Cooler Heads Digest 14 August 2015

14 August 2015

In the News

Matt Ridley vs. Environmentalist Cassandras
Bruce Walker, Power Blog, 14 August 2015

CO2-Induced Greening of the Earth
Craig Idso, Cato at Liberty, 14 August 2015

Rivers of Gold and Energy Poverty
David Kreutzer,, 14 August 2015

Barack Obama’s Quiet War on Oil
Elana Schor, Politico, 14 August 1015

Mark Steyn’s New Book on Michael Mann
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 13 August 2015

The War on Air Conditioning Heats Up
Sarah Skwire, The Freeman, 13 August 2015

Power Bias in EPA’s Power Plan Rule?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 12 August 2015

Industrial Wind v. Rural America, Electricity Markets
Mary Kay Barton, Master Resource, 12 August 2015

The War on Coal Is Just the Beginning
Peter Roff, U.S. News & World Report, 12 August 2015

What’s Next for the EPA’s All Pain No Gain Clean Power Plan?
Doug Domenech, Washington Examiner, 12 August 2015

Peak Oilers Shut Up Forever Please
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 11 August 2015

Obama’s Clean Power Plan: Solar Companies Win, Taxpayers Lose
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 10 August 2015

How California’s Green Policies Create Energy Poverty
Terry Jones, Investor’s Business Daily, 10 August 2015

News You Can Use
Peak Oil Thesis Belied

The Associated Press reports today that the price of oil has reached a 6 year low.

Inside the Beltway

Al Gore Hints at Presidential Run
William Yeatman

As reported by Buzzfeed, documentarian Al Gore’s inner circle is talking up a presidential run. I, for one, have got my fingers crossed he’ll take the plunge.

Across the States

AGs File Motion to Stay EPA Power Plan Rule
Marlo Lewis

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, joined by AGs from 15 other states, yesterday petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to place a stay on all compliance deadlines of EPA’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for existing power plants, the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), until all challenges to the rule’s legality have been resolved.

Normally, petitioners wait until a final rule is published in the Federal Register (FR) before filing motions to stay the rule. But, the AGs argue, the rule is plainly unlawful, harms states by forcing them to abandon low-cost coal generation, and EPA has not said when it will publish the rule in the FR.

“Equity dictates” that EPA should have tied states’ compliance deadlines to the date of FR publication. Instead, states must submit implementation plans by September 6, 2016 (or September 6, 2018 if granted an extension) regardless of when EPA publishes the rule.

Referring to EPA’s mercury rule, which petitioners successfully challenged but only after the rule shuttered coal power plants, the AGs warn that EPA can “use the uncertain gap between finalization and publication to squeeze practical compliance from regulated parties before judicial review can begin – a tactic strikingly similar to the one that EPA touted after its recent Supreme Court loss in Michigan v. EPA.”

Tom Steyer Makes a Fool of Himself
William Yeatman

Activist billionaire Tom Steyer is making no sense in California. Of late, he has been expressing outrage that “nefarious” oil companies are manipulating markets, resulting in California motorists having to pay almost a half-dollar more per gallon of gasoline than the average American. He has further intimated that he might sponsor a state ballot initiative to remedy this supposed problem. Steyer’s apparent concern for Californians’ pain at the pump is, of course, ridiculous in light of his long standing posture as a climate crusader. After all, the “solution” to global warming is higher energy prices, so Steyer logically should support pain at the pump. His irrationality aside, Steyer is also plain wrong. High gas prices in California have nothing to do with market manipulation by oil companies, and everything to do with the state’s wacky environmental policies. California’s cap-and-trade, for example, adds 10 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

Science Update

Will Corals Survive Global Warming and Ocean Acidification?
Marlo Lewis

Back in December 2012, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) ‘called out climate deniers’ in the first of many similarly-themed speeches on the Senate floor. I rebutted his remarks the next day on GlobalWarming.Org.

Among other accusations, Whitehouse claimed “deniers tend to ignore facts they can’t explain away.” He cited “the increasing acidification of the oceans,” which “is simple to measure and undeniably, chemically linked to carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. So we hear nothing about ocean acidification from the deniers.” 

My rebuttal noted that Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger discussed ocean acidification on their old Web site, World Climate Report. More importantly, Dr. Craig Idso maintains an extensive (and growing) ocean acidification database on CO2Science.Org, a leading skeptical Web site, and regularly posts reviews of scientific studies on the topic. So-called deniers actually have much to say about acidification. I advised Sen. Whitehouse to “check his facts before casting aspersions.”

This week on CO2Science.Org, Idso reviews eight recent empirical studies of the effects of ocean acidification and elevated sea temperatures on coral growth and calcification rates. Results from one of those studies should whet your appetite to read the entire review.

McCulloch et al. (2012) report that during calcification, aragonite corals secrete a calcifying fluid with typical pH values of 8.4 to 8.7 and as high as 10 – significantly less acidic (more basic) than typical seawater, which as has a pH of 8.1. Coral’s ability to adjust pH levels in the spaces between their skeleton and ectoderm makes them more resilient to ocean acidification than, for example, a lump of inorganic calcium. In addition, higher water temperatures enhance the “kinetics of calcification.”

Idso spotlights the implications for corals in the 21st century: “Projecting into the future with their experimentally-verified model, the four researchers assess the response of coral reefs to both global warming, with mean tropical sea surface temperatures ~ 2°C higher, and with PCO2 [dissolved CO2] increasing from present-day levels to ~1,000 ppm by the year 2100. And for this scenario, they report that their model predicts ‘either unchanged or only minimal effects on calcification rates.’ Thus, from a strictly chemical and kinetic perspective, their model indicates that ‘ocean acidification combined with rising ocean temperatures should have only minimal effects on coral calcification,’ which they describe as ‘a direct outcome’ of corals' ability to up-regulate pH at the site of calcification.

After reviewing all eight studies, Idso concludes: “Although, much remains to be learned on this subject, it is clear that many corals will not succumb to the presumed negative impacts of rising temperatures and ocean acidification. And when adaptive and evolutionary responses are considered, it may be that few, if any, corals will actually suffer harm from increases in these two phenomena. In fact, many coral species could well benefit from the warmer ocean temperatures and higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations predicted for the years and decades ahead.”

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,