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Entries in Energy Policy (243)


Cooler Heads Digest 17 July 2015 

17 July 2015

In the News

Is Carbon Capture a “System of Emissions Reduction”?
Marlo Lewis,, 16 July 2015

PRC Should Fight EPA on Haze Rules
William Yeatman, Albuquerque Journal, 16 July 2015

EPA Distorts Health Benefits of Mega-Costly Clean Air Rule
George Russell, Fox News, 16 July 2015

Renewable Energy Standards Reconsidered as States Question Mandates
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 16 July 2015

The Inconvenient Truth about Climate Policy
Benjamin Zycher, U.S. News & World Report, 16 July 2015

Lawmaker Grills EPA Chief for Claiming .01 Degree of Averted Global Warming is “Enormously Beneficial”
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 16 July 2015

Colorado Environmental Group Caught Misleadingly Listing Companies as Supporters
Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review, 16 July 2015

Infograph: How Rocky Mountains Are Becoming Major Energy Supplier, 15 July 2015

James Hansen: Revisiting His False Alarms (10 Year Warning Coming Due!)
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 14 July 2015

Have Faith in the Shale Gale
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Hill, 14 July 2015

Federal Court Slams Ethanol and EPA in One Ruling
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 14 July 2015

News You Can Use
Study: Utica Play Bigger Than Expected

RigZone this week reported on a study by West Virginia University that estimates the technically recoverable fossil fuel resources in the Utica shale formation (covering much of eastern Ohio) to be far larger than previously thought. According to the paper, the Utica play contains technically recoverable resources of 782 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas and around 1.9 billion barrels of oil. That’s higher than the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2012 estimate of technically recoverable resources at 38 Tcf of gas and 940 million barrels of oil.

Inside the Beltway
William Yeatman

Stream Buffer Zone Rule: Worse Than Expected

On Thursday, 16th July, the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining released its proposed “stream buffer” rule. The rule is a big new front in the administration’s war on coal, and it’s even worse than expected.

Section 515(b) of the 1977 Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) requires that surface coal mining companies minimize disturbances to streams, and environmentalists long have been pushing the Obama administration to interpret this provision by banning coal mining within 100 feet of streams. Greens prefer this interpretation because it would effectively ban surface coal mining in Appalachia. There, the steep terrain necessitates the disposal of mining debris at the base of mountains, where rainwater collects into ephemeral streams. By prohibiting mining activity within 100 feet of ephemeral streams, the environemtalists recommended stream buffer rule would ban disposal of mining debris in “valley fills,” which would effectively ban mining.

As such, the fear has been that Interior's proposal would target (and eliminate) surface coal mining in Appalachia. Alas, the proposed rule has the potential to do this and much more.

Although the rule doesn’t explicitly adopt a rigid stream “buffer,” it has the potential to ban “valley fills” and, therefore, to ban surface coal mining in Appalachia. By requiring “similarity” between “post mining drainage patterns” for ephemeral streams and “pre-mining drainage patterns,” the rule could effectively preclude the use of valley fills, due to the fact that they (valley fills) irrevocably change the drainage patterns of ephemeral at the base of mountains. The severity of this aspect of the proposal will depend on how the administration defines “similarity.” And this is but one of many new proposed requirements for valley fills.

Equally alarming is the expansive scope of the proposal, which bootstraps entirely unexpected and novel regulatory regimes into the SMCRA program. For example, Interior proposes to condition surface mining permits on controls for conductivity, or salinity. Currently, EPA’s conductivity regulations are limited to Appalachian States, and they are extremely controversial. By requiring conductivity controls for SMCRA permits, EPA would achieve a gross expansion of this existing Clean Water Act program. This is a scary proposition, as saline effluent (i.e., conductivity) is ubiquitous. An engineer once told me that you couldn’t wash a parking lot without violating EPA’s conductivity standards.

In sum, we thought that the rule would unreasonably target surface coal mining in Appalachia. But it seems that Interior's expansive interpretation poses a danger to coal production in the west, too.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

San Francisco Catholic Group Spends Millions To Promote Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical

The Knights of Saint Francis of Assisi, a non-profit organization based appropriately in San Francisco, has taken out a number of full-page color ads in major newspapers in the last two weeks that promote Pope Francis’s climate encyclical, Laudato Si’.  I have seen multiple ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and have heard that the ads also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.  They may be running in other papers as well.

The newspaper ads have short quotes from the encyclical.  One reads: “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”  Another: “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”  These two could be bumper stickers: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does;” and “It is man who has slapped nature in the face.”

In addition, the group has been running radio ads promoting the encyclical frequently on at least two radio stations—WTOP and WMAL in Washington.  The voice is provided by Morgan Freeman, who played God in two movies.  And there are at least several bus stops in Washington with Knights’ ads. 

