Cooler Heads Digest 24 April 2009

by William Yeatman on April 27, 2009

in Cooler Heads Digest

In the News

Global Warming Overreach
Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2009

Reckless Endangerment
Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2009

It’s Not Easy Being Green
W. James Antle III, American Spectator, 24 April 2009

The Biggest Tax Increase in History?
Myron Ebell,, 23 April 2009

On Global Warming, Politics Trumps Science
Anthony J. Sadar & Susan T. Cammarata, Washington Times, 22 April 2009

Exploding Myths on Energy and the Environment
Drew Thornley, DC Examiner, 22 April 2009

Getting a Rise out of Us
Chris Horner, Washington Times, 21 April 2009

EPA’s Endangerment Finding: Legislative Hammer? Or Suicide Note?
Marlo Lewis, DC Examiner, 21 April 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Wind
William Tucker, American Spectator, 21 April 2009

Global Warming Will Not Make Humans Worse Off
Indur Goklany,, 20 April 2009

Consider the Costs of Environmental Edicts
Orange County Register, 20 April 2009

News You Can Use

The Cost of Cap-and-Trade

Global warming alarmists recently criticized Republicans for incorrectly citing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that estimated a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme would cost the average American household $3,100 a year. The alarmists were right-according to the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, the actual cost suggested by the MIT study is $3,900 per year per American household.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Three Days of Climate Hearings

The big news in Washington this week has been the three days of hearings on the Waxman-Markey draft energy rationing bill. Beginning on Wednesday morning with EPA Administrator Lisa M. Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will have heard from more than sixty witnesses by the time they finish on Friday evening. Jackson, Chu, and LaHood didn’t say much of interest, but their panel was very revealing in two respects. First, the committee no longer has a lot of members who know a lot about energy or basic economics. There are still some Republicans who do, but the Democrat are a sorry bunch, led by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who makes Al Gore look moderately well informed.

Second, Jackson, Chu, and LaHood are enthusiastic about the bill and looking forward to learning more about it. In response to a question from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oreg.), who represents my native eastern Oregon, they all admitted that they hadn’t read the bill, but assured the committee that they had staffers who had read it. As became apparent, most committee members haven’t read the draft either, and who can blame them? It’s 648 pages long, highly technical, and tedious. All three administration witnesses described it as a bill that was about creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and helping the economy, although they couldn’t explain how. Nor did they say much about global warming.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), former Chairman of the Committee, asked Jackson how many regulations would be required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act as a result of Jackson’s 16th April endangerment finding. She couldn’t answer, but Dingell said his rough count was 106 separate regulations. Dingell also mentioned that he never had any intention to regulate carbon dioxide emissions when he wrote the Clean Air Act and subsequent amendments.

The highlight for me was Rep. Joe Barton’s question to Dr. Chu about where all the oil in Alaska and the Arctic came from. Chu fumbled a little and then settled on movement of the tectonic plates. Sec. Chu: “There are, there’s continental plates that have been drifting around throughout the geological ages.” Rep. Barton: “So it just drifted up there?”  Sec. Chu: “Ah, that’s certainly what happened.”

I guess Dr. Chu never took geology in high school, but he spoke with the authority of a Nobel Prize winner.

The second panel consisted of members of the U. S. Climate Action Partnership.  They all support the legislation, as they should since the cap-and-trade title was written by USCAP. There’s one main condition: all the ration coupons have to be given to them for free, not auctioned. I testified on the next panel, which remarkably consisted of four witnesses requested by the minority Republicans and only three by the majority Democrats.  My written testimony is here. Also, here are the written statements of David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation, Paul Cicio of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, and Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute.  But the testimony that did the most damage to Waxman-Markey was surprisingly provided by Dr. Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund. He brought up the EPA modeling of the costs of Waxman-Markey. EPA found that cutting emissions by 80% by 2050 will be almost free-or as Keohane put it, only 13 cents a day per person. The six or seven Republican Members were smiling as they listened to Keohane go on and on, while the two or three Democrats were wincing.

