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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (220)

Saturday
Jul252015

Cooler Heads Digest 24 July 2015 

 

24 July 2015

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

House and Senate Committees Introduce Underwhelming Energy Bills

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

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

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

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

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

Wind PTC: Watching Congress Make the Sausage

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

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

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

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

House Panel Examines Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Saturday
Jul182015

Cooler Heads Digest 17 July 2015 

17 July 2015

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News You Can Use
Study: Utica Play Bigger Than Expected

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

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Stream Buffer Zone Rule: Worse Than Expected

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

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

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

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

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

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

Across the States
Myron Ebell

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the World
Marlo Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday
Jul112015

Cooler Heads Digest 10 July 2015 

10 July 2015

Announcements

Video of Robert Bradley, Jr.’s presentation at the Cato Institute, titled “Free Energy Market Thought,” is available for viewing online.

In the News

Ratepayer Opportunity: State PUCs v. EPA’s Clean Power Plan
Travis Fisher, Master Resource, 9 July 2015

Committee Head: EPA Engaging in “Pattern of Obstruction”
Zack Colman, Washington Examiner, 9 July 2015

Indiana Governor Urges States To Fight Clean Power Plan
Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, 9 July 2015

Climate Scientists Grapple with Psychological Problems
Jack Holmes, New York Magazine, 9 July 2015

Tory “Blue Crap” Means UK Is Falling behind in Global Switch to Green Energy
Catherine Mitchell, Guardian, 8 July 2015

A Global Coal Renaissance
Brad Plumer, Vox, 7 July 2015

German Green Power Push Forces Neighbors To Bolster Blackout Defenses
Weixin Zha & Marek Strzelecki, Bloomberg Business, 7 July 2015

Goodbye Mercury Rule, Hello Clean Power Plan?
Brian Potts & Abigail Barnes, Energy Collective, 7 July 2015

OMB Acknowledges (Most) of Our Comments on the Social Cost of Carbon, Engages None
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 6 July 2015

Energy Department Doesn’t Know What’s Best for Consumers
David Kreutzer, Washington Times, 6 July 2015

Green Pope Goes Medieval on Planet
Joel Kotkin, Daily Beast, 5 July 2015

News You Can Use
Steep Price Tag for Climate Change Mitigation

According to a new study by the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate, it will require $1 trillion in annual investments to green global energy production—and this was only one of 10 requirements necessary to achieve “nearly all” of the U.N.-recommended emissions reductions.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

House Leadership Pulls Interior-EPA Appropriations Bill After Confederate Flag Flap

The House returned from the week-long Independence Day recess to resume floor consideration of the Interior and EPA Appropriations bill, H. R. 2822. After voting on a number of amendments, the bill was moving toward a vote on final passage Thursday, 9th July, when it became bogged down in the flap over displays of the Confederate flag.  House leadership then pulled the bill from the floor. It appears unlikely that it will be brought back.   

On Tuesday, the House agreed by voice vote to an amendment offered by Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) that would ban the display of the Confederate flag in national cemeteries.  Huffman’s amendment passed when few people were paying attention.  When it was publicized, a number of Republican Members told their leadership that they could not vote for final passage if the bill contained the Huffman amendment.

Representative Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, then offered an amendment that would allow the Confederate flag to be flown at some times in some national cemeteries.  While Democrats were creating an uproar on the House floor, it became clear that enough Republicans would vote against the Calvert amendment to defeat it.  At that point, the bill was pulled from the floor.

This is something of a setback for efforts to block major new EPA rules through appropriations riders.  H. R. 2822 as passed out of committee included riders to block the greenhouse gas emissions rules for existing and new power plants, the ozone rule, and the wetlands rule.  Amendments on the floor added several other riders. 

The Interior-EPA Appropriations bill will be thrown into some sort of larger omnibus spending bill this fall.  Some or all the riders can survive and be included in that package, but the fact that the House didn’t pass them will weaken the argument for including them.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has included similar riders in their Interior-EPA Appropriations bill, but it is expected that the Democratic minority will prevent all appropriations bill from coming to the Senate floor.

