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Entries in Climate Alarmism (116)


Cooler Heads Digest 28 August 2015 

28 August 2015


A National Academy of Sciences committee will begin its study of “Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon” with a public meeting next Wednesday, 2nd September, at the NAS’s Keck Center in Washington, DC.  Click here to learn how you may attend the meeting, watch the webcast, or participate in the study.   

In the News

The Conceits of Consensus
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 27 August 2015

Enron Environmentalism
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 26 August 2015

James Inhofe on What the Left Gets Wrong about Climate Change
Jamie Jackson, Daily Signal, 26 August 2015

Watchdog Report: DOE Failed To Perform Due Diligence on Solyndra Loan
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 26 August 2015

The Brave Judith Curry
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 25 August 2015

Clean Energy Incentive Program: Why It Makes EPA’s Power Plan Rule Even More Unlawful
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 25 August 2015

Ozone Rule To Unleash “EPA Police,” Group Says
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 25 August 2015

Deceptive Temperature Record Claims
Tom Harris, Washington Times, 23 August 2015

Top EU Climate Official: Paris Talks “Seriously Lagging”
Arthur Nelson, Guardian, 20 August 2015

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

Coordination between Governors, White House, and Tom Steyer

E-mails obtained through Washington State’s freedom of information law reveal a behind-the-scenes campaign to use governors’ and state attorneys general offices, green pressure groups, and renewable energy companies “to advance President Obama’s climate change regulatory and treaty agenda,” according to a new report by attorney Christopher Horner prepared for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute.

Key plotters include billionaire Democrat fund raiser Tom Steyer, Cylvia Hayes (fiancée of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber), and senior White House officials. The e-mails “reveal a broad-based campaign” to use private contributions to coordinate the actions of governors, state attorneys general, and utilities to mandate and subsidize renewable energy.  The report, writes Horner, “documents a convergence of big money and big government to underwrite pressure groups and echo chambers, to scheme behind closed doors and ‘creatively engage utilities’ to craft and impose a transformative and unpopular agenda” on the U.S. electric power sector.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

President Obama Calls Opposing Government Mandates and Subsidies Anti-Free Market

President Barack Obama gave perhaps the most disgraceful and dishonest speech of his presidency (and there have been some doozies—remember: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”) at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on 25th August. The President and his leftist allies have so debased our political discourse that Orwell’s “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” is no longer satire.

The President accused opponents of cronyism of being anti-free market: “Now, it’s one thing if you’re consistent in being free market.  It’s another thing when you’re free market until it’s solar that’s working and people want to buy, and suddenly you’re not for it anymore.  (Laughter.)  That’s a problem.”

The President cannot possibly be so ignorant as to actually believe that.  Government renewable electricity standards that raise the price consumers pay is not free market.  Requiring taxpayers to subsidize renewable energy installations is not free market.  Providing loan guarantees to renewable energy boondoggles owned by campaign contributors is not free market. EPA and DOE officials conspiring with environmental groups and renewable energy companies is not free market.

President Obama continued: “But when you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding -- that's a problem.  That's not the American way.  That's not progress.  That's not innovation.  That’s rent seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.”

Some fossil fuel interests obviously do engage in rent seeking.  Our politics encourages it, and no one has done more to encourage rent seeking than the Obama Administration.  But the oil and coal companies are adolescent amateurs compared to the pros at Solyndra, the American Wind Energy Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, Tesla, and General Electric.  I don’t know every group that the Kochs support, but the ones I know uniformly and consistently oppose all rent seeking and cronyism.  The same is true of the conservative and free market think tanks I work with, including the one I work for—CEI. 

But the President wasn’t done with outrageous rhetoric: “I mean, think about this.  Ordinarily, these are groups that tout themselves as champions of the free market.  If you start talking to them about providing health care for folks who don't have health insurance, they’re going crazy – ‘this is socialism, this is going to destroy America.’  But in this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.”

Government mandates that require people to buy products (such as solar or wind power or ethanol) choke off consumer choice and undermine competition in the marketplace.  President Obama has created his own reality where up is down and down is up, and apparently he thinks that many Americans are stupid enough to believe it. 

For more detailed dissections of the President’s speech, here is an outstanding one by Dan Simmons. And here is another by Nick Loris. 

Climate Rally on the Mall Will Follow Pope Francis’s Address to Congress

The Washington Post reported on 26th August that several environmental groups are planning a huge climate action rally on the Mall in Washington, DC, on 24th September, the day Pope Francis is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. The permit is for 200,000 people.

