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Entries in Environmental Issues (87)


Cooler Heads Digest 


In the News

New Book Claims Officials Use Private Emails To Skirt FOIA Laws
Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner, 28 September 2012

Challenging Bill McKibben: The Environmental Case for Fossil Fuels
Alex Epstein, Master Resource, 28 September 2012

Matt’s Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by OPEC Member
Lachlan Markay, Scribe, 28 September 2012

Matt Damon’s Troubled Anti-Frack Film
Phelim McAleer, New York Post, 26 September 2012

Cloud Computing: Friend or Foe of Kyotoism?
Marlo Lewis,, 25 September 2012

NASA’s Rubber Ruler
Randall Hoven, American Thinker, 25 September 2012

Record Polar Bear Hunt in Alaska
Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore, 24 September 2012

Where Are the Solar Panels, Mr. President?
Carrie Halperin, ABC News, 23 September 2012

Stimulus-Funded Green Energy Program Falls Way Short in California
David Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 September 2012

News You Can Use
Terrible Week for Electric Vehicles

Events this week cast significant doubt on the viability of President Barack Obama’s big bet on electric vehicles.

  • Tesla Motors had to renegotiate the terms of its Energy Department loan, due to a cash crunch.
  • Consumer Reports reviewed the $107,000 Fisker Karma, and found that it is “full of flaws.”  Like Tesla, Fisker also received loan backed by the stimulus, but the Energy Department cut off its line of credit months ago.
  • Smith Electric Vehicles, a recipient of $32 million in stimulus grants, cancelled an initial public offering, in what financial analysts are calling “an astonishing disaster.”
  • Toyota announced that it has killed plans for a widespread launch of its second all-electric car, the eQ. The company said that the decision was made because, “The current capabilities of electric vehicle do not meet society’s needs.”

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Politico: “Browner: Obama has big plans for second term”

For environmentalists who have not gotten everything they dreamed of in President Barack Obama’s first term, Carol Browner had re-assuring words during a campaign conference call on Thursday evening, 27th September.  According to an article by Alex Guillen in PoliticoPro (subscription required), Browner said that Obama has big plans for a second term on environmental, climate, and energy issues.

According to the article, Browner said, “I can tell you, having spent two years in the White House with the president, that this is not a fad. The president believes deeply in these issues. At every turn he has looked at what are the tools available to him to really help build a clean energy future for this country and has been committed throughout his first four years in office, and there’s no doubt in my mind this will be a big part of his to-do list and he will remain committed in the next four years.”

Browner, who was a prominent member of Socialist International, served as White House climate and energy czar in the first two years of the Obama Administration and as EPA Administrator for the full eight years of the Clinton Administration.  She is now a senior fellow at the so-called Center for American Progress, a non-profit group that serves as a megaphone for Democratic Party and administration policies.  CAP’s roughly $25 million annual budget funds the hilarious web site Climate Progress as well as a communications staff of 46.  

House Conservatives Draw a Line on Wind Tax Credit

Forty-seven Republican Members of the House of Representatives sent a joint letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week announcing that they oppose including a provision to renew the wind production tax credit for another year in any broader legislation.  The letter concludes, “We believe that the Solyndra scandal has demonstrated that it is time for the federal government to stop picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace.  Twenty years of subsidizing wind is more than enough.  Our nation can simply no longer afford to pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace.  The PTC should expire at the end of the year under current law.”

Wind installations completed before the credit expires at the end of this year will still receive the 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour subsidy for ten years.  The one-year extension voted out by the Senate Finance Committee in early August would actually expand the program by allowing wind investors to claim an immediate 30% investment credit instead of having to wait ten years for a full payout and by allowing projects started (but not finished) next year to qualify.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate version will cost $12 billion over ten years.

The joint letter was organized by freshman Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Ks.), who has led the effort against all energy subsidies and mandates in this Congress, including the T. Boone Pickens Payoff Plan to subsidize natural gas trucks and filling stations.  Crony capitalists have hit back with numerous ads attacking him in his Wichita-centered district.

