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Entries in CEI (1352)

Monday
Oct062014

CEI Today: Obamacare news, Big Wind's waning appeal, self-driving cars, and more 

Monday, Oct. 6, 2014
In the News Today

 

OBAMACARE IN COURT - SAM KAZMAN  

News in Halbig v. Burwell

 

On Friday, the plaintiffs (appellants) in a major Obamacare lawsuit, Halbig v. Burwell, filed their opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. The court is rehearing the case en banc after a three-judge panel of the court invalidated the IRS Obamacare rule at issue on July 22. At the government’s request, the entire 13-judge court will reconsider that ruling. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 17.

At issue is an IRS rule that, contrary to the language of the statute, attempts to extend health insurance subsidies and mandates in states that chose not to set up Obamacare exchanges.

"As ouropening brief makes clear, the IRS rule is an agenda-driven attempt to evade the restrictions built into Obamacare by Congress," said Sam Kazman, CEI General Counsel. "Even the Fourth Circuit, which ruled against us in the King case, acknowledged we had the stronger argument regarding the text of the law. Now the strength of our argument is underscored by two new developments, both of which are cited in today’s brief. One is the new ruling of the Oklahoma district court, the other the recently unearthed statement by Prof. Jonathan Gruber that flatly contradicts many of our opponents’ contentions."


> Read more
about the lawsuit at cei.org/obamacare.


> Interview Sam Kazman

 

BIG WIND - MYRON EBELL

Big Wind Encounters Turbulence in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas

 

Wind farms are becoming politically controversial in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Republicans in the Kansas legislature tried to repeal the state’s renewable energy mandate earlier this year, but the bill was narrowly defeated by strong opposition from Gov. Brownback and the wind industry. The governor now says that while he supports the wind industry in Kansas, he thinks it has matured sufficiently so that the state’s 20% by 2020 renewable mandate can be repealed or modified. > Read more


> Interview Myron Ebell

 

 


 

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Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield
CEI Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow

 





 

Saturday
Oct042014

Cooler Heads Digest 03 October 2014 

3 October 2014

In the News

Democratic Leaders, an Industry Lobby, and a Nonprofit Walk into an Election
Timothy Carney, Washington Examiner, 3 October 2014

Enron: RFK Jr.’s Corporate Climate Champion
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 October 2014

RFK Jr.’s Absurd Attack on the Koch Brothers
Larry Kudlow, CNBC, 1 October 2014

Let’s Find out How Much “Clean Power” the Feds Really Have
Brian Potts & David Zoppo, Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2014

U.S. Professor: Blame Climate Change for Islamic State
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 1 October 2014

Google’s Climate Name Calling
Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 30 September 2014

The Logic in Exporting U.S. Oil
Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, 28 September 2014

Rockefeller Fund’s Fossil Fuel Dump Namesake
Stephen Moore & Kathleen Hartnett-White, Investor’s Business Daily, 26 September 2014

News You Can Use
Quietest Atlantic Hurricane Season Since 1986

September is normally the peak of the hurricane season, but it ended this week having occasioned only two named storms. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, this is the quietest Atlantic hurricane season since 1986.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Washington Post Discovers Connection Between Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Activity

The Washington Post’s coverage of climate change issues seldom connects to reality.  But at the end of a week that started with the 120,000-person strong People’s Climate March and peaked with the all-day United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, the Post ran a story on Saturday, 27th September, that explicitly links rising U. S. greenhouse with economic growth.  A front-page, top-left story by Joby Warrick was headlined, “Carbon Output Rises in U. S.”  The sub-head told the story: “Turn in greenhouse gas emissions coincides with economic recovery.”  The article is available online here with a different headline and no sub-headline. 

Correlation is of course not necessarily causation, but Warrick was clear that there is a causal link: “The higher emissions are primarily a reflection of a rebounding economy, as U.S. businesses burned more gas and oil to meet higher demand.”  This may be a minor recognition of reality in the establishment media, but I think we have to take progress where we can find it.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Big Wind Encounters Turbulence in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas

According to an excellent article by Sean Murphy of the Associated Press in Oklahoma, wind farms are becoming politically controversial in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. In the past decade, wind energy in Oklahoma has increased from 113 windmills in three projects to 1,700 windmills in 30 projects.

