Marlo Lewis

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals released a 320-page transcript of the marathon oral argument on EPA’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for existing fossil-fuel power plants, the agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP). 

To my knowledge, the transcript is not available on the Court’s Web site. To make the document more easily accessible to the public, I am pleased to post it on GlobalWarming.Org.

To read/download the oral argument, click on the highlighted text in the first paragraph above.  

Post image for Posting: Little-Known Documents Pertinent to Assessing the Legality of EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program

The public comment period for EPA’s proposed rule titled Clean Energy Incentive Program Design Details closes on September 2, 2016. I intend to submit comments on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other free-market groups. We will argue that EPA has once again exceeded its statutory authority. The gist of the argument is available here and here.

Among other evidence, we will cite regulatory comments that no longer exist on agency Web sites. To ensure those sources have active links, I post several below. But first some background. [click to continue…]

Post image for Kyoto-Financed Cook Stoves Fail as Health/Climate “Intervention”

Researchers from Canada, the United States, and India measured the indoor air quality impacts of providing modern “clean cook stoves” to families in southern India. The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) subsidizes the distribution of such devices.

The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of CDM-supported cook stoves to reduce indoor air pollution is a big deal. As the researchers explain:

Burning solid fuel (wood, dung, agricultural residues, and coal) in traditional stoves for cooking and heating negatively affects the health and welfare of nearly 3 billion people, mostly in low and middle-income countries. Household air pollution (HAP) emitted from solid fuel combustion contributed to an estimated 2.9 million premature deaths and 81.1 million disability adjusted life-years in 2013.

The researchers examined indoor air pollution concentrations and fuel use in 187 households in a village in Karnataka, India. About half the households received “clean” stoves, and half–the control group–did not.

Clean Cook Stoves




The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, is paywall protected. The online journal Phys.Org accurately summarizes the results: “Actual indoor concentrations measured in the field were only moderately lower for the new stoves than for traditional stoves.”

Part of the reason was that “40 percent of families who used a more efficient wood stove as part of the intervention also elected to continue using traditional stoves, which they preferred for making staple dishes such as roti bread. That duplication erased many of the hoped-for efficiency and pollution improvements.” Those households “stacked” new and old stoves instead of replacing the old with the new. See the image at the top right corner of the page.

The climate benefit of the CDM-financed “intervention” was also nil. As Phys.Org reports:

Laboratory studies suggested that the more efficient, cleaner-burning stoves could reduce a family’s fuelwood consumption by up to 67 percent, thereby reducing household air pollution and deforestation. In practice, there was no statistically significant difference in fuel consumption between families who used the new stoves and families who continued to cook over open fires or traditional stoves.

Moreover, the “clean” cook stoves actually “increased the proportion” of household emissions composed of black carbon, a strong warming agent that darkens and melts Arctic ice.







[click to continue…]

Post image for CEQ Finalizes NEPA Guidance for Greenhouse Gases: Will Pointless Keystone XL Controversy Become ‘New Normal’?

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today released its final guidance on how federal agencies should consider climate change effects in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of their proposed actions.

NEPA is the landmark 1969 statute requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of “any major project—federal, state, or local—that involves federal funding, work performed by the federal government, or permits issued by a federal agency.”

This being the Age of Global Warming, when all things are to be measured by their carbon footprints and all policies judged by their conformity to the climate agenda, the Obama administration’s push to elevate climate concerns in NEPA reviews was a foregone conclusion.

