Post image for Obama’s Greenhouse of Cards: Doomed to Collapse or Too Big to Fail?

              The Obama administration’s climate agenda is a greenhouse of cards. The jerry-built structure has three stories, floors, or levels. It is unlawful from top to bottom.

The top floor is the Kyoto Protocol-successor treaty that President Obama wants 190-plus nations to adopt at the upcoming COP 21 climate conference in Paris. The final form of the pact is anybody’s guess, but the European Union advocates a treaty reducing global greenhouse gas emissions 60% below 2010 levels by 2050. As explained previously on this blog, actual implementation of the EU’s 60-by-50 target would be a humanitarian disaster for the world’s poor countries.

The floor beneath the climate treaty is EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to “aggressively transform” and “decarbonize” the U.S. electric power sector. The CPP underpins the treaty because it is the core of Obama’s emission-reduction pledge (the U.S. Independently Determined National Contribution, or INDC) in the COP 21 negotiations. Even with the CPP, Obama’s current and planned climate policies fall far short of his pledge to reduce U.S. emissions 26%-28% below the 2005 level by 2025. Without the CPP, the U.S. negotiating position becomes a farce.

The bottom floor is EPA’s so-called Carbon Pollution Standards (CPS) for new coal and natural gas power plants. The CPS rule is a prerequisite for the CPP, because EPA may not lawfully impose emission performance standards on “existing” stationary sources under §111(d) of the Clean Air Act unless it first (or concurrently) imposes performance standards on “new” sources under §111(b).

Let’s briefly examine why Obama’s three-tiered climate action plan is doomed to collapse–unless, as in the Obamacare cases, courts decide presidential legacy policies are too big to fail[click to continue…]

Have We Finally Reached Peak Lie on the Clean Power Plan?

EPA has marketed its Clean Power Plan on a number of untruths, including (but not limited to):

However, on October 7th, EPA told its biggest 111(d) whopper to date. On that day, during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, EPA Office of Air and Radiation chief Janet McCabe said, “The Clean Power Plan does not set in place a cap-and-trade program.” This is a bald face lie. In fact, the administration has proposed to impose a cap-and-trade on any state that refuses to comply with the rule. Moreover, top EPA officials, including Administrator Gina McCarthy, have urged States to comply by participating in a cap-and-trade. For my part, I can understand why McCabe was reduced to such naked duplicity. The Congress has considered and ultimately demurred on a number of cap-and-trade schemes. Now, EPA is trying to impose one, without a legislative mandate. McCabe was before Congress, the institution that has been screwed thusly. So she lied. Heckuva Job, Janet!

Dem Climate Debate Demonstrates Emptiness of Dem Climate Debate

Last Tuesday’s debate featured extensive discussions about climate change policy, a first for a presidential candidate debate of any stripe. The resulting interaction among candidates was heavy on empty exaggeration and obvious fibs. [click to continue…]

Post image for Record-Breaking Major U.S. Hurricane Landfall Drought Continues


While acknowledging in his landmark climate policy speech that “no single weather event is caused solely by climate change,” President Obama quickly added: “But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet.”

That’s a clever way to have one’s cake and eat it. Don’t claim “carbon pollution” is “solely” responsible for any “single” weather event, just link it to bad weather in general. Political implication: Blame the Koch Brothers!

What happens, though, when a nation experiences record-breaking good weather? How would Obama explain it? To what (or whom) would he impute responsibility?

Hall and Hereid (2015), a study published in Geophysical Research Letters and reviewed this week on CO2Science.Org, reports that “not since Hurricane Wilma in 2005 has a major [category 3 and larger] hurricane made U.S. landfall,” and that this nine-year major hurricane “drought” from 2006 to the end of the 2014 hurricane season is “unprecedented in the historical record,” which extends back to 1851. The current “drought” beats the previous record-holder, an eight-year period (1861-1868) with no major U.S. hurricane strikes.

We’re now more than four months into the 2015 hurricane season. If the drought persists through December, the nine-year record will become a 10-year record. [click to continue…]

Post image for Sierra Club President’s Testimony Reveals It’s Worse Than We Thought. Climate Change? No. Group Think About Climate Change.


On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight heard testimony on “Opportunity Denied: How Overregulation Harms Minorities.” Today’s WattsUpWithThat posts a video clip featuring an exchange between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair.

Even I underestimated how much the bogus 97% consensus has closed the minds of those who invoke it. Under questioning by Sen. Cruz about the 18-plus year warming ‘pause’ in the satellite records, Mair quickly came to sound like a broken record, repeatedly appealing to the alleged 97% “consensus.”

Even after three times consulting with staff, Mair opined that “the pause” refers to a slowdown in warming in the 1940s! Apparently, the President of the Sierra Club assumes that once armed with the “97% consensus,” you no longer need to study the science and can just get on with the business of  making climate policy.

