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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (183)

Saturday
Sep202014

Cooler Heads Digest 19 September 2014 

19 September 2014

Announcements

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is contributing to the festivities leading up to the UN Climate Summit on 23rd September with a daily post on Facebook.  Here is the first one. 

The Heritage Foundation will host a talk by Rupert Darwall on his book, The Age of Global Warming: a History, on 24 September at 2 PM.  Rsvp here.  

The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Heritage Foundation are holding an energy and climate policy conference 25-26 September in Houston.  Texas Governor Rick Perry is the dinner speaker.  Register here.

In the News

Boycotting the UN Climate Summit 
Willie Soon and Christopher Monckton, Washington Times, 19 September 2014

The UN’s Climate Summit Charade 
Rupert Darwall, National Review Online, 18 September 2014

McConnell: Make Me Majority Leader, I'll Give You Keystone XL
Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill, 18 September 2014

Voters Care About Jobs and Economy, Not Green Agenda
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, 17 September 2014

Secretary of State Kerry Explains the Greenhouse Effect
Myron Ebell, GlobalWarming.org, 16 September 2014

EPA To Regulate Emissions from Aircraft
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 16 September 2014

E-Mails Show Collusion between Obama’s EPA and Environmental Lobby 
Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, 16 September 2014

Chevron’s Search for Alternative Fuels Stumps Best Minds 
Joe Carroll, Bloomberg, 16 September 2014

Leo vs. Science: Vanishing Evidence for Climate Change 
Tom Harris and Bob Carter, New York Post, 15 September 2014

Climate Change and the False Case for Haste 
Ross McKitrick, Cato Institute, 15 September 2014

News You Can Use
Leftists Disagree on the Costs of Cutting Emissions

Paul Krugman claims in his 19th September New York Times column that new studies from the International Monetary Fund and the New Climate Economy Project both conclude that “strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth and might even lead to faster growth.”

Another leftist guru, Naomi Klein, disagrees.  Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate, argues that, “…[W]e have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism….”  In a long excerpt published last week in the Guardian, Klein writes: “What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity's use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature.” 

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Air-Conditioners and Refrigerators Again Targeted Under President's Climate Agenda

Last month, the Obama EPA proposed restrictions on the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants in several types of newly manufactured air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.   This week, the White House launched additional steps to limit the production and use of HFCs.  EPA considers HFCs to be potent greenhouse gases, and the administration asserts that these “actions demonstrate significant U.S. leadership in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit next week….”

A phaseout of HFCs could prove to be very bad news for consumers.   Americans currently own hundreds of millions of home air-conditioners, car air-conditioners, and refrigerators that rely on HFCs.  A phaseout of these refrigerants would lead to higher repair bills as the cost of the dwindling supply rises--as happened when CFCs were phased out in the 1990s over fears about depletion of the earth’s ozone layer.  Eventually, the unavailability of HFCs might necessitate expensive retrofits or even premature replacements of HFC-dependent equipment.   And new air-conditioners and refrigerators will have to run on alternatives to HFCs, which may cost more and not work as efficiently.

Republican House Passes Energy Package, Which Democratic Senate Will Ignore

The House of Representatives on 18th September passed an omnibus package of most of the energy-related bills passed during the 113th Congress.  The final vote was 226 to 191 with 14 not voting.  Seven Republicans voted No, and nine Democrats voted Yes.  When the Senate returns after the 4th November elections, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will ignore this package just as he has ignored the thirteen separate bills contained in it.       

House Science Committee Takes Testimony from Holdren and McCabe on Obama's Climate Plan

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on 17th September titled, “The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design.”  The witnesses were Dr. John Holdren, the President’s chief scientific adviser and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Janet McCabe, acting assistant EPA administrator for air and radiation.

Holdren and McCabe were predictably unforthcoming.  However, in response to claims that the EPA’s proposed rules for power plants will have negligible effects on carbon dioxide levels, they stressed that these were just the first steps.  Regulated utilities might want to keep that in mind as they decide how to respond.          

E&E Legal Files IRS Complaint Against Sierra Club

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service that claims that the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation have violated tax laws for non-profit organizations.   In a report released along with the complaint, David W. Schnare, the institute’s general counsel, explains and documents the Sierra Club’s violations of the tax code.   

