Cooler Heads Digest 06 November 2015


6 November 2015

In the News

Hiatus Controversy: Show Me the Data
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 6 November 2015

Obama Strong Arms on Climate
James Rust, Master Resource, 5 November 2015

The Climate Wars and the Damage to Science
Matt Ridley, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 5 November 2015

Poll: Most Americans Understand, Aren’t Too Worried about Climate Change
CBS/Associated Press, 4 November 2015

Who’s Playing Politics on the Keystone Pipeline?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 4 November 2015

Courts Rein in Obama’s Regulatory Overreach
H. Sterling Burnett, Real Clear Policy, 4 November 2015

Global Warming Alarmists Don’t Like It When Someone Follows the Money
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 3 November 2015

Amazon’s Wind Energy Power Claim Is 100% Myth
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 3 November 2015

The March to Paris Has Begun
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 2 November 2015

Obscure Part of Clean Air Act Could Kill Obama’s Climate Plan
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, 2 November 2015

Obama’s Court Quagmire
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 2 November 2015

News You Can Use
Good News: Antarctic Ice Increasing

According to a NASA study by Jay Zwally and colleagues published this week in the Journal of Glaciology, satellite data indicates that Antarctica is gaining more ice from snowfall than it is losing from coastal discharges and ice melt. In other words, currently and over the 1992-2008 study period, Antarctica is contributing to a net reduction in sea level rise. Read NASA’s press release here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

O Says No to Keystone XL

President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built.  The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.

My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up.  That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President Obama has left office and a new President could approve the permit.

One day later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to TransCanada’s request by saying, “Our expectation at this point … is that the President will make a decision by the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline.”  Instead of by the end of next year, the President made a decision by the end of this week.  My guess is that he did so now because COP-21 begins in Paris at the end of the month and he hopes to build support from environmental pressure groups for what is almost certainly going to be a modest and uninspiring climate treaty.

Billionaire Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer and founder Bill McKibben made Keystone into a decisive moment in the climate debate.  McKibben repeatedly said (quoting James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) that building Keystone would be “game over for the climate.” Democrats are counting on Steyer to spend more in the 2016 elections than the $75 million he reportedly spent in the 2014 elections.   

House Committee Passes Bill To Check EPA Climate Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on energy on 3rd November marked up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for power plants.  House Joint Resolutions 71 and 72 passed 15 to 12 on strict party line votes.

The resolutions brought under the Congressional Review Act would, if enacted, overturn key parts of President Obama’s climate agenda—71 for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and 72 for the Existing Source Performance Standards (ESPS). Passage of these resolutions by the House and Senate will undermine the administration’s ability to negotiate a new climate treaty at the UN climate conference in Paris in December because the ESPS and NSPS provide the largest chunk of the emission cuts needed to meet the U.S.’s 26-28% emission reduction commitment.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

NY AG Launches Investigation into Exxon

New York’s Attorney General has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil’s possible climate crimes.  According to a story in the New York Times by Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss:

“According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.  The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.  The people said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives.”

This latest witch hunt to prosecute climate criminals follows a suggestion by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who in a 4th June op-ed published by the Washington Post called for an investigation of fossil fuel companies under RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. 

On 16th September, Inside Climate News released the results of an eight month investigation that concluded Exxon Mobil had been covering up the fact that its own scientists had warned the company beginning in 1977 of the risks to the climate of burning fossil fuels.

Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation was repeated last month in a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch from twenty university professors organized by Drs. Jagadish Shukla and Edward Maibach at Virginia’s George Mason University. My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis has written an excellent article on the RICO Twenty.

And just before New York’s Times broke the news of AG Schneiderman’s investigation of Exxon Mobil, Professor Naomi Oreskes (a global warming propagandist who masquerades as a science historian at Harvard) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) piled on with an op-ed in the Hill headlined, “The Harm Exxon Mobil Has Done.”  Their op-ed repeats the Inside Climate News claims and then repeats the call for a criminal investigation of Exxon Mobil. Oreskes and Lieu have nothing new to say, but I admire their timing. 

Update on State Lawsuits against EPA Climate Regulations

Twenty-three States this week filed a legal challenge to the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The regulation would require new coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration. As I explain here, the States have a strong case, because carbon capture and sequestration is “exorbitantly expensive.” Also this week, Mississippi became the 27th State to sue the EPA over the Clean Power Plan. That regulation would place the nation’s electric grid under the thumb of the agency.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

China Burns 17% More Coal Than Reported

China has been burning up to 17% more coal per year than previously reported, according to new data released by the Chinese government.  New York’s Times announced this news in a top-left, front-page story on 4th November. According to reporter Chris Buckley, “The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.  The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

This is important news in at least three respects.  First, it means that global greenhouse gas emissions have been much larger during a period when the global mean temperature has not gone up as predicted.  This suggests that the climate could be even less sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than recent research has found.  The alarmists are going to have to move quickly to explain this possibility away.

Second, the gap between the greenhouse gas reductions promised by the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the forthcoming Paris climate treaty and the official calculations of total greenhouse gas reductions necessary to avoid a two-degree Celsius increase in the global mean temperature has widened considerably.  As I reported in last week’s Digest, Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the INDCs a “down payment” on the greenhouse gas reductions that would be required “to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” which is the “ultimate objective” of the UNFCCC. If the additional Chinese emissions are added to the total, then the down payment is even smaller than the UNFCCC secretariat’s recent calculations, which means much more to be done.  The draft text of the Paris climate treaty contains an automatic review and adjustment of targets and timetables of emissions reductions every five years.

Third, the upward revision in Chinese emissions raises the importance of the transparency issue in the Paris climate negotiations.  The United States and the European Union have insisted that the reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions must be subject to external monitoring and verification.  China recently agreed that more transparency was necessary, but has not yet agreed to these demands in the negotiations, which are scheduled to conclude with a new climate treaty at COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC) in Paris in December.        

India Moves To Outlaw Greenpeace

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu has cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India for violating the rules governing nonprofit organizations and for making fraudulent financial statements. The radical environmental pressure group can appeal its delisting to the state government and after that can file an appeal in court.

If its appeals fail, then Greenpeace India will have one month to dissolve itself.  If it fails to do so, Tamil Nadu’s registrar of societies can then appoint a liquidator.

India’s national government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been after Greenpeace India since coming to power in 2014.  India’s Intelligence Bureau published a report that Greenpeace India’s campaigns against coal and nuclear power plants threatened national economic security. In April, the Ministry of Home Affairs froze Greenpeace’s bank accounts for not accurately reporting donations from foreign sources.  A court unfroze some of the accounts, but in early September the ministry revoked Greenpeace India’s license to receive foreign donations.   

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,