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Entries in Climate Alarmism (127)

Sunday
Feb142016

Cooler Heads Digest 13 February 2016 

13 February 2016

Announcement

America’s Future Foundation will hold a happy hour presentation on “Global Climate Change: Myths and Facts with Dave Rittenhouse and Dr. James Rust” at the Whitehall Tavern in Atlanta on 23rd February.  Rsvp here.

In the News

Here’s How States Can Defy the EPA’s Global Warming Plan
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 12 February 2016

Jane Mayer on Energy Policy: Some Corrections
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 11 February 2016

White House Must Give Think Tank Climate Docs
Rebekah Kearn, Courthouse News Service, 11 February 2016

Obama’s New Oil Tax Would Drive Up Gas Prices
Veronique de Rugy, Reason Hit & Run, 11 February 2016

E-mails: EPA Rushed To Resolve Tesla’s “Million Dollar” Bureaucratic Snafu
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 10 February 2016

How Much Will Climate Change Rules Benefit Americans?
Susan Dudley, Forbes, 9 February 2016

Sue and Settle Again Rears Its Ugly Head
Robert Jackson & John Eick, ALEC, 8 February 2016

“Keep It in the Ground” at Work in the Real World
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 8 February 2016

Obama To Set First-Ever Climate Rules for Airlines
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 8 February 2016

Obama Orders Military To Give Priority to Climate Change
Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times, 7 February 2016

Shut Up, She Explained: My Request for Climate Evidence
Benjamin Zycher, AEI, 4 February 2016

News You Can Use
Food Cheap, Despite Global Warming

Due to “ample agricultural supply conditions,” world food prices fell to almost a seven-year low at the start of 2016, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Inside the Beltway

Supreme Court Blocks EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rule for Existing Power Plants Until Litigation Is Completed
Myron Ebell

The Supreme Court on 9th February granted the petition to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for existing power plants until lower court litigation is completed. The decision, which came on a 5-4 vote, is unprecedented, which is perhaps why it surprised nearly everyone and clearly caught the Obama Administration off guard. 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and the White House quickly expressed confidence that the so-called “Clean Power” Plan will not be overturned.  But that 5-4 vote must make them and their allies worry that the Supreme Court will indeed overturn all or most of the rule.  McCarthy made many public appearances at COP-21, the Paris climate conference in Paris in December, which concluded with agreement on the new Paris Climate Treaty.  At each appearance where I saw her, McCarthy assured the media and delegates from other countries that the EPA had “legally bulletproofed” the rule.

The petition for the stay filed by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of 26 States made a powerful argument that the rule is so legally flawed that it will eventually be overturned in court, but that so much economic damage will be done before the litigation is completed that the rule must be suspended as soon as possible.  My guess is that their argument was strongly aided by statements from McCarthy and Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, last summer after the Supreme Court ruled against EPA on the Mercury MACT rule.  They both said that the court’s decision didn’t really matter because most utilities had already taken action to comply.

Administrator McCarthy was at it again after the court’s stay decision.  She told the House Agriculture Committee during a three-hour grilling that “Nothing is going to be implemented while the stay is in place. It is clearly on hold until it resolves itself through the courts.” But when McCarthy addressed state air regulators, she said that the EPA would work with any State that wanted to keep working on implementing the rule. Several reporters described her attitude in the speech as defiant. 

Obama’s Budget Requests Lots More Greenbacks for Green Energy and Climate Programs

President Barack Obama’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 proposes billions of dollars of new spending on “green” energy and climate programs. As I reported last week, much of the funding would come from his proposed $10 tax on each barrel of oil consumed.  The Congress will not enact the fee and will almost certainly deny nearly all of these new spending requests.

The President’s budget also asks Congress to make the tax credit for wind power and the investment tax credit for solar power permanent.  So much for the idea that renewable energy is now or soon will be commercially competitive with conventional sources of electricity.

The budget request $1.29 billion for its Global Climate Change Initiative, which includes another $500 million for the Green Climate Fund.  Congress zeroed out the Green Climate Fund in the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations bill in December, but it is expected that the State Department will reprogram other funding and send at least $200 to 300 million to the GCF this year.

