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Sunday
Nov082015

Cooler Heads Digest 06 November 2015 

 

6 November 2015

In the News

Hiatus Controversy: Show Me the Data
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 6 November 2015

Obama Strong Arms on Climate
James Rust, Master Resource, 5 November 2015

The Climate Wars and the Damage to Science
Matt Ridley, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 5 November 2015

Poll: Most Americans Understand, Aren’t Too Worried about Climate Change
CBS/Associated Press, 4 November 2015

Who’s Playing Politics on the Keystone Pipeline?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 4 November 2015

Courts Rein in Obama’s Regulatory Overreach
H. Sterling Burnett, Real Clear Policy, 4 November 2015

Global Warming Alarmists Don’t Like It When Someone Follows the Money
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 3 November 2015

Amazon’s Wind Energy Power Claim Is 100% Myth
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 3 November 2015

The March to Paris Has Begun
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 2 November 2015

Obscure Part of Clean Air Act Could Kill Obama’s Climate Plan
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, 2 November 2015

Obama’s Court Quagmire
Timothy Cama, The Hill, 2 November 2015

News You Can Use
Good News: Antarctic Ice Increasing

According to a NASA study by Jay Zwally and colleagues published this week in the Journal of Glaciology, satellite data indicates that Antarctica is gaining more ice from snowfall than it is losing from coastal discharges and ice melt. In other words, currently and over the 1992-2008 study period, Antarctica is contributing to a net reduction in sea level rise. Read NASA’s press release here.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

O Says No to Keystone XL

President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built.  The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.

My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up.  That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President Obama has left office and a new President could approve the permit.

One day later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to TransCanada’s request by saying, “Our expectation at this point … is that the President will make a decision by the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline.”  Instead of by the end of next year, the President made a decision by the end of this week.  My guess is that he did so now because COP-21 begins in Paris at the end of the month and he hopes to build support from environmental pressure groups for what is almost certainly going to be a modest and uninspiring climate treaty.

Billionaire Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben made Keystone into a decisive moment in the climate debate.  McKibben repeatedly said (quoting James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) that building Keystone would be “game over for the climate.” Democrats are counting on Steyer to spend more in the 2016 elections than the $75 million he reportedly spent in the 2014 elections.   

House Committee Passes Bill To Check EPA Climate Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on energy on 3rd November marked up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for power plants.  House Joint Resolutions 71 and 72 passed 15 to 12 on strict party line votes.

The resolutions brought under the Congressional Review Act would, if enacted, overturn key parts of President Obama’s climate agenda—71 for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and 72 for the Existing Source Performance Standards (ESPS). Passage of these resolutions by the House and Senate will undermine the administration’s ability to negotiate a new climate treaty at the UN climate conference in Paris in December because the ESPS and NSPS provide the largest chunk of the emission cuts needed to meet the U.S.’s 26-28% emission reduction commitment.

Across the States
Myron Ebell

NY AG Launches Investigation into Exxon

New York’s Attorney General has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil’s possible climate crimes.  According to a story in the New York Times by Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss:

“According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.  The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.  The people said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives.”

This latest witch hunt to prosecute climate criminals follows a suggestion by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who in a 4th June op-ed published by the Washington Post called for an investigation of fossil fuel companies under RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. 

On 16th September, Inside Climate News released the results of an eight month investigation that concluded Exxon Mobil had been covering up the fact that its own scientists had warned the company beginning in 1977 of the risks to the climate of burning fossil fuels.

Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation was repeated last month in a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch from twenty university professors organized by Drs. Jagadish Shukla and Edward Maibach at Virginia’s George Mason University. My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis has written an excellent article on the RICO Twenty.

And just before New York’s Times broke the news of AG Schneiderman’s investigation of Exxon Mobil, Professor Naomi Oreskes (a global warming propagandist who masquerades as a science historian at Harvard) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) piled on with an op-ed in the Hill headlined, “The Harm Exxon Mobil Has Done.”  Their op-ed repeats the Inside Climate News claims and then repeats the call for a criminal investigation of Exxon Mobil. Oreskes and Lieu have nothing new to say, but I admire their timing. 

Update on State Lawsuits against EPA Climate Regulations

Twenty-three States this week filed a legal challenge to the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The regulation would require new coal-fired power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration. As I explain here, the States have a strong case, because carbon capture and sequestration is “exorbitantly expensive.” Also this week, Mississippi became the 27th State to sue the EPA over the Clean Power Plan. That regulation would place the nation’s electric grid under the thumb of the agency.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

China Burns 17% More Coal Than Reported

China has been burning up to 17% more coal per year than previously reported, according to new data released by the Chinese government.  New York’s Times announced this news in a top-left, front-page story on 4th November. According to reporter Chris Buckley, “The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.  The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

This is important news in at least three respects.  First, it means that global greenhouse gas emissions have been much larger during a period when the global mean temperature has not gone up as predicted.  This suggests that the climate could be even less sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than recent research has found.  The alarmists are going to have to move quickly to explain this possibility away.

