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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (187)

Saturday
Oct182014

Cooler Heads Digest 17 October 2014 

17 October 2014

In the News

Spanish Company under Federal Investigation Wins $230 Million in DOE Subsidies
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 17 October 2014

Love to Hate? Anti-Fracking Group Scrubs Website
Steve Everley, Master Resource, 16 October 2014

The Final Word on Yucca
Jack Spencer & Katie Tubb, The Daily Signal, 16 October 2014

GOP Congress Seen Pushing Back on EPA Rules
Adam O’Neal, Real Clear Politics, 16 October 2014

The Breathless Hypocrisy Driving Energy “Divestment”
Benjamin Zycher, Real Clear Markets, 15 October 2014

Increasing Efficiency of “Fracking” Has Made U.S. the World’s Largest Producer
Mark Perry, AEIdeas, 15 October 2014

Global Warming Hysteria Is Tearing Us Apart
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 11 October 2014

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

Report: EPA’s Clean Power Plan Will Make Electricity Rates Necessarily Skyrocket

According to a report released this week by NERA, EPA’s Clean Power Plan would:

  • Be the most expensive environmental regulation ever imposed on the electric power sector. The rule will cost state power sectors between $41 billion and $73 billion per year (EPA estimates “only” $8.8 billion annually), and $336 billion to $479 billion over 15 years.
  • Cause double digit electricity price rate hikes in 43 states. Electricity prices will increase by an average of 12% to 17%. Fourteen states will face price increases up to 20%.
  • Have no measurable effects on climate change. By 2050, the Plan would, in theory, reduce sea-level rise by 1/100th of an inch (the thickness of three sheets of paper), and reduce average global temperatures by less than 2/100ths of a degree.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

EPA Administrator McCarthy Visits D.C. School to Peddle Nonsense about Asthma and Global Warming

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Thursday visited The Inspired Teaching School in Washington, D.C., in order to draw attention to Children’s Health Month. According to the EPA’s press release, McCarthy will discuss how “warmer temperatures from climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, are making allergy seasons longer and worsening smog, exacerbating asthma in our kids.”

The facts suggest otherwise. According to the EPA, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants decreased by 62 percent between 1980 and 2013, while the economy grew by 145 percent. And yet, from 2001 to 2011, the Center for Disease Control says the number of Americans with asthma grew by 28 percent. Therefore, real pollution is decreasing, while asthma has become more prevalent. It is also notable that 2001-2011, when asthma rates increased and pollution decreased, there was (and continues to be) a “pause” in global warming. In light of these inconvenient truths, Administrator McCarthy’s attempt to link climate change and asthma simply makes no sense.

Senator Vitter Releases Collusive Emails between NRDC and EPA on Clean Power Plan

On July 6, The New York Times reported that three lobbyists for the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote the “blueprint” for EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan. The report was disconcerting due to the fact that the NRDC had spent considerable resources getting President Obama elected, so it appeared that the green group was being rewarded with policymaking privileges.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy forcefully denied the New York Times report, but her protestations was belied this week when Senate Environment & Public Works Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.) released a trove of email correspondence demonstrating “very close working relationship between the two organizations to develop the carbon rule—dating back to 2011—two years before EPA has said the public had an opportunity to provide input.”

For example, in a congratulatory email sent in the wake of a “sue and settle” agreement between NRDC and EPA that led to the Clean Power Plan, McCarthy wrote to one NRDC lobbyist that “This success is as much yours as it is mine.” For more on how green groups have “captured” Obama’s EPA, see here, here, and here.

Pentagon Declares War on Global Warming

The Pentagon on Monday released a Climate Change Adaption Roadmap whose preamble states that climate change “poses an immediate threat to national security” and whose purpose is to integrate global warming threats into all “plans, operations, and training” across the entire Defense Department.

In light of both the current state of global affairs (i.e., the Middle East is aflame with conflict, Russia is menacing eastern Ukraine, and Ebola is raging in western Africa) and the fact that global warming has “paused,” one might be excused for thinking the Pentagon’s priorities are dangerously out of whack.

