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Saturday
Oct112014

Cooler Heads Digest 10 October 2014 

10 October 2014

Announcements

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

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

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPA Pulls an IRS

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

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

Meet the Latest Climate Profiteers

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday
Oct092014

CEI Today: Clean Air Act reform, EPA buries good news, and the need to defend business 

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2014
In the News Today

 

CEI PUSHES AIR LAW REFORM - WILLIAM YEATMAN

Inside EPA: CEI Pushes Air Law Reform To Bolster State-EPA 'Cooperative Federalism'

 

Conservative think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is suggesting Congress pursue Clean Air Act amendments to correct what it sees as an imbalance in the air law's "cooperative federalism" balance between EPA's regulatory powers and those given to states, saying lawmakers need to strengthen states' air law authority.  > Read more


> Interview William Yeatman

 

EPA BURIES GOOD NEWS - MARLO LEWIS  

Globalwarming.org: Good News on Air Quality Not Featured on EPA’s Web Site

 

This week EPA updated its annual Air Quality Trends, and the news is fanastic. “National average air quality continues to improve as emissions decline through 2013,” EPA reports.

But that’s not what EPA features as “News” on its Web site.
> Read more   


> Interview Marlo Lewis

 

DEFENDING BUSINESS - FRED L. SMITH, JR.

Defending the Virtue of the Business World at Home and Abroad


A new CNBC/Burson-Marsteller poll on attitudes toward business in both developed and emerging economies reveals some troubling findings. While business leaders in the U.S. and other developed nations view themselves and their firms favorably, the public’s view is less positive.  More striking is the gap in public opinion with more positive views in developing nations—even supposedly socialist ones—than in the West. > Read more

> Interview an expert

 

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

The Federal Register topped the 60,000-page mark on Friday, and is on pace for the 6th-highest page count in its 79-year history. Along the way, new regulations cover everything from 5K races to how magnets work.

 

More in the news...

CalPERS: It Came from Sacramento

Results of "Cash for Appliances"

How Unlawful Is EPA’s Clean Power Plan?

CEI Awards Pro-Worker Senators

 

 

New Mexico Workers and Industry Would Benefit from Right to Work - See more at: http://workplacechoice.org/#sthash.04F3Iq2B.dpuf
 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield
CEI Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow


 

 





 

Thursday
Oct092014

CEI Today: EPA loses text messages, eBay & ALEC, urban renewal policies & the Kochs, and more 

Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
In the News Today

 

EPA PULLS AN IRS, LOSES TEXT MESSAGES - CHRISTOPHER HORNER

Pulling 'an IRS'? EPA reportedly loses text messages now sought in request
 

The EPA is being accused of pulling “an IRS” for reportedly planning to inform the National Archives it has lost text messages being sought in an open-records request.


The Washington Times
reported Wednesday that lawyers from the Department of Justice informed a federal court of the EPA’s plans to tell the National Archives it cannot produce the text messages because they have been deleted.


The open-records request in question came from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is seeking text messages from the devices of EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. > Read more

> Interview Christopher Horner
 

GREEN PRESSURE GROUPS - MARLO LEWIS  

Globalwarming.org: Will eBay Stand with ALEC?

 

On Tuesday, some 80 ‘progressive’ organizations (including Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Fund, League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn.org, Common Cause, Public Citizen, and AFL-CIO) sent a letter to eBay’s CEO, Chairman, CFO, and General Counsel urging them to end the company’s support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national association of conservative state legislators.


This just in. . . .The New Republic reports that eBay has declined to honor (capitulate to) this request (pressure). > Read more


> Interview Marlo Lewis

 

THE KOCHS & URBAN RENEWAL POLICIES - MARC SCRIBNER

Super PAC Attacks Kochs on Civil Rights, Endorses “Urban Renewal” Policies that Harmed Minorities

 

Alternet posted yet another bogus smear on the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch.The article summarizes the “findings” of a report titled, “The Koch Brothers’ Record on Civil Rights and Race,” which was produced by an outfit called “The Bridge Project.” This front group is really an arm of a super PAC called American Bridge 21st Century, which was founded by Democratic party activist David Brock and in 2012 was described as “the hub of the left” by Roll Call. > Read more