Senate Appropriations Committee Votes For Green Climate Fund

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16 to 14 on 9th July to remove a prohibition on contributing to the UN Green Climate Fund from the State Department Appropriations bill.  The amendment offered by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.) was supported by all the Democrats on the committee and by Republican Senators Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Susan Collins (Me.).  Apparently, more foreign aid is a winning political issue in some States. 

The amendment removed language from the bill that said that no funds could go to the Green Climate Fund until authorized by Congress in a separate bill.  The House’s State Department Appropriations bill contains a similar prohibition, so the fight is far from over.  President Barack Obama requested $500 million for the Green Climate Fund for FY 2016. 

At the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama saved the conference from total collapse by promising that the U. S. and other developed economies would provide $100 billion annually in climate assistance to poor countries starting in 2020.  The hard skirmishing in Congress over the first half a billion dollars suggests that it’s going to be next to impossible for the next president to keep President Obama’s promise.

Supreme Court Overturns EPA’s Mercury Rule

The Supreme Court on 29th June reversed the D. C. Circuit Court’s decision upholding the EPA’s mercury rule for power plants (which was originally called the MACT Rule and is now called the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards or MATS Rule). Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority decision, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy.  The case now goes back to the D. C. Circuit Court “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The majority opinion states that: “The [Environmental Protection] Agency must consider cost—including, most importantly, cost of compliance—before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary.”

However: “We need not and do not hold that the law unambiguously required the Agency, when making this preliminary estimate, to conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis in which each advantage and disadvantage is assigned a monetary value.  It will be up to the Agency to decide (as always, within the limits of reasonable interpretation) how to account for cost.”

To those who argued that the mercury rule’s co-benefits or ancillary benefits as estimated by the EPA far outweigh the costs of complying with the rule, Justice Scalia tartly noted that: “In the Agency’s own words, the administrative record ‘utterly refutes [the] assertion that [ancillary benefits] form the basis for the appropriate and necessary finding.’”

Justice Clarence Thomas issued a short concurring opinion which is much stronger and more persuasive than the majority opinion and well worth reading.  It and the minority’s dissenting opinion follow the majority opinion here.

While EPA will now have to rework the rule in order to satisfy the Supreme Court, the damage has already been done.  And EPA is aware of this fact.  Two days before the court released its ruling, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appeared on the Bill Maher television talk show.  She expressed confidence that the Supreme Court would uphold the mercury rule, but then crowed: “But even if we don’t, it was three years ago. Most of them are already in compliance, investments have been made, and we’ll catch up.” 

Senate EPW Holds Hearing on Obama Climate Treaty Agenda
Marlo Lewis

On 8th July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the President’s climate-treaty agenda and its implications for U.S. domestic policy and our constitutional framework.

Much of the discussion focused on the administration’s pledge in the COP 21 climate treaty negotiations – our so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) – to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

David Bookbinder, formerly general counsel for the Sierra Club, presented estimates of the emission reductions plausibly projected for each of the administration’s current and proposed climate policies. Those policies would achieve “maximum annual reductions in 2025 of 840 MMT [million metric tons], leaving the U.S. 349 MMT short (about 29%) of even the lower end of our Paris commitment.” Bookbinder’s analysis tallies with that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which finds that the administration’s policies fall short of the President’s maximum (28%) emission-reduction goal by 33%. 

Jeff Holmstead, formerly EPA air office chief under President George W. Bush, noted that Obama officials continue to dodge questions about how they plan to achieve the 26%-28% reduction target under existing law, even though the White House announced that goal eight months ago in the U.S-China climate pact. President appears to be making promises he does not intend to keep, treating international commitments like campaign promises, which, as the saying goes, are made to be broken.

An even more disturbing possibility is that Obama officials will attempt to regulate beyond the scope of existing law. In fact, they already are. EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan constitutes about 35% of the President’s emission-reduction pledge. Holmstead makes a powerful case (pp. 3-6) that the Clean Power Plan is blatantly unlawful. 

