Cooler Heads Digest 26 February 2016

26 February 2016


  • In a paper released this week entitled “The Paris Climate Agreement Is a Treaty Requiring Senate Review,” CEI’s Marlo Lewis argues that Congress should upend Obama’s plan to use a non-ratified treaty to inflate the so-called Clean Power Plan and other EPA regulations into “promises” America has made to the world. Read more here.
  • A joint letter signed by 22 free market and conservative groups was sent to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) this week.  The letter supports a vote on Rep. Scalise’s resolution opposing a carbon tax.


In the News

The Difference between Being Smart & Being Dumb
Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian, 25 February 2016

Icebreaker Aurora Australis Runs Aground at Mawson Station in Antarctica
Kate Aubusson, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 2016

Ten Dire Polar Bear Predictions That Have Failed
Susan Crockford, Watts Up With That?, 25 February 2016

Study: Green Energy Can’t Work Unless You Tax Everything
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 25 February 2016

Justice Scalia and Climate Change
Thomas Pyle, National Review, 25 February 2016

Hide the Hiatus
Global Warming Policy Forum, 25 February 2016

Japan’s Coal Plant Reversal Casts Doubt on Paris Pledge
Yuka Obayashi, Reuters, 24 February 2016

Abengoa Bioenergy Subsidiary Files for U.S. Bankruptcy with up to $10 Billion in Liabilities
Tom Hals & Tracy Rucinski, Reuters, 24 February 2016

Cellulosic Ethanol Falls a Few Billion Gallons Short
Robert Rapier, Energy Collective, 23 February 2016

Paris Climate Accord: Hope, Change, and Collapse
S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, 23 February 2016

Mr. President, You Owe America an Apology. We Did Drill Our Way to $2 Gas
Marita Noon, Oil Pro, 23 February 2016

The Bogus Case of the 150,000 “Dead” Penguins
Ben Collins, Daily Best, 22 February 2016

News You Can Use
It Could Happen Here

Large Reductions, by 50% or more, in beef and mutton consumption are unavoidable if the European Union is to meet its Paris climate commitments, according to a study published this week by Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Inside the Beltway

Opening Briefs Filed in Case Challenging EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules for Existing Power Plants
Myron Ebell

The opening briefs (here and here)  for the petitioners in West Virginia et al v. EPA—the lawsuit challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants—were submitted to the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on 19th February.  The list of petitioners and their lawyers is pretty impressive.  The two briefs requested by the court each total no more than 42,000 words.

A number of amicus curiae briefs have been filed plus one intervenor brief.  I haven’t read them all, but one that I have that is definitely worth looking at is the amicus brief signed by 34 Senators and 171 Representatives.  Senator James M. Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) Environment and Public Works Committee staff took the lead on putting this together. 

The entire docket for the case, including links to all the briefs, is available on the web site of the West Virginia Attorney General’s office. The response brief is due 28th March.

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has asked the court to accept a supplemental brief on some very interesting procedural issues. The brief is based on a report prepared by my CEI colleague Chris Horner, which shows how the EPA worked in secret with operatives from environmental pressure groups to write the rule. None of the communications between EPA and these operatives was placed on the public docket.  Their existence was revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Last week, I reported that Thomas Lorenzen, the lead attorney in the second brief on procedural and record-based issues, said that he thinks the rule will be overturned by the court.  I mentioned that Lorenzen had long experience litigating these issues at the Department of Justice.  But I carelessly got one detail wrong, which I correct here: Lorenzen unsuccessfully led the defense in Massachusetts v. EPA decided in 2007.

Ethanol Mandate Is Immortal Unless Congress Repeals It
Marlo Lewis

In last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate in Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voiced a popular misconception. After Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) faulted Rubio for not committing to terminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), commonly known as the ethanol mandate, Rubio replied: “That’s not an accurate assessment of what I said about ethanol. What I said is that ethanol will phase out. It is phasing out now. By 2022 that program expires by virtue of the existing law. At that point it will go away.”

Actually, it won’t.

The RFS, as incorporated into the Clean Air Act in 2007 by the so-called Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), establishes a 17-year (2005-2022) production-quota schedule for renewable fuels. The program requires “obligated parties” (refiners, fuel blenders, importers) to purchase, blend, and sell increasing amounts of biofuel in the nation’s fuel supply each year—from 4 billion gallons in 2005 to 36 billion in 2022. Within each year’s overall target, the RFS also establishes sub-quota for four separate categories of biofuel: “conventional” ethanol derived from corn starch, “advanced,” “cellulosic,” and “biomass-based diesel.”

Although the statutory targets do not increase after 2022, neither do they expire. Rather, Section 202(a)(1)(ii) of EISA authorizes EPA, in coordination with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, to establish “renewable volume obligations” for the motor fuel industry in “other calendar years”—in principle, until the end of time. Terminating the RFS after 2022 will require congressional action and executive leadership.

This week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held an oversight hearing on the RFS. Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) opened with a plea for Congress to “revisit” the RFS. Among his chief reasons, “the tables in the Clean Air Act end” in 2022, after which time “U.S. fuel policy will be left in the hands of the EPA and I think we agree that’s not good.”

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,