Cooler Heads Digest, 20 February 2009

by William Yeatman on February 23, 2009

in Cooler Heads Digest


There are only 2 weeks left to sign up for the Heartland Institute’s second International Conference on Climate Change in New York City, March 8-10, 2009! Are you sick and tired of climate alarmism based on flawed science and economics? Then join hundreds of the world’s elite scientists, economists, legal experts, business people, legislators, and members of the media in New York City to discuss the latest science, economics, and politics of global warming. Space is limited, so register by clicking here.

When it comes to global warming, dire predictions seem to be all we see or hear. In Climate of Extremes, a new book by climatologists Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling Jr., we learn why the news and information we receive about global warming have become so apocalyptic. The science itself has become increasingly biased, with warnings of extreme consequences from global warming becoming the norm. That bias is then communicated through the media, who focus on only extreme predictions. To learn more, click here.

In the News

Don’t Count on ‘Countless’ Green Jobs
Max Schulz, Wall Street Journal, 20 February 2009

Will Lisa Jackson Turn the Clean Air Act into a De-Stimulus Package?
Marlo Lewis,, 19 February 2009

Debate Heats Up as Climate Cools Down
S. Fred Singer, Investor’s Business Daily, 18 February 2009

Obama’s Climate Plan Could Trigger a Trade War
Mark Drajem and Catherine Dodgem, Bloomberg, 20 February 2009

Take Climate Change Off the Agenda
Chris Horner and Maureen Bader, Financial Post, 18 February 2009

Gore’s Global Warming Riff Keeps Melting
Chris Horner, Human Events, 18 February 2009

Is Obama Planning To Sneak Kyoto Past Congress?
Chris Horner, the Federalist Society Policy Series, 16 February 2009

So What Does He Think of a Cap-and-Trade?
Iain Murray, Open Market, 20 February 2009

The War on Coal
Alan Caruba, Warning Signs, 18 February 2009

Thomas Edison to Henry Ford: Forget Electric Cars
Robert Bradley, Master Resource, 19 February 2009

News You Can Use

Leading Alarmist Defers Crisis to 2040

Sir John Houghton, Britain’s leading global warming alarmist and lead editor of the IPCC’s first three assessment reports, told an interviewer recently that major effects of global warming will not be seen for 20 to 30 years. Apparently, Sir John has not heard from Al Gore, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, NASA’s James Hansen, and President Obama’s pick for White House Science Adviser, Dr. John P. Holdren, that the impacts of global warming are they’re here, they’re now, and boy are they big.

Inside the Beltway

CEI’s Myron Ebell

EPW Stacks the Deck Against Common Sense

The good news is that the Congress is not in session this week.  But they’re back next week. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing at 10 AM EST on Wednesday, 25th February, titled, “Update on the Latest Global Warming Science.”  The first witness will be Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Pachauri is an engineer and economist.  He regularly misrepresents climate science and smears scientists who disagree with the alarmist consensus that the IPCC supposedly represents.  Among the other witnesses, the witness invited by the Republican minority is Dr. William Happer.  He is Professor of Physics at Princeton University.  Notably, the Clinton Administration fired Happer in 1993 from his position as Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy for disagreeing in public with then-Vice President Al Gore’s alarmist views on global warming.  The hearing should be available at the committee’s web site for viewing online.

EPA Reconsiders

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has been making news this week with announcements about re-considering decisions taken by her Bush Administration predecessor, Stephen Johnson.  On Tuesday, EPA announced that Jackson would grant a petition from the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council to re-consider a memo from Johnson that stated that federal officials could not consider greenhouse gas emissions when deciding whether to permit new coal-fired power plants.

Jackson also told the New York Times in an interview published Wednesday that she has directed EPA staff to prepare the paperwork for a finding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and safety and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Press reports suggest that she will make the endangerment finding by early April.  As my colleagues Marlo Lewis and Chris Horner noted in their official comments submitted to EPA this fall, regulating carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act would be a regulatory nightmare that would cause an economic train wreck.

At the end of the week, Greenwire reported that EPA has sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review a draft rule that would create a mandatory registry of greenhouse gas emissions.  The Bush Administration failed to finalize a rule before it left office that would have improved and expanded the current voluntary registry.

Around the World

CEI’s Myron Ebell

Obama Goes to Canada

President Barack Obama visited Ottawa on Thursday to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Press reports suggested that they papered over disagreements on global warming policy and on oil production from the Alberta tar sands.

Canada is the United States’s major foreign supplier of oil, and more and more of it is synthetic oil produced from the tar sands.  However, the anti-energy bill enacted in 2007 requires the federal government to begin to buy petroleum products that meet a “low-carbon fuel standard.”  Since it takes a lot of energy to mine the tar sands and heat them up to liquefy the oil and since most of the energy used to do that comes from natural gas and coal, it’s unlikely that oil from the tar sands can meet this looming federal standard.  Since you can’t segregate types of oil once they are in put in the pipeline, the effect of the low carbon fuel standard could be to ban imports of oil from the tar sands.

Obama said before going to Ottawa that new technology was the answer.  He and Harper agreed to engage in a “clean energy dialogue” and to work together on global warming.  Problem deferred.

Across the States

Western Climate Initiative

Seven States (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) and four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec) last year agreed to participate in a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme called the Western Climate Initiative. A cap-and-trade scheme is designed to raise energy costs, yet proponents of WCI, such as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), claim that it will help the economy. Businessmen and economists, however, disagree. This week the Western Business Roundtable released a report showing that the WCI will chase business out of participating States by raising energy costs. According to the report, the WCI would impose a $2,300 cap-and-trade tax on the average family in participating States by 2020.

Your tax dollars at work–$139 per ton of carbon dioxide

CEI’s Julie Walsh

In this video, Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, advocates civil disobedience at a protest scheduled to be held in front of the Congress’s coal-fired power plant on March 2nd. His goal presumably is to force a shift in the plant’s fuel mix away from coal in order to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

Such activism is not new for Hansen. Last summer in the UK, a group of Greenpeace supporters trespassed on to a coal-fired power station and started vandalizing it. They were arrested and prosecuted. Their defense witnesses included James Hansen. They were found not guilty.

Here are the facts concerning such a possible shift. The Capitol power plant currently uses 10% fuel oil, 47% coal, and 43% natural gas. A June 2008 GAO study found that with a minor shift to 60% natural gas, 31% coal and with fuel oil staying the same:

“The fuel switching should cost about $1.4 million in fiscal year 2008 and could range from between $1.0 and $1.8 million depending on actual fuel costs, among other factors….Our May 2008 report also found that decreasing the plant’s reliance on coal could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by about 9,970 metric tons per year at an average cost of $139 per ton.”

That’s because as a GAO study published in May 2008 concluded: “Currently, natural gas costs about four times more than coal per British thermal unit.”

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