George Mason Law School Professor Jeremy Rabkin raised constitutional concerns. The President seeks an agreement that would not actually be a treaty and thus not require Senate ratification, yet would somehow bind the next Congress and president to implement the “Clean Power” Plan and other Obama administration climate policies.

Rabkin warned that the administration’s climate agenda would set a dangerous precedent altering our constitutional structure. U.S. regulatory statutes would “be interpreted to accord with priorities established by foreign governments and by international bodies” expressed in executive agreements without any form of congressional approval. “We cannot go very far down that road before the idea that we are governed by law starts to look like a fable for school children.”

Recalling that the Byrd-Hagel Resolution scuttled U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, Rabkin advised the Committee to propose a Sense of the Senate resolution “to put the world on notice that unilateral ‘political’ commitments of the President should not necessarily be taken as a fully reliable statement of future American policy.”

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Radical Anti-Capitalist Naomi Klein Co-Chairs Vatican Climate Conference; Pope Francis in Bolivia Calls Capitalism “Dung of the Devil”

Following up on Pope Francis’s climate encyclical, the Vatican held a two-day climate conference in early July. Unsurprisingly, no non-alarmists were invited to speak.  Astonishingly, the Vatican invited radical leftist Naomi Klein to co-chair the conference along with Cardinal Peter Turkson.  My comments on Klein’s involvement are posted here. The New Yorker magazine has just published Klein’s diary of the event. This week Pope Francis has been visiting South America.  While in Bolivia, the Pope revealed that he agrees with Naomi Klein’s rabid anti-capitalist position.  He said in a speech that unfettered capitalism (whatever that is) was the “dung of the devil.”

My comments on the papal encyclical are here. Joel Kotkin has written a perceptive, much longer analysis here. Indur Goklany has written a detailed rebuttal of the encyclical’s scientific and economic assumptions here.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

EPA’s Climate Action Flimflam Report

EPA recently released Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action. The report, an obvious effort to gin up public support for a new climate treaty to replace the expired Kyoto Protocol, claims “significant global action” would avert 70,000 premature U.S. deaths and deliver hundreds of billions of dollars in health benefits to Americans by 2100. The report is a shameless piece of propaganda.

The core bias that predetermines all of EPA’s “global action” benefit estimates is the assumption that in the reference (“no action”) scenario, global temperatures will rise by 9°F (5°C) by 2100. That prediction is based on climate models that increasingly overshoot observed temperatures. In the latest University in Alabama Huntsville satellite record, the warming rate of the past 36 years (0.114°C/decade) translates into an additional 2.2°F by 2100, not 9°F.

Things could change, of course, but EPA provides no evidence the warming rate will increase by 400% during the next 85 years.

Even if the planet were warming as fast as EPA imagines, the agency’s benefit estimates would still be loopy. For example, EPA claims “global action” would avoid approximately 57,000 premature U.S. deaths in 2100 from deteriorating air quality, the theory being that warming will increase ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution (p. 27). However, EPA arguably overestimates health risks of ozone and PM2.5 pollution at today’s historically-low levels. More importantly, as EPA data show, U.S. air pollution emissions and concentrations keep declining, decade by decade, despite global warming.

Indeed, long before 2100, all significant remaining U.S. air pollution emissions will likely have been eliminated. The impact of warming on U.S. air quality should thus be minimal. Yet EPA claims “global action” will deliver $930 billion in U.S. air quality improvements in 2100. How is that possible?

As explained in a text box (p. 25), what EPA actually models is not the impact of projected warming on emission levels reasonably anticipated to occur in 2100, but the impact of such warming on “present-day levels.” EPA claims that holding present-day levels “fixed” allows the agency “to isolate the climate change-related impact on air quality.” Nonsense. It allows EPA to grossly inflate the health effects of projected future warming. The only way to “isolate” the impact of climate change on air quality in 2100 is to compare the effects of different warming scenarios on emissions in 2100, not emissions in 2015.

Evidently, EPA is trying to pull a fast one while including just enough info in the fine print to protest its innocence of trying to deceive.

For a more detailed examination of EPA’s report, see my blog post, EPA’s Climate Action Flimflam.

