In the News
Markets, Not Social Values, Should Determine Price of Electricity
William Yeatman & Amy Oliver Cooke, Denver Daily News, 9 July 2010
News You Can Use
Hefty Cost of Fuel Switching
Proponents of a carbon tax often claim that natural gas is a ready alternative to coal for the generation of electricity, but according to a new study by the American Public Power Association, the fuel switch would cost $680 billion.
Inside the Beltway
Energy Rationers Still Can’t Get Their Act Together
The majority staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have spent the week putting together an energy-rationing package to bring to the floor, which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) planned to do next week. But it has already been reported that the package won’t be ready by next week. That is apparently because decisions on some key issues remain to be made. This is not news. The Democratic majority have been trying to put something together that can get 60 votes since last fall.
First, it was the Kerry-Boxer bill, which was similar to the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House on 26th June 2009 by a 219-212 vote. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) moved that bill out of her Environment and Public Works Committee last November before the UN global warming pow-wow in Copenhagen. But the public’s overwhelmingly negative reaction to Waxman-Markey meant that it was dead in the Senate.
Then Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) spent months working with Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on an alternative described as less ambitious and capable of attracting bi-partisan support. Graham eventually dropped out, most likely because of the blowback against him in South Carolina, and Kerry and Lieberman finally introduced their bill in May. Like Kerry-Boxer, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act has no chance of gaining the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. I doubt that it could get 50 votes.
That leaves it up to Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In the spring of 2009, Bingaman passed several measures out of his committee with the support of ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). These include a renewable standard for electric utilities, new building energy efficiency standards based on California’s, and a variety of other lesser “clean energy” provisions. That is reportedly the basis of the package now being put together. Like most other big bills brought to the Senate (and House) floor these days, the bill is being put together in secret, so it’s hard to find out what might be in it. However, it has been reported that it does not contain a cap-and-trade scheme or mandatory targets and timetables to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The obstacle remains how to get the 60 votes to invoke cloture and pass the bill. The other major decision is whether to attach it to a bill addressing BP’s Gulf oil leak disaster or to replace the House version of Waxman-Markey. If the latter, the Senate would then send H. R. 2454 back to the House in hopes of adding cap-and-trade in a House-Senate conference committee and passing it in a lame duck session after the November elections.
The fact that Senate Democrats have not been able to take the first step toward enacting energy-rationing legislation in the past year and still seem stymied is good news for American consumers, workers, and taxpayers. With any luck, the Senate will not pass anything this year. Even if it does, it’s not clear that the House would go along.
Another Week, Another Whitewash
Only days after the Penn State University released its whitewash report on Professor Michael Mann’s involvement in the Climategate (which we reported on last week), a supposedly blue-ribbon panel did the same for University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones, the central figure in the scandal. Incredibly, the Muir Russell panel failed to address climate science, and lead investigators didn’t even bother to attend interviews of Jones. Needless to say, “This is another example of the establishment circling the wagons and defending their position,” as CEI’s Myron Ebell told the New York Times.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.