Cooler Heads Digest 08 January 2016

8 January 2016

In the News

Climate Exaggeration
Rep. Lamar Smith, Washington Examiner, 7 January 2016

My Bet Against Electric Cars
Charles Lane, Washington Post, 7 January 2016

Kemper Power Plant Could Face More Delays
Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog, 7 January 2015  

Advisors Tell EPA To Change ‘Systemic’ Fracking Findings Based on ‘Outliers’
Katie Brown, Energy In Depth, 7 January 2015

Munich Re: El Nino and Global Warming Make Natural Disasters Less Expensive
Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, 6 January 2016

SolarCity and the Silver Spoon
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 5 January 2016

Colorado Environmentalists Propose Ballot Measures To Ban Fracking
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 6 January 2016

Is Solar Power Really Renewable—and Free?
Roy Cordato, Master Resource, 5 January 2016

How the National Solar Lobby Passed the Investment Tax Credit
Stephen Lacey, Greentech Media, 4 January 2016

Obama’s Energy Record: Markets Beat Government
Kennedy Maize, Power Magazine, 1 January 2016

Unnatural Consensus on Climate Change
Judith Curry, Financial Post, 30 December 2016

Climate Models Have Been Wrong About Global Warming for Six Decades
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 28 December 2016

How Exxon Mobil and Sierra Club Conspired To Enact Carbon Tax in 2009
Eric Roston, Bloomberg News, 22 December 2016

2016 Presidential Candidates on the “Clean Power” Plan
League of Conservation Voters, 14 December 2016

News You Can Use
More Warmest Year Blather    

Heritage Foundation energy and climate economist David Kreutzer concisely explains why we shouldn’t be concerned if 2015 was the second hottest year on record, as NOAA claims.  Satellite and weather balloon data clearly show a deceleration in atmospheric warming over the past 19 years compared to the 1980s and ’90s.  The climate models on which disaster forecasts depend overestimate observed warming by 200 to 300 percent.  NOAA and IPCC data show no long-term increase in hurricanes, floods, and droughts.  For additional commentary, see “Warmest Year Blather – A Distraction from the Big Picture by Marlo Lewis.

Inside the Beltway
Marlo Lewis

Department of Energy Finalized 13 Efficiency Standards in 2015

The Department of Energy (DOE) finalized 13 energy-efficiency standards last year including four standards after Christmas. The standards are part of President Obama’s “climate action plan,” which seeks via energy-efficiency measures to reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3 billion tons by 2030.

On December 17, DOE announced new efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners and furnaces. DOE boasts that over the lifetime of the products, business will save $167 billion on their utility bills.

Color me skeptical. If equipment meeting the standards is as profitable to businesses as DOE claims, cost-conscious buyers will demand it and profit-seeking manufacturers will produce it. Much of the projected savings will occur anyway absent the standards.

Alternatively, if demand for the equipment would not exist apart from the standards, that is a sign most firms regard other investments as more lucrative or that they doubt DOE’s estimate of how much compliant equipment will cost or how well it will perform.

Unsurprisingly, end users do not appear to have had much input. The air conditioner and furnace standards are the product of a negotiated rulemaking undertaken by the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC). As described by DOE, ASRAC members include “the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute and Air Conditioning Contractors of America, along with some of the nation’s leading manufacturers, utilities, and efficiency organizations.”  

After Christmas, ASRAC also finalized energy-efficiency standards for new commercial and industrial water pumps, beverage vending machines, residential boilers, and commercial pre-rinse spray valves.

For those interested in the details of all six standards, see this post by Lauren Urbanek of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the organizations that participated in the negotiated rulemaking.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Solar Companies Pull Out of Nevada After Subsidies Are Cut

Two major solar panel installation companies announced this week that they will pull out of Nevada as a result of the state Public Utilities Commission’s decision last month to lower rates paid to retail customers for excess power produced by their rooftop solar panels and to raise monthly service charges.  SolarCity is cutting 550 jobs, and Sunrun’s pullout will cause “hundreds of job losses.”

The Nevada PUC voted 3-0 on 22nd December to reduce over five years the net metering rate paid for electricity provided by rooftop solar panels from the retail to the wholesale price.  This translates into a cut of approximately 75%.  In addition, the PUC increased the monthly service charge for hooking up solar panels to the grid. 

According to the Las Vegas Sun, “The PUC’s position in the order is that higher bills are being paid by nonsolar users to provide “hidden subsidies” for those with solar panels. The PUC said solar users in Southern Nevada have been getting an annual subsidy of about $623. The subsidy for solar users in Northern Nevada is about $471.”

What is unusual about the subsidy cuts is that they are being applied retroactively to customers who have already installed solar panels.  Most rooftop solar installations are made under long-term contracts in which houseowners pay back the cost of the solar panels over ten to twenty years from their electric sales back to the grid. 

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by Congress last month and signed by President Obama contains a five-year extension of federal subsidies for solar power.  (If you’re interested in how the solar lobby did it, see this article.)  If rooftop solar isn’t economic even with the federal solar investment tax credit in Las Vegas, then it’s hard to see where it might pay for itself.  Nonetheless, solar boosters have already started their annual round of ridiculous claims that solar is now cheaper than electricity produced from conventional sources.  Here is an example    

California Governor Jerry Brown Proposes To Spend Cap-n-Tax Loot To Cut Gasoline Use

California Governor Jerry Brown announced on 7th January as part of the rollout of his 2016-17 budget proposals to the state legislature that $1 billion of revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions be spent on programs to reduce use of petroleum products by Californians.  Most of the money would be spent on mass transit projects and subsidies for purchasing zero-emissions vehicles.

In September, the California Air Resources Board voted 9-0 to require a 10% reduction in the carbon content of transportation fuels by 2020.  This decision came immediately after the legislature removed a provision from a major climate bill, SB 350, to require a 50% cut in petroleum use by 2030.  Governor Brown signed the bill, but warned that he would take regulatory actions to reduce gasoline and diesel use in cars and trucks.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

TransCanada Files $15 Billion NAFTA Claim on President Obama’s Denial of Keystone Pipeline Permit

TransCanada Corporation on 6th January filed a notice of intent to file a claim for “more than $15 billion in costs and damages” caused by President Barack Obama’s 6th November decision to deny a trans-border permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline on the grounds that it violates the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994. At the same time, TransCanada filed suit in federal court in Houston that claims that the President’s action is unconstitutional.

The NAFTA claim argues that TransCanada “had every reason to expect its application would be granted as the application met the same criteria the U.S. State Department applied when approving applications to construct other similar cross-border pipelines - including the existing Keystone pipeline, which was approved in under two years, in contrast with the seven years the Administration took to make a decision on Keystone XL.”

The court filing argues that the President’s decision usurps Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.  Congress in February 2015 passed a bill to permit the pipeline, which President Obama vetoed.  The filing also points to the fact that the President’s decision was not based on the State Department’s exhaustive studies, which found no environmental or other grounds for denying the permit, but instead was based on political calculation.  In his 6th November statement, the President gave this as his reason for blocking the pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U. S. Gulf: “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change.  And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

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,