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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (194)

Saturday
Dec202014

Cooler Heads Digest 19 December 2014 

19 December 2014

Announcement

The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week due to the holiday. We will return with a shortened Digest the next week. Have a merry Christmas and a Chanukah!

In the News

Climate Policy Risk: Who’s in Denial?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 19 December 2014

Study: Beaver Dams Make Global Warming Worse
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 19 December 2014

Obama Operative Joins Taxpayer-Backed Solar Company
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 17 December 2014

Japan’s Turn to Coal Belies Claim That Climate Change Mitigation Comes Cheap
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 16 December 2014

Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Oppose Federal Gas Tax Increase
Marc Scribner, Open Market, 16 December 2014

Cape Wind To Miss 2014 Goal To Close Project Financing
Richard Kessler, Recharge, 16 December 2014

The Anti-Fracking Fringe
Steve Everley, The Hill, 16 December 2014

Special Interests Influence Costly EPA Regulations
Larry Bell, Newsmax, 16 December 2014

News You Can Use
NAS Study: Gasoline Better for Environment Than Electric Cars

According to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or ‘grid average’ electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline.” Study co-author Julian Marshall told the Associated Press, “it’s kind of hard to beat gasoline” for public and environmental health.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

CEQ Releases New Guidance on Including Climate in Environmental Impact Statements

The White House Council on Environmental Quality on 18th December released the second draft version of a guidance document on how federal agencies should consider climate impacts in preparing Environmental Impact Assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The first draft version was released in 2010.  CEQ invited public comments for 60 days.

In keeping with NEPA regulations that require Environmental Impact Statements to consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of proposed projects and actions, the guidance document recommends that the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions be included in preparing EISs.  This includes “upstream” and “downstream” emissions connected to the project.  Thus a new bridge that would allow the transport of tens of millions of tons of energy-intensive goods over its lifetime could have an enormous carbon footprint.

Reports stated that the guidance document recommends that climate impacts be considered in the NEPA process when any project or action would increase greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually. This is not correct.  The document states that a quantitative analysis is only necessary when emissions exceed 25,000 tons annually.  Considering the impacts of lower annual emissions is required but does not necessarily require quantification. 

The guidance does contain a caution on the use of the Social Cost of Carbon guidance document: “When using the federal social cost of carbon, the agency should disclose the fact that these estimates vary over time, are associated with different discount rates and risks, and are intended to be updated as scientific and economic understanding improves.”  In other words, today’s Social Cost of Carbon estimate may be much lower than tomorrow’s.  The document also notes that global general circulation models “may have limitations on how they can be used in regional or local impact studies.”  

The guidance also cautions that providing a boilerplate paragraph that the emissions from a proposed action constitute “only a small fraction of global emissions is more a statement about the nature of the climate change challenge,” and “is not helpful to the decision maker or public” because that is true of every particular action.

Some news reports have suggested that the guidance will apply mainly to new fossil energy production on federal lands or offshore areas. This is also incorrect.  The guidance applies to all matters that fall under NEPA regulation: “all federal proposed actions, including individual federal site-specific actions, federal grants for funding of small-scale or broad-scale activities, federal rulemaking actions, and federal land and resource management decisions.  Federal rulemaking decisions includes Clean Water Act and other federal permits required to build new factories, bridges, highways, airports, and mines, as well as pipelines, coal terminals, offshore oil fields, etc. 

Under the NEPA process, one of the alternatives must always be, “no action,” which means, don’t proceed with the project being studied.  Once direct, indirect, and cumulative greenhouse gas emissions are included, it is likely that any big new project will be found to have environmental impacts so large that the “no action” alternative will be preferred by federal regulators.  

Congress Extends Wind PTC for 2014

The Senate adjourned on 16th December, but not before passing by a vote of 76 to 16 a package of tax cut extenders retroactively for 2014.  Included in the package is the wind production tax credit.  The House passed the bill earlier, so it now goes to the President for his signature.  By extending the wind PTC (and other deductions) for only the current year, the Congress has decided to punt the issue to the new 114th Congress next year. 

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

Cap-n-Tax Comeback?

Cap-and-trade crashed and burned in Congress when the November 2010 elections cashiered 29 Democrats who had voted in June 2009 for the Waxman-Markey bill. Many factors including Climategate and the burgeoning skeptic movement torpedoed Waxman-Markey, but perhaps the most important was the bill’s exposure as “cap-n-tax” – a stealth energy tax and wealth-transfer scheme. For example, Treasury documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the Obama administration expected to raise up to $400 billion in annual revenues from carbon permit auctions.