Support for the wind and solar tax credits is pretty uniform among Democratic Members of Congress.  Among Republicans, it tends to split along State lines.  Republican Members representing the 29 States with renewable portfolio standards (RPS) for electric utilities tend to support the tax credits because the subsidies lower the cost of renewable electricity.  Republican Members representing States without renewable requirements generally oppose the credits because taxpayers from their States are subsidizing the use of renewable energy in other States.  Here’s a map that shows the various state renewable requirements.  

There are notable exceptions, however.  For example, Kansas has a 20% RPS by 2020.  Kansas’s Republican Governor Sam Brownback and Republican Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran support extending the wind PTC, while Kansas Republican Representatives Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp actively oppose it.

Similarly in Colorado, which has a 30% by 2020 RPS, Rep. Doug Lamborn recently wrote an op-ed titled “Why the wind energy tax credit must go,” while freshmen Republican Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton signed a joint letter in June, along with fourteen other Republican freshmen, supporting an extension.

Gardner and Tipton are both members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee and enjoyed significant Tea Party support when they ran for Congress in 2010.  Members like Gardner and Tipton oppose crony capitalism in principle, but not in practice when their own crony capitalists are the target.

The wind PTC has become a prominent minor issue in the presidential campaign.  President Barack Obama has repeatedly attacked Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Iowa and Colorado for opposing its extension.  Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, announced this week that they think the U. S. market for wind turbines will shrink by 95% if the credit is not renewed.  This is curious since 29 States still have RPS requirements that must be met in the next decade.

Senate Passes Bill to Prevent EU from Imposing Carbon Tax on U.S. Airlines

Before leaving town on Saturday, 22nd September, the Senate passed by voice vote a bill sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-SD) that gives the Secretary of Transportation authority to prevent U. S. airlines from complying with a European Union law that requires airlines to pay for their carbon dioxide emissions by participating in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.  The House passed a similar bill earlier this year.  It is expected that the House will pass the Senate version when it comes back for a lame duck session after the election and send it to President Obama for his signature.  The legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support in both chambers.   

Drumbeat Continues for Carbon Tax

The drums continue to beat for a carbon tax.  Last week, the Congressional Research Service released a report that ties adoption of a carbon tax to deficit reduction.  The study says that a carbon tax starting at $20 per metric ton of carbon dioxide-equivalent could raise $88 billion in its first year and $154 billion by 2021 if the tax was increased automatically by 5% each year.

Across the States
William Yeatman

California Governor Signs 19 Renewable Energy Bills

California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law 19 bills to promote renewable energy. The legislation is largely symbolic. Still, the Golden State has a $16 billion deficit, and it already has the most pro-green policies of any State in the country, by a long shot. Don’t the State’s policymakers have more pressing concerns than renewable energy puffery?

EPA Appeals Appalachian Coal Rulings

The Obama administration today appealed a decision by federal judge Reggie Walton to vacate EPA Clean Water Act regulations that had effectively outlawed new surface coal mining in Appalachia. The regulations, which were issued in June 2011, set first-ever standards for saline effluent from surface coal mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia. The regulatory justification for the regulations was to protect a short-lived insect, which isn’t an endangered species. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceded that the salinity standards were set at a level that is impossible to meet. After the regulations were promulgated, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the National Mining Association (among others) sued EPA in the federal court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the Agency violated administrative law by imposing the regulation without affording the States and industry their rightful voice in the regulatory process. In July, Judge Walton sided with the plaintiffs, and the rule was vacated. 

Around the World
Brian McGraw

Slowdown in China Hurting U.S. Coal Exports

The slowdown of economic growth in China has hit the U.S. coal industry hard over the past few months, particularly in Appalachia, as the Wall Street Journal reports. Surging Chinese demand for metallurgical coal, used in steelmaking, provided much needed support for the domestic coal industry amidst declining demand for thermal coal, more commonly used in power plants. Metallurgical coal is currently selling for $170 per metric ton, down almost 50 percent from its 2011 peak of $330 per metric ton.