Second, the gap between the greenhouse gas reductions promised by the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the forthcoming Paris climate treaty and the official calculations of total greenhouse gas reductions necessary to avoid a two-degree Celsius increase in the global mean temperature has widened considerably.  As I reported in last week’s Digest, Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the INDCs a “down payment” on the greenhouse gas reductions that would be required “to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” which is the “ultimate objective” of the UNFCCC. If the additional Chinese emissions are added to the total, then the down payment is even smaller than the UNFCCC secretariat’s recent calculations, which means much more to be done.  The draft text of the Paris climate treaty contains an automatic review and adjustment of targets and timetables of emissions reductions every five years.

Third, the upward revision in Chinese emissions raises the importance of the transparency issue in the Paris climate negotiations.  The United States and the European Union have insisted that the reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions must be subject to external monitoring and verification.  China recently agreed that more transparency was necessary, but has not yet agreed to these demands in the negotiations, which are scheduled to conclude with a new climate treaty at COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC) in Paris in December.        

India Moves To Outlaw Greenpeace

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu has cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India for violating the rules governing nonprofit organizations and for making fraudulent financial statements. The radical environmental pressure group can appeal its delisting to the state government and after that can file an appeal in court.

If its appeals fail, then Greenpeace India will have one month to dissolve itself.  If it fails to do so, Tamil Nadu’s registrar of societies can then appoint a liquidator.

India’s national government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been after Greenpeace India since coming to power in 2014.  India’s Intelligence Bureau published a report that Greenpeace India’s campaigns against coal and nuclear power plants threatened national economic security. In April, the Ministry of Home Affairs froze Greenpeace’s bank accounts for not accurately reporting donations from foreign sources.  A court unfroze some of the accounts, but in early September the ministry revoked Greenpeace India’s license to receive foreign donations.   

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.

Tuesday
Nov032015

CEI Today: Menu laws, EPA climate rules, the transportation bill, and selling a kidney 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
In the News Today

 

FEDERAL MENU LAWS - MICHELLE MINTON

 

Federal Menu Laws Need Some Common Sense

 

This week, the House Energy and Commerce committee will hold a mark-up hearing on the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 2017), a bipartisan bill intended to deal with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act that could increase the burden on small businesses and unintentionally increase the price families pay when they eat at restaurants. > Read more

 

EPA CLIMATE RULES - MYRON EBELL

Congressional Resolutions To Block EPA’s Climate Rules Are Introduced and Set To Move Quickly

 

Votes on the House floor could then be held soon after the House returns on 16th November from its Veterans Day week-long recess.  > Read more

> Interview Myron Ebell

 

TRANSPORTATION BILL - MARC SCRIBNER

 

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act

 

Unlike the Senate bill, which relies on imaginary pay-fors to support obscene spending increases, the House bill maintains less irresponsible baseline funding adjusted year-to-year for inflation. > Read more

> Interview Marc Scribner

 

SELL A KIDNEY - RICHARD MORRISON

Sell a Kidney, Save a Life


Thousands of people die every year waiting for kidneys to become available, and the usual treatment for people on the list, dialysis, is expensive and inconvenient. > Read more


> Interview Richard Morrison
 




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Tuesday
Oct272015

NWF - Sen. Ayotte's Clean Power Plan Support Reflects NH ’s Bipartisan Conservation Tradition 

http://online.nwf.org/images/content/pagebuilder/NWFLogo_horiz_TEXT-ONLY_200wide.png

October 26, 2015 – Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has announced her support of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits on industrial carbon pollution, the first Republican U.S. senator to do so. “I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment. New Hampshire is already well on its way to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan through positive steps it has already taken,” said Sen. Ayotte, citing New Hampshire’s success in cutting pollution through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

 

Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

“The National Wildlife Federation applauds Senator Ayotte for her strong leadership to conserve America's wildlife and protect our natural resources. Her actions today embody the best of New Hampshire’s long tradition of bipartisan support for conservation. Building upon the innovative successes of states like New Hampshire, the Clean Power Plan provides an effective blueprint to reduce carbon pollution while spurring manufacturing and construction jobs. We encourage all members of Congress to work across party lines to find common-sense solutions that enrich America’s outdoor heritage.”

