Cooler Heads Coalition News

Originally published in the Cooler Heads Coalition newsletter:

News You Can Use | Marlo Lewis

Coordination between Governors, White House, and Tom Steyer

E-mails obtained through Washington State’s freedom of information law reveal a behind-the-scenes campaign to use governors’ and state attorneys general offices, green pressure groups, and renewable energy companies “to advance President Obama’s climate change regulatory and treaty agenda,” according to a new report by attorney Christopher Horner prepared for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute.

Key plotters include billionaire Democrat fund raiser Tom Steyer, Cylvia Hayes (fiancée of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber), and senior White House officials. The e-mails “reveal a broad-based campaign” to use private contributions to coordinate the actions of governors, state attorneys general, and utilities to mandate and subsidize renewable energy.  The report, writes Horner, “documents a convergence of big money and big government to underwrite pressure groups and echo chambers, to scheme behind closed doors and ‘creatively engage utilities’ to craft and impose a transformative and unpopular agenda” on the U.S. electric power sector.

Inside the Beltway | Myron Ebell

President Obama Calls Opposing Government Mandates and Subsidies Anti-Free Market

President Barack Obama gave perhaps the most disgraceful and dishonest speech of his presidency (and there have been some doozies—remember: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”) at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on 25th August. The President and his leftist allies have so debased our political discourse that Orwell’s “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” is no longer satire.

The President accused opponents of cronyism of being anti-free market: “Now, it’s one thing if you’re consistent in being free market.  It’s another thing when you’re free market until it’s solar that’s working and people want to buy, and suddenly you’re not for it anymore.  (Laughter.)  That’s a problem.”

The President cannot possibly be so ignorant as to actually believe that.  Government renewable electricity standards that raise the price consumers pay is not free market.  Requiring taxpayers to subsidize renewable energy installations is not free market.  Providing loan guarantees to renewable energy boondoggles owned by campaign contributors is not free market. EPA and DOE officials conspiring with environmental groups and renewable energy companies is not free market.

President Obama continued: “But when you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding — that's a problem.  That's not the American way.  That's not progress.  That's not innovation.  That’s rent seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.”

Some fossil fuel interests obviously do engage in rent seeking.  Our politics encourages it, and no one has done more to encourage rent seeking than the Obama Administration.  But the oil and coal companies are adolescent amateurs compared to the pros at Solyndra, the American Wind Energy Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, Tesla, and General Electric.  I don’t know every group that the Kochs support, but the ones I know uniformly and consistently oppose all rent seeking and cronyism.  The same is true of the conservative and free market think tanks I work with, including the one I work for—CEI. 

But the President wasn’t done with outrageous rhetoric: “I mean, think about this.  Ordinarily, these are groups that tout themselves as champions of the free market.  If you start talking to them about providing health care for folks who don't have health insurance, they’re going crazy – ‘this is socialism, this is going to destroy America.’  But in this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.”

Government mandates that require people to buy products (such as solar or wind power or ethanol) choke off consumer choice and undermine competition in the marketplace.  President Obama has created his own reality where up is down and down is up, and apparently he thinks that many Americans are stupid enough to believe it. 

For more detailed dissections of the President’s speech, here is an outstanding one by Dan Simmons. And here is another by Nick Loris. 

Climate Rally on the Mall Will Follow Pope Francis’s Address to Congress

The Washington Post reported on 26th August that several environmental groups are planning a huge climate action rally on the Mall in Washington, DC, on 24th September, the day Pope Francis is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. The permit is for 200,000 people.

Also according to the Post, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) confirmed that the Pope “has expressed an interest” in making an appearance from the balconies on the Capitol’s West Front.  This would allow him to address the rally.

Across the States | Myron Ebell

Colorado Mine Spill Reveals EPA’s Incompetence

Environmental Protection Agency contractors on 5th August released approximately three million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River in western Colorado.  They were supposed to be cleaning up the abandoned Gold King Mine site. The sludge, which contains high levels of cadmium, arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and other toxic contaminants, flowed south down the river, reaching Durango roughly 35 hours later.  It reached the New Mexico state line early in the morning on 7th August.

Gold King Mine, in the San Juan Mountains north of Silverton, was first opened in 1887 and eventually became one of the biggest producing mines in Colorado.  It closed in 1922.

The Denver Post reported that documents released by the EPA show that the EPA knew in June 2014 that the mine clean-up site was at risk of a blowout.  The Post quoted one of the documents: “‘Conditions may exist that could result in a blow-out of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals,’ an EPA task order from June 2014 said.”

Tori Richards of Colorado Watchdog reported that a local mine owner claimed that the EPA has been dumping mine waste from other sites into rivers since 2005.

Criticism of EPA’s slowness in responding to the spill came from all sides. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced that they would be suing for billions of dollars in damages. No doubt, other affected landowners will also file suit.  Estimates of the costs to clean up the spill have ranged from a few hundred million dollars to $30 billion. Clean-up will undoubtedly take decades and provide many new green jobs.

Three House and two Senate committees have scheduled hearings on the EPA’s spill, starting on 9th September with the House Science Committee.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its hearing on 16th September, as will the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  The House Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a joint hearing on 17th September.