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Entries in Climate Alarmism (126)

Saturday
Nov142015

Cooler Heads Digest 13 November 2015 

13 November 2015

Announcements

The National Association of Scholars has published an excellent new report, “Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement To Turn A Generation Against Fossil Fuels.” The report and a summary may be found here.

In the News

An Outbreak of Sanity Down Under
Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill, 13 November 2015

NY Attorney General Schneiderman Targets Exxon Mobil
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 12 November 2015

Obama’s Wacky Science Advisor Is Living His Dream
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 12 November 2015

What Climate Alarmists Want: : “A World without Capitalism”
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, 10 November 2015

Atlantic Hurricanes Down 80% from 10 Years Ago
Roy Spencer, DrRoySpencer.com, 9 November 2015

The Climate Change Inquisition Begins
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, 9 November 2015

Obama Caters to Radical Environmentalists
Nicolas Loris, CNSNews, 9 November 2015

The War against ExxonMobil
Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, 8 November 2015

Will Climate Change Ruin Your Sx Life?
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 6 November 2015

Union: Obama Threw Workers “Under the Bus” with Keystone Decision
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 6 November 2015

A Year into the Bust, American Oilfield Ingenuity Is Still Thriving
Christopher Helman, Forbes, 4 November 2015

News You Can Use
Report Projects Big Costs for “Clean Power” Plan

According to a new economic analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants would cost $292 billion from 2022-2033 and result in double digit electricity price increases.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Likely To Vote on Resolutions To Block EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules for Power Plants on 18 November

The Senate is tentatively scheduled to take up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants on Tuesday, 17th November, and vote on them on Wednesday the 18th.  A Senate source told me that the votes are almost certain to be held next week.

Senate Joint Resolution 23, sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 47 co-sponsors, blocks the NSPS for new power plants.  Senate Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 48 co-sponsors, blocks the ESPS for existing power plants.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is likely to mark up and pass their versions of the CRA resolutions on Wednesday as well.  The subcommittee mark-up resulted in straight party-line votes on H. J. Res. 71 and H. J. Res. 72. Because of the week-long Thanksgiving recess, the full House may not vote on the resolutions until the first week of December, which is also the first week of COP-21, the UN climate conference in Paris that is supposed to conclude negotiations on a new climate treaty.

Although President Barack Obama is almost certain to veto both resolutions, the votes will provide support for including appropriations riders in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill to block the EPA rules and will also undermine the credibility of the Obama Administration at COP-21.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

Judge Allows Deposition of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Clean Air Act §321(a) requires the EPA to monitor job losses due to the agency’s environmental regulations. In March 2014, Murray Energy, an Ohio-based coal company, commenced a civil action in federal court alleging that the agency has failed to perform its §321(a) responsibilities with regard to monitoring the employment impact of the agency’s war on coal. Murray Energy’s unprecedented lawsuit survived EPA’s early legal maneuvering, and on May 29th, 2015, West Virginia federal district court judge John Preston Bailey allowed Murray to proceed with discovery against EPA, including depositions, with the purpose of discerning how EPA is accounting for the coal sector job losses that are attributable to the agency’s suite of anti-energy regulations.

EPA appealed Judge Bailey’s order, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied EPA’s request without explanation on July 9th. After conducting initial discovery, Murray Energy on October 7th notified EPA that it intended to depose EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and the company scheduled a tentative deposition date of November 24th.

EPA requested that Judge Bailey block the scheduled deposition, but yesterday, he denied the agency’s motion. EPA has appealed the matter to the Fourth Circuit, which will decide on the matter before the deposition is set to occur on November 24th.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Secretary Kerry Insists Paris Climate Treaty Will Not Be a Treaty; European Union and France Insist That It Will Be a Treaty

U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Financial Times in an interview published on 11th November (pages 1 and 2, subscription required) that the new climate treaty being negotiated now and due to be signed at COP-21 in Paris next month was “definitely not going to be a treaty,” that is, it would be some sort of agreement that will not require ratification by the Senate. 

