In the News
Bhutan Has “Most Ambitious Pledge” at Paris Climate Summit
Arthur Nelson, Guardian, 3 December 2015
Do Not Forget Global Cooling (that false alarm was tied to coal, too)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 December 2015
Senate White Paper: Essential Background on Obama’s Climate Treaty Agenda
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 2 December 2015
German Energiewende: Modern Miracle or Major Misstep?
Davis Swan, Climate Etc., 2 December 2015
Poll: Citizens of China Have Pegged Climate Change as a Hoax
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 2 December 2015
Powerless: Left and Media Vilify 90% of Energy Supply
Julia Seymour, NewsBusters, 1 December 2015
The West’s Self-Destructive Global Warming Penance
Kevin Williamson, National Review, 30 November 2015
Crude Awakening: How Washington Is Bungling Energy Policy
Nicolas Loris, National Interest, 27 November 2015
News You Can Use
Paris Climate Conference’s Big Carbon Footprint
According to Wired, the carbon footprint of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be roughly 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Inside the Beltway
House Passes Resolutions Blocking EPA Power Plant Rules
The House of Representatives on 1st December passed Senate Joint Resolutions 23 and 24, the Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants. Having passed the Senate on 17th November, the resolutions can now be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature or veto.
Nearly all the news stories in the mainstream media called it a “symbolic vote” or “merely a symbolic vote.” That is not the case. Passage in both chambers provides strong support for keeping the two riders that are in both the House and Senate Interior-EPA appropriations bills in the Omnibus appropriations bill. If that fails, then the votes lay the groundwork for further congressional efforts next year. The votes send a signal to the federal courts that will be considering the suits to block the regulations. Finally, the roll call votes let voters know whether their Senators and Representatives are working to stop President Obama from fulfilling his 2008 campaign promise to make electric rates “necessarily skyrocket.”
S. J. Res. 23, which would block the rule for new power plants, passed by a vote of 235 to 188. Four Democrats joined 231 Republicans in voting Yes. The Democrats were Ashford (Neb.), Bishop (Ga.), Cuellar (Tex.), and Peterson (Minn.). Ten Republicans joined 178 Democrats in voting No. The Republicans were: Costello (Penna.), Curbelo (Fla.), Dold (Ill.), Fitzpatrick (Penna.), Gisbson (NY), Hanna (NY), Katko (NY), LoBiondo (NJ), Meehan (Penna.), and Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.). Six Democrats and four Republicans did not vote.
S. J. Res. 24, which would block the rule for existing power plants, passed by a vote of 242 to 180. The same four Democrats voted Yes, but only two Republicans voted No: Dold (Ill.) and Hanna (NY). Six Democrats and five Republicans missed the vote.
As a reminder, both CRA resolutions of disapproval passed the Senate by 52 to 46. Three Democrats voted Yes: Manchin (WV), Heitkamp (ND), and Donnelly (Ind.) Three Republicans voted No: Ayotte (NH), Collins (Me.), and Kirk (Ill.). Two Republicans missed both votes.
Across the States
In Unwelcome Ruling, Fourth Circuit Court Bars McCarthy Deposition
Clean Air Act §321(a) requires the EPA to monitor job losses due to the agency’s environmental regulations. In March 2014, Murray Energy, an Ohio-based coal company, commenced a civil action in federal court alleging that the agency has failed to perform its §321(a) responsibilities with regard to monitoring the employment impact of the agency’s war on coal.
Murray Energy’s unprecedented lawsuit survived EPA’s early legal maneuvering, and on November 12th, 2015, West Virginia federal district court judge John Preston Bailey authorized the plaintiff’s request to depose EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
McCarthy’s deposition would have been a rare and welcome act of discovery. To my knowledge, no sitting agency head has had to answer for policy choices under oath during the pre-trial phase of civil litigation. At the same time, EPA’s war on coal is an unprecedented regulatory assault on an industry that has been singled out, with great harm to the Appalachian region in particular. As such, deposing McCarthy is justified, as she is well-positioned to disclose whether EPA performed its statutory duty and accounted for the job losses of agency policy.
EPA effectively appealed Judge Bailey’s order, and, unfortunately the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s request without explanation on November 25th. Discovery will continue before the trial court, but EPA Administrator McCarthy will not take part.
Around the World
COP-21 Kicks Off, Bogs Down
COP-21, the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), opened on Monday, 1st November, with an all-day pep rally with heads of government and heads of state from around 150 countries. Many of them warned their fellow national leaders that COP-21 is our last chance to save the planet from the ravages of global warming. Many from developing countries warned that they wouldn’t be able or willing to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless they were paid to do so.
After the first day’s pep rally, the meetings resumed their normal course. There were frequent reports from reporters for the mainstream media that the negotiations over the new Paris Climate Treaty: were not making any progress; had reached an impasse; were near collapse; or could blow up at any minute.
