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Entries in Climate Change (314)

Saturday
Jan242015

Cooler Heads Digest 23 January 2015 

23 January 2015

In the News

Feds Enlist Disney To Make a “Frozen” Film about the Melting Arctic
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 23 January 2015

Unintended Consequences of the Climate Crusade
Andrew Montford, Master Resource, 23 January 2015

‘Lukewarmer’ Matt Ridley on How to Debate Climate Change
Marlo Lewis, Globalwarming.org, 22 January 2015

Tom Steyer Won’t Run for Senate
Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 22 January 2015

EPA Peddles Its Hysteria about the Weather to the Young
Washington Times editorial, 22 January 2015

ObamaAir’s Power Grab
Amy Oliver Cooke & William Yeatman, Journal-Advocate, 21 January 2015

MIT professor Richard Lindzen: Global Warming Alarmists Are a “Cult”
Howie Carr, Big Government, 21 January 2015

The Fracking Fracas over Earthquakes
Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review Online, 21 January 2015

How These Green Companies Are Gouging Consumers with the Government’s Help
Stephen Moore & Joel Griffith, Daily Signal, 18 January 2015

News You Can Use
States Push Back against EPA's Clean Power Plan

According to a report published this week on the responses by the States to EPA’s Clean Power Plan:

  • 28 Governors or Attorneys General have raised major concerns with the rule’s legal foundations;
  • 12 States are suing EPA regarding its authority to promulgate carbon regulations; and,
  • 6 States have passed legislation into law restricting state responses to the rule.

Read the whole report, “A Guide to States’ Concerns Regarding the EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Votes RaiseConcerns

No one thought it was going to be easy for Senate Republicans to roll back the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, but votes on the Senate floor this week make it clear that there is a lot of work to be done.  The votes were on amendments to S. 1, the bill that would bypass President Obama and permit the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But first the good news.  New Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the floor late in the afternoon of 22nd January to note that the Senate had now voted on more amendments to legislation than during all of 2014, when Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was majority leader and allowed only 15 votes on amendments.  Reid’s petty tyranny, supported by a Democratic majority, is over, but this is only the first of many steps that McConnell and his Republican majority will need to take to restore the Senate to full working order.

When they went home for the weekend on Thursday night, Senators had voted on 25 amendments on a variety of energy-related subjects, with more votes to come next week.  The texts of all the amendments and the roll call votes can be found here.

Of these 25 votes, I’m going to look at three related to climate science and one to climate policy.  First, on 21st January, the Senate voted 98-1 in favor of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) amendment #29 that simply states that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”  Yes, indeed, the climate is always changing and there are many causes.

Next, the Senate voted 59-40 in favor of Senator John Hoeven’s (R-ND) amendment #87.  It was offered to provide Republicans a weaker alternative to the Schatz amendment, which was voted on next (and which I discuss below).  The text is similar to the Schatz amendment but omits the word “significantly.”  Hoeven ended up voting against his own amendment to prevent it from passing with the required 60 votes.  

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) then offered amendment #58, which concludes: “[I]t is the sense of Congress that: (1) climate change is real; and (2) human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”  The amendment failed on a 50-49 vote, with 60 votes again being required for adoption.  But it did get a majority, which included five Republicans.  The Republicans who voted Yes were: Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-Me.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

The movement of five Republicans towards agreeing with global warming alarmism got the Republican leadership worried.  They decided to bring to the floor on 22nd January amendment #78 offered by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). 

Blunt’s amendment is based on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which passed the Senate on a 95-0 vote in 1997.  Byrd-Hagel put President Clinton on notice that the Senate would not ratify an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it damaged the U. S. economy or put the U. S. at a competitive disadvantage internationally.

Similarly, the Blunt amendment disavows the climate deal President Obama signed with Chinese President Xi last fall as “a bad deal for United States consumers, workers, families, and communities, and is economically unfair and environmentally irresponsible.”  It goes on to warn the President that any new international climate agreement, such as the one due to be signed in Paris in December, must be submitted to the Senate for ratification and that “United States should not be a signatory to any bilateral or other international agreement on greenhouse gases if it would result in serious harm to the economy” or imposed “disparate greenhouse gas commitments for the United States and other countries.”

