Cooler Heads Digest 01 May 2015

1 May 2015


  • The Cooler Heads Coalition will host a Capitol Hill lunch briefing by Professor Ross McKitrick on “Ontario's Green Energy Act: Environmentally Useless and Economically Disastrous.”  The briefing will be held from 12 noon to 1:15 PM on Monday, 11th May, in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building.  McKitrick is Professor of Environmental Economics and Fellow in Sustainable Commerce at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.  RSVP to attend the briefing to
  • The Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) will take place on Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, 2015 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. Learn more here.

In the News

Why Tesla’s Powerwall Is Just Another Toy for Rich Green People
Christopher Helman, Forbes, 1 May 2015

Clean Power Plan: Thoughts on Ripeness and Standing
Marlo Lewis,, 30 April 2015

Energy Sustainability for the 21st Century
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 30 April 2015

How Big Money Impacts Environmental Policy
Kevin Mooney, Daily Signal, 29 April 2015

Out of Control IRS, Rewriting Laws
Christine Harbin Hanson, National Review Online, 29 April 2015

In Iowa, Fiorina Speaks the Truth about Ethanol
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, 29 April 2015

Electricity for Africa
Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist, 28 April 2015

The Carbon Tax and Economists as Experts and Politicians
Benjamin Zycher, The American, 28 April 2015

When Is “the Law” Violated under the Constitution, Anyway?
Donald Devine, Library of Law and Liberty, 28 April 2015

Obama Clean Energy Loans Leave Taxpayers in a $2.2 Billion Hole
Stephan Dinan, Washington Times, 27 April 2015

Renewables: All Pain, Little Gain
Kenneth Green & Taylor Jackson, Vancouver Sun, 25 April 2015

News You Can Use
Harvard Study: Half of Young Americans Are Climate Skeptics

Only 45% of young adults aged 18-29 believe in anthropogenic global warming, according to data released this week by the Harvard Public Opinion Project. Remarkably, the age group that least agreed with the statement that global warming is a fact and caused by CO2 emissions was that of 18 to 20-year-olds. 

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senator McConnell Confronts EPA Administrator McCarthy at Senate Hearing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the most of his chance to take on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy directly when McCarthy testified before the Senate Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee on 29th April.  Senator McConnell is a senior member of the full Appropriations Committee, but joined the Interior-EPA Subcommittee only this year in order to be in a better position to stop the EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  The regulations threaten to destroy the coal industry and to raise electric rates substantially in States that rely on inexpensive coal-fired power.  Kentucky is the third largest coal producer among the States and gets over 90% of its electricity from coal. 

Senate Appropriations Committee hearings are not televised, and the subcommittee hearing room is small, so I did not see the hearing, but press accounts suggest that their face-off was dramatic and antagonistic. Senator McConnell raised a potential new obstacle to implementing the so-called “Clean Power” Plan that would require state-wide emissions reductions from existing coal and natural gas power plants.  The EPA has urged States to comply by entering into multi-state and regional plans, such as the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade scheme.  But McConnell noted that the Clean Air Act requires that any binding multi-state agreements must be approved by Congress.    According to ClimateWire (subscription required), McConnell said, “I can assure you that as long as I'm majority leader in the Senate, this body's not going to be signing off on backdoor energy taxes.”

Senator McConnell also took a shot at the Obama Administration’s efforts to negotiate a new UN climate agreement based on a commitment to reduce emissions that relies heavily on the EPA’s power plant rules: “The failure of Congress to sign off should signal to other countries that they should proceed with caution into the December 2015 climate talks in Paris.”

House and Senate Committees Pass Key Bills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on 29th April marked up and passed the Ratepayer Protection Act.  H. R. 2042 would delay implementation of the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan until judicial review is completed and would allow Governors to opt out if they determine that the required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants would have adverse effects on electric rates or electric reliability.  Twenty-eight Republicans on the committee voted for the bill, and twenty-two Democrats voted against it.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 29th April marked up and passed the Secret Science Reform Act, S. 544. The bill would require the EPA to rely exclusively on publicly available scientific data in its rulemaking.  All eleven Republicans on the committee voted for the bill, and all nine Democrats voted against it.  The House passed a similar bill, H. R. 1030, by a 241-175 vote on 18th March.  Four House Democrats voted for the bill.

In other cheery news, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) has introduced a bill, H. R. 2111, that would abolish part of the Environmental Protection Agency and dismember the rest of it. 