Cruz’s exchange with Mair runs from 0:00 to 8:43 in the video. My unofficial transcript follows.

Sen. Cruz: Thank you, Senator Coons, and I’d like to go back briefly to Mr. Mair. In your written testimony, you said that the science behind climate change and its effect on minority communities, quote: “Should not be up for debate.” I’m curious. Is the Sierra Club . . . is this a frequent practice of the Sierra Club to declare areas of science not up for debate, not up for consideration of what the evidence and data show?

Mair: If you are relying on the evidence and data, the science, the preponderance of the evidence, are there.

Cruz: But that’s a different thing than saying we should not debate a question, that the Sierra Club has declared this scientific issue resolved, and there should be no debate.

Mair: Based upon the preponderance of the evidence the science is settled. But the thing is that anything is up for debate, Senator. We can debate anything.

Cruz: Well, I would note that even the phrase preponderance of the evidence,” having been a practicing lawyer for many years, means 51%, that means 49 . . . at least 51% is what the preponderance means. You know, I would ask, for example, if you want to end debate, if you don’t want to address the facts, how do you address the fact that the last 18 years the satellite data show no demonstrable warming whatsoever?

Mair: Sir, I would rely upon the Union of Concerned Scientists, and I would rely on the evidence, again, of our own NOAA officials, the data are there.

Cruz: Is it correct that the satellite data over the last 18 years demonstrate no significant warming?

Mair: No.

Cruz: How is it incorrect?

Mair: [Confers with staff.] Based upon our experts, it’s been refuted long ago, and there is no longer, it’s not up for scientific debate. [click to continue…]

To reserve its seat in the Paris 2015 climate-con kumbaya chorus, India recently vowed to cut its carbon intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030.  It shouldn’t be a tough promise to keep.

On the surface, the pledge would appear to undercut the skeptics’ argument that U.S. carbon policies will have little impact on world temperatures given the huge growth expected in the developing world, and that the developing world will not cut economic growth to meet first-world carbon targets. You can almost hear the response already, “but India agreed to CO2 cuts…”

Let’s look at those cuts.  The promised cuts are not for CO2 emissions, but, instead, for cuts in the ratio of CO2 emissions to GDP (emissions intensity).  This ratio will go down so long as CO2 emissions rise less rapidly than GDP.  For example, the carbon intensity of the U.S. economy dropped by more than 45 percent between 1981 and 2011 even as CO2 emissions rose 18 percent.

The important question, here, is what would happen to India’s emissions intensity without the pledge?  Of course, projections on GDP and emissions are uncertain, but then so is the commitment to meeting targets. [click to continue…]

Post image for Free Market Groups Submit Joint Comment Letter on Obama Administration’s Heavy Truck Greenhouse Gas/Fuel Economy Standards

Yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Institute for Energy Research, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council submitted a joint comment letter on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) proposed rule, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2.”

The agencies’ Phase 1 rulemaking in 2011 established first-ever greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel-economy standards for model years (MYs) 2014-2018 semi-trucks, large pickups and vans, and assorted vocational trucks. Phase 2 will set more stringent medium- and heavy-truck GHG and fuel economy standards for MYs 2021-2027.

In 25 thrill-packed pages, our comment letter lays out the following argument:

EPA and NHTSA’s proposed Phase 2 greenhouse gas/fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles endanger the economic viability of small-business truckers. The rule’s putative energy-security and climate benefits are entirely speculative and vanishingly small at best. The agencies fail to demonstrate that, absent regulation, truckers won’t make cost-effective investments in fuel-saving technology. If EPA wants to know why heavy trucks don’t get better mileage than they do today, it should look itself in the mirror. During the 2000s, EPA’s diesel-truck emission standards, both by directly reducing the fuel-efficiency of diesel engines, and by crowding out fuel economy-related R&D and consumer spending, created the problem the agencies purport to solve via additional regulation.


Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the nationwide limit for ground level ozone, known officially as a National Ambient Air Quality Standard, from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.

It will be a painful regulation to implement. Ozone pollution is notoriously expensive to mitigate. These costs, moreover, would be completely incommensurate with the putative benefits. However, as I explain below, the Obama administration had little discretion on the matter, and, within its limited room to maneuver, the EPA chose the least among harms. Moreover, if courts remain consistent (which is by no means a certainty), there’s a good chance this rule will be rejected for being insufficiently stringent. By contrast, there is little chance that the rule would be struck down for being too onerous.

