On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, from noon to 1:00 PM, the Heritage Foundation will hold a panel on “The Social Cost of Carbon: A Controversial Tool for Misguided Policy,” featuring Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Heritage’s Kevin D. Dayaratna, CEI’s Marlo Lewis, Cato’s Pat Michaels, and hosted by Heritage’s David Kreutzer. RSVP or watch online.
On Thursday, June 25, 2015, from 4 to 5 PM, the Cato Institute will hold a discussion on “Air Farce: The EPA’s Regulatory “Science” on Airborne Particles,” featuring Steven J. Milloy, founder of JunkScience.com and moderated by Patrick J. Michaels, Director, Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute. RSVP or watch online.
In the News
EPA Funnels Grants to Supposedly Impartial Peer Reviewers
Kelly Riddell, Washington Times, 19 June 2015
Renewable Fuel Standard: Can EPA Regulate America beyond the “Blend Wall”?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 16 June 2015
EPA’s Clean Power Plan Would Do More Harm Than Good
Tom Pyle, Forbes, 15 June 2015
Sen. Mike Rounds: Scrutiny of EPA Is No “Witch Hunt”
Christopher Doering, USA Today, 15 June 2015
News You Can Use
Top Federal Energy Regulator: Letting EPA Plan the Grid Has “Unforeseen Consequences”
In an address this week to the PJM regional transmission organization, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller sounded a warning about the extent to which Obama’s top climate policy, the “Clean Power” Plan, puts EPA in charge of the electricity sector. According to EnergyWire ($), Moeller said, “Let's face it, we have air regulators planning the electricity grid, like it or not. And there's always going to be a lot of unforeseen consequences to that.”
Inside the Beltway
House and Senate Appropriations Committees Approve Bills That Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule
The House Appropriations Committee on 16th June passed its bill to fund the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency in Fiscal Year 2016, which begins on 1st October 2015. The bill authorizes $30.17 billion in total spending, which is $246 million less than the FY2015 level and $3 billion less than the Obama Administration requested. EPA funding is cut by $718 million.
The House Interior-EPA appropriations bill also contains several important riders that would block the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan, which would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, and the Waters of the U. S. rule. Amendments were adopted by the full committee to block the EPA’s ozone rule and the BLM’s rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.
Representative Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of the Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee, said: “This administration’s appetite for new regulations and disregard for Congress has left us little choice but to block the president’s overzealous regulatory agenda in this bill.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee on 18th June passed its FY2016 Interior-EPA bill on a straight party line vote of 16 to 14. The Senate bill authorizes $30.01 billion in spending and also includes riders to block the “Clean Power” Plan, the Waters of the U. S. rule, and the ozone rule. They added a prohibition on listing the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act. This is the first time the committee has marked up a spending bill for Interior and EPA since 2009. This is a result of the Republican takeover of the Senate in the 2014 elections.
Chairmen Bishop and Inhofe to EPA: You Forgot To Do an ESA Consultation on the Power Plant Rules
Representative Rob Bishop (R-Ut.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday, 15th June, that points out that the agency had proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without bothering to do an official consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service as required by section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The letter gives as one example of the consequences of ignoring the law the possible harm that may be done to endangered manatees by the EPA’s proposed rules. Manatees living near the Florida coast rely on warm water discharged from coal-fired power plants to survive during winter. The waters around Big Bend and Crystal River power plants have been officially designated by the Fish and Wildlife Service as warm-water manatee refugees as part of their ESA plan to save the manatee. The EPA’s proposed power plant rules are likely to force the closure of both these power plants.
EPA/NHTSA Propose Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas/Fuel Economy Regulations for Heavy-Duty Vehicles
On 19th June, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards for model years (MYs) 2021-2027 semi-trucks, large pickups and vans, and a wide assortment of occupational trucks and buses.
The proposal marks the start of Phase 2 of the agencies’ GHG/fuel economy program for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). In September 2011, the agencies adopted such standards for MYs 2014-2018 HDVs.
Today’s proposal weighs in at a hefty 1,329 pages, further explicated by a 789-page regulatory impact analysis (RIA). The agencies provide several shorter summaries. The heavy tomes, however, contain all the devilish details.
The agencies’ press release crows that the proposal will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. That may sound like an important contribution to climate protection. However, on page 6-45 of the RIA, the agencies estimate the rule will reduce global temperatures by 0.0026 to 0.0065 degrees C by 2100, and sea level by 0.009 to 0.022 inches – changes too small for scientists to distinguish from the ‘noise’ of natural climate variability.
The release further boasts the proposal will cut oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the program or “greater than a year’s worth of imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting (OPEC) Countries.” But on page 8-78 of the RIA we find that the “lifetime” is 30 years (2020-2050). So the proposal will cut annual OPEC imports, on average, by one-thirtieth. OPEC imports now account for only 9% of total U.S. petroleum consumption, so the energy security benefits of the rule (even making the dubious assumption that import dependence poses significant security risks) are similarly miniscule.
What then is the point? The agencies claim the rule will save truckers a bundle in fuel expenditures – $170 billion in lower fuel costs over the lifetime of the compliant vehicles. The agencies acknowledge that the rule will increase vehicle engine costs by $10,140 to $12,842. But they claim truckers will recoup the extra cost in fuel savings within two years.
This should immediately raise red flags. Trucking companies are in business to make money. As the agencies acknowledge, “Unlike light-duty vehicles – which are purchased and used mainly by individuals and households – the vast majority of HDVs are purchased and operated by profit-seeking businesses for which fuel costs represent a substantial operating expense” (Proposed Rule, p. 633). Indeed, for most truckers, fuel is by far the single biggest operating expense.
So, as in their Phase 1 rulemaking for MYs 2014-2018 HDVs, the agencies struggle (and, in my opinion, fail) to explain why truckers aren’t demanding and engine manufacturers aren’t producing trucks that deliver the projected fuel savings. The proposed rule implies that trucking companies don’t want to increase their profit margins and/or truck manufacturers don’t want to compete for their business.
This much is clear. The rule will yield little to no climate and energy security benefits. It will significantly increase the cost of new HDVs, making it harder for small and independently-owned trucking companies to compete in the freight hauling industry. It will strengthen EPA and NHTSA’s control over the transport sector. And it will be binding on the trucking industry through 2030 – long after Obama and his team leave office.
Around the World
Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical: Help Poor People by Dismantling Industrial Civilization
The Vatican released Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, on 18th June. It is, in general, scientifically ill-informed, economically illiterate, intellectually incoherent, and morally obtuse. It is also theologically suspect, and large parts of it are leftist drivel, albeit couched in the vocabulary of Catholic social teaching.
It has been reported that Vatican officials in the global warming debate want to make sure they do not put the Roman Catholic Church on the wrong side of science, as in the condemnation of Galileo in 1633 for believing that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Laudato Si’ fails to get the science right (see paragraphs 20 through 26), and although the Vatican can no longer prosecute heretics, Francis has no hesitation condemning those who oppose the alleged global warming consensus (see, for example, paragraph 54)…Read the whole thing at globalwarming.org.
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.