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Congressmen block arbitrary, unscientific regulatory schemes

Rep. Jenkins, along with Reps. Culberson, Womack, LaHood, and Mullin, recently introduced H.R. 5668, the Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulation Act of 2016 (THERA). This bill would stop the use of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) and the Social Cost of Methane (SCM) in regulatory rulemaking. As explained many times before, the SCC and SCM are too flawed to be used in the rulemaking process.

The SCC is estimated using Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). These models try to assess future climate and economic impacts of climate change. According to economists, the models are “close to useless.” Here is MIT Professor Robert Pindyck:

…I would argue that calling these models “close to useless” is generous: IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision that is illusory, and can fool policy-makers into thinking that the forecasts the models generate have some kind of scientific legitimacy. IAMs can be misleading – and are inappropriate – as guides for policy, and yet they have been used by the government to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate tax and abatement policies. [Pindyck 2015, emphasis added.]

It turns out that neither theory nor data to back up how these models work. As Pindyck goes on to explain:

One of the most important parts of an IAM is the damage function, i.e., the relationship between an increase in temperature and GDP (or the growth rate of GDP). When assessing [the climate’s sensitivity to emissions], we can at least draw on the underlying physical science and argue coherently about the relevant probability distributions. But when it comes to the damage function, we know virtually nothing – there is no theory and no data that we can draw from. As a result, developers of IAMs simply make up arbitrary functional forms and corresponding parameter values.[Pindyck 2015, emphasis added, footnotes removed.]

The SCC is fatally flawed not only because it lacks statistical and theoretical justification, but it also violates the basic principles that the federal government has set out to produce cost-benefit analyses. The SCC fails to comply with OMB guidelines in two major and irreconcilable ways. First, OMB Circular A-4 clearly states that any regulation should assess the costs and benefits as realized domestically:

Your analysis should focus on benefits and costs that accrue to citizens and residents of the United States. Where you choose to evaluate a regulation that is likely to have effects beyond the borders of the United States, these effects should be reported separately.

The Interagency Working Group ignored this requirement. The Technical Support Document for the SCC states “the interagency group concluded that a global measure of the benefits from reducing U.S. emissions is preferable,” which is precisely what Circular A-4 directs not to do. The administration could have included both the domestic and global values, but they did not.

Agencies have put this into practice. In the EPA’s final Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for its “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), the agency uses the SCC to assess climate benefits on a global scale, while accounting only for domestic costs. In its own breakout of benefits throughout the RIA, the agency admits “[t]he climate benefit estimate in this summary table reflects global impacts from CO2 emission changes and does not account for changes in non-CO2 GHG emissions.” This is an apples to oranges comparison that explicitly flies in the face of OMB guidance.

Further, agencies manipulate discount rates to produce favorable results using the SCC. Discount rates are intended to calculate the present value of regulatory action on the future economy. Essentially, it’s a way to account for costs and benefits down the road. Per OMB guidance, agencies should use a discount rate of 3 and 7 percent. Yet in the CPP RIA, the EPA admits:

…several discount rates are applied to SC-CO2 because the literature shows that the estimate of SC-CO2 is sensitive to assumptions about discount rate and because no consensus exists on the appropriate rate to use in an intergenerational context. The U.S. government centered its attention on the average SC-CO2 at a 3 percent discount rate but emphasized the importance of considering all four SC-CO2 estimates.

Again, the SCC violates Circular A-4, which states “For regulatory analysis, you should provide estimates of net benefits using both 3 percent and 7 percent.” The Obama administration’s Interagency Working Group used the 3 percent discount rate, but not the 7 percent discount rate. A 7 percent discount rate would have lowered the SCC.

This same process has been employed with the SCM metric. The SCM is very similar to the SCC, except targeted at methane emissions mainly associated with oil and natural gas development. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency published its final rule for emissions standards for new and modified oil and gas sources, which is the first regulation to use the SCM. In fact, the rule was justified solely using the SCM.

These metrics are arbitrary, unscientific, and misleading. It is irresponsible to use them to justify economically significant regulations, as those regulations–if abused–ultimately hurt the people they are designed to protect. Fortunately, THERA would end this practice and protect American taxpayers from further harm. By prohibiting the SCC and SCM from being deployed, and reviewing regulations that use them as justification, Congress would be taking a significant step in combatting flawed and detrimental agency overreach and overregulation.