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

“Topsy-Turvy” Clean Power Plan Could “Substantially” Raise Electric Bills — Virginia State Corporate Commission

In a regulatory comment letter filed this week, Virginia’s State Corporation Commission cautions that EPA’s Clean Power Plan “would substantially increase” consumer electric bills, “raises alarming regional reliability concerns,” and is likely unlawful. 

Established in 1903, the Commission regulates many businesses and economic activities in Virginia, sets rates charged by large investor-owned utilities, and serves as the central filing agency for corporations in the state.

“Complying with the EPA’s proposed carbon emission rules would likely cost Dominion Virginia Power customers alone an extra $5.5 billion to $6 billion, the State Corporation Commission’s staff said in an unusually bluntly worded statement,” the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported yesterday.

EPA’s own model assumes Virginia will have to shut down reliable coal and gas power plants producing 2,851 megawatts of electricity, and replace that with 351 megawatts of unreliable wind and solar power, with the gap supposedly filled by increased efficiency and reduced demand. Even if the intermittency of renewable power were not an issue, there is “zero probability that wind and solar resources can be developed in the time and on the scale necessary” to meet the state’s 2020 carbon dioxide reduction target, Commission staff argued.

Legally, the Clean Power Plan is “topsy-turvy,” Commission staff said, because it imposes much more stringent emission standards on existing Virginia power plants than EPA proposes to require for new units. Clarifying the point with an analogy, staff asked: “Would it be rational to require the current owners of automobiles or lawnmowers throughout Virginia, for example, to meet an emission standard that is 26 percent more stringent than required for the production of new cars or lawnmowers that must use the best available technology?”

Around the World
William Yeatman

Ex-U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Patterson Throws Down Gauntlet on Energy Policy

In a brilliant speech before the Global Warming Policy Foundation, former U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Patterson challenged Tories to suspend the 2008 Climate Change Act, or else struggle “to keep the lights on.” Since the speech was delivered, the Cooler Heads Digest has learned from many British friends that it has ignited much debate among conservatives. We hope they heed Patterson’s prescient advice. Read James Delingpole’s take here.

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

Saturday
Oct112014

Cooler Heads Digest 10 October 2014 

10 October 2014

Announcements

On Wednesday, October 15, from 1:00 to 2:30 PM at 2325 Rayburn House Office Building, George C. Marshall Institute Chairman Dr. Will Happer will discuss “The Myth of Carbon Pollution.” To learn more and RSVP, email info@marshall.org.

The 60 Plus Association this week released a report, Energy Bills Challenge Fixed-Income Seniors, which demonstrates how EPA policies, and in particular the agency’s “Clean Power Plan,” are driving up the cost of living for seniors. Click here to read the report.

In the News

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Strategy for One-Party Rule?
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 10 October 2014

Policy Implications of the Global Warming Pause
Ross McKitrick, Master Resource, 10 October 2014

Global Warming’s Statistical Meltdown
Judith Curry, Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2014

Shell Oil, Lego, and the Environmental Movement’s War on Capitalism
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 10 October 2014

Energy Imports Drop to 29 Year Low
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 10 October 2014

Hagan Passed North Carolina Law That Aided Family’s Solar Company
Brent Scher, Washington Free Beacon, 10 October 2014

Wind Energy Admits It Needs a Handout To Compete
Nicolas Loris, Daily Signal, 8 October 2014

A Carbon Tax Cannot Create Jobs
James Taylor, Forbes, 8 October 2014

You Didn’t Build That, Mr. President
Mark Green, Energy Tomorrow, 3 October 2014

News You Can Use
EPA’s War on Coal by the Numbers

More than 72 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generating capacity have already or are now set to retire because of EPA regulations, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Energy Research. EPA had predicted its regulations would shutter 9 GW of coal-fired generating capacity.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Sends Smog Rule to OMB for Review, But Won’t Publish Until After the Election

The Environmental Protection Agency this week sent their draft ozone rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. Like many other controversial proposed rules, this one will not be released to the public for comment until after the 4th November congressional elections.

