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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (208)


Cooler Heads Digest 24 April 2015 

24 April 2015


  • The Cooler Heads Coalition will host a Capitol Hill lunch briefing by Professor Ross McKitrick on “Ontario's Green Energy Act: Environmentally Useless and Economically Disastrous.”  The briefing will be held from 12 noon to 1:15 PM on Monday, 11th May, in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building.  McKitrick is Professor of Environmental Economics and Fellow in Sustainable Commerce at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.  RSVP to attend the briefing to 
  • Former EPA official Alan Carlin’s excellent new book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, is now available.

In the News

Marlo Lewis on Ethanol
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, 24 April 2015

Global Warming Pause Extends to 18 ½ Years
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 24 April 2015

Climate Skeptics Descend on Vatican
Heartland Institute, 24 April 2015

Introducing the Wind PTC Elimination Act of 2015
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 23 April 2015

Obama’s Climate Change Hypocrisy Highlights Lack of Faith
Washington Examiner, 23 April 2015

Report: Science Behind NY Fracking Ban Tainted by Money, Politics
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 23 April 2015

Clean Power Plan: Revisiting EPA’s Bogus Climate Benefit Estimates
Marlo Lewis,, 22 April 2015

22 Ways To Think about the Climate Change Debate
Max Borders, The Freeman, 22 April 2015

The White House Is Lying about Climate Change and Health
Alan Caruba, Warning Signs, 22 April 2015

What Harvard Students Pushing Fossil Fuel Divestment Are Missing
Alex Belica & David Kreutzer, Daily Signal, 22 April 2015

Obama’s Global Warming Distraction
Ed Rogers, Washington Post, 20 April 2015

Return to Towel Mountain
Mark Steyn, Steyn Online, 18 April 2015

News You Can Use
EV’s Popularity Wanes

The auto-research group this week reported that only “45 percent of this year’s hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle”while “22 percent of people who have traded in their hybrids and [electric vehicles] in 2015 bought a new SUV.” According to the website, this is the first time that loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles have fallen below 50 percent.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Administrator McCarthy Claims “Clean Power” Plan Will Boost Economy and Won’t Threaten Electric Reliability

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy really let them have it when she spoke to energy industry executives gathered at the annual IHS-CERA Week energy conference in Houston on 23rd April. McCarthy began by dismissing claims that the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan will be very costly:  

“First, I don’t think it’s accurate to look at compliance with the Clean Power Plan as a liability or cost. Here’s why: our rule creates a dynamic where cutting carbon pollution and investment decisions align. How am I so confident that this makes economic sense? Because you’re already making those investments. Our rule is not adding a line-item to your books, it’s informing one that’s already there.”

Later, McCarthy went on to claim that EPA regulations are good for the economy:

“No peer reviewed economic literature—no historical record—comes close to supporting the claims of massive job losses from reducing pollution. In EPA’s 45 year history, we’ve cut air pollution 70 percent while GDP has tripled. Environmental protection isn’t window dressing—it’s foundational to strong, lasting economic growth.”

This is a stunning non sequitur.  Nor does she mention that previous EPA pollution regulations were not designed to destroy major industries or take control of the energy economy. 

McCarthy then took on those who raise concerns that the new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will threaten electric reliability:

“The second point I want to make is about reliability. Let me be clear: there is no scenario I will accept where reliability comes into question. Period. We can look at stringency, timing, phasing-in, glide path, and we can look at unit by unit reliability directly, too. The final 111(d) rule will give you the time and space you need to take a reliability-first approach that’s in line with your long-term planning, and gives you the latitude to adapt as market demands change.  Reliability is a high priority for all of us, so it’s good to have it front and center where it needs to be. But let’snot waste our time and energy worrying about scenarios that cannot and will not happen.”

This is an astonishing claim for the head of an agency that has no expertise in electric reliability to make.  My suggestion is that she and her colleagues at EPA might pay a little attention to what the North American Reliability Corporation is saying.  NERC released a report on its concerns with the “Clean Power” Plan’s first phase on 21st April.

