Cooler Heads Digest 15 May 2009

by William Yeatman on May 18, 2009

in Cooler Heads Digest


The Competitive Enterprise Institute this week unveiled a new video campaign-Al Gore, 1984. The web page links to a joint CEI-National Taxpayers Union project that allows you to email your Member of Congress about the Waxman-Markey energy-rationing bill.

In the News

Indiana Says “No Thanks” to a Cap-and-Trade
Governor Mitch Daniels, Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2009

Air Traffic Control Reform: Good for Planet, Bad for Bureaucrats
Iain Murray, DC Examiner, 15 May 2009

Global Warming Bill Is a Pork-Fest
Tim Carney, DC Examiner, 15 May 2009

The New Energy Economy
Marlo Lewis,, 15 May 2009

What If Global Warming Fears Are Overblown?
John Birger, Forbes, 14 May 2009

Give the Skeptics a Voice
Dr. William Porter, Atlanta Journal Constitution, 14 May 2009

The Deep Ecologists
Peter Hannaford, American Spectator, 13 May 2009

Obama’s Anti-Energy Plan
Barry Russell, DC Examiner, 13 May 2009

Marx in a Pony Tail (video)
Chris Horner, Fox News, 12 May 2009

Is Copenhagen Already Dead?
Terrence Corcoran, National Post, 12 May 2009

Expose Cap-and-Trade Costs
Jason Chaffetz, Washington Times, 12 May 2009

Sending Us Back to 1875
U.S. Rep Joe Barton, Washington Times, 10 May 2009

News You Can Use

Is the Temperature Record Reliable?

Anthony Watts and a team of volunteers examined 850 stations used by the National Weather Service to calculate America’s temperature, and found that 89 percent of them fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters or more away from an artificial heating or reflecting source.


According to the Daily Telegraph, a team researching the effects of global warming on the Arctic had to call off a trek to the North Pole well short of its destination due to the extreme cold.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Waxman Buys Support for Expensive Energy Bill

It took a lot of concessions to moderate Democrats, but House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) announced this week that he will have enough votes to pass the Waxman-Markey energy rationing bill out of committee next week. It appears that every Republican, with the possible exception of Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), will vote against the bill. With 36 Democrats and 23 Republicans on the committee, that means that Waxman can lose no more than seven Democrats out of the group of around eighteen Democrats that represent districts that produce oil or coal or have significant energy-intensive manufacturing.

The 932 page text of the new bill has just been released as I write this, so I haven’t had a chance to look at it. However, a memo did become public today that summarizes most of the deals that Waxman has made. Electric utilities will be given 35% of the ration coupons, which will be phased out from 2026 to 2030. Natural gas distributors will get 9% of the ration coupons, which will also be phased out from 2026 to 2030. These free ration coupons must be used to protect consumers from rate increases.

Fifteen percent of the ration coupons will be auctioned every year and the proceeds will be distributed to low and moderate income people “to protect them from other energy cost increases.” Fifteen percent of the ration coupons will be given to energy-intensive industries that are subject to foreign competition. These can be phased out in 2025 unless the President decides otherwise. Oil refineries will be given 2% of the ration coupons beginning in 2014 and ending in 2026. There is a long list of other recipients of free ration coupons: to pay for carbon sequestration, to offset heating oil and propane costs, investments in automobile technology, research and development, preventing tropical deforestation, domestic adaptation, international adaptation, clean technology transfer, and worker assistance and job training.

What’s left? Very little, but the proceeds of whatever remaining ration coupons are auctioned will be used to ensure budget neutrality and for “consumer protection.” So nearly all the changes that have been made to the initial draft are designed to protect consumers or special interests from the consequences of the bill-namely, higher energy prices. One might wonder, if the bill does actually produce emissions reductions, then who’s going to being paying for the higher energy prices?

Even before these details were released, the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, announced that they would support the bill. On the other side, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen announced that they are likely to oppose the bill because it’s all about rewarding special interests and not about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sierra Club comes out against it as well. The environmental pressure groups that are fronts for big business-Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council-are of course supporting it.

Committee mark-up is scheduled to begin on Monday at 1 PM. It will probably take most of the week. The bill that is released today or Saturday may not actually be the vehicle.  It has been rumored that Waxman will come to the mark-up with a revised version as he continues to make deals over the weekend and his committee staffers continue to try to perfect the technical details.  The Republicans, led by ranking member Joe Barton (R-Tex.), have made up a list of around two hundred amendments and are threatening to demand recorded votes on amendment after amendment.  It has been rumored that part of the deal Waxman has made with moderate Democrats is that they will vote against all Republican amendments.

It has also been rumored that Waxman has refused to take out the citizen lawsuit provision. As long as citizen lawsuits are in the bill, the other details don’t matter.  Environmental pressure groups will be able to file suits in federal courts to block any new facility that produces energy or uses energy. Even windmills and solar panels take a lot of energy to fabricate, and much of that comes from coal-fired power plants.

As I look at the eighteen moderate Democrats on the committee, I think the breakdown is roughly as follows.

Yes-signed on: Dingell (Mich.-15th district), Boucher (Va.-9), Gordon (Tenn.-6), Stupak (Mich.-1), DeGette (Colo.-1), Doyle (Penna.-14), Hill (Ind.-9), Space (Ohio-18), and Sutton (Ohio-13).

No-or not yet signed on: Rush (Ill.-1), Engel (NY-17), Green (Tex.-29), Gonzalez (Tex.-20), Ross (Ark.-4), Matheson (Utah-2), Butterfield (NC-1), Melancon (La.-3), and Barrow (Ga.-12).

Around the World

Green Corruption in the UK

The Times this week reported that Elliot Morley, the chairman of the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee, claimed more than $24,000 of taxpayers’ money for a mortgage he had already paid off. Lawyers said last night that the claim could amount to fraud. The scandal is growing rapidly.

Krugman Is Wrong on Carbon Tariff

The New York Times’s Paul Krugman today endorsed a carbon tariff-a tax on the carbon footprint of Chinese imports- because “like it or not, China will have to do its part” to fight global warming. Krugman, however, ignores the consequences of his preferred climate “solution” –namely, an economically ruinous trade war. Already, the Chinese have warned that retaliation is likely if the U.S. were to adopt carbon tariffs. Under such a scenario, American manufacturers, in addition to expensive energy climate policies at home, would be threatened by diminished markets abroad.

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