The Blunt amendment failed to meet the 60-vote threshold, but did get 51 votes with 46 opposed.  Of the five Republican Senators who voted for the Schatz climate science amendment, two voted for the Blunt amendment—Lamar Alexander and Mark Kirk.  But Senators Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins voted No on the Blunt Amendment as well.  Lindsey Graham missed the vote.  Of the several Democratic Senators who claim to support the fossil fuel industries that provide affordable energy, only Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted Yes on the Blunt amendment.

These votes indicate to me that the supporters of blocking EPA greenhouse gas regulations through appropriations riders and/or Congressional Review Act resolutions later in the year, are going to need to work hard to shore up support from this small group of wavering Republicans and Democrats, such as Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).   

President Obama Admits He’s Not a Climate Scientist

The New York Times got the tenor of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress exactly right in its headlines for a front-page analysis by Peter Baker: “A Bold Call to Action, Even if No Action Is Likely.”  The sub-headline was even better: “Obama Speaks as Though His Party Won the Midterms.”

Here is the punchline of Baker’s analysis: “But after the lights went out and the presidential motorcade had made its way back up Pennsylvania Avenue, the party balance had not changed. For all of Mr. Obama’s confident demeanor, the question raised by the speech was whether advancing initiatives with little or no hope of passage constituted an act of bold leadership or a feckless waste of time.”

The President devoted 315 words in a 6500 word speech to climate change and another 69 words to energy production.  He again claimed that “[N]o challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”  He responded to the refrain from many Republican office holders: “I've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists…. Well, I'm not a scientist, either.  But … I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.”

President Obama went on to note that, “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  That's why, over the past six years, we've done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it….  And that's why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts.”  So much for working with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. 

Finally, the President called the meaningless climate deal he signed last fall with Chinese President Xi “historic” and went on to claim that, “[B]ecause the world's two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we've got.

For critical commentary on the President’s pathetic climate confusion, see my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis’s post on GlobalWarming.org.

Across the States
William Yeatman

Maryland

Acting with only hours to spare, new Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday suspended the promulgation of a regulation targeting the state’s coal-fired power plants that was issued during the final days of the administration of his predecessor, Martin O’Malley (D). It was one of Hogan’s first acts in office. O’Malley, who reportedly has presidential ambitions, had rushed to implement the rule before he left office, as a sop to the green base of the Democratic Party. However, in so doing, he skipped important procedural steps that would have afforded the public an opportunity to scrutinize the rule, which would effectively require the state’s coal-fired power plants to install an emissions control technology known as “selective catalytic reduction,” regardless whether or not it was cost-effective. Governor Hogan announced his intention to subject the rule to proper procedural requirements.

Iowa

In what is the best evidence to date that Iowa’s first-primary-in-the-country is terrible for America, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) this week announced the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign that will pressure presidential contenders to support the Renewable Fuel Standard. To be sure, the RFS is great for Iowa, because it grows a great deal of corn, the primary feedstock for ethanol. But it’s horrible for the rest of the world, as it causes the price of both food and fuel to increase.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Global Temperature Hype

“2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record,” President Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union speech. Obama cited the separate findings of two federal agencies, NASA and NOAA, which announced Jan. 16 that, “The Year 2014 ranks as the warmest since 1880.” To Obama, the record-breaking year is evidence Congress and the American people should rally round EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.

When will the spinning end?

In the first place, 2014 was likely not the warmest year in the instrumental record. NASA and NOAA’s analyses are based on data from thousands of land- and sea-based weather stations.

But, as is well-known, surface station records have many gaps (both spatial and temporal) and many quality-control issues. Moreover, they do not measure temperature in the bulk atmosphere (the troposphere), where most of the warming from an enhanced greenhouse effect is predicted to occur.

And as NOAA’s press release acknowledges, the 2014 temperature in the troposphere was the third highest in the 1979-2014 record, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) satellite program, and the sixth highest on record, as analyzed by the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite program.