Get more updates from the National Wildlife Federation at NWF.org/News.

Saturday
Oct242015

SEIA Statement on Clean Power Plan Publication 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Upon publication today of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register, Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) issued the following statement:

“As a nation, it is time to replace our aging, dirty energy infrastructure with clean, reliable, affordable 21st century energy technologies. Solar energy is the most sensible compliance option for states under the Clean Power Plan. Solar works in all 50 states, has zero carbon emissions, creates more jobs per megawatt (MW) than any other technology, and can be deployed cost-effectively and quickly - all while improving grid reliability. The solar industry is looking forward to helping states achieve an optimal long-term strategy for both their economies and environment.”

Resch continued, “Over the last five years, the solar industry has been one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. We will expand production and lower costs to meet any increased demand under the Clean Power Plan for solar to power our homes, businesses, factories, churches and schools, while creating solid, well-paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

In response to reports of possible litigation on the Clean Power Plan, SEIA’s Vice President of State Affairs, Sean Gallagher, said:

“The Clean Power Plan follows a tradition of using proven technologies and market based solutions, such as solar energy, to reduce emissions. We expect that the Court will correctly determine that the EPA is well within its authority under the Clean Air Act to direct states to rely on emission-reduction technologies, like solar, to reduce emissions from the electric sector while creating jobs and driving investment.  The solar industry plans to strongly defend this rule against any legal opposition that arises along the way.”


###

About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 41st anniversary in 2015, 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 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
Saturday
Oct242015

Cooler Heads Digest 23 October 2015 

23 October 2015

Announcement

On Friday, October 30th, the Cato Institute will hold an all day conference on “What to Expect from the UN’s 2015 Climate Change Conference.” Speakers include: Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Richard Tol, Peter Glaser, Andrew Grossman, Harlan Watson, Chip Knappenberger, and more. RSVP or watch online here.

In the News

Inside the Supreme Court Case That Could Change How America Gets Its Power
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 22 October 2015

Federal Investigation Blames EPA for Toxic Spill
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, 22 October 2015

Leading Feminist Gloria Steinem: Pope Causing Global Warming by “Forcing Women to Have Children”
Katie Yoder, NewsBusters, 22 October 2015

Wishful Thinking Meets Hard Realities in Energy Production
Joseph Verruni & Patrick Michaels, Newsweek, 22 October 2015

When Enron, NYT Declared Solar “Competitive” with Fossil Fuels…in 1994
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 21 October 2015

Paris Climate Pledges Would Cost $13.5 Trillion by 2030
Alex Morales, Bloomberg Business, 21 October 2015

Solyndra Redux: Another Government Funded Green Company on the Brink
Rob Nikolewski, Daily Signal, 21 October 2015

Have We Finally Reached Peak Lie on the Clean Power Plan
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 20 October 2015

New Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Brings Same Support for Keystone XL Pipeline
Steven Mufson, Washington Post, 20 October 2015

Green Financing Has Hobbled Home Sales in California
Nichola Groom, Reuters, 19 October 2015

News You Can Use
Solar Energy Derided by Villagers in India

Climatewire this week reported on the efforts of Greenpeace activists to set up a solar-powered microgrid in Dharnai, India, which had been without electricity for three decades. According to the report, villagers protested the inauguration of the system by lining up and chanting, “We want real electricity, not fake electricity!” That is, they want reliability power 24 hours a day.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

Senate and House Move Quickly To Block EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules for Coal and Gas Power Plants

The EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules for new and existing coal and natural gas power plants were finally published in the Federal Register on Friday, 23rd October.  EPA had released the text of the final rules on 3rd August.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) next week will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to block the rule for new power plants. The Majority Leader’s office also announced that Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will file a CRA resolution to block the rule for existing plants.

On the House side, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that he will file CRA resolutions of disapproval for new and existing plants on Monday.

Senate and House votes on these resolutions can be expected in the next few weeks and certainly before COP-21, the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, begins in Paris on 30th November.  Both resolutions will pass the House and Senate with votes from an overwhelming majority of Republicans plus a few Democrats.

Although President Barack Obama will veto both CRA resolutions, as Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a press release, the votes will show governments of the other countries involved in negotiating a new climate treaty, which is scheduled to be finished at COP-21, that the Obama Administration’s INDC (or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) is opposed by Congress.  That’s because the two power plant rules are the largest part of the administration’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions submitted in the INDC.