Murphy writes: “A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace, envisioning a bright future for an industry that would offer cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for large landowners, especially in rural areas with few other economic prospects.  To ensure the opportunity didn’t slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks.”

However: “But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms…. Opposition is also mounting about the loss of scenic views, the noise from spinning blades, the flashing lights that dot the horizon at night and a lack of public notice about where the turbines will be erected.”

While “the growing cost of the subsidies could decimate state funding for schools, highways and prisons,” the political establishment in Oklahoma is just starting to wake up to the problems that result from creating a new special interest funded by government largesse.  “With the rapid expansion came political clout. The industry now has nearly a dozen registered lobbyists working to stop new regulations and preserve generous subsidies that are expected to top $40 million this year.”

When Sam Brownback, now governor of Kansas, served in the U. S. Senate, he was the chief Republican sponsor of legislation to create a federal renewable energy mandate and strongly supported the federal wind production tax credit.  He is now in a tough re-election race and recently softened his enthusiasm for Big Wind in order to try to win back part of his disgruntled Republican base.  Republicans in the state legislature tried to repeal Kansas’s renewable energy mandate earlier this year, but the bill was narrowly defeated by strong opposition from Brownback and the wind industry. 

Governor Brownback now says that while he supports the wind industry in Kansas, he thinks it has matured sufficiently so that the state’s 20% by 2020 renewable mandate can be repealed or modified.  But Kansas not only has a renewable mandate.  It also provides permanent property tax exemptions for windmills. 

Oklahoma does not have a renewable energy mandate, but offers generous tax credits and a five-year exemption from local property taxes.  Both Oklahoma and Kansas compensate local counties and school districts for their lost property tax revenue.

Last week’s Digest included a link to an op-ed by Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, titled, “Time for Wind To Stand on Its Own.”  It was based on a report she released, Texas Power Challenge, which concludes that Texas’s renewable energy mandate is undermining the reliability of the state’s electricity supply during periods of peak demand in the summer months. Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, wrote a post on GlobalWarming.org in 2012 that discovers similar problems with wind in Oklahoma.

Judge Upholds EPA Retroactive Veto of WV Mine Permit
William Yeatman

On September 30th, D.C. Federal District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson upheld EPA’s 2011 retroactive veto of a Clean Water Act permit issued to Arch Coal for the Spruce Fork mine in Logan County, West Virginia. This is the latest in the legal saga involving EPA’s controversial decision to revoke the permit after it had been issued.

In March, 2013, Judge Berman Jackson found that EPA did not have the authority to retroactively veto a Clean Water Act permit, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. After the Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal of the D.C. Circuit’s decision, it became settled law that EPA does indeed have the authority to revoke a Clean Water Act ‘dredge and fill’ permit at any time.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the D.C. Circuit’s reversal, the case returned to Judge Jackson Berman, in order for her to determine whether EPA lawfully exercised its newfound authority. In a 50 page ruling rendered Tuesday, she found EPA’s reasons for issuing the veto were not “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore lawful.

It’s an unfortunate outcome that will likely be appealed. As I explain in this study, EPA claimed that salamanders, fish, and birds would be harmed, but, in fact, the agency produced evidence only that the proposed surface coal mine would harm a short-lived insect, the Mayfly, which isn’t even an endangered species. For this, EPA killed a project that would have created 250 well paying jobs.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Yet Another Study Finds Low Climate Sensitivity

There are three overarching issues in UN IPCC science reports: (1) detection (is global warming occurring?), (2) attribution (if so, what’s causing it?), and (3) climate sensitivity (how much warming will result from a given increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations?).

Detection was an unresolved question until 1998, when the Remote System Sensing (RSS) team discovered an orbital decay-induced spurious cooling in the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) satellite record. The UAH scientists corrected their record, the weather balloon record was also revised, and surface temperature records also indicated warming, so all three data sources showed a warming trend. Only at that point did global (as distinct from urban or local) warming become a “fact” — a trend confirmed by multiple independent observations. But then, irony of ironies, global warming plateaued in the RSS record, and “the pause” has persisted for nearly 18 years.