AEI Holds Carbon Tax Love-In

The American Enterprise Institute on 22nd April (the 145th birthday of Lenin and 45th Earth Day) held a seminar on “Implementing a Carbon Tax: Practicalities and Prospects.”  A video of part of the event can be viewed here. The rest of the event can be viewed on the web site of a group promoting a carbon tax and headed by former Representative Bob (“Mr. 70-29”) Inglis (R-SC). 

Some of the presentations were based on a collection of essays that grew out of a conference AEI held in 2012.  That book has now been published by Routledge as “Implementing a Carbon Tax: Challenges and Debates.”  For those not lucky enough to have been given a copy at the AEI event, it can be purchased on Amazon for the discounted price of $48.09 …

For the rest of the post, click here.

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

House Bill Would Let States Opt Out of “Clean Power” Plan

The “Clean Power” Plan (CPP) will compel States to reorganize their electric power sectors to meet EPA-mandated carbon dioxide (CO2) emission-reduction targets or caps. The CPP is unlawful, usurps powers reserved by Congress to the States, will impose hundreds of billions of dollars in costs for illusory climate benefits, and raises significant constitutional and electric reliability concerns. What is Congress doing about it?

On Wednesday, April 22, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Ratepayer Protection Act by a vote of 17-12. As explained in the subcommittee’s press release and background memo, the bill extends CPP compliance deadlines until after judicial review is completed, and provides that a state would not be forced to implement a compliance plan if the governor finds it would have significant adverse effects on ratepayers or reliability. A full Energy and Commerce markup is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Paris in Peril (already)

Clare Foran reported in National Journal on 20th April that international climate negotiators have noticed that the Obama Administration’s INDC (or intended nationally-determined contribution) to the forthcoming Paris Accord is on shaky legal and political ground.  Foran’s story quotes Todd Stern, the State Department’s chief negotiator: “Certainly...countries want to get reassurance that the U.S. can deliver on what we've said that we're doing.  I wouldn't say it's a big drumbeat, but I have definitely been asked that.”

The largest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the U. S.’s INDC will come from the EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act rules for new and existing power plants.  Stern went on to re-assure reporters that “[W]e have a very solid basis for...having confidence in the power plant rule and other regulatory steps that we’ve taken.  These kinds of EPA regulations have been repeatedly challenged over time and almost always upheld.”

This suggests to me that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans in Congress are being heard internationally and need to step up their efforts to make it clear that the EPA’s rules will not survive in Congress even if they survive court challenges.         

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


Cooler Heads Digest 17 April 2015 

17 April 2015

In the News

Al Gore: Poor People Don’t Need Coal
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 17 April 2015

Environmentalists’ Civil War
Robert Bryce, National Review, 17 April 2015

Five Hidden Ways You’re Paying To Subsidize Green Power
Brian Potts, Weekly Standard, 17 April 2015

Judith Curry vs. Climate Alarmism (Jon & Jerry—Are You Listening?)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 16 April 2015

Obama’s Illegal Coal Regulations Must Be Stopped
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, Washington Examiner, 16 April 2015

Steyer Nonprofit Owns Stake in Green Energy Investment Firm
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 15 April 2015

Obama Administration Worries about Environmental Effect of Keystone Oil, Not Iranian Oil
David Kreutzer, The Daily Signal, 14 April 2015

German Backlash Grows against Coal Power Clampdown
Arthur Neslen, Guardian, 14 April 2015

Rebranding EPA’s Clean Air Agenda
Chris Horner, Washington Times, 13 April 2015

What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?
Randy Simmons, Newsweek, 11 April 2015

News You Can Use
“Clean Power” Plan Would Cost about 300,000 Jobs

According to a report by the American Action Forum, job losses from EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan could be as high as 296,000 through 2030.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Oral Arguments on Challenge to EPA’s "Clean Power" Plan

On Thursday morning, 16th April, I attended the oral arguments in the challenge brought by Ohio-based Murray Energy and 15 intervenor States to EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The petitioners face a high bar to demonstrate they are properly before the court, because the “Clean Power” Plan is only a proposed rule, and the court has jurisdiction over only final agency rules. In fact, the court has never before overturned a proposed rule.

