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Post image for EPA’s Climate Action Flimflam Report, Part 2


As explained previously on this blog, EPA’s report on the U.S. domestic benefits of aggressive “global action” to combat climate change is flamflam.

To recap, EPA estimates that by 2100, unchecked global warming will kill 57,000 Americans by intensifying air pollution and 12,000 Americans by intensifying heat waves. The agency also claims “significant global action” to limit future warming to 3.6ºF (2ºC) would avert those deaths.

EPA’s ‘methodology’ is GIGO from top to bottom.

To begin with, EPA assumes unchecked warming will add 9ºF to average global temperatures by 2100. That implies a warming rate of 1.058ºF/decade during the next 85 years. The actual warming rate over the past 36 years is 0.205ºF (0.114ºC)/decade, according to the latest University of Alabama in Hunstville (UAH) satellite dataset — less than one-fifth the rate in EPA’s projection.

EPA then models the impact of that implausible 9ºF warming on current U.S. air pollutant emissions, even though emissions and concentrations have declined, decade-by-decade, since 1980. All significant domestic air pollution sources will likely be gone long before 2100.

As for heat-related mortality, EPA bizarrely assumes that in 2100, 49 major U.S. cities either have the same adaptive capabilities they do today (12,000 fatalities), or at best have the adaptive capabilities of present-day Dallas (6,500 fatalities). Yet Centers for Disease Control data indicate that heat stress currently kills fewer than 650 Americans per year, and heat-related mortality rates in U.S. cities have declined, decade-by-decade since the 1960s. The most reasonable expectation is that such progress will continue.

Today’s post takes another look at EPA’s 9ºF warming projection. Turns out, EPA’s so-called business-as-usual scenario is actually a high-end emissions scenario. [click to continue…]

Post image for If You Only Read One Commentary on the Papal Encyclical . . .


The recent Papal Encyclical on “care of our common home” calls for “changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat [global] warming,” and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, based on the assessment that fossil-fueled economies are “unsustainable” and “can only precipitate catastrophes.”

If that assessment were correct, population would be smaller today, and worse off, than in previous decades and centuries. The exact opposite is the case, observes economist Indur Goklany in a concise, by-the-numbers, rebuttal. The world’s population “is at a record level,” and human well-being “is at or near its peak by virtually every objective broad measure.”

The chart below shows a strong long-term correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and increases in population, life expectancy, and per capita income — the best overall indicators of human health and well-being.

Goklany Population Income Life Expectancy Carbon Emissions July 2015





Those correlations are causal, not accidental.

The improvements in human well-being have been enabled directly or indirectly through the use of fossil fuels or fossil-fuel powered technologies and economic growth. This is because every human activity — whether it is growing crops, cooking food, building a home, making and transporting goods, delivering services, using electrical equipment for any purpose, studying under a light or going on holiday — depends directly or indirectly on the availability of energy (see below) and, in today’s world, energy is virtually synonymous with fossil fuels; they supply 82% of global energy used. [click to continue…]

Post image for Independent Satellite Records Agree: Little to No Global Warming over Past 18 Years


Roy Spencer, John Christy, and William Braswell of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Earth System Science Center recently released Version 6 (V.6) of their global satellite temperature dataset. The scientists describe the upgrade, which took three years to complete, as “by far the most extensive revision of the procedures and computer code we have ever produced in over 25 years of global temperature monitoring.”

Compared to the previous UAH dataset (V5.6), the most important change is a reduction in the global average lower-troposphere temperature trend from +0.140°C/decade to +0.114°C/decade over the past 36 years (Dec. ’78 through Mar. ’15).

Christy V6-vs-v5_6-LT-1979-Mar2015









Figure explanation: Monthly global-average temperature anomalies for the lower troposphere from Jan. 1979 through March, 2015 for both the old and new versions of LT (top), and their difference (bottom).

The revision is noteworthy in several respects. First, as the scientists point out, the UAH dataset more closely matches the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) dataset, a separate satellite monitoring program, which shows no net warming since Dec. 1996. In the RSS record, the length of the warming pause is now 18 years five months.

Monckton No Warming 18 years five months






[click to continue…]

Post image for Free Market Groups Take Aim at Obama Guidance on NEPA Review of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enacted Jan. 1, 1970, requires federal agencies to consider the environmental effects 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” (Wiki). NEPA also established the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which issues guidelines to federal agencies for proper preparation of environmental impact analyses.

