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Entries in Cooler Heads Digest (163)

Saturday
Apr122014

Cooler Heads Digest 11 April 2014 

11 April 2014

In the News

Walton Jones on the Social Cost of Carbon
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 10 April 2014

Let’s Do What We Do Best: Oil & Gas
Edward Cross, Hays Daily News, 10 April 2014

EPA’s Lack of Transparency Extends to States
Chris Horner, Open Market, 9 April 2014

If You Think Sky Is Falling, Check Out the Prophecies of the 1970s
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner, 9 April 2014

Let’s Talk about Energy Inequality
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 8 April 2014

How Climate Change Conquered the American Campus
Paul Tice, Wall Street Journal, 7 April 2014

The Game Is Up for Climate Change Zealots
Charles Moore, The Telegraph, 6 April 2014

The Spread of “Debate Is Over” Syndrome
Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register, 4 April 2014

News You Can Use
President Hindering Oil and Gas Development on Federal Lands

Despite the oil and gas boom unleashed by hydraulic fracturing, federally issued drilling permits last year dropped to their lowest level in more than a decade, according to new data from the Bureau of Land Management. Since President Obama took office, total federal oil production has declined 7.8 percent and federal natural gas production has declined 21 percent.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Eleven Senate Democrats Urge Obama To Act on Keystone

Eleven Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him to make a final decision on whether to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline no later than 31st May.  Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana initiated the letter.  Other signers were Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Warner of Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, John Walsh of Montana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

Six of these Democrats—Landrieu, Begich, Pryor, Warner, Walsh, and Hagan— are running for re-election in November, and most of them face serious challenges from pro-energy Republicans.  Interestingly, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado did not sign the letter, even though he is running and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, is focusing on Keystone and other energy issues.

Asked about the letter at a White House press conference, Obama spokesman Jay Carney replied, “Our position on that process hasn’t changed, which is that it needs to run its appropriate course without interference from the White House or Congress.”  The process to which Carney refers is the State Department deliberation on whether the pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf refineries is in the national interest.  State’s very lengthy environmental impact analysis concluded earlier this year that there were no major environmental issues.     

Sen. Landrieu, the new chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, responded to Carney’s brush-off by announcing that she may move a bill to permit Keystone. The House of Representatives has passed similar legislation several times. My guess is that President Obama will keep trying to delay the pipeline to death.  That’s because he’s more interested in his own interests than in the national interest, and his own interests are more in maintaining good relations with billionaire Democratic donors, such as Tom Steyer, than in maintaining good U. S.-Canada relations.      

EPA Releases Strategic Vision

The Environmental Protection Agency released its 2014-18 strategic plan on Thursday, 10th April.   EPA’s top priority is addressing climate change and improving air quality.  One possibly significant change is that the agency intends to focus more on the largest polluters (including emitters of carbon dioxide, which EPA defines as a pollutant, and producers of fossil fuels) in order to achieve the largest reductions in pollution levels. Otherwise, I see few changes or surprises in a relentlessly misguided and depressing document. 

Senators Sessions and Inhofe Come Out Swinging against EPA

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing this week on the nomination of Janet McCabe to be assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for air and radiation that he couldn’t vote to confirm McCabe if she insists on denying the conclusion of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that there is no historic trend in the incidence and severity of tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons).  Here’s the video clip:

Climate Progress, an especially deranged outpost of the ironically-named Center for American Progress’s Think Progress web site, immediately accused Sen. Sessions of opposing McCabe “because she accepts climate science.” 

At the same hearing, Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), former chairman of the committee, announced that he will start offering resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act for every new EPA air regulation until the agency starts doing ongoing economic and employment assessments for all Clean Air Act regulations on an economy-wide basis.  Such assessments seem to be required by Section 321 (a) of the Clean Air Act, but the EPA has always (during previous Republican and Democratic administrations as well as the current administration) limited its analyses to the economic effects of only the facilities directly regulated. 

According to an article in Environment and Energy Daily, Sen. Inhofe’s intention in requiring CRA votes on the Senate floor is to put Senators on record as to whether they support economically-damaging rules.  He has also introduced a bill, S. 2161, along with 30 co-sponsors, to correct the EPA’s interpretation of Section 321(a).  Murray Energy has filed a suit in federal court to compel the EPA to analyze the economy-wide employment effects of Clean Air rules. 

Across the States
Marlo Lewis

California: Greens Reject Carbon Tax for Cap Swap

“California’s Senate majority leader is backing away from a controversial proposal to replace part of the state’s cap-and-trade system with a tax on greenhouse gases,” Climatewire (subscription required) reports.