In making the case that the court has jurisdiction to judge their complaint, the petitioners invoke the All Writs Act, an 18th century statute that empowers federal courts to issue “necessary and appropriate” injunctions where “gaps” in a statutory scheme pervert the ends of justice. Courts very rarely have exercised their All Writs Act authority, which is reserved for extraordinary, unprovided-for cases. The challengers argue that EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan represents just such a case, for two reasons.

  • First, state regulators and utilities have no choice but to start complying with the proposed “Clean Power” Plan now, even though it’s only a proposed rule, because they are capital-intensive businesses that must plan years in advance. This has never before been the case with respect to any EPA proposal.
  • Second, EPA doesn’t have the authority to begin with. (For more on this complicated argument, see here and here).

Thus, they argue that an All Writs Act injunction is necessary to prevent States and utilities from having to continue to spend considerable resources planning for a proposed mandate that the EPA doesn’t have the power to issue in the first place. They are requesting an extraordinary writ for extraordinary circumstances.

At oral arguments, Judge Thomas Griffith seemed wary of the petitioner’s arguments, for fear of opening the floodgates to challenges of proposed rules. Judge Karen Henderson, on the other hand, seemed sympathetic to claims made by Murray Energy and the intervenor States.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s position seemed to be somewhere in-between those of his colleagues. However, he pursued a line of reasoning about the timing of the “Clean Power” Plan that suggested to me that he was leaning towards EPA’s position. During rebuttal arguments, Judge Kavanaugh noted that any decision by the court likely would be rendered during the summer, which is roughly the same time that the final “Clean Power” Plan is due. He then explained that challengers to the rule may seek an injunction to stay the “Clean Power” Plan immediately after the rule goes final. And if the regulation does indeed represent an extraordinary scenario, then the petitioners request would have a high probability of success. He concluded that such an alternative remedy (i.e., a stay of the final rule) would be available to opponents of the regulation only weeks after a decision was rendered on the Murray Energy case. His reasoning seemed to be: Why would the court adopt an extraordinary response (by siding with the petitioners), when it could wait a few weeks and achieve the same result through normal channels?

That said, prognosticating outcomes on the basis of oral arguments is a fool’s errand. We’ll find out what the judges actually think some time in the next three months.

Notable House Hearings

On April 14th, EPA Office of Air and Radiation chief Janet McCabe testified before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on draft legislation that would allow States to “opt out” of the “Clean Power” Plan. She did not acquit herself well. For more, see:

On April 15th, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on The President’s UN Climate Pledge–Scientifically Justified or a New Tax on Americans? In diplomatic lingo, the hearing focused on the administration’s “Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution” (INDC) for the December 2015 COP 21 climate conference in Paris. For a recap, see

Across the States
William Yeatman

EPA Proposes Unprecedented 55th Takeover of State Regulatory Program

EPA last week proposed to take over Arkansas’s Regional Haze program and thereby impose more than $1 billion in costs on five coal-fired power plants, in order to achieve an “improvement” in visibility that is imperceptible. This would be EPA’s 55th federal implementation plan imposed during the Obama administration. By contrast, EPA imposed 5 total FIPs during the previous three presidential administrations (i.e., Clinton, Bush I, and Bush II).

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Vatican Announces Climate Summit for April 28

The Vatican announced on 14th April that it will hold a one-day conference on 28th April on climate change and sustainable development titled, “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.”  Speakers will include Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University economics professor, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, and director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  Leading representatives of other major religions and prominent climate scientists will also be invited to speak. 

According to the Vatican’s press release, “the goal of this summit is to raise awareness and build a consensus that the values of sustainable development cohere with values of the leading religious traditions, with a special focus on the most vulnerable; to elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the papal encyclical; and to help build a global movement across all religions for sustainable development and climate change throughout 2015 and beyond.” 

The press release continues: “The desired outcome is a joint statement on the moral and religious imperative of sustainable development, highlighting the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people – especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to release an encyclical on climate change some time before he attends the second United Nations climate summit of world leaders in New York City in September.  The Pope will also address a joint session of Congress during his visit to the United States, where he is also expected to speak about climate change.