A highlight on Thursday was Professor Robert Michaels’s testimony. Of the sixty-some witnesses, about twelve were requested by the minority, but one of those is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, so that’s one spot that doesn’t count. Gingrich was added at the last minute to follow the week’s star witness, former Vice President Al Gore. I’m listening to Gore and former Senator John Warner (R-Va.) as I write this. Gore’s written testimony can be found here.  In reply to a question from Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Gore said that he wasn’t against nuclear power but doubted that it would play much of a role in reducing emissions because it’s too costly to build new plants and no one knows how much it will cost to build new plants. Then Gore said that the costs of renewable energy technologies will turn out to be much lower than predicted and that energy costs would go down once the Congress waved its magic wand. He didn’t mention that most of these cheaper technologies have been invented yet, but his faith in America’s technological creativity is touching.

Gore didn’t answer a question from Rep. Barton, but he did say that Barton was unfortunately relying on scientists who were providing him with bad information. He then compared the situation to investors who had been duped by Bernie Madoff. Gore, too, thinks that the costs will be very low and ultimately be a net benefit to the economy.

What’s Next?

Now that the House Energy and Commerce Committee has had three grueling days of hearings on the Waxman-Markey draft energy rationing bill, what happens next?  Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, has announced that he intends to mark up the bill starting on Monday, 27th April.  Mark-up may happen that quickly, but if it does start on Monday committee staffers aren’t going to get any sleep this weekend. The bill has one huge hole in it-how the ration coupons are going to be divvied up.  It has been reported that Markey and Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) still haven’t rounded up enough votes from committee Democrats from districts that still produce energy or have energy-intensive industries to pass the bill out of subcommittee. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), former chairman of the subcommittee, and a group of “Blue Dog” Democrats have presented a list of four pages of changes that they made before committing to support the bill.  It has been reported that Waxman has Members lined up to do deals.  As he agrees to give away ration coupons to one special interest after another in order to secure enough votes to pass this turkey, it will be interesting to see if the total adds up to more than 100%.

The Science

Julie Walsh

Arctic Ice Recovers

Last century’s and this century’s sun make look the same, but they are very different. ‘Between 1645 and 1715, sunspots were very rare and temperatures were low. Then sunspot frequency grew until, between 1930 and 2000, the Sun was more active than at almost any time in the last 10,000 years. The oceans can cause up to several decades of delay before air temperatures respond fully to this solar “Grand Maximum.” Now that the Sun is becoming less active again, global temperatures have fallen for seven years,’ according to Willie Soon, a solar and climate scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Is it any wonder that, despite many news stories to the contrary, Arctic ice is now increasing and almost back up to average levels? However, Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan write in their Washington Post April 7 article, “New Data Show Rapid Arctic Ice Decline; Proportion of Thicker, More Persistent Winter Cover Is the Lowest on Record”:

The Arctic sea ice cover continues to shrink and become thinner, according to satellite measurements and other data released yesterday, providing further evidence that the region is warming more rapidly than scientists had expected.

Around the World

U.S. Faces Diplomatic Deadline

Today is the cutoff for the Obama Administration to submit input for a successor treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol in advance of negotiations at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen.

Forty-eight hours before the deadline, Todd Stern, Obama’s climate envoy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman that there remained “suspense” in the “main outline” of U.S. input to a climate treaty, presumably because the Congress had yet to pass a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Stern is missing the boat. Even if the U.S. Congress agreed to reduce American emissions to zero by next winter, a new treaty is impossible until developed nations agree to pay for a “green” energy revolution in developing nations. These countries will account for almost all future increases in global emissions, but they refuse expensive-energy policies that would harm economic growth. Absent hundreds of billions of dollars a year in financing for new, environmentally friendly energy technologies in developing countries, there can be no successor to the failed Kyoto Protocol. That’s why European Union Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas last week told reporters, “No money, no deal.”

For Stern’s diplomatic strategy to work, the Congress would have to ration energy in America AND pass funding for a green energy package for China, India, and the major developing nations. The federal government would have to borrow the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to pay them off, and I suppose China would be willing to loan it to us.

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