In February, State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) introduced legislation to impose a carbon tax on transportation fuels. The tax would start at $15 per ton and increase to $50 per ton by 2030. Steinberg claimed that a carbon tax would give Californians greater certainty about fuel prices than is possible under the State’s cap-and-trade program.

Environmental groups “immediately opposed” the plan. A Natural Resources Defense Council spokesman explained: "It's critical to keep our largest-emitting sectors subject to mandatory carbon pollution limits for the state to meet its near- and long-term climate goals.” Steinberg this week canceled a scheduled committee hearing on the bill.

More evidence of what should already be obvious: the green movement has no interest in swapping mandates, regulations, and cap-and-trade for a carbon tax.

Around the World
William Yeatman

Japan Bows to Reality, Turns to Coal

Nearly three years ago, in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the Japanese government announced a bold energy plan that would replace nuclear power with renewables. Notably, the plan failed to articulate how Japan would achieve this goal.

Nuclear, hydropower, and coal are reliable, which is why they serve as ‘base-load’ electricity generators. That is, they run 24 hours a day, and are taken offline only for maintenance. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are intermittent and expensive. As such, it would be a tall order for Japan to replace nuclear with renewables.

Yesterday, the Japanese government approved a new energy plan that recognizes that coal-fired electricity is “an important base-load source.” Renewable energy targets were conspicuously absent. Two weeks ago, Japanese utilities announced that they were certain to build 3,500 megawatts of coal-fired electricity capacity, and possibly 7,000 megawatts more.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Is Ocean Acidification a Crisis?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.) once castigated “climate deniers” for ducking the issue of ocean acidification, claiming skeptics “ignore facts they cannot explain away.”

The term “acidification” is a bit loaded and rhetorical. Although ocean pH has declined from about 8.2 to 8.1 over the past 200 years, there’s no danger of it decreasing to below 7.0 – the pH of neutral water. “De-alkalization” might be a more accurate way of describing the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on ocean chemistry.

Be that as it may, in a rebuttal to Sen. Whitehouse, I noted that CO2Science.Org, one of the oldest and most prominent skeptic blogs, hosts an extensive (and growing) ocean acidification database, and regularly reviews new scientific research on the topic.

This week on CO2Science.Org, chief blogger Craig Idso posts a 5,700-word essay reviewing 17 field studies of changing ocean pH levels, coral calcification rates, and coral health.

Much of the alarm over ocean acidification is based on short-term laboratory exposure studies. Field studies, notes Idso, “more aptly represent conditions in the real world, many of which conditions are impossible or impractical to incorporate into a laboratory setting.” Here are results from three of the studies reviewed.

Bessat and Buigues (2001) found that, instead of the 6-14% decline in calcification rates predicted by a prominent laboratory study, calcification rates in massive Porites corals in French Polynesia increased during 1801-1990.

Meron et al. (2012) examined two coral species off the coast of Naples, Italy, where CO2 from underwater volcanic vents produces a natural decline in pH levels. The researchers found that the “corals present at the lower pH sites exhibited only minor physiological changes,” and that “no microbial pathogens were detected.”

Similarly, Noonan et al. (2013) examined six scleractinian coral species exposed to elevated CO2 concentrations from volcanic “seeps” near Papua New Guinea. Dissolved CO2 concentrations were 28%-88% higher than in adjacent control areas. Nonetheless, the six species “were all able to not only survive, but to function well throughout the full range of CO2-induced pH values to which they had been exposed throughout their entire life spans,” Idso writes.

For a more extensive review of the literature on acidification and impacts on marine plants and animals, Idso’s chapter on aquatic life in the just-released report Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts.

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
Apr052014

Cooler Heads Digest 4 April 2014 

4 April 2014

Announcement

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast and scientists from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change will be in Washington, DC the week of April 7 for meetings with members of Congress, the press, and allies to announce the release of two new reports on why global warming is not a crisis: Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies. On Tuesday, April 8, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m, they will participate on a panel at a luncheon event at the Cato Institute. To see RSVP, click here. To see the full schedule, click here.

