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Entries in Climate Change (317)

Saturday
Feb282015

Cooler Heads Digest 27 February 2015 

27 February 2015

Announcements

In the News

Five Reasons the Polar Bears Are Doing Fine
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 27 February 2015

Sorry EPA, There’s No Evidence You Care about Reliability
Daniel Simmons, Institute for Energy Research, 26 February 2015

Sharon Stone Is Being Sued for Skipping an Anti-Chevron Protest
Paul Barrett, Bloomberg, 26 February 2015

Global Warming: Follow the Money (on the NY Times Attack on Willie Soon)
Henry Payne, National Review Online, 25 February 2015

The Climate Debate: Ad Hominem Will Just Not Do
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 24 February 2015

Cap-and-Trade Is Alive and Well—Despite Having Never Passed Congress
Seton Motley, PJ Tattler, 24 February 2015

Australia’s Wind Market Deflates
David Kreutzer, Washington Times, 23 February 2015

California Governor Brown Tied to Scandal That Took Down Oregon Governor
Katy Grimes, Flash Report, 23 February 2015

News You Can Use
Exorbitant Costs of EPA’s Ozone Rule

According to a study published this week by the National Association of Manufacturers, EPA’s recently proposed ozone standard would reduce U.S. GDP by $140 billion per year and $1.7 trillion from 2017 to 2040 and result in 1.4 million fewer job equivalents on average through 2040.

Science Update
Myron Ebell

New York Times Repeats Scurrilous Greenpeace Attack on Willie Soon Without Checking the Facts

New York’s Times republished a Greenpeace press release on the front page of its Sunday, 22nd February edition that attacks Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for obtaining $1.2 million in funding for his research over the last decade from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies.  The press release, cleverly disguised as an article supposedly written by Times reporters Justin Gillis and John Schwartz, also claims that Dr. Soon did not adequately disclose the sources of his funding in articles published in scientific journals.

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greenpeace and its closely affiliated so-called “Climate Investigations Center,” Soon received $409,000 from the Southern Company, a major utility, and $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to fund his research.  The Greenpeace press release as republished in the Times notes that “Mr. Koch’s fortune derives partly from oil refining.”  Yes, and the biggest charitable foundation donor to environmental pressure groups is the Pew Charitable Trusts, which was founded on the Pew family’s Sun Oil Company earnings.  Other major givers to green groups are the various Rockefeller foundations, which are based on earnings from Standard Oil (of which Exxon Mobil and Chevron are among the many successor companies).  So what’s Greenpeace’s point?  And everyone knows that scientists who accept funding from the EPA are never influenced by the source of their funding.  That’s why the EPA funds so much research that contradicts its policies.  Right?

I have known Willie Soon for about fifteen years.  I respect him highly, particularly for the great integrity he has shown in pursuing his politically incorrect research under scurrilous attacks like the one reprinted in the NY Times.  If Willie valued money over science, he would have joined the Global Warming Pep Squad long ago.

For the rest of my take on the New York Times’s disgraceful hit piece, see this post on global warming.org.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

House Democrat Joins in Witch Hunt Started by Greenpeace-Times Hit on Willie Soon

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Az.), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, quickly followed up on the Greenpeace-New York Times’s hit piece on Willie Soon (see above), with letters to the presidents of seven universities asking them to provide details about seven professors who are either prominent global warming skeptics or are not sufficiently loyal to every doctrine in the alarmist canon. The letters were sent to MIT (concerning Richard Lindzen), Alabama (John Christy), Delaware (David Legates), Georgia Tech (Judith Curry), Arizona State (Robert Balling), Colorado (Roger Pielke, Jr.), and Pepperdine (Steven Hayward).

Grijalva asks for a lot of information for each targeted professor: all drafts of testimony to government bodies; communications regarding that testimony; all sources and amounts of external funding; communications regarding that funding; all financial disclosure forms filed; and total annual compensation paid by the university.