What makes this usual claptrap plausible is that the last COP that was going to save the planet, COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, really did blow up and then collapse. In December 2009, the world’s leaders flew in at the end to take credit for saving the only planet we have, but then were embarrassed and had to fly home with nothing to show for their considerable carbon dioxide emissions. Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister and president of COP-21, did not make that mistake this time.
The key issues remain the same, and the biggest obstacle to an agreement remains coming up with the money—lots and lots of it. The G-77 (the group of 135 developing and recently developed countries) demand that the final treaty includes language guaranteeing that the Green Climate Fund and the Loss and Damages Mechanism will be fully funded. At Copenhagen in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saved the COP from total collapse by promising that the developed countries would create a Green Climate Fund and provide $100 billion in aid annually starting in 2020.
The developing countries want that initial $100 billion per annum to go up every year. The head of the Green Climate Fund, Hela Cheikrouhou, recently said that the GCF should go up to $450 billion per annum.
The United States delegation, led by State Department climate envoy Todd Stern, continues to support the inclusion of automatic reviews and increases in emissions targets every five years. Here is what Paul Bodnar, White House Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, said during a press briefing by conference call on 24th November:
One thing we think is really important is that it be a long-term solution, not a stopgap; that we create the mechanics for regular updating of these targets over time, and that there are incentives and transparency provisions that allow emissions to be ratcheted down over the coming decades.
Although the Obama Administration continues to insist that the new Paris Climate Treaty will not be a treaty that requires ratification by the U. S. Senate, the inclusion of a provision that will ratchet up the United States’s commitment every five years sure sounds like the kind of thing that requires ratification before it goes into effect. There are, of course, many other provisions in the draft text that make the Paris Climate Treaty a treaty.
President Obama Thinks Paris Climate Treaty Will Bind Next President
President Barack Obama confirmed in a press conference in Paris on 1st December that he intends for the Paris Climate Treaty to bind politically the next President, even if he is succeeded by a Republican who opposes the treaty and even if it’s not ratified by the Senate.
Here is what the President said in response to a question:
But even if somebody from a different party succeeded me, one of the things that you find is when you’re in this job, you think about it differently than when you’re just running for the job. And what you realize is what I mentioned earlier, that American leadership involves not just playing to a narrow constituency back home, but you now are, in fact, at the center of what happens around the world, and that your credibility and America’s ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about.
Now, the fact of the matter is there’s a reason why you have the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris. Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously. They think it’s a really big problem. It spans political parties. You travel around Europe, and you talk to leaders of governments and the opposition, and they are arguing about a whole bunch of things -- one thing they’re not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we have to do something about it.
So whoever is the next President of the United States, if they come in and they suggest somehow that that global consensus -- not just 99.5 percent of scientists and experts, but 99 percent of world leaders -- think this is really important, I think the President of the United States is going to need to think this is really important. And that’s why it’s important for us to not project what’s being said on a campaign trail, but to do what’s right, and make the case.
In short, President Obama thinks his successor will lead—as he does—from behind.
Abengoa: Obama’s “Spanish Model” Poster Child Teeters on Bankruptcy
Spain’s largest solar power producer, Abengoa, announced November 25 that it has started “pre-insolvency” proceedings. The company will file for bankruptcy within four months unless it can negotiate an agreement with creditors to guarantee its financial viability. Abengoa stock prices plummeted 54%, with bonds downgraded to junk status, after Gonvarri, a private investor group, declined to invest $371 million in the company.
Abengoa’s bankruptcy would be the largest in Spain’s history, putting “as many as 24,000 jobs – the majority in Spain – at risk,” according to PV Magazine. Abengoa has declared a debt of $9.77 billion. However, Reuters estimates creditors are on the hook for about $18.6 billion. A shareholder group has already threatened to sue over the sudden collapse in stock prices.
Spanish financial writer Fernando Barciela includes President Obama among those who did not see Abengoa’s meltdown coming: “His administration awarded the company about $2.7 billion for two major projects — the Solana Generating Station in Arizona and the Mojave Solar Project in California.” It is unclear at this point whether those projects will survive or join the ranks of Solyndra and other taxpayer-backed Stimulosers.
During his first term, Obama on at least eight occasions invoked the “Spanish Model” to claim that subsidizing renewables would create millions of “green jobs” and lead America to victory in a supposed “clean energy race.” However, a landmark study in 2010 by Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada warned that Spain’s renewable subsidies would saddle the country with unsustainable debt and destroy 2.2 jobs for every job created. The Obama administration furtively lined up wind energy lobbyists to discredit the study, but events vindicated Calzada. By mid-2010, Madrid had to institute austerity measures, and by 2012, Spain’s unemployment rate hit 22.8%, the highest in 17 years.
Rather than learn from history, the administration continues to bet America and the world’s future on subsidized renewables. The so-called Clean Power Plan is a national renewable energy mandate. Just this week at the Paris climate conference, Obama boasted that, thanks to his policies, wind and solar are “finally cheaper” than coal- and gas-power plants in “parts” of America. It ain’t so, as I explain here.
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.