The Sierra Club’s tax violations fall under two general areas, according to Schnare.  First, eight of the Sierra Club Foundation’s eighteen directors own or operate organizations or companies that stand to benefit financially from the Sierra Club’s War on Coal campaign.  E and E Legal’s press release states, “These directors are the captains of the renewable energy industry.” 

Second, the Sierra Club has not paid taxes on unrelated business income, which is required under the tax code regulating non-profit organizations.  Again, according to the press release: “The Sierra Club sends its members into communities to sell the products of a selected local solar panel company in Maryland, Utah and dozens of other states in exchange for contributions to the group. In Maryland, for example, theSierra Club makes a $750 profit from every sale and has never paid taxes on that commercial enterprise.  As the Sierra Club’s Chief of Staff Jesse Simons has stated, ‘This has been a great revenue-generating tool for the Sierra Club.’” 

 

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

Studies Find No Evidence of Water Pollution from Fracking

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing claim methane released by and chemicals used in the process pollute drinking water. Such allegations have been repeatedly debunked. Two new studies further confirm fracking does not harm drinking water.

The Department of Energy (DOE) this week released a technical report on fracturing in six gas wells in Greene County, Pennsylvania, in the Marcellus Shale. As AP describes the study, “Scientists used tracer fluids, seismic monitoring and other tests to look for problems, and created the most detailed public report to date about how fracking affects adjacent rock structures.”

“Current findings are: 1) no evidence of gas migration from the Marcellus Shale; and 2) no evidence of brine migration from the Marcellus Shale,” the study reports. “After those months of monitoring, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas stayed about 5,000 feet below drinking water supplies,” according to AP.

In a separate study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from five universities analyzed 113 and 20 samples from drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales, respectively, examining concentrations of chemicals in groundwater near shale-gas wells.

The researchers identified seven cases of water contamination in Pennsylvania and one in Texas. However, in each case, the source of the pollution was faulty construction of well shafts near the surface, not fracturing, which occurs thousands of feet below ground level. In the authors’ words, their “data appear to rule out gas contamination by upward migration from depth through overlying geological strata triggered by horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.”
 

Myron Ebell

Governor Christie Stands Firm Against RGGI

The Democrat-dominated New Jersey legislature has been trying to overturn Republican Governor Chris Christie’s withdrawal in 2011 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  At a press conference in Trenton on 18th September, Governor Christie re-iterated his opposition.  According to the New York Times, Christie said, “I think it’s a completely useless plan.”  Christie has been an enthusiastic promoter of building wind and solar energy facilities in his State.   

Around the World
Myron Ebell

UN Climate Summit Next Tuesday in NYC

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week named movie actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a “UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change” and announced that DiCaprio would speak during the opening ceremony of the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit of world leaders, which will be held next Tuesday, 23rd September, at UN headquarters in New York City.    Di Caprio will have to talk fast because there are six other speakers listed for the opening ceremony from 8 to 8:30 AM.  

The other opening ceremony speakers are: Ban Ki-moon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, Generation Investment Management Chairman and former Vice President Al Gore, actress and UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador Li Bingbing, and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Civil Society Representative from the Marshall Islands. 

U. S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in one of three concurrent “plenary” sessions in the morning in which heads of state or prime ministers from approximately 126 nations will each get four minutes to announce their “national actions and ambitions” to fight climate change.  Thirty-six more national leaders will announce their actions and ambitions in two concurrent “plenary” sessions in the afternoon, but they will have to compete with multiple sessions devoted to “thematic discussions” and “multilateral and multi-stakeholder action announcements.”

The prime ministers of India, Australia, China, Canada, and Germany have decided not to attend.  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the UN later in the week, but his speech is likely to stress that for his country economic growth and lifting people out of energy poverty must take precedence over reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s going to be a busy day in Oyster Bay.  The entire program is available hereThose of us not invited to attend can watch it live at http://webtv.un.org/.

The “People’s Climate March”  is being held in Manhattan on 21st September, the Sunday before the UN Climate Summit.  Its organizers have billed it as the “Largest Climate March in History.”  Bill McKibben’s 350.org is the main organizer of the march, but it’s worth looking at the entire list of co-sponsors or partners, which is now up to 1400.   Ron Arnold has analyzed who is really behind the march and hundreds of similar events around the world in a post on the CFACT web site.  