So why don’t the agencies’ press releases proclaim 2014 the third or sixth warmest year? Because “warmest on record” feeds the sense of crisis – a boon to agency budgets. Thus we find this bit of shameless self-promotion in NASA’s press release: "The observed long-term warming trend and the ranking of 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance for NASA to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the role and impacts of human activity."

Even based on surface station records alone, 2014 may not be a record breaker. NASA scientists subsequently acknowledged they are only 38% sure 2014 was the warmest year, because the supposed record is only 0.02°C warmer than 2010, whereas the margin of error – about 0.1°C – is 50 times larger!

Most importantly, “warmest year” blather distracts public attention from the big picture, which has two components. First, despite any small warming increment that may have occurred in 2014, climate model predictions increasingly overshoot observations. Second, the 0.8°C warming since 1880 is moderate, non-alarming, and coincides with dramatic improvements in life expectancy, health, and per capita income, and dramatic reductions in mortality related to extreme weather.

For additional commentary on warmest year hype, see Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger’s “You Ought to Have a Look: Record Global Temperatures.”

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
Jan102015

Cooler Heads Digest 09 January 2015 

9 January 2015

In the News

One Year Ago: The White House Polar Vortex Video
Sam Kazman, GlobalWarming.org, 9 January 2015

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (Book Review)
Jay Lehr & Sterling Burnett, Master Resource, 8 January 2015

Climate Change’s Instructive Past
George Will, Washington Post, 7 January 2015

Obama: Don’t Get Too Used to Low Gas Prices
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 7 January 2015

Oil’s “Swoon” Is Not an Argument for Carbon Taxes
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 6 January 2014

It’s never a Good Time for a Carbon Tax
Nicolas Loris, The Daily Signal, 6 January 2015

States To Challenge Obama’s Climate Rules
Zack Colman, Washington Examiner, 5 January 2015

Vatican’s Green Turn Would Leave Poor Even Poorer
Stephen Moore, Washington Times, 4 January 2015

Civil Rights Leader: Christians Should Find Increased Energy Costs Deeply Troubling
Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., Christian Post, 3 January 2015

News You Can Use
Harvard Professor: People Will Pay $60 per Year to Fight Climate Change

According to research compiled by Harvard Government Professor Stephen Ansolabehere, Americans are willing to pay about $5 a month, or $60 per year, to mitigate climate change. Seems high to us.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Three Steps Forward for Keystone Pipeline, One Big Step Back

The House of Representatives on Friday, 9th January, voted for a bill that would permit the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands across the U. S. border to the point in Oklahoma where it would join the southern part of the pipeline which has already been built.  The vote was 266 to 153.

Two-hundred thirty-eight Republicans were joined by 28 Democrats in voting to over-ride President Obama’s authority over the permit.  No Republicans voted No, but three missed the vote and one, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), voted Present.  Six Democrats also missed the vote. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee marked up the Keystone bill on Thursday by a 13 to 9 vote.  The Senate bill has 60 co-sponsors, including six Democrats.  The bill is scheduled to come to the Senate floor next week.  It is unclear how long it will be debated because new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has insisted that he wants to abandon the petty tyranny of his predecessor as majority leader, now-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and return the functioning of the Senate to regular order.  That means that McConnell will allow amendments to be offered, debated, and voted on.

Also on Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling that held the state legislature had acted unconstitutionally when it removed power from the Public Service Commission to approve the Keystone Pipeline’s route through Nebraska and gave it to the Governor.  The decision was 4 to 3 in favor of the lower court ruling, but ruling something unconstitutional requires a super-majority of five justices in Nebraska.

On Tuesday, 6th January, the White House issued a veto threat on the Keystone bill.  This once again shows that President Barack Obama prefers to side with a few billionaire Democratic donors against the interests of the American people. It has been clear for several years that the President’s strategy is to delay construction of the pipeline to death by never making a decision on the permit. 

EPA Delays Finalizing Greenhouse Gas Rules for Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Wednesday, 7th January, that it will delay finalizing its three rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified, and existing coal and gas fired power plants, which will now all be finalized at the same time in mid-summer.  The rule for new power plants was due to be finalized on 8th January. 

Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe also announced that the EPA would release a model Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) for those States that are refusing to develop State Implementation Plans to comply with the rule for existing power plants.  As proposed, the rule for existing power plants appears to be illegal in several ways.  A model FIP may indicate how the regulation can be implemented to avoid these legal obstacles.  It may also be so unwieldy and costly that it will put pressure on States to develop their own plans.

My CEI colleague William Yeatman will be posting several pieces on GlobalWarming.org over the next few days that explore the significance of the EPA’s announcements. 

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Rainfall in India: No Evidence of Climate Disruption

One of my favorite moments in An Inconvenient Truth is when Al Gore blames global warming for a record-breaking downpour in Mumbai, India.

“July 2005, Mumbai, India, received 37 inches of rain in 24 hours—the largest downpour any Indian city has received in one day,” Gore wrote in the book version of the film (p. 110). Gore offered this datum as evidence of fossil-fueled climate disruption.

I looked into this back in 2007 (Al Gore's Science Fiction, pp. 49-50). Since it is impossible to divine a greenhouse 'fingerprint' in any individual weather event, I reasoned that if global warming were influencing rainfall in Mumbai, we would see it in long-term precipitation records. Through a quick Web search I found that Mumbai had not one but two weather stations (today there are four), and each had a program allowing site visitors to access and plot historic weather data.

For each station, I plotted rainfall in Mumbai for the month of July from 1959 (the earliest year in the records) through 2005. There was no discernible trend in either of the two records over the 45-year period.

Why flog this dead horse now? This week on CO2Science.Org, Craig Idso reviews a recent study by three Indian researchers who analyzed daily rainfall data collected at the Agro Climate Research Centre at Coimbatore, India over the 106-year period of 1907-2012. The researchers found “no change in long-term monthly, seasonal and annual rainfall and frequency of rain days” and “no significant trend in the annual and seasonal rainfall totals.” They conclude that “there is no climate change observed over Coimbatore.”

In 2013, Idso reviewed another study of rainfall in India. It found "no significant trend" in rainfall for northern India in data for the period 1871-2008. In addition, the researchers cited several studies finding "no clear trend of increase or decrease in average rainfall over the [entire] country."

To sum up, there has been no long-term change in July rainfall in Mumbai, and no clear long-term rainfall trends in Coimbatore, northern India, and the country generally. To borrow a favorite phrase from the alarm camp, Mumbai's record-breaking downpour in July 2005 is what natural variability “looks like.”

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.

Thursday
Jan082015

CEI Today: Pelosi + climate change, the Keynesian Bubble, Keystone pipeline, and more 

Thursday, Jan. 8, 2014
In the News Today

 

PELOSI & CLIMATE CHANGE - WILLIAM YEATMAN


Energy Bullet Points: House Democratic Party Priorities Exclude AGW, Recognizing the Beneficence of Our Oil Puppet Masters, and Much More


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week unveiled the Democratic Party’s priorities for the first session of the 114th Congress. Notably absent from her to-do list was the mitigation of climate change, the awfulest, most dire, apocalyptic threat ever. > Read more


> Interview William Yeatman
 

THE KEYNESIAN BUBBLE - BILL FREZZA

Daily Caller: What Will Happen After The Latest Keynesian Bubble Bursts?


Two conflicting narratives are dueling for the people’s favor trying to influence the direction in which our democracy swings next.

The prevailing narrative — promoted by incumbent politicians, government bureaucrats, finance industry insiders, and the mainstream media — can be summed up by its time-tested theme song: Happy days are here again!

The opposing narrative, consigned to the realm of conspiracy theorists and libertarian cranks, is that the Keynesian money-printing orgy has merely papered over the latest in a long string of financial industry debacles.
> Read more


> Interview Bill Frezza
 

KEYSTONE PIPELINE - MARLO LEWIS

 

Keystone XL Pipeline: What Are the Core Issues?

 

In the protracted conflict over the Keystone XL Pipeline, too much attention is paid to peripheral issues and not enough to the core issues.