Also according to the Post, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) confirmed that the Pope “has expressed an interest” in making an appearance from the balconies on the Capitol’s West Front.  This would allow him to address the rally.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Colorado Mine Spill Reveals EPA’s Incompetence

Environmental Protection Agency contractors on 5th August released approximately three million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River in western Colorado.  They were supposed to be cleaning up the abandoned Gold King Mine site. The sludge, which contains high levels of cadmium, arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and other toxic contaminants, flowed south down the river, reaching Durango roughly 35 hours later.  It reached the New Mexico state line early in the morning on 7th August.

Gold King Mine, in the San Juan Mountains north of Silverton, was first opened in 1887 and eventually became one of the biggest producing mines in Colorado.  It closed in 1922.

The Denver Post reported that documents released by the EPA show that the EPA knew in June 2014 that the mine clean-up site was at risk of a blowout.  The Post quoted one of the documents: “‘Conditions may exist that could result in a blow-out of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals,’ an EPA task order from June 2014 said.”

Tori Richards of Colorado Watchdog reported that a local mine owner claimed that the EPA has been dumping mine waste from other sites into rivers since 2005.

Criticism of EPA’s slowness in responding to the spill came from all sides. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced that they would be suing for billions of dollars in damages. No doubt, other affected landowners will also file suit.  Estimates of the costs to clean up the spill have ranged from a few hundred million dollars to $30 billion. Clean-up will undoubtedly take decades and provide many new green jobs.

Three House and two Senate committees have scheduled hearings on the EPA’s spill, starting on 9th September with the House Science Committee.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its hearing on 16th September, as will the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  The House Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a joint hearing on 17th September.

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,



Cooler Heads Digest 14 August 2015 

14 August 2015

In the News

Matt Ridley vs. Environmentalist Cassandras
Bruce Walker, Power Blog, 14 August 2015

CO2-Induced Greening of the Earth
Craig Idso, Cato at Liberty, 14 August 2015

Rivers of Gold and Energy Poverty
David Kreutzer,, 14 August 2015

Barack Obama’s Quiet War on Oil
Elana Schor, Politico, 14 August 1015

Mark Steyn’s New Book on Michael Mann
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 13 August 2015

The War on Air Conditioning Heats Up
Sarah Skwire, The Freeman, 13 August 2015

Power Bias in EPA’s Power Plan Rule?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 12 August 2015

Industrial Wind v. Rural America, Electricity Markets
Mary Kay Barton, Master Resource, 12 August 2015

The War on Coal Is Just the Beginning
Peter Roff, U.S. News & World Report, 12 August 2015

What’s Next for the EPA’s All Pain No Gain Clean Power Plan?
Doug Domenech, Washington Examiner, 12 August 2015

Peak Oilers Shut Up Forever Please
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 11 August 2015

Obama’s Clean Power Plan: Solar Companies Win, Taxpayers Lose
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 10 August 2015

How California’s Green Policies Create Energy Poverty
Terry Jones, Investor’s Business Daily, 10 August 2015

News You Can Use
Peak Oil Thesis Belied

The Associated Press reports today that the price of oil has reached a 6 year low.

Inside the Beltway

Al Gore Hints at Presidential Run
William Yeatman

As reported by Buzzfeed, documentarian Al Gore’s inner circle is talking up a presidential run. I, for one, have got my fingers crossed he’ll take the plunge.

Across the States

AGs File Motion to Stay EPA Power Plan Rule
Marlo Lewis

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, joined by AGs from 15 other states, yesterday petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to place a stay on all compliance deadlines of EPA’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for existing power plants, the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), until all challenges to the rule’s legality have been resolved.

Normally, petitioners wait until a final rule is published in the Federal Register (FR) before filing motions to stay the rule. But, the AGs argue, the rule is plainly unlawful, harms states by forcing them to abandon low-cost coal generation, and EPA has not said when it will publish the rule in the FR.

“Equity dictates” that EPA should have tied states’ compliance deadlines to the date of FR publication. Instead, states must submit implementation plans by September 6, 2016 (or September 6, 2018 if granted an extension) regardless of when EPA publishes the rule.

Referring to EPA’s mercury rule, which petitioners successfully challenged but only after the rule shuttered coal power plants, the AGs warn that EPA can “use the uncertain gap between finalization and publication to squeeze practical compliance from regulated parties before judicial review can begin – a tactic strikingly similar to the one that EPA touted after its recent Supreme Court loss in Michigan v. EPA.”