Also scheduled next week in New York City is the sixth Climate Week.   Over 100 private and public events are on the calendar

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Climate Change Precipitation Theory Doesn't Hold Water, Swiss Researchers Find

DDWW – dry gets drier, wet gets wetter – is a longstanding prediction of “consensus” climatology. Supposedly, global warming will reduce rainfall in areas that are already dry and intensify rainfall in areas that are already moist. Result: Droughts and floods become more frequent and severe, making Earth less livable for humanity.

The DDWW theory, however, is based mostly on ocean data, whereas most humans live on land. How is global warming affecting moisture conditions on continental land masses?

In a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, Swiss researchers analyzed “more than 300 combinations of various hydrological data sets of historical land dryness changes covering the period from 1948 to 2005,” and compared the datasets to “an empirical relationship between evaporation, precipitation and aridity.”

They find that while 10.8% of the global land area shows a “robust ‘dry gets drier, wet gets wetter’ pattern,” 9.5% of global land area shows “the opposite pattern, that is, dry gets wetter, and wet gets drier.”  In my book, that’s a wash.

As for the rest of the planet’s land surfaces, the researchers “find that over about three-quarters of the global land area, robust dryness changes cannot be detected.”  For more detail about the study, see this review article

 

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

Sunday
Sep142014

Cooler Heads Digest 12 September 2014 

12 September 2014

Announcements

On Tuesday, September 16, Noon-1:30 PM, at the National Press Club, the George C. Marshall Institute will host a discussion by climatologist Dr. Judith Curry. Email info@marshall.org to RSVP.

In the News

Rising CO2 Concentrations: No Measurable Impact on Floods, Droughts, and Storms
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 11 September 2014

Climate Skeptics Push Back over New Rise in Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 11 September 2014

EPA Proposed Regulation Would Significantly Hurt Access to Electricity
John Eick, Red State, 10 September 2014

“Extinct” Snail Killed by Climate Change Crawls Back from the Dead
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 10 September 2014

Media Coverage of the Corrupt Chevron Trial Was Corrupt, Too
Jack Fowler, National Review Online, 10 September 2014

Wind Power Granted 30-Year Eagle Kill Permits
Sherri Lange, Master Resource, 10 September 2014

Climate of Corruption
James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2014

Report: No Global Warming for 215 Months
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 8 September 2014

Response to Critics of My Wall Street Journal Op-ed on the “Pause”
Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist, 7 September 2014

News You Can Use
Hurricane Milestone

For the 1st time since 1992, there was not a named hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean during the statistical peak of the hurricane season, which falls on September 10.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

15 Governors Tell EPA To Drop Power Plant Rule

Fifteen Republican governors sent a letter on 9th September to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy that points out that the EPA’s proposed regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants “not only exceeds the scope of federal law, but also, in some cases, directly conflicts with established state law.”

Fifteen of the nation’s 29 Republican governors signed the letter.  They are: Robert Bentley of Alabama, Sean Parnell of Alaska, Janice Brewer of Arizona, Butch Otter of Idaho, Mike Pence of Indiana, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Pat McCrory of North Carolina, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Gary Herbert of Utah, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Matt Mead of Wyoming.

The letter states: “The unambiguous language of the CAA [Clean Air Act] expressly prohibits EPA from using Section 111(d) to regulate power plants  because EPA already regulates these sources under another section of the Act.  Moreover, even if the Agency did have legal authority to regulate power plants under 111(d), it overstepped this hypothetical authority when it acted to coerce states to adopt compliance measures that do not reduce emissions at the entities EPA has set out to regulate.  Under federal law, EPA has the authority to regulate emissions from specific sources, but that authority does not extend outside the physical boundaries of such sources (i.e., “outside the fence”).”

The governors go on to spell out some of “the more urgent and vexing compliance issues” in the proposed rule.  They then ask EPA to provide “informed plans to address these significant obstacles to state compliance” well in advance of the 16th October deadline for comments on the rule.  If EPA cannot do so, then they demand that the rule be withdrawn until it does.

One of these compliance issues relates to federal versus state authority.  The governors ask what would happen if a State enacts a renewable electricity standard or efficiency standard as part of its compliance with the rule and then later softens or repeals that standard.  Would EPA assert authority to enforce the original standard against state legislation?

Writing in the New Republic, Rebecca Leber identified the governors’ point that the rule is actually illegal as “the GOP’s best shot at derailing Obama’s climate plan.”  But David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which wrote the original draft of the EPA rule, assured Leber that the legal arguments “border on laughable.”