I summarized some of the proposed new spending here.  Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation provides more details here.

Spinning the Stay
Marlo Lewis

A few days before the start of the COP-21 meeting in Paris, U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern filed a declaration urging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny West Virginia and other states’ request to put a stay on EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan (CPP). Stern argued that freezing the rule would undermine U.S. “leadership” on climate change, creating “a real threat that some other countries, including major emitters, might reduce the intensity or pace of their actions or even fail to achieve their commitments.” Horror of horrors, it might diminish their climate “ambition”.

Although the appellate court declined to stay the rule, the Supreme Court this week granted a stay. So now what are administration officials saying? Do they stand by their earlier claims that suspending the CPP threatens the climate treaty?

No way. According to Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm, “Senior White House officials said on a media call Tuesday evening that this was a temporary procedural determination that does nothing to affect the soundness of the rule, nor the White House’s determination to proceed with the rule and to cut emissions. They expressed confidence that the administration’s climate targets were achievable, citing momentum in the renewable power sector.”

“Heck,” Romm opined, “it [the stay] doesn’t even mean that the United States won’t be able to hit the CO2 reduction target it pledged with the other nations of the world in the Paris Agreement. Indeed, I expect with or without the CPP, the U.S. is probably going to meet its Paris pledge, its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to cut greenhouse gas pollution 26 to 28% below 2005 levels in 2025.”

That’s whistling past the graveyard. Stephen Eule of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy has done the math. Even if we include the Power Plan—the largest single component of the U.S. INDC—all current and proposed administration climate policies account for only 55% of Obama’s emission pledge. Remove the CPP, and the “gap becomes a chasm,” according to Eule.

Administration officials and environmentalists are in “full damage control mode,” reports Jean Chemnick in today’s ClimateWire ($). Why? Because the “high-profile signing of the Paris climate agreement in New York City on April 22 will now take place under the cloud of this week's Supreme Court decision to stay the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan.” As Harjeet Singh of ActionAid International in India told Chemnick: “The climate community is taken aback and concerned that it may see the same fate as the Kyoto Protocol, and the leadership that Obama showed, despite domestic political challenges, has also gone in vain."

Of course, none of that is a reason the Supreme Court should not have put EPA’s lawless rule on hold. Nor is it a reason the appellate court, which has scheduled oral argument for June 2, should not overturn the CPP.

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court held that EPA’s authority with respect to greenhouse gases could not be decided on the basis of “policy concerns” “divorced from the statutory text.” The Court specifically cited as irrelevant the concern that EPA climate rules “might impair the President’s ability to negotiate with key developing nations to reduce emissions.”

For either the appellate court or the Supreme Court, all that should matter in the Power Plan litigation is whether the rule squares with its alleged statutory basis, Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. There is no mention of either climate “leadership” or climate “ambition” in 111(d) or any other provision of the Act. Those concepts are not statutory factors and have no relevance to the case.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Supreme Court Decision Could Undermine the Paris Climate Treaty

The Supreme Court’s decision to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants may lead to some good news at the international level as well.  A story in the New York Times began by stating that the decision “could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats say.”

The story goes on to quote Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi: “If the U. S. Supreme Court actually declares the coal power plant rules stillborn, the chancesof nurturing trust between countries would all but vanish.  This could be the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel.”  It should be noted that India’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions counts on a lot of nurturing from the developed countries--$2.5 trillion in aid, to be precise.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright agrees.  According to the Washington Times, she filed a statement in the case that concludes that a stay “could derail the international momentum to implement the emission reduction commitments achieved at the Paris climate conference.”  Even more amusingly, as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis reported on Global Warming.org on 7th December, Todd Stern, the State Department’s chief climate negotiator, also filed a declaration that a stay could undermine the forthcoming Paris Climate Treaty. That’s because the so-called “Clean Power” Plan accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution that the Obama Administration submitted as its commitment. 

