- The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week. Happy Independence Day.
- On Tuesday, 30th June, Noon to 1:30 PM, the Cato Institute will host a talk by Robert Bradley, Jr., editor of Master Resource, on “A History of Free Market Energy Thought.” Cato’s Patrick Michaels will moderate. RSVP or watch online here.
In the News
Apple’s New Top Lobbyist Has Bizarre History of Sock Puppeting
Ken Kurson, New York Observer, 26 June 2015
EPA Chief: Climate Skeptics Are Not “Normal People”
Tom Blumer, News Busters, 25 June 2015
How the Supreme Court’s Impending Ruling on Utility MACT Might Effect the Clean Power Plan
Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, 24 June 2015
Computer-Aided Sophistry: My Power Point on the Social Cost of Carbon
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 23 June 2015
Pope Francis on Climate Change: An Encyclical Failure
James Rust, Master Resource, 23 June 2015
New EPA Truck Regulations Won’t Help the Environment
Nicolas Loris, Daily Signal, 23 June 2015
Top 10 Things I Learned on a Trip to the Bakken Oil Fields
Mark Perry, AEIdeas, 22 June 2015
News You Can Use
Study: Upfront Costs of Energy Efficiency about Twice Actual Savings
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claims energy-efficiency programs provide States an easy, affordable way to comply with the Clean Power Plan and reduce consumer electric bills at the same time. A new study by UC Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers challenges EPA’s rosy assessment. In a survey of 30,000 households, the authors found –to their surprise – that the upfront costs of home weatherization exceed savings by about two to one. In their words: “The findings suggest that the upfront investment costs are about twice the actual energy savings. Further, the model-projected savings are roughly 2.5 times the actual savings. . . .Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits; the average rate of return is approximately minus 9.5% annually.”
Inside the Beltway
House Passes Bill To Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Regs, 247-180
The House of Representatives on 24th June passed H. R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, by a vote of 247 to 180. The bill would block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants until all judicial review is completed and would also allow state governors to opt out if they determine that the rule would raise electric rates or threaten electric reliability.
Eight Democrats joined 239 Republicans in voting for H. R. 2042, sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy subcommittee. Democrats voting Yes were Representatives Brad Ashford (Neb.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Henry Cuellar (Tex.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Az.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Terri Sewell (Ala.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Az.).
Four Republicans and 176 Democrats voted No: Republicans opposed were Representatives Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Chris Gibson (NY), and Frank LoBiondo (NJ). Four Democrats and two Republicans did not vote.
Some commentators have said that the vote is meaningless because the Senate is unlikely to muster the sixty votes necessary to pass the bill or something similar and even if it did, President Obama would veto it. I disagree. The vote is a strong rebuke to the Obama EPA’s power grab. It shows that a large majority supports the rider in the House’s Interior-EPA Appropriations bill that would also block the EPA’s power plant regulations. The Interior-EPA bill reached the House floor this week and will be voted on during the week of 5th July after Congress returns from its Independence Day recess.
The House vote also provides clear evidence to the international community that the Obama Administration’s commitment made under the forthcoming Paris Accord to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 has little political support and is therefore unlikely to be achieved.
RFS Repeal Bill Is Introduced
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has introduced S. 1584, a bill to repeal EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. A throwback to Soviet-era central planning, the RFS requires refiners, blenders, and fuel importers to sell annually-increasing volumes of biofuels. Sen. Cassidy’s one-page bill would repeal EPA’s statutory authority for the RFS program -- §211(o) of the Clean Air Act -- other related statutory references and authorities, and all associated EPA regulations.
Sen. Cassidy’s web site indicates that a major motivation for the bill is the costly environmental damage inflicted by the RFS on Louisiana tourism, recreation, and fisheries. Most U.S. biofuel is ethanol made from corn starch. Agricultural runoff from RFS-induced corn production expands the Gulf Coast dead zone – an oxygen-depleted area ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 square miles where aquatic life cannot survive.
Across the States
Federal Judge Temporarily Delays BLM’s New Fracking Rule
Federal District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on 23rd June issued a stay that temporarily halts the Bureau of Land Management from implementing a new rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The rule was scheduled to go into effect the next day.
Judge Skavdahl’s reason for the stay was that the BLM had not yet published the official administrative record that includes its responses to public comments and details of how the rule was written. The judge said that once the administrative record was filed, he would give both sides seven days to respond and then would rule within two weeks on whether to issue an injunction to suspend the rule until litigation is completed.
The judge agreed with the Western Energy Alliance and other plaintiffs that there is credible evidence that the rule could do serious financial harm to oil and gas producers on federal lands. According to the Casper Star Tribune, “North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said about 99% of all the wells that would be covered by the federal rule are already regulated by the states.”
Indiana Rejects “Clean Power” Plan
Indiana Governor Mike Pence this week sent an open letter to President Obama informing him that Indiana would not comply with EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan as proposed. In the letter, Pence correctly noted that the “ill-conceived and poorly constructed” regulation exceeds EPA’s authority. Indiana becomes the second State, after Oklahoma, to pre-emptively refuse compliance with the “Clean Power” Plan as proposed.
EPA’s Bogus Climate Policy Health Report
EPA this week released Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action. As summarized by the agency’s press release, the 96-page report “compares two future scenarios: a future with significant global action on climate change, where global warming has been limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and a future with no action on climate change (where global temperatures rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit). The report then quantifies the differences in health, infrastructure and ecosystem impacts under the two scenarios, producing estimates of the costs of inaction and the benefits of reducing global GHG emissions.”
Predictably, EPA concludes the costs of “inaction” dramatically outweigh those of “action.” I have not worked through the report in detail, but the key selling points strain credulity.
To begin with, there is no good reason to suppose that, absent “global action,” global temperatures will increase by 9°F (5°C). Over the past 36 years, the lower troposphere (roughly 0-25,000 feet) has warmed at a rate of 0.114°C/decade, according to the latest University of Alabama in Huntsville satellite temperature record (UAH6.0). The 36-year rate is at or below the low end of three of the IPCC’s four global warming projections for the 21st Century, known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs). It’s also right smack dab in the middle of the IPCC’s lowest projection (RCP2.6), which assumes a 70% reduction in cumulative global GHG emissions between 2010 and 2100. The warming rate in recent decades is already as low as EPA assumes is possible only through “global action.”
EPA claims that limiting global warming to 2°C would “avoid an estimated 12,000 deaths annually associated with extreme temperatures in 49 U.S. cities, compared to a future with no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” But only about 2,000 U.S. residents die each year from all forms of extreme weather, with about 31% attributed to exposure to extreme heat and 63% attributed to exposure to extreme cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So currently about 620 annual U.S. deaths are heat-related, and U.S. heat-related mortality has been declining, decade-by-decade, since the 1960s, despite rising urban summer air temperatures. The reason is people aren’t dumb. When hot weather becomes more frequent they adapt, reducing their vulnerability to hot weather. There is no reason to believe such progress will not continue.
EPA claims global action would “avoid approximately 13,000 deaths in 2050 and 57,000 deaths annually in 2100 from poor air quality.” That is sheer conjecture and unverifiable due to the huge noise-to-signal ratio. The 13,000 deaths EPA claims could be avoided in 2050 is less than one-thousandth of the 56 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Moreover, as EPA surely knows, U.S. air pollution emissions and concentrations keep declining despite global warming. Long before 2100, most of the world’s air pollution problems will likely have been solved absent “global action” on climate change.
Sadly, carbon reduction policies could hold back progress in combating the world’s deadliest air pollution – indoor smoke inhalation in countries that lack access to reliable, affordable, fossil energy.
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.