But as William Yeatman, my CEI colleague, noted in a post on GlobalWarming.org, NRDC in 2005 argued that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 made it illegal to regulate source categories under section 111d that are already regulated under section 112, which is exactly what the governors’ letter states.   Impressive legal research conducted by the office of the Attorney General of West Virginia, Patrick Morrissey, supports the claim, as another post by William Yeatman explains

The energy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony on 9th September from six state utility commissioners on implementing the rule.   Four (from Texas, Montana, Arizona, and Indiana) oppose the rule and two (from Maryland and Washington) support it.    

Across the States
William Yeatman

Important Tenth Circuit Case to Watch

A two-judge panel on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver granted a stay prohibiting EPA’s regulatory takeover of Wyoming’s visibility improvement program, known as Regional Haze, until a three-judge panel can decide the merits. A stay is granted only if the judges believe the plaintiffs have an excellent shot at winning, which bodes well for Wyoming’s challenge.

This is something to keep an eye on, because the same circuit last year delivered a 2-1 split decision that upheld EPA’s regulatory takeover of Oklahoma’s Regional Haze program. That case, Oklahoma v. EPA, established an unfortunate precedent whereby courts defer to EPA whenever the agency and States disagree over how to implement the Clean Air Act. The Tenth Circuit now appears poised to revisit the issue, which could prove very beneficial to the States. For more on the Tenth Circuit’s decision in Oklahoma v. EPA, see here and here.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Oil Prices Decline Despite Mideast Turmoil

There is war, violence, and political turmoil across the Middle East, yet since June global prices for oil have gone down dramatically.  The price of West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U. S. oil, has declined $15 since June to $91.67 per barrel.  Brent crude, the main international benchmark, has declined by $18 to $98 per barrel. 

One of the reasons is that economies continue to struggle around the world.  Another is the oil production boom in North America.  The U. S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration this week raised its forecast of 2015 domestic oil production to 9.53 million barrels per day.  That would make next year the third consecutive year in which domestic oil production has increased by more than one million barrels per day.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Rising CO2 Concentrations: No Measurable Impact on Extreme Weather

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change released a new report this week, Extreme Weather Events: Are They Influenced by Rising CO2 Concentrations? The 97-page report reviews hundreds of empirical studies on floods, droughts, and storms in numerous countries on several continents.

The author, Craig D. Idso, examines the empirical evidence regarding possible trends in extreme weather during the past 70 years, when three-fourths of all anthropogenic CO2 was emitted into the atmosphere. He also compares extreme weather events in recent decades to floods, droughts, and storms in previous centuries and even millennia, as reconstructed from proxy data.

Idso finds no long-term global increase in the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, and storms over the past 70 years (although there is considerable regional and inter-decadal variation). He also finds “many historic analogs” of modern floods, droughts, and storms that “occurred during times when the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration was much lower than it is currently.”

Taken together, the instrumental and proxy data “suggest that the ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 is having no measurable impact” on modern extreme weather events. 

 

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
Sep062014

Cooler Heads Digest 05 September 2014 

5 September 2014

Announcements

The Competitive Enterprise Institute published a report this week by William Yeatman, “How the Obama Administration Is Undermining Cooperative Federalism under the Clean Air Act, and What Congress Can Do about It”

In the News

What Ever Happened to Global Warming?
Matt Ridley, Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2014

Why the U.S. Should Start Selling Oil out of the SPR
Philip Verlanger, Platts, 5 September 2014

Polis-Backed Group Draws Fire for Fracking Lies
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 5 September 2014

McKitrick & Vogelsang: Model Projections Too Hot over 55-year Period
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 4 September 2014

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Serfdom for the States
Robert Michaels, Master Resource, 4 September 2014

Why Climate Science Is Far Too Important To Be Left to Celebrity Physicists
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 4 September 2014

How Global Warming Policies Have Led to Global Insecurity
Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, 4 September 2014

EPA’s Staff Recommends Lower Ozone Standard, But It Doesn’t Matter
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 3 September 2014

Secretary of State Kerry: Scripture Commands USA To Protect Muslim Countries against Global Warming
Breitbart TV, 3 September 2014

Giant Wind Farm Could Deal the Chesapeake Bay a Heavy Blow
Bonner Cohen, Washington Times, 2 September 2014

News You Can Use
Antarctic Ice Sets New Record

Antarctic sea ice extent continued to set new records in August, finishing the month at 19.154 million sq km, beating the record set last year by 87,000 sq km.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Hillary Clinton Calls for U.S. Leadership on Global Warming

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a strong case for United States leadership on global warming at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) seventh annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on 4th September.  Clinton said that becoming the “clean-energy superpower our world needs” would demonstrate that the “U. S. can still do big things.”  