But that was before the Supreme Court ruling.  After it, the White House was quick to deny that the stay would have any effect on achieving the U. S. commitment.  At a press briefing aboard Air Force One on 10th February, White House spokesman Eric Schultz gave a lengthy answer to why the stay would not slow the decline in U. S. greenhouse gas emissions.  One of the reasons he gave was especially interesting: “[T]he budget agreement that was signed at the end of 2015 … included long-term extensions of the renewable energy tax credits.  The inclusion of those tax credits, which is something this administration fought for, is going to continue the momentum of cleaner sources of energy and lower emissions in the power sector….  It is our estimation that the inclusion of those tax credits is going to have more impact over the short term than the Clean Power Plan.”   

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.

Saturday
Feb062016

Cooler Heads Digest 05 February 2016 

5 February 2016

Announcements

The Independence Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are hosting a panel discussion of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants at noon on 16th February at the Independence Institute, 727 East Sixteenth Ave., in Denver, Colorado.  RSVP here

In the News

EPA Magic: Regulation by Illusion
William O’Keefe, Fuel Fix, 5 February 2016

“Experts” Warn Global Warming Is Making Dogs Depressed
Liam Deacon, Breitbart, 5 February 2016

Do Scientists Suppress Uncertainty in the Climate Change Debate?
Craig Idso, Cato at Liberty, 4 February 2016

Don’t Put Eco-Finance Measures in Energy Bill
John Berlau, Open Market, 4 February 2016

State AGs Bullish on Challenge to EPA’s Climate Rules
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 3 February 2016

Finally, America May Be Catching onto the Ethanol Racket
Nicolas Loris, Daily Signal, 2 February 2016

Green Car Crash
Jim Gorzelany, Forbes, 2 February 2016

Leonardo DiCaprio Options Climate Disaster Movie Set in 2049
Ben Child, Guardian, 2 February 2016

Electric Vehicles: Perennial Subsidies, Hope, Fail
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 1 February 2016

EPA Is Metastasizing into a National Zoning Board
Washington Examiner editorial, 1 February 2016

News You Can Use
IER Study: Big Benefits of Producing Oil and Gas on Federal Land

According to a study published today by the Institute for Energy Research, the economic benefits of expanding development of oil, gas, and coal resources on federal lands include a $21 trillion increase in economic activity over the next 37 years.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

President Obama Will Propose $10 a Barrel Tax on Oil To Pay For $32 Billion Green Transit Slush Fund

The White House has begun to release details of President Barack Obama’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2017.  Most interesting so far is the announcement that the President will propose a new $10 fee on each barrel of oil.  With oil selling at roughly $30 a barrel, this would amount to a one-third increase in the cost of oil.

The projected $32 billion a year in new revenue would be used to fund “green” transit: $20 billion for mass transit, including high-speed rail and magnetic levitation; $10 billion for streamlining local and state transit planning, a Climate Smart Fund to give bonuses to States that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and three new grant programs for “livable” cities, climate-resilient infrastructure, and regional-wide transit projects; and $2 billion for research into “clean” transportation.

There is no chance that the 114th Congress will enact this new $32 billion tax plus green slush fund, so it’s not clear why the President doesn’t follow his tried and true practice and just impose it by executive order.  I doubt that many Democrats in Congress who are running for re-election in 2016 will support it. 

Senate Energy Bill Stalled by Wrangling

The Senate spent part of the week considering amendments to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S. 2012, but then got hung up on Democratic demands that the bill should include $600 million to help Flint, Michigan to deal with its water supply problems.  Two cloture votes to limit debate and move to a vote on final passage were defeated by votes of 46 to 50 and 43 to 54 (with 60 votes needed to invoke cloture).

Negotiations will continue over the weekend, so it’s too early to say that the bill sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), is dead.  I hope it is dead because it has many more bad provisions than good ones.  On the plus side, the bill would require expedited permitting of LNG terminals. The bad stuff includes several new subsidies and preferences, lots of new federal programs, some more loan guarantees, and permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

When the Republican leadership initially resisted putting money for Flint into the bill on the grounds that the Constitution requires that all appropriations bills start in the House of Representatives, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) replied that “those excuses are overcome every day.”  Unfortunately, Senator Stabenow is correct: for many Senators (and Representatives) the Constitution is now just a trivial obstacle to be gotten around.    