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
Jun272015

Cooler Heads Digest 26 June 2015 

26 June 2015

Announcements

  • The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week. Happy Independence Day.
  • On Tuesday, 30th June, Noon to 1:30 PM, the Cato Institute will host a talk by Robert Bradley, Jr., editor of Master Resource, on “A History of Free Market Energy Thought.” Cato’s Patrick Michaels will moderate. RSVP or watch online here.

In the News

Apple’s New Top Lobbyist Has Bizarre History of Sock Puppeting
Ken Kurson, New York Observer, 26 June 2015

EPA Chief: Climate Skeptics Are Not “Normal People”
Tom Blumer, News Busters, 25 June 2015

Ozone Triggers Lying, Not Asthma
Steve Milloy, Breitbart, 24 June 2015

In a Shift, Fracking’s Foes Face a Losing Streak
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 24 June 2015

Keeping Energy Affordable
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), The Hill, 24 June 2015

How the Supreme Court’s Impending Ruling on Utility MACT Might Effect the Clean Power Plan
Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, 24 June 2015

Computer-Aided Sophistry: My Power Point on the Social Cost of Carbon
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 23 June 2015

Study: A Mini Ice Age Heading Our Way
Colin Fernandez, Daily Mail, 23 June 2015

Pope Francis on Climate Change: An Encyclical Failure
James Rust, Master Resource, 23 June 2015

New EPA Truck Regulations Won’t Help the Environment
Nicolas Loris, Daily Signal, 23 June 2015

Top 10 Things I Learned on a Trip to the Bakken Oil Fields
Mark Perry, AEIdeas, 22 June 2015

Auto Industry Over-Regulation Is Setting Us Back
Myron Ebell, Janesville Gazette, 21 June 2015

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

Study: Upfront Costs of Energy Efficiency about Twice Actual Savings

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claims energy-efficiency programs provide States an easy, affordable way to comply with the Clean Power Plan and reduce consumer electric bills at the same time. A new study by UC Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers challenges EPA’s rosy assessment. In a survey of 30,000 households, the authors found –to their surprise – that the upfront costs of home weatherization exceed savings by about two to one. In their words: “The findings suggest that the upfront investment costs are about twice the actual energy savings. Further, the model-projected savings are roughly 2.5 times the actual savings. . . .Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits; the average rate of return is approximately minus 9.5% annually.”

Inside the Beltway

House Passes Bill To Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Regs, 247-180
Myron Ebell

The House of Representatives on 24th June passed H. R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, by a vote of 247 to 180.  The bill would block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants until all judicial review is completed and would also allow state governors to opt out if they determine that the rule would raise electric rates or threaten electric reliability.

Eight Democrats joined 239 Republicans in voting for H. R. 2042, sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy subcommittee.  Democrats voting Yes were Representatives Brad Ashford (Neb.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Henry Cuellar (Tex.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Az.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Terri Sewell (Ala.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Az.).

Four Republicans and 176 Democrats voted No: Republicans opposed were Representatives Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Chris Gibson (NY), and Frank LoBiondo (NJ).  Four Democrats and two Republicans did not vote.

Some commentators have said that the vote is meaningless because the Senate is unlikely to muster the sixty votes necessary to pass the bill or something similar and even if it did, President Obama would veto it.  I disagree.  The vote is a strong rebuke to the Obama EPA’s power grab.  It shows that a large majority supports the rider in the House’s Interior-EPA Appropriations bill that would also block the EPA’s power plant regulations.  The Interior-EPA bill reached the House floor this week and will be voted on during the week of 5th July after Congress returns from its Independence Day recess. 

The House vote also provides clear evidence to the international community that the Obama Administration’s commitment made under the forthcoming Paris Accord to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 has little political support and is therefore unlikely to be achieved.   

RFS Repeal Bill Is Introduced
Marlo Lewis

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has introduced S. 1584, a bill to repeal EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. A throwback to Soviet-era central planning, the RFS requires refiners, blenders, and fuel importers to sell annually-increasing volumes of biofuels. Sen. Cassidy’s one-page bill would repeal EPA’s statutory authority for the RFS program -- §211(o) of the Clean Air Act -- other related statutory references and authorities, and all associated EPA regulations.