The EPA is under court order to finalize the rule by October 2015.  The White House delayed issuing the new National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone (or smog) in the summer of 2011 when they realized that the rule is potentially so colossally expensive that it could threaten President Obama’s re-election prospects. 

The Bush Administration in 2008 set the standard at 75 parts per billion.  The exact figure that the EPA is now proposing is not known, but is expected to range from 70 down to 60 ppb.  A study by the highly-respected NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers concluded that the total cost of lowering the level to 60 ppb could cost $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040 or $270 billion per year.

The Clean Air Act Advisory Board in June notified the EPA that, “Although a level of 70 ppb is more protective of public health than the current standard, it may not meet the statutory requirement to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.”  That judgment call by the board may be binding on the EPA. 

In the ongoing litigation over the refusal by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to turn over text messages requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the Justice Department told a federal court this week that it is preparing to notify the National Archives that the EPA has destroyed the official records.  This appears to be a violation of the Federal Records Act, but the Obama Administration denies it.  When he was running for president in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama promised that his administration would be the most open and transparent in history.     

EPA Pulls an IRS

As Chris Horner, my CEI colleague, told the Washington Times, “Here we see EPA agreeing to the court to do an IRS.” Horner filed the FOIA request when it became apparent from e-mails obtained under FOIA that McCarthy had switched from e-mails to text messages to colleagues and allies in environmental pressure groups in order to avoid public disclosure through FOIA of the Obama EPA’s war on coal.

McCarthy has claimed that destroying the many thousands of text messages is legal because they were all of a personal nature and therefore not official government records.  However, they were sent and received using a cell phone supplied by the federal government.  Metadata has also revealed that many were sent to other top EPA officials. 

Meet the Latest Climate Profiteers

The Obama administration is pushing hard to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a widely-used class of refrigerants that EPA blames for contributing to global warming.  Strongly supporting the administration in this effort are America’s two largest refrigerant producers, DuPont and Honeywell.

These two companies have developed and patented substitutes which sell for considerably more than the HFCs they would replace.  This includes a joint venture to produce HFO-1234yf, a proprietary replacement for the HFCs used in automotive air-conditioners. 

HFO-1234yf has several drawbacks, including in flammability. But with so few viable options left – many other refrigerants were outlawed in the 1990s on the grounds that they deplete the Earth’s ozone layer – automakers may be forced to use the DuPont/Honeywell product if a ban on HFCs goes into effect.

HFO-1234yf costs about $120 per pound compared to $6-$7 per pound for the type of HFC currently used in motor vehicles.  Most new car and light-duty truck models require 1 to 3 pounds of refrigerant, and they may need additional refrigerant to replenish any leaks that occur over the life of the vehicle.   DuPont and Honeywell expect sales of their new refrigerant to reach into the billions of dollars.

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
Oct042014

Cooler Heads Digest 03 October 2014 

3 October 2014

In the News

Democratic Leaders, an Industry Lobby, and a Nonprofit Walk into an Election
Timothy Carney, Washington Examiner, 3 October 2014

Enron: RFK Jr.’s Corporate Climate Champion
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 October 2014

RFK Jr.’s Absurd Attack on the Koch Brothers
Larry Kudlow, CNBC, 1 October 2014

Let’s Find out How Much “Clean Power” the Feds Really Have
Brian Potts & David Zoppo, Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2014

U.S. Professor: Blame Climate Change for Islamic State
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 1 October 2014

Google’s Climate Name Calling
Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 30 September 2014

The Logic in Exporting U.S. Oil
Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, 28 September 2014

Rockefeller Fund’s Fossil Fuel Dump Namesake
Stephen Moore & Kathleen Hartnett-White, Investor’s Business Daily, 26 September 2014