In the News

How Green Policies Hurt the Poor
Bjorn Lomborg, The Spectator, 5 April 2014

End of Climate Exceptionalism
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 4 April 2014

Adults Reject Climate Catastrophe, Alarmists Bring in the Kids
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 April 2014

Environmentalist Foundations Fund Anti-Fossil Fuel Echo Chamber
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 3 April 2014

IPCC Insider Rejects Alarmist Report
Alec Torres, National Review Online, 3 April 2014

Big Green “Sue & Settle” Strategy Draws Pushback from States, Congress
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 1 April 2014

The IPCC’s Latest Report Deliberately Excludes and Misrepresents Important Climate Science
Joe Bast, Forbes, 31 March 2014

The Troubling Basis for EPA’s Cost/Benefits Analysis of the Clean Air Act
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 31 March 2014

News You Can Use
Auto Deaths and Regulation

GM is currently embroiled in an ongoing scandal over the company’s alleged cover-up of a design flaw that is responsible for the death of 13 motorists. By comparison, federal fuel economy regulations are responsible for up to 2,000 deaths per year, due to the fact that a primary means by which carmakers increase fuel efficiency is by decreasing vehicular mass, which renders the automobile less safe.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Wind PTC Clears Senate Committee

The Senate Finance Committee marked up a big package of tax cut extenders on Thursday, 3rd April. A two-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit retroactive to 1st January 2014 was included.  The bill was voted out of committee on a voice vote.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penna.) offered an amendment to “eliminate crony capitalist energy tax credits.”  These included the wind PTC, biofuels, electric motorcycles and golf carts, fuel cell vehicles, energy efficient appliances, and alternative fuel infrastructure.  Senator Toomey’s amendment failed on a vote of 6 to 18.

The Senators voting in favor of the amendment in addition to Senator Toomey were: Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.), Pat Roberts (R-Ks.), Mike Enzi (R- Wyo.), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).  Those voting against the amendment were: Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Penna.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), Mike Crapo (R-Id.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), John Thune (R-SD), and Rob Portman (R-Oh.).

Although the amendment only got six votes, Senator Toomey is to be commended for requesting a recorded vote.  The 18 Senators who voted against the amendment are now on record in favor of raising electric rates by encouraging the construction of more wind farms. 

White House Releases Methane Plan

The White House on 28th March released a plan to reduce methane emissions.    It includes new BLM regulations to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands; updated limits on emissions from new landfills; soliciting expert comments on updating limits on existing landfills; and putting out technical papers for expert review on how best to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector, including upstream and downstream.

The plan also includes several voluntary programs, most notably a “Biogas Roadmap” to be released in June by the dairy industry (and its federal partners—USDA, DOE, and EPA). It is designed to encourage the adoption of technologies to cut methane emissions from dairy farms 25% by 2020.

Methane (CH4) is the principal gas in natural gas and occurs in coal deposits.  Marshes and swamps produce methane as do cattle through belching, flatulence, and manure.  It has been estimated that over 15% of global annual methane emissions into the atmosphere come from cattle.  In the U. S., approximately 20% of bovine emissions come from dairy cattle. 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the EPA’s proposed 2015 budget on 2nd April.  Representative Lee Terry (R-Neb.) asked her whether the administration was planning to regulate methane emissions from cattle.  According to a story by Erica Martinson in Politico, McCarthy replied: “No one that I know of at this point is talking about anything in a regulatory context.”

Rep. Terry replied, “Most farmers, when they hear ‘voluntary,’ they know it’s followed by ‘mandatory.’”

He and cattle farmers and ranchers have good reason to worry.  While serving as assistant EPA administrator, McCarthy testified at a House hearing that the EPA would not require fuel switching from coal to natural gas when it promulgated regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, but then went ahead and proposed regulations that required fuel switching.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Governor Pence Expresses Disappointment, Then Allows Efficiency Repeal Bill To Become Law

The bill passed by the Indiana legislature to eliminate the state’s energy efficiency program became law after Governor Mike Pence (R) declined either to sign or veto it.  In a statement, the Governor said, “I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base.”

The initial Senate Bill 340 was strengthened by an amendment offered by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) on the House floor to eliminate the efficiency program entirely, and then passed by the Senate and sent to the Governor.  Special interests that benefit from efficiency mandates were caught unprepared by this quick legislative action, but mounted a last-minute effort to convince Pence to veto the bill.  A number of large corporations, including General Electric, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, Honeywell, and United Technologies sent a letter to Pence that warned of job losses in the efficiency industry. 

Governor Pence also expressed “disappointment” that the legislature had ended the energy efficiency program without producing an alternative and asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to develop recommendations for a new program that would allow large electric consumers, such as manufacturers, to opt out. 

The Sierra Club noted that Indiana became the first State to roll back its energy efficiency programs.  This is not quite true.  For example, California has scaled back its ridiculous Zero Emission Vehicle mandate several times.   