So is cap-and-trade ‘really most sincerely dead’? No, because big-spending politicians always want more boodle, and there’s only so much blood you can squeeze out of taxpayers, especially in states like Washington, which levy no individual or corporate income taxes.

The Evergreen State is facing a $2.35 billion budget deficit over the next two years. So this week, Governor Jay Inslee (D) proposed ($) a cap-and-trade program that would “apply to roughly 130 entities in oil and gas and electrical sectors.”

Inslee estimates the plan would raise $400 million annually, covering 40% of a proposed $12 billion, 12-year transportation improvement program. To reassure environmentalists, carbon permit fees would not (horror of horrors) fund highway projects and encourage people to drive, Inslee aides said cap-and-trade revenues “would go only toward green uses, such as transit grants or incentives for electric vehicles, and to maintain existing roads.”

Still, won’t taxpayers ultimately foot the bill in the form of higher prices for goods and services produced or delivered with carbon energy? Nah, as Inslee explained, the fees would only be collected from “big polluters.” And if the good folks in Washington believe cap-and-trade is a free lunch, then they have the government they deserve.      

New York Governor Cuomo Bans Fracking

Citing health concerns, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday announced a statewide ban on “fracking,” the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing drilling processes that has led to an American energy boom. Cuomo’s decision codifies a de facto moratorium on fracking that had been in place for 6 years, predating his administration.

According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo appeared “determined” to portray the announcement — and its consequences for upstate New York — as “decisions made by experts objectively weighing the facts, not by him.” When asked about global warming, he even responded that “he wasn’t a scientist,” rather than spouting off about how alarming it is, which earned the ire of Grist.

Of course, the decision was wholly political. For starters, fracking has been done in hundreds of thousands of wells across the U.S., without polluting a single utility scale aquifer. Indeed, New York’s neighbor Pennsylvania has revitalized formerly depressed rural communities by allowing for the safe and responsible use of fracking.

Instead of a true public health purpose, Cuomo banned fracking to get the greens off his back. Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout won a surprising 34 percent of the Democratic Party gubernatorial primary vote against Cuomo, by running a near single issue campaign in opposition to Governor Cumo’s indecision fracking. Moreover, the incumbent was reportedly taken aback by the aggressiveness of anti-fracking activists on the campaign trail.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

COP-20 in Lima Finally Ends with Just Enough Progress To Keep the Bandwagon Rolling

I was in Lima for the last week of the twentieth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which concluded a day and a half late at around 4 AM on Sunday, 14th December.  COP-20 was fairly dull and low key.  Attendance was also noticeably lower than at past COPs.  Partly that is due to the fact that the big show is scheduled for COP-21 in Paris next December, when a new international agreement is scheduled to be signed.  And it’s partly due to the fact that the UNFCCC Secretariat has cut way back on the number of observers representing NGOs allowed to attend.

The main show was meetings at least once and often several times a day of the Ad Hoc Committee for Advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, known as the ADP.  Wrangling over the Draft Decision of the ADP is what kept COP-20 going into the early hours of Sunday morning.  As Todd Stern, the chief U. S. negotiator, noted in his remarks to the ADP Saturday afternoon, the wrangling was unnecessary because all of the opposing positions were contained in the Elements, a lengthy document attached to the Draft Decision.  That is, nothing had been decided, so everyone could relax. 

That did not satisfy a number of factions within the 195 parties.  They are concerned that the new agreement will blur the clearly differentiated responsibilities of the developed countries (listed as Annex 1) responsible for the emissions causing the global warming crisis and the developing countries (listed as Non-Annex 1) not responsible.  One sticking point is whether developing countries that have developed since 1992, when the UNFCCC was signed at the Rio Earth Summit, will ever move from Non-Annex 1 to Annex 1 status.  Countries such as China, which now has the highest annual greenhouse gas emissions, and Chile and Mexico, which now belong to the OECD.

Other negotiating streams at COP-20 were held on the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and the Green Climate Fund. The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-Raising was also adopted.  All the COP-20 documents may be found here.      

Greenpeace Damages Nazca Lines, a World Heritage Site in Peru

The only real excitement connected to COP-20 was provided 250 miles south of Lima by the despicable folks at Greenpeace.  As revealed by our good friends at CFACT (a founding member of the Cooler Heads Coalition) and then reported by mainstream media around the world, Greenpeace activists “irreparably damaged” the famous pre-historic Nazca lines, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.    

