Cooler Heads Digest 6 August 2010
6 August 2010
In the News
Will New Jersey Governor Do the Right Thing on Cap-and-Trade
Phil Kerpen, Fox Forum, 4 August 2010
News You Can Use
NOAA: 70% of Gulf Oil Spill Is Gone
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week released a study estimating that 70% of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy has evaporated, burned, or been skimmed. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that, “that many of the doomsday scenarios that we talked about and repeated a lot have not and will not come to fruition.”
Inside the Beltway
The Incredible Shrinking Senate Energy Bill
When the Senate first took up energy and climate legislation last September, it quickly died under the inept stewardship of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Then Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) picked up the baton. For almost 7 months, he conducted negotiations for a comprehensive energy and climate bill, culminating in late spring with the release of the American Power Act, a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. Kerry’s climate bill, however, received a tepid welcome from his own caucus, primarily due to the fact that Democratic Senators were wary of enacting an energy tax so close to the November Congressional elections. In an effort to build support for Kerry’s cap-and-trade, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) convened weekly meetings of Democratic caucus in June, but those discussions led to nowhere. So Reid dropped the climate provisions, and instead opted for a simpler anti-energy bill that focused on the BP oil spill. Reid reasoned that legislation to punish BP would prove politically popular, but he went too far, and moderate Democratic Senators from Gulf Coast states started to gravitate to a GOP alternative that was less economically harmful to the oil and gas industry. Thus abandoned by members of his party, Reid this week decided to shelve his BP spill bill. Let’s hope it stays mothballed.
Will the EPA Delay GHG Regulations?
The Cooler Heads Digest repeatedly has warned of the Obama administration’s economically devastating plan to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. For background on this complicated issue, read this briefing by CEI’s Marlo Lewis. Suffice it to say, the EPA is expected to impose greenhouse gas emissions requirements on power plants and industrial users of energy starting in January. But now this time-line is in doubt. During a trip last week to Alaska, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that regulating carbon emissions from stationary sources such as refineries, factories and power plants is “something the economy cannot deal with right away.” In the time since Jackson return, there has been no further word from EPA about its schedule for greenhouse gas regulations, but her remarks in Alaska would seem to preclude expensive carbon controls starting in January if the economy doesn’t improve markedly during the next five months.
[Myron Ebell will return next week]
Across the States
Supporters of a California ballot initiative that would suspend implementation of AB 32, the State’s 2006 global warming law, until unemployment decreased to 5.5% (it is now almost 11%) wanted to label it the “California Jobs Initiative,” but Attorney General Jerry Brown, a longtime environmental alarmist, chose a less flattering name last February—“Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.” This week Sacramento Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that Brown imparted too much bias into his title, and ordered that the initiative be renamed, “Suspends implementation of air pollution control laws (AB 32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until unemployment drops to 5.5% of less for a full year.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Department of Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan Shaw this week sent a strongly worded letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, rejecting the Obama administration’s intention to regulate greenhouse gases with the Clean Air Act. When the Congress created wrote the Clean Air Act, in 1970, it was trying to limit particulate pollution that causes smog. Greenhouse gases, however, are emitted in much greater quantities than particulate pollution. As a result, the Clean Air Act, if applied literally to greenhouse gases, would result in the regulation of every mansion, apartment building, and office complex. That is, it would be a regulatory nightmare. To avoid having to regulate the entire economy, the EPA wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act. Of course, this is legally dubious–the executive is not allowed to play the role of the legislature. And it is this Constitutional conflict that precipitated the Texas letter.
Around the World
International Climate Negotiations in Bonn Reach New Depths of Futility
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this week held negotiations in Bonn in order to prepare for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC this winter in Cancun, Mexico. A legally binding treaty to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions isn’t even on the agenda for Cancun (it proved too contentious), yet delegates in Bonn still found reasons to bicker. According to the Guardian, the “US, China and many developing countries all added pages to draft texts in a series of tit-for-tat moves,” and as a result, Peter Wittoeck, the lead diplomat for the European Union, warned that there is a danger of the negotiating text “exploding.”
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.