Press Releases


Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (217)


Cooler Heads Digest 26 June 2015 

26 June 2015


  • The Cooler Heads Digest will not be published next week.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

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

Study: Upfront Costs of Energy Efficiency about Twice Actual Savings

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

Inside the Beltway

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

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

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

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

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

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

RFS Repeal Bill Is Introduced
Marlo Lewis

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

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

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Federal Judge Temporarily Delays BLM’s New Fracking Rule

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

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

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

Indiana Rejects “Clean Power” Plan

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

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

EPA’s Bogus Climate Policy Health Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Cooler Heads Digest 19 June 2015 

19 June 2015


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

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

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Beltway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the World
Myron Ebell

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

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

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

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



Cooler Heads Digest 12 June 2015 

12 June 2015

In the News

Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 12 June 2015

Inhofe: “We’re Winning” the Global Warming Debate
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 11 June 2015

Attacks on Skeptics Do a Disservice to Scientists and Their Profession
Anthony J. Sadar, Washington Times, 10 June 2015

Why the Left Needs Climate Change
Steven Hayward, Forbes, 9 June 2015

Ex-Im Is Not the Key to Nuclear Industry’s Competitiveness
Jack Spencer & Katie Tubb, The Daily Signal, 9 June 2015

A Climate Campaigner (Bill McKibben) and Climate Change Critic (Anthony Watts) Meet in a Bar…
Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, 8 June 2015

Global Warming: The Theory That Predicts Nothing and Explains Everything
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, 8 June 2015

NOAA Plays “Hide the Pause”
James Delingpole, Big Government, 5 June 2015

Harvard Researchers Caught Lying To Boost EPA Climate Rule
Steve Milloy, Breitbart, 4 June 2015

News You Can Use
Study: EPA’s Clean Power Plan's Disparate Impact on Minorities

According to a study published this week by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, EPA’s Clean Power Plan would cause cumulative job losses for blacks and Hispanics of roughly 7 million and 12 million, respectively, over the next 20 years. Over the same time period, black families can expect their annual incomes to fall by $455, while Hispanics will take home $515 less per year.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

AEI Carbon Tax Event: Niskanen Center Puts Its Cards on the Table (and it’s a terrible hand)

On Wednesday afternoon, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a debate on the merits of a carbon tax between Niskanen Center’s Jerry Taylor and AEI’s Benjamin Zycher. Video is available here.

For some time now, Taylor has been trying to convince conservatives to embrace a carbon tax. Originally, his case for the carbon tax was based on a hypothetical political compromise. That is, he urged conservatives to embrace a carbon tax as a bargaining chip that could be traded for a relaxation of EPA’s climate regulations. There are a lot of holes in this thesis, and Taylor’s line of reasoning has proved unsteady, as has been expertly explained by Robert Murphy at the Institute for Energy Research.

Evidently, Taylor’s original thesis (i.e., trading a carbon tax to stop EPA rules) does not withstand scrutiny well, because he ditched that argument during his presentation on Wednesday. Instead, he focused on the conservative appeal of a carbon tax implemented as the centerpiece of a prudent risk mitigation strategy.

Implausibly, Taylor claimed to have divined the precise odds of “catastrophic climate change.” According to Taylor, there is a 10 percent chance of climate change causing temperature increases of 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 on a business-as-usual trajectory. To be fair, he conceded some uncertainty: He said that the chance of an “unimaginable disaster” may be “8 percent or 12 percent.”

Wednesday’s debate was the first I’d heard that there’s a 10 percent chance of climate catastrophe by 2100, and I’m skeptical of its worth as a “fact” on which public policy should be rendered. Moreover, it strikes me as being alarmist even by the hyperbolic standards shared by Joe Romm and his ilk on the eco-freak fringe.

There are other problems with Taylor's argument. For example, he couches his risk management proposal in the familiar terms of hedging and insurance in the financial sector. Such a comparison is, however, inapposite. Given our near total reliance on fossil fuels, the only way to fight global warming is to completely transform the global economy. Anything short of that won't save us. So we’re not talking about insuring our position within the current market; rather, we’re talking about completely remaking the current market. Those are markedly difference risk management strategies.

