23 May 2014

Announcements
On Thursday May 29th, at 9:45 AM, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will
hold a hearing on “Examining the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Process.” Watch live here.
Registration is now open for the Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate
Change, July 7-9, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Click here to learn
more.
In the News
The Hard Sell on Climate Change
John Fund, National Review, 23 May 2014
Secretary of State Kerry Needs a Personal Fact-Checker
Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, 23 May 2014
EPA Administrator Travels in Carbon-Emitting Style, But Says We Shouldn’t
Scott Blakeman, The Foundry, 23 May 2014
Joe Romm: Climate “Disinformers” Now Holocaust Deniers
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 22 May 2014
Tom Steyer’s Targets Fire Back
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 22 May 2014
Federalism Red Alert: President’s Reported Climate Plan Would Subject State Energy Planning
to EPA Control
William Yeatman, Global Warming.org, 19 May 2014
Lefty Scientist: Jail Pols Who Deny Global Warming; PBS Host Worries There’s a Lack of
Prison Space
Paul Bremmer, NewsBusters, 19 May 2014
Watergate Don’t Bother Me, Does EPA Bother You?
Lawson Bader & William Yeatman, Human Events, 19 May 2014
News You Can Use
James O’Keefe Stings Enviros
James O’Keefe this week released a twenty-minute video at the Cannes Film Festival that
shows Hollywood environmental activists Ed Begley, Jr., and Mariel Hemingway and
environmental propaganda documentary producers Josh and Rebecca Tickell talking about
getting $9 million in funding from a phony Middle Eastern oil sheikh to produce an anti-fracking
documentary.The Hollywood Reporter ran an exclusive on O’Keefe’s sting, and the video has
been posted on YouTube.
Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell
House Passes Amendment To Curb Use of Junk Science
The House of Representatives on Thursday, 22nd May, passed an amendment offered by
Representative David McKinley (R-WV) that if enacted into law would prevent the federal
government from basing regulations and other policies on junk science. The 231 to 192 vote
was almost straight down party lines. Four Democrats joined 227 Republicans in voting Yes,
while three Republicans joined 189 Democrats in voting No. Rep. McKinley plans to offer an
improved version of his amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill when
it comes to the House floor next week.
Rep. McKinley’s amendment would prohibit expenditures that involve the use of the third
National Climate Assessment, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth
Assessment Report, the Social Cost of Carbon guidance document, or Agenda 21. It was
attached to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, H. R. 4435.
The chances that this amendment will be accepted by the Senate are close to nil, but it was a
good test vote. It reveals that the two parties are united on opposite sides of the global warming
debate. Democrats are close to unanimous in supporting the use of junk climate science to
make public policy, while Republicans are close to unanimously opposed.
On roll call vote 231, Democrats voting Yes were: John Barrow of Georgia, Nick Joe Rahall of
West Virginia, Henry Cuellar of Texas, and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. Republicans voting
No were: Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, and Chris Gibson of New
York. Those not voting were: Republicans Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Gary Miller of
California; and Democrats Karen Bass of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Cedric
Richmond of Louisiana, Bobby Rush of Illinois, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, and Louise
Slaughter of New York.
EPA Promulgates Cooling Water Intake Standards
On Monday, EPA issued Clean Water Act standards to protect larvae and minnows from cooling
water intake systems at nuclear, coal, and natural gas power plants. The cost would be about
$250 million per year, and these expenses would fall disproportionately on nuclear power
plants, which require greater volumes of water for cooling purposes. According to the North
American Electric Reliability Council, an electric reliability watchdog, EPA’s rule was a major
reason that utilities and independent power producers decided to retire almost 4,000 megawatts
of nuclear powered electricity.
Across the States
William Yeatman
EPA’s Reported Climate Plan Would Facilitate Carbon Taxes
and Cap-and-Trade
Details are leaking out about EPA’s impending climate plan for existing power plants pursuant to
section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. In the past, EPA has interpreted Clean Air Act section
111(d) such that it applied on a source-by-source basis. However, Bloomberg and Reuters
recently reported that EPA’s climate plan would require “beyond the fence” or “mass emissions”
approach—i.e., states would be required to regulate beyond a power plant’s smokestack. EPA’s
plan thus represents a radical change from past practice, one that gives the agency the
authority to require green energy production quotas or even curtailments of electricity demand.