Tom Steyer Makes a Fool of Himself
William Yeatman

Activist billionaire Tom Steyer is making no sense in California. Of late, he has been expressing outrage that “nefarious” oil companies are manipulating markets, resulting in California motorists having to pay almost a half-dollar more per gallon of gasoline than the average American. He has further intimated that he might sponsor a state ballot initiative to remedy this supposed problem. Steyer’s apparent concern for Californians’ pain at the pump is, of course, ridiculous in light of his long standing posture as a climate crusader. After all, the “solution” to global warming is higher energy prices, so Steyer logically should support pain at the pump. His irrationality aside, Steyer is also plain wrong. High gas prices in California have nothing to do with market manipulation by oil companies, and everything to do with the state’s wacky environmental policies. California’s cap-and-trade, for example, adds 10 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

Science Update

Will Corals Survive Global Warming and Ocean Acidification?
Marlo Lewis

Back in December 2012, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) ‘called out climate deniers’ in the first of many similarly-themed speeches on the Senate floor. I rebutted his remarks the next day on GlobalWarming.Org.

Among other accusations, Whitehouse claimed “deniers tend to ignore facts they can’t explain away.” He cited “the increasing acidification of the oceans,” which “is simple to measure and undeniably, chemically linked to carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. So we hear nothing about ocean acidification from the deniers.” 

My rebuttal noted that Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger discussed ocean acidification on their old Web site, World Climate Report. More importantly, Dr. Craig Idso maintains an extensive (and growing) ocean acidification database on CO2Science.Org, a leading skeptical Web site, and regularly posts reviews of scientific studies on the topic. So-called deniers actually have much to say about acidification. I advised Sen. Whitehouse to “check his facts before casting aspersions.”

This week on CO2Science.Org, Idso reviews eight recent empirical studies of the effects of ocean acidification and elevated sea temperatures on coral growth and calcification rates. Results from one of those studies should whet your appetite to read the entire review.

McCulloch et al. (2012) report that during calcification, aragonite corals secrete a calcifying fluid with typical pH values of 8.4 to 8.7 and as high as 10 – significantly less acidic (more basic) than typical seawater, which as has a pH of 8.1. Coral’s ability to adjust pH levels in the spaces between their skeleton and ectoderm makes them more resilient to ocean acidification than, for example, a lump of inorganic calcium. In addition, higher water temperatures enhance the “kinetics of calcification.”

Idso spotlights the implications for corals in the 21st century: “Projecting into the future with their experimentally-verified model, the four researchers assess the response of coral reefs to both global warming, with mean tropical sea surface temperatures ~ 2°C higher, and with PCO2 [dissolved CO2] increasing from present-day levels to ~1,000 ppm by the year 2100. And for this scenario, they report that their model predicts ‘either unchanged or only minimal effects on calcification rates.’ Thus, from a strictly chemical and kinetic perspective, their model indicates that ‘ocean acidification combined with rising ocean temperatures should have only minimal effects on coral calcification,’ which they describe as ‘a direct outcome’ of corals' ability to up-regulate pH at the site of calcification.

After reviewing all eight studies, Idso concludes: “Although, much remains to be learned on this subject, it is clear that many corals will not succumb to the presumed negative impacts of rising temperatures and ocean acidification. And when adaptive and evolutionary responses are considered, it may be that few, if any, corals will actually suffer harm from increases in these two phenomena. In fact, many coral species could well benefit from the warmer ocean temperatures and higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations predicted for the years and decades ahead.”

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,



Cooler Heads Digest 31 July 2015 

31 July 2015


In the News

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Reconsidered
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 31 July 2015

Consumers Respond to Low Gas Prices Buy Buying SUVs
Benjamin Hulac, Climate Wire, 31 July 2015

Report: EPA Broke the Law Writing the Clean Power Plan
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 30 July 2015

If Wind Energy Is “Strong,” Why Does It Need Subsidies?
Kelsey Warner, Christian Science Monitor, 29 July 2015

Corporations Pledge Fealty to Obama Global Warming Agenda
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 29 July 2015

Nix the Nixon-Era Energy Policies
Oren Cass, Forbes, 29 July 2015

French Climate Ambassador Concerned over Slow Progress for Paris Agreement
Adam Vaughan, Guardian, 28 July 2015

Liberal Legal Icon Rejected by Social Circle for Opposing Clean Power Plan
Andrew Rice, New York Magazine, 28 July 2015

Hilary Clinton’s Clean Energy Plan is a Farce
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, 27 July 2015