The Paris climate treaty negotiators should understand that the rules are unlikely to survive because at some point congressional opposition is likely to turn into congressional action. The first opportunity to act occurs in appropriations legislation for FY 2016.  The House and Senate versions of the Interior-EPA appropriations bill contain riders that prohibit implementation of the rules in the current fiscal year.  Passage of the CRA resolutions of disapproval will provide strong support for including the riders in any Omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passes to fund the government beyond the current continuing resolution, which expires on 11th December (which is also the day COP-21 is scheduled to conclude in Paris). 

Further evidence that the power plant rules may not survive beyond the Obama Administration is provided by the lawsuits that were filed immediately after the rules were published.  For more on the lawsuits, see the item in Across the States below.      

Across the States
William Yeatman

Record Number of States Launch Legal Challenge to Clean Power Plan

Twenty six States today filed legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan in the federal court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As far as I’ve been able to discern, this is a record number of States to challenge a Clean Air Act rule, and more States are likely to join.

The States are seeking to have the court delay implementation of the regulation until the legal challenge to the merits of the rule runs its course. The reason that States are seeking to pause implementation of the rule is the fact that capital-intensive businesses like electric utilities (the regulated entities) have to plan capital allocation years in advance. As such, many utilities don’t have the opportunity to wait until the litigation reaches a conclusion, which would take about three years, before they decide whether or not to comply with the regulation. In this manner, EPA could achieve compliance with the rule, even if the Supreme Court ultimately finds the Clean Power Plan to be illegal. The solution to this problem is to ask the court to pause or “stay” the rule until it decides on the rule's legality.

The bar for achieving a stay is high. However, the rule is unprecedented in the harm it would inflict, so I think the odds of success are relatively good. The D.C. Circuit will likely decide in early 2016. Were the D.C. Circuit to demur on a stay, I suspect that the petitioners would appeal such a decision to the Supreme Court.

Around the World
Myron Ebell

Bonn Climate Negotiations Still Come Down To One Question: Where’s the Cash? 

The last officially scheduled negotiating session before COP-21 (the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris concluded on Friday, 23 October.  The main achievement of the eleventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhancing Action, as the week-long negotiations are officially called, was to expand the draft text of the Paris climate treaty from the 20 pages they began with on Monday to 63 pages by Friday.

Although some slight progress can be seen here and there (for example, on mitigation and transparency issues), wide differences remain between the developing countries and the G-77, the group of 135 developing countries.  As always, the G-77 want to know where’s the cash. Or as the BBC’s headline put it, “Questions over cash dominate.”  The BBC’s story summarized the core of the disagreements in Bonn this week: “The G77 group are looking for increases on the $100b per annum from 2020 that was previously promised.  They have dismissed recent research from the OECD suggesting that richer countries had provided $62bn in 2014-15 as climate finance.  The poorer countries want money to come from new public sources and question the reliability of private finance.”

The $100 billion in climate aid was proposed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009 and endorsed by President Barack Obama.  The Green Climate Fund was officially created by COP-16 in Cancun the next year.  The GCF is now in operation and gearing up to start receiving and distributing $100 billion per year beginning in 2020.  You can visit the GCF web site here.

In addition to the $100 billion per year, the developing countries want to be compensated for their losses and damages from the impacts of climate change—typhoons, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.  COP-19 in Warsaw in 2013 created the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Negotiations continue on how to compensate for L & D.

Science Update
Marlo Lewis

Has Global Warming Increased U.S. Hurricane Damages?

Estrada et al. (2015), a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, finds “an upward trend in economic losses between 1900 and 2005 that cannot be explained” by changes in societal factors such as increases in wealth, population, and inflation. The researchers also find “an upward trend in both the number and intensity of hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin” that is “consistent with” the global rise in average surface air temperature. They estimate that, in 2005, $2 billion to $4 billion in annual losses “could be attributable to climate change.”

University of Colorado prof. Roger Pielke, Jr. finds the study wrong on all counts.

Pielke provides a graph of North Atlantic hurricane strength, using a metric called the Power Dissipation Index (PDI), from 1950 through 2014. The graph covers the entire basin, not just hurricanes making landfall. Although there is considerable inter-annual and decadal variability, there is no long-term trend in hurricane strength.

More critically, Estrada et al. end their dataset in 2005, a big year for PDI and damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thus, the researchers leave out of the dataset the record-breaking nine-year (2006-2014) “drought” of major (category 3, 4, 5) U.S. hurricane landfalls.

In other graphs, Pielke shows that U.S. hurricane landfall frequency and intensity have both declined 20% from 1900 to the present. Comparing two fifty-year periods, Pielke notes that there were 23 major U.S. hurricane landfalls during 1915-1954 but only nine major hurricane landfalls during 1965-2015. There were 40% fewer major U.S. hurricane landfalls in the later, globally-warmer 50-year period.

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.