Kerry’s categorical assertion was immediately contradicted by the office of the European Union’s climate commissioner and by the president and foreign minister of France.  A spokeswoman for EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told the Guardian that, “The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement.  The title of the agreement is yet to be decided but it will not affect its legally binding form.”

French President Francois Hollande was just as categorical as Kerry: “If the agreement is not legally binding, there won’t be an agreement, because that would mean it would be impossible to verify or control the undertakings that are made.”  According to Reuters, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is president of COP-21, said that the Paris negotiations were not just “hot air” and suggested Secretary Kerry was confusing the issue because of domestic political realities: “The fact that a certain number of dispositions should have a practical effect and be legally binding is obvious, so let's not confuse things, which is perhaps what Mr. Kerry has done.”

Secretary Kerry did try to re-assure foreign governments in his interview with the Financial Times.  “[H]e claimed Republicans have no chance of taking the White House and that voters “‘will want someone who understands climate change … and wants to do something about it.’”

Kerry went on to predict that President Barack Obama would force Congress to appropriate money for the Green Climate Fund by being prepared to veto the Omnibus Appropriations bill.  But he also contradicted his view that Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who wants to “do something” about climate change: “[W]hen something is a high enough priority for a president, you have a way of getting it done, even though it’s opposed by people.”

Kerry also said that he was not opposed to Congress having some role in reviewing the Paris climate treaty, but that, “It depends on whether it is a poison-pill effort or a genuine effort just to review it.”  In these remarks, Secretary Kerry merely reflects President Barack Obama’s contempt for the Constitution and for the Congress.

Effort to Restrict Greenhouse Gases Falls Short in Dubai

Long before global warming became the leading environmental cause there were equally overblown fears that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were damaging the earth’s ozone layer.  These concerns led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, a treaty that banned the production and use of CFCs.  Now, the Obama administration has combined the two issues by targeting the substitutes for CFCs, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), on the grounds that they are greenhouse gases.  Domestically, EPA has enacted a regulation restricting HFC use in car air-conditioners and commercial refrigeration equipment, and the agency has promised more such regulations in 2016.

Internationally, the administration made an aggressive push for a treaty amendment limiting HFC production at the 27th meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol held last week in Dubai.   Despite sending EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the negotiations, the U.S. delegation was only able to secure an agreement to hold more meetings next year to try to finalize a deal.  Nonetheless, the administration touted the Dubai meeting as a major step forward and momentum for a larger climate deal in Paris.

The main obstacle in Dubai was the concern raised by developing nations about the high cost of HFC substitutes.   This concern is well justified given that DuPont and Honeywell have patented a host of substitutes that sell for many times more than the HFCs they would replace.  Both of these crony capitalist companies have worked closely with the administration towards getting HFCs banned and thereby securing a captive market for their high-priced alternatives.

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.

Sunday
Nov082015

Cooler Heads Digest 06 November 2015 

 

6 November 2015

In the News

Hiatus Controversy: Show Me the Data
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 6 November 2015

Obama Strong Arms on Climate
James Rust, Master Resource, 5 November 2015

The Climate Wars and the Damage to Science
Matt Ridley, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 5 November 2015

Poll: Most Americans Understand, Aren’t Too Worried about Climate Change
CBS/Associated Press, 4 November 2015

Who’s Playing Politics on the Keystone Pipeline?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 4 November 2015

Courts Rein in Obama’s Regulatory Overreach
H. Sterling Burnett, Real Clear Policy, 4 November 2015

Global Warming Alarmists Don’t Like It When Someone Follows the Money
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 3 November 2015

Amazon’s Wind Energy Power Claim Is 100% Myth
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 3 November 2015

The March to Paris Has Begun
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 2 November 2015

Obscure Part of Clean Air Act Could Kill Obama’s Climate Plan
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, 2 November 2015

Obama’s Court Quagmire
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 2 November 2015

News You Can Use
Good News: Antarctic Ice Increasing

According to a NASA study by Jay Zwally and colleagues published this week in the Journal of Glaciology, satellite data indicates that Antarctica is gaining more ice from snowfall than it is losing from coastal discharges and ice melt. In other words, currently and over the 1992-2008 study period, Antarctica is contributing to a net reduction in sea level rise. Read NASA’s press release here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

O Says No to Keystone XL

President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built.  The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.