I was heartened to see that the American Meteorological Association quickly sent a letter of complaint to Rep. Grijalva. AMS Executive Director Keith L Seitter wrote:

Despite its commitment to transparency and full disclosure within the scientific process, the AMS is concerned by the “Letters to Seven Universities Asking for Documents on Climate Change Research”….  Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.

Professor Roger Pielke, Jr., a political scientist who accepts the so-called consensus view on global warming and supports a carbon tax and the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, but whose research has shown that the costs of natural disasters have not increased as a result of global warming, stated on his blog:

I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.

But then Pielke, Jr., declares surrender:

The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues. I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject. I am a full professor with tenure, so no one need worry about me — I’ll be just fine as there are plenty of interesting, research-able policy issues to occupy my time. But I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”  When “witch hunts” are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics. The result is a big loss for both science and politics.

Markey, Boxer, and Whitehouse Join Witch Hunt with Letters to 100 Companies and Organizations About Funding Climate Deniers

Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on 25th February sent letters to 107 companies, trade associations, and non-profit groups demanding comprehensive information about all funding of research on climate or related issues over the last ten years.  I am proud to say that several members of the Cooler Heads Coalition, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the American Energy Alliance, Americans for Prosperity, and the John Locke Foundation, were on the honorable Senators’ hit list. 

There were some glaring omissions, however.  I won’t list them because their feelings have already been hurt enough.  

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee quickly responded to the Markey-Boxer-Whitehouse stunt.  Led by Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), all eleven Republican members of the committee sent a letter on 27th February to all 100 targets plus the seven universities that received a similar letter from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Az.).  The Republican Senators wrote:

Dissenting opinions fostered through the encouragement of all ideas is what truly facilitates intellectual prosperity and political discourse.  The letter you received from our colleagues is a wholly inappropriate effort to challenge these well-accepted truths.  We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond.  Above all, we ask that you continue to support scientific inquiry and discovery, and protect academic freedom despite efforts to chill free speech. 

EPA Administrator McCarthy Dissembles through Two House Hearings on EPA FY 2016 Budget
William Yeatman

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified twice this week before the House of Representatives about her agency’s FY 2016 budget. On Wednesday, she appeared on a joint panel of two Energy and Commerce subcommittees, and on Thursday she took questions before an Appropriations subcommittee. As I explain here on globalwarming.org, Administrator McCarthy relied on a number of tricks—including lies—to deflect tough questions.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Pachauri Resigns as IPCC Chairman After Sexual Harassment Charges Made

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri resigned as chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 24th February, four days after allegations of sexual harassment were published in India.

The allegations were made by a 29-year-old woman who works as a research analyst at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, which the 75-year-old Pachauri also heads.  Indian police are investigating the complaint.  The accuser’s name has been withheld by the police. Her attorney filed a motion to have Dr. Pachauri’s diplomatic passport seized so that he cannot leave the country while the investigation proceeds.

The complaint states that Pachauri’s harassment included unwanted e-mails and text messages of a sexual and personal nature. Dr. Pachauri has denied the allegations and has claimed that his e-mail and cell phone were hacked and the offending messages sent by the hacker.

Bob Ward, the flack for a propaganda institute at the London School of Economics, was quick to pre-emptively accuse climate skeptics of taking advantage of the scandal.  The Guardian quoted Ward: “There will no doubt be some climate change ‘sceptics’ who seek to use Dr Pachauri’s resignation as an opportunity to attack the IPCC [but its most recent report] is the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the causes and potential consequences of climate change that we have ever had, and that remains true with or without Dr Pachauri as chair.”

A court has granted Pachauri anticipatory bail, which protects him from arrest until 27th March.  

Dr. Pachauri is regularly described by the mainstream media as one of the world’s leading climate scientists.  He is in fact a railway engineer and railway economist.  He was elected chairman of the IPCC in 2002 over the incumbent Bob Watson and then re-elected unopposed in 2008.  His current term expires in October, and he had already declared that he would not seek a third term. 

