Cooler Heads Digest

by William Yeatman on January 16, 2009

In the News

Debate Over: It’s Freezing
David Harsanyi, Townhall, 16 January 2009

Paulson on Energy Rationing

Myron Ebell,, 15 January 2009

Global Government
Chris Horner, Washington Times, 14 January 2009

The Problem with Green Jobs
John Whitehead, Salon, 14 January 2009

Pickens’s Windmills Tilt against Market Realities
Neil King, Jr., Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2009

Spare Detroit Car Czar’s Green Thumb

Sam Kazman, Detroit News, 13 January 2009

Bail Out Big Three by Cutting Red Tape

Iain Murray, Detroit News, 13 January 2009

Laffer Gas
William Yeatman & Jeremy Lott, Culture 11, 13 January 2009

Green Wacko Tobacco
Chris Horner, Human Events, 13 January 2009

News You Can Use

Inaugural Emissions

Paul Chesser

The Institute for Liberty and The Chilling Effect have calculated some “conservative” estimates of how much carbon will be emitted at next week’s swearin’ (in) of the green new president. They came up with a total of 575 million pounds of CO2 as the likely figure.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at the committee’s first hearing on Thursday that he planned to mark up cap-and-trade legislation before Memorial Day.  The committee has 36 Democrats and 23 Republicans.  It looks to me that the Republicans on the committee will vote against any cap-and-trade bill close to unanimously.  That means that Waxman will have to win over at least several of the committee’s Democrats from coal States in order to pass his bill out of committee.  That makes it likely that any bill will be a lot messier than the environmental pressure groups would like to see.

Waxman held a hearing to spotlight big business support for cap-and-trade.  Fifteen members of the U. S. Climate Action Partnership testified about their new agreement on the outlines of a cap-and-trade system to ration energy.  Witnesses included Jeff Immelt of General Electric and Jim Rogers of Duke Energy, plus the heads of Conoco Phillips, Exelon, Rio Tinto, PNM Resources, P G and E, Siemens, and NRG Energy.  Five heads of environmental front groups for big business that belong to USCAP also testified—NRDC, EDF, Nature Conservancy, WRI, and Pew Center.

Not everyone was pleased.  At a briefing on USCAP’s new plan for Senators and Representatives before the hearing, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) apparently unloaded on the CEOs.  His office then sent out a press release that made Corker’s broadside public.  Corker in the press release  calls USCAP’s plan self-serving and says: “I’m totally bewildered that in this anti-earmark atmosphere, USCAP would promote what is basically just another request from special interest groups to take money out of taxpayer pockets.”

The House Appropriations Committee released the text of an economic stimulus bill that would cut taxes by $275 billion and spend $550 billion.  I haven’t seen the tax cuts yet, but they are undoubtedly designed to benefit special interests.  Extending tax subsidies for renewable energy is probably included.

The new spending is described in the committee report as “$550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in.”  Parts of the package are pork barrel projects designed to create “green jobs.”  For example, there is at least $18 billion for renewable technologies and energy efficiency.  There is an $8 billion loan guarantee to finance renewable energy and transmission projects.  The bill would spend $6 billion on weatherizing houses of low-income people and another $7 billion on making federal buildings more energy efficient.  The Institute for Energy Research this week happened to publish a paper that blows a lot of big holes in the green jobs myth.

Senate committees held hearings this week on President-elect Barack Obama’s nominees for environment and energy posts.  His choices for Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Interior, EPA Administrator, and CEQ Chairman sailed through the hearings.  Senators voiced little criticism and asked few tough questions.  The nominees were careful not to make controversial remarks.  For example, Dr. Steven Chu, Obama’s pick for Energy, played down his anti-coal remarks and sounded more like the administrator he is about to become than the advocate that he has been.

Around the World

The Russian Gas Crisis Week Two

Russia’s cutoff of gas to Ukraine and eighteen other European countries is now in its tenth day. Several deals to end the crisis have fallen apart.  Negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union may resume this weekend.

German gas stockpiles are down to levels usually seen at the end of the heating season. Slovenia said its gas reserves will last for another 30 days. French gas supplier GDF Suez has been sending emergency supplies to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Bosnia and Serbia. Serbia’s three largest cities are now facing blackouts because the lack of gas has forced consumers to switch to electricity to heat their homes, overloading their power grid. Residents and businesses in the Serbian, Bosnian and Hungarian capitals have resorted to burning oil, wood and coal. And angry Bulgarians demonstrated outside the parliament in Sofia.

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine currently centers around who will pay for “technical gas”—gas worth several million dollars per day that is needed to power compressors to push gas westward through the inefficient pipeline system that was built in the Soviet era. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met today with European energy company chiefs to push his idea of a consortium to help pay for this technical gas. The companies within the consortium would jointly buy the gas from Gazprom at a price of around $450 per 1,000 cubic meters, according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The European Commission threatened today to take unspecified sanctions against Russia and Ukraine unless gas flows to the EU resume after the weekend. The crisis appears to be changing the thinking of some European leaders on the EU’s energy priorities. Securing energy supplies suddenly seems more critical than reducing greenhouse emissions by closing down coal-fired power plants in order to address global warming.  Announced plans to close down nuclear plants may also soon be reconsidered.

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