Clinton also blasted global warming skeptics who stand in the way of moving away from fossil fuels: “The data is unforgiving no matter what the deniers try to assert….Sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms and wildfires are wreaking havoc….”  She also claimed that, “[T]ax incentives for alternative energy investments are unpredictable at best, while generous subsidies for fossil fuels are still too easy to come by.”

While expressing optimism that switching to renewables would lead to economic growth and more good-paying jobs, Clinton also warned that our international position is at stake: “China and other competitors are racing ahead with big bets on renewables. We cannot afford to cede leadership in this area.”  But: “If we come together to make the hard choices, the smart investment in infrastructure, technology and environmental protection, America can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century.”

Clinton did acknowledge that “American innovation [was] changing the game” with the natural gas fracking revolution.  “Gas is cleaner than coal, and expanded production is creating thousands of jobs.”

John Podesta joined in the discussion on stage with Clinton.  Podesta is currently the chief domestic policy adviser on energy and environmental issues to President Barack Obama.  He founded the Center for American Progress (sic) and was White House chief of staff during the last years of the Bill Clinton Administration.  Senator Reid’s clean energy conference was held at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, which was also the site of the Heartland Institute’s ninth International Conference on Climate Change in July.  Clinton was making her first appearance at the conference, but former President Bill Clinton spoke at the first summit in 2008.   

House Tries Yet Again To Get Senate’s Attention

The House and Senate return from their August recess on 8th September for a couple of weeks in session before recessing for the election campaign.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sent a memo to Republican House Members on 4th September detailing the Republican leadership’s legislative plans.  The House will consider two big omnibus bills on the economy and energy.  The jobs and economic growth package will include fourteen bills already passed by the House, but which the Democratic-controlled Senate has not acted upon.  The energy package will include thirteen bills, again all passed by the House during the 113th Congress but ignored by the Senate. 

Here is a list of the House-passed energy bills to be included in the omnibus: H. R. 3, H. R. 1963, H. R. 2640, H. R. 2728, H. R. 4801, H. R. 3301, H. R. 6, H. R. 1582, H. R. 1900, H. R. 2641, H. R. 3826, H. R. 2824, and H. R. 4899.  These bills address a wide range of issues, including increasing oil and gas production on federal lands and offshore areas, permitting the Keystone pipeline, preventing federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, expediting natural gas exports, and blocking EPA greenhouse gas regulations on coal-fired power plants.  Information on these and other bills may be found at Congress.gov.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced at his seventh annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on 4th September that he planned to hold a floor vote on renewing the wind and solar production tax credits (PTC).  Wind and solar PTCs are included in the $85 billion package of tax cut extenders that the Senate rejected on a procedural vote in May.  Reid said, “Efforts to renew these incentives are being blocked by Republicans in Congress.”  Holding a vote on a piece of legislation would be a surprising change of pace for the Senate this year.   

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Tesla Snookers Nevada

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) announced on Monday that Tesla would build the world’s largest batter factory at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, east of Sparks in northern Nevada and that the State would offer $1.3 billion in tax breaks over twenty years.

The $1.3 billion tax subsidy package would tie for the largest for an automotive company in the U. S. and be fifteen times larger than any other in Nevada’s history, according to a story by Ryan Frank in the Las Vegas Sun.  The state legislature will vote on approving the package next week.

Tesla’s lithium battery plant is projected to employ 6,000 workers and cover ten million square feet (or 173 football fields).  Its capacity will be larger than all plants currently producing lithium batteries in the world.  It is designed to decrease the cost and increase the production of Tesla’s electric vehicles. 

Edmunds recently reported that sales of electric and hybrid vehicles had increased modestly this year, but have actually declined as a percentage of all vehicles sold in the U. S. 

Around the World
William Yeatman

Rough Week for Climate Diplomacy

Chinese President Xi Jinping this week became the latest world leader to skip the upcoming United Nations climate change summit in New York on September 23rd. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel already have indicated they won’t attend. The absence of leadership from the world’s major emitters undercuts the event, needless to say. That said, Russia still has yet to confirm or deny its participation, so perhaps Putin will show up.