Greenpeace laid down large yellow cloth letters that said: “TIME FOR CHANGE!  THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE.  GREENPEACE.”  They placed their message in an area adjacent to the image of a hummingbird, one of the most famous images in the Nazca lines.  Entry to the area is strictly prohibited.  Peru’s vice minister for culture, Luis Jaime Castillo, was quoted in the Guardian:  “This has been done without any respect for our laws. It was done in the middle of the night. They went ahead and stepped on our hummingbird, and looking at the pictures we can see there’s very severe damage.  Nobody can go on these lines without permission – not even the president of Peru!”

After Peruvian authorities announced that they would prosecute the perpetrators for the crime of attacking an archaeological monument, the Greenpeace employees apparently escaped the country.  The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison.  It was reported this week that Peru may seek extradition.

Greenpeace’s executive director flew to Lima to apologize and said that Greenpeace would help with the investigation.  Greenpeace said in a statement: “We fully understand that this looks bad.  We came across as careless and crass.” But it has also been reported that Greenpeace has not given Peruvian authorities the names of the perpetrators. 

A video of the damage was aired on the PBS News Hour and was posted here.  

The Nazca lines are geoglyphs—huge figures scratched on the desert ground by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD.

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
Dec132014

Cooler Heads Digest 12 December 2014 

12 December 2014

In the News

Lost Stock, Unused Space Plague EPA Warehouses
Kelly Riddell & Drew Johnson, Washington Times, 12 December 2014

EPA Using Jonathan Gruber Tactic To Impose Harmful Regulations
Paul Driessen, FoxNews.com, 12 December 2014

How President & His Green Base Are Planning To Eradicate the Oil and Gas Industry
Ron Arnold, The Daily Signal, 12 December 2014

Greenpeace Activists Detained after Desecrating World Heritage Site in Peru
Ben Webster, The Times, 11 December 2014

Alabama’s State Climatologist Becomes EPA’s Worst Nightmare
Cliff Simms, Yellowhammer, 11 December 2014

China Recoils on Transparency at Climate Conference
Fred Lucas, The Blaze, 11 December 2014

EPA Should Re-Examine Climate Rule’s Scientific Basis—John Christy
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 10 December 2014

Exxon: North America To Be Energy Exporter by 2020
Robert Gratten, Fuel Fix, 9 December 2014

Doubling Down on Climate Alarmism
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 8 December 2014

No-Grow Zone: EPA’s Draconian Ozone Rule
Greg Bertelsen, Shop Floor, 8 December 2014

News You Can Use
CBO Report: Fracking Is a Boon to Treasury Department

Fracking will boost federal tax revenues by about 1 percent annually by 2040 without requiring any tax increases, according to Congressional Budget Office projections released this week.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

House Passes Spending Bill; Punts Policy Work to 114th Congress

On Thursday night, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a $1 trillion spending bill, H.R. 83, by a 219-206 vote. The bill was supported by 57 Democrats and opposed by 67 Republicans. The measure, which would fund the government through next September, is expected to receive a Senate vote today.

In the wake of last November’s elections, Republican leadership indicated they would use the budget process to rein in the EPA, but H.R. 83 doesn’t include much in the way of energy and environment policy. As such, it appears that the hard choices on spending have been punted to the 114th Congress, when the GOP will have greater leverage. While I agree with this strategy, it is a troubling portent that the House, despite its tough talk, actually funds EPA at a higher level than was sought by the President.

Other than omens, the bill’s most consequential provision (for energy policy) would block funding for any Interior Department effort to subject the sage grouse to regulations pursuant to the Endangered Species Act; environmentalist long have plotted for such regulations, in order to inhibit oil and gas production in the western U.S.

Interior Department Contractor Validates “War on Coal”

In a blockbuster opinion piece in this week's Lexington Herald-Leader, J. Steven Gardner, CEO of science and engineering firm ECSI, affirms that the Interior Department is pushing politicized anti-coal regulations. His company was one of five consultants contracted by the Interior Department to work on a pending regulation known as the “Stream Buffer Rule.” (I explain this ridiculous regulation in detail here.) According to Mr. Gardner, “Department of Interior officials asked the consultants to change the results,” after the firms had concluded that the rule would lead to thousands of job losses. Upon refusing to do so, the contract was terminated.