News You Can Use
Quietest Atlantic Hurricane Season Since 1986

September is normally the peak of the hurricane season, but it ended this week having occasioned only two named storms. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, this is the quietest Atlantic hurricane season since 1986.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Washington Post Discovers Connection Between Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Activity

The Washington Post’s coverage of climate change issues seldom connects to reality.  But at the end of a week that started with the 120,000-person strong People’s Climate March and peaked with the all-day United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, the Post ran a story on Saturday, 27th September, that explicitly links rising U. S. greenhouse with economic growth.  A front-page, top-left story by Joby Warrick was headlined, “Carbon Output Rises in U. S.”  The sub-head told the story: “Turn in greenhouse gas emissions coincides with economic recovery.”  The article is available online here with a different headline and no sub-headline. 

Correlation is of course not necessarily causation, but Warrick was clear that there is a causal link: “The higher emissions are primarily a reflection of a rebounding economy, as U.S. businesses burned more gas and oil to meet higher demand.”  This may be a minor recognition of reality in the establishment media, but I think we have to take progress where we can find it.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Big Wind Encounters Turbulence in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas

According to an excellent article by Sean Murphy of the Associated Press in Oklahoma, wind farms are becoming politically controversial in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. In the past decade, wind energy in Oklahoma has increased from 113 windmills in three projects to 1,700 windmills in 30 projects.

Murphy writes: “A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace, envisioning a bright future for an industry that would offer cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for large landowners, especially in rural areas with few other economic prospects.  To ensure the opportunity didn’t slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks.”

However: “But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms…. Opposition is also mounting about the loss of scenic views, the noise from spinning blades, the flashing lights that dot the horizon at night and a lack of public notice about where the turbines will be erected.”

While “the growing cost of the subsidies could decimate state funding for schools, highways and prisons,” the political establishment in Oklahoma is just starting to wake up to the problems that result from creating a new special interest funded by government largesse.  “With the rapid expansion came political clout. The industry now has nearly a dozen registered lobbyists working to stop new regulations and preserve generous subsidies that are expected to top $40 million this year.”

When Sam Brownback, now governor of Kansas, served in the U. S. Senate, he was the chief Republican sponsor of legislation to create a federal renewable energy mandate and strongly supported the federal wind production tax credit.  He is now in a tough re-election race and recently softened his enthusiasm for Big Wind in order to try to win back part of his disgruntled Republican base.  Republicans in the state legislature tried to repeal Kansas’s renewable energy mandate earlier this year, but the bill was narrowly defeated by strong opposition from Brownback and the wind industry. 

Governor Brownback now says that while he supports the wind industry in Kansas, he thinks it has matured sufficiently so that the state’s 20% by 2020 renewable mandate can be repealed or modified.  But Kansas not only has a renewable mandate.  It also provides permanent property tax exemptions for windmills. 

Oklahoma does not have a renewable energy mandate, but offers generous tax credits and a five-year exemption from local property taxes.  Both Oklahoma and Kansas compensate local counties and school districts for their lost property tax revenue.

Last week’s Digest included a link to an op-ed by Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, titled, “Time for Wind To Stand on Its Own.”  It was based on a report she released, Texas Power Challenge, which concludes that Texas’s renewable energy mandate is undermining the reliability of the state’s electricity supply during periods of peak demand in the summer months. Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, wrote a post on GlobalWarming.org in 2012 that discovers similar problems with wind in Oklahoma.

Judge Upholds EPA Retroactive Veto of WV Mine Permit
William Yeatman

On September 30th, D.C. Federal District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson upheld EPA’s 2011 retroactive veto of a Clean Water Act permit issued to Arch Coal for the Spruce Fork mine in Logan County, West Virginia. This is the latest in the legal saga involving EPA’s controversial decision to revoke the permit after it had been issued.

