment letter on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) proposed rule, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2.”
In the News
U.S. Continues To Distance Itself as the World Leader of Natural Gas
Chris Pederson, Platts, 2 October 2015
House Panel Probing Taxpayer Support for Efforts to Investigate Climate Change Skeptics
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 1 October 2015
Petition: Forget “Climate Change,” Energy Empowers the Poor
E. Calvin Beisner, LinkedIn, 30 September 2015
$9 Billion of Crappy Renewable Energy: Just What the World Needs
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 29 September
EPA’s Clean Power Plan Oversteps Federal Authority
Terry Jarrett, Real Clear Energy, 29 September 2015
News You Can Use
Pope News Roundup
Inside the Beltway
EPA Issues Job Killing Ozone Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule to reduce ozone levels on 1st October. The current National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 75 parts per billion will be reduced to 70 parts per billion.
The new 70 parts per billion limit will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs, but major industry groups took some satisfaction in the fact that it wasn’t worse. Then-EPA Administrator Richard Windsor (aka Lisa Jackson) in 2011 proposed 65 ppb. The White House then decided to delay that rule until after the 2012 elections because the potential costs were so colossal that the issue could have threatened President Obama’s re-election.
The final rule will undoubtedly be litigated by environmental pressure groups and by industry groups. The environmental groups will have a strong case that the standard should be lowered to 65 ppb at the most. That’s because the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee stated in a 26th June 2014 letter that: “[O]ur policy advice is to set the level of the standard lower than 70 ppb within a range down to 60 ppb, taking into account your judgement regarding the desired margin of safety to protect the public health, and taking into account that lower levels will provide incrementally greater margins of safety.” As my CEI colleague William Yeatman noted, federal courts have been very deferential to the recommendations made by the EPA’s scientific advisory boards.
On top of the EPA’s Clean Air Act rules for greenhouse gas emissions, mercury emissions, cross-state air pollution, and regional haze and its Clean Water Act wetlands rule, the ozone rule guarantees that the EPA has become the number one job-killing agency in the Obama Administration. EPA’s top political appointees and senior civil servants have probably held several big taxpayer-funded parties to celebrate this cumulative achievement and are probably in line for numerous awards from President Obama.
Professor Who Advocates Criminalizing Global Warming Skepticism Has Taken $63 Million in Federal Grants
In early September, twenty professors sent a letter President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House science adviser John Holdren that congratulates the President on his climate policies to raise energy prices and impoverish Americans and then urges that another tool be used to save the planet: criminalize opponents of global warming alarmism. Here is the key request in the letter:
“We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool—recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]—is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change. The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peer-reviewed academic research (Brulle 2013) and in recent books….”
The lead signer was Professor Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Five other signers are also from GMU: Edward Maibach, Paul Dirmeyer, Barry Klinger, Paul Schopf, and David Straus. Columbia University can proudly claim three signers: Michela Biasutti, Mark Cane, and Lisa Goddard.
Two signers profess at the University of Washington: Edward Sarachik and Michael Wallace. Two more are at the University of Maryland: Eugenia Kalnay and William Lau. And two more are at Florida State University: T. N. Krishnamurti and Vasu Misra. Alan Robock of Rutgers University, Ben Kirtman of the University of Miami, and Robert Dickinson of the University of Texas are the sole signers from their universities. Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and Alan Betts of Pittsford, Vermont complete the Gang of 20.
My CEI colleague Chris Horner filed requests for public records with the various universities to obtain the signers’ statements of economic interest after it was revealed that Professor Shukla has been paying himself and his wife huge salaries from federal grants to a non-profit he controls called the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) in addition to his GMU salary. Their combined income was over $800,000 in 2013 and 2014. In addition, federal grants were used to pay the Shuklas’ daughter. Steve McIntyre on Climate Audit has a thorough summary of what has been discovered so far.