Sen. Cassidy’s web site indicates that a major motivation for the bill is the costly environmental damage inflicted by the RFS on Louisiana tourism, recreation, and fisheries. Most U.S. biofuel is ethanol made from corn starch. Agricultural runoff from RFS-induced corn production expands the Gulf Coast dead zone – an oxygen-depleted area ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 square miles where aquatic life cannot survive.    

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Federal Judge Temporarily Delays BLM’s New Fracking Rule

Federal District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on 23rd June issued a stay that temporarily halts the Bureau of Land Management from implementing a new rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The rule was scheduled to go into effect the next day.

Judge Skavdahl’s reason for the stay was that the BLM had not yet published the official administrative record that includes its responses to public comments and details of how the rule was written.  The judge said that once the administrative record was filed, he would give both sides seven days to respond and then would rule within two weeks on whether to issue an injunction to suspend the rule until litigation is completed.

The judge agreed with the Western Energy Alliance and other plaintiffs that there is credible evidence that the rule could do serious financial harm to oil and gas producers on federal lands.  According to the Casper Star Tribune, “North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said about 99% of all the wells that would be covered by the federal rule are already regulated by the states.”

Indiana Rejects “Clean Power” Plan

Indiana Governor Mike Pence this week sent an open letter to President Obama informing him that Indiana would not comply with EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan as proposed. In the letter, Pence correctly noted that the “ill-conceived and poorly constructed” regulation exceeds EPA’s authority. Indiana becomes the second State, after Oklahoma, to pre-emptively refuse compliance with the “Clean Power” Plan as proposed.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

EPA’s Bogus Climate Policy Health Report

EPA this week released Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action. As summarized by the agency’s press release, the 96-page report “compares two future scenarios: a future with significant global action on climate change, where global warming has been limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and a future with no action on climate change (where global temperatures rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit). The report then quantifies the differences in health, infrastructure and ecosystem impacts under the two scenarios, producing estimates of the costs of inaction and the benefits of reducing global GHG emissions.”

Predictably, EPA concludes the costs of “inaction” dramatically outweigh those of “action.” I have not worked through the report in detail, but the key selling points strain credulity.

To begin with, there is no good reason to suppose that, absent “global action,” global temperatures will increase by 9°F (5°C). Over the past 36 years, the lower troposphere (roughly 0-25,000 feet) has warmed at a rate of 0.114°C/decade, according to the latest University of Alabama in Huntsville satellite temperature record (UAH6.0). The 36-year rate is at or below the low end of three of the IPCC’s four global warming projections for the 21st Century, known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs). It’s also right smack dab in the middle of the IPCC’s lowest projection (RCP2.6), which assumes a 70% reduction in cumulative global GHG emissions between 2010 and 2100. The warming rate in recent decades is already as low as EPA assumes is possible only through “global action.”

EPA claims that limiting global warming to 2°C would “avoid an estimated 12,000 deaths annually associated with extreme temperatures in 49 U.S. cities, compared to a future with no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” But only about 2,000 U.S. residents die each year from all forms of extreme weather, with about 31% attributed to exposure to extreme heat and 63% attributed to exposure to extreme cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So currently about 620 annual U.S. deaths are heat-related, and U.S. heat-related mortality has been declining, decade-by-decade, since the 1960s, despite rising urban summer air temperatures. The reason is people aren’t dumb. When hot weather becomes more frequent they adapt, reducing their vulnerability to hot weather. There is no reason to believe such progress will not continue.

EPA claims global action would “avoid approximately 13,000 deaths in 2050 and 57,000 deaths annually in 2100 from poor air quality.” That is sheer conjecture and unverifiable due to the huge noise-to-signal ratio. The 13,000 deaths EPA claims could be avoided in 2050 is less than one-thousandth of the 56 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Moreover, as EPA surely knows, U.S. air pollution emissions and concentrations keep declining despite global warming. Long before 2100, most of the world’s air pollution problems will likely have been solved absent “global action” on climate change.