On December 14, 2014, CEQ published a Draft Guidance on NEPA review of project-related greenhouse gas emissions and climate change effects. Today (Mar. 25, 2015) is the deadline for submitting comments on the Guidance. On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, 14 other pro-market organizations, and one university professor, I submitted a joint comment letter critiquing CEQ’s proposal.

In brief, we argue that:

  • NEPA review is an inappropriate framework for making climate policy.
  • Project-related greenhouse gas emissions should not be a factor determining whether agencies grant or deny permits for individual projects.
  • Requiring agencies to consider project-related greenhouse gas emissions will make the pointless sturm und drang over the Keystone XL Pipeline the ‘new normal’ in NEPA review, further empowering NIMBY and anti-energy activists to block development projects with immense economic benefits and immeasurably small, hypothetical climate effects.
  • The Guidance will feed the hubris of those who believe government exists to bankrupt businesses and industries they dislike.
  • CEQ should withdraw the Guidance.

[click to continue…] describes itself as “independent green journalism.” Keeping this self-description in mind—with an emphasis on the modifier *green*—consider the following Grist stories that were promoted on the blog’s twitter feed in the previous 8 hours:

Why is Grist, “independent green journalism,” writing *serious* posts on subjects like student loan debts and feminism, which have nothing at all to do with the environment? The answer to this question reflects the rise of green special interests as big time political players. [click to continue…]

Post image for Winter: Worse than They Thought

“According to the National Weather Service, the low temperature Sunday at Dulles Airport was about 6 degrees at 7:30 a.m. That breaks the record for the date of 7 degrees set in 1965,” the AP reports.

In addition, “At BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport outside Baltimore, the low of 6 degrees Sunday matched a record set in 1943.”

Yet as of September 2014, global annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were on track to hit a record 40 billion metric tons — 4 billion more than the previous record set in 2013 of 36 billion tons — and roughly 3.5 times more emissions than in 1965 (11.487 billion tons) and 10 times more than in 1943 (4.007 billion tons).

More importantly, atmospheric CO2 concentration today is 399.85 parts per million (ppm), compared to just 320.23 ppm in 1965 and 310.5 ppm in 1943.

Although only halfway through, February is Boston’s “snowiest month on record,” the NWS reported on its Twitter feed. The city has received 58.5 inches of snow, breaking the previous monthly record of 43.3 inches in January 2005.

And who can forget the Buffalo-area snowstorm of November 2014. The town of Cowlesville, New York, about 25 miles south of downtown Buffalo, got 88 inches of snow (7.3 feet) in just five days — an amount approximately equal to the average Buffalo snowfall in an entire winter.

Although 2014 was supposedly the warmest year on record, in the USA between Nov. 10 and Nov. 19, “there were 4,163 record low temperatures set or tied compared to just 465 warm record temperatures set or tied.”

This year’s winter conditions contributed to at least 10 deaths, suspended or delayed train service, cancelled more than 1,800 flights, and closed schools, businesses, and non-essential government offices.

None of this is intended to deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming. The point, rather, is to put things in perspective. [click to continue…]

The Latest, Most Concise News in Environmental Special Interest Shenanigans

  • Late last week, an EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) pooh-poohed the agency for carrying water for the Environmental Defense Fund in the preamble to a toxicity assessment of three chemicals known as trimethylbenzene isomers. In Thursday’s InsideEPA ($), Maria Hegstad reported that the SAB’s draft review of EPA’s assessment objects to the agency’s inclusion of, inter alia, the claim that “funding source can downgrade the credibility of studies”; in a conference call, one member called it “absolutely anti-science.” In fact, EPA borrowed this “anti-science” concept from the greens.* Hegstad reports: ‘Environmental Defense Fund in comments last June “strongly recommend[s] that funding source be included in the risk of bias evaluations of studies.”’ Not for the first time, EPA effectuated a policy priority for environmental special interests, in seeming contravention to sound scientific and administrative procedures (not to mention common sense).
  • On Monday, Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay reported on the assertion by a prominent Sierra Club writer on a Sierra Club blog that that the House of Saud is “our best ally in the fight against Keystone XL.” According to the Sierra Club, the Saudis did the green movement a solid by maintaining production in the face of declining prices and thereby perpetuating cheap oil, which renders Keystone XL less economic. Of course, sustained lower prices—by engendering greater demand—would lead to far more GHG emissions than any single infrastructure project. This is further evidence that opposition to the pipeline is based on ill-considered emotion far more so than reality.
  • Sticking with Sierra Club: The green group was party to a “sue and settle” consent decree that was proposed in Thursday’s Federal Register and which serves as an exquisite example of this litigious practice. In mid-December, Sierra Club filed an amended complaint in a northern California federal court (Sierra Club v. McCarthy, CA No. 4:14-cv-3198 (N.D. Cal.)); the agency immediately moved to settle; and, finally, the two parties (EPA & Sierra Club) negotiated how the agency would employ its limited resources in order to process plans for a 2008 ozone standard by 25 States—none of which were California. Thus—behind closed doors in a northern California court—did the agency and the Sierra Club hash out environmental policy affecting a number of States east of the Mississippi. Ladies & gentlemen, THAT is sue and settle.  [click to continue…]