States Move to Pre-empt EPA on Power Plant Regulation

Sometime this summer, EPA is expected to propose regulations for greenhouse gases from existing power plants. Although the section of the Clean Air Act that authorizes these regulations gives primacy to the States, there exists wide-spread concern that EPA will try to impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that effectively mandates a cap-and-trade energy-rationing scheme or fuel-switching from coal to natural gas.

With these fears in mind, a number of States are trying to get ahead of the curve by enacting laws that would pre-empt EPA’s measure. Yesterday, for example, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) signed into law HB 388, a bipartisan bill that forbids state regulators from fuel-switching to implement EPA’s power plant regulation. Last month, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed into law a similar measure, HB 4346, which disallowed state regulators from “limiting the economic utilization of the unit.” Lawmakers in Missouri, Virginia, and Kansas are working on similar measures. As reported by InsideEPA, these bills were modeled on legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Around the World
Marlo Lewis

Dueling Assessments of Climate Change Impacts: IPCC vs. NIPCC

Late last week, Working Group II (WG2) of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a tentative draft of its climate change impacts report. This is a companion document to the IPCC WG1 report, published last year, on the physical science of climate change.

The actual WG2 report is less scary (or less silly?) than the media hype about it. For example, the Summary for Policymakers (SP) states that, “At present the world-wide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified” (p. 7).

But, as Institute for Energy Research economist Robert Murphy points out, the IPCC wants to have it both ways – offer what looks like a sober analysis yet scare people green. To accomplish this rhetorical feat, WG2 confronts readers with an overwhelming litany of allegedly probable climate change damages while invoking the risk of “catastrophic changes” and “tipping points” (SP, p. 19).

Vague language also plays a part, as in the projection of “more severe and/or frequent extreme weather events” (SP, p. 19), a category that readers may assume includes hurricanes. As Heritage Foundation economist David Kreutzer points out, however, the IPCC’s WG1 report pours cold water on the oft-asserted warming-hurricane link: “Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

The WG2 report’s alarmist tone was too shrill for economist Richard Tol, who last week withdrew his name from the long list of co-authors. “The idea that climate change poses an existential threat to humankind is laughable,” Tol explained in a Financial Times column.

The good news is the Heartland Institute has just published the first half of a comprehensive, fully-referenced, skeptical alternative to the WG2 report. Authored by the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts clearly presents the scientific evidence for the following key findings:

  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
  • The ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is causing a great greening of the Earth.
  • There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • Terrestrial ecosystems have thrived throughout the world as a result of warming temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric CO2.
  • Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life.
  • A modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperature-related events.

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

Saturday
Mar292014

Cooler Heads Digest 28 March 2014 

28 March 2014

In the News

Human Achievement Hour: Light’s On!
William Yeatman, Master Resource, 28 March 2014

Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm
Matt Ridley, Wall Street Journal, 27 March 2014

Anti-Fracking Agitprop Documentarian Josh Fox Is Wrong Again
Ashe Snow, Washington Examiner, 27 March 2014

Earth Hour’s Misguided Premise
Bjorn Lomborg, USA Today, 27 March 2014

Confidential Document Reveals Sierra Club’s War on Coal Strategy
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 26 March 2014

Members of “Independent” EPA Advisory Committee Got $180 Million from EPA
David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 26 March 2014

Global Warming Will Not Cost the Earth, Leaked IPCC Report Admits
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 26 March 2014

Climate Change Debate about To Change Radically
Andrew Lilico, Telegraph, 25 March 2014

Sea Level Rise Decelerated 31% Since 2002
The Hockey Schtick, 23 March 2014

Washington Post Falls for Left-Wing Fraudsters on Koch-Keystone Connection
John Hinderaker, Powerline, 20 March 2014

News You Can Use
U.S. Now Accounts for 10% of Global Crude Production

Thanks to advances in oil and gas drilling collectively known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” U.S. oil production grew by a record 1.136 million barrels a day last year to 8.121 million barrels a day. As a result, the domestic energy industry now accounts for 10 percent of global production.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

SCOTUS Upholds One Front in EPA’s War on Coal

On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively sided with the EPA in a long-running legal battle over the Agency’s controversial 2011 veto of a Clean Water Act “Section 404” permit that already had been issued to Arch Coal for a surface coal mine in Logan County, West Virginia.

As I reported after a visit to West Virginia, EPA’s veto of the permit was deeply unpopular with people in the state, who believed that the Agency was unneccessarily checking job creation. The coal company litigated, and in March 2012, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that EPA did not have the authority to retroactively revoke a permit, a decision which vacated the Agency’s action, and would have allowed Arch Coal to proceed with mining.