Sadly, carbon reduction policies could hold back progress in combating the world’s deadliest air pollution – indoor smoke inhalation in countries that lack access to reliable, affordable, fossil energy.

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
Jun202015

Cooler Heads Digest 19 June 2015 

19 June 2015

Announcements

On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, from noon to 1:00 PM, the Heritage Foundation will hold a panel on “The Social Cost of Carbon: A Controversial Tool for Misguided Policy,” featuring Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Heritage’s Kevin D. Dayaratna, CEI’s Marlo Lewis, Cato’s Pat Michaels, and hosted by Heritage’s David Kreutzer. RSVP or watch online.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, from 4 to 5 PM, the Cato Institute will hold a discussion on “Air Farce: The EPA’s Regulatory “Science” on Airborne Particles,” featuring Steven J. Milloy, founder of JunkScience.com  and moderated by Patrick J. Michaels, Director, Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute. RSVP or watch online.

In the News

The Climate Wars’ Damage to Science
Matt Ridley, WattsUpWithThat, 19 June 2015

EPA Funnels Grants to Supposedly Impartial Peer Reviewers
Kelly Riddell, Washington Times, 19 June 2015

Pope’s Diatribe Hurts the Poor
Rupert Darwall, NRO, 18 June 2015

Oil, Gas, & Government: The U.S. Experience
Robert Murphy, Master Resource, 17 June 2015

EPA Policies Raise Americans’ Electric Bills
Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, 17 June 2015

GOP Doctors: EPA Ozone Rule Won’t Help Health
Devin Henry, The Hill, 17 June 2015

Renewable Fuel Standard: Can EPA Regulate America beyond the “Blend Wall”?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 16 June 2015

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Would Do More Harm Than Good
Tom Pyle, Forbes, 15 June 2015

Sen. Mike Rounds: Scrutiny of EPA Is No “Witch Hunt”
Christopher Doering, USA Today, 15 June 2015

Fossil Fuel Divestment: Flight from Reality
Robert Bradley, Jr., Forbes, 15 June 2015

The Retreat of ‘Peak Oil’
Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, 15 June 2015

News You Can Use
Top Federal Energy Regulator: Letting EPA Plan the Grid Has “Unforeseen Consequences”

In an address this week to the PJM regional transmission organization, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller sounded a warning about the extent to which Obama’s top climate policy, the “Clean Power” Plan, puts EPA in charge of the electricity sector.  According to EnergyWire ($), Moeller said, “Let's face it, we have air regulators planning the electricity grid, like it or not. And there's always going to be a lot of unforeseen consequences to that.”

Inside the Beltway

House and Senate Appropriations Committees Approve Bills That Block EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule
Myron Ebell

The House Appropriations Committee on 16th June passed its bill to fund the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency in Fiscal Year 2016, which begins on 1st October 2015. The bill authorizes $30.17 billion in total spending, which is $246 million less than the FY2015 level and $3 billion less than the Obama Administration requested.  EPA funding is cut by $718 million.

The House Interior-EPA appropriations bill also contains several important riders that would block the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan, which would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, and the Waters of the U. S. rule.  Amendments were adopted by the full committee to block the EPA’s ozone rule and the BLM’s rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.     

Representative Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of the Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee, said: “This administration’s appetite for new regulations and disregard for Congress has left us little choice but to block the president’s overzealous regulatory agenda in this bill.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee on 18th June passed its FY2016 Interior-EPA bill on a straight party line vote of 16 to 14. The Senate bill authorizes $30.01 billion in spending and also includes riders to block the “Clean Power” Plan, the Waters of the U. S. rule, and the ozone rule.  They added a prohibition on listing the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act. This is the first time the committee has marked up a spending bill for Interior and EPA since 2009.  This is a result of the Republican takeover of the Senate in the 2014 elections.