FERC Agrees to Vet Reliability Impact of Clean Power Plan

On Wednesday, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur announced that FERC would convene a series of technical conferences to investigate the reliability impact of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

FERC’s input is welcome because EPA can’t be trusted to properly vet its own rules. For example, the agency’s analysis of its absurd 2012 Utility MACT, which threatens to shut down 25 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants, completely failed to account for the possibility that cold weather (rather than sultry summer days) could engender reliability issues. In fact, much of the coal-fired generating capacity that is due to retire (on account of Utility MACT) proved to be essential to keeping the lights on during last winter’s polar vortex. EPA didn’t account for this possibility. The unfortunate result is that it’s unclear if certain regions, primarily in the northeast, could survive a cold winter without blackouts after the rule takes effect next spring.

Indeed, the Clean Power Plan could pose an even bigger threat to reliability than Utility MACT. Already, grid operators and federal reliability watchdogs have issued warnings that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would endanger reliable electric service more than half the country, as the Cooler Heads Digest reported in November.

Across the States
William Yeatman

NOAA Report: California Draught Due to Natural Causes

A report issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said natural variations were the primary drivers behind the California drought that has now stretched to three years.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Dispatches from COP-20 in Lima, Peru

As reported in last week’s Cooler Heads Digest, CEI’s Myron Ebell this week participated in the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru. Below, we’ve provided links to Myron’s dispatches from Lima.

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
Nov222014

Cooler Heads Digest 21 November 2014 

21 November 2014

Announcements

  • The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will return on 5 December. Happy Thanksgiving!
  • The comment period for EPA’s proposed “Clean Power” Plan ends 1 December. Click here to submit a comment.

In the News

Renewable Fuel Standard: EPA Retreats from Cutbacks
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 21 November 2014

U.S. Oil Imports Fell as Output Rose in October
Mark Shenk, Bloomberg, 20 November 2014

Fossil Fuel Industries: Time to Stand Tall! (Book Review of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels)
Erin Conners, Master Resource, 20 November 2014

Wind Energy Industry Gambles with Taxpayer Chip
Ernest Istook, Washington Times, 19 November 2014

New Polar Bear Study Is Junk Science
Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science, 19 November 2014

Report: EPA Paid Employees $1 Million While They Were on Leave…Sometimes for Years
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 19 November 2014

For Once, a Court Sided with People Rather Than “Threatened” Rodents
Ron Arnold, The Daily Signal, 18 November 2014

Spin Alert: Despite What DOE Says, Its Loans Are Not Making Money
Donald Marron, Forbes, 17 November 2014

News You Can Use
All 50 States Hit Freezing

Reuters reported this week that Tuesday was the coldest November morning across the U.S. since 1976, as temperatures in at least one location in all 50 States dipped to freezing or below.  

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Landrieu Fails To Find Sixtieth Vote for Keystone Pipeline

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did allow a floor vote on Tuesday, 18th November, on a bill to permit the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf refineries, but Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) failed to find the sixtieth vote necessary to break the Democrats’ filibuster.  All 45 Republicans voted for the bill, but only 14 Democrats.

Landrieu thus failed to demonstrate her clout as the outgoing chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which cannot help her uphill effort to win re-election to the Senate in her 6th December runoff with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).  It also shows that 41 of her Democratic colleagues are more interested in keeping faith with their environmental billionaire donors than keeping another Democrat in the Senate.  They will have 46 seats in the 114th Congress, which should be enough for the 41 votes needed to block cloture on major Republican legislation.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

New Report Shows State-by-State Energy Costs of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

A report released this week by Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. estimates that EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, in combination with existing agency rules promulgated during the Obama administration, would increase the cost of electricity and natural gas by nearly $300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012. Click here for a State-by-State breakdown of how EPA’s rules would affect your electric and gas bills.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Obama Pledges $3 billion to Green Climate Fund, Attacks Australian Prime Minister Abbott in Oz

After signing a climate agreement with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the APEC summit meeting held outside Beijing last week, President Barack Obama traveled on to the annual G-20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia.  In a side speech at the University of Queensland, Obama pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund and then used the rest of his speech to criticize the Australian government’s climate policies. 

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as the host of the G-20 meeting tried unsuccessfully to keep climate policy off the agenda and out of the final communique.  And he lost the full support of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said after Obama announced $3 billion and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced $1.5 billion for the Green Climate Fund that the Canadian government would contribute as well. 

