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  • Power Plant Rule: EPA Defies Stay to Develop Legally Dubious Incentive Program

    April 28, 2016 3:18 PM

    The EPA yesterday took another step to advance the Obama administration’s flagship domestic climate policy, the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP).

    As Politico reported:

    The EPA is moving forward with a component of the Clean Power Plan, sending proposed details and language for the optional Clean Energy Incentive Program to the White House Office of Management and Budget today, according to an EPA statement set to be released today. The CEIP would provide credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021, as well as double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities over that same period.

    “But,” Politico asks, “didn’t SCOTUS stay the Clean Power Plan?” Of course it did. On February 9, the Supreme Court told EPA to halt further proceedings on the rule. So how does EPA justify its continuing work on the CEIP? According to Politico:

    EPA will argue that advancing this piece of the rule doesn't violate the stay. “Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” the statement says. “Sending this proposal to OMB for review is a routine step and it is consistent with the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan.”

  • Wind Energy Industry Suffers Fuel Shortage in 2015

    April 27, 2016 11:05 AM

    Wind energy can’t compete. Instead, it exists only by the grace of favorable politics. On the supply side, the industry enjoys the federal production tax credit, which awards tax equity to owners of wind power for each megawatt hour of generated electricity. On the demand side, the industry enjoys Soviet-style production quotas in 30 states that force ratepayers to use increasing amounts of wind power.

    Yet even with all this political “wind” at its back, sometimes the industry nonetheless falls short—because nature won’t cooperate. According to James Osborne at Fuel Fix

    Last year might have been a banner year for wind turbine construction, but not for the wind itself.

    According to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the amount of electricity generated from wind turbines grew by less than 10 million megawatt hours last year, the smallest increase since 2007.

    In a report Thursday government analysts attributed the slow down to decreased wind speeds across the western half of the United States during the first six months of 2015.

    “The same weather patterns resulted in stronger winds in the central part of the country, where wind generation growth in 2015 was most pronounced,” the report read.

    The fall off came even as wind energy capacity grew by its highest level in three years, as more than 8,000 megawatts worth of new turbines were installed on the grid, according to EIA.

    To recap: Due to the wind not blowing, there was a paradox for the wind energy industry in 2015 whereby capacity installment was historically high, while generation was historically low. By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, the new wind power capacity operated 13 percent of the time in 2015, which is hardly the hallmark of reliability.

  • The Treaty Not to Be Called a Treaty

    April 19, 2016 11:07 AM

    The recent Paris Climate Agreement is clearly a treaty, but like the fable of the emperor’s new clothes, few people are willing to incur the wrath of the regime in power by saying so out loud. Chris Horner made this analogy yesterday at a Capitol Hill briefing on the Paris Climate Agreement and Green Climate Fund. Staffers from Congressional offices, nonprofit organizations, and media outlets huddled inside a Senate hearing room to find out what Congress can do about this disastrous proposal and its parallel funding mechanism, the Green Climate Fund. This Friday the Obama Administration, along with 130 other nations, is set to sign the treaty at United Nations headquarters in New York.

    CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis began the event with a quick introduction to the Agreement, a clear power grab from the Obama Administration. This troubling document, negotiated at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) in Paris, is “self-renewing,” which means it could bind U.S. policy indefinitely. This is one reason why, the panelists argue, it should be called a treaty and treated as such.

  • CEI Will Surmount Crimethink Persecution

    April 13, 2016 4:44 AM

    Feisty, aggressive, unwavering, and sometimes unconventional—all terms I heard prior to joining CEI last week as president. The descriptions were spot-on. But before the first conversations ended, CEI had a new opportunity to showcase why it is the leading organization making the uncompromising case for individual and economic freedom.

    Last week, an intimidation campaign led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore reached CEI’s doors. We received a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker demanding CEI, a nonprofit and private organization, turn over a massive amount of documents on climate change policy work from 1997-2007, nearly 20 years ago. Needless to say, we will fight the subpoena.

    It is not and cannot become a crime to disagree with a government official. Somewhere along the line, dissent from orthodoxy has transformed from a uniquely American virtue to a crime. This subpoena is a blatant attack on CEI’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association. It threatens the rights of anyone who holds opinions different from those with the power of the federal or state governments behind them.

    What other issues are next on the taboo list? If the attorneys general succeed, we can be assured this list will vary from election to election—something for all people of good conscience to dread.

  • Our Take: The Climate-Related Subpoena

    April 12, 2016 3:38 PM

    Since CEI was subpoenaed on April 8 for a decade’s worth of work from 20 years ago, many have asked “Why?” and “How?” Here is CEI’s take on what’s really going on with this subpoena from the U.S. Virgin Island’s attorney general.