> Interview Marc Scribner

 

COST OF TAX COMPLIANCE - WAYNE CREWS

The 2014 Federal Paperwork and Red Tape Roundup, Part 1: Big Bucks for Pencil Pushers


When it comes to red tape and federal paperwork, the costs of tax compliance for individuals and businesses are said to account for most of the federal paperwork burden.
> Read more

> Interview Wayne Crews


 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield
CEI Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow


 

 





 

Thursday
Oct092014

CEI Today: Gaps in gov't reporting, subsidizing unions, EPA's Clean Power Plan, and more 

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
In the News Today

 

GAPS IN GOV'T REPORTING - WAYNE CREWS  

Forbes: How Entrepreneurs Can Speak Out About The Cost Of Regulation

 

When federal bureaucrats in Washington released the Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations for fiscal year 2013, their hope was for the public to believe that regulations cost just $2-$2.5 billion while bestowing benefits of up to $67 billion.


The better takeaway is that a mere seven rules account for these costs. Another 11 rules were acknowledged to cost perhaps $3.2 billion annually, but no benefit estimate accompanied those.


So that’s eighteen 2013 regulations that the federal government tells us about. But there were actually 3,634 rules issued during the fiscal year, so there are gaps to say the least. > Read more


> Interview Wayne Crews

 

$157 MILLION UNION SUBSIDY - TREY KOVACS

Workplacechoice.org: Federal Government Granted $157 Million Subsidy to Government Unions in FY 2012

 

When someone is paid to perform services, it should not be considered volunteer work. Yet, that is exactly how the federal government attempts to legitimize a massive taxpayer-funded subsidy to government unions. The subsidy is known as “official time” and allows federal employees to conduct union business, totally unrelated to their public duties, while paid their regular federal salary.

What OPM finally revealed is the amount and cost of official time granted in FY 2012. In FY 2012, federal employees spent a total of 3,439,449 hours on official time, an increase of 1.3 percent from FY 2011. The cost of official time also increased in FY 2012 to $157,196,468 from around $155 million. 
> Read more


> Interview Trey Kovacs

 

EPA CLEAN POWER PLAN - MARLO LEWIS

Globalwarming.org: How Unlawful Is EPA’s Clean Power Plan?

 

A bare majority in UARG did, however, vote to overturn EPA’s Tailoring Rule, the agency’s brazen attempt to rewrite unambigous (numerical) statutory requirements to avoid an administrative debacle of its own making. Moreover, the Scalia majority admonished EPA against adopting statutory interpretations that would “bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Those words are a perfect rebuke to the regulatory coup EPA is trying to pull off via the Clean Power Plan. Will EPA get away with it? I don’t think so. > Read more

> Interview Marlo Lewis
 

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

The Federal Register topped the 60,000-page mark on Friday, and is on pace for the 6th-highest page count in its 79-year history. Along the way, new regulations cover everything from 5K races to how magnets work.

 

More in the news...

Journalists Called Out for Bad Reporting on Consumption Data

Fannie, Freddie investors undaunted by court loss

Must Every Product in the World Be Safe Enough for Children?

 

New Mexico Workers and Industry Would Benefit from Right to Work - See more at: http://workplacechoice.org/#sthash.04F3Iq2B.dpuf
 


 

Sign Up for the Weekly Cooler Heads Digest!

Every Friday afternoon, we send out an electronic newsletter on the latest energy and environment happenings, known as the Cooler Heads Digest. Sign up today!

 

    

 


Journalist Carrie Sheffield
CEI Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow

 





 

Saturday
Oct042014

Cooler Heads Digest 03 October 2014 

3 October 2014

In the News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News You Can Use
Quietest Atlantic Hurricane Season Since 1986

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

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

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

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

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

Across the States
Myron Ebell

Big Wind Encounters Turbulence in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Upholds EPA Retroactive Veto of WV Mine Permit
William Yeatman

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

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

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

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

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Yet Another Study Finds Low Climate Sensitivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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