Cooler Heads Digest 28 February 2014

by William Yeatman on March 1, 2014

in Blog

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In the News

‘All of the Above’ Is an Argument for Cronyism
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 28 February 2014

Fact-Checking Bill Maher on Climate Change
Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore, 28 February 2014

Soon, Climate Change Will Be the Cause of Everything
Charles C. Cooke, National Review Online, 27 February 2014

The Original Sin of Global Warming
Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, 26 February 2014

The EPA’s Breathtakingly Lawless Attempt to Regulate Greenhouse Gases
Marlo Lewis, Forbes, 25 February 2014

Obama’s Rush to Regulate
Ben Goad, The Hill, 24 February 2014

The EPA “Spy” and Double Standards
Wall Street Journal editorial, 23 February 2014

News You Can Use

Examining the Mann “Exonerations”

Over at Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre has published a must-read series debunking Michael Mann’s claim that his work has been “exonerated” by a number of official investigations. McIntyre’s posts debunk these “exonerations,” one by one.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Climate Regulation Case

The Supreme Court on Monday, 24th February, heard oral arguments in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, an appeal that narrowly challenges Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases for stationary sources.  I wasn’t there, but according to a report from my colleague, CEI general counsel Sam Kazman, the two attorneys speaking for the many appellants combined as the Utility Air Regulatory Group, Peter Keisler of Sidley Austin and Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell, did a good job making their arguments and answering questions during the 100-minute session.

The nine Justices appeared split down the middle with Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle.  The 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that allowed the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act was split 5 to 4 with Kennedy in the majority.  However, this time Kennedy may be leaning in the other direction.  According to Michael Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers, at one point Justice Kennedy said to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., “I can’t find a single precedent that strongly supports your position.”

Whether the Supreme Court’s decision in the narrow question being considered will have a significant effect on the EPA’s ongoing program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is a matter of some debate.  Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, has decided that a decision against EPA could be important because it would slow down EPA and thereby allow more time for a new administration or the Congress to overturn or roll back the regulations.

Social Cost of Carbon Update

The comment period on the Office of Management and Budget’s request for expert advice on the Department of Energy’s outlandish guidance document on the Social Cost of Carbon ended on 26th February.  My CEI colleague, Marlo Lewis, wrote lengthy, detailed, and outstanding comments on behalf of CEI and nine other non-profit free market groups—Americans for Tax Reform, CFACT, Freedom Action, FreedomWorks Foundation, Frontiers of Freedom, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute, Rio Grande Foundation, Science & Environmental Policy Project, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.  Marlo discusses some of the key points in a post on The complete comments can be found here.

If I may be permitted to summarize, the facts are that the social costs of carbon dioxide emissions are entirely speculative, the vast benefits of CO2 emissions, which are less speculative, are ignored in DOE’s guidance document, and DOE has inflated the costs upward by manipulating the discount rate applied to future alleged potential impacts.

Across the States

William Yeatman

Another EPA Regional Administrator Caught Using Private E-mails to Coordinate with Enviro Activists

In order to establish a local presence across the U.S., the EPA has 10 field offices, each of which is headed by a Regional Administrator. The Obama administration, unfortunately, has made a practice of staffing these regional positions with former employees of environmental litigation groups. In fact, 50% of the President’s picks to serve as Regional Administrators have a background in green litigation.

This week, CEI Senior Fellow Chris Horner, author of the Liberal War on Transparency, exposed a third Regional Administrator for illegally using private e-mail to correspond with former colleagues at environmental special interests, in plain contravention of the Freedom of Information Act. As reported by the Daily Caller, Horner uncovered evidence that EPA Region 2 (which has jurisdiction over New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven Native American tribal nations) Administrator Judith Enck used her private AOL e-mail account to give advice to environmental activists, including securing government funding, getting meetings with high-level officials and attending events.

In 2013, Horner exposed EPA Region 8 (covering Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota) Administrator James Martin’s extensive correspondence on private e-mail with his former co-workers at the Environmental Defense Fund. And earlier this year, Horner discovered that EPA Region 9 (covering California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii) Administrator Jared Blumenfeld relied on his private e-mail to coordinate with former colleagues at the Sierra Club.

Around the World

William Yeatman

Opposition to Climate Goals Growing within EU

For a decade, E.U. officials have claimed to be global leaders on climate change mitigation, despite the fact that none of their climate policies actually called for any sort of sacrifice (i.e., economic pain) until 2013. And now that these climate policy promises are coming due, it is telling that the EU is starting to have second thoughts.

According to a special report published this week, “the talk in Brussels is now all about re-balancing business and environmental objectives.” The latest evidence to this effect was last week’s Competitive Council, a meeting of the EU’s 28 industry ministers. At the conclusion of the conference, the ministers issued a statement noting that, “Several member states pointed to the need for a more balanced approach between the EU’s industrial, energy and climate policies.” This comes only weeks after EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, spoke out against a proposal to increase the EU planned greenhouse gas cuts to 40% by 2030.

Ultimately, the decision whether to water down the EU’s climate proposals will be made by the member states. However, the unprecedented pushback on the EU’s climate goals from within its bureaucratic structure is indicative of growing popular opposition within certain member states to the priority given climate change, especially since the start of the global recession in 2008.

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