On a similarly dire note for global warming alarmists, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk this week beat out Danish Prime Minister Hell Thorning-Schmidt to become president of the European Council, a hugely important position for EU policies. Tusk is a noted skeptic of the EU’s green energy policies, so much so that one commentator labeled his ascension to power a “black day for the EU’s climate policy.”

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Biosphere Productivity in Recent Decades: Increasing or Decreasing?

This week on CO2Science.Org, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change posts a literature review of 104 peer-reviewed studies on the productivity of forests and terrestrial plant eco-systems around the world.

Study after study finds an ongoing significant increase in the productivity of forests and other plant life, with most of the gains concentrated in the tropics. Causes include increased warmth, increased precipitation, and, chiefly, the CO2-fertilization effect, which boosts plant photosynthesis, water-use efficiency, and resistance to environmental stresses.

The review concludes:

In spite of climate-alarmist claims that the temperatures of the latter part of the 20th century and on through the present were unprecedented over the past one to two millennia (which is highly debatable) and that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were the highest they had been for several hundred millennia (which is true), as well as the fact that mankind yearly harvests and/or destroys much of the planet's natural vegetation, the total yearly production of terrestrial vegetative biomass for the globe as a whole continues to rise, and at a remarkable rate. Why is this so? Perhaps it is because the twin evils of the radical environmentalist movement are not the devilish developments they are made out to be, but are actually blessings in disguise, benefiting earth's biosphere in spite of all of the political attempts to severely curtail the CO2 emissions of humanity.

 

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
Aug302014

Cooler Heads Digest 29 August 2014 

29 August 2014

In the News

Taking the Lead on Carbon Is a Losing Game
Chip Knappenberger, Providence Journal, 29 August 2014

Six Threats Bigger Than Climate Change
Sen. John Barrasso, Wall Street Journal, 29 August 2014

American Oil Bonanza Keeps Gas Prices Affordable
Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 28 August 2014

U.S. Fracking Boom Stabilizes Global Oil Market
Ronald Bailey, Reason Hit & Run, 28 August 2014

Watchdog: Germany Needs Coal To Balance Dependency on Russian Gas
Christopher Steitz, Reuters, 27 August 2014

James Hansen: “I Struggle To Sleep” (with current energy trends, energy policy)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 26 August 2014

Government Science Advisors: Where Are the Honest Brokers?
Roger Pielke, Jr., Guardian, 26 August 2014

Under Assault from Big Green, Coal Is Fighting Back
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 26 August 2014

Obama’s Green Unicorn
Peter Roff, U.S. News & World Report, 25 August 2014

EPA on Mann’s “Fraud” Invective (be sure to read this)
Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 22 August 2014

News You Can Use
Arctic Ice Up 60% over Last Two Years

Steve Goddard today noted Danish Meteorological Institute data showing a 63% increase in Arctic sea ice extent since the same date in 2012, and an increase of 76% since the 2012 summer minimum.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

GAO Whitewashes Social Cost of Carbon

The U. S. Government Accountability Office this week released a “regulatory impact analysis” on the development of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates. The GAO report finds nothing to criticize in the federal interagency working group’s process that produced a guidance document in 2013 that raised its estimates of the social cost of carbon by roughly 50-60% over those it had made in 2010.  On the other hand, the GAO did not attempt to evaluate the actual estimates that the process generated. 

This is a whitewash, as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis shows in detail in a post on www.GlobalWarming.org. In short, the GAO concludes that the process by which the interagency working group came up with the SCC estimates was unexceptionable and therefore that there is no reason to second guess those estimates.  But in fact, the interagency working group did not follow the White House Office of Management and Budget’s directions, contained in Circular A-4, in two major respects.  First, it did not apply the standard discount rates specified by A-4 of 3% and 7%, but instead used 2.5%, 3%, and 5%.  If the standard OMB discount rate of 7% had been applied as well, then the lower-end SCC estimate would drop dramatically, as has been shown in an analysis by David Kreutzer and Kevin Darayatna of the Heritage Foundation.  

Second, the interagency working group used estimates of global costs and benefits, while OMB Circular A-4 requires that domestic costs and benefits be included (whereas global costs and benefits are merely optional according to A-4).  Using domestic costs and benefits would again dramatically lower the SCC.  As Marlo Lewis shows, a $50 a ton of carbon dioxide SCC could be as low as $3.50 if domestic costs and benefits were the measuring stick.

This is important because federal agencies have used the SCC in 68 rulemakings since 2008 and will be using it even more often in the future.  This information the GAO helpfully provides in an appendix on pages 22-29 of its report.            