But Abbott has not backed down.  This week he re-iterated his position that the ongoing UN climate negotiations will fail if they put policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of economic growth. “It's vital that the Paris conference be a success... and for it to be a success, we can't pursue environmental improvements at the expense of economic progress.  We can't reduce emissions in ways which cost jobs because it will fail if that's what we end up trying to do.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also criticized Obama’s speech during an interview on Australian television from New York where she was attending the UN Security Council meeting.  According to the Australian newspaper, American Ambassador to Australia John Berry had strongly warned the White House not to criticize the Abbott government while in Australia.

Green Climate Fund Gets $9.3 Billion in Pledges

The Green Climate Fund came close to its initial goal of $10 billion at a conference of donor nations in Berlin on 20th November.  A total of $9.3 billion has now been pledged.

President Barack Obama got things going earlier in the week at the G20 summit meeting in Australia when he pledged $3 billion.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then pledged $1.5 billion.  In Berlin, new pledges included $1.1 billion from the United Kingdom and smaller amounts from Italy, Finland, New Zealand, Mongolia, and Panama.  A number of other nations have already made commitments. France and Germany are also in the billion dollar club.

The Green Climate Fund (or GCF) was first suggested by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the annual UN climate conference in 2009 in Copenhagen and then became the centerpiece of President Obama’s efforts to save the conference from total collapse.  The deal agreed in Copenhagen is that wealthier nations will give a total of $100 billion per annum starting in 2020.  The GCF will give the funds to poorer nations to help them deal with the impacts of climate change and pay for their own climate policies.  $9.3 billion is a start, but it’s far from the $100 billion per year commitment.

President Obama will no doubt try to redirect other foreign aid appropriated by Congress to meet his $3 billion pledge to the GCF.  But Congress controls all appropriations, and the 114th Congress may not agree.  In that case, the President’s pledge will be as empty as his recent climate agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping.     

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Google Ends Green Energy Project

During 2007-2011, Google’s RE<C energy innovation center invested heavily in wind, geothermal, and solar technology, hoping to produce a gigwatt of power more cheaply than is possible with coal. The effort failed. Writing in IEEE Spectrum, Google engineers Ross Koningstein and David Fork report that by 2011, “it was clear that RE<C would not be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal, and Google officially ended the initiative....”

“First, renewable energy sources like solar and wind need to get cheap -- not just as cheap as a coal- or natural-gas-fired power plant, but so much cheaper that it makes economic sense to abandon traditional fossil fuels soon. Furthermore, the power system needs to be redesigned so renewable sources, like rooftop solar panels, can be as responsive and useful on the grid as a traditional power plant is now, the engineers wrote.

Second, the world needs as-yet-uninvented technologies to pull CO2 from the atmosphere.”

Then and only then would a zero-carbon system be a “thrifty choice” – a solution the world confidently embraces because it makes people wealthier.

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
Nov152014

Cooler Heads Digest 14 November 2014

14 November 2014

Announcement

The Cato Institute will host a presentation by Alex Epstein on his new book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” on Friday, November 21st, 9:00-10:00 AM at B-369 House Rayburn Office Building. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

In the News

Fossil Fuels: The Moral Choice
Alex Epstein, Fox News, 14 November 2014

The Wind Lobby’s Case against the PTC Extension
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 14 November 2014

Obama Touts Energy Taxes as a Way To Fight Global Warming
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 14 November 2014

Dr. Mann, Super-Villain
Mark Steyn, Steyn Online, 14 November 2014

Interstellar’s Rejection of Climate Change Hysteria
Sonny Bunch, Washington Free Beacon, 14 November 2014

Tom Steyer Provides a Lesson in How To Waste $67 Million
Thomas Pyle, Investor’s Business Daily, 13 November 2014

Study: Energy Jobs Lead the Recovery
Joshua Cain, Fuel Fix, 13 November 2014

The Audacity of Climate Cynicism
Washington Examiner editorial, 13 November 2014

Carbon Tax Advocates Discuss Post-Election Prospects
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 12 November 2014

The Coming Climate Onslaught
Andrew Restuccia & Erica Martinson, Politico, 11 November 2014

IPCC’s Latest Report: The End Is Nigh Unless Mankind Repents Its Fuelish Ways
Marlo Lewis, CNS News, 10 November 2014

Unquestionably One-Sided Climate Change Coverage
Tom Harris, Washington Times, 10 November 2014