So this is the first absurd environmental regulation issued since January 2009 for which the Obama administration isn’t to blame. Rather, fault for this rule lies with primarily with the legislative and judicial branches of government. The Congress established an inapt regulatory regime for setting the ozone standard. And subsequent court rulings made this ill-suited program even worse. As a result, the ozone NAAQS is a monster, over which the president has little control. [click to continue…]

Here’s the headline from an August 25th article by the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin and Michelle Boorstein:

“For Pope Francis’s D.C. Visit, Environmental Rally of up to 200k Planned”

And here’s the headline from a Think Progress post today by Natasha Geiling:

“Pope’s Visit to D.C. Inspires Hundreds To Rally for Climate Justice”

[click to continue…]

[Editor’s noteThis is the latest in a semi-regular series whose purpose is to correct the record whenever New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes a story about climate change politics or policy]

Earlier this month, Jonathan Chait penned a cover story for New York Magazine on climate change, which he has since described thusly:

My story in the magazine describes how political pressure and technological innovation are feeding into each other, producing a virtuous cycle of affordable green energy and stronger willpower to reduce emissions.

As always, Chait’s climate change story is peppered with factual inaccuracies. For example, writes Chait:

[I]n 2010, President Obama, temporarily enjoying swollen Democratic majorities in both houses, tried to pass a cap-and-trade law that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the reductions it had pledged in Copenhagen. A handful of Democrats from fossil-fuel states joined with nearly every Republican to filibuster it.

For starters, President Obama did not “try to pass a cap-and-trade law.” In fact, the “cap-and-trade” in question never made it out of the democrat party caucus in the Senate. More to the point, the President effectively killed the effort by punting on a meeting about the measure with Senate democrat leadership. Also, while it’s true that opposition to the bill was bipartisan, there was never a filibuster. Again, the bill never made it out of the democrat Senate caucus, due to intra-party opposition. Republicans didn’t have to lift a finger. So Chait’s history is totally wrong (again).

Of course, there are more mistakes in the piece, but the two most prominent errors undercut his thesis altogether. Chait’s argument is that we should be optimistic because green energy is taking off, and also because China is fervently doing everything it can to reduce emissions. As fate would have it, both of Chait’s primary talking points were refuted by events in only the 17 days since he published his ill-destined article. [click to continue…]

Post image for ‘Moderate’ Rs Call for ‘Action’ on Climate (Crank Me-Too Amplifiers Up to Eleven)

Climatewire (subscription required) reports that Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and at least nine other ‘moderate’ Republicans will introduce a Sense of Congress Resolution today on “conservative environmental stewardship.” The resolution includes the usual warnings about climate change adversely affecting extreme weather, public health, agriculture and tourism, federal and state budgets, and international peace and stability. It calls upon the House to work “constructively . . . to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported public and private solutions.”

As if that were not vague enough, the resolution also affirms that efforts to mitigate climate change “should not constrain the economy of the United States, especially in regards to global competitiveness.” Climatewire helpfully notes that two of the nine co-sponsors, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Dave Reichert of Washington, were among the 8 Republicans who voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the 111th Congress.

Two questions leap to mind. First, what sort of bipartisan “solutions” could Gibson et al. conceivably negotiate with the Obama administration? Are they saying that the Clean Power PlanHeavy Truck Greenhouse Gas rule, Oil & Gas Methane Rule, and the President’s UN Pledge go too far, so now’s the time to work with Democrats to develop “solutions” that split the difference between Obama’s initiatives and the GOP policy of ‘inaction’? Of course not. For the President and the environmentalist base of the Democratic Party, the administration’s climate initiatives are legacy policies and not open for negotiation or compromise.

Second, just how do the co-sponsors propose to do something “meaningful” about climate change without constraining an economy in which carbon-based fuels supply 82% of annual energy consumption? If policymakers knew how to square that circle, climate change would not be the intensely controversial issue it has been for two-plus decades.

It’s hard to imagine House leadership or any committee of jurisdiction scheduling time to debate or mark up this latest Constructive Republican Alternative Proposal. Nonetheless, given the administration’s increasingly shrill anti-carbon campaign, the impending Papal visit to preach climate alarm to congressional skeptics, and the looming pitched battles over the Clean Power Plan and O’s climate treaty agenda, we should not be complacent when a group of GOP lawmakers decides to crank the Me Too amplifiers up to eleven.










Leadership should have upstaged and preempted the Tweedle Dums by sponsoring its own sense of Congress resolution on climate and energy policy. To encourage such an effort, CEI published a model Sensible Sense of Congress Resolution on Climate Change back in June. Perhaps the Me Too resolution will languish in obscurity after today’s unveiling. But if co-sponsors start piling on, congressional constitutionalists, free-marketers, and affordable energy advocates will need to pass their own resolution to marginalize that of the Tweedle Dums.

As explained in more detail in CEI’s model resolution, the fundamental points to be stressed are: [click to continue…]