In March, 2013, Judge Berman Jackson found that EPA did not have the authority to retroactively veto a Clean Water Act permit, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. After the Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal of the D.C. Circuit’s decision, it became settled law that EPA does indeed have the authority to revoke a Clean Water Act ‘dredge and fill’ permit at any time.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the D.C. Circuit’s reversal, the case returned to Judge Jackson Berman, in order for her to determine whether EPA lawfully exercised its newfound authority. In a 50 page ruling rendered Tuesday, she found EPA’s reasons for issuing the veto were not “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore lawful.

It’s an unfortunate outcome that will likely be appealed. As I explain in this study, EPA claimed that salamanders, fish, and birds would be harmed, but, in fact, the agency produced evidence only that the proposed surface coal mine would harm a short-lived insect, the Mayfly, which isn’t even an endangered species. For this, EPA killed a project that would have created 250 well paying jobs.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Yet Another Study Finds Low Climate Sensitivity

There are three overarching issues in UN IPCC science reports: (1) detection (is global warming occurring?), (2) attribution (if so, what’s causing it?), and (3) climate sensitivity (how much warming will result from a given increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations?).

Detection was an unresolved question until 1998, when the Remote System Sensing (RSS) team discovered an orbital decay-induced spurious cooling in the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) satellite record. The UAH scientists corrected their record, the weather balloon record was also revised, and surface temperature records also indicated warming, so all three data sources showed a warming trend. Only at that point did global (as distinct from urban or local) warming become a “fact” — a trend confirmed by multiple independent observations. But then, irony of ironies, global warming plateaued in the RSS record, and “the pause” has persisted for nearly 18 years.

Attribution of some non-negligible portion of recent warming to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is acknowledged today by most scientists, but for years climate campaigners claimed greater certainty than the scientific evidence warranted. The IPCC’s First Assessment Report (1990) stated: “The size of the warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural variability. Thus the observed increase could be largely due to this natural variability….The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not likely for a decade or more.”

The IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (1995) famously concluded: The “balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” Note too that even this iconic formulation is not an assertion of fact, only an assessment of what is suggested by the “balance of evidence.” One might say “the science” on attribution finally caught up with what climate campaigners zealously believed but often falsely asserted as “settled.”

Ever since the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), the heart of the scientific debate has been about climate sensitivity. This is also the key scientific issue for public policy. Sensitivity estimates chiefly determine how much warming is predicted for the 21st century and beyond. Scary climate impact scenarios assume climate sensitivities of 3°C and more for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations above pre-industrial levels.

Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger keep a running tab on studies since 2011 that find lower climate sensitivity than IPCC AR4’s best estimate of 3°C for doubled CO2. Their list as of February 2014 contained 18 studies.

Recently, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and independent UK researcher Nick Lewis published a study that arguably presents the most substantial challenge yet to high-end warming projections.

Although “the pause” and the associated growing divergence between models and observations is the impetus for some recent research on sensitivity, Curry and Lewis debunk claims that lower sensitivity estimates depend on the pause, which might be a short-term effect of natural variability.

In a nutshell, Curry and Lewis estimate equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS – the long-term warming effect of CO2 doubling) and transient climate response (TCR – the warming effect of CO2 doubling over a 70-year period) by comparing average global temperature and IPCC heat accumulation estimates for two periods: a base period of 1859-1882 and a final period of 1995-2011. As described on Curry’s blog:

“Our paper derives ECS and TCR estimates using the AR5 [IPCC Fifth Assessment Report] forcing and heat uptake estimates and uncertainty ranges. The analysis uses a global energy budget model that links ECS and TCR to changes in global mean surface temperature (GMST), radiative forcing and the rate of ocean heat uptake between a base and a final period.”

Here’s the bottom line. Whereas the “best estimates” for ECS and TCR in AR4 were 3°C and 2°C, respectively, Curry and Lewis’s mid-range estimates are 1.64°C and 1.33°C.

If those had been the IPCC’s sensitivity estimates since 1990, would policymakers even be debating global warming today?