My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up.  That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President Obama has left office and a new President could approve the permit.

One day later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to TransCanada’s request by saying, “Our expectation at this point … is that the President will make a decision by the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline.”  Instead of by the end of next year, the President made a decision by the end of this week.  My guess is that he did so now because COP-21 begins in Paris at the end of the month and he hopes to build support from environmental pressure groups for what is almost certainly going to be a modest and uninspiring climate treaty.

Billionaire Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben made Keystone into a decisive moment in the climate debate.  McKibben repeatedly said (quoting James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) that building Keystone would be “game over for the climate.” Democrats are counting on Steyer to spend more in the 2016 elections than the $75 million he reportedly spent in the 2014 elections.   

House Committee Passes Bill To Check EPA Climate Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on energy on 3rd November marked up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for power plants.  House Joint Resolutions 71 and 72 passed 15 to 12 on strict party line votes.

The resolutions brought under the Congressional Review Act would, if enacted, overturn key parts of President Obama’s climate agenda—71 for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and 72 for the Existing Source Performance Standards (ESPS). Passage of these resolutions by the House and Senate will undermine the administration’s ability to negotiate a new climate treaty at the UN climate conference in Paris in December because the ESPS and NSPS provide the largest chunk of the emission cuts needed to meet the U.S.’s 26-28% emission reduction commitment.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

NY AG Launches Investigation into Exxon

New York’s Attorney General has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil’s possible climate crimes.  According to a story in the New York Times by Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss:

“According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.  The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.  The people said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives.”

This latest witch hunt to prosecute climate criminals follows a suggestion by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who in a 4th June op-ed published by the Washington Post called for an investigation of fossil fuel companies under RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. 

On 16th September, Inside Climate News released the results of an eight month investigation that concluded Exxon Mobil had been covering up the fact that its own scientists had warned the company beginning in 1977 of the risks to the climate of burning fossil fuels.

Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation was repeated last month in a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch from twenty university professors organized by Drs. Jagadish Shukla and Edward Maibach at Virginia’s George Mason University. My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis has written an excellent article on the RICO Twenty.

And just before New York’s Times broke the news of AG Schneiderman’s investigation of Exxon Mobil, Professor Naomi Oreskes (a global warming propagandist who masquerades as a science historian at Harvard) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) piled on with an op-ed in the Hill headlined, “The Harm Exxon Mobil Has Done.”  Their op-ed repeats the Inside Climate News claims and then repeats the call for a criminal investigation of Exxon Mobil. Oreskes and Lieu have nothing new to say, but I admire their timing. 

Update on State Lawsuits against EPA Climate Regulations

Twenty-three States this week filed a legal challenge to the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The regulation would require new coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration. As I explain here, the States have a strong case, because carbon capture and sequestration is “exorbitantly expensive.” Also this week, Mississippi became the 27th State to sue the EPA over the Clean Power Plan. That regulation would place the nation’s electric grid under the thumb of the agency.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

China Burns 17% More Coal Than Reported

China has been burning up to 17% more coal per year than previously reported, according to new data released by the Chinese government.  New York’s Times announced this news in a top-left, front-page story on 4th November. According to reporter Chris Buckley, “The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.  The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

This is important news in at least three respects.  First, it means that global greenhouse gas emissions have been much larger during a period when the global mean temperature has not gone up as predicted.  This suggests that the climate could be even less sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than recent research has found.  The alarmists are going to have to move quickly to explain this possibility away.