Peripheral issues include whether the pipeline will create many or few jobs, lower or raise Midwest gasoline prices, reduce or increase the risks of oil spills, reduce or increase incremental greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Keystone foes operate on a different maxim. They believe government should empower ‘stakeholders’ (i.e. activists like themselves) to upend other people’s business plans and stifle wealth creation. They think that if they just make enough noise, gin up enough protests, promise or threaten to support or oppose enough politicians, they are entitled to stop other people from taking risks with their own capital, hiring contractors, and employing workers. > Read more

 

> Interview Marlo Lewis

 

Related: Banner Day for Zingers on Energy Policy

 

Saturday, 10am ET
Realclearradio.org

 

    

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

 





 

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Saturday
Jan032015

Cooler Heads Digest 02 January 2015 

2 January 2015

Announcements

The full Cooler Heads Digest will return next Friday.

In the News

How the Left Wants to Eradicate Planes, Trains, and Automobiles by Shutting off Their Financial Fuel
Ron Arnold, The Daily Signal, 2 January 2015

Five Things To Remember about Climate Science in 2015
Anthony Sadar, Washington Examiner, 1 January 2015

Major & Obscure Regulations We’re Watching in 2015
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 31 December 2014

2014 in Energy Charts
Mark Green, Energy Tomorrow, 31 December 2014

Reflections for the New Year on Carbon Capture, the Clean Power Plan, and COP-21 Climate Negotiations
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 30 December 2014

House Vows To Deliver on Energy Promises
Daniel J. Graeber, UPI, 30 December 2014

The Supreme Court’s Possible Hidden Climate Agenda
Brian Potts, Energy Collective, 29 December 2014

“Peak oil has arrived”: Paul Krugman on Mineral Scarcity (2010 Prediction from Dr. Errant)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 22 December 2014

News You Can Use
EPA’s Popularity Hits Low

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 32% of Likely U.S. Voters have a favorable opinion of the EPA, the lowest finding in the three years the question has been asked.

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
Dec202014

Cooler Heads Digest 19 December 2014 

19 December 2014

Announcement

The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week due to the holiday. We will return with a shortened Digest the next week. Have a merry Christmas and a Chanukah!

In the News

Climate Policy Risk: Who’s in Denial?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 19 December 2014

Study: Beaver Dams Make Global Warming Worse
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 19 December 2014

Obama Operative Joins Taxpayer-Backed Solar Company
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 17 December 2014

Japan’s Turn to Coal Belies Claim That Climate Change Mitigation Comes Cheap
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 16 December 2014

Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Oppose Federal Gas Tax Increase
Marc Scribner, Open Market, 16 December 2014

Cape Wind To Miss 2014 Goal To Close Project Financing
Richard Kessler, Recharge, 16 December 2014

The Anti-Fracking Fringe
Steve Everley, The Hill, 16 December 2014

Special Interests Influence Costly EPA Regulations
Larry Bell, Newsmax, 16 December 2014

News You Can Use
NAS Study: Gasoline Better for Environment Than Electric Cars

According to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or ‘grid average’ electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline.” Study co-author Julian Marshall told the Associated Press, “it’s kind of hard to beat gasoline” for public and environmental health.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

CEQ Releases New Guidance on Including Climate in Environmental Impact Statements

The White House Council on Environmental Quality on 18th December released the second draft version of a guidance document on how federal agencies should consider climate impacts in preparing Environmental Impact Assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The first draft version was released in 2010.  CEQ invited public comments for 60 days.

In keeping with NEPA regulations that require Environmental Impact Statements to consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of proposed projects and actions, the guidance document recommends that the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions be included in preparing EISs.  This includes “upstream” and “downstream” emissions connected to the project.  Thus a new bridge that would allow the transport of tens of millions of tons of energy-intensive goods over its lifetime could have an enormous carbon footprint.

Reports stated that the guidance document recommends that climate impacts be considered in the NEPA process when any project or action would increase greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually. This is not correct.  The document states that a quantitative analysis is only necessary when emissions exceed 25,000 tons annually.  Considering the impacts of lower annual emissions is required but does not necessarily require quantification. 

