Cooler Heads Digest

by William Yeatman on September 26, 2008

in Cooler Heads Digest

In the News

Carbon dioxide emissions are increasing faster than predicted (but global temperatures remain flat—oh sorry, that’s not in the story)
Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 26 September 2008
British government split on new coal-fired power plant
Andrew Grice, Independent, 26 September 2008
GAO finds fault with credibility of carbon offsets
Stephen Power, Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2008
In surprise move, EU refuses to relax auto mileage rules
Pete Harrison, Reuters, 25 September 2008
Hollywood starlet dares to reveal that she’s green

Yahoo News, 25 September 2008
California taxpayers pay for legislators’ gasoline
(and their cars, too)
AP/MSNBC, 25 September 2008
Obama and McCain on global warming: compare and contrast
Nature Magazine Reports, 24 September 2008
EU tells eastern member nations that they must stay poor

Pete Harrison, Reuters, 22 September 2008
News You Can Use
CEI's Myron Ebell
The Guardian reports on a study that has found that those people who are trying to lead the greenest lifestyles tend to be responsible for much higher than average carbon emissions. That’s because they tend to be higher income people who take lots of airplane flights. Sadly, therefore, as David Adams writes, "People who believe they have the greenest lifestyles can be seen as some of the main culprits behind global warming." Al Gore, take note.
Promises, Promises
The Democratic and Republican nominees also spoke at the annual pow-wow of the Clinton Global Initiative this week. Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Az.) presented almost indistinguishable plans to ration energy with a cap-and-trade program and save us from global warming.  They also both vowed to reduce global poverty and revive the U. S. economy. The little difficulty that no one asked them about is that cap-and-trade will create chronic economic stagnation and increase poverty around the world.
Inside the Beltway
CEI's Myron Ebell

The mad rush to pass lots of bad bills at the end of the Congress has been made even more hectic and difficult this week by all the time taken up with the Wall Street bailout.  The House and Senate this week both passed a broad bill extending a wide range of tax credits, including credits for renewable energy.  Both bills would extend refundable tax credits for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy and for energy-efficient appliances and buildings and for plug-in hybrid cars.  A proposal to extend the credit for ethanol was not included, but it doesn’t expire until 2010, so Big Ethanol has plenty of time to convince Congress to keep the tax dollars flowing.  It isn’t clear whether the House and Senate will be able to agree on the tax bill because of major differences in other areas.  If they cannot agree, then wind and solar installations will plummet.
Since the House and Senate have given up on passing appropriations bill for the various departments, a continuing resolution, or CR, must be sent to the President before the new fiscal year starts on October 1st. The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a CR funding the government until March 2009.  It did not include the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration in 85% of federal waters surrounding the lower 48 States that has been in place since Fiscal Year 1982.  Nor did it include the moratorium on production from oil shale in the Rocky Mountains .  This is a significant victory for House Republicans, who vowed to vote against any extension of the annual moratoria.  It has been reported that what convinced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to drop the moratoria was a clear veto threat from the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) are trying to continue the oil shale moratorium by including it in a new economic stimulus package.  The House on Friday morning passed their version of a stimulus bill, which does not contain any oil shale language.  A vote to invoke cloture on the Senate stimulus bill, with the oil shale moratorium, failed on Friday by a vote of 52 to 42, with 60 votes needed.  Again, it’s not clear what the House and Senate may be able to agree on to send to the President in the next few days.
As for lifting the offshore moratorium, liberal Democrats in the House, led by Representatives Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Frank Pallone (D-N. J.), have already vowed to put the moratorium back in place when the Congress returns next year.  Even if they fail, the offshore moratorium victory will be a symbolic one for several years.  The next President will have to decide whether to allow the Interior Department to prepare any offshore areas for leasing by competitive auction.  If he decides to go ahead with some lease sales, it will then take time to prepare them and for the winning bidders to start drilling exploratory wells.
In the States
CEI's Myron Ebell

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative kicked off its cap-and-trade program with an auction of carbon allowances on Thursday. The results of the auction will be announced Monday and can be found on the RGGI web site. The mandatory plan aims to hold greenhouse gas emissions steady at 188 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually until 2014 and then make annual 2.5% cuts through 2018.

Only six of the ten northeastern States belonging to RGGI were ready to participate in the initial auction. The lucky six are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Those still on the sidelines because of administrative or legislative delays are Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York. 

Trying hard to catch up with RGGI, the Western Climate Initiative also announced plans this week to create a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in seven western States and four Canadian provinces.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the plan "covers about 20% of the U.S. economy and more than 70% of the Canadian economy, affecting power plants, industrial facilities and transportation, among other economic sectors." The Governors who have signed up are from Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The Canadian premiers are from British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. State and provincial legislatures will have to agree before the cap-and-trade program goes into effect. The goal is to reduce emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.
Science Meets PR
CEI's Julie Walsh
Where was the press release from National Snow and Ice Data Center ?  In the past they had these breathless ones: “Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Lowest Extent for 2008”,  “Arctic sea ice extent at maximum below average, thin” and “Melt onset earlier than normal.”
However, yesterday’s statement was drearily entitled “Arctic Ice Begins Autumn Freeze Up.” On their website’s page with their list of “Milestones To Watch For”, they list the minimum sea ice extent date as important and whether it occurs earlier or later in the year, yet they don’t tell even tell us in their new press release when the minimum occurred or whether it was earlier or later this year. Yet from their graph, it was considerably earlier than last year. My sleuthing discovered that it was on September 12th.  And then with some more research I found this gem from an NSDIC press release in October of 2007: “In addition to the record-breaking retreat of sea ice, NSIDC scientists also noted that the date of the lowest sea ice extent, or the absolute minimum, has shifted to later in the year. This year, the five-day running minimum occurred on September 16, 2007; from 1979 to 2000, the minimum usually occurred on September 12.” So this year’s minimum occurred on the average minimum day from 1979 to 2000! You think their reporting is biased? Their new press release should have been titled: “Date of Minimum Sea Ice Extent Completely Normal.”
NSDIC does admit, though, that “perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 2008 melt season was the higher-than-average retention of first-year sea ice (see earlier entries, including April 7). Relatively thin first-year ice is more prone to melting out completely than older, thicker ice. However, more of this year’s first-year ice survived the melt season than is typical. Sea ice age maps from Sheldon Drobot, our colleague at the University of Colorado at Boulder , show that much more first-year ice survived in 2008 than in 2007. This is one of the reasons that 2008 did not break last year's record-low minimum. One cause of the high first-year ice survival rate was that this summer was cooler than in 2007.” I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath for articles on how those earlier alarmist reports were wrong.
The Latest on Al
CEI's Myron Ebell
Albert A. Gore, Junior’s $300 million dollar advertising campaign peddling global warming alarmism and energy rationing must not be convincing too many people. It’s no wonder. Have you seen any of the ads? This week the former Vice President and Senator and Representative called on the nation’s youth to block construction of new coal-fired power plants through civil disobedience. According to a Reuters story, Gore told the rich and the powerful meeting at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City: "If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."
The problem with Gore’s "leadership" is always the same: it’s do as I say, not as I do. I have a suggestion. Before trying to stop new power plants from being constructed, why don’t young people concerned about greenhouse gas emissions concentrate on the root of the problem—energy consumers. They could start at the top with people who are using the most energy. For example, take Al Gore. He must use at least fifty times as much energy as the average person. Protesters could picket the several large houses he owns and could meet him whenever the private jet he uses for most of his frequent trips takes off or lands.


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