Numerous domestic coal companies have announced layoffs this year, and Patriot Coal declared bankruptcy. While the downturn in Chinese demand for coal is largely out of our control, much of the blame for losses in the domestic coal industry rests at the feet of the Obama Administration. Though historically low natural gas prices have also played a role, the Obama Administration has issued costly regulations directed at the coal industry, contributing to the planned shutdown of more than 200 coal fired power plants in the next three to five years.

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 27 July 2012 

27 July 2012

In the News

Stay Tuned: Major Announcement Coming This Sunday
Anthony Watts, WUWT, 27 July 2012

Video: Congressman Receives Standing Ovation for Anti-Regulatory Speech
Breitbart, 27 July 2012

Green Energy Boss: “I’m a political beast”
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner, 27 July 2012

Greenland Ice Melt: Cause for Alarm?
Marlo Lewis,, 26 July 2012

Dear League of Conservation Voters: Even Joe Romm Thinks “Denier” Is Inappropriate
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 26 July 2012

Consumers Complain That Nissan Leafs Lose Their Power in Hot Weather
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 15 July 2012

EPA Exonerates Fracking in Pennsylvania
Kenneth Green, AEIdeas, 25 July 2012

Will Extremists Stop America’s Energy Future?
Thomas Pyle, National Journal, 24 July 2012

Solyndra, Cronyism, and Double-Dipping on the Taxpayer’s Dime
Nancy Pfotenhauer, U.S. News and World Report, 23 July 2012

Biofuel Mandate Worsens Drought’s Effect
Washington Times editorial, 23 July 2012

When Drought Strikes, Should U.S. Policy Endanger Poor People?
Marlo Lewis,, 20 July 2012

News You Can Use
Record Few Tornadoes in July

According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, July “is on track to produce fewer tornadoes than any July on record, and by a long shot.” Must be global warming.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

House Passes Bill to Increase Offshore Oil

The House of Representatives voted this week to overturn the Obama Administration’s five-year offshore oil leasing plan and replace it with a plan that would require much more leasing and for the first time open federal offshore areas to oil production off the Atlantic and California coasts.  The vote was 253-170, with 25 Democrats voting with the Republican majority.  Nine Republicans voted no. 

In the Senate, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and 29 Republican co-sponsors introduced their version of the House-passed Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (H. R. 4480).  It contains a number of bills to expand domestic oil and gas production and delay several new EPA rules.

EIA: 8.5% of Coal Capacity To Retire within 5 Years

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration on July 27 released a report that predicts that electric utilities will retire 27 gigawatts of capacity from coal-fired power plants in the next five years. This constitutes 8.5% of current coal capacity.

The EIA report is based on the results of an annual survey of electric utility companies.  EIA notes that after several years of closing smaller, older coal-fired plants, utilities are now planning to close some newer, larger plants.  The report lists several factors contributing to decisions to retire coal plants long before they become obsolete.  One factor identified by EIA is, unsurprisingly, the anticipated costs of colossally expensive new EPA rules, such as the Utility MACT Rule.

EPA Delays Cooling Water Intake Rule

 The Environmental Protection Agency announced on July 24 that it will delay issuing the final rule on cooling water intake towers until June 27, 2013.  The EPA had been under a court order to release the final rule this month, but the plaintiffs—Riverkeeper and several other environmental pressure groups—agreed to the extension.   

The proposed rule was issued in March 2011.  EPA estimates that it would apply to 670 existing power plants and 590 existing industrial factories that withdraw at least two million gallons per day to cool their facilities.  The proposed rule would require companies to obtain permits that require the best available control technology in cooling water intake towers for minimizing fish kill.   

Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, have led the effort to convince EPA to withdraw the proposed rule on the grounds that compliance costs will be enormous, thereby leading to significant job losses.  They welcomed the delay, but were quoted in a BNA story that “this fight is only delayed a year, it is not over.” 