3 Arctic Scientists May Have Been Iced by Big Oil, Claims Professor
Robert Mendick, Telegraph, 25 July 2015

News You Can Use
Poll: 40% of Humans Don’t Know What Climate Change Is

Four out of 10 people worldwide had never heard of climate change, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Reportedly Will Issue Final Rules on Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Next Week

Mainstream media outlets reported this week that the Environmental Protection Agency will release its final rules for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants next Monday or Tuesday, 3rd or 4th August.  The Washington Post and the New York Times both ran stories that contain details of changes in the rules provided by unnamed White House sources.  It was also reported that President Barack Obama will join EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at a White House Rose Garden press briefing to announce the rules.

According to these reports, the final rule for existing power plants, the so-called “Clean Power” Plan, will differ from the proposed rule released in June 2014 in several ways.  The deadline for States to implement their plans to reduce emissions will be moved from 2020 to 2022.  The EPA will offer extra credit to States that take early action to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Another report suggested that the final rule will give credit for nuclear plants under construction or being planned, rather than including them in the baseline.  

After the final rules are released, the Cooler Heads Coalition’s web site,, will provide analysis and links to other useful analyses.  In addition, the American Energy Alliance has just created a hub for the “latest information on how States and the public are fighting back against the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan.” 

CEI has just published my colleague William Yeatman’s briefing on some of the legal issues involved, EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan Overreach. And the Energy and Environment Legal Institute has just published my CEI colleague Chris Horner’s report, Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation.

Finally, it is worth noting that it was reported that Alpha Natural Resources, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, will file for bankruptcy on Monday, 3rd August. The main reason coal prices have gone down by over 70% since 2011 is the threat of EPA’s power plant rules.

Thirteen Major Companies Pledge Allegiance to Obama Climate Agenda

Senior executives of thirteen major companies went to the White House on 27th July to announce that they had signed on to the “American Business Act on Climate Pledge.” In doing so, the companies pledged support for President Barack Obama’s climate action agenda and a strong outcome to the UN climate negotiations due to be concluded in Paris in December.  Individual commitments by the thirteen companies total “at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and more than 1600 megawatts of new renewable energy.”

The companies that signed the pledge are: Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart.  The White House also announced that a second round of companies that have signed the pledge will be announced this fall.  You may want to boycott them all.    

Lots More Companies To Boycott

Ceres, the non-profit front group for businesses hoping to profit from energy-rationing policies, announced on 31st July that 365 companies and investors have sent letters to the governors of 29 States urging them to support the EPA’s regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The rules for existing and new plants are expected to be released in final form in the first week of August.

Most of the companies signing the letters are small to tiny, but Ceres listed in boldface those with annual revenues over $100 million and investors with over $2 billion in assets being managed.  These companies include: Adidas, Aveda, Ben and Jerry’s, Clif Bar, eBay, Eileen Fisher, Gap, General Mills, L’Oreal, Levi Strauss, Mars, Nestle, New Belgium Brewing, Seventh Generation, Staples, Stonyfield, Sun Edison, Dannon, North Face, Timberland, and Unilever. Quite a few religious organizations are also on the list, including the Presbyterian Church, the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.  Those keeping a comprehensive boycott list will want to consult the entire list. 

Renewable Fuel Standard: Statutory Targets Lead to Disaster, Study Finds
Marlo Lewis

NERA Economic Consulting this week published a study, commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, of the transportation and macroeconomic impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard program (“RFS2”). The study concludes that EPA’s proposed reduction of refiners' renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for calendar years 2014-2016 is essential to avert economic disaster. It also predicts EPA will have to continually prune back the statutory requirements in the years ahead.

The study includes a concise overview of how the RFS2 program works. In a nutshell, the RFS program, as extended and expanded the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), requires refiners, blenders, and fuel importers to increase the overall quantity of biofuel sold in the nation’s motor fuel supply from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 36 billion in 2022. EISA also establishes sub-targets for conventional, advanced, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic biofuels. In addition, the statute authorizes EPA to adjust the targets if “there is an inadequate supply,” a criterion defined broadly by the agency to include infrastructure and market constraints limiting supply to “the ultimate consumers.” (For additional background and commentary, see my article in the July 2015 edition of Greenwatch).