Attribution of some non-negligible portion of recent warming to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is acknowledged today by most scientists, but for years climate campaigners claimed greater certainty than the scientific evidence warranted. The IPCC’s First Assessment Report (1990) stated: “The size of the warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural variability. Thus the observed increase could be largely due to this natural variability….The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not likely for a decade or more.”

The IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (1995) famously concluded: The “balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” Note too that even this iconic formulation is not an assertion of fact, only an assessment of what is suggested by the “balance of evidence.” One might say “the science” on attribution finally caught up with what climate campaigners zealously believed but often falsely asserted as “settled.”

Ever since the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), the heart of the scientific debate has been about climate sensitivity. This is also the key scientific issue for public policy. Sensitivity estimates chiefly determine how much warming is predicted for the 21st century and beyond. Scary climate impact scenarios assume climate sensitivities of 3°C and more for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations above pre-industrial levels.

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger keep a running tab on studies since 2011 that find lower climate sensitivity than IPCC AR4’s best estimate of 3°C for doubled CO2. Their list as of February 2014 contained 18 studies.

Recently, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and independent UK researcher Nick Lewis published a study that arguably presents the most substantial challenge yet to high-end warming projections.

Although “the pause” and the associated growing divergence between models and observations is the impetus for some recent research on sensitivity, Curry and Lewis debunk claims that lower sensitivity estimates depend on the pause, which might be a short-term effect of natural variability.

In a nutshell, Curry and Lewis estimate equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS – the long-term warming effect of CO2 doubling) and transient climate response (TCR – the warming effect of CO2 doubling over a 70-year period) by comparing average global temperature and IPCC heat accumulation estimates for two periods: a base period of 1859-1882 and a final period of 1995-2011. As described on Curry’s blog:

“Our paper derives ECS and TCR estimates using the AR5 [IPCC Fifth Assessment Report] forcing and heat uptake estimates and uncertainty ranges. The analysis uses a global energy budget model that links ECS and TCR to changes in global mean surface temperature (GMST), radiative forcing and the rate of ocean heat uptake between a base and a final period.”

Here’s the bottom line. Whereas the “best estimates” for ECS and TCR in AR4 were 3°C and 2°C, respectively, Curry and Lewis’s mid-range estimates are 1.64°C and 1.33°C.

If those had been the IPCC’s sensitivity estimates since 1990, would policymakers even be debating global warming today?

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.

Friday
Oct032014

CEI Today: Fannie Motors, Moody's public pensions report, Obamacare ruling, and more 

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014
In the News Today

 

PUBLIC PENSIONS - IVAN OSORIO

Moody’s $2 Trillion Public Pension Shortfall Estimate Highlights Need for Better Pension Accounting Practices

 

In a new report, Moody’s estimates the nation’s largest pension funds face a $2 trillion taken together. That’s a lot of money. But as significant as the size of the deficit is Moody’s criticism of how many pension funds have been managed, and pension fund’s reporting of their own liabilities. > Read more


> Interview Ivan Osorio

 

FANNIE MOTORS - JOHN BERLAU

Washington Free Beacon: Subprime Loans Are Back Thanks to GM

 

The banks may enjoy short-sighted profits as more cars leave the lots, but the system could come crashing down if borrowers begin to default. The trend of risky lending practices began with bailed-out GM.
 

The increase in securitization has coincided with GM’s acquisition of AmeriCredit, one of the nation’s largest subprime auto lenders, which it renamed GM Financial (GMF).
 

“It’s becoming Fannie Motors,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute finance scholar John Berlau. “They’re still using our tax dollars to break into exotic and money-losing propositions from Chevy Volts to subprime loans, both of which could literally and figuratively blow up in their faces.” > Read more

> Interview John Berlau

 

OBAMACARE RULING - SAM KAZMAN  

 

A federal court in Oklahoma ruled on Tuesday that IRS subsidies under Obamacare are illegal in states that didn't set up exchanges. CEI general counsel Sam Kazman commented on the ruling:


"Today's ruling by the federal district court in the Oklahoma Obamacare case is extremely encouraging. We are also pleased the court cited the Jonathan Gruber video, which CEI played a large role in publicizing, featuring Gruber's admission that, under the Affordable Care Act as written, states opting out of coverage would not receive federal subsidies." 


> Interview Sam Kazman
 

More in the news...

 

Can Europe Move Past Its Economic Malaise?

