Cooler Heads Digest 15 January 2016

15 January 2016

In the News

The Buzz on Alex and Global Warming
Patrick Michaels & Chip Knappenberger, Cato at Liberty, 15 January 2016

Groups Defending Power Plan Rule Secretly Talked with EPA, Emails Show
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 15 January 2016

Climate Alarmists Invent a New Excuse: The Satellites Are Lying
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 15 January 2016

Michael Mann Turns His Back on Peer Review
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 15 January 2016

COP 21’s Shared Narrative Under Attack by Left
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 14 January 2016

EPA Ploughs Ahead with $9.6 BillionMercury Rule, Despite Supreme Court’s Concerns
Susan Dudley, Forbes, 14 January 2016

Why Big Oil’s Crony Bid To Tax Carbon Will Hurt Your Family
Ken Blackwell, Washington Examiner, 14 January 2016

Under Scrutiny, Stanford Professor Deletes Data on Green Jobs Paper
Steve Everley, Energy in Depth, 13 January 2016

President May Have Exaggerated Role of Stimulus in Clean Energy, Experts Say
Coral Davenport & Diane Cardwell, New York Times, 13 January 2016

“No Extinctions”: Polar Bears Survived Periods When the Arctic Had No Ice
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 11 January 2016

News You Can Use
Next Ice Age Averted by Global Warming

Anthropogenic global warming has "canceled the next ice age," according to a study published this week in the science journal Nature.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Obama’s Interior Department Suspends New Coal Leases on Federal Lands for Three Years While Conducting Review of Program

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on 15th January signed secretarial order 3338, which suspends new coal leases on federal lands while a three-year review of the BLM’s coal leasing program is conducted.  How to account for the so-called “Social Cost of Carbon” will almost certainly be a major focus.

Secretary Jewell also announced that some “good government reforms” have already been decided; these include “establishing a publicly available database to account for the carbon emitted from fossil fuels developed on public lands.”  Note that this database will include carbon dioxide emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands as well as coal production.    

The review will take the form of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and “will .whether and how the program may be improved and modernized to foster the orderly development of BLM administered coal on federal lands in a manner that gives proper consideration to the impact of that development on important stewardship values, while also offering a fair return to the American public.” 

The process will begin with “public sessions in early 2016 to help determine the precise scope of the review.”  Stage one will conclude with an interim report before President Obama leaves office in January 2017.  The final PEIS is expected to be completed within three years.

According to the secretarial order, as of the 2014 fiscal year, the “BLM administered 310 coal leases, encompassing 475,692 acres in 10 States, with an estimated 7.75 billion tons of recoverable federal coal reserves.”  Approximately 40 percent of U. S. coal production comes from federal leases.  Eighty-five percent of federal coal production comes from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana Federal coal produces approximately 14 percent of U. S. electricity and accounts for approximately 10 percent of U. S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Federal land in Wyoming produces more coal than federal land in Montana, but reserves in Montana are much larger.  Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) were among the leading promoters of re-authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is used to buy private land and turn it into federal land.  The Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December includes a three-year LWCF re-authorization and doubles the appropriation for FY 2016 over FY 2015 to $450 million.  That was even $50 million more than President Obama had requested. 

Both Sen. Daines and Rep. Zinke have made numerous statements supporting the LWCF and more federal land acquisition in Montana, which is already 30% federally owned.  Given their boosterism of socialized land ownership, it will be interesting to see how these two Republicans respond to the Department of the Interior’s three-year moratorium on coal leasing and the PEIS of the leasing program.         

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Do Melting Icebergs Combat Global Warming?

Grant R. Bigg and two colleagues at the University of Sheffield in the UK appear to have discovered a negative warming feedback in Antarctica. The causal chain runs as follows. (1) Global warming (supposedly) accelerates the calving of giant icebergs (longer than 18Km) in Antarctica. (2) As the icebergs move and melt, they deposit iron and other micronutrients in the Southern Ocean. (3) The nutrients fertilize phytoplankton, producing immense algae blooms up to 1,000 km in length. (4) The algae consume carbon dioxide (CO2). (5) When the algae and organisms that eat them die, they sink to the ocean bottom, sequestering CO2 that would otherwise enter the atmosphere.

The Southern Ocean is thought to be responsible for 10% of total oceanic carbon sequestration worldwide. Biggs and his colleagues estimate that phytoplankton fertilization by giant icebergs account for up to one-fifth of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. They opine: “If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important than we previously thought.” For more information about the study, see this post on WattsUpWithThat.

What are the policy implications? Many ocean areas are nutrient poor. In a 1998 paper written for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, atmospheric scientist S. Fred Singer discussed a small-scale experiment indicating that “the growth of phytoplankton can be dramatically increased by the addition of minute quantities of inorganic iron to surface water.” Singer argued for a “large-scale demonstration to prove the technical and economic feasibility of lowering the atmospheric CO2 content at a fraction of the cost now contemplated for emissions reduction.” He concluded: “While it may never be necessary to reduce atmospheric CO2, it will be comforting to know that we have the technical capability to do so.”

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,