Due to enormous and growing gaps between the statutory cellulosic targets and actual commercial production, and, more importantly, the market’s inability to absorb more than 10% ethanol in the nation’s motor fuel supply, EPA in May proposed to reduce the total biofuel target 2 billion gallons below the statutory goal for 2014, and more than 4 billion below the statutory goals for 2015 and 2016. Renewable fuel lobbyists would, of course, prefer that EPA uphold the overall statutory requirements. That would cause "severe" economic harm, the NERA study argues.

Here’s why. RVOs are calculated as a percentage of the total volume of motor fuel each refiner sells in domestic commerce. If RVOs exceed what refiners can actually sell to U.S. consumers, they will reduce their obligations by either producing less motor fuel or selling more fuel abroad. Reducing domestic supplies of gasoline and diesel will sharply increase gasoline and diesel prices. Given the pivotal role of transportation in the movement of people and goods, higher fuel costs will have damaging ripple effects throughout the economy. In the NERA authors’ words:

“Higher diesel fuel costs increase the cost to move raw materials and finished goods around the country, thus eventually making everything that directly or indirectly depends on transportation services more costly. Likewise the higher gasoline prices leave consumers with less disposable income. As a result of these impacts, consumption of goods and services declines. All of these impacts lead to severe economic harm.”

Senate Energy Legislation Update
William Yeatman

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 18-4 this week to advance the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. Last week I described the bill as being a collection of policies that are disparate, uncontroversial, and minor. I also said that there was more bad than good in the bill, though the total impact is thankfully low (by virtue of the smallness of the policies). There’s a similarly unimpressive bill before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, so it would seem there’s a good chance of some sort of energy package being passed by both chambers.

Also in last week’s Digest, I noted that Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski promised to hold a committee vote on a bill that would lift the Nixon-era oil export ban. True to her word, the Committee this week voted to allow oil exports along a party-line 12-10 vote. It’s unclear whether the bill has the votes to avoid a filibuster. It was reported today by Energy & Environment News that some Senate Democrats are willing to support an end to the oil export ban in exchange for continuing tax handouts for wind energy. House Speaker John Boehner this week publicly threw his support behind a lifting of the oil export ban, so the bill’s congressional prospects are excellent if it passes the Senate. President Obama has not yet indicated whether or not he would veto such a measure.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Just Like Obama, Washington Governor Inslee Unilaterally Orders Emissions Cap

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) on 28th July directed the state’s Department of Ecology to devise a binding cap on carbon dioxide emissions. This follows the state legislature’s rejection last month of Inslee’s legislative proposals to create a low-carbon fuel standard for vehicles and a cap-and-trade system for major carbon dioxide emitters.

The governor’s office said that they expect it will “take about a year” for the department to develop policies to reduce CO2 emissions using existing legislative authority.  Part of the effort will be determining how the governor’s order can be implemented legally.  Governor Inslee claims that he has the authority to cap emissions under a 2008 law that set a target of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. 

Science Update
Marlo Lewis 

Is Sea-Level Rise Accelerating?

The IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) famously declared that global average sea level increased at an average rate of 3.1 millimeters (mm) per year during 1993-2003, almost twice the 50-year average rate of 1.8 mm per year during 1961-2003. Although the IPCC said it was “unclear” whether the faster rate post 1993 “reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer term trend,” many in the alarm camp took the IPCC’s finding as confirmation of their fears.

This week on CO2Science.Org, Dr. Craig Idso reviews numerous empirical studies on sea-level rise published since 2003. The overall picture is indeed unclear. Some researchers acknowledge that the recent acceleration may be the rising branch of a decadal oscillation. Some find similar rates during the first half of the 20th century. Some think ground water withdrawals contributed significantly to the late 20th century/early 21st century acceleration. Some find no recent acceleration or an actual deceleration.

The University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group finds no acceleration during the most recent 22-year-plus (1992-2015) period. If the estimated 3.3 mm/yr rate holds, sea levels will increase about 1 foot by 2100. For perspective, sea levels rose about 7 inches during the 20th century.

Former NASA scientist James Hansen predicts sea levels could rise 10 feet by 2100. Idso's review provides a sober antidote to such scary speculation. Now is not a good time to sell the beach house.