EPA Opposes Stay of Greenhouse Gas Rule

The Department of Justice this week submitted its response to the petition to the Supreme Court to stay the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants until litigation against the so-called “Clean Power” Plan is concluded in federal court.  Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. argues that the “applicants will not suffer irreparable harm while this case is pending before the D. C. Circuit” (page 53). 

On the other hand, Verrilli claims that the planet will be harmed by global warming if the rule is delayed for even a few months.  For one thing, delaying the rule will undermine the Paris Climate Treaty: “Delaying the Rule’s implementation would also disrupt the United States’ leadership on the international stage, which has facilitated new emission-reduction commitments by countries representing 98% of global CO2 emissions.” (pages 71-72)

The States petitioners replied to EPA’s brief today, and their brief is available here. Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to rule on the petition in the next few weeks.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Cruz Wins Iowa Caucuses Despite Opposition to Ethanol Mandate

Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) victory in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses on 1st February is a defeat for the corn ethanol industry.  Cruz made a point of telling Iowa voters that he opposed the Renewable Fuels Standard and also wind and solar subsidies. Iowa is the nation’s number one corn producer and a major wind power producer.

The corn and ethanol industries and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) mounted major efforts to defeat Cruz.  An industry lobby group, America’s Renewable Future, reportedly spent $300,000 to defeat Cruz.  In addition to radio and print ads, robo calls, and mailers, the group followed Cruz around Iowa in a truck called “You Cruz You Lose.”

Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner wrote that “The ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, and Ted Cruz just tore it to shreds.” I think that overstates the case, but Cruz’s victory does show that the ethanol mandate is not untouchable.  As the program continues to collapse, other Members of Congress may now be willing to take on Big Corn. 

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Australia Cuts Back on Climate Science Jobs Now That Climate Science Is Settled, But Climate Scientists Disagree

Australia’s principal scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Agricultural Research Organisation (CSIRO), announced plans this week to eliminate up to 350 research jobs, many of them in climate science.  Faced with funding cutbacks from the Australian government, CSIRO has decided that climate scientists are not needed now that climate science has been settled.

Climate scientists in Australia and around the world were quick to deny that climate science is settled.  For example, University of Melbourne earth scientist Kevin Walsh was quoted in the Australian newspaper (subscription required): “It is incorrect to say that the climate change science problem is solved, and now all we need to do is figure out what to do about it.  No working climate scientist believes that.”

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Dr. Christy Rebuts Alarmist Spin on Satellite Data

The divergence between satellite data and climate model warming predictions has long been too large for “consensus” scientists to ignore, and it keeps growing despite 2015 being anointed the “warmest year on record.”

Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects try to discredit the satellite data, even to the point of suggesting that surface records, notwithstanding their well-known heterogeneity, gaps, and quality-control issues, are more reliable.

In testimony earlier this week before the House Science Committee, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) atmospheric scientist John Christy rebuts a Yale Climate Connections video featuring several heavyweights of the climate science establishment.

The video claims satellites do not actually measure temperature, but infer it from microwaves emitted by oxygen molecules in the atmosphere. That is true but irrelevant. Christy explains: “In reality, the sensors on satellites measure temperature by emitted radiation—the same method that a physician uses to measure your body temperature to high precision using an ear probe. Atmospheric oxygen emits microwaves, the intensity of which is directly proportional to the temperature of the oxygen, and thus the atmosphere. . . . As an aside, most surface temperature measurements are indirect, using electronic resistance.”

The video also claims satellites’ loss of altitude over time due to atmospheric friction—a phenomenon called orbital decay—induces a cooling bias. Again, true but irrelevant. “This vertical fall has an immeasurable impact on the layer (Mid-Troposphere or MT) used here and so is a meaningless claim. In much earlier versions of another layer product (LT or Lower Troposphere), this was a problem, but was easily corrected almost 20 years ago. Thus, bringing up issues that affected a different variable that, in any case, was fixed many years ago is a clear misdirection that, in my view, demonstrates the weakness of their position.”

Finally, the scientists in the video cite the cooling bias from the satellites’ tendency to drift from east to west. Far from being unacknowledged by Christy, the UAH team was the first to detect that bias, and corrected for it 10 years ago. Moreover, the error was not a factor in the MT layer, where observations reveal a sharp divergence from climate model projections.