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



Cooler Heads Digest 10 April 2015 

10 April 2015

In the News

Harry Reid Secured Subsidies for Aides’ Donors
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 10 April 2015

Summer Gasoline Prices Lowest Since 2009
Institute for Energy Research, 10 April 2015

Michael Bloomberg Pledges $30 Million to Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign
Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 9 April 2015

Craig Idso Reviews Two New Studies of Rising CO2 Effects on Forests
Marlo Lewis,, 9 April 2015

Japan Defies Obama—Plans To Build 43 New Coal Plants
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 9 April 2015

California Drought: the Rest of the Story
Patrick Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger, Cato at Liberty, 9 April 2015

Wind, Sun Free; Wind, Solar Power Expensive
Marita Noon, Breitbart Big Government, 6 April 2015

The Mask Slips on the Climate Scam
Steven Hayward, PowerLine, 5 April 2015

News You Can Use

Christopher Monckton provides an extensive critique of Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey’s recent column on what it would take to convince skeptics that man-made climate change is “real.” Monckton’s rebuttal, posted April 9 on Watts Up With That, starts by pointing out that: “The true scientific question ... is not the fatuous question whether ‘Man-Made Climate Change Is Real’ but how much global warming our sins of emission may cause, and whether that warming might be more a bad thing than a good thing.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Agrees to Set 2014 Ethanol Mandate by End of November 2015

It was announced on Friday, April 10, that the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to settle a case brought by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association and the American Petroleum Institute by agreeing to deadlines for finalizing the 2014, 2015, and 2016 ethanol mandates by November 30th of this year. The Renewable Fuel Standard of 2007 requires the EPA to set the annual ethanol blending requirement by November 30th for the forthcoming year. The settlement therefore means that the EPA will be no more than two years late for setting the 2014 mandate and one year late for 2015.

It is interesting that the EPA thinks it is acceptable to require oil refiners to obey its regulations retroactively, while the agency itself can ignore the law passed by Congress.   

House Committees Will Hold Hearings on U. S. Commitment to Paris Accord and “Clean Power” Plan

Two House committees will hold noteworthy hearings next week when the House and the Senate both return from their two-week recess. The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, April 14th, will hold a hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act section 111d rule, the so-called “Clean Power” Plan. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Wednesday, April 15th, will hold a hearing on the Obama Administration’s submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of the U.S.’s intended nationally-determined commitment (INDC) to the forthcoming Paris Accord on climate change.

The Science Committee’s hearing is the first on the INDC, which was submitted to the UN on March 31st. The three witnesses called by the majority Republicans are: Professor Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech; Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy; and Dr. Margo Thorning, chief economist of the American Council for Capital Formation. The committee’s minority Democrats have called Jake Schmidt, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.  Written testimony and Internet broadcast of the live hearing should be available here.  

The Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee will take testimony from Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the EPA, and six other witnesses on the proposed 111d rule. These include Eugene Trisko, testifying on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. Written testimony and internet broadcast of the live hearing should be available on the committee’s web site. Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) is developing legislation, the Ratepayer Protection Act, to delay state compliance with the so-called “Clean Power” Plan until it has undergone judicial review. 

EPA Administrator McCarthy Says Changes Will Be Made to “Clean Power” Plan

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a speech at the University of Chicago on April 10 that they will make changes in the so-called “Clean Power” Plan to address the problems that have been brought to their attention by electric utilities and state regulatory authorities. She said that interim compliance targets were essential, but that they might need to be re-jiggered to diminish the possibility that States will be forced to meet the interim target by increasing natural gas use rather than by making longer-term investments in renewable energy and efficiency alternatives.       

According to an article by Jean Chemnick in Greenwire (subscription required), McCarthy said, “If there is legitimate concern here, and we’re hearing it a lot, changes are going to happen. What I do not want to do is to design this in a way that is limiting choices of States.” 

This “regulatory flexibility” nonsense is probably just what many major investor-owned utilities want to hear. They are willing to do whatever the EPA commands as long as they have sufficient time to do it and as long as they can pass all rate increases along to their customers.

