Cooler Heads Digest 08 May 2015

8 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, May 11, 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, D.C. Learn more here.

In the News

Jerry Taylor’s “Conservative” Case for Carbon Tax Collapses after 36 Days
Robert Murphy, Institute for Energy Research, 7 May 2015

EPA Employee Watched Adult Films in Office on Take Your Kids to Work Day
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate, 7 May 2015

Industrial Scale Wind: A Net Loser, Economically, Environmentally, Technically, Civilly
Mary Kay Barton, Master Resource, 7 May 2015

Let’s Have a National Conservation on Fracking
Stephen Heins, Fortnightly, 7 May 2015

Is Ethanol a Green Fuel?
Marlo Lewis,, 6 May 2015

“Climate Anger”: Last Refuge of the Alarmists
Robert Bradley, Jr., Forbes, 6 May 2015

Fracking Fuels Top-Earning Graduates
Marnie Eisenstadt, Syracuse Post-Standard, 6 May 2015

Courts Must Stop EPA’s Brazen Overreach
Mike Duncan,, 5 May 2015

American Oil Production Is Up 53% Since 2010, But It’s Declining on Federal Lands (here’s why)
Patrick Tyrrell, Daily Signal, 5 May 2015

Why Does EPA Hate Texas?
Doug Domenech, The Federalist, 5 May 2015

Fracking Fearmongering: Another “Regulatory Science” Confirmation
Ronald Bailey, Hit & Run, 5 May 2015

News You Can Use
Happy 400 PPM!

For the first time since record keeping began, ambient air concentrations of carbon dioxide have surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) globally. We’d like only to note how much human progress was made possible by the energy use that has led to this milestone.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Executive Branch: EPA Sends Two Rules to OIRA for Secret White House Review

  • BNA’s Andrew Childers today reports that EPA’s “Carbon Pollution Standard” regulation has been sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for secret review by the White House. As proposed, the rule would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants by requiring the use of a technology (carbon capture and sequestration) that is exorbitantly expensive. However, rumor has it that EPA has significantly softened the rule, in recognition of the fact that the proposal was patently illegal. EPA is expected to promulgate the final regulation this summer.
  • In a similar vein, Politico Pro ($) on Wednesday broke the news that EPA has sent its final biofuel regulation to OIRA for secret White House review. By statute, EPA must set an annual Soviet-style production quota for ethanol. However, because the current administration is focusing all of EPA’s resources on climate change policy, the agency has been woefully behind on its non-discretionary duties such as its statutory responsibility to centrally plan the biofuel market. As a result, EPA is only now getting around to fixing demand for ethanol production—for 2014! EPA is expected to finalize the 2014 levels by November 30. Needless to say, EPA’s untimeliness roils the ethanol “market.” 

Legislative Branch: Sen. Murkowski Is Working on “Comprehensive” Energy Bill, Alas

Yesterday Senate Environmental & Public Works Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced her intention to try to pass the first comprehensive energy bill since the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. At this early stage, her hoped-for energy legislation has taken the unwieldy form of 17 draft bills, none of which is particularly consequential.

While I am a fan of Sen. Murkowski, and I appreciate her low-key approach, I am nonetheless wary of all comprehensive energy bills. If history is any guide, support will build for the measure only to the extent that individual lawmakers are afforded opportunities to engage in parochial politics. Remember that the 2007 energy bill gave us the awful ethanol mandate, the Energy Department’s green bank, and fuel efficiency mandates.

Rather than a legislating a grab bag of handouts, political favors, and progressive regulations, it would be far better if Congress were to focus its attentions on overseeing and reining in Obama’s leviathan administrative state and its suffocating energy policies.  

Judicial Branch: D.C. Circuit Ruling Demonstrates EPA Can’t Be Trusted to Keep Lights on

On Monday, a unanimous three judge panel on the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed EPA’s attempt to modify an air quality rule for small electric generators. The court's ruling in Delaware Department of Natural Resources v. EPA took EPA to task for the agency’s failure to consult with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the reliability impact of the rule.

The opinion has implications for Obama's marquee climate policy--a regulation known as the Clean Power Plan that would overhaul the electric industry in the name of achieving an imperceptible "improvement" in climate change. Critics of the Clean Power Plan long have argued that the agency has avoided reckoning with the profound reliability threats posed by the regulation. Monday’s ruling will serve to buttress the criticisms.

Across the States
William Yeatman

EPA’s Untimeliness Processing Clean Air Act SIPs Leads to Major Headaches for States

The Clean Air Act establishes a “cooperative federalism” regulatory regime, whereby EPA sets nationwide standards, and states are given the freedom to craft strategies, known as “state implementation plans” (SIPs) to meet these standards. Indeed, states spend years and thousands of work hours developing these SIPs for Clean Air Act compliance.

However, because the current administration is focusing all of EPA’s resources on climate change policy, the agency has been woefully behind on its non-discretionary duties such as its statutory responsibility to review state plans. According to reporting by InsideEPA ($), EPA currently estimates that there are 655 “backlogged” SIPs that exist in regulatory limbo.

EPA’s untimeliness is a major headache for state regulatory agencies, for two reasons:

  • It creates the conditions for “sue and settle” lawsuits between green special interests and EPA. (For more, see here or listen here.)
  • It also gives EPA the opportunity to change the rules of the game. Here’s how it works. First, a state submits a plan that is eminently approvable because it comports with the agency’s regulations and guidelines. Then, EPA will sit on the plan for years, during which time the agency will update its regulations and guidelines, and thereby change the rules of the game. Finally, EPA will hold the state’s SIP accountable to the agency’s updated interpretation (i.e., standards about which the state was necessarily unaware when they crafted their SIPs). (See here for more.)

Around the World
William Yeatman

Chinese Drivers Are Just Like American Drivers (We All Love Gas Guzzlers!)

Platts reports this week that the Chinese bought nearly 49 percent more gasoline-guzzling sports utility vehicles in the first quarter of 2015 compared with Q1 2014. It would appear that Chinese motorists, like their American counterparts, have reacted to the fall in oil prices by spurning fuel-efficient cars, climate be damned.

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,