Second, the gap between the greenhouse gas reductions promised by the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the forthcoming Paris climate treaty and the official calculations of total greenhouse gas reductions necessary to avoid a two-degree Celsius increase in the global mean temperature has widened considerably.  As I reported in last week’s Digest, Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the INDCs a “down payment” on the greenhouse gas reductions that would be required “to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” which is the “ultimate objective” of the UNFCCC. If the additional Chinese emissions are added to the total, then the down payment is even smaller than the UNFCCC secretariat’s recent calculations, which means much more to be done.  The draft text of the Paris climate treaty contains an automatic review and adjustment of targets and timetables of emissions reductions every five years.

Third, the upward revision in Chinese emissions raises the importance of the transparency issue in the Paris climate negotiations.  The United States and the European Union have insisted that the reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions must be subject to external monitoring and verification.  China recently agreed that more transparency was necessary, but has not yet agreed to these demands in the negotiations, which are scheduled to conclude with a new climate treaty at COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC) in Paris in December.        

India Moves To Outlaw Greenpeace

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu has cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India for violating the rules governing nonprofit organizations and for making fraudulent financial statements. The radical environmental pressure group can appeal its delisting to the state government and after that can file an appeal in court.

If its appeals fail, then Greenpeace India will have one month to dissolve itself.  If it fails to do so, Tamil Nadu’s registrar of societies can then appoint a liquidator.

India’s national government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been after Greenpeace India since coming to power in 2014.  India’s Intelligence Bureau published a report that Greenpeace India’s campaigns against coal and nuclear power plants threatened national economic security. In April, the Ministry of Home Affairs froze Greenpeace’s bank accounts for not accurately reporting donations from foreign sources.  A court unfroze some of the accounts, but in early September the ministry revoked Greenpeace India’s license to receive foreign donations.   

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
Oct312015

Cooler Heads Digest 30 October 2015 

30 October 2015

Announcements

On Wednesday, November 4th, from 2:30-4:00 PM, the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute will co-host a panel on “A Preview of the Paris Climate Change Conference.” Speakers will be: Senator Mike Lee, Harlan Watson, Chris Horner, and Nick Loris. RSVP or watch live here.

In the News

Dumbest Global Warming Study Ever Wins Raves from New York Times
Steve Milloy, PJ Media, 30 October 2015

Chevron and the Case of the Tainted Witness
Paul Barrett, Bloomberg, 29 October 2015

Murray Energy & 5 States File Suit against EPA’s Ozone Rule
Devin Henry, The Hill, 28 October 2015

Winemakers Will Adapt, International Body Says of Climate Change
Sybille de La Hamaide & Pascale Denis, Reuters, 28 October 2015

Did Federal Agency Commit Climate Fraud?
Investor’s Business Daily, 28 October 2015

Obama’s Greenhouse of Cards: Doomed to Collapse or Too Big to Fail?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 27 October 2015

Hypocrisy at Universities over Oil Company Divestment
Judith Curry, Climate, Etc., 27 October 2015

Consumer Reports Rescinds Recommendation for Tesla’s Model S
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 27 October 2015

Is Tesla Doomed?
Bob Lutz, Road & Track, 26 October 2015

Did We Really Save the Ozone Layer?
Steve Goreham, Watts Up With That?, 26 October 2015

News You Can Use
Terrible Cost-Benefit Ratio of Obama’s Paris Promise

Meeting the climate change goals proposed by President Barack Obama for the upcoming United Nations conference in Paris will cost $38 to $45 billion annually and reduce global temperatures by less than two-tenths of one degree, according to a report released Thursday by the American Action Forum.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Congressional Resolutions To Block EPA’s Climate Rules Are Introduced and Set To Move Quickly

Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy subcommittee, introduced resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants on 26th October.  The subcommittee announced on Friday that it would mark up House Joint Resolutions 71 and 72 on Tuesday, 3rd November. Action by the full committee should quickly follow.  Votes on the House floor could then be held soon after the House returns on 16th November from its Veterans Day week-long recess.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) along with 47 co-sponsors introduced Senate Joint Resolution 23 to block the new power plant rule on 27th October.  On the same day, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 48 co-sponsors introduced S. J. Res. 24 to block the rule for existing power plants.  CRA resolutions can go to the Senate floor without going through committee, so it is likely that the Senate will vote on the resolutions before the House does.  Under the CRA, resolutions of disapproval are not subject to cloture votes and thus only require a majority of those voting to pass.