EPA appealed Judge Jackson’s ruling. On April 23rd, 2013, a unanimous three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower court, and found that EPA did indeed have the authority to revoke a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit after it had been granted to the company seeking the variance.

Arch Coal then appealed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. But on Monday, the Court declined to take up the case.

Now that it’s been established by the courts that EPA has the authority to retroactively veto Clean Water Act permits, the case returns to U.S. District Court Judge Jackson, in order to determine whether EPA exercised this authority reasonably. As I’ve argued here, this question remains very much in doubt: The agency’s ridiculous justification for revoking the permit is the supposed need to protect a short-lived insect that isn’t an endangered species.

Interior Department Classifies Lesser Prairie Chicken as “Threatened”; Could Be Worse, But Still Bad

Yesterday the Interior Department classified the lesser prairie chicken as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While a “threatened” listing doesn’t automatically trigger the draconian regulations that are required under an “endangered” classification, it gives the Interior Department wide latitude to impose regulations, even those that could be as severe.

The lesser prairie chicken’s habitat coincides with areas that are experiencing for growing oil and gas production in the southwest due to the advent of fracking. Over the last five years, energy companies in the region have voluntarily spent millions of dollars to preserve the species, in collaboration with the federal government. The Interior Department ruled that the “threatened” designation would precipitate regulatory commitments for the oil and gas industry beyond what they already are doing voluntarily. This raises an obvious question: Why was the listing necessary?

Despite the Interior Department’s assurances, there is cause for concern. The Endangered Species Act is known as the “bulldog” of environmental statutes. It affords environmental litigants ample opportunity to sue in federal court and press the case for ever more stringent controls. Notably, yesterday’s “threatened” listing itself was the byproduct of so-called “sue and settle” litigation, or sweetheart lawsuits whereby EPA cedes its regulatory initiative to green special interests.

Across the States
William Yeatman

Pennsylvania, North Dakota Booming Due to Fracking

The American energy boom engendered by fracking is having a big impact on local economies. This week, the Department of Labor released statistics showing that the citizens of North Dakota, the locus of much of the increased energy production, enjoyed the fastest increase in personal income, at 7.6 percent. Current per capita income in North Dakota is $57,000, second only to Connecticut, and has increased by almost 50 percent since 2009.The situation is similar in Pennsylvania, another area that is being revitalized by the U.S. energy renaissance. According to the Labor Department statistics cited above, the Keystone State has added more than 15,000 direct jobs in the oil and gas industry since 2007, which is a 268 percent increase (during a global recession).

Green Energy Mandate Repeal Stalls in Kansas; Introduced in Ohio

Over the last decade, a number of states have enacted green energy mandates, known as renewable portfolio standards (RPS), that require ratepayers to buy increasing amounts of wind and solar energy. Because renewable energy is more expensive than conventional energy, some states are now revisiting their green energy production quotas, as consumer costs mount.

For example, this week the Kansas Senate, by a 25-15 vote, passed H.B. 2014, which would repeal the state’s RPS requirement that Kansas utility companies to receive 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Kansas House spurned the measure, by a 77-44 vote. H.B. 2014, however, is not yet dead. There are two weeks left in the legislative session, and proponents of repeal remain sanguine.

Similarly, House and Senate Republicans in Ohio this week announced their intention to introduce a bill that would suspend the state’s 2008 RPS. The GOP has a large majority in both chambers, so it stands to reason that this effort has an excellent chance of succeeding.

Around the World
William Yeatman

EU Asks Obama to Stop Dragging Feet on Nat Gas Exports

At a European Union–U.S. summit this week in Brussels, EU leaders asked Barack Obama to share the facilitate gas exports to help counter Russia’s influence over European energy markets.

With U.S. gas supplies buoyed by fracking, there exists an economic incentive to increase gas exports. However, under the Natural Gas Act, companies cannot import or export natural gas without approval from the Energy Department. There are more than two dozen license applications pending, but expanded exports are opposed by anti–fossil fuel environmentalists, a key component of the president’s political base. As a consequence, his administration has dragged its feet, and the Department of Energy has processed only six applications.

EU leaders this week requested that the administration hurry up. “What we are asking for is a willingness of the US side to be more pro-active on licences,” João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador in Washington, told The Guardian. EU leaders were galvanized by Russia’s imminent annexation of Crimea; they feared that Russia could use its position in the EU gas market—Russian exports account for a third of European gas—as a geopolitical cudgel.

