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Entries in Climate Change (354)

Saturday
Aug292015

Cooler Heads Digest 28 August 2015 

28 August 2015

Announcements

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, www.GlobalWarming.org.

 

Friday
Aug282015

NHDP - ICYMI: Rubio Targets Climate Change, Planned Parenthood in N.H.  

CONCORD, N.H. - Following Sen. Marco Rubio’s trip to New Hampshire, the NHDP released the following statement:

“Marco Rubio’s trip to New Hampshire just made it clear that his policies on women’s health and climate change are simply blasts from the past, which won’t do him any favors with Granite Staters.” said Lizzy Price, New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director.

[Full story here
 

Rubio targets climate change, Planned Parenthood in N.H.

Boston Globe // Jim O’Sullivan

 

US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, struggling to break through in the Republican presidential primary, delivered a conservative pitch to activists here Wednesday, rejecting climate-change legislation and gun control as ineffectual.

Rubio also criticized Planned Parenthood as the purveyor of “atrocious practices,” and said that Democrats would be to blame if a government shutdown occurs as a result of disagreements between the parties about funding the agency.

During the last of a five-stop, one-day visit to the state with the nation’s first primary, Rubio also outlined his reasons for wanting to rein in the cost of entitlement programs, calling it reasonable to expect that Americans around his age of 44 should expect different benefits than their parents receive.

But the sharpest exchanges of his town hall meeting-style event at the Tupelo Music Hall centered on the topics of climate change and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“The climate’s been changing forever, and it will continue to change,” Rubio said in response to a question about changes in weather, winning applause.

“There are scientists that believe that men have a direct impact on it,” he added, saying that he would not support policy changes that would add to Americans’ energy costs...

He also lined up with his party as it has become increasingly critical of Planned Parenthood, a favorite target of social conservatives. Supporters of the organization say it provides crucial women’s health access outside of its abortion services.

“They’re involved in atrocious practices that have been revealed over the last few weeks,” Rubio said of Planned Parenthood, referring to covert recordings that purport to show the women’s health group trafficking in the for-profit sale of human fetal tissue.

“Take the money that we use and give it to federally qualified local health providers,” Rubio said in response to a woman’s question, saying those groups should be ones “that provide women with the kind of care that they need but without these atrocious practices.”

Asked whether he would be willing to help force a government shutdown over the use of federal funds for Planned Parenthood, Rubio replied, “That’s a question for the Democrats to answer.”...

Rubio received a generally warm response from the crowd, but one longtime New Hampshire politico said he would like to see Rubio get some more seasoning “under his belt.”

“He gives a good speech, but I want meat and potato,” said Republican state Representative Al Baldasaro, a retired US Marine who said he was dissatisfied with Rubio’s answer to his question about problems at the Veterans Administration.

“How are you going to fix it? We all know what the problems are,” Baldasaro said...

Recent national polls have found Rubio anchored in the single digits, roughly where he remains in surveys of New Hampshire voters...

###
Saturday
Aug222015

Cooler Heads Digest 21 August 2015 

21 August 2015

This week is an abridged version of the Digest. We'll be back next week. Thanks!

In the News

Gap Between Obama UN Climate Pledge and CO2 Cuts Gets Bigger
Stephen D. Eule, Institute for 21st Century Energy, 21 August 2015

EPA's Methane Policy: Statistically Trivial for the Planet and Terrible for the Economy
Mark P. Mills, Forbes, 21 August 2015

Heavy Truck Greenhouse Gas Rule: EPA Deflates Climate Impacts, Inflates Significance
Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, Cato At Liberty, 20 August 2015

Obama's Clean Power Plan is bad news for California
Tom Tanton and Julian Morris, Orange County Register, 20 August 1015

‘Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change’ suggests we are going to hell in a handbasket, links climate to Nepal earthquake
Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, 20 August 2015,

Clean Energy Incentive Program: More Illegality in EPA’s Power Plant Rule
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.Org, 19 August 2015 

MacArthur Foundation doles out $50 million to toward climate change [i.e. to green pressure groups],
Shia Kapos, Crain’s Chicago Business, 19 August 2015

Refrack Resourceship: Why the Carbon-Based Energy Era Is Still Young
Robert L. Bradley, Jr., MasterResource.Org, 17 August 2015

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asks court to intervene in Clean Power Plan
Sarah Tincher, The State Journal, 14 August 2015, 

Four Big Problems with the Obama Administration’s Climate Change Regulations 
Nicolas Loris, Heritage Foundation Issue Brief #4454, 14 August 2015

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.

 

Saturday
Aug082015

Cooler Heads Digest 07 August 2015 

7 August 2015

In the News

EPA Has Been Captured by Green Special Interests
Steven Hayward, Weekly Standard, 7 August 2015

Oops! EPA’s Climate Rules for New Power Plants Would Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 7 August 2015

World Ignores Obama, Falls in Love with Coal
Stephen Moore, Investor’s Business Daily, 7 August 2015

Lawmakers Take Aim at EPA ‘Sue and Settle’ Collusion
George Russell, FoxNews.com, 5 August 2015

Environment Is Getting Better, Not Worse
Will Coggin, Daily Caller, 5 August 2015

Climate Skepticism: Science, Poverty, Free Speech at Issue
Paul Driessen, Master Resource, 4 August 2015

Obama’s Final Carbon Rule Combines Fake Carrots and a Big Stick
Alex Fitzsimmons, Institute for Energy Research, 4 August 2015

Hillary’s Energy Plan Is Like Obama’s—on Steroids
Marita Noon, RealClearEnergy, 3 August 2015

Wind Subsidies Cost Taxpayers Big
Larry Bell, Newsmax, 3 August 2015

EPA’s Troubling Hiring Binge
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, 1 August 2015

News You Can Use
“Clean Power” Plan’s Measly Benefits

According to the Cato Institute’s Chip Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would limit global warming by .0018 degrees Celsius in 2100.  