McCarthy also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) call to the States to just say no to the EPA was merely a political stunt. In fact, McConnell’s argument is that state resistance will allow Congress time to act to block the regulations. She then made the extraordinary claim that there is broad public support for the EPA’s regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing and new coal and gas power plants, but that it was not reflected in Congress. Apparently, McCarthy is still in denial about the results of the 2014 elections. 

DC Circuit Will Hear Oral Arguments in Murray Energy Suit Against EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan

A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will listen to oral arguments in the Murray Energy v. EPA case on Thursday, April 16, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The suit seeks to block the so-called “Clean Power” Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas power plants before the rule is finalized. The court has allowed the State of Wisconsin to become the 15th State to join the suit. 

The DC Bar Association will present a panel discussion on the case that afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m.  Panelists include Mark DeLaquil from Baker and Hostetler and lawyers from NRDC and EPA. You may register here to attend in person or by teleconference. Here is my CEI colleague William Yeatman’s analysis of the written brief from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Steve Hayward on the Power Line blog summarizes the significance of Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe’s opposition to the EPA’s proposed rule on constitutional grounds. Tribe, one of the nation’s leading liberal constitutional law professors for decades, testified before Congress that, “Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.” The New York Times actually published a fairly balanced article on Tribe’s advocacy for Peabody Energy, an intervenor in the Murray suit. 

President Obama Plays the Asthma Card
Marlo Lewis

“President Obama says that climate change became a personal issue for him when his older daughter Malia, now 16, was rushed to the emergency room with an asthma attack when she was just a toddler,” ABC News reports.

The President explained in a one-on-one interview with ABC News health editor, Dr. Richard Besser: “Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early... And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that's something that I think every parent would wish for...”

Is there any sillier justification for pricing low-income families out of affordable power, or for EPA to seize control of State electricity markets, than the one the President just gave?

Carbon dioxide, the substance targeted by EPA’s Clean Power Plan, is not a lung irritant and does not contribute to respiratory problems. At most, the CPP would reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations a few parts per million by century’s end. What biological difference could that make to children, when their exhaled breath contains about 40,000 parts CO2 per million?

Obama argues that CO2 emissions cause global warming, which in turn increases ozone smog, which then causes asthma. But how can that be so when, despite global warming, smog-forming emissions and ozone levels have declined, decade-by-decade, since the 1970s? Besides, asthma-related hospital admissions are lower in summer than in winter, and childhood asthma rates have gone up as smog levels have gone down. Those facts indicate that air quality is an increasingly unimportant factor in childhood asthma.

Obama plays the asthma card because, as explained in a secret strategy memo, obtained via FOIA by my colleague Chris Horner, the public won’t care about climate change unless it is repackaged as a threat to children’s health.  

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


Cooler Heads Digest 03 April 2015 

3 April 2015


The Competitive Enterprise Institute joined Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, and 29 other conservative and free-market organizations in signing a coalition letter in support of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s work with States to contest the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. Read the letter here.

In the News

Dear Gina (and Jerry): Where’s the Climate Science behind Your Plan?
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 April 2015

GOP Governors Unwittingly Recruited by Biofuels Lobby
Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, 3 April 2015

EPA and States Square Off over Mercury
Stephen Heins, Public Utilities Fortnightly, 3 April 2015

EPA’s Mercury Rule Would Cost Economy at Least $16 Billion Per Year
Brian Potts, Forbes, 3 April 2015

Scientist Predicts 2015 Is Hottest Year on Record with 9 Months To Go
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 3 April 2015

The Backlash against Obama’s Committing U.S. to International Climate Agreement
Katie Tubb & David Kreutzer, Daily Signal, 2 April 2015

Federal Judge Rejects EPA’s ‘Lack of Jurisdiction’ Argument in Murray Energy Suit
Linda Harris, State Journal, 2 April 2015

7 Questions with John Christy and Roy Spencer: Climate Change Skeptics for 25 Years
Paul Gattis, Birmingham News, 1 April 2015

Tom Steyer’s Group Shutters Climate Policy Arm as Political Efforts Ramp Up
Elana Schor & Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 1 April 2015

