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LeviathanEPA

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on EPA’s announcement last week that it will propose a model federal implementation for the Clean Power Plan. For Part 1, “Context of EPA’s Bombshell Announcement That It Will propose a Model FIP for the Clean Power Plan,” click here. For Part 2, “Why EPA Is Proposing a Clean Power Plan Model FIP (Because Otherwise It Can’t Impose Highway Sanctions),” click here.

In the first two parts of this series, I explained why EPA last week announced it would propose a model federal implementation plan (“FIP”) for the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s marquee climate initiative. In a nutshell, the agency’s motive is to increase its bargaining leverage vis a vis States that don’t want to cooperate on the regulation. To be precise, the model FIP would enhance the constitutionality of financial penalties that the agency could impose on a recalcitrant State, in order to compel compliance, during a two-year window after EPA disapproved that state’s plan. Read all about it here and here.

In this post, I want to explore what this model FIP could look like. [click to continue…]

At 8 AM this morning, the Obama administration unveiled its multi-pronged strategy to control methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The plan will involve proposals from the Interior Department, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the EPA. This post focuses on what EPA intends to do.

It is being widely reported that EPA’s regulatory mandate will be limited to new and modified sectors within the oil and gas industry, pursuant to Clean Air Act §111b (“new source performance standards”). This is seen as a major loss for environmental special interests, which had pushed for the regulation of existing sectors in the oil and gas industry, pursuant to Clean Air Act §111d (“existing source performance standards”). THIS MEDIA NARRATIVE IS INNACURATE!

In fact, EPA snuck in a de facto nation-wide regulation of methane from the oil and gas sector. Here’s how: A press release from the White House lists as the second administration action to mitigate methane emissions the following: [click to continue…]

Post image for Some Free Market Talking Points on the Keystone XL Pipeline Amendments

On Monday, the Senate voted 63-32 to end a Democratic filibuster of S.1, The Keystone XL Pipeline Act. Today, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is trying to negotiate a deal with Democratic leaders on a rule for offering amendments to the bill.

According to Greenwire ($), The Hill, The New York Times, and Politico, Democrats are expected to offer amendments to ban exports of petroleum products made from Keystone crude (Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts), mandate the use of American materials during construction (Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon), require oil sands producers to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington), require the creation of an equal or greater number of “clean energy” jobs for every job created by the pipeline (Sen. Charles Schumer of New York), and require Senators to declare whether they agree with 97% of climate scientists that man-made global warming is real and dangerous (Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vt.).

KXL proponents should welcome debate on those amendments and look forward to offer some of their own. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he would offer an amendment to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.

The amendment to ban Keystone-enabled petroleum product exports would violate U.S. treaty obligations under both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since the ban would not apply to petroleum imported from OPEC countries, the policy would, in effect, deny most favored nation status to Canada while retaining it for Saudi Arabia. And if preventing American products from competing in the global marketplace is a good way to lower prices and benefit consumers, why don’t we do it for all goods made in the U.S. of A? For more on this topic, see my Six Reasons Not to Ban Energy Exports. Sen. Markey, go put on a dunce cap and sit in the corner.

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[This is part 2 of a 3 part series on EPA’s announcement last week that it will propose a model federal implementation for the Clean Power Plan. For Part 1, “Context of EPA’s Bombshell Announcement That It Will propose a Model FIP for the Clean Power Plan,” click here. Part 3, on what a Clean Power Plan model FIP could look like, will be posted tomorrow]

In order to mitigate air pollution, the Clean Air Act establishes a State-Federal partnership known as “cooperative federalism.” Generally, under this regulatory arrangement, EPA sets nation-wide targets which States are then left to meet however they see fit (subject to EPA approval). Thus, States are primarily responsible for the actual implementation of the Clean Air Act.

So what happens when a State fails to heed the agency? As I explained in Part 1, the Clean Air Act gives EPA two tools to achieve its regulatory ends in the face of an uncooperative State:

  1. direct federal implementation of the regulation, also known as a “federal implementation plan” (42 U.S.C. §7410(c)); and
  2. conditioning state receipt of federal highway funds upon a state’s compliance with the regulation (42 U.S.C. §7410(m)).

These two options are very much germane to the Clean Power Plan—the Obama administration’s marquee climate change mitigation initiative—because a number of States have indicated that they won’t lift a finger to implement the rule.  [click to continue…]

Post image for Hurricanes: Worse than We Thought?