Chairmen Bishop and Inhofe to EPA: You Forgot To Do an ESA Consultation on the Power Plant Rules

Representative Rob Bishop (R-Ut.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday, 15th June, that points out that the agency had proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without bothering to do an official consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service as required by section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

The letter gives as one example of the consequences of ignoring the law the possible harm that may be done to endangered manatees by the EPA’s proposed rules.  Manatees living near the Florida coast rely on warm water discharged from coal-fired power plants to survive during winter. The waters around Big Bend and Crystal River power plants have been officially designated by the Fish and Wildlife Service as warm-water manatee refugees as part of their ESA plan to save the manatee.  The EPA’s proposed power plant rules are likely to force the closure of both these power plants.

EPA/NHTSA Propose Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas/Fuel Economy Regulations for Heavy-Duty Vehicles
Marlo Lewis

On 19th June, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards for model years (MYs) 2021-2027 semi-trucks, large pickups and vans, and a wide assortment of occupational trucks and buses.

The proposal marks the start of Phase 2 of the agencies’ GHG/fuel economy program for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). In September 2011, the agencies adopted such standards for MYs 2014-2018 HDVs.

Today’s proposal weighs in at a hefty 1,329 pages, further explicated by a 789-page regulatory impact analysis (RIA). The agencies provide several shorter summaries. The heavy tomes, however, contain all the devilish details.

The agencies’ press release crows that the proposal will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. That may sound like an important contribution to climate protection. However, on page 6-45 of the RIA, the agencies estimate the rule will reduce global temperatures by 0.0026 to 0.0065 degrees C by 2100, and sea level by 0.009 to 0.022 inches – changes too small for scientists to distinguish from the ‘noise’ of natural climate variability.

The release further boasts the proposal will cut oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the program or “greater than a year’s worth of imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting (OPEC) Countries.” But on page 8-78 of the RIA we find that the “lifetime” is 30 years (2020-2050). So the proposal will cut annual OPEC imports, on average, by one-thirtieth. OPEC imports now account for only 9% of total U.S. petroleum consumption, so the energy security benefits of the rule (even making the dubious assumption that import dependence poses significant security risks) are similarly miniscule.

What then is the point? The agencies claim the rule will save truckers a bundle in fuel expenditures – $170 billion in lower fuel costs over the lifetime of the compliant vehicles. The agencies acknowledge that the rule will increase vehicle engine costs by $10,140 to $12,842. But they claim truckers will recoup the extra cost in fuel savings within two years.

This should immediately raise red flags. Trucking companies are in business to make money. As the agencies acknowledge, “Unlike light-duty vehicles – which are purchased and used mainly by individuals and households – the vast majority of HDVs are purchased and operated by profit-seeking businesses for which fuel costs represent a substantial operating expense” (Proposed Rule, p. 633). Indeed, for most truckers, fuel is by far the single biggest operating expense.

So, as in their Phase 1 rulemaking for MYs 2014-2018 HDVs, the agencies struggle (and, in my opinion, fail) to explain why truckers aren’t demanding and engine manufacturers aren’t producing trucks that deliver the projected fuel savings. The proposed rule implies that trucking companies don’t want to increase their profit margins and/or truck manufacturers don’t want to compete for their business.

This much is clear. The rule will yield little to no climate and energy security benefits. It will significantly increase the cost of new HDVs, making it harder for small and independently-owned trucking companies to compete in the freight hauling industry. It will strengthen EPA and NHTSA’s control over the transport sector. And it will be binding on the trucking industry through 2030 – long after Obama and his team leave office.  

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical: Help Poor People by Dismantling Industrial Civilization

The Vatican released Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, on 18th June.  It is, in general, scientifically ill-informed, economically illiterate, intellectually incoherent, and morally obtuse.  It is also theologically suspect, and large parts of it are leftist drivel, albeit couched in the vocabulary of Catholic social teaching.  

It has been reported that Vatican officials in the global warming debate want to make sure they do not put the Roman Catholic Church on the wrong side of science, as in the condemnation of Galileo in 1633 for believing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.  Laudato Si’ fails to get the science right (see paragraphs 20 through 26), and although the Vatican can no longer prosecute heretics, Francis has no hesitation condemning those who oppose the alleged global warming consensus (see, for example, paragraph 54)…Read the whole thing at globalwarming.org.

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.