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,



Cooler Heads Digest 24 July 2015 


24 July 2015

In the News

100% Renewables?
Thomas Stacey II, Master Resource, 24 July 2015

EPA’s Climate Action Flimflam Report, Part 2
Marlo Lewis,, 23 July 2015

Obama’s Scorched-Earth Oil and Gas Policy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Real Clear Energy, 22 July 2015

Let’s Have Full Disclosure on Harvard’s New Health Study
Steve Heins, Fortnightly, 22 July 2015

A Vote for the PTC Is a Vote for EPA’s Climate Regulation
Thomas Pyle, The Hill, 22 July 2015

Britain Moves To Slash Renewable Subsidy Costs
Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 22 July 2015

Commutes Could Get Worse under EPA’s Ozone Rules
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 22 July 2015

Nonsensical “Fractivist” Pipeline Hysteria
Mark Perry, Washington Times, 21 July 2015

Innovation Sputters in Battle against Climate Change
Eduardo Porter, New York Times, 21 July 2015

North Dakota’s Oil Economy Remains Strong Despite Media Myths
James Taylor, Forbes, 20 July 2015

Senior Cardinal Questions Pope’s Authority on Climate Change
Steve Doughty, Daily Mail, 20 July 2015

News You Can Use
Study: Removing Oil & Gas Export Hurdles Would Create 2.3 Million New Jobs

According to a new study by economic consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, Congress would create as many as 2.3 million new jobs by removing the oil export ban by 2016 and streamlining approval of liquefied natural gas export terminals.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

House and Senate Committees Introduce Underwhelming Energy Bills

This week witnessed the introduction of energy policy bills in both chambers of Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday dropped a 92 page as-yet-unnamed bill, while the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday unveiled the 370 page Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. Both bills are underwhelming.

Out of more than 100 sections in the Senate bill, only two are any good, and they would streamline permitting for liquefied natural gas exporting facilities and hydropower dams (respectively). The worst section of the Senate bill affirms the purpose of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a federally maintained oil repository meant to guard against a major supply disruption, despite the fact that the American oil boom has rendered the SPR obsolete. The rest of the Senate bill is fluff, syuch as a sense of Congress supporting geothermal energy, research into methane hydrates as an energy source, and the codification of individual dam permits.

The unnamed House bill similarly includes only two welcome provisions: §1101 would speed the permitting of natural gas pipeline construction and §1102 would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enhanced flexibility if EPA’s war on coal threatens electric reliability. The worst provision of the House bill is a boondoggle in the form of a federally-managed “strategic reserve” for large transmission transformers, whose ostensible purpose is to guard against the possibility of a solar storm. The rest of the bill is more fluff, like the creation of an “energy security” plan for North America.

Thus, the newly-introduced House and Senate energy bills are large collections of policies that are disparate, uncontroversial, and minor. Moreover, for each draft statute, the bad outweighs the good (though the total mass is small, thankfully).

At heart, serious (and seriously beneficial) congressional energy policy must be a function of regulatory reform, rather than the creation of new and insignificant programs. On this front—serious energy policy—there was some good news this week from Capitol Hill. Yesterday, by a robustly bipartisan 258-166 vote, the House passed H.R. 1734, the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act, an excellent bill that would rein in EPA’s recent coal ash regulation. And in the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters this week that her panel will take a vote before the August recess on a consolidated bill to lift the existing ban on oil exports.

Wind PTC: Watching Congress Make the Sausage

At the end of 2014, Congress allowed to expire the wind production tax credit (PTC), the wind energy's most lucrative subsidy.

However, the wind PTC remained a priority for legislators from wind-heavy states and environmentalists. During the 114th Congress, these wind energy proponents have been pressing to include the wind PTC in a bill, known as the “tax extenders package,” comprised of dozens of other tax subsidies. Unfortunately, this “package” of preferential tax treatments represents the apogee of congressional comity—it enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support because everyone gets to eat from the taxpayer trough. Regardless whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge, most Members of Congress agree that the tax extenders package is good parochial politics, alas.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee took up the tax extenders package. So as not to rock the boat, and thereby jeopardize everyone’s goodies, the Committee leadership gave way to wind energy proponents, and included the wind PTC in the draft legislation. By a depressingly bipartisan 23-3 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved the package. All of the democrats on the committee voted for the bill, and a preponderance of republicans voted for it. The principled few to oppose the tax extenders package—Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)—won my respect.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

House Panel Examines Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon Analysis

The House Resources Committee this week held a hearing on the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon (SCC) estimates. The SCC is a guesstimate of the damage allegedly inflicted on society by an incremental ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over an immense span of time – typically out to the year 2300.

Discernible in neither meteorological nor economic data, carbon's social cost exists in the virtual world of “integrated assessment models” (IAMs) – computer programs that combine speculative climatology with speculative economics.

Under President Obama, agencies routinely incorporate SCC estimates in cost-benefit analyses used to justify regulatory proposals. Agencies have an incentive to invent and inflate SCC values to make CO2-reducing regulations look more valuable.