For further discussion, see my blog post, “Satellites and Global Warming: Dr. Christy Sets the Record Straight.”

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.

Saturday
Jan162016

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, www.GlobalWarming.org.

Saturday
Dec192015

Cooler Heads Digest 18 December 2015 

18 December 2015

Announcement

Because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the next Cooler Heads Digest will be published on January 8th. Happy holidays!

In the News

Obama Claims the Paris Climate Agreement Is Not a Treaty. Huh?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 18 December 2015

Naomi Oreskes’s Huge Carbon Footprint
Brian McNicoll, Townhall, 18 December 2015

Obama Turns Bear Grylls Show into Self-Congratulatory Global Warming Yuck Fest
Dylan Gwinn, NewsBusters, 18 December 2015

Congress Must Rein in Rogue EPA
Washington Examiner, 18 December 2015

UK Slashes Solar Subsidies
Roger Harrabin, BBC, 17 December 2015

Wind Cronyism Wins; We Lose
Lisa Linowes, Master Resource, 17 December 2015

Bernie Sanders’s Pointless Climate Plan
David Kreutzer, Fortune, 16 December 2015

Cap-and-Trade Program Touted by EPA Is Not Driving Down Emissions
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 16 December 2015

Obama’s Useful Idiot Jonathan Chait Declares Paris Climate Talks a Massive Success
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 15 December 2015

Study: Lettuce Has 3 Times the Carbon Footprint of Bacon
Cheyenne MacDonald, Daily Mail, 15 December 2015

India Says Paris Climate Deal Won’t Affect Plans to Double Coal Output
Krishna Das & Tommy Wilkes, Reuters, 14 December 2015

News You Can Use
NOAA’s Reliance on Low-Quality Weather Stations Skews Temperatures Up

A new study finds that the 30-year surface temperature warming trend in the continental United States (CONUS) since 1979 is about one-third lower than in NOAA’s official trends.

The study, led by Anthony Watts of surfacestations.org, compares the temperature trend of 410 “unperturbed” weather stations that have not been moved, had equipment changes, or changes in time of observations, and thus require no “adjustments” to their temperature record, with the temperature trend in hundreds of poorly-sited U.S. weather stations as well as NOAA’s adjusted trend for all 1218 stations. Bizarrely, NOAA’s adjusted trend is the warmest of the three trends—warmer even than the trend of poorly-sited stations.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Republican House and Senate Give Huge Victory to President Obama’s Climate Agenda

The House and Senate on 18th September passed omnibus appropriations legislation that provides $1.15 trillion to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2016.  Attached to the omnibus was a $620-plus billion package of tax cut extenders. The final bill dropped riders to prevent implementation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants and to prevent funds in the State Department budget from being transferred into the Green Climate Fund.  However, Congress appropriated no funds for the Green Climate Fund.

The tax extenders package includes multi-year re-authorizations for the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit.  The wind credit was extended to 2019, but declines by 20% for facilities that begin construction in 2017 and then 20% more each year thereafter.  The credits will still apply to the first ten years of production for all wind facilities that start construction before 2020.

The solar credit remains at 30% of construction costs through 2019 and then declines to 23% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% in 2022 for non-residential and third-party-owned residential installations.  The credit for solar installations by homeowners drops to zero in 2022.  The renewal of renewable energy subsidies shows that crony corporate welfare still flourishes in the Republican 114th Congress. 

The omnibus package does include a provision that lifts the 42-year-old ban on crude oil exports.  The U. S. is the only country in the world that bans crude oil exports.

The final vote in the House on H. R. 2029 was 316 to 113, with 5 not voting. One-hundred fifty Republicans and 166 Democrats voted Yes, while 95 Republicans and 18 Democrats voted No.  An earlier House vote of 318 to 109 attached the tax package to the omnibus appropriations bill. 

In the Senate, the vote was 65 to 33.  Twenty-seven Republicans and 38 Democrats voted Yes, while 26 Republicans and 7 Democrats voted No.  Two Senators missed the vote.

