Cooler Heads Digest 05 June 2015

5 June 2015


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. Registration is complete, but you can watch all events live here.

In the News

Elon Musk Tries To Defend His Companies Many Subsidies
Paul Chesser, National Legal & Policy Center, 5 June 2015

My Favorite Quotations on Energy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 5 June 2015

Manufacturing Alarm: Dana Nuccitelli’s Critique of John Christy
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 4 June 2015

An Immoral Food-to-Fuel Policy
H. Sterling Burnett, Washington Times, 4 June 2015

Wind Energy Ignores Bird Conservationists
James Conca, Forbes, 4 June 2015

The Obama Administration’s International Climate Pledge Doesn’t Add Up
Stephen Eule, Institute for 21st Century Energy, 3 June 2015

Coal Miners Union Announces Political & Legal Campaign against Clean Power Plan
Devin Henry, The Hill, 3 June 2015

Meet the People Getting Jilted by California’s High Speed Rail Boondoggle
Alexis Garcia, Reason Hit & Run, 3 June 2015

The Poor Need Affordable Energy
Iain Murray, The Freeman, 2 June 2015

How Europe’s Climate Policies Led to U.S. Deforestation
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 2 June 2015

Terrible News for Alarmists: The Sahara Is Getting Greener
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 2 June 2015

French Minister: 2015 Climate Talks Must Avoid U.S. Senate
Sylvie Corbet & Karl Ritter, AP, 1 June 2015

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

U.S. Chamber Analysis Finds “Gap” in Obama’s UN Climate Pledge

In the COP-21 climate treaty negotiations, the Obama administration has pledged to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Recent analysis by Stephen Eule of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy finds that the Obama administration’s current and proposed array of climate policies falls short of the target by about one-third.

The administration’s pledge, technically known as the U.S. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), includes nine current or prospective emission-reduction policies. The biggest single component, EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan, accounts for 640 million metric tons (MMT) or 35% of the total 1,789 MMT emission-reduction target. When all nine policies are combined, U.S. reductions still fall 590 MMT or 33% short of the goal.

Administration officials have not acknowledged there is a gap so haven’t said how they plan to plug it. Either Obama’s climate negotiators are bargaining with chips they don’t have, or the administration has cards (regulations) up its sleeve it hasn’t disclosed to Congress and the public.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Report on Fracking Fails To Find “Widespread, Systemic” Threats

After several years of making ominous sounds about the possibility that hydraulic fracturing could pollute groundwater, the Environmental Protection Agency on 4th June finally released a report that concludes that fracking does not have “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.” 

The EPA took five years to prepare the report, but most of that time was spent stalling in the hopes that something bad would turn up or be concocted.  Naturally, environmental pressure groups, which are usually happy to promote whatever junk science the EPA puts out, attacked the study for not being thorough enough.  For example, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said, “Unfortunately, the EPA chose to leave many critical questions unanswered.”  

Elon Musk’s SolarCity and Tesla Get $4.9 Billion in Government Handouts  

The Los Angeles Times reported on 31st May the results of its investigation of government subsidies received by companies controlled by billionaire Elon Musk. The total to date for Solar City, Tesla Motors, and Space X is $4.9 billion.

Musk would not speak to reporter Jerry Hirsch before the story appeared in the LA Times’s Sunday edition, but he did respond the next day in an interview on CNBC.  Musk did not dispute the $4.9 billion figure, but said that the subsidies were helpful but not necessary.  Musk then claimed that, “If you add up all the subsidies that SolarCity and Tesla get, it is 1/1000 of what the oil and gas industry get in a single year.”

This claim is based on a recent report from the International Energy Agency that global annual government subsidies to the oil and gas industry total $550 billion.  But that figure is highly misleading because most of that comes from gasoline sold at far-below-market prices in countries with nationalized oil industries, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  The IEA also includes not pricing greenhouse gas emissions as a subsidy.  Total U. S. federal government subsidies have been estimated by President Obama at $4.4 billion per year.  It should also be noted that the oil and gas industry produces tens of thousands of times more economic output than do Musk’s highly-capitalized companies. 