For example, the administration’s 2013 technical support document (TSD) on the social cost of carbon increased the SCC values of an earlier 2010 TSD by roughly 60%. In just four short years, while climate models increasingly overshot observed global temperatures, and multiple datasets continued to provide no evidence of a greenhouse "signal" in the frequency or strength of extreme weather, climate change somehow got 60% worse and CO2-reductions 60% more valuable. Your government at work!

Four witnesses testified at the hearing. For reasons of space, I will cover only two key points in the testimony of Cato Institute scientist Patrick Michaels.

A critical input in SCC calculations is climate sensitivity, an estimate of how much warming results from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Both the 2013 TSD and the administration’s July 2015 response to comments reaffirm the IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report's (AR4) "best" climate sensitivity estimate of 3°C.

Some 14 recent studies and 20 experiments estimate lower sensitivities, averaging about 2°C. Plugging that value into the administration's IAMs would reduce SCC values by 35%-60%.

More importantly, using an updated sensitivity estimate would significantly reduce the apparent risk of high-impact, low-probability events such as collapse of the Greenland ice sheet. Michaels faults the administration for refusing to recognize “what is now becoming mainstream science.”

Worse, the administration’s analysis is systemically biased. Literally thousands of empirical observations demonstrate that rising CO2 concentrations increase crop yields. Yet DICE and PAGE, two of the three IAMs on which the administration relies, have no CO2 fertilization benefit.

Although one IAM, the FUND model, has a CO2 fertilization effect, it is about four times smaller than the benefit identified in a recent comprehensive assessment by Craig Idso. If all three IAMs incorporated Idso’s CO2 fertilization benefit, SCC values would have been very low or even “negative” (i.e. a net benefit).

Models that lack CO2 fertilization -- a "known physical effect" -- are inherently biased. And that, Michaels reasonably concludes, should "disqualify them from contributing to the final result."


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,



Cooler Heads Digest 17 July 2015 

17 July 2015

In the News

Is Carbon Capture a “System of Emissions Reduction”?
Marlo Lewis,, 16 July 2015

PRC Should Fight EPA on Haze Rules
William Yeatman, Albuquerque Journal, 16 July 2015

EPA Distorts Health Benefits of Mega-Costly Clean Air Rule
George Russell, Fox News, 16 July 2015

Renewable Energy Standards Reconsidered as States Question Mandates
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 16 July 2015

The Inconvenient Truth about Climate Policy
Benjamin Zycher, U.S. News & World Report, 16 July 2015

Lawmaker Grills EPA Chief for Claiming .01 Degree of Averted Global Warming is “Enormously Beneficial”
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 16 July 2015

Colorado Environmental Group Caught Misleadingly Listing Companies as Supporters
Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review, 16 July 2015

Infograph: How Rocky Mountains Are Becoming Major Energy Supplier, 15 July 2015

James Hansen: Revisiting His False Alarms (10 Year Warning Coming Due!)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 14 July 2015

Have Faith in the Shale Gale
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Hill, 14 July 2015

Federal Court Slams Ethanol and EPA in One Ruling
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 14 July 2015

News You Can Use
Study: Utica Play Bigger Than Expected

RigZone this week reported on a study by West Virginia University that estimates the technically recoverable fossil fuel resources in the Utica shale formation (covering much of eastern Ohio) to be far larger than previously thought. According to the paper, the Utica play contains technically recoverable resources of 782 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas and around 1.9 billion barrels of oil. That’s higher than the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2012 estimate of technically recoverable resources at 38 Tcf of gas and 940 million barrels of oil.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Stream Buffer Zone Rule: Worse Than Expected

On Thursday, 16th July, the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining released its proposed “stream buffer” rule. The rule is a big new front in the administration’s war on coal, and it’s even worse than expected.

Section 515(b) of the 1977 Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) requires that surface coal mining companies minimize disturbances to streams, and environmentalists long have been pushing the Obama administration to interpret this provision by banning coal mining within 100 feet of streams. Greens prefer this interpretation because it would effectively ban surface coal mining in Appalachia. There, the steep terrain necessitates the disposal of mining debris at the base of mountains, where rainwater collects into ephemeral streams. By prohibiting mining activity within 100 feet of ephemeral streams, the environemtalists recommended stream buffer rule would ban disposal of mining debris in “valley fills,” which would effectively ban mining.

As such, the fear has been that Interior's proposal would target (and eliminate) surface coal mining in Appalachia. Alas, the proposed rule has the potential to do this and much more.