The Knights of Saint Francis of Assisi was founded and is chaired by Angela Alioto, a prominent Democrat who was president of the San Francisco board of supervisors for eight years in the 1990s.  Her father, Joseph Alioto, was mayor of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Alioto founded the Knights in 2008 to build and maintain a replica of the chapel known as Porziuncola built by Saint Francis in 1206.  The replica, the Porziuncola Nuova, is in the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, which is a landmark on Columbus Ave. in San Francisco’s North Beach.  The group’s most recent IRS 990 form for 2013 reports income of $88,629.

There isn’t much information about the media campaign on the Knights’ web site.  There is little more on the group’s Facebook page.   But I have found no information that explains how a group that received $88,629 in donations in 2013 is paying for a multi-million dollar campaign to promote the Pope’s climate encyclical.  Clearly, the organization is being used as a pass-through by some very wealthy individual(s) or group.  Did anyone say Tom Steyer or the TomKat Foundation?

Around the World
Marlo Lewis

Dueling Opinion Polls: Is Climate Change the Top Global Concern – or Lowest?

A Pew Research Center survey of 45,435 respondents finds that “publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey.” Climate change ranks particularly high “in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue.”

But this just in, reported today on WattsUpWithThat. The United Nations “My World” Initiative, a global survey of citizens from all countries with votes currently totaling 7,679,273, finds that climate change “is dead last in the list of concerns queried.”

In the my world survey, action on climate change ranks behind a good education, better health care, better job opportunities, an honest and responsive government, affordable and nutritious food, protection against crime and violence, access to clean water and sanitation, support for people who can’t work, better transportation and roads, equality between men and women, reliable energy at home, freedom from discrimination and persecution, political freedoms, protecting forests, rivers, and oceans, and phone and internet access.

How can these surveys get such different results? The Pew survey results are skewed by the form of the question posed. The survey does not ask people which health and welfare issues they care about most. Rather, it asks them to rank their concerns about seven “global” issues. 

Four of the “global” issues are predominantly regional (ISIS, Iran’s nuclear program, tensions between Russia and its neighbors, territorial disputes between China and its neighbors). So unless respondents happen to live in the Mideast, Ukraine, or South China Sea, they are unlikely to be “very concerned.”

The UN survey reveals that, for most people, the biggest challenges to their health and welfare are not global but national, local, and familial. Of 16 issues considered, climate change places last.

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,


Poll: Iowa and New Hampshire Voters Support Arctic Drilling, Say Energy is Important Issue in 2016 Race

Primary State Voters Weigh In on Energy and the Presidential Election


Continuing the trend of energy policy as a key issue in nationwide elections, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire showed overwhelming support for U.S. energy leadership in Arctic offshore energy production.  The results show offshore energy policy is an important focus even for both Iowa and New Hampshire voters, just as Presidential candidates start canvassing the states.


A new poll by Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) shows Iowa voters support Arctic offshore energy production by a 20 point margin (52% support - 32% oppose). New Hampshire voters also support Arctic offshore energy production by a 19 point margin (54% support - 35% oppose). As the administrative process moves forward on offshore exploration in the Arctic, candidates will need to stake out a position on the issue in the upcoming primary season.


Importantly for candidates, more than 80 percent of both Iowa and New Hampshire voters say energy issues will be a key factor in how they make decisions in the 2016 presidential election. In Iowa, 34 percent say energy issues will be “very important” to their decision (Total important 84% - not important 13%). In New Hampshire, 37 percent say energy issues will be “very important” to their decision (Total important 86% - not important 13%). Consumer Energy Alliance found similar sentiments in key states prior to the 2014 elections.


“Candidates for 2016 races will have to have a strong position on energy related issues in general and on Arctic exploration specifically,” said David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance. “CEA’s research shows that support for a robust domestic energy policy that use all of America’s energy resources is key to a candidate's chances of victory.  CEA’s poll shows that it will be difficult for any Presidential candidate to travel to Iowa or New Hampshire without a strong position on U.S. Arctic energy production.”


“The United States is in the initial stages of an Energy Revolution,” added Holt.  “Voters are pretty clear.  We should keep our economy moving forward through a robust energy program that includes Arctic development. This result also provides additional support to the recently released National Petroleum Council study that concluded the U.S. should pursue Arctic development to help maintain our energy self-sufficiency.”


The results also showed that Hillary Clinton is favored among Democratic caucus participants in both Iowa and New Hampshire. While no Republican candidate for President is yet a favorite in Iowa, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are the current leaders in New Hampshire.