The Guardian reported that the leading candidates to succeed him in the October election are Prof. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele from Belgium, Prof. Thomas Stocker from Switzerland, and Prof. Chris Field from the US.  Other candidates may include Prof Nebojsa Nakicenovic from Austria, South Korea’s Hoesung Lee, and the German economist Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer.

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
Feb142015

Cooler Heads Digest 13 February 2015 

13 February 2015

In the News

EPA’s Unconstitutional Clean Power Plan Brazenly Flouts the Separation of Powers
Marlo Lewis, CNS News, 12 February 2015

EPA under Fire for Concealing Controversial Scientific Data, Silencing Skeptics
Kevin Mooney, The Daily Signal, 11 February 2015

Never Mind Keystone XL: EPA Regulations Are the Real Battle
Chip Knappenberger, Cato Institute, 11 February 2015

The Climate Comintern Speaks
Benjamin Zycher, The Hill, 10 February 2015

Regarding Coal Divestment
Kathleen Hartnett White, Master Resource, 10 February 2015

Europe Loses Billion in Badly Sited Renewable Power Plants
Joseph Nyangon, Energy Collective, 10 February 2015

The Top 10 Global Warming Lies That May Shock You
James Taylor, Forbes, 9 February 2015

About “Denying,” “Deniers,” and “Denial”
Ben Pile, Climate Resistance, 9 February 2015

News You Can Use
Study: Skeptics Know More about Climate Science

FoxNews.com reported yesterday on a forthcoming paper in the journal Advances in Political Psychology by Yale Professor Dan Kahan that finds that skeptics score about the same (in fact slightly better) on climate science questions than do alarmists.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Takes 75 Pages to Explain Why Murray Energy Challenge to “Clean Power” Plan has “No Legal Basis”

The Environmental Protection Agency filed its reply brief on 12th February to the suit brought by Murray Energy that challenges the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas power plants.  EPA lawyers claim that the suit has “no legal basis,” but as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis noted, it takes them 75 pages to explain why. 

Another indication of the seriousness of Murray Energy’s suit is that the Natural ResourcesDefense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club filed a lengthy amicus brief in what is the early stages of the case.  The federal DC Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on 16th April on the case that has been consolidated with the case brought by thirteen state Attorneys General.     

House Passes Keystone, Obama Veto Will Have To Wait

The House of Representatives on 11th February passed the Senate’s amended version of the bill that would bypass President Obama and permit the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf refineries.  The vote was 270 to 152.  Twenty-nine Democrats joined all the Republicans except for Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), who was the only Republican voting No.

House and Senate leaders have decided not to send the bill to President Obama until after the week-long Presidents Day recess.  The White House has promised that the President will veto the bill.  Republicans in Congress hope that public pressure in favor of building the pipeline will build over the recess. 

Forked Tongue: EPA Double Spins Low Oil Prices
Marlo Lewis

The State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) found that if permission to build the KXL is denied, roughly the same amount of heavy crude made from Canada’s oil sands would reach U.S. refiners. The oil would just come by alternate routes, principally rail. Because the alternatives are less energy efficient, they would emit 28% to 42% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the proposed pipeline (FSEIS, ES-34). Policy implication: Approving the KXL is the ‘climate-friendly’ choice!

That assessment is intolerable to Keystone bashers, and last week the EPA flew to their rescue.

In a Feb. 2 comment letter, EPA argued roughly as follows. State found that the extra cost of transporting crude by rail could make new oil sands development uneconomical if prices fall below $75 per barrel. Thus, in an era of low oil prices, building the KXL could make otherwise unprofitable oil sands projects profitable. If so, the KXL would increase oil sands development and the associated emissions beyond what would otherwise occur.

Now, the KXL is climatologically irrelevant. Even under the unrealistic assumption that the pipeline would operate at full capacity (830,000 barrels per day) round the clock and every barrel would be additional oil produced only because the KXL exists to deliver it, the warming contribution would be an undetectable and inconsequential 0.01°C in 2100, according to EPA’s own climate model.

Nonetheless, eco-activists hail EPA’s letter as proof that the KXL would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution” and, thus, fail the (monomaniacal) national-interest “litmus test” President Obama announced in his June 25, 2013 climate change speech at Georgetown University.