Obama Seeks international Climate Agreement That Won’t Require Ratification

Coral Davenport, the climate advocate-reporter for the New York Times, had a top-left-of-the-front-page story on 27th August on the fact that the Obama Administration is pursuing an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that will not be a treaty and therefore would not require ratification by the Senate. This is not exactly news.  I have written about it several times in the Digest over the past few years; and my CEI colleague Chris Horner wrote an exhaustive scholarly article for the Federalist Society about the legal perils of unratified treaty commitments.In a subsequent FedSoc piece, Horner also explained in 2009 the pressures and evidence already accumulating that Obama would end up pursuing Kyoto II not calling it a treaty

But Davenport’s article is still worth reading.  The Obama Administration believe that they can sign a new international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions that will include commitments from all the major emitters and most of the minor emitters, but that will somehow not be a treaty.  The negotiations are supposed to be concluded at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Paris in December 2015.  And the new agreement is supposed to go into effect in 2020.

Domestically, this would mean that a future administration could achieve its commitments to reduce emissions through regulatory actions under existing laws (as the Obama Administration is already doing through the Clean Air Act rules on coal and natural gas power plant emissions and higher CAFÉ standards for vehicles) and through enactment of legislation by Congress.  The thinking is that this will be much easier than Senate ratification, which requires a two-thirds majority.  It is not a co-incidence that the Obama Administration’s chief climate negotiators at the State Department were involved in the negotiations that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which was dead on arrival in the Senate.     

Rupert Darwall, writing in National Review Online, agrees that a new climate treaty would never be ratified, but also thinks that the attempt to negotiate a non-treaty agreement is doomed to fail as well. Darwall may be right, but I nonetheless think that President Obama will work overtime to sign such an agreement at COP-21 or during the last year of his presidency in 2016.  It would be a feather in his cap, and it would be up to his successor to implement the agreement.  It also fits in well with his contempt of the constitutional powers of Congress, as Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, discusses on GlobalWarming.org

Science Update
Myron Ebell

Australia Fiddles with Climate Records

Australian biologist Jennifer Marohasy has created a major controversy over the manipulation of temperature records by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Close inspection of historical data from a number of stations revealed that the BOM had adjusted the data in order to show a significant warming trend in the twentieth century that does not appear in the raw data.  

Marohasy’s revelations expose shenanigans similar to those that have been discovered in temperature data set adjustments by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and the U.S. National Climate Data Center.  For some mysterious reason, the adjustments are always in the same direction: temperatures in the early twentieth century are adjusted downward, and more recent temperatures are adjusted upward.  A scholarly article by Marohasy, John Abbot, Ken Stewart, and Dennis Jensen, presents much more evidence of this scientific misconduct in Australia.

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.

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Cooler Heads Digest 22 August 2014

22 August 2014

In the News

Exposing Big Bad Green
E. Calvin Beisner, Master Resource, 21 August 2014

Oil-Export Ban: Holding America Back
Robert Bradley, Jr., Forbes, 20 August 2014

Fracking Earthquakes Are Less Intense
Bebe Raupe, Bloomberg, 20 August 2014

Are Fossil Fuels the Past, Renewables the Future?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 19 August 2014

Workers Suffer When Militarized Police and Big Green Get Together
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 19 August 2014

Republicans’ Lukewarm Climate Warrior
Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg, 18 August 2014

My New Best Friends
Mark Steyn, Steyn Online, 14 August 2014

News You Can Use
Good News: Air Pollution Is Down

The Environmental Protection Agency on 21st August sent its Second Integrated Air Toxics Report to Congress, which concludes that air pollution has been reduced dramatically since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 were enacted.  Benzene levels have been reduced by 66%, mercury by 60%, and lead by 84%.    (Nonetheless, the incidence of childhood asthma continues to rise.) 

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Senate Minority Leader Indicates a Republican Majority Would Rein in EPA

In an interview this week with Politico, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that, if Republicans won the Senate in November, they likely would use the appropriations process to rein in the EPA. Speaking of a hypothetical Republican majority, he said, “We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” He singled out the EPA as a “good example” of a bureaucracy that would become subject to such restrictions. By attaching policy amendments, or “riders,” to high-priority legislation like spending bills, the likelihood of passing the Senate increases.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Oregon Regulators Deny Permit for Coal Export Terminal

The Oregon Department of State Lands on 18th August denied a permit for Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River at Port of Morrow, 160 miles east of Portland.  After two years of review, the agency found that the Australian company had not proposed adequate protections for tribal salmon fisheries on the Columbia.   