DC Circuit Won’t Decide on Stay of EPA’s Power Plant Rule until after Paris Climate Conference

A panel of three judges of the federal D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals have decided not to rule on the petition to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants until well after the U. N.’s climate conference ends in Paris on 11th December.  The petitioners led by Patrick Morrisey, attorney general of West Virginia, had asked the court for expedited review of their request for a stay of the rule until litigation against it is completed.

The court instead agreed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s suggested schedule, which calls for briefs for all sides to be submitted by 23rd December. The court will then hear oral arguments before making a decision. My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis has an excellent summary of the arguments of the petitioners at GlobalWarming.org

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Christiana Figueres, Head of UNFCCC, Says Paris Treaty Is a “Down Payment” on Actions That Must Be Taken To Avoid Dangerous Climate Change

The national pledges that have been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are to make up the forthcoming Paris climate treaty will reduce future global warming, but not enough, according to a report by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.   

The secretariat’s analysis of all the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) concludes that if all commitments to reduce emissions are fulfilled, the rise in the global mean temperature will be kept under three degrees C, but will be more than the two degrees agreed upon as the safe upper limit of warming.

Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UNFCCC, said that the INDCs “represent a clear and determined down payment.” Figueres went on to say, “It is a very good step, it is actually a remarkable step, but it is not enough,” and that all countries will need to do more. The various drafts of the Paris climate treaty have all contained an automatic review of national commitments every five years that could require further actions to reduce emissions.

The UNFCCC’s conclusion that the INDCs will fail to keep future warming below the safety threshold is based on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s model results.  The IPCC assumes that they can calculate how much warming will be caused by various levels of total emissions.  If actual temperature datasets are used instead, it appears that the increase in the global mean temperature since the beginning of the twentieth century will be below two degrees C well into the twenty-first century.  

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
Oct242015

Cooler Heads Digest 23 October 2015 

23 October 2015

Announcement

On Friday, October 30th, the Cato Institute will hold an all day conference on “What to Expect from the UN’s 2015 Climate Change Conference.” Speakers include: Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Richard Tol, Peter Glaser, Andrew Grossman, Harlan Watson, Chip Knappenberger, and more. RSVP or watch online here.

In the News

Inside the Supreme Court Case That Could Change How America Gets Its Power
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 22 October 2015

Federal Investigation Blames EPA for Toxic Spill
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 22 October 2015

Leading Feminist Gloria Steinem: Pope Causing Global Warming by “Forcing Women to Have Children”
Katie Yoder, NewsBusters, 22 October 2015

Wishful Thinking Meets Hard Realities in Energy Production
Joseph Verruni & Patrick Michaels, Newsweek, 22 October 2015

When Enron, NYT Declared Solar “Competitive” with Fossil Fuels…in 1994
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 21 October 2015

Paris Climate Pledges Would Cost $13.5 Trillion by 2030
Alex Morales, Bloomberg Business, 21 October 2015

Solyndra Redux: Another Government Funded Green Company on the Brink
Rob Nikolewski, Daily Signal, 21 October 2015

Have We Finally Reached Peak Lie on the Clean Power Plan
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 20 October 2015

New Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Brings Same Support for Keystone XL Pipeline
Steven Mufson, Washington Post, 20 October 2015

Green Financing Has Hobbled Home Sales in California
Nichola Groom, Reuters, 19 October 2015

News You Can Use
Solar Energy Derided by Villagers in India

Climatewire this week reported on the efforts of Greenpeace activists to set up a solar-powered microgrid in Dharnai, India, which had been without electricity for three decades. According to the report, villagers protested the inauguration of the system by lining up and chanting, “We want real electricity, not fake electricity!” That is, they want reliability power 24 hours a day.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate and House Move Quickly To Block EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules for Coal and Gas Power Plants

The EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules for new and existing coal and natural gas power plants were finally published in the Federal Register on Friday, 23rd October.  EPA had released the text of the final rules on 3rd August.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) next week will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to block the rule for new power plants. The Majority Leader’s office also announced that Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will file a CRA resolution to block the rule for existing plants.