The Keystone bashers conveniently overlook the obvious. Oil prices are volatile. Prices are low today but neither EPA nor anyone else knows the price of oil a year from now, much less over the lifetime of the proposed project.

But EPA speaks with a forked tongue. EPA speaks with forked tongue. Last Friday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy described low oil prices as a short-term blip that will not influence consumer buying habits and should not modify federal motor vehicle fuel-economy standards. "We don't think that this small timeline, where there is this extreme fluctuation, is going to continue," she said.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Oregon

Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday, 13th February, as the result of revelations that Oregon’s “First Lady” Cylvia Hayes has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs from green energy clients and non-profit groups to promote their interests.  Kitzhaber will be succeeded by Oregon’s elected Secretary of State, Kate Brown, until a special election is held in November 2016 to fill the last two years of his term.

Hayes has been Kitzhaber’s girlfriend for several years and more recently his fiancée.  The governor designated her as Oregon’s official first lady and allowed her to run her clean energy consulting business out of the governor’s mansion and gave her authority to direct state employees on policies related to her clients.  Hayes received payments from some of these clients that were not reported by her in state conflict of interest filings.  These payments included $118,000 from the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011 and 2012 and a further $85,000 in 2013, including $50,000 from the Energy Foundation.

The Clean Economy Development Center, based in Washington, DC, went out of business after the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status.  The Energy Foundation should really be called the Anti-Energy Foundation.  Based in San Francisco, it was founded in the early 1990s by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.  According to Kellan Howell in a Washington Times story: “Jenny Coyle, communications manager for the Energy Foundation, told the Times that the foundation provided the Clean Economy Development Center $50,000 in 2011 and $25,000 in 2012 for the fellowship program in which Ms. Hayes participated. She was the center’s only fellow.”

Among the Energy Foundation’s recent donors is the TomKat Charitable Trust, which was founded and is controlled by billionaire Democratic donor and climate activist Tom Steyer.  Howell reported that TomKat had given $200,000 in 2012 to the Energy Foundation.   Steyer’s PAC, NextGen Climate Action, also gave the Oregon Democratic Party $100,000.

Portland’s Oregonian newspaper published an editorial last week that demanded Governor Kitzhaber resign.  The editorial commented, “Who knew following the trail of ‘clean energy’ money could make you feel so dirty?”  That is ironic, but should not be surprising.  Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power and ethanol cannot survive without government handouts and mandates.  Small payoffs to government officials can yield big profits. 

The Oregon Attorney General’s office and the FBI are investigating Kitzhaber and Hayes’s violations of state and federal laws.  As I remarked in an online video interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel a couple of hours before Kitzhaber resigned, the investigations should not stop there.  The non-profit groups that were making these payoffs should also be investigated for other similar illegal political activities.  

Willamette Week, a Portland alternative newspaper that endorsed Kitzhaber for re-election last fall and supports his climate and renewable energy policies, uncovered the scandal and deserves a huge amount of credit.  Here is a recent article from the paper that summarizes the whole scandal.  

California

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) in his state of the state address last month called on the legislature to enact legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions far below what is required in California’s AB 32 legislation.  This week State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon released a package of four bills that meets the governor’s targets.

One of the bills in the package was introduced by state Senator Fran Pavley (D), who was the chief sponsor of AB 32, enacted in 2006 when she served in the state Assembly.  Her new bill is numbered SB 32.  AB 32 requires California to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  SB 32 would require that emissions be reduced by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Other bills in the package would require that by 2030 Californians cut their oil consumption for transportation by 50% and get 50% of their electricity from renewable sources.  Welcome to wonderland. 

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
Feb082015

Cooler Heads Digest 6 February 2015 

6 February 2015

Announcements

*Due to technical difficulties, there was a delay in sending out this week's newsletter*

Thirty-one groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, this week sent a coalition letter to House Members endorsing reform of the Renewable Fuels Standard. Click here to read the letter. And click here to read Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) bill, H.R. 703.