The guidance does contain a caution on the use of the Social Cost of Carbon guidance document: “When using the federal social cost of carbon, the agency should disclose the fact that these estimates vary over time, are associated with different discount rates and risks, and are intended to be updated as scientific and economic understanding improves.”  In other words, today’s Social Cost of Carbon estimate may be much lower than tomorrow’s.  The document also notes that global general circulation models “may have limitations on how they can be used in regional or local impact studies.”  

The guidance also cautions that providing a boilerplate paragraph that the emissions from a proposed action constitute “only a small fraction of global emissions is more a statement about the nature of the climate change challenge,” and “is not helpful to the decision maker or public” because that is true of every particular action.

Some news reports have suggested that the guidance will apply mainly to new fossil energy production on federal lands or offshore areas. This is also incorrect.  The guidance applies to all matters that fall under NEPA regulation: “all federal proposed actions, including individual federal site-specific actions, federal grants for funding of small-scale or broad-scale activities, federal rulemaking actions, and federal land and resource management decisions.  Federal rulemaking decisions includes Clean Water Act and other federal permits required to build new factories, bridges, highways, airports, and mines, as well as pipelines, coal terminals, offshore oil fields, etc. 

Under the NEPA process, one of the alternatives must always be, “no action,” which means, don’t proceed with the project being studied.  Once direct, indirect, and cumulative greenhouse gas emissions are included, it is likely that any big new project will be found to have environmental impacts so large that the “no action” alternative will be preferred by federal regulators.  

Congress Extends Wind PTC for 2014

The Senate adjourned on 16th December, but not before passing by a vote of 76 to 16 a package of tax cut extenders retroactively for 2014.  Included in the package is the wind production tax credit.  The House passed the bill earlier, so it now goes to the President for his signature.  By extending the wind PTC (and other deductions) for only the current year, the Congress has decided to punt the issue to the new 114th Congress next year. 

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

Cap-n-Tax Comeback?

Cap-and-trade crashed and burned in Congress when the November 2010 elections cashiered 29 Democrats who had voted in June 2009 for the Waxman-Markey bill. Many factors including Climategate and the burgeoning skeptic movement torpedoed Waxman-Markey, but perhaps the most important was the bill’s exposure as “cap-n-tax” – a stealth energy tax and wealth-transfer scheme. For example, Treasury documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the Obama administration expected to raise up to $400 billion in annual revenues from carbon permit auctions.

So is cap-and-trade ‘really most sincerely dead’? No, because big-spending politicians always want more boodle, and there’s only so much blood you can squeeze out of taxpayers, especially in states like Washington, which levy no individual or corporate income taxes.

The Evergreen State is facing a $2.35 billion budget deficit over the next two years. So this week, Governor Jay Inslee (D) proposed ($) a cap-and-trade program that would “apply to roughly 130 entities in oil and gas and electrical sectors.”

Inslee estimates the plan would raise $400 million annually, covering 40% of a proposed $12 billion, 12-year transportation improvement program. To reassure environmentalists, carbon permit fees would not (horror of horrors) fund highway projects and encourage people to drive, Inslee aides said cap-and-trade revenues “would go only toward green uses, such as transit grants or incentives for electric vehicles, and to maintain existing roads.”

Still, won’t taxpayers ultimately foot the bill in the form of higher prices for goods and services produced or delivered with carbon energy? Nah, as Inslee explained, the fees would only be collected from “big polluters.” And if the good folks in Washington believe cap-and-trade is a free lunch, then they have the government they deserve.      

New York Governor Cuomo Bans Fracking

Citing health concerns, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday announced a statewide ban on “fracking,” the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing drilling processes that has led to an American energy boom. Cuomo’s decision codifies a de facto moratorium on fracking that had been in place for 6 years, predating his administration.

According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo appeared “determined” to portray the announcement — and its consequences for upstate New York — as “decisions made by experts objectively weighing the facts, not by him.” When asked about global warming, he even responded that “he wasn’t a scientist,” rather than spouting off about how alarming it is, which earned the ire of Grist.

