Cooler Heads Digest 11 February 2011

by William Yeatman on February 11, 2011

in Blog, Cooler Heads Digest

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In the News

Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi: Energy Policy Partners
Al Kaman, Washington Post, 11 February 2011

“Sustainability”: Some Free Market Perspectives
Marlo Lewis,, 11 February 2011

The High Speed Rail Boondoggle
Lou Dolinar, National Review, 11 February2011

No Arctic “Tipping Point”
David Whitehouse, The Observatory, 10 February 2011

What Happens When Economists Skip Econ 101
David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 10 February 2011

More Greenie “Con” Jobs
Chris Horner, American Spectator, 8 February 2011

Chrysler Super Controversy
Henry Payne, Planet Gore, 8 February 2011

The Trouble with the “Green Jobs” Approach
Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 February 2011

News You Can Use

Cold Weather Kills

In the wake of record freezing temperatures and snowstorms that wreaked havoc across the American south again this week, it bears repeating that cold weather is a public health threat—much more so than any of the fantasy harms imagined by global warming alarmists. As noted by Indur Goklany, the empirical evidence clearly demonstrates that mortality in developed countries is significantly greater during winter months.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on EPA Pre-emption

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a day-long hearing on Wednesday on the Inhofe-Upton-Whitfield draft legislation (titled the Energy Tax Prevention Act) to block EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas regulations.  The star witnesses were Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  They were followed by two panels of witnesses from the private sector plus the Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott.  I didn’t hear them all, but of the witnesses I did hear I was especially impressed by Abbott,  Mr. Steve Rowlan of steelmaker Nucor, and Mr. Peter Glaser of the law firm Troutman Sanders.

Administrator Jackson stated once again that EPA had determined that the Clean Air Act was an appropriate and well-designed vehicle for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, but that following the letter of the law would lead to an absurd result, which made the Tailoring Rule necessary.  The Clean Air Act states that all stationary sources that emit more than 250 tons annually of a listed pollutant must be regulated.  This makes sense for actual air pollutants, but no sense at all for carbon dioxide emissions.  The Tailoring Rule raises the regulatory threshold to 100,000 tons.  It would be more logical to conclude that the Clean Air Act was not appropriate or well-designed for regulating carbon dioxide emissions.  But following the law is not a strength of the Obama Administration.

The witnesses’ written statements may be found on the committee’s web site.  My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis posted four excellent blogs on the hearing as it was going on.  However, he doesn’t answer the question that puzzles me most: why is it named the Energy and Power Subcommittee? Why not Energy and Energy?

It became clear from the questions asked by Members that the Republican majority will vote unanimously for the bill.  Three Democrats, Rep. John Dingell (Mich.), Rep. Gene Green (Tex.), and Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah), voiced some concerns.  Thus I expect the Upton-Whitfield bill to sail through subcommittee and full committee when it is introduced and marked up.

Across the States

New Hampshire

Governor John Lynch (D) this week announced he would veto legislation introduced by Republicans on the House of Representatives Science, Technology and Energy Committee that would end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme for ten northeastern States, according to ClimateWire. If Republican lawmakers are unified in their opposition to this energy tax, then Governor Lynch’s threat is empty, because the party holds a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate.


On a party-line vote, Democrats on the Colorado State Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee this week voted down legislation that would have required state regulators to return to least-cost electricity planning. In 2008, under the administration of ex-Governor Bill Ritter, who left office in January, utility regulations were changed so that environmentalism was given priority over affordability and reliability. Since then, Colorado electricity rates have increased 21 %, despite decreased demand caused by the economic downturn.

Around the World

Biofueling an Egyptian Uprising

This week the New York Times Paul Krugman noted that near-record high food prices instigated the social instability in Cairo that has since led to overturning of Egypt’s government. However, Krugman went on to blame the rise in food prices on global warming, which is pure poppycock, as is explained by Roger Pielke Jr. In an editorial on Tuesday, the Washington Post identified a much more plausible explanation for the spike in food prices: ethanol.

This year, American farmers will divert a third of the corn crop into the production of corn fuels that are more expensive and environmentally harmful than regular gasoline. Naturally, this has increased demand for corn, which, in turn, has pushed prices to historic highs. American farmers set the global price for corn, so the impact of our foolish ethanol prices is felt worldwide. American corn is one of the largest crops in the world, and by displacing land given to other crops, the ethanol mandate also increases the price of wheat and soybeans on the international market.

Such unintended consequences were foreseeable long ago. In 2007, after the Congress enacted a 15 billion gallon Soviet-style ethanol production quota, CEI’s William Yeatman predicted that the resulting increase in global food prices would lead to social instability in poor urban areas dependent on the international food market. Yeatman listed Cairo as among the cities at risk.

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,

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