The omnibus and tax extenders package is a huge victory for President Obama’s climate agenda.  Unfortunately, most conservative Republicans who supported the EPA and GCF riders and opposed the renewable tax subsidies had little leverage in the behind-the-scenes negotiations because they had already announced that they would vote against the omnibus.  A Senate Appropriations Committee staffer told me that this allowed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call the shots in the negotiations.  He added that he had never seen anything like it; and he concurred that conservatives were primarily responsible for their own ineffectiveness.           

Around the World
Myron Ebell

COP-21 Adopts Big, New Paris Climate Treaty (But We’re Not Supposed To Call It a Treaty)

COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) concluded in Paris only one day late on Saturday, 12th December, with the adoption of a new climate treaty at 7:29 PM CET.  The new “Paris Agreement,” as it is being called in order to conceal the fact that it is a treaty, represents a significant victory for President Barack Obama and the European Union.  It is the result of several years of intensive negotiations that were initiated with the adoption of the Durban Platform at COP-21 in 2011.  This “successful” outcome, so different from the collapse of COP-15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, was at the end made possible by the skill of the French diplomats, particularly French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who ran the final negotiations.

Many commentators immediately opined that the new treaty is of little consequence and poses few dangers to the global or U. S. economies.  The most confident assertion (as well as detailed analysis) from conservative commentators that I have read that the Paris Agreement is a “welcome fizzle” was by Rich Lowry in National Review. I don’t agree with his analysis or conclusions.  Although many issues remain to be worked out in future negotiations and decided at future COPs, the treaty poses multiple threats to the economy, and which together constitute a big step on the road to a global energy-rationing regime.  I will write more about the treaty’s provisions in future articles in the Digest.  For now, I will only note that, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, it is a perpetual agreement that includes automatic reviews of greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets and timetables every five years.   

The Obama Administration claims that the new treaty is not a treaty in order to avoid certain defeat in a Senate ratification vote.  Nonetheless, as my CEI colleague Chris Horner has noted, it is just as much a treaty as the underlying UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.  No one disputed that they were treaties that required ratification.  In my view, a lot depends on whether the Senate and the American people let President Obama get away with claiming that it is not a treaty, but somehow binds his successors, future Congresses, and the federal courts.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin, published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, provides a comprehensive summary of COP-21 here. The UNFCCC’s official text of the Paris Climate Treaty can be found here

Obama Administration at COP-21 Emphasizes the Irrelevance of Congress

My CEI colleagues and I were among over 36,000 officially-accredited delegates attending COP-21 in Paris.  I was there for the second week beginning 7th December.  Besides the many official meetings and plenary sessions, there are hundreds of side events put on by national delegations and a wide variety of NGOs—environmental, indigenous peoples, women, business, and research.  It is impossible to attend more than a tiny fraction of these events.  This year I concentrated on side events put on or hosted by the U. S. State Department.  That’s because I wanted to see how the Obama Administration was going to respond to congressional opposition to the President’s climate agenda.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The point was made at several events that the Congress is irrelevant and therefore should be ignored.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke at two events I attended.  At an event on 8th December, she stated emphatically that the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants had gone through an unprecedentedly thorough rulemaking process, that everyone had been consulted, and that the two rules had therefore been bullet-proofed from being overturned by the courts.  She then added, Yes, there are votes in Congress.  But yes, there are also presidential vetoes.  (I haven’t put this in quotes because it’s unlikely I got her words down exactly.) McCarthy was followed by a panel of utility executives from PG&E, Exelon, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy who enthusiastically endorsed the so-called “Clean Power” Plan. 

At an event on Saturday, 5th December, which I didn’t attend because I had not yet arrived in Paris, McCarthy was joined by Brian Wolff, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities.  Wolff announced that EEI supported the “Clean Power” Plan.

Other events featured state officials pledging their support for the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules.  California Governor Jerry Brown and billionaire political donor Tom Steyer were listed as speakers at one of these events I attended, but for some reason did not appear.  We had to settle for the president of the California Senate and the speaker of the California Assembly.  No mention was made of the 27 States that are suing to overturn the “Clean Power” Plan. 