In the News

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Stunts Pulled by “Ban Fracking” Activists
Dave Quest, Energy in Depth, 6 February 2015

My Kid Is Going To Be Eight Feel Tall!
David Kreutzer, The Daily Signal, 5 February 2015

How Green and Peaceful Really Is Greenpeace?
Andrew Montford, The Spectator, 5 February 2015

What Would Environmentalists Do If They Owned ANWR?
Shawn Regan, Reason, 5 February 2015

Gasoline vs. Electric Cars: Energy Usage and Cost
Stanislaw Jakuba, Master Resource, 4 February 2015

Obama to States: Shut Down Coal Plants or Else
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 3 February 2015

Russia’s War on Fracking
Tom Rogan, National Review, 3 February 2015

Expert Says EPA Plan Will Kill Mississippians
Emily Le Coz, Clarion-Ledger, 2 February 2015

Sierra Club: Saudi Arabia ‘Our Best Ally’ in Keystone Fight
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 2 February 2015

Biofuels: “A Net Detriment to the World”
Denver Post editorial, 1 February 2015

News You Can Use
War on Coal Costs Tens of Thousands of Jobs

A report by the American Action Forum found that under the Obama administration coal mines shed 3,702 jobs from 2008 to 2013 and power plants shed 39,684 jobs. 

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Obama Budget Requests More Money for Climate Programs

President Barack Obama submitted his Fiscal Year 2016 budget requests to Congress on Monday, 2nd February.  The White House summary, available here, includes some major tax changes.  The President’s budget proposes to make renewable electricity production and investment tax credits permanent and refundable.  The estimated cost over the next decade would be $31.5 billion.  On the other hand, the President wants to take away all tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry, including $44 billion in tax breaks using the standard Section 199 deduction which all domestic manufacturing can claim. 

According to Jeremy P. Jacobs writing in Energy and Environment PM (subscription required), the budget for EPA requests $52.4 million for six legal support offices, which is an increase of $10 million over current funding.  This would allow EPA to hire more lawyers to defend its “Clean Power Plan,” the proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.  Jacobs quotes EPA’s explanation: “EPA has identified an urgent need to provide critical legal counsel in support of the EPA's Clean Power Plan."

The Environmental Protection Agency would also get $4 billion for a new “Clean Power State Incentive Fund” to help States that want to make steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants than required by the EPA’s proposed regulations.  The rest of EPA’s budget would increase by $452 million or approximately 6% to $8.6 billion.

President Obama also requests that the Congress appropriate $500 million for the UN Green Climate Fund.  This is the first payment towards fulfilling the President’s pledge of $3 billion over four years to the GCF.  At the UN global warming conference in Copenhagen in 2009, President Obama proposed that the developed countries provide $100 billion a year to the GCF starting in 2020.  The U. S. share might be roughly $30 to 40 billion.  It looks unlikely that the 114th Congress will appropriate the $500 million requested for this year. 

Obama’s National Security Strategy Focuses on Climate Threats

President Barack Obama this week released his administration’s official National Security Strategy.  It identifies climate change as a major threat and lays out actions to deal with it through national action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and international leadership on a new UN climate treaty. 

On page 12, the document states: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water. The present day effects of climate change are being felt from the Arctic to the Midwest. Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.” In addition to the President’s climate agreement with Chinese President Xi and progress in negotiations on the forthcoming Paris accord, “The substantial contribution we have pledged to the Green

Climate Fund will help the most vulnerable developing nations deal with climate change, reduce their carbon pollution, and invest in clean energy.”  The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to Congress this week includes $500 million for the Green Climate Fund. 

EPA Challenges Bottom-Line Conclusion of State Department Keystone XL Pipeline Analysis
Marlo Lewis

The State Department's Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL Pipeline vexes environmentalists. While acknowledging that petroleum made from Canadian oil sands emits 17% more CO2 than other types of heavy crude, State concluded that roughly the same quantity of Canadian oil would be shipped to U.S. refiners whether the pipeline is approved or denied. 