Ambre Energy can appeal the decision administratively within 21 days.  If the appeal is denied, then the company can file suit in state court. 

The proposed $242 million facility could handle 8.8 million tons of coal per year.  Coal from Wyoming and Montana would be sent by rail to the Port of Morrow, where it would be loaded onto barges which would then be unloaded onto ocean-going ships at Port of Saint Helens, 30 miles downriver from Portland and 75 miles from the mouth of the Columbia.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) is a vocal opponent of the project.  Permits for two larger coal export terminals are still being considered in Washington state, where Governor Jay Inslee (D) is also strongly opposed.      

Around the World
Myron Ebell

UN Plans New York Climate Change Summit

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is preparing to host over a hundred of the world’s presidents and prime ministers at a Climate Change Summit at UN headquarters in New York City on 23rd September.  U. S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to attend, but new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have already announced that they will not attend.   

The summit is by invitation only, but can be viewed on the UN’s web television site.  The UN on 8th August sent out a press release announcing that it was “casting a wide net to find dozens of people from around the world who feel passionately about the impact of climate change, have translated that passion into action and would like to attend next month’s Climate Summit at the UN.”  According to Susan Alzner, a UN official in charge of UN-NGO relations, “Anyone can nominate a civil society representative into this process.”  Four of the 38 will be invited to speak to the heads of state.  The selection process will strive for gender balance, invite more attendees from developing than from developed countries, and seek out young people and indigenous people to share their stories on “the frontlines of climate change.”  The deadline for applying for the 38 “civil society” invitations was 15th August.   

The UN Climate Change Summit is “intended to mobilize international political will needed to achieve an ambitious climate change agreement” at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled to meet in Paris in December 2015.  Secretary-General Ban has asked world leaders to come to the summit ready “to announce bold actions that they will take in their countries.”

In addition, “There will also be announcements from a number of coalition initiatives that have high potential to catalyze ambitious action on the ground. These coalitions, consisting of participants from Governments, the private sector and civil society, will address several high-impact areas, such as climate finance; energy efficiency; renewable energy; adaptation; disaster risk reduction and resilience; forests; agriculture; transportation; short-lived climate pollutants; and cities.”  The program can be seen here

The Climate Group, an NGO with offices in Beijing, London, New York City, and New Delhi, is sponsoring the sixth annual Climate Week in New York City to co-incide with the UN summit.  Approximately eighty events from 22nd to 28th September are on the Climate Week schedule. Sponsors include Swiss Re, Lockheed Martin, and HP. 

But that’s not all.  On Sunday, 21st September, over 750 organizations are sponsoring the People’s Climate March in Manhattan. It is being billed as, “The Largest Climate March in History.”  You can sign up here.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Do Climate Models and Long-Term Temperature Records Agree?

The unanticipated pause in global warming since 1998 has produced an accelerating divergence between IPCC climate model predictions and observed global temperatures. “Model failure” is now a recurring theme of skeptic blogs, and it’s not only skeptics who wonder how errant models can accurately assess climate risk or usefully inform climate policy.

Climate activists say the pause is temporary, warming will come roaring back, vindicating both models and their ‘worse than we thought’ narrative.

In more technical terms, the IPCC argues that although “internal decadal climate variability” may cause models to either underestimate or overestimate observed temperatures for periods “as short as 10 to 15 years,” models and observations “agree” over the 62-year period from 1951 to 2012 (AR5, Chapter 9, p. 769). The IPCC thus has “very high confidence” in the realism of the models.

To assess such claims, Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger examine how well IPCC models would match observations over an 80-year period (1951-2030) in three scenarios of how global temperature might behave from now to 2030.

They find that even if warming resumes at the pre-pause (1977-1998) rate of 0.17°C/decade, by 2020 more than 95% of model simulations overshoot the 1951-2030 ‘observed’ trend, and by 2030 more than 97.5% of simulations overshoot it.

At my request, Mr. Knappenberger also compared models and observations in a more aggressive warming scenario in which warming resumes at 0.26°C/decade – the fastest rate during any recent 15-year period.

Result: By 2030, more than 95% of model simulations still overshoot the 1951-2030 ‘observed’ trend. For further discussion, see my blog post Can Natural Variability Save Climate Models?

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.