The reason that the Administration and their allies in business and environmental pressure groups worked so hard to explain the irrelevance of Congress is because several Republican House and Senate staffers attending COP-21 were meeting with other delegations and explaining that both the House and Senate had voted for resolutions to block the EPA’s rules (which admittedly will be vetoed) and that the Congress was not going to appropriate the $500 million requested by President as the first U. S. contribution to the Green Climate Fund.  The staffers did what they could, but I’m afraid their efforts were overwhelmed by the Obama Administration’s offensive.  Unfortunately, the congressional schedule prevented any Republican Senators or Representatives from flying to Paris and holding a press conference at COP-21.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

“UN climate change goal? We’re there now” – John Christy

Every month John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, report global temperature data from their satellite monitoring program, known as the UAH record in the scientific literature.

Their just published year-end report features the decadal trends in Global, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and Tropical temperatures over the 37-year satellite record.

So here’s some very good news for the holiday season. The global climate system, all on its own with no help from the Paris Climate Treaty, is on track to meet the treaty’s goal of avoiding 2°C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures.

From the UAH press release:

“The average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has warmed just over four-tenths of a degree Celsius (almost three-fourths of a degree Fahrenheit) during the past 37 years, with the greatest warming over the Arctic Ocean and Australia, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Microwave sounding units on board NOAA and NASA satellites completed 37 complete years of collecting temperature data in November, giving us nearly global coverage of climate change during that time.

“If that trend was to continue for another 63 years, the composite warming for the globe would be 1.1°C (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) for the century, Christy said. That would put the average global temperature change over 100 years well under the 2.0°C (3.6 degrees F) goal set recently at the climate change summit in Paris.”

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.

Saturday
Dec122015

Cooler Heads Digest 11 December 2015 

11 December 2015

In the News

Solar Power Presents Significant Environmental Problems
David Kreutzer, Newsday, 11 December 2015

Two Letters on Climate Policy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 10 December 2015

An Ice-Cold Regulatory Climate
David Holt, RealClearEnergy, 9 December 2015

Mark Steyn’s Illuminating and Entertaining Senate Testimony
Anthony Watts, WattsUpWithThat, 8 December 2015

Politics Corrupts, Ethanol Politics Corrupts Completely
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner, 8 December 2015

The Miracle of Cheap Fossil Fuels
Dan Hannan, Washington Examiner, 7 December 2015

Corn-Based Ethanol Is a Bad Idea
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, 6 December 2015

Why I Believe Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Fellows Aren’t Fossil Fuel Shills
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 6 December 2015

News You Can Use
Sun Should Set on Solar Socialism

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has published the first comprehensive review of federal solar subsidies, documenting rampant waste and fraud. An excerpt suitable for framing: “If the solar industry could stand on its own without generous taxpayer subsidies . . . then there is no reason to drag taxpayers into the game in the first place. If much or all of the industry need a measure like the ITC [Investment Tax Credit] to stay afloat, and still needs it even now, taxpayers were being sold a pig in a poke.”

Inside the Beltway
Marlo Lewis

Things Get Heated at Senate Hearing on Climate Science

Author Mark Steyn and Georgia Tech atmospheric scientist Judith Curry mixed it up with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) this week at a Senate hearing on data vs. dogma in climate science. Video excerpts of the heated exchanges are available here and here

Steyn, focusing on climate dogma, spotlighted the inherent conflict between centrally-planned global energy transformation and freedom of inquiry. No such plan is possible without almost universal consent, so proponents inevitably try to crush dissent.

University of Alabama in Huntsville atmospheric scientist John Christy explained that in science the test of whether we understand something is whether we are able to predict its behavior. The computer simulations underpinning U.S., EU, and U.N. climate policies, however, increasingly fail to hind-cast what has already happened.

You may already be familiar with data showing no long-term increase in the strength and frequency of hurricanes. Christy also presented data showing that despite global warming, the average number of daily temperatures exceeding 100°F at U.S. weather stations was larger in the 1930s than in recent decades. Counter-intuitive, yes, but science often is.

Curry challenged the IPCC’s “extremely likely” (>95%) assessment that more than half the observed warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Correlation does not prove causation but there is no causation without correlation. There is no correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the warming pause (or slowdown) of the past 18 years, the “grand hiatus” of 1945-1975, the warming of 1910-1945, or the “secular warming trend” that began in 1800 or earlier.