Although the rule doesn’t explicitly adopt a rigid stream “buffer,” it has the potential to ban “valley fills” and, therefore, to ban surface coal mining in Appalachia. By requiring “similarity” between “post mining drainage patterns” for ephemeral streams and “pre-mining drainage patterns,” the rule could effectively preclude the use of valley fills, due to the fact that they (valley fills) irrevocably change the drainage patterns of ephemeral at the base of mountains. The severity of this aspect of the proposal will depend on how the administration defines “similarity.” And this is but one of many new proposed requirements for valley fills.

Equally alarming is the expansive scope of the proposal, which bootstraps entirely unexpected and novel regulatory regimes into the SMCRA program. For example, Interior proposes to condition surface mining permits on controls for conductivity, or salinity. Currently, EPA’s conductivity regulations are limited to Appalachian States, and they are extremely controversial. By requiring conductivity controls for SMCRA permits, EPA would achieve a gross expansion of this existing Clean Water Act program. This is a scary proposition, as saline effluent (i.e., conductivity) is ubiquitous. An engineer once told me that you couldn’t wash a parking lot without violating EPA’s conductivity standards.

In sum, we thought that the rule would unreasonably target surface coal mining in Appalachia. But it seems that Interior's expansive interpretation poses a danger to coal production in the west, too.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

San Francisco Catholic Group Spends Millions To Promote Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical

The Knights of Saint Francis of Assisi, a non-profit organization based appropriately in San Francisco, has taken out a number of full-page color ads in major newspapers in the last two weeks that promote Pope Francis’s climate encyclical, Laudato Si’.  I have seen multiple ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and have heard that the ads also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.  They may be running in other papers as well.

The newspaper ads have short quotes from the encyclical.  One reads: “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”  Another: “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”  These two could be bumper stickers: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does;” and “It is man who has slapped nature in the face.”

In addition, the group has been running radio ads promoting the encyclical frequently on at least two radio stations—WTOP and WMAL in Washington.  The voice is provided by Morgan Freeman, who played God in two movies.  And there are at least several bus stops in Washington with Knights’ ads. 

The Knights of Saint Francis of Assisi was founded and is chaired by Angela Alioto, a prominent Democrat who was president of the San Francisco board of supervisors for eight years in the 1990s.  Her father, Joseph Alioto, was mayor of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Alioto founded the Knights in 2008 to build and maintain a replica of the chapel known as Porziuncola built by Saint Francis in 1206.  The replica, the Porziuncola Nuova, is in the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, which is a landmark on Columbus Ave. in San Francisco’s North Beach.  The group’s most recent IRS 990 form for 2013 reports income of $88,629.

There isn’t much information about the media campaign on the Knights’ web site.  There is little more on the group’s Facebook page.   But I have found no information that explains how a group that received $88,629 in donations in 2013 is paying for a multi-million dollar campaign to promote the Pope’s climate encyclical.  Clearly, the organization is being used as a pass-through by some very wealthy individual(s) or group.  Did anyone say Tom Steyer or the TomKat Foundation?

Around the World
Marlo Lewis

Dueling Opinion Polls: Is Climate Change the Top Global Concern – or Lowest?

A Pew Research Center survey of 45,435 respondents finds that “publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey.” Climate change ranks particularly high “in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue.”

But this just in, reported today on WattsUpWithThat. The United Nations “My World” Initiative, a global survey of citizens from all countries with votes currently totaling 7,679,273, finds that climate change “is dead last in the list of concerns queried.”

In the my world survey, action on climate change ranks behind a good education, better health care, better job opportunities, an honest and responsive government, affordable and nutritious food, protection against crime and violence, access to clean water and sanitation, support for people who can’t work, better transportation and roads, equality between men and women, reliable energy at home, freedom from discrimination and persecution, political freedoms, protecting forests, rivers, and oceans, and phone and internet access.

How can these surveys get such different results? The Pew survey results are skewed by the form of the question posed. The survey does not ask people which health and welfare issues they care about most. Rather, it asks them to rank their concerns about seven “global” issues. 

Four of the “global” issues are predominantly regional (ISIS, Iran’s nuclear program, tensions between Russia and its neighbors, territorial disputes between China and its neighbors). So unless respondents happen to live in the Mideast, Ukraine, or South China Sea, they are unlikely to be “very concerned.”

The UN survey reveals that, for most people, the biggest challenges to their health and welfare are not global but national, local, and familial. Of 16 issues considered, climate change places last.

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,