CEQ’s fact sheet claims the final guidance “provides a level of predictability and certainty by outlining how Federal agencies can describe these impacts by quantifying greenhouse gas emissions when conducting NEPA reviews.” On the contrary, the NEPA process already empowers NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) and anti-energy activists to delay and block development projects with immense economic benefits and immeasurably small, hypothetical climate effects. The guidance will increase the role of climate politics, with all their irrationality and rancor, in NEPA reviews. [click to continue…]

Post image for EPA’s PM2.5 Co-Benefits PR Trick Exposed


  • If we consider just the hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) targeted by EPA’s Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, costs exceed quantifiable benefits by 1,600 times to 2,400 times–a potential PR disaster for the agency.
  • To sell the rule to Congress and the public, EPA touted the “co-benefits” of the rule’s coincidental reductions in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution.
  • In fact, EPA attributes more than 99 percent of the rule’s monetized health benefits to collateral reductions in PM2.5-related emissions.
  • But about 99 percent of those co-benefits occur in areas projected to be in attainment with the National Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5.
  • To calculate the MATS rule’s PM2.5-related health benefits, EPA ascribes equal value to PM2.5 reductions in areas below and above the NAAQS.
  • That is inconsistent with the basic concept of the NAAQS program, which is to set concentration standards at a level “requisite to protect public health . . . allowing an adequate margin of safety.”
  • Once we factor in the lower probability of PM2.5 health effects in areas where exposures are already below the NAAQS, the value of the MATS rule’s co-benefits falls nearly to zero.
  • The lion’s share of EPA-estimated Clean Power Plan health benefits also disappears.
  • Unless EPA makes its impact assessments consistent with its NAAQS determinations, the agency’s benefit estimates will become increasingly overstated and less credible over time.

MATS Back in the News

EPA’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which established maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for mercury and other hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from power plants, is again in the news. The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition by Michigan and 26 other states to freeze the rule.

Petitioners complained that EPA continued to implement MATS even though the Court last year deemed the rule to be unlawful. The Court held that EPA “strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating [HAP emissions from] power plants.”

Although EPA did not compare costs and benefits when deciding whether to regulate power plant HAP emissions, it did compare costs and benefits when promoting the rule to Congress and the public. EPA boasted that although MATS would cost utilities $9.6 billion to implement in 2016, it would generate $37 billion to $90 billion in health benefits in the same year (77 FR 9306).

However, EPA attributed more than 99 percent of the quantified benefits to coincidental reductions in fine particulate matter (PM2.5)–a pollutant not directly targeted by the rule and not classified as a HAP in the Clean Air Act. Specifically, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (p. 5-93) claimed that reductions in PM2.5-related emissions would avert 4,200 to 11,000 premature deaths in 2016–annual “co-benefits” valued by the agency at $36 billion to $89 billion.

A study by economist Anne Smith of NERA Economic Consulting finds that even if we accept the epidemiological literature supporting an association between mortality and PM2.5 at today’s historically-low levels (skepticism is justified), the MATS rule’s co-benefit estimates are flimflam. [click to continue…]

Post image for More Good News on Climate

Worse than we thought? Not lately. Consider some recent studies and data on hurricanes, rainfall trends, climate sensitivity, Atlantic Ocean circulation, and Antarctic temperature trends.

Major Hurricane Drought Continues

Not since Hurricane Wilma struck the Florida near Everglades City in October 2005 has a major (category 3 and larger) hurricane made landfall in the United States.

Hall and Hereid (2015), a study published last year in Geophysical Research Letters, reported that the nine-year “drought” in major U.S. hurricane landfalls from 2006 to the end of the 2014 hurricane season was “unprecedented” in the historical record, which extends back to 1851. The two scientists estimated that nine-year periods with no major U.S. hurricane strikes happen, on average, only once every 177 years.

There were also no major U.S. hurricane landfalls in 2015, extending the drought to a full ten years. “According to NASA, a stretch like this is only likely to happen once in 270 years,” CNN reports.

To be sure, our string of good luck is bound to run out eventually. The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season officially opens today, and NOAA says 1 to 4 major hurricanes are possible this year. Nonetheless, a 10-year hiatus in major U.S. hurricane landfalls with a probability of once every 270 years was not what Al Gore told us to expect in An Inconvenient Truth.

No Large Change in Rainfall during Past 150 Years

The most comprehensive study of global rainfall trends ever, based on 1000 weather stations in 114 countries, with each station having at least 100 years of observations, finds that “most trends over a century or longer are consistent with little precipitation change.”