Physicist Will Happer discussed the CO2 fertilization effect. He noted that plant life evolved in atmospheres averaging many thousand parts per million of CO2, and that the pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm, romanticized by some as the good old days, is “not that far above the minimum level, around 150 ppm, when many plants die from CO starvation.”

Rear Admiral David Titley, the sole minority witness, summarized findings of the IPCC, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren.

House Ds Demand Fossil Fuel CEOs Confess Funding Climate Denial and Disinformation

Thirty-two House Democrats this week sent a letter to the CEOs of Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, and Peabody Energy posing 15 questions about the companies’ (alleged) funding of a “massive campaign of [climate] denial and disinformation.” The gist of the letter, which presumes guilt and demands confessions, is captured by the old joke question: “When did you stop beating your wife?” This post on GlobalWarming.Org offers model answers the CEOs are welcome to use or adapt in responding to legislators’ interrogatories.

Across the States
William Yeatman

EPA Imposes 54th Federal Takeover of State Clean Air Act Programs (previous 3 presidents had 5 total among them)

EPA yesterday announced that the agency would take over Texas’s Regional Haze program under the Clean Air Act. This is the 54th such federal takeover, or “federal implementation plan” (“FIP”), imposed by the Obama Administration. For comparison’s sake, consider that the previous three presidential administrations imposed a total of 5 Clean Air Act federal takeovers. Moreover, the EPA promulgated a final agency action last summer that threatens another 36 state programs with Clean Air Act federal takeovers, if States do not radically alter their air quality strategies to control emissions due to malfunctions and other uncontrollable events.

All told, EPA has threatened or imposed 90 federal implementation plans—or 18 times the sum of the previous three administrations. And Obama still has a year left.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

COP-21 Nears Agreement on New Paris Climate Treaty

A third straight night of all-night negotiations will almost certainly end Saturday morning with a new climate deal at COP-21. The Paris Climate Treaty is almost certain to leave several major issues to be sorted out later. 

On the other hand, the draft text released Friday morning does include a target of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels plus an expression of further ambition to stop warming at 1.5 degrees. No percentage reductions in total global greenhouse gas emissions are specified to reach that goal.

The draft text also moves beyond the limited compliance periods in the Kyoto Protocol to create a perpetual regime that will provide reviews to set lower national emissions targets every five years. Thus, once a country ratifies the treaty, it will be committed to taking actions to save the planet from catastrophic global warming no matter how high the cost or how long it takes.

Speaking of cost, the draft text still needs work on the finance mechanisms through which the developed countries will provide financial aid to developing countries to pay for emissions reductions and adaptation to climate change. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saved COP-15 in Copenhagen from total collapse by proposing $100 billion in aid annually from the developing countries to the developing countries beginning in 2020. The Paris Climate Treaty looks set to confirm that commitment.

It looks to me that the Paris Climate Treaty is going to disappoint global warming alarmists for punting the most disputed issues into the future. It also looks to me that it is a treaty and will therefore require ratification by the Senate for the U. S. to join.

Editor's Note: The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell & Chris Horner have been reporting from COP-21 all week. Find their dispatches and related material below.

Show Us the Money Still the Mantra at COP-21
Myron Ebell, RealClearEnergy, 9 December 2015

COP-21 Interview with Chris Horner
Craig Richardson, E&E Legal, 9 December 2015

COP-21 Dispatch: How Reinsurers Use Putative Threat of Global Warming To Game the System
Chris Horner, GlobalWarming.org, 8 December 2015

Obama's EPA Chief Dismisses Threats to Clean Power Plan
Myron Ebell, RealClearEnergy, 8 December 2015

Clean Power Plan Litigation: Stern Tries Some Climate Diplomacy on the Judges
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 7 December 2015

A Hearty “Bonjour” from Paris
Chris Horner, Daily Caller, 7 December 2015

CEI’s Myron Ebell & Chris Horner Branded as Climate Criminals for Threatening Bogus Consensus
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 7 December 2015

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.