On the House side, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that he will file CRA resolutions of disapproval for new and existing plants on Monday.

Senate and House votes on these resolutions can be expected in the next few weeks and certainly before COP-21, the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, begins in Paris on 30th November.  Both resolutions will pass the House and Senate with votes from an overwhelming majority of Republicans plus a few Democrats.

Although President Barack Obama will veto both CRA resolutions, as Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a press release, the votes will show governments of the other countries involved in negotiating a new climate treaty, which is scheduled to be finished at COP-21, that the Obama Administration’s INDC (or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) is opposed by Congress.  That’s because the two power plant rules are the largest part of the administration’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions submitted in the INDC.

The Paris climate treaty negotiators should understand that the rules are unlikely to survive because at some point congressional opposition is likely to turn into congressional action. The first opportunity to act occurs in appropriations legislation for FY 2016.  The House and Senate versions of the Interior-EPA appropriations bill contain riders that prohibit implementation of the rules in the current fiscal year.  Passage of the CRA resolutions of disapproval will provide strong support for including the riders in any Omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passes to fund the government beyond the current continuing resolution, which expires on 11th December (which is also the day COP-21 is scheduled to conclude in Paris). 

Further evidence that the power plant rules may not survive beyond the Obama Administration is provided by the lawsuits that were filed immediately after the rules were published.  For more on the lawsuits, see the item in Across the States below.      

Across the States
William Yeatman

Record Number of States Launch Legal Challenge to Clean Power Plan

Twenty six States today filed legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan in the federal court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As far as I’ve been able to discern, this is a record number of States to challenge a Clean Air Act rule, and more States are likely to join.

The States are seeking to have the court delay implementation of the regulation until the legal challenge to the merits of the rule runs its course. The reason that States are seeking to pause implementation of the rule is the fact that capital-intensive businesses like electric utilities (the regulated entities) have to plan capital allocation years in advance. As such, many utilities don’t have the opportunity to wait until the litigation reaches a conclusion, which would take about three years, before they decide whether or not to comply with the regulation. In this manner, EPA could achieve compliance with the rule, even if the Supreme Court ultimately finds the Clean Power Plan to be illegal. The solution to this problem is to ask the court to pause or “stay” the rule until it decides on the rule's legality.

The bar for achieving a stay is high. However, the rule is unprecedented in the harm it would inflict, so I think the odds of success are relatively good. The D.C. Circuit will likely decide in early 2016. Were the D.C. Circuit to demur on a stay, I suspect that the petitioners would appeal such a decision to the Supreme Court.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Bonn Climate Negotiations Still Come Down To One Question: Where’s the Cash? 

The last officially scheduled negotiating session before COP-21 (the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris concluded on Friday, 23 October.  The main achievement of the eleventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhancing Action, as the week-long negotiations are officially called, was to expand the draft text of the Paris climate treaty from the 20 pages they began with on Monday to 63 pages by Friday.

Although some slight progress can be seen here and there (for example, on mitigation and transparency issues), wide differences remain between the developing countries and the G-77, the group of 135 developing countries.  As always, the G-77 want to know where’s the cash. Or as the BBC’s headline put it, “Questions over cash dominate.”  The BBC’s story summarized the core of the disagreements in Bonn this week: “The G77 group are looking for increases on the $100b per annum from 2020 that was previously promised.  They have dismissed recent research from the OECD suggesting that richer countries had provided $62bn in 2014-15 as climate finance.  The poorer countries want money to come from new public sources and question the reliability of private finance.”

