Cooler Heads Digest

by William Yeatman on December 13, 2007

News Highlights

Inventing the Whirlwind
Patrick Michaels, Spectator, 13 December 2007

Al Gore: Failure in Bali is Fault of US
Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 13 December 2007

EU threatens to Boycott US Climate Meeting
AP, 13 December 2007

Pope Condemns GW Alarmism
Simon Caldwell, Daily Mail, 12 December 2007

Energy Non Economics
Richard W Rahn, Washington Times, 12 December 2007

Do the Rich Owe the Poor Climate Reparations?
Ronald Bailey, Reason, 12 December 2007

Coal Power Potential
Roy Innis, Washington Times, 12 December 2007

Land of Unkept Promises
William Yeatman, Orange County Register, 11 December 2007

A Baby Tax to Save the Planet?
Jen Kelley, The Advertiser, 10 December 2007

Climate Bill Would Devastate American Jobs, Families
Sen James Inhofe, Human Events, 10 December 2007

Senator Kerry: Senate Won’t Pass Climate Bill W/O China
AP, 10 December 2007

News You Can Use
Empty Promises

More than 700 mayors have signed the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, which calls for a 7 percent reduction from 1990 GHG levels by 2012. Of these 700 jurisdictions, only 2—Portland and Seattle—have a chance of meeting their commitment.

Inside the Beltway
CEI’s Myron Ebell

The Senate took up the House-passed anti-energy bill late last week, but a vote to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote failed, 53 to 42. This week Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Democrats are trying to put together a bill that has as much of the bad stuff in it as possible and still get the 60 votes needed for cloture. They have reportedly taken out the 15 per cent Renewable Portfolio Standard for electric utilities, but are keeping most of the 21 billion dollars of tax increases on domestic oil companies.

Although President Bush supports many of the worst provisions in the bill, including the big mandate for miracle vehicle fuels and the big increase in CAFE standards for vehicles, the administration has been adamantly opposed to the RPS and to the new taxes on oil companies. Thus if the Senate passes Reid's new version of the House bill and the House agrees, then the Democratic leadership is still risking a presidential veto. They would then have to try it again in February.

The White House is starting to be aware that the EPA's imminent proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions would be a political nightmare leading to economic paralysis. Although the Supreme Court in deciding Massachusetts v. EPA by a five to four vote last spring ruled that the EPA did have authority to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act, the Act is not designed to regulate a naturally-occurring harmless gas that is the necessary by-product of combusting hydrocarbon fuels and that is mixed uniformly in the atmosphere. If CO2 levels are already too high, then the entire world is a non-attainment area.

The result of EPA proposing that CO2 emissions endanger public health and welfare would be to trigger some of the most onerous regulations in the Clean Air Act. Most small businesses, farmers, apartment buildings, shopping malls, construction companies, road builders, and office buildings would be covered. For example, anyone who wanted to build a new hospital could have to get a permit from the environmental agency in the state where it was going to be built demonstrating that its construction and operation would use nothing but the best available technology to minimize CO2 emissions. This permitting process could require lots of expensive consultants and paperwork and could easily add several years to the time before construction could begin.

The EPA has been assuming that the Court decision requires them to regulate CO2. Up until the last few weeks, the White House apparently accepted what EPA was telling them. That has now changed. They are aware that the Court did not require EPA to regulate CO2, but instead to consider whether CO2 should be regulated under the Clean Air Act. It's late in the day, but President Bush may still get the advice he needs to make the right decision. He has stated clearly and correctly over and over again that the Kyoto Protocol would burden the U. S. economy with unacceptable costs. To then decide to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act would be lunatic. If the next president wants to regulate CO2 emissions, President Bush should not do his dirty work for him.

Around the World
CEI’s Marlo Lewis

“With time running out at the United Nations climate change conference in Bali [the conference ends tomorrow], there's no sign of a deadlock being broken in negotiations over how the world should fight global warming,” reports Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Representatives from more than 190 countries are negotiating a “Roadmap” document to establish the goals of negotiations over the next two years to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. The European Union wants the “Bali Roadmap” to call for industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 25-40% by 2020. The United States, in contrast, opposes the inclusion of any numerical targets in the Roadmap document.

Some environmental groups accuse the United States of trying to derail the climate negotiations. In fact, as U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson has explained many times, the United States thinks it is inappropriate to adopt a “Roadmap” that “prejudges” and “prejudices” the outcome of negotiations over the next two years.

The subtext of Watson’s remarks, I believe, is that it is inappropriate to begin the negotiations with goals and commitments that ignore economic and technological reality.

The typical European response to their own failure to meet unrealistic environmental objectives is to propose even more unrealistic objectives. Bjorn Lomborg, author of Cool It! explained Europe’s lack of realism in a recent interview with Monica Trauzzi of E&E TV:

Monica Trauzzi: But if you have a goal in sight, then you can work towards it.

Bjorn Lomborg: Yes, but the problem is, look at the goals that we've had so far. Before Kyoto in 1992 we actually had the Rio summit, where we said we were going to cut emissions by 2000 to 1990 levels. We overshot that by 12 percent. Then in Kyoto we said, all right, let's make it harder. It didn't work out very well the first time. Let's try to make it harder. So in 1997 we said, all right, we're going to reduce it below 1990 levels by 2010. We're probably going to overshoot that by about 25 percent. It seems likely to me to say we're going to do that again and again, simply because it's very costly. Look at Tony Blair, arguably the primary mover on climate change over the last 10 years; he came into office in 1997 together with the Kyoto Protocol. He said, “Britain is going to cut another 15 percent of its emissions by 2010.” Since then, they've increased 3 percent. So it's very easy to say, but it's actually very hard to do.

Lomborg sensibly concludes that the world will not reduce emissions until reducing emissions is cheap. He therefore argues that governments around the world, instead of negotiating arbitrary emission reduction targets that nobody can afford to meet, invest in R&D to develop technologies that can produce affordable energy without emissions. Come to think of it, that’s very similar to the Bush administration’s approach to global warming.

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