Is the impact of global warming on hurricanes “worse than we thought”? Look at the data and judge for yourself.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses a metric called accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) to measure the strength of individual tropical cyclones and entire tropical cyclone seasons. As explained by NOAA:

The ACE index is a wind energy index, defined as the sum of the squares of the maximum sustained surface wind speed (knots) measured every six hours for all named storms while they are at least tropical storm strength.

Dr. Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Models reports that, “In the pentad since 2006, Northern Hemisphere and global tropical cyclone ACE has decreased dramatically to the lowest levels since the late 1970s.” He also reports that “the frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low.”

This chart shows global and northern hemisphere ACE during 1970-2014. What we see is “strikingly large” inter-annual and decadal variability but no long-term trend.

Hurricanes ACE 1970 - 2014 Ryan Maue Dec. 31, 2014

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For the first time in recent memory, climate change was broached on one of the four network Sunday political talk shows. It happened on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, during a debate on the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline between Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE).

In explaining the bipartisan appeal of a Senate bill that would approve the pipeline, Sen. Hoeven noted recent polling indicating that more than 70 percent of American voters support its approval. To which Sen. Coons gave an incredible response, claiming that what the American people REALLY want isn’t the Keystone Pipeline, but rather a carbon tax and/or EPA climate regulations. [click to continue…]

Formerly at NRDC

Formerly at NRDC

It is well established that the Clean Air Act doesn’t empower EPA to order States to comply with federal regulations. Congress can’t command States to legislate into existence regulatory regimes (New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)) and the President can’t commandeer state officials (Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)).

Instead, the Clean Air Act gives EPA two options to achieve its regulatory ends when faced with an uncooperative State: (1) direct federal implementation; and (2) conditioning state receipt of federal highway funds upon regulatory compliance.

First, the agency may execute the regulation on its own. Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Association, 452 U.S. 264 (1981). There are almost 20,000 EPA employees scattered about 10 regional offices across the country. These bureaucrats can and do directly implement federal regulatory regimes. When they do so, it’s known as a “federal implementation plan.”

For example, a number of States balked at EPA’s 2010 rule imposing a Clean Air Act permitting regime for greenhouse gas emissions. Because they refused to play ball, federal bureaucrats implemented and operated the program, independent of the recalcitrant States. (75 FR 82246, 75 FR 82429)

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to implement a federal plan if a State refuses to comply with an agency rule. (42 U.S.C. §7410(c)). Nonetheless, the agency cannot always fulfil this responsibility due to EPA’s finite resources. That is, there are some regulatory tasks that would require too much effort for the federal government to perform; their implementation would monopolize the agency’s time.

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Cooler Heads Digest 10 January 2015

Freezing Temperatures Once Again, But Thankfully No Video Sequel

frozen8A year ago this week, in the midst of another brutally cold winter, the White House graced us with an explanation of how man-made global warming might be causing freezing temperatures in a video about the polar vortex.

One bitterly cold winter does not, by itself, necessarily disprove global warming.  But the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) decided to try using the cold winter as evidence for man-made global warming.   It did so through  a short video titled The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes, in which its director, White House Science Advisor John Holdren, claimed that a “growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”

The video was widely covered in the press, but it was criticized by climate scientists on all sides of the global warming debate. Yes, there was a “growing body of evidence” on the topic, but it was growing in the other direction—that is, newer studies contradicted any connection between warming and winter cold waves.

CEI pointed this out in a petition to Holdren’s agency, the Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Federal Data Quality Act.  That petition formally requested that OSTP correct Holdren’s misstatement about the “growing” body of scientific evidence.  But OSTP turned us down, claiming that Holdren’s statement was his “personal opinion” and was therefore exempt from the act.  [click to continue…]

oil speculatos

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week unveiled the Democratic Party’s priorities for the first session of the 114th Congress. Notably absent from her to-do list was the mitigation of climate change, the awfulest, most dire, apocalyptic threat ever.
  • Gasoline prices are below $2 at 40 percent of U.S. stations, reads a CNN headline. Which raises an important policy question: If greedy oil speculators control the oil market, as is maintained by many prominent progressives, then don’t we owe them our gratitude? I think so. [click to continue…]