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
Sep272014

Cooler Heads Digest 26 September 2014 

26 September 2014

Announcement

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation released a joint declaration and a report to co-incide with the United Nations Climate Summit.  The declaration, titled “Protect the Poor: Ten Reasons to Oppose Harmful Climate Change Policies,” has been signed by a number of climate scientists, other scientists, economists, theologians, and religious leaders.  The report, titled, “A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor 2014: The Case against Harmful Climate Change Policies Gets Stronger,” was written by Professor David R. Legates, a climate scientist at the University of Delaware, and Professor G. Cornelis van Kooten, an economist at the University of Victoria.

In the News

Global Warming Money Nexus Corrupts Real Science
Pat Michaels, Investor’s Business Daily, 26 September 2014

Google Kills Birds While Seeking Corporate Welfare
Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2014

Department of Homeland Security Moves To Tackle Climate Change Risks
Lisa Anderson, Reuters, 25 September 2014

Time for Wind To Stand on Its Own
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Economics 21, 25 September 2014

Five Reasons To Counter Climate-Change Regulation
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Market Watch, 25 September 2014

Michael Mann’s Libel Lawsuit, Continued
Sam Kazman, GlobalWarming.org, 24 September 2014

The Air Comes Out of the Climate-Change Talks
Rupert Darwall, Real Clear Politics, 24 September 2014

Why Is the UN Climate Summit Denying IPCC Climate Science?
Benjamin Zycher, The Hill, 23 September 2014

Obama Racks Up Massive CO2 Emissions on Way to UN Climate Summit
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 23 September 2014

Leftist Professor Calls President Obama “Delusional” on Global Warming
Marc Morano, Climate Depot, 23 September 2014

Access Is Power
William Yeatman, National Review Online, 22 September 2014

Study Says Natural Factors, Not Humans, Behind West Coast Warming
Craig Welch, Seattle Times, 22 September 2014

Video from NYC Climate March: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Wants To Jail His Political Opponents
Marc Morano, Climate Depot, 21 September 2014

The Crumbling Climate-Change Consensus
John Fund, National Review Online, 21 September 2013

Climate Science Is Not Settled
Steven E. Koonin, Wall Street Journal, 20 September 2014

News You Can Use
Map: Top Oil and Gas States

Two maps produced by Metric Maps showing where oil and natural gas is being produced in the United States (Alaska not included) were posted by Reid Wilson in a Washington Post blog this week. 

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA’s McCarthy Again Claims Greenhouse Gas Regulations Will Boost the Economy

Congress has left town for the November elections, but unfortunately EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was still hard at work this week.  On Thursday, 25th September, she gave a major speech at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC, on the economic benefits of her agency’s regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Her speech and following discussion can be watched here, and the EPA posted her written remarks here.

McCarthy made the following point: “As seas rise, so do insurance premiums, medical bills, and food prices. From water scarcity to wilting crops, companies like General Mills and Coca-Cola see climate change as a ‘threat to commerce.’ Paying more for soda and cereal means less cash to buy other things. That chokes economies and stunts job growth. The bottom line is: We don't act despite the economy, we act because of it.”

It certainly is true that if people pay more for food, they have less money to spend on other things.  But McCarthy was unable or unwilling to follow the logic of her example.  Because it is also true that if people pay more for energy, they have less to spend on other things.  And it is also true that increasing energy costs increases the prices of most other things. 

Ben Wolfgang in a lead front-page story in the 26th September Washington Times spelled out some of the facts that contradict McCarthy’s claim that forcing electric utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will spur economic growth.  McCarthy claimed: “My home State of Massachusetts cut emissions by 40% [since 1990], while its economy grew 7%.”  Wolfgang notes that McCarthy left out that most States with much higher per capita greenhouse gas emissions have been growing faster than Massachusetts.  While U. S. GDP increased by 1.8% last year, Massachusetts lagged with 1.6%.  The Texas economy grew by 3.7%. 