News You Can Use
The One Statistic Climate Catastrophists Don’t Want You to Know

According to the Cato Institute’s Pat Michaels, in the decade from 2004 to 2013, worldwide climate-related deaths (including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires, and storms) plummeted to a level 88.6 percent below that of the peak decade, from 1930 to 1939.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Reid Rushes Senate Vote on Keystone Pipeline To Try To Save Landrieu

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) strategy to keep Democratic incumbents from being voted out of office by keeping floor votes to a minimum failed miserably on 4th November.  Voters sent Democratic incumbents packing in Arkansas, Colorado, Alaska, and North Carolina.  As a result of those defeats plus Democratic losses in open seat races in West Virginia, Montana, Iowa, and South Dakota, Republicans will take control of the Senate when the 114th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd. 

Now, to try to save Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) from defeat in a 6th December runoff with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Reid wants to have a vote on a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands, across the Canada-U.S. border and down to Cushing, Okla., where it would hook up with the southern leg of the pipeline that has already been constructed and is operating (because pipelines that don’t cross an international border don’t require presidential approval).  The Senate is currently scheduled to vote on the bill on Tuesday, 18th November.  However, with Reid in control of the Senate schedule, that could change several times.

It can be seen from past votes that all 45 Republican Senators and 12 Democratic Senators will vote yes on Keystone.  That is three votes short of the 60 needed to surmount procedural hurdles and pass the bill.  So Senator Landrieu, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been lobbying several Democratic colleagues furiously to come up with three more votes.  As of Friday afternoon, Senators Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) have announced that they will switch. 

It really doesn’t matter whether Landrieu finds the sixtieth vote or not.  She is almost certain to lose to Cassidy in the runoff because she got 42% of the vote on election day, while Cassidy got 41% and Rob Maness, the other Republican in the race, got 14%.  Nor is it clear what passing Keystone out of the Democratic-controlled Senate will do to help Landrieu.  The White House is still signaling that President Obama may veto the bill.  And if it doesn’t reach the president’s desk this month, it surely will early next year when Republicans control the Senate.

That’s why the Republican leadership in the House did not stand in the way.  On Friday, 14th November, the House voted 252 to 161 in favor of H. R. 5682, which approves the Keystone Pipeline.   Thirty-one Democrats votes Yes.  This is the ninth time the House has passed a Keystone bill.  Oh, and by the way, the sponsor of H. R. 5682 is Rep. Bill Cassidy. 

If the Senate goes along next Tuesday, expect anti-Keystone activists led by billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer and Bill McKibben’s 350.org to form a human chain around the White House, as they did on 4th March.  Currently, 350.org is planning a rally on the Mall in Washington on 17th February 2015, which is Presidents’ Day. 

Across the States
William Yeatman

Southern Co. CEO: EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan Would Cause Rolling Blackouts

In an interview two days ago with Bloomberg, Thomas Fanning, the CEO of Southern Company, which provides electricity service to a four state region in the southeast, said that “I don’t think we have the ability to maintain a reliable system” and also comply with EPA’s “Clean Power” Plan.  

Fanning’s statement is only the latest warning about the threat to electric reliability posed by EPA’s rule. In recent testimony before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Philip Moeller voiced his concern about the possibility of cascading blackouts within the 15 state region served by the Midcontinent Independent Service Operator. And in October comments to the EPA, the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization that serves an 8 state region, warned that the rule, if left unchanged, would cause rolling blackouts within its footprint. Thus, grid operators & federal energy regulators have issued warnings that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan could turn out the lights in 27 States.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Obama, Xi Agree on Meaningless Climate Deal

U. S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a commitment by both countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2025-30, at the end of the APEC summit meeting in China on Wednesday.  President Obama pledged that the United States would reduce it emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, while President Xi pledged that China’s emissions would peak by “around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early, and to increase the share of non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20% by 2030.”  That quote is from the White House fact sheet on the agreement.

The Obama Administration’s long-stated goal has been to reduce emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.  That works out to an annual cut of 1.2% from 2005 onward.  The new goal would require a much faster rate of cuts.  The White House calculated that if the faster rate doesn’t begin until 2020, then the annual cut would work out to 2.3-2.8% from 2020 to 2025.

It is not clear what President Xi’s commitment means, but President Obama’s signature on the deal has no legal force.  And it will be up to future Presidents and Congresses after he leaves office in January 2017 to decide whether to require the emissions reductions agreed to.