Contrary to popular climate fears, over periods of a century or longer, dry areas are not becoming drier, wet areas are not becoming wetter, and deserts/jungles are not expanding or shrinking due to changes in precipitation patterns. The study, published in the Journal of Hydrology, concludes that “some caution is warranted about claiming that large changes in global precipitation have occurred during the last 150 years.” [click to continue…]

Post image for House Panel Asks McCarthy: How Is EPA’s Continuing Implementation of the Clean Power Plan Legal under the Stay?

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Penn.) today sent an oversight letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning the legality of EPA’s ongoing implementation of the so-called Clean Power Plan despite the Supreme Court’s stay of the rule.

The congressmen note that the Court’s order “expressly and categorically stays the promulgated rule” and was intended to “save states and other stakeholders from taking actions, expending resources and incurring costs in response to a rule that may not be legal.” Yet in the ensuing weeks and months, “EPA has been taking steps to circumvent the Court’s stay and potentially undermine the relief provided by the stay in the first place.”

For example, on April 27, EPA sent a detailed proposal for the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), a component of the Power Plan, to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. “This new rulemaking proposal arises directly from the Clean Power Plan and, but for this rule, the new proposal would have no basis.”

“In addition,” the congressmen write, “the agency has confirmed it is moving forward with its proposed ‘Model Trading Rules’ and other regulatory guidance for implementing the Clean Power Plan. These rules and guidance similarly have no basis independent of the Clean Power Plan. To the extent EPA proceeds with any such actions to implement the stayed rule, it deprives states and other stakeholders the benefits of the stay by compelling participation in regulatory processes that inappropriately assume the validity of a rule that may ultimately be struck down.”*

Of particular concern, “EPA officials have also stated that certain compliance deadlines in the Clean Power Plan may not be tolled [delayed] should the stay be lifted—the thrust of which is that states and other stakeholders would be prudent to begin voluntarily preparing now for rule implementation in case its legality is upheld. This ‘take action or else’ messaging underscores indications that EPA, despite the stay, is seeking to coerce additional action to lock in compliance with the mandates of its rule—even if the rule is found to be unlawful.” [click to continue…]

Post image for Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds

“Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds.” Says who? Some ‘denier’ group? Nope. The NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

From the agency’s Web site:

From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.

An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries led the effort, which involved using satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments to help determine the leaf area index, or amount of leaf cover, over the planet’s vegetated regions. The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.

That last sentence bears repeating. Satellite records show an increase in leafy vegetation equal to twice the area of the continental United States. The scientists, Zhu et al. (2016), estimate that about 70% of the increase is due to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. You know, the same emissions climate activists call “carbon pollution.”

Check out NASA’s composite image of changes in “leaf area index” (LAI) based on three long-term satellite records:







The new study may be the most accurate of its kind to date, but previous studies reveal the same big picture: a planet becoming greener, chiefly due to CO2 emissions.

Yet the Obama administration purports to estimate the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) — the alleged net damage of an incremental ton of CO2 emissions — using three computer models of which two, known as DICE and PAGE, have no significant CO2 fertilization benefit.

[click to continue…]

Post image for What Every Conservative in Congress Needs to Know about the Paris Agreement

Today, at least 155 governments are expected to sign the Paris Agreement at U.N. headquarters in New York. A visitor to a prominent skeptic blog posted the following comment:

“But Obama’s negotiators in Paris negotiated with the leader of the summit, another socialist, for a non binding deal. Essentially making the whole thing meaningless in order for him to attempt to bypass congress.”

That dismissive comment expresses an opinion held by many conservatives and skeptics. It is incorrect.

Beguiled by Obama’s claims that the agreement is “non-binding,” “unenforceable,” hence “not a treaty,” many conservatives assume it’s harmless, a global feel-good exercise they can safely ignore. Not so.

Bypassing Congress is not meaningless. It undermines and, unless forthrightly opposed, can destroy constitutional checks and balances.

Moreover, the agreement is inherently dangerous to America’s economic future and capacity for self-government. Here’s why.