One of the reasons economic growth is much stronger in States like Texas than in Massachusetts, California, and New York is that electric rates are much lower in Texas.  Wolfgang notes that Texans pay an average of 9.36 cents per kilowatt hour, while in Massachusetts the average rate has gone up to 14.96 cents per kwh.  That’s largely because Massachusetts belongs to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which the EPA touts as a model of how to comply with its proposed rule for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

McCarthy went on to disparage those who oppose the EPA’s energy-rationing policies.  “It’s worrisome when we hear those critics say, and I quote, ‘I’m not a scientist, but climate action is going to ruin the economy.’  Well, as the President has said, those critics have one thing right: they’re not scientists.  They’re not economists, either.  But guess what, we’ve got some pretty good ones at EPA…and across the federal government.”  There undoubtedly are some pretty good economists in the federal government.  Unfortunately, McCarthy has not learned anything from them.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Lots of Speeches at UN Climate Summit Pep Rally   

I tried to watch some of the speeches by 120 or so heads of state and prime ministers at the United Nations Climate Summit on 23rd September, but most of what I heard was painfully boring and dim.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a Wall Street Journal op-ed summarized the “progress” made at the summit and claimed that “climate change is now higher on the global political agenda than it has ever been.”

China’s Vice Premier announced that China would soon announce a date for when its greenhouse gas emissions would peak.  The European Union committed to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  And most importantly, according to Ban, “…73 national governments, 11 regional governments and more than 1,000 businesses and investors signaled support for carbon pricing at the summit. Together, these leaders represent 52% of global gross domestic product, 54% of global greenhouse-gas emissions and almost half of the world's population.

Here is the video and transcript of U. S. President Barack Obama’s address. The President took credit for the fact that, “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth,” but didn’t mention that the ongoing recession was the single biggest cause.  He continued: “But we have to do more,” and then listed the main elements of his Climate Action Plan.

The only announcement by President Obama of new policy that I could see was this: “Today, I’m directing our federal agencies to begin factoring climate resilience into our international development programs and investments.”  But he didn’t say anything about when the U. S. was going to start making major contributions to the Green Climate Fund. On the other hand, French President Francois Hollande announced that, “France will contribute a billion dollars over the next few years.” 

At the annual UN global warming meeting, COP-15, in Copenhagen in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama saved the negotiations on a new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol from total collapse by proposing that a Green Climate Fund be created that would provide $100 billion per year in assistance to poorer countries by 2020.  The wealthier nations clearly have a long way to go to come up with $100 billion total, let alone annually.    

Organizers Claim 310,000 at the NYC People’s Climate March; Expert Estimates 120,000

The People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, 21st September, achieved its goal of being the largest climate march in history, but perhaps it was not nearly as large as the 310,000 (or close to 400,000) marchers claimed by the organizers and accepted by the mainstream media. Fire on the Mountain, a Canadian web site, congratulated the organizers and participants with a blog post that began, “What a splendid march!”  But it then continues with an expert estimate of the number of people marching and concludes: “1. There were well over 100,000 people, likely a bit upwards of 120,000 in the march. 2. No way in hell were there 310,000 people on that march.”

Lots of famous people flew in to join the march.  Notably, former Vice President Al Gore was there, and yet the weather remained sunny, warm and pleasant throughout the day and indeed through the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday, at which Gore also spoke.  I guess the Gore Effect is weakening. UN Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio spoke at the march and at the summit. 

Besides the famous, the marchers spanned the political and social spectrum. Besides the well-meaning do-gooders and the environmental activists, there were a number of hardcore radical leftists.  A list of the 1500-plus co-sponsoring organizations gives a good idea of the range of opinion represented.  The Sisters of Mercy, Presbyterians for Earth Care, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Saint Edward the Martyr Episcopal Church, and the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin are on the list.  But so too are the Socialist Party USA, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative, and the Communist Party USA.  They were all marching, but it’s not clear how they might harmonize their agendas.       

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
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.