Leaders of the official climate establishment quickly claimed that the U. S.-China agreement will provide new momentum to the international negotiations on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which will continue at the annual United Nations climate conference in December in Lima.  A new international agreement is supposed to be signed at the next UN conference scheduled for December 2015 in Paris.

Here for example is what former Senator Timothy Wirth said in a written statement: “Today’s announcement is the political breakthrough we’ve been waiting for….  If the two biggest players on climate are able to get together, from two very different perspectives, the rest of the world can see that it’s possible to make real progress.”  Wirth is the vice chairman of Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and served as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs during the Clinton Administration, where he prepared the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

However, it doesn’t appear that there is much that is new in the agreement.  The Reuters story by David Stanway reporting from the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing got it right in the headline: “China, US agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new.”

Stanway continues:

For China, the targets add little to its existing commitments to wean itself off carbon, environmental experts said.  ‘The statement is an upbeat signal to motivate other countries, but the timeline China has committed to is not a binding target,’ said Li Junfeng, an influential Chinese climate policy adviser linked to China’s state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

There is also the little obstacle of Congress.  Republicans take control of the Senate in January.  Majorities in both the House and Senate will be opposed to the Obama Administration’s climate agenda.  It seems certain that they will be even more opposed to the new 26% cut by 2025 goal than they are to the 17% by 2020 goal.  My guess is that there will be votes on a resolution disavowing President Obama’s new commitments in both the House and Senate early in the 114th Congress.

That would complicate the State Department’s plans to announce its commitments that will be part of the Paris accord by the end of March.  In fact, if the House and Senate do disavow the deal with China, it would be a major international embarrassment to President Obama and would be a severe blow to the chances for a significant agreement in Paris in December 2015.

Reactions to Obama-Xi Climate Agreement

Among many insightful commentaries on the O-Xi deal, I recommend my CEI colleague Chris Horner’s post on GlobalWarming.org on the potential legal consequences and Rupert Darwall’s post on National Review Online on the economic consequences.  The Onion had the best headline: “China Vows To Begin Aggressively Falsifying Air Pollution Numbers.”

The establishment press and leftist columnists were ecstatic.  Here’s a sample.  New York Times editorial headline: “A major breakthrough on climate change.”  Washington Post editorial headline: “A landmark climate deal.”  Paul Krugman in the NY Times: “We have a deal, and it’s pretty big.”  Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “A game-changing climate deal.” And Al Gore’s group, the Climate Reality Project, began its e-mail on the O-Xi deal: “Climate wins don’t come much bigger.”

Politico reporter Michael Grunwald damped down the enthusiasm in a long article that points out the agreement was “just words.”  Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave Politico this pithy analysis:  "We have plans to continue to reduce emissions and we have agreed to continue to increase those plans to reduce emissions. And we have, over the years, shown our good faith by actually doing that.  So, that's our quid. What's the pro quo? They're going to continue to emit carbon and then after 16 years, they're going to freeze that emission, as far as I can tell, at the level they bring it up to in 16 years.”   Investor’s Business Daily had a good editorial slamming the deal that included a useful graph.   

Republican leaders in Congress were quick to announce that the President’s climate deal with China didn’t stand a chance in Congress.  Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) called it a charade.  And here is Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reaction.  Inhofe will become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in January.  McConnell will become majority leader of the Senate.  

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
Nov082014

Cooler Heads Digest 07 November 2014 

7 November 2014

Announcement

Sixty six groups led by the American Energy Alliance sent a coalition letter this week to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to oppose the inclusion of the wind production tax credit (PTC) in any lame duck tax extenders package during the remainder of this congressional session. Click here to read the letter.

In the News

Dear GOP: Don’t Rescue Obama Energy Policy with Wind PTC Extension
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 7 November 2014

Enough of Big Ethanol Bullying Voters
Nan Swift, Washington Examiner, 7 November 2014

West Virginia’s White, Pro-Coal Democratic Senate Candidate Fared Even Worse Than Obama
David Weigel, Bloomberg, 6 November 2014

GOP Election Rout Delivers Blow to U.S. Leadership Role on Climate Change
John Cushman, Jr., Inside Climate News, 5 November 2014

Obama: Stop Bugging Me About Keystone
Ben Geman, National Journal, 5 November 2014

Sierra Club’s Wacky Take on the Election: Environmentalists Failed Due to “Sinister Voter Suppression Tactics”
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 5 November 2014

Climate Was Barely a Factor in Midterms
Brad Plumer, Vox, 4 November 2014

The Crazy Reason Two Auto Companies Were Fined $100 Million
Nicolas Loris, Daily Signal, 4 November 2014

News You Can Use
Election’s Biggest Loser: Alarmism

Last week, the Cooler Heads Digest reported on the scores of millions of dollars that green special interests and their billionaire benefactors spent on the midterm elections. Regarding their efforts, this week’s Politico headline delivers the final word: “Tom Steyer, Greens Have Rough Night at the Polls.”