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
Mar222014

Cooler Heads Digest 21 March 2014 

21 March 2014

In the News

A Tale of Two Cities
Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, 21 March 2014

Fracking Celebrates Its 65th Birthday
Adam Wilmoth, Oklahoman, 21 March 2014

Nate Silver’s 538: Inconvenient Statistics
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 20 March 2014

Washington Post Embarrasses Itself with Debunked Koch Keystone Claim
John Hinderaker, Power Line, 20 March 2014

AAAS’s Guide to Climate Alarmism
Patrick Michaels & Chip Knappenberger, WattsUpWithThat, 19 March 2014

Video: CEI’s Chris Horner on Transparency Panel
Judicial Watch, 19 March 2014

Rich Liberals Are Only Group to Oppose Keystone
Pew Research, 19 March 2014

The Growing Benefits of a Warmer World
H. Sterling Burnett, NCPA, 18 March 2014

Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change
Robert Bryce, Master Resource, 19 March 2014

Society of Environmental Journalists Attacks EPA’s Secrecy
Beth Parke & Joseph Davis, Environmental Health News, 18 March 2014

Mainstreaming Fringe Science with John Holdren
Chip Knappenberger, Washington Times, 18 March 2014

The Poverty of Renewables
Bjorn Lomborg, Project Syndicate, 17 March 2014

Living without Lights: The Plight of Energy Poverty
James Konsky, Brown Political Review, 17 March 2014

Mann v. Steyn—An Attack on Free Speech
S.D. Sali, Faith Hope and Charity, 15 March 2014

News You Can Use
Marlo Lewis

Cold Weather Decreases Electric Vehicle Range, AAA Study Finds

A new study by Automobile Association of America (AAA) finds that electric vehicles (EVs) can lose up to 57% of their rated range in cold weather. Reports Julia Pyper in ClimateWire: “At 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the average electric vehicle (EV) battery range in AAA's test was 105 miles. But at a steady 20 degrees, the range dropped by more than half, to 43 miles.”

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Committee To Revive Wind PTC

The Senate Finance Committee will vote as early as the first week in April on a large package of tax cut extenders, which will include the wind production tax credit (Wind PTC), according to a committee staffer for the Democratic majority.  According to news reports, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), the new chairman of the committee, hasn’t decided whether to extend the tax breaks until the end of 2014 or 2015.

The Wind PTC expired at the end of 2013.  Proposals to build new wind farms have been put on hold until the Congress acts to renew the tax subsidy.

Sen. Vitter Releases Report on Fake Spy’s Role at EPA

Senator David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report on 19th March on the central role played by recently-convicted felon John Beale in designing the EPA’s 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter.   According to “EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: a Story of Fraud, Deceit, and Secret Science,” which was prepared by the committee’s minority staff, Robert Brenner, head of the Office of Policy, Analysis and Review in the Office of Air and Radiation, recruited his best friend Beale to work in a high-level policy position despite his lack of any qualifications or experience.

Beale spent his last decade at the EPA taking longer and longer leaves of absence based on the fiction that he was also working for the CIA.  In fact, he spent the time at home, at his vacation home on Cape Cod, and traveling on vacation.  He pleaded guilty last December to defrauding the government and was sentenced to 32 months in prison and required to pay $1.4 million in restitution.  Beale, who was the highest paid employee at the EPA for a number of years, was allowed to retire after his fraud became known to now-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy (who was then deputy administrator for air and radiation) and thus retain his federal pension. 

The most important policy accusation made in the report is that Beale and Brenner had a strategy that used shady and improper methods to achieve their regulatory goals.  The committee press release summarizes this key conclusion: “Beginning in 1995, Beale and Brenner led EPA’s internal process to NAAQS for Ozone and Particulate Matter.  The duo set in motion “EPA’s Playbook,” a strategy to game the system by compressing the interagency review via a friendly sue-and-settle arrangement, relying on secret science, and inflating dubious benefits while underestimating real economic costs.”  The implication is that Beale was acting in a fraudulent manner in his policy work long before he started pretending to be a spy. 

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Indiana Legislature Passes Bill To Repeal State’s Energy Efficiency Mandate

The Indiana legislature has passed and sent a bill to Governor Mike Pence (R) to repeal the State’s energy efficiency rule that requires utilities to reduce consumers’ electricity consumption by 22% by 2025. Governor Pence has until 27th March to sign, veto, or let the bill become law without signing it. 

Governor Pence said in an interview with Indiana Public Broadcasting, “We’re going to very carefully consider the importance of energy efficiency programs and conservation.  But we’re also going to take a careful look at the overall energy costs in the state of Indiana.”

