Cooler Heads Digest 10 April 2015

10 April 2015

In the News

Harry Reid Secured Subsidies for Aides’ Donors
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 10 April 2015

Summer Gasoline Prices Lowest Since 2009
Institute for Energy Research, 10 April 2015

Michael Bloomberg Pledges $30 Million to Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign
Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 9 April 2015

Craig Idso Reviews Two New Studies of Rising CO2 Effects on Forests
Marlo Lewis,, 9 April 2015

Japan Defies Obama—Plans To Build 43 New Coal Plants
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 9 April 2015

California Drought: the Rest of the Story
Patrick Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger, Cato at Liberty, 9 April 2015

Wind, Sun Free; Wind, Solar Power Expensive
Marita Noon, Breitbart Big Government, 6 April 2015

The Mask Slips on the Climate Scam
Steven Hayward, PowerLine, 5 April 2015

News You Can Use

Christopher Monckton provides an extensive critique of Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey’s recent column on what it would take to convince skeptics that man-made climate change is “real.” Monckton’s rebuttal, posted April 9 on Watts Up With That, starts by pointing out that: “The true scientific question ... is not the fatuous question whether ‘Man-Made Climate Change Is Real’ but how much global warming our sins of emission may cause, and whether that warming might be more a bad thing than a good thing.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Agrees to Set 2014 Ethanol Mandate by End of November 2015

It was announced on Friday, April 10, that the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to settle a case brought by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association and the American Petroleum Institute by agreeing to deadlines for finalizing the 2014, 2015, and 2016 ethanol mandates by November 30th of this year. The Renewable Fuel Standard of 2007 requires the EPA to set the annual ethanol blending requirement by November 30th for the forthcoming year. The settlement therefore means that the EPA will be no more than two years late for setting the 2014 mandate and one year late for 2015.

It is interesting that the EPA thinks it is acceptable to require oil refiners to obey its regulations retroactively, while the agency itself can ignore the law passed by Congress.   

House Committees Will Hold Hearings on U. S. Commitment to Paris Accord and “Clean Power” Plan

Two House committees will hold noteworthy hearings next week when the House and the Senate both return from their two-week recess. The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, April 14th, will hold a hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act section 111d rule, the so-called “Clean Power” Plan. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Wednesday, April 15th, will hold a hearing on the Obama Administration’s submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of the U.S.’s intended nationally-determined commitment (INDC) to the forthcoming Paris Accord on climate change.

The Science Committee’s hearing is the first on the INDC, which was submitted to the UN on March 31st. The three witnesses called by the majority Republicans are: Professor Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech; Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy; and Dr. Margo Thorning, chief economist of the American Council for Capital Formation. The committee’s minority Democrats have called Jake Schmidt, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.  Written testimony and Internet broadcast of the live hearing should be available here.  

The Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee will take testimony from Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the EPA, and six other witnesses on the proposed 111d rule. These include Eugene Trisko, testifying on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. Written testimony and internet broadcast of the live hearing should be available on the committee’s web site. Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) is developing legislation, the Ratepayer Protection Act, to delay state compliance with the so-called “Clean Power” Plan until it has undergone judicial review. 

EPA Administrator McCarthy Says Changes Will Be Made to “Clean Power” Plan

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a speech at the University of Chicago on April 10 that they will make changes in the so-called “Clean Power” Plan to address the problems that have been brought to their attention by electric utilities and state regulatory authorities. She said that interim compliance targets were essential, but that they might need to be re-jiggered to diminish the possibility that States will be forced to meet the interim target by increasing natural gas use rather than by making longer-term investments in renewable energy and efficiency alternatives.       

According to an article by Jean Chemnick in Greenwire (subscription required), McCarthy said, “If there is legitimate concern here, and we’re hearing it a lot, changes are going to happen. What I do not want to do is to design this in a way that is limiting choices of States.” 

This “regulatory flexibility” nonsense is probably just what many major investor-owned utilities want to hear. They are willing to do whatever the EPA commands as long as they have sufficient time to do it and as long as they can pass all rate increases along to their customers.

McCarthy also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) call to the States to just say no to the EPA was merely a political stunt. In fact, McConnell’s argument is that state resistance will allow Congress time to act to block the regulations. She then made the extraordinary claim that there is broad public support for the EPA’s regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing and new coal and gas power plants, but that it was not reflected in Congress. Apparently, McCarthy is still in denial about the results of the 2014 elections. 

DC Circuit Will Hear Oral Arguments in Murray Energy Suit Against EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan

A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will listen to oral arguments in the Murray Energy v. EPA case on Thursday, April 16, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The suit seeks to block the so-called “Clean Power” Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas power plants before the rule is finalized. The court has allowed the State of Wisconsin to become the 15th State to join the suit. 

The DC Bar Association will present a panel discussion on the case that afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m.  Panelists include Mark DeLaquil from Baker and Hostetler and lawyers from NRDC and EPA. You may register here to attend in person or by teleconference. Here is my CEI colleague William Yeatman’s analysis of the written brief from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Steve Hayward on the Power Line blog summarizes the significance of Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe’s opposition to the EPA’s proposed rule on constitutional grounds. Tribe, one of the nation’s leading liberal constitutional law professors for decades, testified before Congress that, “Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.” The New York Times actually published a fairly balanced article on Tribe’s advocacy for Peabody Energy, an intervenor in the Murray suit. 

President Obama Plays the Asthma Card
Marlo Lewis

“President Obama says that climate change became a personal issue for him when his older daughter Malia, now 16, was rushed to the emergency room with an asthma attack when she was just a toddler,” ABC News reports.

The President explained in a one-on-one interview with ABC News health editor, Dr. Richard Besser: “Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early... And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that's something that I think every parent would wish for...”

Is there any sillier justification for pricing low-income families out of affordable power, or for EPA to seize control of State electricity markets, than the one the President just gave?

Carbon dioxide, the substance targeted by EPA’s Clean Power Plan, is not a lung irritant and does not contribute to respiratory problems. At most, the CPP would reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations a few parts per million by century’s end. What biological difference could that make to children, when their exhaled breath contains about 40,000 parts CO2 per million?

Obama argues that CO2 emissions cause global warming, which in turn increases ozone smog, which then causes asthma. But how can that be so when, despite global warming, smog-forming emissions and ozone levels have declined, decade-by-decade, since the 1970s? Besides, asthma-related hospital admissions are lower in summer than in winter, and childhood asthma rates have gone up as smog levels have gone down. Those facts indicate that air quality is an increasingly unimportant factor in childhood asthma.

Obama plays the asthma card because, as explained in a secret strategy memo, obtained via FOIA by my colleague Chris Horner, the public won’t care about climate change unless it is repackaged as a threat to children’s health.  

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,