Environmental special interests were quick to support EPA’s approach and offer ideas for what
the agency could impose. Yesterday, for example, David Bookbinder, co-founder of the climate
consulting firm Element VI, endorsed state carbon taxes at a briefing held by Center for Climate
and Energy Solutions. And David Doniger, policy director for the climate and clean air program
at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Reuters that EPA’s reported plan would
facilitate regional cap-and-trades.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt this week presented the alternative viewpoint. On
Tuesday at the National Press Club, AG Pruitt released his plan for compliance with EPA’s
carbon rules that prohibited a “beyond the fence” approach, in line with what the agency has
always done to date when it implements Clean Air Act section 111(d).
Around the World
Myron Ebell
Australia Slashes Renewable and Climate Funding
Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition government announced last week that it would cut
spending on renewable energy and all climate-related programs from A$5.75 billion in the
current fiscal year to A$1.25 billion in the 2014-15 fiscal year and to A$500 million by 2017-18.
Under the previous Labor Party government’s budget plan last year, spending on climate and
renewable was set to rise to A$23 billion in the same period, an amount similar to Australia’s
spending on defense.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government is still fully committed to repealing the carbon tax,
which is projected to raise A$13 billion next year. The Senate defeated the carbon tax repeal
bill by a 33 to 29 vote earlier this year. However, the new Senators elected in the general
election last September will assume office on 1st July, and the more favorable balance of power
should make it possible to get the bill passed in the Senate.
Science Update
Marlo Lewis
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Doomed – but don’t sell the
beach house!
Three recent studies on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are making waves in the media,
re-stoking fears of catastrophic sea-level rise, and putting a spring in the step of many a carbon-
taxer.
Thomas Sumner summarizes two of the studies in a commentary in Science magazine titled
“No Stopping the Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.” Joughin et al., published in Science,
and Rignot et al., published in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), find, in Sumner’s words,
that “Thwaites Glacier, a keystone holding the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet together, is
starting to collapse. In the long run, they say, the entire ice sheet is doomed. Its meltwater
would raise sea levels by more than 3 meters.”
In addition, McMillan et al., also published in GRL, reports that Antarctica as a whole is losing
about 159 billion tons of ice per year. That’s an amount larger than previous estimates and
translates to an overall sea-level rise contribution of 0.45 mm/year.
The first two studies expressly conclude that the Thwaites and neighboring outlet glaciers have
retreated to a point of no return and that, once gone, nothing can prevent the rest of the WAIS
from flowing into the sea.
My initial reaction was: What’s really new here?
Conway et al. (1999), a study of the relentless retreat of WAIS grounding line retreat since the
early Holocene (i.e. 9,000 years ago or more), and Bindschadler (2006), a study of the
inexorable melting of submarine glaciers in contact with warm ocean currents, both concluded
that the WAIS is doomed.
We can also infer as much from Dahl-Jensen et al. (2013), who found that in the last interglacial
period, Greenland retained about 75% of its mass despite enduring temperatures 4°C-8°C
warmer than the present for 6,000 years. Sea levels were 4-8 meters higher at the end of the
last interglacial than at present, so much of that extra water must have come from Antarctica.
Thus, it is reasonable to assume that, anthropogenic global warming or no, the WAIS will
someday be gone and sea levels will be several meters higher.
What’s new in the recent studies, apparently, is improved accuracy in estimating ice mass loss
rates, and a shorter timetable than previously estimated for the demise of the WAIS.
There is no new insight for policy, though. If WAIS disintegration is unstoppable, regulating or
taxing carbon is not going to save it. As Cato Institute Chip Knappenberger points out, using
EPA climate sensitivity assumptions, even if the U.S. shut down its entire economy tomorrow,
that would avert less than 0.2°C of warming by 2100 – not enough to detectably slow WAIS ice
loss rates much less stop the unstoppable.
Joughin et al. estimate that sea-level rise from Thwaites glacier retreat and thinning will be
“moderate” over the course of the 21st century – less than 0.25 mm/year. That translates to 0.9
inches of additional sea-level rise. To be sure, the current rate of ice loss from Antarctica could
increase during the decades to come. But at present, according to McMillan et al., all of
Antarctica is contributing 1.7 inches per century to global sea level rise. That’s not a good
reason to sell the beach house! For perspective, sea levels rose about 8 inches in the 20th
century.
The “crisis” spin on these studies is a trick of the imagination. People tend to imagine cities as
immovable entities, stuck in harm’s way. But cities move continually in terms of where people
build and live. If sea level rise from Antarctica noticeably accelerates (whether in coming
decades or after 2100), urban planners and real estate markets will alter development patterns
accordingly.
The appropriate policy response remains adaptation. Indeed, as my colleague William Yeatman
reminds us, although much of Holland is at and below sea level, the Dutch built a flourishing
society in 16th and 17th centuries with pre-modern technology. How much better will sea
defenses be in century of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, or those of his great, great, great
grandchildren?