The oil would just come by alternate modes of delivery, principally trains but also smaller pipelines and barges. Those other routes are not only more costly but also less energy efficient. According to State, compared to the KXL, the alternate routes would emit 28% to 42% more CO2 [FEIS ES-34]. Implication: If you're really worried about global warming, then you should support the Keystone XL Pipeline. Beautiful!

In a letter earlier this week, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance ´╗┐Cynthia Giles disputes State’s bottom-line assessment. State estimated that as long as crude oil sells for $75 per barrel or higher, "revenues to oil sands producers are likely to remain above the long-run supply costs of most projects responsible for expected levels of oil sands production growth" [FEIS, 1.4-8]. Producers would still earn profits notwithstanding the extra cost of $8 per barrel to ship the oil by rail rather than through a big new pipeline. 

Times have changed, says Giles. State published its FSEIS in January 2014, when West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude sold at about $94 per barrel. WTI crude now sells for about $50 per barrel. Giles quotes State's conclusion that at sustained oil prices of $65 to $75 per barrel the higher transportation costs of shipment by rail "could have a substantial impact on oil sands production levels -- possibly in excess of the capacity of the proposed project." Indeed, State goes on to say that “Prices below this range would challenge the supply costs of many projects, regardless of pipeline constraints, but higher transport costs could further curtail production” [FSEIS, ES-12].

Giles concludes: “In other words, the Final SEIS found that at sustained oil prices within this [$65-$75] range, construction of the pipeline is projected to change the economics of oil sands development and result in increased oil sands production, and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions, over what would otherwise occur.” She recommends that State should give “additional weight” to the “low price scenario” in the FSEIS “due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse.”

Permit me to translate. The future of Canada’s oil sands industry looked bright a year ago. Today its fate is uncertain. Maybe a sustained period of low prices will force a large contraction and throw tens of thousands of people out of work. So let’s kick ‘em while they’re down! Let’s prevent oil companies from investing their own capital to improve the economics of their industry.

To opponents, the Keystone XL Pipeline is objectionable precisely because it will improve the efficiency of an industry they believe should not exist. They may be right that blocking Keystone will decrease rather than increase CO2 emissions. It doesn’t matter. It’s climatologically irrelevant.

Even if we make the unrealistic assumption that the KXL will always run at full capacity (830,000 barrels per day) and each barrel will be additional oil in the global supply that would otherwise remain in the ground, EPA's own climate model projects a warming contribution of 0.01ºC by century's end – an “inconsequential and unmeasurable impact,” observes Cato Institute scientist Chip Knappenberger.

Let’s cut to the chase. A for-profit business will not produce what it cannot sell. And if you can’t sell, you go out of business. EPA knows that. So do its environmentalist allies. That’s why they seek to block the KXL, oppose lifting the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports, and oppose construction of export terminals for coal and liquefied natural gas.

The day cannot come too soon when we have an administration that does not view its mission as crippling and bankrupting major industries of the U.S. economy.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

UNFCCC: Saving the World from Global Warming Requires Total Transformation of the Global Economy, Directed by the UNFCCC

Leading global warming alarmists often claim that saving the world from global warming will be easy.  Research reports from universities and environmental groups are regularly published that show the costs will be minimal and the costs of not doing it will be astronomical.  As former Vice President Al Gore, Nobel Prize and Oscar winner, puts it, how can it be costly to replace dirty, expensive energy from coal, oil, and natural gas with clean, free energy from wind and solar? 

But every year or two, a leading alarmist lets the cat out of the bag.  At a press conference in Brussels on 3rd February, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that completely transforming the global economy in a few decades “is probably the most difficult task we [the UN? Mankind?] have ever given ourselves.”

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution,” Figueres said

Executive Secretary Figueres is apparently unaware that Communism in the Soviet Union beginning in 1917 and in Maoist China in 1949 intentionally tried to fundamentally transform their economies according to a new model.  The results were widely judged to be not altogether successful.  Perhaps the United Nations will do better.

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
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.