Rep. Jenkins should be applauded for his effort to tackle this deeply flawed and damaging bureaucratic exercise. THERA should be supported by all Representatives who believe in transparency, accuracy, and a bureaucracy accountable to the American public.

Free-Market Groups Support Bill Targeting Arbitrary Social Cost of Carbon

WASHINGTON – Today the American Energy Alliance and a coalition of free-market groups sent a letter to Rep. Evan Jenkins in support of his bill, the Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act of 2016. This legislation halts the use of the administration’s fatally flawed and arbitrary “social cost of carbon” (SCC) and the “social cost of methane” (SCM) in agency rulemaking and regulatory action. Below is an excerpt from the letter:
The SCC and SCM are products of the Obama administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Carbon. The problems with these calculations are many, but the most important are that these calculations are wholly arbitrary, that the IWG refuses to follow OMB’s guidelines for economic analysis, and that these are economic models which are calibrated to follow climate model projections, not actual, real-world data. The problems are too large to ignore, especially since they are being used to justify regulations that make energy more expensive for American families and businesses.
The biggest problem with the SCC was explained by MIT Professor Robert Pindyck, who writes that computer-generated SCC estimates are “close to useless” for guiding policymakers, and models are “arbitrary” having no basis in either economic theory or empirical observation.
If the arbitrary nature of the SCC and SCM wasn’t a big enough problem, OMB’s Circular A-4 outlines some requirements for “good regulatory analysis.” The administration’s IWG, however, refused to follow two of the important guidelines (an analysis at a 7 percent discount rate and an analysis of only domestic benefits instead of only global benefits). Their failure to comply has the combined effect of justifying much more costly regulations which, in turn, drive up the cost of energy in the United States.
Another major flaw is that the IWG tuned their calculation of the SCC to follow computer climate models, rather than real world data. If the calculations are re-run using empirical data, according to one SCC model the numbers should be 30 to 50 percent lower and according to another SCC model, the SCC should be over 80 percent lower. In fact, if the IWG only used this second model, there is a 40 percent chance that the SCC would be negative, i.e., carbon dioxide actually turns out to be a benefit to the economy. For more on this issue, see this op-ed and this paper.
Your bill recognizes that the government has been playing “fast and loose” with the SCC and SCM, in what can fairly be described as an attempt to generate numbers that justify their administrative actions in pursuit of their political Global Warming agenda. By putting a stop to it, your legislation will also put a stop to higher energy prices for American families and businesses. We applaud your efforts and thank you for this important initiative.

AEA Endorses Donald Trump for President

The American Energy Alliance is pleased to announce its endorsement of businessman Donald J. Trump for President.

AEA President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement:

“The U.S. is at a crossroads when it comes to our federal energy policy. Over the last eight years President Obama has subjected the American people to policies that fundamentally transform our energy economy into just another politicized arm of Washington. President Obama has rewarded his contributors with government mandates and taxpayer subsidies, rather than allowing Americans to choose what works for them. The outcome of this election will determine whether we continue this destructive agenda or take a more free-market approach that will result in affordable, reliable energy for every American.

“The contrast between the two candidates’ energy platforms could not be greater. Donald Trump’s message is one of optimism, prosperity, and abundance where the needs of consumers and workers are put first. Hillary Clinton’s message is one of political favors and cronyism that puts the agenda of her favored special interests above all else.

“Donald Trump has put forth a plan that would move our country forward by opening up more federal lands and waters for energy exploration of all kinds, utilizing cutting-edge technologies to tap into our vast resources, unwinding the Obama administration’s harmful regulations, and subjecting the Paris Agreement to the scrutiny it deserves. These policies will usher in an era of prosperity that will strengthen our economy, put more money in the pockets of American families, and lift many struggling Americans out of poverty.  It will make America more secure and more Americans better off.

“Hillary Clinton offers the American people a plan that would move our country backwards—hurting all American families, but especially the poorest among us.  At the bidding of special interest groups, Secretary Clinton has promised to ban production of natural gas, coal, and oil on federal lands, discourage the use of innovative technologies, and vigorously implement the Obama administration’s destructive regulations and the Paris Agreement that extends UN control over American citizens.