Of course, the decision was wholly political. For starters, fracking has been done in hundreds of thousands of wells across the U.S., without polluting a single utility scale aquifer. Indeed, New York’s neighbor Pennsylvania has revitalized formerly depressed rural communities by allowing for the safe and responsible use of fracking.

Instead of a true public health purpose, Cuomo banned fracking to get the greens off his back. Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout won a surprising 34 percent of the Democratic Party gubernatorial primary vote against Cuomo, by running a near single issue campaign in opposition to Governor Cumo’s indecision fracking. Moreover, the incumbent was reportedly taken aback by the aggressiveness of anti-fracking activists on the campaign trail.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

COP-20 in Lima Finally Ends with Just Enough Progress To Keep the Bandwagon Rolling

I was in Lima for the last week of the twentieth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which concluded a day and a half late at around 4 AM on Sunday, 14th December.  COP-20 was fairly dull and low key.  Attendance was also noticeably lower than at past COPs.  Partly that is due to the fact that the big show is scheduled for COP-21 in Paris next December, when a new international agreement is scheduled to be signed.  And it’s partly due to the fact that the UNFCCC Secretariat has cut way back on the number of observers representing NGOs allowed to attend.

The main show was meetings at least once and often several times a day of the Ad Hoc Committee for Advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, known as the ADP.  Wrangling over the Draft Decision of the ADP is what kept COP-20 going into the early hours of Sunday morning.  As Todd Stern, the chief U. S. negotiator, noted in his remarks to the ADP Saturday afternoon, the wrangling was unnecessary because all of the opposing positions were contained in the Elements, a lengthy document attached to the Draft Decision.  That is, nothing had been decided, so everyone could relax. 

That did not satisfy a number of factions within the 195 parties.  They are concerned that the new agreement will blur the clearly differentiated responsibilities of the developed countries (listed as Annex 1) responsible for the emissions causing the global warming crisis and the developing countries (listed as Non-Annex 1) not responsible.  One sticking point is whether developing countries that have developed since 1992, when the UNFCCC was signed at the Rio Earth Summit, will ever move from Non-Annex 1 to Annex 1 status.  Countries such as China, which now has the highest annual greenhouse gas emissions, and Chile and Mexico, which now belong to the OECD.

Other negotiating streams at COP-20 were held on the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and the Green Climate Fund. The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-Raising was also adopted.  All the COP-20 documents may be found here.      

Greenpeace Damages Nazca Lines, a World Heritage Site in Peru

The only real excitement connected to COP-20 was provided 250 miles south of Lima by the despicable folks at Greenpeace.  As revealed by our good friends at CFACT (a founding member of the Cooler Heads Coalition) and then reported by mainstream media around the world, Greenpeace activists “irreparably damaged” the famous pre-historic Nazca lines, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.    

Greenpeace laid down large yellow cloth letters that said: “TIME FOR CHANGE!  THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE.  GREENPEACE.”  They placed their message in an area adjacent to the image of a hummingbird, one of the most famous images in the Nazca lines.  Entry to the area is strictly prohibited.  Peru’s vice minister for culture, Luis Jaime Castillo, was quoted in the Guardian:  “This has been done without any respect for our laws. It was done in the middle of the night. They went ahead and stepped on our hummingbird, and looking at the pictures we can see there’s very severe damage.  Nobody can go on these lines without permission – not even the president of Peru!”

After Peruvian authorities announced that they would prosecute the perpetrators for the crime of attacking an archaeological monument, the Greenpeace employees apparently escaped the country.  The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison.  It was reported this week that Peru may seek extradition.

Greenpeace’s executive director flew to Lima to apologize and said that Greenpeace would help with the investigation.  Greenpeace said in a statement: “We fully understand that this looks bad.  We came across as careless and crass.” But it has also been reported that Greenpeace has not given Peruvian authorities the names of the perpetrators. 

A video of the damage was aired on the PBS News Hour and was posted here.  

The Nazca lines are geoglyphs—huge figures scratched on the desert ground by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD.

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.