World Resources Institute (WRI) has published a report that is likely to put the food vs. fuel issue back in play as the 114th Congress considers options to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

In Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land, authors Tim Searchinger (Princeton University) and Ralph Heimlich argue that “any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon.”

From the report’s key findings:

Dedicating crops and/or land to generating bioenergy makes it harder to sustainably feed the planet.

  • The world needs to close a 70 percent “food gap” between crop calories available in 2006 and those needed in 2050. If crop-based biofuels were phased out by 2050, the food gap would shrink to 60 percent. But more ambitious biofuel targets—currently being pursued by large economies—could increase the gap to about 90 percent.
  • Wider bioenergy targets—such as a goal for bioenergy to meet 20 percent of the world’s total energy demand by 2050—would require humanity to at least double the world’s annual harvest of plant material in all its forms. Those increases would have to come on top of the already large increases needed to meet growing food and timber needs. Therefore, the quest for bioenergy at a meaningful scale is both unrealistic and unsustainable.

Figure 4 from the report makes the latter point — that biomass cannot supply more than a small fraction of global energy without courting disaster — stunningly clear:


 Another key finding explains why. [click to continue…]

typical FOIA production by 'most transparent admin. ever'

typical FOIA production from ‘most transparent admin. ever’

[Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reported that Republican lawmakers are demanding the Environmental Protection Agency fork over documents relating to text messages to and from the agency’s chief administrator that were allegedly deleted rather than preserved for federal records, or simply because as “correspondence” they are regularly the subject of Freedom of Information and oversight requests and therefore must be preserved. Their request stems from the work of my colleague Chris Horner, who literally wrote the book on the opacity of the Obama administration (The Liberal War on Transparency). Below, Horner discusses the latest developments in this burgeoning transparency scandal.]

We have gotten to this point in a far too long and winding way, requiring numerous FOIA requests, first for text messages, then phone bills, then metadata, more text messages once we learned the ones we had requested were destroyed, and now for emails discussing all of this.  Developments along this way include:

The most recent step pertains to emails sent between EPA’s Office of General Counsel and Ms. McCarthy which mention texting.  This request was followed by, what is even in my experience, an unprecedented series of delays; a cynic might suspect that this was intended to avoid these emails, described below, from emerging until a federal court in DC rules on our efforts to depose Ms. McCarthy, among others, about EPA destroying its senior advisors’ text correspondence.

Here is why.   [click to continue…]

“The Chicken McNuggets of Energy News”

  • My colleague Myron Ebell was on The Diane Rehms Show yesterday morning to discuss President Obama’s proposal to designate nearly 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including the hydrocarbon rich 1002 area, as an off-limits “Wilderness Area.” It’s a lively interview; listen here.
  • On that note, the President’s policy has raised the ire of the Alaskan congressional delegation, according to a good piece in Monday’s Washington Examiner by Zack Colman. You should read it, for the rhetoric is bold. Rep. Young said that the administration has gone “wacko,” while even mild mannered Sen. Murkowski used war as an analogy. The senior Senator’s anger is especially notable, due to her possession of the Appropriations subcommittee gavel with jurisdiction over the Interior Department and EPA. She’s well-positioned for wrath.
  • Sticking to that note: The White House released its new Alaskan anti-energy policy via a sappy public service announcement, available here. The ad has the President waxing lyrical about Alaska’s beauty, to the tune of an acoustic guitar, with an overlay of slow motion video depicting Alaskan mountains, critters, and critters on mountains. I think that’s the first time that a policy has been announced by PSA. Another Obama breakthrough!
  • In what is the best evidence to date that Iowa’s first-primary-in-the-country is terrible for America, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) last week announced the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign that will pressure presidential contenders to support the Renewable Fuel Standard. To be sure, the RFS is great for Iowa, because it grows a great deal of corn, the primary feedstock for ethanol. But it’s horrible for the rest of the world, causing the price of both food and fuel to increase. [click to continue…]