Another problem with his reasoning is that the putative danger undercuts the impetus for his grand political bargain. If we face a certain 10 percent chance of catastrophe, wouldn’t that warrant EPA regulations, in addition to a carbon tax? There are other problems with his argument, foremost among them being his unwillingness to proffer a price, which is no small component of his plan.

To recap: Jerry Taylor’s original argument for a carbon tax—that it could be traded for a rescission of EPA climate rules—seems to have gone by the wayside, likely due to the effectiveness of criticisms leveled by IER’s Robert Murphy. On Wednesday, at an AEI-sponsored debate, Taylor presented his new and improved argument—that it’s a “moral and ethical” imperative for conservatives to support a carbon tax as a mitigation strategy, because there is a 10 percent chance (maybe 8 percent, maybe 12 percent) that climate change will be catastrophic. For the reasons I set forth above, his new focus is no less unreasonable than the original.

Taylor’s opponent, Benjamin Zycher, did a great job, to no one’s surprise. Michael Bastasch penned an excellent write-up of the event, available here.

D.C. Circuit Court Disappoints (but there is a silver lining)

On Tuesday, a three judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge brought by industry and 15 States to check EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The court ruled that the challenge was premature, because the rule hasn’t yet been finalized. Because the judges ruled on jurisdictional grounds, the court did not tip its hand regarding the merits of the petitioners’ challenge to the rule, which was based on the argument that EPA lacks the authority to issue the Clean Power Plan. (For more on the merits of the case, see here and here.)

EPA is expected to publish the final rule in august. Thereafter, opponents of the Clean Power Plan will seek a stay of the regulation, the success of which would be based in part on the likelihood of their winning on the merits. The D.C. Circuit likely would render a decision whether or not to stay the regulation in late fall or early winter.

While Tuesday’s ruling was a disappointment, environmental lawyer Brian Potts points to a possible silver lining. In an excellent Forbes op-ed published on Thursday, Potts notes that under the D.C. Circuit Court’s rules, there’s a substantial likelihood that the same panel of judges that heard Tuesday’s case will adjudicate the next challenge. This bodes well for opponents of the rule, as the three judges are all known to be sensitive to EPA overreach.

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



Cooler Heads Digest 05 June 2015

5 June 2015


The Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) will take place on Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, 2015, at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. Registration is complete, but you can watch all events live here.

In the News

Elon Musk Tries To Defend His Companies Many Subsidies
Paul Chesser, National Legal & Policy Center, 5 June 2015

My Favorite Quotations on Energy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 5 June 2015

Manufacturing Alarm: Dana Nuccitelli’s Critique of John Christy
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 4 June 2015

An Immoral Food-to-Fuel Policy
H. Sterling Burnett, Washington Times, 4 June 2015

Wind Energy Ignores Bird Conservationists
James Conca, Forbes, 4 June 2015

The Obama Administration’s International Climate Pledge Doesn’t Add Up
Stephen Eule, Institute for 21st Century Energy, 3 June 2015

Coal Miners Union Announces Political & Legal Campaign against Clean Power Plan
Devin Henry, The Hill, 3 June 2015

Meet the People Getting Jilted by California’s High Speed Rail Boondoggle
Alexis Garcia, Reason Hit & Run, 3 June 2015

The Poor Need Affordable Energy
Iain Murray, The Freeman, 2 June 2015

How Europe’s Climate Policies Led to U.S. Deforestation
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 2 June 2015

Terrible News for Alarmists: The Sahara Is Getting Greener
James Delingpole, Breitbart London, 2 June 2015

French Minister: 2015 Climate Talks Must Avoid U.S. Senate
Sylvie Corbet & Karl Ritter, AP, 1 June 2015

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

U.S. Chamber Analysis Finds “Gap” in Obama’s UN Climate Pledge

In the COP-21 climate treaty negotiations, the Obama administration has pledged to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Recent analysis by Stephen Eule of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy finds that the Obama administration’s current and proposed array of climate policies falls short of the target by about one-third.

The administration’s pledge, technically known as the U.S. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), includes nine current or prospective emission-reduction policies. The biggest single component, EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan, accounts for 640 million metric tons (MMT) or 35% of the total 1,789 MMT emission-reduction target. When all nine policies are combined, U.S. reductions still fall 590 MMT or 33% short of the goal.