The initial Senate bill, SB 340, was narrow in scope, but was expanded into a full repeal of the electric efficiency requirements when a floor amendment offered by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) was adopted by the Indiana House.  The Senate then agreed to the House version. 

Kansas Senate Committee Moves Bill To Repeal Green Energy Production Quota

The Kansas Senate’s utilities committee voted on 20th March in favor of a bill to repeal Kansas’s renewable portfolio standard for electric generation.   The bill was then added to a House-passed bill, which means that if the measure passes the Senate it can then be passed by the House without a committee hearing or vote.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, state Senator Rob Olson (R-Olathe) said that the 2009 law was raising electric rates and was like requiring that “20% of the people to keep a BlackBerry.”  Chances for passing the repeal look good in both the Senate and House, but Governor Sam Brownback (R) has advocated for more wind energy and could veto the bill.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Did Secretary Kerry Talk Climate Change with Russian Foreign Minister?

U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for six hours in London on Friday, 14th March.  They then talked by phone on Sunday, 16th March.  News reports concentrated on what was or may have been said about Russia’s takeover of the Crimea, but this clearly misses the big story.  As Secretary John Kerry announced in his first speech after being sworn in as Secretary of State, spelled out in detail in his Jakarta speech last month, and directed all U. S. ambassadors in his first policy guidance, the greatest national security threat facing America is climate change, so that’s what he and the State Department are going to be concentrating on. 

John Bolton may snidely remark that Kerry taking on the Russian foreign minister is like a cupcake negotiating with a steak knife, but I bet our Secretary of State had some pretty tough words for Mr. Lavrov about Russia’s obstructionism in the ongoing UN negotiations over a new climate treaty.  On the other hand, Russia could help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by stopping its enormous deliveries of natural gas to many European countries.  Perhaps that is what Secretary Kerry is cleverly trying to provoke the Russians into doing.

Australian Senate Defeats Carbon Tax Repeal

The Australian Senate on 20th March defeated the conservative Coalition’s legislation to repeal the carbon tax enacted under the previous Labor government.  Senators from the Labor and Green parties combined to defeat the repeal on a 33 to 29 vote.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt immediately announced that the government would re-introduce and pass the legislation in the House after a prescribed three-month delay and then put it before the incoming Senate that will take office in July.  The coalition of the Liberal and National parties can pass the carbon tax repeal in the new Senate if they can pick up the support of Senators representing several minor parties, including independent Nick Xenophon, one from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, one from the Family First Party, and three from the Palmer United Party, a new party which is headed by Clive Palmer, the Queensland-based iron and coal magnate. 

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
Mar152014

Cooler Heads Digest 14 March 2014 

14 March 2014

In the News

EPA’s Artless Dodging on Carbon Pollution Standard
Marlo Lewis, GlobalWarming.org, 13 March 2014

James Hansen Sleepless in Ningbo
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 13 March 2014

Four Reasons Why the Green Movement Belongs on ‘The Biggest Loser’
Steven F. Hayward, Forbes, 13 March 2014

Philadelphia Revitalized by Energy Boom
Katie Colaneri, NPR, 12 March 2014

Democrats Talk Climate, Rake in Billionaire Bucks
Timothy Carney, Washington Examiner, 11 March 2014

Coal to the Rescue, But Maybe Not Next Winter
Matthew Wald, New York Times, 10 March 2014

Senate Climate Talkathon: For People Who Thought the Oscars Didn’t Go On Long Enough
Nick Gillespie, Hit & Run, 10 March 2014

News You Can Use
Gallup Poll: Climate Change a Low Priority for U.S. Voters

According to a Gallup poll published this week, climate change placed next to last on a list of 15 issues ranked in order of their importance to American voters. The top priority was “the economy.”

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate Democrats Talk through the Night, But Don’t Want To Vote on Global Warming

Nearly thirty Democratic Senators, organized by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hi.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), kept the Senate in session from Monday evening until mid-morning on Tuesday to talk about the necessity of taking immediate action to stop global warming.  But there was almost no talk about legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions by rationing energy and raising energy prices.

The whole event was so hypocritical that even the Washington Post published two scathing criticisms.  Ed O’Keefe in the Fix blog wrote that the talkathon was all about keeping billionaire Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer happy.