German Cabinet Approves Draft Anti-Fracking Law
Nicole Sagener, EUractiv, 2 April 2014

“Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” Author Shares Success in Spreading Message
Taylor Kuykendall, SNL Energy, 31 March 2015

Grasping for Pause-ible Deniability on Climate Change
Greg Jones, The Federalist, 30 March 2015

Climate Sensitivity and Environmental Worries Are Trending Downward
Patrick Michaels & Chip Knappenberger, Cato at Liberty, 27 March 2015

News You Can Use
2014 U.S. Oil Production Increase Was Largest in More Than 100 Years

U.S. crude output increased by a record 1.2 million barrels a day to 8.7 million b/d last year, according to a report published this week by the Energy Information Administration. That is the largest volume increase since 1900, the year the agency began keeping records.

Inside the Beltway

Obama Submits Climate Pledge to UN—But It’s DOA in Senate
Myron Ebell

The Obama Administration submitted its intended nationally-determined contribution (or INDC) to the Paris Accord on 31st March.  Other parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that have made their submissions are: the European Union, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, and Gabon.  They are all posted on the UNFCCC web site here.

The five-page U. S. INDC pledges that the United States will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.  The White House proposes to achieve the target through a long list of administrative actions, none of which require new legislation from Congress.  These include: the EPA’s proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing coal and natural gas-fired power plants; Corporate Average Fuel Economy (or CAFÉ) standards for cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty trucks; a long list of new energy efficiency standards for appliances, equipment, and building codes; and regulations to reduce methane emissions from landfills and the oil and gas sector.

Although these regulatory policies do not require new legislation, the submission does not mention that the Clean Air Act regulations on power plants may not survive legal challenges or congressional opposition.  There is majority opposition to the EPA’s power plant rules in both the House and Senate.  Moreover, all of these policies require the co-operation of Congress through the appropriations process. 

Still to be determined in the negotiations on the Paris Accord, which are scheduled to conclude at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (or COP-21) in December in Paris, is the nature of the agreement.  The negotiating text says that it will take “the form of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an ‘agreed outcome with legal force,” and will be applicable to all parties.  This sounds like the Paris Accord, whatever form it takes, will be legally binding.  If so, it seems inescapable that U. S. participation will require Senate ratification.  But that is just what the Obama Administration’s highly experienced negotiators in the State Department are trying to avoid.  They learned from the Kyoto Protocol, which was doomed in the Senate from the moment the negotiations were concluded in December 1997.  Ratification requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.  

The fact that Senate ratification requires a two-thirds majority vote means that the Paris Accord is almost certainly dead on arrival in the current Senate.  That’s why Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told the Daily Caller: “The Obama administration’s pledge to the United Nations today will not see the light of day with the 114th Congress.” Sen. Inhofe’s full remarks are available in the committee’s press release. Here are articles on the submission in the New York Times and the Washington Times.

EPW Republicans to McCarthy: Is EPA Climate Science Consistent with Data?
Marlo Lewis

At a March 4 Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) queried EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about climate change impacts, global temperatures, and climate models. McCarthy opined that droughts and storms are becoming more frequent worldwide, but had no data to back up her opinion when Sen. Sessions cited conflicting evidence.

In addition, although apparently unaware of the growing divergence between climate model predictions and observations, McCarthy was confident it was irrelevant to EPA’s assessment of climate change risks (i.e. the scientific rationale for the administration’s climate policies). She did, however, promise to provide written answers to Sen. Sessions “within a few days.” See 1:30-6:57 of this video clip.

On April 1, Sessions and three other EPW Republicans (Inhofe of Oklahoma, Wicker of Mississippi, and Barrasso of Wyoming) sent a letter reminding McCarthy of her promise and stating their questions in more detail.

Citing the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment and other information, the Senators challenge McCarthy to substantiate her views and the accuracy of climate models with respect to drought, storms, and global temperatures.

Sen. Sessions’s press release, which includes the text of the letter, is available here. 