Administration officials have not acknowledged there is a gap so haven’t said how they plan to plug it. Either Obama’s climate negotiators are bargaining with chips they don’t have, or the administration has cards (regulations) up its sleeve it hasn’t disclosed to Congress and the public.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

EPA Report on Fracking Fails To Find “Widespread, Systemic” Threats

After several years of making ominous sounds about the possibility that hydraulic fracturing could pollute groundwater, the Environmental Protection Agency on 4th June finally released a report that concludes that fracking does not have “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.” 

The EPA took five years to prepare the report, but most of that time was spent stalling in the hopes that something bad would turn up or be concocted.  Naturally, environmental pressure groups, which are usually happy to promote whatever junk science the EPA puts out, attacked the study for not being thorough enough.  For example, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said, “Unfortunately, the EPA chose to leave many critical questions unanswered.”  

Elon Musk’s SolarCity and Tesla Get $4.9 Billion in Government Handouts  

The Los Angeles Times reported on 31st May the results of its investigation of government subsidies received by companies controlled by billionaire Elon Musk. The total to date for Solar City, Tesla Motors, and Space X is $4.9 billion.

Musk would not speak to reporter Jerry Hirsch before the story appeared in the LA Times’s Sunday edition, but he did respond the next day in an interview on CNBC.  Musk did not dispute the $4.9 billion figure, but said that the subsidies were helpful but not necessary.  Musk then claimed that, “If you add up all the subsidies that SolarCity and Tesla get, it is 1/1000 of what the oil and gas industry get in a single year.”

This claim is based on a recent report from the International Energy Agency that global annual government subsidies to the oil and gas industry total $550 billion.  But that figure is highly misleading because most of that comes from gasoline sold at far-below-market prices in countries with nationalized oil industries, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  The IEA also includes not pricing greenhouse gas emissions as a subsidy.  Total U. S. federal government subsidies have been estimated by President Obama at $4.4 billion per year.  It should also be noted that the oil and gas industry produces tens of thousands of times more economic output than do Musk’s highly-capitalized companies. 

Hirsch quotes Dan Doley, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research: “[Musk] definitely goes where there is government money.  That's a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”  Well, it’s worked pretty good so far, and I don’t see any end in sight.

AEI Provides Forum for Senator Whitehouse To Promote His Carbon Tax Bill

The American Enterprise Institute, which claims that it is “committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise,” has invited Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to give a speech on 10th June on his legislation to create a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.  The event will take place from 2:30 to 4 PM EDT and can be viewed live on AEI’s web site here. It will also be posted for later viewing within 24 hours on the same web page.

Whitehouse’s appearance to promote his “American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act” is a high-level event.  AEI President Arthur C. Brooks will introduce the Senator.  After his speech, Benjamin Zycher of AEI and Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center will discuss it.  The moderator will be Kevin A. Hassett, AEI’s State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture and Director of Economic Policy Studies.  Zycher, who opposes carbon taxes, is the John G. Searle Chair.  Taylor supports carbon taxes. 

I find it both repugnant and curious that AEI would provide such a forum for Senator Whitehouse, who is one of the most anti-free enterprise and anti-big business Senators (and there is some stiff competition).  He joined Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in February in sending a letter to 100 energy companies and what they termed “climate denial organizations” demanding to know “whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution.”  AEI was one of the organizations listed as receiving the letter

The Washington Post on 30th May published an op-ed by Senator Whitehouse in which he suggested that coal, oil, and gas companies should be investigated for possible criminal prosecution under RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. This is the sort of man for whom AEI is providing a public forum.   

Across the States
William Yeatman

Top Federal Regulator: Clean Power Plan Usurps States’ Rightful Authority

At a meeting this week of energy regulators from western States, a top federal energy regulator warned that President Obama’s marquee climate plan, an EPA regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, threatens to usurp the states’ long-held, exclusive jurisdiction over retail electricity markets. As reported by Energy Wire ($), Tony Clark, a sitting Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that “EPA is asking states…to give EPA authority over things that it on its own in the Clean Air Act does not have authority to claim jurisdiction over… [and] what happens then is the administrator of EPA is really in charge of state energy policy.”

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Six Oil Majors Ask UN To Help Create Carbon Pricing System

Six major oil companies have written a letter to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, requesting to work with the UN and member governments to create a system to price carbon dioxide emissions. The companies are the BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, and Total. 