Dana Milbank’s news analysis printed on page 2 was headlined “Democrats global warming weapon?  Hot Air.” Milbank wrote that: “If he [Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)] and his colleagues really want action, they don’t have to lose sleep. All they have to do is bring a climate-change bill to the floor.  The problem is that Reid doesn’t have the votes in his caucus to pass such a measure. A year ago, the last time the Senate considered a fee on carbon emissions, 13 Democrats joined with all 45 Republicans in defeating it.  Democrats facing difficult re-election fights this year were conspicuously absent from Monday night’s lineup.”

The only Republican to speak during this climate fest was Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate’s leading global warming skeptic and opponent of energy-rationing legislation.  Inhofe is also the only Senator who has bothered to learn something about climate science.  He spent nearly an hour early Monday evening trying to educate his Democratic colleagues on some of the simpler scientific facts about the climate that even they might be able to understand.  It became clear as the night went on that the Senate’s Democratic global warming alarmists weren’t listening.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking earlier in the day on Monday, challenged Senator Reid to “Bring up the carbon tax bill. Put it on the agenda. Let's debate it.”  Reid kicked off the all-nighter by repeating his statement made last week that “Climate change is the worst problem facing the world today.”  A reporter on Tuesday asked Reid why he had not brought the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in 2009 to the Senate floor when the Democrats had enough votes to surmount a Republican filibuster: “We didn’t have 60 votes, [except] for only a very short period of time. We had a number of other things we were working on.”  As my CEI colleague William Yeatman noted on www.GlobalWarming.org, Reid and many of his Democratic colleagues have plenty of time to talk about the world’s most pressing problem, but no time to do anything about it.

Keystone Pipeline Update

The U. S. State Department’s public comment period on whether building the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries is in the national interest ended on 7thMarch.  Approximately three million comments were received—two million from opponents and one million from supporters.

But Juliet Eilperin reported in the Washington Post that nearly half the comments submitted by opponents come from people living outside the United States.  Avaaz, an international web site that generates online petitions on a variety of leftist causes, was responsible for nearly 900,000 foreign comments.  Another 66,817 anti-Keystone comments came from Canadians.

Several Republican Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee took to the floor on 13th March to note that it has been 2000 days since TransCanada first applied for a permit to build the pipeline.  

On the Senate side, the Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on building the pipeline.  The star witness was Dr. James Hansen, now retired as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.  Hansen helped get the anti-Keystone campaign going by claiming that it would be a make or break event in the effort to save the planet from global warming.  Hansen during the hearing re-iterated his opposition to oil produced from Alberta’s oil sands and his support for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Democratic Senators who favor a carbon tax are being remarkable quiet because they would like to retain their majority in the November elections.

House Science Committee Questions EPA's Basis for Carbon Pollution Standard 
Marlo Lewis

This week the House Science Energy and Environment Subcommittees held a joint hearing on EPA’s “Carbon Pollution Rule,” which effectively bans the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

To meet the rule’s carbon dioxide (CO2) performance standards, coal power plants have to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. CCS dramatically increases the cost of new coal generation, compelling utilities planning to build new coal units to “fuel switch” and build new natural gas combined cycle plants instead. The rule is an egregious case of backdoor (bureaucratic) lawmaking, since Congress never authorized EPA to block new coal generation, and any bill embodying a CCS mandate would be dead on arrival.

Acting Air Administrator Janet McCabe testified on behalf of EPA. Although calm and non-ideological in tone, McCabe’s responses in the lengthy Q&A were terse, usually uninformative, and often evasive. She also claimed climate change is responsible for recent hurricanes – an unscientific assertion she could not back up when challenged by Energy Subcommittee Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-Ariz.).

McCabe tried to make the case that the “Carbon Pollution Rule” is not a CCS mandate, because it leaves utilities free to devise their own strategies for achieving the same degree of emission reduction achievable through CCS. This is a distinction without a difference, because the only known technology that can achieve the same degree of emission reduction is CCS.

My blog post, EPA: Artless Dodging on ‘Carbon Pollution’ Rule, provides a running commentary on the back and forth between McCabe and Committee members. In the conclusion, I offer four possible explanations of why McCabe’s responses were uninformative and evasive:

  1. The Obama administration has so little regard for the separation of powers that it feels no obligation to explain or justify its actions beyond vague generalities and repetition of talking points that everybody familiar with the debate has already heard.
  2. Obama officials are so steepedin groupthink they see little point in addressing arguments or criticisms put forward by contrarians, skeptics, or Republicans.
  3. Obama officials cannot afford to give straight answers because that might expose the “Carbon Pollution Rule” for what it is — a product of anti-coal ideology rather than policy-neutral science and economics.
  4. All of the above.

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.