Are Consumers Smart Enough to Understand Airline Ancillary Fees?

 

New Mexico Workers and Industry Would Benefit from Right to Work - See more at: http://workplacechoice.org/#sthash.04F3Iq2B.dpuf
 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield Selected as CEI’s Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow

 Read more

 

 





 

Friday
Oct032014

CEI Today: Net neutrality misdeeds, a decline in driving?, and Obamacare to the Supreme Court? 

Friday, Oct. 3, 2014
In the News Today

 

DECLINE IN DRIVING? - MARC SCRIBNER

Is Driving to Work in Decline?

 

Between 2007 and 2013, the share of Americans driving to work alone actually increased. But over at The Washington Post's Wonkblog, urban affairs reporter Emily Badger has a post up on the recently released U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2013 commuting data. The title of the post, "The share of Americans driving to work is declining for the first time in decades," seems to suggest that a smaller share of commuters are driving themselves to work. > Read more


> Interview Marc Scribner

 

NET NEUTRALITY - RYAN RADIA

Computer World: FCC accused of helping net neutrality advocates file comments

 

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission engaged in the worst kind of "partisan politics" by working closely with net neutrality advocates to ensure their comments were filed with the agency, but not extending the same courtesy to the other side, a coalition of groups opposed to the regulations said in a sharply worded letter to the agency. > Read more


> Interview Ryan Radia

 

OBAMACARE IN COURT - SAM KAZMAN  

 

Indianapolis Star: Supreme Court could hear challenges to Obamacare


Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which coordinated and funded the challenges from Virginia and D.C., said it would be better for the Supreme Court to settle the issue sooner rather than later. One reason is that the penalties for large employers that don’t offer health insurance to workers begin next year.


“You have literally millions of employees and thousands of employers who have to make plans based on that,” Kazman said. “The longer it is before we get a final resolution, the more those plans have been set and the more subsidies of questionable legality will have been distributed to people purchasing through the exchanges.” > Read more


> Interview Sam Kazman
 

More in the news...

 

Can Europe Move Past Its Economic Malaise?

Are Consumers Smart Enough to Understand Airline Ancillary Fees?

 

New Mexico Workers and Industry Would Benefit from Right to Work - See more at: http://workplacechoice.org/#sthash.04F3Iq2B.dpuf
 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield Selected as CEI’s Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow

 Read more

 

 





 

Wednesday
Oct012014

CEI Today: Obamacare ruling in Oklahoma, 1982 Tylenol anniversary, driverless car event, and more 

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
In the News Today

 

OBAMACARE RULING - SAM KAZMAN  

 

A federal court in Oklahoma ruled on Tuesday that IRS subsidies under Obamacare are illegal in states that didn't set up exchanges. CEI general counsel Sam Kazman commented on the ruling:


"Today's ruling by the federal district court in the Oklahoma Obamacare case is extremely encouraging. We are also pleased the court cited the Jonathan Gruber video, which CEI played a large role in publicizing, featuring Gruber's admission that, under the Affordable Care Act as written, states opting out of coverage would not receive federal subsidies." 


> Interview Sam Kazman
 

THE 1982 TYLENOL SCARE - MICHELLE MINTON

Cyanide, Tylenol and How Free Markets Make You Safer

 

This week is the anniversary of one of the most significant food and drug related events in recent memory. Often discussed in college business classes these days, the 1982 Tylenol poisonings is usually heralded as the prime example of how companies should handle a consumer relations disaster. However, it is also a shining example of how the market itself—acting to protect its customers and thus its profits—can improve public safety. > Read more


> Interview Michelle Minton

 

ANNOUNCING...

Journalist Carrie Sheffield Selected as CEI’s Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow

 

CEI is pleased to announce that Carrie Sheffield, a New York-based columnist and broadcaster, has been selected as CEI’s 2014-2015 Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow. > Read more
 

More in the news...

 

Can Europe Move Past Its Economic Malaise?

Are Consumers Smart Enough to Understand Airline Ancillary Fees?

 

New Mexico Workers and Industry Would Benefit from Right to Work - See more at: http://workplacechoice.org/#sthash.04F3Iq2B.dpuf
 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

Last week, 84 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register. There were 72 new final rules the previous week.