The letter states: “Therefore, we call on governments, including at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris and beyond to: introduce carbon pricing systems where they do not yet exist at the national or regional levels; [and] create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems.  To support progress towards these outcomes, our companies would like to open direct dialogue with the UN and willing governments.”

One of the reasons these companies are eager to put a price on CO2 emissions is that they own large reserves of natural gas.  Coal is beating out natural gas for new electric generation in Europe because it is much cheaper.  But since coal is also much more carbon intensive than gas, putting a price on carbon would raise the cost of burning coal much more than the cost of burning gas. 

Chevron CEO John Watson openly criticized the six companies: “For policymakers to have as the premise for their strategy to combat greenhouse gas emissions raising the cost of energy worldwide for the people who can least afford it is … not a policy that’s going to be effective because customers want affordable energy.”   Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said, “We did not sign that letter, and we don’t intend to.”

Papal Encyclical on Climate Change Will Be Released 18th June

Contrary to earlier reports, the Vatican Press Office this week announced that Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change will be released on 18th June.  The title will be Laudato Sii (Praised Be), which is from a line in Saint Francis of Assissi’s Canticle of Creatures: “Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day, and through whom you give us light.”  The irony of praising light when the global warming agenda is about turning out the lights has apparently escaped the Vatican. 

Climate Science Update
Marlo Lewis

NOAA Denies “Pause” Is Real: Skeptics Respond

The big news this week in climate science is a study by NOAA’s Tom Karl and colleagues, who find that “global [temperature] trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.”

In short, they argue that the warming “pause” is a statistical artifact.

Skeptics have penned rebuttals, several of which posted yesterday and today on Watts Up with That (WUWT). In a nutshell, the critics accuse NOAA of adjusting the data to fit the global warming narrative.

The list of skeptical reviews includes:

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



Cooler Heads Digest 29 May 2015 

29 May 2015


The Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) will take place on Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, 2015, at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

In the News

EPA’s Triple Threat to the Economy
John Eick, Washington Examiner, 29 May 2015

IRS Hands Out $14 Billion for Green Energy, Doesn’t Keep Track of It
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 29 May 2015

Will EPA Scrap the Carbon Capture Mandate?
Marlo Lewis,, 28 May 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Walker Says His State Won’t Comply with Clean Power Plan
Matthew Daly, Associated Press, 28 May 2015

Mr. Obama, “97 Percent of Experts” Is a Bogus Statistic
Richard Tol,, 28 May 2015

End the Ban on Oil Exports
Merrill Matthews, The Hill, 28 May 2015

Self-Service Gasoline: Legalizing Freedom
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 26 May 2015

News You Can Use
New Report: Climate Hypocrites

The Media Research Center this month published a new report that details the extent to which media go out of their way to ignore or excuse the hypocrisy of celebrity “environmentalists” who fly their private jets around the world, rent mega-yachts and live in massive mansions. Click here to read "Climate Hypocrites and the Media That Love Them."

Inside the Beltway

EPA Proposes Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Biofuel Mandates for 2014, 2015, and 2016
Marlo Lewis

EPA on 29th May proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel blending targets for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The agency expects to complete the rulemaking by Nov. 30, which means it will be two years late finalizing the 2014 targets and one year late finalizing the 2015 targets.

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which established the RFS program in its current form, mandates that refiners, blenders, and fuel importers increase the amount of biofuel sold in the nation’s motor fuel supply from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. However, EISA also authorizes EPA to adjust the annual targets based on various factors including “the sufficiency of infrastructure to deliver and use renewable fuel.”

In Nov. 2013, EPA concluded that the 2014 RFS mandate would exceed the “blend wall” — the maximum quantity of ethanol that can be sold in a given year. The blend wall is a product of two factors: the overall size of the motor fuel market and practical constraints on how much can be blended into each gallon of motor fuel sold. Warranty and liability concerns, lack of compatible fueling infrastructure, and, most importantly, anemic consumer demand, effectively limit the standard blend to E10 — motor fuel containing up to 10% ethanol.

Based on the arithmetic of the blend wall, EPA in Nov. 2013 proposed to trim the overall 2014 statutory target from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons — a 16% cut. That sparked a firestorm of protest from biofuel interests, and EPA has been dithering over the targets ever since – until today.

