Cooler Heads Digest 20 March 2015

20 March 2015


The Competitive Enterprise invites you to celebrate Human Achievement Hour by turning on your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on Saturday, 28th March.  This celebration of human progress and advancement is an alternative to “Earth Hour,” the annual event calling on people and business to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic gesture against climate change. Learn how to participate further here.

In the News

Lawmaker: Protect Coal Plants To Help the Manatees
Sean Cockerham, Miami Herald, 20 March 2015

Bob Murray’s Mission To Save the Coal Industry (subscription required)
Timothy Puko, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2015

The First Gasoline Tax: Less Than Romantic
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 19 March 2015

Iowa and Ethanol
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger, 19 March 2015

The Implications for Climate Sensitivity of Bjorn Stevens’s New Aerosol Forcing Paper
Nicholas Lewis, Climate Audit, 19 March 2015

The Guardian’s Editor-in-Chief Hits Peak Stupid
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 18 March 2015

A Wisconsin Response to EPA about the Clean Power Plan
Stephen Heins,, 18 March 2015

EPA Wants To Monitor How Long Hotel Guests Spend in the Shower
Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 17 March 2015

Ezra Klein Calls on Al Gore To Run for President
Jesse Walker, Hit and Run, 17 March 2015

The Costliest EPA Rule Yet
Margo Thorning, Washington Times, 15 March 2015

Kissing the Ring of King Corn
Bill Tucker, Forbes, 14 March 2015

News You Can Use
No Twisters in March for 1st Time Since 1969

No tornados were reported in the U.S. during March for the first time since 1969.

Inside the Beltway

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe Blasts Clean Power Plan
Marlo Lewis

Sparks flew at the House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on 17th March when experts clashed over the legality of EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan (CPP) – the agency’s proposed regulation to cap carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from state electric power sectors.  The main fireworks were provided by Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe

Professor Tribe denounced the CPP as an illegal power grab: “EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress and the Federal Courts all at once. Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.” A few excerpts from Tribe’s 60-page testimony must here suffice to explain the “unconstitutional trifecta.”

Under the CPP, Tribe said: “EPA would not simply regulate emissions, but would also reach out to oversee electricity production, consumption, and distribution within each State – matters that have always been deemed to be wholly within a State’s powers.” The Clean Air Act provides no authority to regulate electricity markets, and the Federal Power Act gives States “exclusive jurisdiction over intrastate electricity matters.”

Tribe continued: “Such a power-grab . . . would allow an unelected agency not meaningfully answerable to the American people to make fundamentally legislative choices – and to avoid political accountability for doing so.”

This is remarkable because of Tribe’s status as a liberal legal icon.  Tribe is perhaps the leading exponent of a living or evolving Constitution.  He has argued 36 cases before the Supreme Court.  Tribe taught President Obama constitutional law and employed him as a research assistant for two years.  And he actively supported Obama’s presidential campaigns and called him “the best student I ever had.”

House Passes Two EPA Science Reform Bills
Myron Ebell

The House of Representatives this week passed two bills that would try to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s flagrant misuse of science in formulating regulations. The Secret Science Reform Act, H. R. 1030, passed by a vote of  passed by a vote of 241 to 175.  Four Democrats joined 237 Republicans in voting Yes.  Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) was the only Republican voting No. 

The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, H. R. 1029, passed on a 236 to 181 vote.  Two Democrats voted Yes, and again Rep. Gibson was the lone Republican No vote.  The bill would improve the way experts are chosen for the EPA’s scientific advisory boards.

The Secret Science Reform Act would prohibit the EPA from basing policy on scientific studies and data that are not publicly available.  Unfortunately, it would not apply retroactively.  The EPA has made outlandish claims for the health benefits of Clean Air Act regulations based on two large epidemiological studies based on secret data.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has promised Congress several times while under oath to share the data with Congress, but has failed to keep her promise.  The House Science Committee has subpoenaed the data, but the EPA has refused to comply.  

As House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) wrote in a blog post: “Regulations should not be based on undisclosed data.  American taxpayers have a right to see the data and determine for themselves if these regulations are based on sound science or a partisan agenda.  But American taxpayers and Congress are not the only ones who have been left in the dark. The data in question have not been subjected to scrutiny and analysis by independent scientists. This third-party review process is necessary to ensure that the information being used is both scientifically sound and beneficial to the American people.”

The White House has threatened a presidential veto of both bills.  Apparently, the most open and transparent administration in history does not believe that the public has a right to know whether scientific research supports their regulatory agenda.  The reason for that is simple: it doesn’t.   

Obama Orders Federal Government To Cut Its Own Emissions by 40%
Myron Ebell

President Barack Obama on 19th March signed an executive order directing the federal government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2008 levels by 2025.  In addition, the President ordered that the federal government get 30% of its electricity from renewable sources and cut carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicle fleet by 30% by 2025.

Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, attacked the President’s action as “a move to advance his personal agenda on climate at the cost of hardworking American taxpayers.”  I agree, but I think the Congress could achieve the President’s goals in a way that would benefit taxpayers and boost the economy by undertaking a massive reduction in the size and scope of the federal government.  They could start by replacing a lot of pickup trucks driven by federal land agency employees with bicycles.   

BLM Releases Final Fracking Rule
Myron Ebell

The Bureau of Land Management on 20th March released its final rule on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. Predictably, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, complained that the rule is unnecessary because States already regulate fracking on federal and private land and that it will increase costs and delays in producing oil and gas on federal land. Chairman Bishop is of course completely correct, but he fails to acknowledge that the Obama Administration’s goal is to lower oil and gas production on federal land and these new regulations will help achieve that goal.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

Sen. Majority Leader McConnell Launches “Just Say No” Campaign on Clean Power Plan

The Clean Air Act establishes a State-Federal partnership. Under this “cooperative federalism” regulatory regime, EPA sets nation-wide standards, and the States are responsible for implementing the standards. However, if a State decides that it would prefer to spend its limited resources on a policy area other than air quality improvement, it has a constitutional right to do nothing, and instead allow the federal government to implement the standards.

On March 4th, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)published an op-ed urging States to “Just Say No” to implementing EPA’s “Clean Power Plan.”  And in an open letter to governors published this week, Sen. McConnell elaborated on his strategy. He reasoned that the rule is an illegal power grab, and that a do-nothing strategy by the States would give Congress and the courts time to stop the regulation. To this end, it is notable that the rule is subject to a pending challenge before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and also that the Energy and Commerce Committee this week published a draft of a bill that would effectively veto the “Clean Power” Plan.

I agree with McConnell and would add a second reason to “Just Say No”: Compliance with the “Clean Power” Plan entails a tremendous waste of resources. The rule is so expansive that it threatens to monopolize virtually all of state energy and environmental regulators’ time. They’ve much better things to do than spend all their energy trying to figure out how to build the President’s legacy.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Swiss Reject a Carbon Tax; Japan Turns to Coal

  • Ninety-two percent of Swiss voters rejected replacing the value-added tax with a carbon tax on energy, according to the Daily Caller’s PG Veer.
  • As predicted on, Japanese utilities are continuing a sharp turn to coal in the wake of the Fukushima Daitchi disaster. While government officials initially planned on replacing nuclear energy with green energy, this proved too expensive and technologically difficult.

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,