Across the States

Gov. Brown’s Climate Leadership
Marlo Lewis

California Governor Jerry Brown this week announced a plan to reduce the State’s greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, AP reports. Brown’s proposal is far more aggressive than the State’s “Global Warming Solutions Act” (AB32), which aims to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It is also more draconian than President Obama’s UN climate treaty pledge to reduce emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

California already has the 4th most “dysfunctional” economy in the American Legislative Council’s annual ranking of State economic performance. Although Brown’s plan would have zero impact on global climate, it would accelerate the brain drain and shrinking tax base caused by the State’s current anti-growth tax and regulatory policies.

Oklahoma Moves against EPA Clean Power Plan
William Yeatman

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) this week signed an executive order that forbids state regulators from working on a compliance plan for EPA’s forthcoming “Clean Power Plan,” the Obama administration’s major climate rule that would upend the power industry. The order also directs Attorney General Scott Pruitt to issue his opinion on the rule’s legality after it is finalized this summer. The executive order appears to be stronger than legislation that has passed both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature, and which is now headed to Gov. Fallin’s office for gubernatorial approval. That bill, S.B. 676, would give the Attorney General Pruitt the authority to ensure that any state response to the “Clean Power” Plan complies with state and federal law.

Around the World

Heartland Briefings Bring Good News on Climate to Vatican
Marlo Lewis

On 28th April, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted a workshop titled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” to “raise awareness and build a consensus” among people of faith that human activity is causing catastrophic global warming. The program featured UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Sustainable Development Network, among other doomsayers.

To balance the Vatican’s one-sided conference, the Heartland Institute assembled a team of scientists and policy experts who conducted briefings in Rome, open to all media and the public, on 27th and 28th April. They respectfully urged Pope Francis not to align Catholic social teaching with an “unscientific climate agenda” that could “cause the suffering and even death of billions of people.”

Explained Heartland Institute President Joe Bast: “We are bringing the Vatican a message of truth for all with open ears. The science is not settled, and global warming is not a crisis. The world’s poor will suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners.”

At the Vatican workshop, noted skeptic blogger Marc Morano of Climate Depot asked Ban Ki-moon whether he had a message for the Heartland team. A security guard came over and whispered in Morano’s ear: “You have to control yourself or you will be escorted out of here.”

A compilation of the extensive media coverage and commentary on the Heartland briefings is available at “Tell Pope Francis Global Warming Is Not a Crisis!”  

United States and Japan Miss Green Climate Fund Deadline
Myron Ebell

The United States and Japan missed the 30th April deadline to convert their pledges to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) into signed contractual obligations.  President Barack Obama last fall pledged that the U. S. government would provide $3 billion over the next four years to the GCF.  Japan pledged $1.5 billion. 

Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France, Norway, and the Netherlands,  have signed agreements that set deadlines for when pledged grants will be paid.  These agreements now total nearly $4 billion of the $10.2 billion pledged.

There have been no indications that the U. S. Congress is going to agree to appropriate the money that the President pledged.  Ms. Hela Cheikhrouhou, the executive director of the GCF, told Reuters that turning the pledges into actual funds was “an essential ingredient of a successful agreement” at COP-21 in Paris in December.  That is because poorer developing countries are unlikely to undertake commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless those commitments are funded by the wealthier countries.

The real challenge will come in 2020 when the bill comes due for the deal that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama put together in December 2009 to keep COP-15 in Copenhagen from collapsing.  That deal centered around a promise from the developed countries that they would provide $100 billion annually in climate funds to developing countries beginning in 2020.  The fact that the GCF has so far only received commitments of $10 billion over several years is a clear indication that $100 billion a year is fantasy.  Hyperinflation is about the only thing that could make it possible.   

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Warming Trend Declines in UAH Satellite Record

On April 28, Roy Spencer, John Christy, and William Braswell of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Earth System Science Center released Version 6 (V.6) of their global satellite temperature dataset. The scientists describe the upgrade, which took three years to complete, as “by far the most extensive revision of the procedures and computer code we have ever produced in over 25 years of global temperature monitoring.”

Compared to the previous UAH dataset (V5.6), the most important change is a reduction in the global average lower-troposphere temperature trend from +0.140°C/decade to +0.114°C/decade (Dec. ’78 through Mar. ’15).

The revision is significant in two main respects. First, the UAH dataset now closely matches the Remote Sensing System (RSS) dataset, an independent satellite monitoring program, which shows no net warming since Dec. 1996.

Second, a warming trend of +0.114°C/decade is roughly what scientists would expect from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in a climate where positive and negative feedbacks exactly balance out. In other words, the updated UAH dataset is consistent with how the atmosphere should behave in a low-sensitivity climate.

Past is not always prologue, but if the trend in the revised UAH dataset holds, 21st-century warming should be limited to about one degree Celsius. At a minimum, the anemic warming of the past 36 years casts doubt on the big, scary warming projections popularized by the IPCC.

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,