CEI Today: Congress votes on energy, water, Big Labor, chemical safety 

Thursday, April 30, 2015
In the News Today



How to Improve the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill


The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY 2016 passed by the House Appropriations Committee spends too much, but does move some funding from very bad programs to somewhat less bad programs. 
The best thing in the bill is the set of riders that prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the United States rule. That rule if implemented would expand federal jurisdiction far beyond what was intended by Congress in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and far beyond the current definition or any reasonable definition of the navigable waters of the United States. > Read more

> Interview Myron Ebell




House vote today on restricting taxpayer give-away to labor unions
Should government employees be allowed to conduct labor union work on the taxpayer dime? The House is set to vote today on a plan to prohibit use of funds to pay a Federal Employee for any period of time during which such employee is using official time under U.S. Code. "Spending public funds for the exclusive benefit of a labor union should be illegal," said Trey Kovacs, CEI labor policy expert. "Curbing that practice is an important first step towards making government more accountable to taxpayers on so-called union 'official time'".


National Review: How Does the Government Decide What Is — and What Is Not — ‘Toxic’?

This week, members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marked up legislation to reform the nation’s law on chemicals — the Toxic Substances Control Act. CEI's Angela Logomasini and Henry I. Miller warn that bad, ill-considered regulations could make food and consumer products less safe. > Read the National Review commentary



Two experts on the subject  have two different

 opinions, including CEI's Marc Scribner. This NPC Newsmakers news conference is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 10 a.m. in the club’s Zenger Room, on the 13th Floor of the National Press Building, 529 14th St. NW, Washington DC 20045. 

Bloomberg Boston 1pm & 7pm ET
Bloomberg San Francisco at 10am & 4pm PT






CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,  Follow CEI on Twitter!


White House Petition Asks President to Veto Online Gambling Ban

In order to receive a response from the White House the petition must receive 100,000 signatures by May 2. > Read more


The Man Who Brought Obamacare Back to the Supreme Court


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Cooler Heads Digest 03 April 2015 

3 April 2015


The Competitive Enterprise Institute joined Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, and 29 other conservative and free-market organizations in signing a coalition letter in support of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s work with States to contest the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. Read the letter here.

In the News

Dear Gina (and Jerry): Where’s the Climate Science behind Your Plan?
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 3 April 2015

GOP Governors Unwittingly Recruited by Biofuels Lobby
Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, 3 April 2015

EPA and States Square Off over Mercury
Stephen Heins, Public Utilities Fortnightly, 3 April 2015

EPA’s Mercury Rule Would Cost Economy at Least $16 Billion Per Year
Brian Potts, Forbes, 3 April 2015

Scientist Predicts 2015 Is Hottest Year on Record with 9 Months To Go
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 3 April 2015

The Backlash against Obama’s Committing U.S. to International Climate Agreement
Katie Tubb & David Kreutzer, Daily Signal, 2 April 2015

Federal Judge Rejects EPA’s ‘Lack of Jurisdiction’ Argument in Murray Energy Suit
Linda Harris, State Journal, 2 April 2015

7 Questions with John Christy and Roy Spencer: Climate Change Skeptics for 25 Years
Paul Gattis, Birmingham News, 1 April 2015

Tom Steyer’s Group Shutters Climate Policy Arm as Political Efforts Ramp Up
Elana Schor & Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 1 April 2015

German Cabinet Approves Draft Anti-Fracking Law
Nicole Sagener, EUractiv, 2 April 2014

“Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” Author Shares Success in Spreading Message
Taylor Kuykendall, SNL Energy, 31 March 2015

Grasping for Pause-ible Deniability on Climate Change
Greg Jones, The Federalist, 30 March 2015

Climate Sensitivity and Environmental Worries Are Trending Downward
Patrick Michaels & Chip Knappenberger, Cato at Liberty, 27 March 2015

News You Can Use
2014 U.S. Oil Production Increase Was Largest in More Than 100 Years

U.S. crude output increased by a record 1.2 million barrels a day to 8.7 million b/d last year, according to a report published this week by the Energy Information Administration. That is the largest volume increase since 1900, the year the agency began keeping records.

Inside the Beltway

Obama Submits Climate Pledge to UN—But It’s DOA in Senate
Myron Ebell

The Obama Administration submitted its intended nationally-determined contribution (or INDC) to the Paris Accord on 31st March.  Other parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that have made their submissions are: the European Union, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, and Gabon.  They are all posted on the UNFCCC web site here.

The five-page U. S. INDC pledges that the United States will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.  The White House proposes to achieve the target through a long list of administrative actions, none of which require new legislation from Congress.  These include: the EPA’s proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing coal and natural gas-fired power plants; Corporate Average Fuel Economy (or CAFÉ) standards for cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty trucks; a long list of new energy efficiency standards for appliances, equipment, and building codes; and regulations to reduce methane emissions from landfills and the oil and gas sector.