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA’s Colossally Costly Power Plan Fulfills Obama’s Campaign Promise

President Barack Obama on 3rd August announced the EPA’s final rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.  In doing so, the President has finally fulfilled a pledge he made when running for president in 2008.  Then-Senator Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 that, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”  

The Existing Source Performance Standards (or ESPS) being applied under section 111d of the Clean Air Act to coal- and gas-fired power plants already in operation are called by the EPA the “Clean Power” Plan. Don’t buy it.  More accurate names would be the Costly Power Plan or the Skyrocketing Rates Power Plan (h/t Alan Carlin) or the Obama Power Grab (h/t Senator McConnell’s office) or the National Energy Tax (h/t Speaker Boehner’s office).

The final ESPS is 1560 pages.  The final rule is significantly different from the proposed rule released in June 2014.  In fact, it is so different that the legal case has already been made that it is a brand new rule and therefore EPA must start the rulemaking process all over again.

Here are some of the major changes from the proposed to the final rule.  EPA has extended the deadlines by two years, but has also increased the emissions reductions that must be achieved by 2030 from 30% to 32% below the 2005 baseline.  The proposed rule contained four “building blocks” by which States can meet their individual targets.

The final rule lowers its estimates of reductions that can be made from building block one—efficiency improvements in generating plants—from 6% to 2-4%.  Reliance on building block two—replacing coal-fired plants with naturalgas-fired plants—has been reduced, while reliance on replacing coal with renewable energy sources (building block three), such as windmills and solar panels, has been increased.  And EPA has dropped gains in energy efficiency (building block four) entirely, although States can still count any emissions reductions that result from efficiency gains. 

The final ESPS gives extra incentives for early moves to more renewable energy.  It also changes the way nuclear plants under construction and those that may be built in the future are counted.  In short, the big loser in the final rule will still be coal, but natural gas will now also be a loser.  It’s not clear to me whether nuclear gains or loses.  But there is no doubt that the big winners will be renewable energy producers, compared to the proposed rule. 

Those are major changes, but by far the biggest change is that EPA has completely recalculated the targets that each State must meet. –Read the rest at GlobalWarming.org.

New Source Performance Standards
Marlo Lewis

EPA’s final “Carbon Pollution Standards” rule, released today, requires new coal-fired power plants to meet a standard of 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (1,400 lbs. CO2/MWh) – less stringent than the 1,100 lbs. CO2/MWh standard in the agency’s Jan. 2014 proposed rule.

Under §111 of the Clean Air Act, performance standards are to reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) that has been “adequately demonstrated,” taking “cost” into account.

EPA says the final standard “better represents the requirement that the BSER be implementable at reasonable cost.” That’s a face-saving way of saying the agency’s original proposal would not have survived judicial review.

Although not as blatantly unreasonable, the rule remains fatally flawed. —Read the rest at GlobalWarming.org.

Proposed Federal Implementation Plan
William Yeatman

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review state compliance strategies. If the agency disapproves a state plan, then the EPA is required to implement a federal plan in its stead. Therefore, under the “Clean Power” Plan, the EPA would be empowered to impose its own energy policy on unwilling States, if the agency decided that a given state’s submission was insufficiently green. It is unclear what form such a federal energy plan would take, as nothing of this sort (i.e., EPA trying to set national electricity policy) has ever before been attempted under the Clean Air Act. As part of next week’s rollout, the EPA is expected to propose a generic federal takeover of a state’s energy sector. Possible proposals include a federally operated cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme or a direct emissions limits based on system-wide controls. Whatever form the proposal takes, it will engender serious constitutional difficulties

Across the States
William Yeatman

Update on Ongoing Efforts to Stop “Clean Power” Plan

On Wednesday, 16 States (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and West Virginia) petitioned the EPA to delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan until judicial review of the rule has run its course. Their request was based on the significant differences in how the final rule calculates state requirements from the proposal. They argue that their respective governments spent significant time and resources addressing the rule as proposed, and now that effort is largely wasted because EPA moved the goalposts. The States make an excellent point, but EPA undoubtedly will reject their petition.

In a similar vein, 13 States (Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming) and coal-producer Murray Energy on Thursday urged the D.C. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear their challenge to EPA’s Clean Power Plan. In 2014, these parties had sued to stop the regulation, but in June the D.C. Circuit ruled that it didn’t have jurisdiction to review the rule because it was not yet final. The petitioners argue that the deadline for initial state compliance plans for the “Clean Power” Plan, in September 2016, lend fresh impetus to their challenge. As an alternative to a rehearing, the petitioners have asked the court to stay its June decision, in an apparent effort to have the same three judges conduct judicial review of the final rule. The three judges are widely perceived to be among the most conservative among judges sitting on the D.C. Circuit. EPA opposed this effort in a brief filed Thursday afternoon.
 

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
Aug012015

Cooler Heads Digest 31 July 2015 

31 July 2015

Announcements

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, GlobalWarming.org, 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, www.GlobalWarming.org.