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Big Green’s $85 Million Fails To Keep Senate under Harry Reid’s Control

Republicans gained at least seven and probably nine Senate seats in the 4th November congressional elections and will take control of the Senate when the 114th Congress is sworn in on 3rd January.  Senator Mitch McConnell, the current minority leader, defeated Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky by 52 to 44% and will become majority leader.  EPA regulations to kill the coal industry were a big issue in the campaign.

House Republicans increased their numbers to between 245 and 250 from 233 in the current Congress.  With several races still to be called, the Republicans could hold more seats in the House of Representatives than at any time since 1929.

Republicans did this despite massive spending by billionaire green activist Tom Steyer and the big environmental pressure groups.  As I reported last week, Big Green spent over $85 million trying to elect global warming alarmists.  They failed miserably.  Their issues did not resonate at all.  As Republican pollster Whit Ayres said, “It is difficult to find an issue that voters place lower on the list than climate change.”

Steyer and leading environmentalists have spent the week trying to explain away how they spent so much and achieved so little. But environmental advocates, such as Brad Plumer writing on Vox, were also quick to acknowledge that the global warming establishment was the biggest loser in the elections. Here’s the good news from Rebecca Leber in the New Republic: “Congratulations, voters.  You just made this climate denier the most powerful Senator on the environment.”  She refers to Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is set to return as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  

In a press conference the day after the election, President Barack Obama admitted, “The Republicans had a good night.”  He then went on to say that he was not planning to make a mid-term course correction or shake up the White House staff, as did Presidents George W. Bush in 2006 and Bill Clinton in 1994.  It’s going to be an interesting two years in Washington, DC. 

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Republicans Make Historic Gains in State Legislatures

The Republican takeover of the Senate was the big story on election night.  A few days to look at the election results at the state level has convinced me that the stunning scope of Republican victories in state legislative races is at least as big a story and will have bigger consequences over time. 

Republicans increased their control of the 98 partisan state legislative bodies (Nebraska’s legislature is non-partisan and unicameral) from 57 to 67 (and after the election, a party switcher gave Republicans control of one more).  Once all the races are called, it is almost certain there will be more Republican state legislators than the previous high of 4001 achieved in 1928.

Democrats lost their majorities in the West Virginia House for the first time since 1931.  West Virginia’s current House of Delegates has 54 Democrats and 47 Republicans.  The new House will have 64 Republicans and 36 Democrats. After Democrats lost seven state Senate seats in West Virginia, a Democratic state senator announced that he would switch parties, which will give Republicans control of the state Senate, again for the first time since 1931.  In New Mexico, Republicans won control of the state House for the first time since 1954. 

Democrats also lost their majorities in the Nevada House and Senate, their Senate majorities in New York, Colorado, Maine, and Washington, and their House majorities in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Before the election, Republicans controlled both legislative chambers and the governorship in 23 States, Democrats in 13.  Republicans gained complete control in Nevada and Arkansas, but lost it in Pennsylvania (where incumbent Governor Tom Corbett lost) and Alaska (where an independent defeated incumbent Governor Sean Parnell).  Democrats, on the other hand, lost complete control in six States: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, and West Virginia. 

Thirty-One States Now Have Republican Governors

The biggest surprise on election night was Republican Larry Hogan defeating Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown for Governor in Maryland.  Republicans Bruce Rauner and Charlie Baker also won surprising victories for Governor in Illinois and Massachusetts. 

Democrat Tom Wolf defeated Republican Governor Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.  Otherwise, it was a big night for Republicans at the gubernatorial level, who now have thirty-one Governors.

Democrats now have one woman Governor—Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.  Republicans have three—Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Nikki Haley in South Carolina, and Mary Fallin in Oklahoma.  Democrats have no Hispanic Governors, but Republicans have two—Martinez and Brian Sandoval in Nevada.  Republicans also have two Governors of Asian Indian descent—Haley and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana.  

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.