Cooler Heads Digest 10 January 2014

by William Yeatman on January 10, 2014

in Blog

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In the News

Cold Comfort on Global Warming
Myron Ebell, Standpoint, January/February 2014

Oil Export Ban and Capitalists against Capitalism: When Will They Ever Learn?
Marlo Lewis,, 11 January 2013

Global Warming’s Glorious Ship of Fools
Mark Steyn, The Spectator, 10 January 2014

Video: Incandescent Light Bulbs, the Dumbest New Ban in 2014
Reason TV, 9 January 2014

Lavish Energy Lifestyles
Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, 9 January 2014

House Looks at Sue and Settle
William Yeatman, The Hill, 8 January 2014

Speaking Truth to Wind Power
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 7 January 2014

Good Riddance to the Wind Energy Subsidy
Washington Post editorial, 6 January 2013

News You Can Use

Alarmist Scientists Try Having It Both Ways on Extreme Weather

On the cold weather parts of the country have been experiencing, Seth Borenstein of the AP quotes Professor Andrew Dessler to good effect: “I think that people’s memory about climate is really terrible. So I think this cold event feels more extreme than it actually is because we’re just not used to really cold winters anymore.”  Similarly, Penn State climatologist Michael Mann explained to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, “The fact is we have a technical term for this in climate science. We call it winter. You’re going to have cold weather in winter.”

The Cooler Heads Digest hopes that Dessler and Mann will remember that weather is not climate the next time there is a heat wave, drought, hurricane, typhoon, tornado, or flood.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

EPA Finally Publishes Ban on New Coal-Fired Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, 8th January, the text of its proposed New Source Performance Standards to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants.  The first version of this rule was announced in April 2012 and then withdrawn in April 2013.  A revised version was announced on 20th September 2013, but it has taken another fourteen weeks to get the rule published.

Publication in the Federal Register triggers a sixty-day public comment period.  The EPA will also hold a public hearing on 28th January from 9 AM to 8 PM in the Clinton Building East’s Map Room in Washington, DC.  President Barack Obama has been invited by the Congress to give his annual State of the Union speech later that evening.

Erika Martinson reported in Politico Pro (subscription required) that among the documents released by the EPA as part of publishing the proposed rule were a number of comments from other unnamed administration officials.  According to Martinson: “In those documents, a thread emerged: Obama administration officials wanted EPA to be clear that this regulation is just the start, that the purpose is largely a legal set up for more expansive regulations that will cover the nation’s existing fleet of power plants, and that in the future, it won’t just be coal on the line, but natural gas, too.

If implemented, the rule will make it impossible to build new coal-fired power plants.  A further rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal and gas plants is due to be released by June, according to the schedule that President Obama announced last summer in his speech outlining his second-term energy-rationing and climate agenda.

William Yeatman, my CEI colleague, submitted some initial comments, which can be found here.  Further early reaction from CEI can be found in our press release.

API’s Gerard Doubles Down on Failed Strategy

Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, laid out API’s agenda in a speech at the Newseum in Washington, DC on 7th January.  It was a well-attended event that attracted a lot of media attention.  By my count, there were eight television cameras.  Among many press reports, Michael Bastasch’s in the Daily Caller was especially good. Kate Sheppard in the Huffington Post naturally didn’t like what she heard, which was that the oil industry wants the Keystone XL Pipeline to be approved without any more delay. CNBC concentrated on Gerard’s announcement that API will be heavily involved in the 2014 elections to try to elect candidates who favor pro-oil and gas policies.

This year API is calling its public outreach effort “America’s Energy, America’s Choice.”  Gerard said that the United States was on the verge of becoming the world’s leading energy producer, but that “If we are to continue our nation’s current positive energy production trends, we must implement energy policies based on current reality and our potential as an energy leader, not the outdated political ideology of the professional environmental fringe or political dilettantes.”

That sounds positive, but Gerard and API seem to have learned nothing from their active and expensive engagement in the 2012 elections.  API and its member companies spent many millions of dollars in 2012 on their “Vote 4 Energy” campaign, which included thousands of “I’m an Energy Voter” television and print ads.  The effort had little impact because President Obama and many Democrats running for Congress announced that they supported pro-energy policies.  The President in particular went around the country taking credit for the dramatic increase in domestic oil and gas production during his first term.  The API campaign did nothing to identify which candidates really had pro-energy records and which did not.  Polling before the election showed that President Obama led challenger Mitt Romney on energy policy issues.

In reply to a question at his speech, Gerard confirmed that API will continue its failed 2012 approach in its 2014 “America’s Energy, America’s Choice” campaign by not rating congressional votes on energy issues.  They want to raise energy as an important issue with voters, but they do not want to help inform voters about where candidates really stand on energy issues.  This is quite different from the much more successful election efforts of the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. My guess is that a League of Energy Voters that spent a fraction of what API is planning to spend, but that named names, would have an immensely bigger impact. In this regard, Freedom Action published 2011-12 Affordable Energy Congressional Vote Ratings, but had no funding for promotion before the election.

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