In the News
EPA’s Unconstitutional Clean Power Plan Brazenly Flouts the Separation of Powers
Marlo Lewis, CNS News, 12 February 2015
EPA under Fire for Concealing Controversial Scientific Data, Silencing Skeptics
Kevin Mooney, The Daily Signal, 11 February 2015
Never Mind Keystone XL: EPA Regulations Are the Real Battle
Chip Knappenberger, Cato Institute, 11 February 2015
Europe Loses Billion in Badly Sited Renewable Power Plants
Joseph Nyangon, Energy Collective, 10 February 2015
News You Can Use
Study: Skeptics Know More about Climate Science
FoxNews.com reported yesterday on a forthcoming paper in the journal Advances in Political Psychology by Yale Professor Dan Kahan that finds that skeptics score about the same (in fact slightly better) on climate science questions than do alarmists.
Inside the Beltway
EPA Takes 75 Pages to Explain Why Murray Energy Challenge to “Clean Power” Plan has “No Legal Basis”
The Environmental Protection Agency filed its reply brief on 12th February to the suit brought by Murray Energy that challenges the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas power plants. EPA lawyers claim that the suit has “no legal basis,” but as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis noted, it takes them 75 pages to explain why.
Another indication of the seriousness of Murray Energy’s suit is that the Natural ResourcesDefense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club filed a lengthy amicus brief in what is the early stages of the case. The federal DC Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on 16th April on the case that has been consolidated with the case brought by thirteen state Attorneys General.
House Passes Keystone, Obama Veto Will Have To Wait
The House of Representatives on 11th February passed the Senate’s amended version of the bill that would bypass President Obama and permit the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf refineries. The vote was 270 to 152. Twenty-nine Democrats joined all the Republicans except for Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), who was the only Republican voting No.
House and Senate leaders have decided not to send the bill to President Obama until after the week-long Presidents Day recess. The White House has promised that the President will veto the bill. Republicans in Congress hope that public pressure in favor of building the pipeline will build over the recess.
Forked Tongue: EPA Double Spins Low Oil Prices
The State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) found that if permission to build the KXL is denied, roughly the same amount of heavy crude made from Canada’s oil sands would reach U.S. refiners. The oil would just come by alternate routes, principally rail. Because the alternatives are less energy efficient, they would emit 28% to 42% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the proposed pipeline (FSEIS, ES-34). Policy implication: Approving the KXL is the ‘climate-friendly’ choice!
That assessment is intolerable to Keystone bashers, and last week the EPA flew to their rescue.
In a Feb. 2 comment letter, EPA argued roughly as follows. State found that the extra cost of transporting crude by rail could make new oil sands development uneconomical if prices fall below $75 per barrel. Thus, in an era of low oil prices, building the KXL could make otherwise unprofitable oil sands projects profitable. If so, the KXL would increase oil sands development and the associated emissions beyond what would otherwise occur.
Now, the KXL is climatologically irrelevant. Even under the unrealistic assumption that the pipeline would operate at full capacity (830,000 barrels per day) round the clock and every barrel would be additional oil produced only because the KXL exists to deliver it, the warming contribution would be an undetectable and inconsequential 0.01°C in 2100, according to EPA’s own climate model.
Nonetheless, eco-activists hail EPA’s letter as proof that the KXL would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution” and, thus, fail the (monomaniacal) national-interest “litmus test” President Obama announced in his June 25, 2013 climate change speech at Georgetown University.
The Keystone bashers conveniently overlook the obvious. Oil prices are volatile. Prices are low today but neither EPA nor anyone else knows the price of oil a year from now, much less over the lifetime of the proposed project.
But EPA speaks with a forked tongue. EPA speaks with forked tongue. Last Friday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy described low oil prices as a short-term blip that will not influence consumer buying habits and should not modify federal motor vehicle fuel-economy standards. "We don't think that this small timeline, where there is this extreme fluctuation, is going to continue," she said.
Across the States
Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday, 13th February, as the result of revelations that Oregon’s “First Lady” Cylvia Hayes has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs from green energy clients and non-profit groups to promote their interests. Kitzhaber will be succeeded by Oregon’s elected Secretary of State, Kate Brown, until a special election is held in November 2016 to fill the last two years of his term.
Hayes has been Kitzhaber’s girlfriend for several years and more recently his fiancée. The governor designated her as Oregon’s official first lady and allowed her to run her clean energy consulting business out of the governor’s mansion and gave her authority to direct state employees on policies related to her clients. Hayes received payments from some of these clients that were not reported by her in state conflict of interest filings. These payments included $118,000 from the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011 and 2012 and a further $85,000 in 2013, including $50,000 from the Energy Foundation.
The Clean Economy Development Center, based in Washington, DC, went out of business after the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status. The Energy Foundation should really be called the Anti-Energy Foundation. Based in San Francisco, it was founded in the early 1990s by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. According to Kellan Howell in a Washington Times story: “Jenny Coyle, communications manager for the Energy Foundation, told the Times that the foundation provided the Clean Economy Development Center $50,000 in 2011 and $25,000 in 2012 for the fellowship program in which Ms. Hayes participated. She was the center’s only fellow.”
Among the Energy Foundation’s recent donors is the TomKat Charitable Trust, which was founded and is controlled by billionaire Democratic donor and climate activist Tom Steyer. Howell reported that TomKat had given $200,000 in 2012 to the Energy Foundation. Steyer’s PAC, NextGen Climate Action, also gave the Oregon Democratic Party $100,000.
Portland’s Oregonian newspaper published an editorial last week that demanded Governor Kitzhaber resign. The editorial commented, “Who knew following the trail of ‘clean energy’ money could make you feel so dirty?” That is ironic, but should not be surprising. Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power and ethanol cannot survive without government handouts and mandates. Small payoffs to government officials can yield big profits.
The Oregon Attorney General’s office and the FBI are investigating Kitzhaber and Hayes’s violations of state and federal laws. As I remarked in an online video interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel a couple of hours before Kitzhaber resigned, the investigations should not stop there. The non-profit groups that were making these payoffs should also be investigated for other similar illegal political activities.
Willamette Week, a Portland alternative newspaper that endorsed Kitzhaber for re-election last fall and supports his climate and renewable energy policies, uncovered the scandal and deserves a huge amount of credit. Here is a recent article from the paper that summarizes the whole scandal.
California Governor Jerry Brown (D) in his state of the state address last month called on the legislature to enact legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions far below what is required in California’s AB 32 legislation. This week State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon released a package of four bills that meets the governor’s targets.
One of the bills in the package was introduced by state Senator Fran Pavley (D), who was the chief sponsor of AB 32, enacted in 2006 when she served in the state Assembly. Her new bill is numbered SB 32. AB 32 requires California to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. SB 32 would require that emissions be reduced by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Other bills in the package would require that by 2030 Californians cut their oil consumption for transportation by 50% and get 50% of their electricity from renewable sources. Welcome to wonderland.
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.