Although these regulatory policies do not require new legislation, the submission does not mention that the Clean Air Act regulations on power plants may not survive legal challenges or congressional opposition.  There is majority opposition to the EPA’s power plant rules in both the House and Senate.  Moreover, all of these policies require the co-operation of Congress through the appropriations process. 

Still to be determined in the negotiations on the Paris Accord, which are scheduled to conclude at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (or COP-21) in December in Paris, is the nature of the agreement.  The negotiating text says that it will take “the form of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an ‘agreed outcome with legal force,” and will be applicable to all parties.  This sounds like the Paris Accord, whatever form it takes, will be legally binding.  If so, it seems inescapable that U. S. participation will require Senate ratification.  But that is just what the Obama Administration’s highly experienced negotiators in the State Department are trying to avoid.  They learned from the Kyoto Protocol, which was doomed in the Senate from the moment the negotiations were concluded in December 1997.  Ratification requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.  

The fact that Senate ratification requires a two-thirds majority vote means that the Paris Accord is almost certainly dead on arrival in the current Senate.  That’s why Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told the Daily Caller: “The Obama administration’s pledge to the United Nations today will not see the light of day with the 114th Congress.” Sen. Inhofe’s full remarks are available in the committee’s press release. Here are articles on the submission in the New York Times and the Washington Times.

EPW Republicans to McCarthy: Is EPA Climate Science Consistent with Data?
Marlo Lewis

At a March 4 Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) queried EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about climate change impacts, global temperatures, and climate models. McCarthy opined that droughts and storms are becoming more frequent worldwide, but had no data to back up her opinion when Sen. Sessions cited conflicting evidence.

In addition, although apparently unaware of the growing divergence between climate model predictions and observations, McCarthy was confident it was irrelevant to EPA’s assessment of climate change risks (i.e. the scientific rationale for the administration’s climate policies). She did, however, promise to provide written answers to Sen. Sessions “within a few days.” See 1:30-6:57 of this video clip.

On April 1, Sessions and three other EPW Republicans (Inhofe of Oklahoma, Wicker of Mississippi, and Barrasso of Wyoming) sent a letter reminding McCarthy of her promise and stating their questions in more detail.

Citing the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment and other information, the Senators challenge McCarthy to substantiate her views and the accuracy of climate models with respect to drought, storms, and global temperatures.

Sen. Sessions’s press release, which includes the text of the letter, is available here. 

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


NHDP - Kelly Ayotte Votes to Raise Costs for Granite Staters and Put Special Interests First 

Concord, N.H. – Kelly Ayotte voted yesterday to raise the price of natural gas for New Hampshire’s people and businesses, once again showing that she will put special interests before the priorities of hard-working Granite Staters.
Independent analyses show that the amendment, introduced by Ted Cruz to send more natural gas overseas, could lead to a tripling in natural gas prices, sending electricity rates soaring in New Hampshire.     
“New Hampshire and the entire northeast region are already struggling with high electricity rates due in large part to a lack of natural gas supply, yet Kelly Ayotte wants to send our natural gas overseas, driving up prices even further,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Kelly Ayotte’s vote yesterday reinforces that she will always put special interests first, while making New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy pay the price.”
Former NH Public Utilities Commissioner Clifton Below Called Increasing Exports of Natural Gas Wrong for New Hampshire in a Foster’s Op-Ed. “As a residential and business consumer, and as a former NH Public Utilities Commissioner and legislator, I know how important it is for our elected officials to understand New Hampshire’s energy issues. We need energy policies that promote reliable, affordable and sustainable energy resources. […] independent analyses — and common sense — show that increasing exports of natural gas could substantially raise the price of energy locally by reducing the supply available domestically and driving up electric rates.” [Foster’s Op-Ed, 10/28/14]
Increased Natural Gas Exports Lead ToIncreased Natural Gas Prices Across The U.S. A 2012 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that larger export levels lead to larger domestic price increases.  Moreover, even while consuming less, consumers will see an increase in natural gas and electricity expenditures. [U.S. Energy Information Administration, January 2012]

Study Found That Exporting Natural Gas Could Lead To A Tripling In Natural Gas Prices. A report from Charles River Associates finds that allowing unchecked natural gas exports would negatively impact U.S. employment and manufacturing.  Specifically, the report found that a global natural gas supply shortage of 20-35 billion cubic feet per day by 2030 is projected.  U.S. exports would likely play a major role in filling that gap, leading to a tripling of natural gas prices. [, accessed 10/13/14]

A Surge In LNG Exports Could Increase U.S. Natural Gas Prices Between 4 And 11 Percent. “The EIA concluded that a surge in LNG exports would cause U.S. natural gas supply prices to rise between 4 percent and 11 percent, on average, over its current projections for the 2015 to 2040 period, depending on how much LNG is exported.” [Center for American Progress, 1/27/15]