The guts of the agreement are a detailed collection of reporting, monitoring, and verification requirements which, flagged by the word “shall,” are understood to be legally binding. Those procedural “commitments” are the framework for a global, multi-decadal campaign of political pressure. It’s chief function is to overcome U.S. political resistance to climate alarm, EPA’s power plant rules, cap-and-trade, wealth transfers from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor countries (a.k.a. “climate finance”), and “keep it in the ground” restrictions on domestic energy production.

Granted, our specific emission reduction and climate finance commitments are non-binding in the sense of self-chosen rather than specified by the agreement itself, but for the United States, that is a distinction without a difference. Americans expect their leaders to keep all solemn promises, whether or not there are legal penalties for breaking them. As a GEICO ad might put it, “When you’re the United States, you keep your promises; it’s what you do.” The way nations honor their non-binding promises under the Paris Agreement is to turn them into legally binding appropriations and regulations.

Some conservatives assume that if President Obama can make America a party to the agreement with the stroke of a pen, a Republican president could withdraw from it just as easily. That too is incorrect.

The agreement “enters into force” when at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it (an outcome expected soon). After the agreement enters into force, a party may not notify its intent to withdraw until three years later, and withdrawal does not become effective until one year after notification.

So by the terms of the agreement, a Republican administration would be bound for four years to participate in the annual climate summits and endless rounds of specialized committee meetings, providing countless media opportunities for foreign leaders, U.N. officials, and green pressure groups to “name and shame” U.S. officials who question climate orthodoxy, fail to pony up billions in climate finance, or oppose EPA’s power plant rules and other greenhouse gas regulations that would be dead on arrival if proposed as legislation in Congress.

Congressional leaders can foil this scheme, but only if they challenge rather than repeat Obama’s core premise that the Paris Agreement is not a treaty, hence does not require Senate approval to enter into force with respect to the United States.

The good news is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) completely get it and today issued a statement challenging the constitutional bona fides of Obama’s climate diplomacy. [click to continue…]

Post image for Paris Climate Agreement: What Should a Republican President Do?

What political costs would a Republican president incur should he attempt to “withdraw” the United States from the Paris Agreement? That is a question to which President Obama has given much thought and GOP leaders little.

Writing in yesterday’s Washington Post, environmental reporters Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin argue that President Obama’s “rapid move to join the Paris climate agreement could tie up the next president.”  They reason as follows.

The Paris Agreement “enters into force” as soon as 55 countries representing 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions join the agreement (Article 21). A party may not withdraw until three years after the agreement enters into force, and withdrawal does not “take effect” until “expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal” (Article 28). Thus if, as expected, the Obama administration signs the agreement on Earth Day (April 22) and deposits the U.S. article of acceptance or approval before Obama leaves office, America will be a party to the agreement for at least the next four years — “the length of a presidential term.”

Yet as Mooney and Eilperin acknowledge, the administration “has said that the Paris agreement is not, in its eyes, a formal, legally binding treaty, which means that it doesn’t have to be ratified by the Senate.” That raises an obvious question. If the agreement is not a formal treaty, if it’s not legally binding, how exactly does it “enter into force” with respect to the United States? How can it bind us to remain a party until 2020 even if the American people elect a president and Congress opposed to the agreement?

Mooney and Eilperin fail to flag the rhetorical sleight of hand by which Obama seeks to have his cake and eat it. Obama wants an agreement that, like a real climate treaty, controls domestic energy policy for decades to come, regardless of domestic politics and the policy preferences of future U.S. leaders.  Yet he also wants an agreement that is somehow not a treaty, so he can adopt it unilaterally, with the stroke of a pen, without engaging the Senate, where the agreement would be dead on arrival.

This game plan should be too clever by half. I say “should be,” because most GOP leaders have not shown they have the wits and courage to unmask and defeat it.

The first step in foiling Obama’s end-run around the Constitution is simply to call the Paris Agreement by its proper name: a treaty. [click to continue…]