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,


SEIA and LSA Statement on Department of the Interior’s Release of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar

New rules will govern solar development on public lands

WASHINGTON and SACRAMENTO – Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Shannon Eddy, executive director of the Large-scale Solar Association (LSA), released the following statement today in response to the Department of the Interior’s release of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands:

“We applaud the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy for undertaking this major effort to tackle the process for solar development on public lands. “We’re hopeful that this detailed environmental analysis will dramatically speed the permitting process and bring more solar online to serve the American people,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

“The U.S. Southwest is home to some of the best solar resources in the world.  It’s a region universally recognized for its enormous potential to enhance our energy security. Consequently, the Administration set a goal to permit 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy projects on public lands by the end of this year. The U.S. solar industry is ready to meet that challenge. Several impressive solar projects are under construction in the Southwest right now, adding this vital resource to our domestic energy supply, while delivering clean power and spurring new job creation,” noted Resch. “The PEIS identifies a process that will accommodate well-sited solar power plants outside of designated Solar Energy Zones and protects the rights of pending solar applications. The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic process.”

“Balancing the growing demand for domestically-produced solar energy with conservation objectives is not an easy task. We are appreciative of the Departments’ efforts to gather input from all stakeholders. We look forward to working with them to refine the process for permitting solar power plants and transmission in the West,” added Shannon Eddy, executive director of LSA.

The U.S. solar energy industry employs 100,000 Americans at more than 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses, across the nation in all 50 states.

About SEIA:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,100 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy.

About the Large-scale Solar Association:
LSA is the trade association for the utility-scale solar industry and represents the nation’s largest developers and providers of utility-scale solar generation resources. Collectively, LSA’s members have contracted to provide more than 7 gigawatts of clean, sustainable solar power under contract to California’s load-serving entities. LSA members develop, own and operate various types of utility-scale solar technologies, including photovoltaic and solar thermal system designs. LSA companies are leaders in the utility-scale solar industry and share a common understanding of, and concern about, the issues facing development of the solar industry. They are actively developing technology and strengthening markets to facilitate significant penetration of renewable energy into the western United States power sector, as well as other states, and regional and federal venues, when appropriate.

Background Resources:

SEIA-LSA comments on the Supplement to the Draft PEIS []

Joint comments from SEIA, utility and environmental partners on the Supplement to the Draft PEIS []

SEIA-LSA-CEERT comments on the Draft PEIS

SEIA-LSA-CEERT comments on the proposed Solar Energy Study Areas []

2012 Q1 SMI Executive Summary

Major Solar Projects List – solar projects 1 MW and greater []

Poll: 3 out of 4 Americans support solar on public lands


ALG's Daily Grind: Environmental Extremeists Are Political Goliaths

July 11, 2012

Environmental Extremists Exposed as Political Goliaths

The environmental left is a heavy funder of political operations.

Video: Obama's Blunders: Green Jobs Funded And Shipped Away

The Power of Intimidation

The 9 Justices of the Supreme Court have proven that they can be intimidated.

IBD: A State Revolt Against ObamaCare Emerges

Governors of various states are standing up against the implementation of ObamaCare


ALG's Daily Grind: What if Greece defaults?  

May 29, 2012

What if Greece defaults?

If Germany and the ECB cut off funding to Greece, it will have no other choice but to restore the drachma. By why stop there? Why even bother paying any of the debt?

Video: The War With Plastic Bags Shows That Environmentalism Is At War With Sanity

Los Angeles is barring plastic bags from grocery stores and parts of Maryland are charging for them. This is just one more ridiculous idea that has come from America's environmentalist movement.

Obama's Deficit Chutzpah

Obama: "They run up these wild debts and then when we take over we have to clean it up."

Rare corporate courage and common sense

Despite intense pressure by anti-biotechnology activists, the retailing giant didn't cave in to demands that it "reject" Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn (maize).