    The investigation is harassment.

    • The breadth of the ‘inquiry’—encompassing all documents and communications during 1997 through January 1, 2007, concerning any potential impacts of climate policy on affordable energy (or, as the AG puts it, on “ExxonMobil’s sales, revenues, or business”)—includes most documents and communications of CEI’s energy and environment team during the period of interest.
    • Our energy and climate team has three full-time staff. Even if we work on the subpoena full time, after hours, and weekends we could not comply with the AG’s document production deadline of April 30.
    • The subpoena is clearly designed to prevent us from doing our work.

    The investigation is an attack on freedom of speech.

    • Democracy is an adversarial process. Interests that disagree on policy will inevitably challenge the certitude or accuracy of claims made by their opponents. But those of authoritarian bent easily lose patience with a competitive marketplace of ideas, which does not guarantee them victory in advance.
    • So they cheat. They reimagine a narrow provision of the Clean Air Act to demand far-reaching climate policies that would be dead on arrival in Congress. They deny that the “most ambitious climate change agreement in history” is a treaty to bypass Senate review. They peddle flimflam and sophistry and call it science.
    • When all that fails to work, they try to use the prosecutorial powers of the state to chill speech, silence dissent, and extort payoffs via settlement agreements.
  • What Others Are Saying about CEI's Climate Change Subpoena

    April 12, 2016 9:54 AM

    Since CEI was subpoenaed by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands on April 8, 2016, for energy and climate work from 20 years ago, media, commentators, and organizations alike have weighed in on this latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by a coalition of state attorneys general and former Vice President Al Gore.

     

  • Haiku: "No Energy Left"

    March 30, 2016 8:36 AM

    Inspired by SunEdison’s near bankruptcy (among other terrible news for the solar power industry) and infused with the spirit of Japanese culture due to the blooming cherry trees here in Washington, D.C., I authored the following Haiku:

    Regulate coal death

    solar power can’t cut it

    no energy left

  • House Energy and Environment Notes

    March 29, 2016 9:13 AM

    Both chambers of Congress are in recess now, but there were some goings-on in the House last Wednesday that merit mention.

    The first was EPA Gina McCarthy’s two appearances before House subcommittees in order to defend her FY 2017 budget. In the morning, she testified before the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. In the afternoon, she appeared before a joint hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittees on Environment and the Economy and on Energy and Power.

    As well-reported by E&E Daily’s ($) Amanda Reilly,

    Chief among the criticisms raised by GOP lawmakers was that EPA is focusing on the Clean Power Plan and other climate change initiatives to the detriment of other agency priorities, including ailing water infrastructure…

    “I know that the agency has an ambitious agenda it would like to put in place before President Obama’s tenure in the White House is completed,” [Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred] Upton said. “But the EPA should focus its efforts less on finalizing a wave of new regulations and more on getting back to the basic functions for which the agency was created”…

    “You’ve given us a smorgasbord of things to go after,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) at the day’s second hearing.

  • Senators Urge EPA to Burst RFS Blend Wall

    March 28, 2016 3:02 PM

    A bipartisan group of 19 Senators led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is urging EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) “back on track”—code for compelling refiners to comply with the program’s increasingly unattainable statutory goals.

    The RFS is a central planning scheme requiring specified volumes of biofuels to be sold in the nation’s motor fuel supply over a 17-year period. Created in 2005 and then expanded in 2007, the quota for total renewable fuels increase from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 36 billion gallons in 2022.

    The RFS, however, also authorizes EPA to reduce the annual statutory targets if the administrator determines there is an “inadequate domestic supply.” For example, EPA drastically reduced the sub-targets for cellulosic biofuel in 2010, 2011, and 2012 when commercial production turned out to be virtually non-existent—contrary to the confident predictions of the program's architects in the mid-2000s.

  • Is EPA Trying to Centrally Plan the Auto Sector (in Addition to the Electric Sector)?

    February 21, 2016 12:30 PM

    With the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s marquee climate policy, the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to run the electricity sector. Of course, the agency is an environmental regulator, and it has no expertise overseeing the generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption of electricity. Authority over the wholesale and retail electricity markets is instead shared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the states, which have developed know-how and skill in their respective spheres of influence in the industry over the last 90 years. Despite its relative ignorance, the EPA wants to plan the entire electricity sector—both wholesale and retail—in the name of fighting climate change.

    According to Reuters, the EPA might have a new and similarly large sector of the economy in its sights: the auto industry. Per a Reuters report from Frankfurt:

    U.S. authorities have asked the German carmaker Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently in talks with Volkswagen with the aim of agreeing on a fix for nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legal pollution limits.

    The paper, which gave no source for its report, said the EPA was asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States. … Read the rest here.

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