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


Cooler Heads Digest 27 March 2015 

27 March 2015


  • The Competitive Enterprise invites you to celebrate Human Achievement Hour by turning on your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on Saturday, 28th March.  This celebration of human progress and advancement is an alternative to “Earth Hour,” the annual event calling on people and business to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic gesture against climate change. Learn how to participate further here.
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute, on behalf of 14 other pro-market organizations, this week submitted a joint comment letter critiquing on the Counsel for Environmental Quality’s proposal to require a National Environmental Policy Act analysis of project-related greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects.

In the News

America’s Energy Scorecard (Let Freedom Ring!)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 27 March 2015

Is Global Warming a Moral Cause?
Joe Bast, Somewhat Reasonable, 27 March 2015

It’s Time To Reclaim the Planet from Environmentalists
Dan Ziegler, The Federalist, 27 March 2015

Subpoena Proper after EPA Chief Deletes Nearly 6,000 Text Messages, Experts Testify
S. A. Miller, Washington Times, 26 March 2015

House Democrat: Global Warming Will Force Women To Trade Sexual Favors for Food
Chad Merta, Sun Times, 26 March 2015

In New York State, Fracking Ban Fuels Secession Talk
Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2015

“97% Consensus” Claim Does Not Stand Up to Scrutiny
Richard Tol, Occasional Thoughts, 25 March 2015

Climate Science Doubts: Not Because of Payment, But Because the Science Is Bad
Christopher Essex, Breitbart, 25 March 2015

Missing the Mark on Climate Change Skepticism
Scott Armstrong, Washington Times, 24 March 2015

Pump the Brakes on Fracking Regulations
Editorial, National Review, 23 March 2015

News You Can Use
Poll: Record Number of Americans Have Positive Views on Environment

According to a Gallup poll published this week, half of Americans rate the overall quality of the environment as “excellent” or “good,” the most positive views of the environment since Gallup began asking this question in 2001.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Vote-a-Rama Includes Climate Votes

The House of Representatives and the Senate both approved budget resolutions this week, but all the fun was on the Senate side.  There were floor votes on 57 amendments on a wide range of issues, including climate policy.  The fun peaked with the Thursday night “Vote-a-Rama” and finally ended with passage of S. Con. Res. 11 by a 52 to 46 vote at 3:19 AM on 27th March.

There were four key votes on climate policy.  First, by a 58 to 42 vote, the Senate approved Senator Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) amendment against a carbon tax.  All 54 Republicans were joined by four Democrats in opposing a carbon tax.  They were: Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).  We can now assume that all the other Democratic Senators support raising energy prices with a carbon tax.

Second, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered an amendment that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from “withholding highway funds from States that refuse to submit State Implementation Plans required under the [so-called] Clean Power Plan of the Agency.”  It passed 57-43, with all 54 Republicans plus Democrats Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp voting Yes.

Third, five Republicans voted for Senator Bernie Sanders’s amendment to recognize that climate change is real and the Senate should take action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  The Republicans voting Yes were: Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-Me.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).  Democratic Senators Manchin and Heitkamp voted No.  The Sanders amendment failed on a 49-50 vote

Fourth, the Senate approved by a 53-47 vote a somewhat similar amendment offered by Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).  It calls on the Senate to listen to the advice of the Secretary of Defense, National Intelligence Director, NASA Administrator, and NOAA Administrator on the threats posed by human-caused climate change.  Seven Republicans voted for the Bennet amendment: Senators Portman, Kirk, Ayotte, Graham, Collins, Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).  No Democrats voted against the amendment.

People often complain that all these Senate budget votes don’t mean anything.  That’s true, but they are often important test votes on important issues.  We now know where Senators stand on the EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan, which means that both sides now know who needs education and persuasion. 

We also now know that there is absolutely no support for a carbon tax among Senate Republicans, even despite a recent white paper by Jerry Taylor of the new Niskanen Center on “The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax.” Perhaps, conservatives in the Senate haven't had time to read it.  But even if they do find time, I doubt that any will be persuaded.  I find it entirely unconvincing, and in fact now have a clearer understanding of how goofy both politically and as public policy a carbon tax would be.    

The House passed its budget resolution, H. Con. Res. 27, at 6:54 PM on 25th March by a vote of 228 to 199.   

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