The $100 billion in climate aid was proposed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009 and endorsed by President Barack Obama.  The Green Climate Fund was officially created by COP-16 in Cancun the next year.  The GCF is now in operation and gearing up to start receiving and distributing $100 billion per year beginning in 2020.  You can visit the GCF web site here.

In addition to the $100 billion per year, the developing countries want to be compensated for their losses and damages from the impacts of climate change—typhoons, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.  COP-19 in Warsaw in 2013 created the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Negotiations continue on how to compensate for L & D.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Has Global Warming Increased U.S. Hurricane Damages?

Estrada et al. (2015), a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, finds “an upward trend in economic losses between 1900 and 2005 that cannot be explained” by changes in societal factors such as increases in wealth, population, and inflation. The researchers also find “an upward trend in both the number and intensity of hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin” that is “consistent with” the global rise in average surface air temperature. They estimate that, in 2005, $2 billion to $4 billion in annual losses “could be attributable to climate change.”

University of Colorado prof. Roger Pielke, Jr. finds the study wrong on all counts.

Pielke provides a graph of North Atlantic hurricane strength, using a metric called the Power Dissipation Index (PDI), from 1950 through 2014. The graph covers the entire basin, not just hurricanes making landfall. Although there is considerable inter-annual and decadal variability, there is no long-term trend in hurricane strength.

More critically, Estrada et al. end their dataset in 2005, a big year for PDI and damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thus, the researchers leave out of the dataset the record-breaking nine-year (2006-2014) “drought” of major (category 3, 4, 5) U.S. hurricane landfalls.

In other graphs, Pielke shows that U.S. hurricane landfall frequency and intensity have both declined 20% from 1900 to the present. Comparing two fifty-year periods, Pielke notes that there were 23 major U.S. hurricane landfalls during 1915-1954 but only nine major hurricane landfalls during 1965-2015. There were 40% fewer major U.S. hurricane landfalls in the later, globally-warmer 50-year period.

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
Oct102015

Cooler Heads Digest 09 October 2015 

9 October 2015

In the News

Time To End Energy Cronyism
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 9 October 2015

The 97 Percent Solution
Ian Tuttle, National Review, 8 October 2015

SunEdison: A Cloudy Picture for another Renewable Energy Company
Rob Nikolewski, Watchdog.org, 8 October 2015

Sierra Club Testimony Reveals It’s Worse Than We Thought
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 7 October 2015

Documents Reveal Dem Efforts To Discredit EPA Critics
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 7 October 2015

The Global Warming Racket: Nice Work If You Can Get It
Kerry Jackson, Investor’s Business Daily, 6 October 2015

What To Make of India’s Carbon Intensity Pledge
David Kreutzer, GlobalWarming.org, 6 October 2015

India Leads Asia’s Dash for Coal
Krishna Das, Reuters, 6 October 2015

Electric Truck Company Looks Like Next Stimulus Funded Bankruptcy
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 5 October 2015

Britain’s Commitment to Climate Aid Is Immoral
Bjorn Lomborg, The Telegraph, 5 October 2015

News You Can Use
EPA: Armed & Dangerous

According to data compiled by Stephen Moore for the Investor’s Business Daily, EPA this year will spend $1.4 million on guns, $380,000 on ammunition, $210,000 for camouflage, and $280,000 on night vision equipment.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

House Moves To Lift Oil Export Ban

The House of Representatives on 9th October passed a bill to lift the forty-year old ban on crude oil exports by a vote of 261 to 159.  Twenty-six Democrats joined 235 Republicans in voting Yes on H.R. 702, which was sponsored by Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex.).  Six Republicans and 153 Democrats voted No. 

An obscure provision to raise authorized funding to subsidize U.S.-flagged merchant ships that can be commandeered for military purposes was added to H.R. 702 by Republican leadership in order to increase Democratic support. That caused at least two conservative groups, Heritage Action and Freedom Works, to withdraw their support for the bill. 