The targets proposed get mixed reviews from biofuel lobbyists. On the one hand, the targets are lower than the corresponding EISA targets. On the other hand, the proposed 2016 target will exceed the E10 blend wall by 840 million gallons.

EPA assumes up to 600 million of those gallons can be sold via increased sales of E85 – motor fuel blended with up to 85% ethanol. In a coordinated move, the USDA yesterday announced plans to spend $100 million subsidizing the installation of E85 blender pumps.

I predict the agencies will fail to break the blend wall and there will be another RFS crisis in a few years. Here’s why. Ethanol contains about two-thirds’ the energy of an equivalent amount of gasoline. The higher the blend, the worse mileage your car gets, and the more you have to spend to drive a given distance. For example, according to FuelEconomy.Gov, the typical owner of a flex-fuel vehicle would spend an extra $850 to $1,400 annually to operate the vehicle on E85 instead of regular gasoline.

So even if every gas station has an E85 pump, consumers will avoid the fuel in droves, because it is a bad buy. Lower energy content, inferior fuel economy, and higher consumer cost are the root cause of the blend wall. The same factors also explain why the “choice” to buy ethanol must be mandated. EPA’s fix will fail because lack of consumer acceptance is a market barrier that neither regulatory fiat nor corporate welfare can overcome.

Interior Announces Massive Land Lockup To Protect Sage Grouse Habitat
Myron Ebell

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on 28th May in Cheyenne, Wyoming, plans to lock up land in ten western States to protect habitat of the greater sage grouse.  The habitat protections are included in 14 Bureau of Land Management resource management plans covering 165 million acres—an area roughly the size of Texas.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is under a federal court order to decide by 30th September whether to list the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  On the other hand, a rider in the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed last December prevents the grouse from being listed during the 2015 fiscal year, which ends on 30th September. 

Representative Rob Bishop (R-Ut.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, immediately criticized Interior’s move: "If the Administration really cares about the bird they will adopt the state plans as they originally said they would. The state plans work. This proposal is only about controlling land, not saving the bird."

Another immediate negative reaction came from the western oil and gas industry.  Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver, said:  “The restrictions that will be put on oil and natural gas development are not based on good science and exaggerate the threat of energy development to the bird.”

Across the States
William Yeatman

Kansas Enacts Net-Negative Renewable Energy Law

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R) yesterday signed into law SB 91, legislation that will convert the state's renewable energy standard into a voluntary goal. At face value, that sounds great. Upon closer inspection, however, the bill doesn’t amount to much. The prior, legally binding target was 20 percent renewables by 2020. As a result of SB 91, this target is now voluntary. But Kansas investor owned utilities reportedly exceeded the 20 percent target last year, so the bill doesn’t actually change the status quo. On the other hand, SB 91 exempts existing renewable energy facilities in the State, mostly wind farms, from property taxes and gives new renewable energy facilities a 10-year property tax exemption.

Tech Companies Send Silly Letter to North Carolina Lawmakers

On a similar note, the North Carolina Senate’s Finance Committee this week passed HB 332, legislation that would halve the state’s renewable energy target, from 12.5 percent to 6 percent by 2021. The bill already has passed the state House of Representatives. In the wake of HB 332’s advance in the state Senate, Apple, Facebook and Google—all of whom operate data centers in the State—sent a joint letter demanding that lawmakers shelve the measure. Notably, the letter was unsigned, most likely due to the fact that no one at any of the companies was willing to publically associate with the letter’s incorrect claim that renewable energy is cheaper than conventional energy.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Norway’s Oil Fund Divests from Coal

A parliamentary finance committee in Norway's parliament this week recommended that the country’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund divest from all firms that generate more than 30 percent of their output or revenues from coal-related activities. The move struck many as self-unaware, in light of the fact that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund—the world’s largest—is capitalized by the country’s sale of oil and gas. Until 2006, it was formally known as “The Petroleum Fund of Norway.” And while its official name has changed to “The Government Pension Fund,” it is still known colloquially as the “oil fund.”

Japan Government Report: We Can’t Go Green Because It Would Be Too Costly

Japan’s Natural Resources and Energy Agency on Tuesday released a report that concludes the country has no choice but to rely on nuclear and hydrocarbon energy sources through 2030 because switching to renewable energy would create “pressure for drastic rise in energy cost.”

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,