Hirsch quotes Dan Doley, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research: “[Musk] definitely goes where there is government money.  That's a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”  Well, it’s worked pretty good so far, and I don’t see any end in sight.

AEI Provides Forum for Senator Whitehouse To Promote His Carbon Tax Bill

The American Enterprise Institute, which claims that it is “committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise,” has invited Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to give a speech on 10th June on his legislation to create a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.  The event will take place from 2:30 to 4 PM EDT and can be viewed live on AEI’s web site here. It will also be posted for later viewing within 24 hours on the same web page.

Whitehouse’s appearance to promote his “American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act” is a high-level event.  AEI President Arthur C. Brooks will introduce the Senator.  After his speech, Benjamin Zycher of AEI and Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center will discuss it.  The moderator will be Kevin A. Hassett, AEI’s State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture and Director of Economic Policy Studies.  Zycher, who opposes carbon taxes, is the John G. Searle Chair.  Taylor supports carbon taxes. 

I find it both repugnant and curious that AEI would provide such a forum for Senator Whitehouse, who is one of the most anti-free enterprise and anti-big business Senators (and there is some stiff competition).  He joined Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in February in sending a letter to 100 energy companies and what they termed “climate denial organizations” demanding to know “whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution.”  AEI was one of the organizations listed as receiving the letter

The Washington Post on 30th May published an op-ed by Senator Whitehouse in which he suggested that coal, oil, and gas companies should be investigated for possible criminal prosecution under RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. This is the sort of man for whom AEI is providing a public forum.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

Top Federal Regulator: Clean Power Plan Usurps States’ Rightful Authority

At a meeting this week of energy regulators from western States, a top federal energy regulator warned that President Obama’s marquee climate plan, an EPA regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, threatens to usurp the states’ long-held, exclusive jurisdiction over retail electricity markets. As reported by Energy Wire ($), Tony Clark, a sitting Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that “EPA is asking states…to give EPA authority over things that it on its own in the Clean Air Act does not have authority to claim jurisdiction over… [and] what happens then is the administrator of EPA is really in charge of state energy policy.”

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Six Oil Majors Ask UN To Help Create Carbon Pricing System

Six major oil companies have written a letter to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, requesting to work with the UN and member governments to create a system to price carbon dioxide emissions. The companies are the BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, and Total. 

The letter states: “Therefore, we call on governments, including at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris and beyond to: introduce carbon pricing systems where they do not yet exist at the national or regional levels; [and] create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems.  To support progress towards these outcomes, our companies would like to open direct dialogue with the UN and willing governments.”

One of the reasons these companies are eager to put a price on CO2 emissions is that they own large reserves of natural gas.  Coal is beating out natural gas for new electric generation in Europe because it is much cheaper.  But since coal is also much more carbon intensive than gas, putting a price on carbon would raise the cost of burning coal much more than the cost of burning gas. 

Chevron CEO John Watson openly criticized the six companies: “For policymakers to have as the premise for their strategy to combat greenhouse gas emissions raising the cost of energy worldwide for the people who can least afford it is … not a policy that’s going to be effective because customers want affordable energy.”   Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said, “We did not sign that letter, and we don’t intend to.”

Papal Encyclical on Climate Change Will Be Released 18th June

Contrary to earlier reports, the Vatican Press Office this week announced that Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change will be released on 18th June.  The title will be Laudato Sii (Praised Be), which is from a line in Saint Francis of Assissi’s Canticle of Creatures: “Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day, and through whom you give us light.”  The irony of praising light when the global warming agenda is about turning out the lights has apparently escaped the Vatican. 

Climate Science Update
Marlo Lewis

NOAA Denies “Pause” Is Real: Skeptics Respond

The big news this week in climate science is a study by NOAA’s Tom Karl and colleagues, who find that “global [temperature] trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.”

In short, they argue that the warming “pause” is a statistical artifact.

Skeptics have penned rebuttals, several of which posted yesterday and today on Watts Up with That (WUWT). In a nutshell, the critics accuse NOAA of adjusting the data to fit the global warming narrative.

The list of skeptical reviews includes:

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,