Although the bill or a similar bill has a good chance to pass the Senate, the White House earlier in the week issued an official veto threat.  The statement said: “Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time.  Rather, Congress should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low carbon economy.  It could do this through a variety of measures, including ending the billions of dollars a year in federal subsidies provided to oil companies and instead investing in [subsidies for] wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies to meet America’s energy needs.”

As Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, drily noted, President Obama did not make this argument when he lifted the sanctions on oil exports from Iran.  The United States is now the only oil-producing country that bans crude oil exports.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

North Carolina and Kentucky Show Their Hands on Clean Power Plan

EnergyWire ($) reports this week that North Carolina won’t seek an extension on the September 2016 deadline for submissions to comply with the Clean Power Plan, but that the state’s ontime submission will be limited to “inside the fence line” measure--in direct contravention of EPA’s requirement to remake the entire electricity sector in accordance with the administration’s climate goals. In Kentucky, Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor, promised this week that he would not submit a state plan, if he were elected governor. His Republican challenger already has pledged to not submit a plan.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

IPCC Selects New Leader

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change elected Dr. Hoesung Lee as its new chairman at its meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, this week. Dr. Lee, who is currently one of the IPCC’s three vice chairmen, defeated five other candidates.  Dr. Lee replaces two-term IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri, who resigned in disgrace in February.

Dr. Lee is professor of the economics of climate change, energy, and sustainable development at Korea University.  In an informative interview with the Carbon Brief, he said, “If you ask me to choose the most important work in climate change issues, then I'll choose carbon price. That's because it is the driver to put us into the right track.”

In his nomination papers, Dr. Lee wrote that his vision for the IPCC was to “enhance participation of developing country experts,” “increase policy relevance and neutrality,” and to “pay special attention to climate change issues associated with job creation, health, innovation and technology development, energy access and poverty alleviation.”

The IPCC also elected three vice chairs: Ko Barrett from the U.S., Thelma Krug from Brazil, and Youba Sokona from Mali.  It also elected co-chairs and vice chairs for the three Working Groups for the sixth Assessment Report.  Co-chairing WG I will be Valerie Masson-Delmotte from France and Panmao Zhai from China.  Co-chairing WG II will be Hans-Otto Portner from Germany and Debra Roberts from South Africa.  And co-chairing WG III will be Priyadarshi R. Shukla from India and Jim Skea from the U.K.  A list of all officials elected by the IPCC can be found here. 

United Nations Releases “First Draft” of Paris Climate Treaty

The co-chairmen of UN negotiations on the forthcoming Paris climate treaty on 6th October released what they called a “first draft,” which they said will serve as “a concise basis for negotiations for the next negotiating sessions from 19-23 October in Bonn. The new twenty-page draft is a slimmed down version of much longer drafts released in February and July. 

As Andrew Revkin points out on his New York Times blog, the new draft is a lot shorter, but it is still riddled with brackets that enclose text that has been suggested during the negotiations by one or more countries, but has not been agreed on.   Although the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, as the negotiations are officially titled, was adopted in 2011, the draft text still doesn’t answer a key question: whether the new agreement is going to be “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It is widely understood that the inability or unwillingness of the negotiators to decide what form the agreement will take is due to the conflict between the desire to have a legally-binding agreement (that is, a treaty like the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol) and the need to pretend that it is not a treaty so that it is not subject to ratification by the U.S. Senate.  The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated by the Clinton Administration in 1997 and signed by President Clinton in 1998, but was never submitted to the Senate because ratification would not have come close to the two-thirds super-majority necessary for ratification.  At this point, the Paris Agreement looks just as unratifiable as Kyoto.

My view is that they can call it whatever they want, but the draft text makes clear that it’s a treaty; and therefore the Senate would have to ratify it for the U.S. to become a party.  For those interested in the details of why the Paris Agreement will undoubtedly be a treaty, I suggest looking especially at Articles 16, 18-22, and 25 of the draft text prepared by the co-chairmen of the Ad Hoc Working Group, Daniel Reifsnyder of the United States and Ahmed Djoghalf of Algeria.   

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.