House Science Chairman Lamar Smith on 1st October wrote a letter to Professor Shukla that states:
“IGES appears to be almost fully funded by taxpayer money while simultaneously participating in partisan political activity by requesting a RICO investigation of companies and organizations that disagree with the Obama administration on climate change. In fact, IGES has reportedly received $63 million from taxpayers since 2001, comprising over 98 percent of its total revenue during that time.”
Chairman Smith’s letter warns Professor Shukla that the committee intends to investigate this misuse of federal funds and that all IGES records and communications should be preserved.
VW Diesel Scandal Exposes Conflicting Regulatory Mandates
The Environmental Protection Agency on 18th September charged that Volkswagen had sold approximately 480,000 diesel cars in the U. S. that contained “defeat devices” that allowed them to pass EPA’s emissions tests, while pollution levels increased by up to forty times in normal driving. VW quickly admitted they had cheated and had sold 11 million vehicles worldwide with the devices. The company set aside $7.6 billion to pay for penalties, recalls, and liability judgments, but many analysts thought that the total costs would eventually be much higher.
VW cheated because they are caught between regulations to reduce pollution and regulations to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting both these conflicting goals results in cars that few people want to buy. Diesel engines are significantly more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, but they are also dirtier. Making them cleaner results in lower performance and more fuel consumption.
Mercedes and other high-end diesel car producers have gotten around that by installing very expensive technology, which increases the costs of their vehicles. Adding five or ten thousand dollars to the cost of a car can work for luxury cars that cost over $50,000 to begin with, but not for VWs and other cars in the $20-30,000 range. It remains to be seen how the major automakers will continue to produce cars that people want to buy as the 54.5 miles per gallon CAFÉ standard begins to take effect.
Across the States
On 25th September, the California Air Regulatory Board approved regulations that severely limit carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel fuels. The new regulations require oil producers to reduce carbon emissions at least 10% by 2020. This decision comes hot on the heels of the removal of a similar provision in SB 350, which would have mandated a 50% cut in petroleum use by 2030. Presumably, the new regulations are Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to force petroleum cuts through the regulatory process rather than through the normal legislative process.
Royal Dutch Shell on 28th September announced that it would end its Arctic oil exploration activities after spending over $7 billion since 2007. Shell said that it made the decision after the well it drilled this summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s north coast did not produce any evidence of significant oil or natural gas deposits. The company also cited continuing low crude oil prices, high production costs, and an “unpredictable” regulatory environment as reasons for pulling out of the Arctic.
Around the World
On 1st October, India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (or INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 38-page document recounts India’s climate policies to date and lays out its plans to reduce emissions 33-35% by 2030. According to the INDC, India will need $2.5 trillion of foreign aid in order to take the appropriate steps. For reference, that is slightly less than a year and a half of India’s current GDP. Of this $2.5 trillion, only $883 billion would be used to reduce emissions. The rest would be used to fund “adaptation action” designed to reduce the effects of climate change on Indians. While there has been much said in the mainstream media about how ambitious India’s goals are, very little has been said about how much it will cost taxpayers in developed countries to achieve those goals.
Are Tropical Storms Becoming More Destructive? Will They?
Lin & Chan, 2015, a study published in Nature Communications, finds that the destructive potential of tropical cyclones (“typhoons”) in the most active and hazardous tropical cyclone basin on Earth, the Western North Pacific Main Development Region, decreased by 35% over the past decade.
Lin and Chan use a metric called the Power Dissipation Index (PDI) to measure the destructive potential of Asia-Pacific typhoons. The PDI is a product of three factors: storm frequency, duration, and intensity. In the past decade, typhoon intensity increased due to increases in ocean heat content. However, typhoon frequency and duration decreased due to stronger vertical wind shear and lower vorticity in the storm genesis region. The declines in frequency and duration overpowered the increase in intensity, producing a net decrease in PDI of approximately 35%.
Based on climate modeling studies, Lin and Chan project that global warming will induce an additional 15% decrease in the Asia-Pacific PDI. In their words, “Although both the intensity and duration increased under global warming, there was an even larger typhoon frequency reduction of 25.7%. As a result, the typhoon PDI decreased by 15.2%.”
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.