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offer two very distinct paths for the future of our country.  Where Donald Trump promises prosperity and growth, Hillary Clinton promises a third term of President Obama’s regressive climate agenda.  The stakes are far too high to sit on the sidelines, which is why AEA is pleased to endorse Donald Trump for President.”

prescomp

Click here for a pdf side-by-side comparison of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Key Vote: Interior Appropriations Amendments

The House will soon vote on the FY 2017 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The underlying legislation is a step forward and includes several promising policy provisions. Two amendments provide significant improvements to the bill. One amendment, offered by Rep. Boustany, will further improve the bill by blocking funds from being used to implement the Administration’s proposed offshore well control rule. Another, offered by Rep. Ratcliffe, will prohibit wasteful spending by blocking funds from being used to implement the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), part of the Administration’s crusade against affordable, reliable energy. The American Energy Alliance supports these measures and urges all Representatives vote YES.

In April 2015, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) published aproposed rule imposing new regulations on the offshore drilling industry. The rule is very complicated and many policymakers, industry specialists, and others directly impacted by the rule are still trying to determine how and if it could be implemented.

This complexity has made evaluation difficult. However, analyses thus far suggest massive costs imposed by this rule. Wood Mackenzie estimated a cumulative GDP reduction of $260-$390 billion and roughly $70 billion in lost federal revenue through 2030. Most importantly, the rule could destroy up to 190,000 jobs by 2030.

API determined that the rule “ultimately could increase risk and decrease safety.” The group indicates the rule prescribes a one size fits all mentality, is far too rigid in its technical aspects, and imposes unnecessary and potentially detrimental administrative and bureaucratic requirements. Ultimately, the rule could actually “increase risk of harm to personnel and negatively impact the environment.”

The oil and gas industry shares the goal of the BSEE in increasing safety and protecting the environment. To that end, the proposed well control rule imposes significant hardship and dramatically higher costs. At the end of the day, innovation and private investment have yielded significant advancements in productivity and safety in offshore resources development. This trend will continue as long as Americans are allowed to experiment and improve. The well control rule will stifle industry development. Rep. Boustany’s amendment will ensure continued improvements in oil and gas safety and environmental stewardship, and all Representatives are strongly encouraged to vote YES on the amendment.

In June 2016, the Administration issued a proposed rule for CEIP design details. The CEIP is a program for states to apply for early credit under the so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). In essence, the CEIP will incentivize the unnecessary shuttering of reliable power plants and instead  construct expensive, intermittent energy sources — specifically wind and solar power. Basically, states issue credits to compliant energy projects and the EPA matches said credit.

The CEIP is a quasi-grant/credit program (the Environmental Protection Agency calls them “allowances”) that incentivizes funding to projects that may not be entirely necessary, viable, or cost effective. In the proposed rule, the EPA does not specify if a qualified energy project must be commercially viable. That’s the whole point: without an incentive like the CEIP (or wind Production Tax Credit or solar Investment Tax Credit) this whole operation would be economically unfeasible. Replacing affordable and reliable energy sources like natural gas and coal with wind and solar is simply too expensive — and technically unsound — to make any sense.

Further, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the CPP earlier this year. This means the deadlines were all tolled, or delayed, including the CEIP. In fact, 112 Representatives recently requested Administrator McCarthy to clarify her statements regarding the stay. The legal debate surrounding the CPP (and the CEIP) will be tangled up in courts for months, far beyond this appropriations cycle. Federal funds should not be obligated towards the CEIP, especially as it’s legal standing is shaky.

Rep. Ratcliffe’s amendment would block taxpayer dollars from going towards this program. This amendment should be supported by any Representative who values fiscal responsibility and accountability. The American Energy Alliance urges all Representatives vote YES on the Ratcliffe CEIP amendment.

Key Vote: H.R. 4768

Today, the House will vote on H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA). This bill will reel in the power of executive agencies and marks an much needed step towards regulatory reform. The American Energy Alliance supports H.R. 4768 and urges all Representatives vote YES.

In Chevron v. NRDC, the Supreme Court held that courts should defer to agencies for the interpretation of statutes unless the agency’s interpretations were unreasonable. Known as “Chevron deference,” this rule gives regulatory agencies regulatory authority that extends beyond what Congress had intended. Chevron deference has been used to expand executive branch overreach and has contributed to an imbalance of power among the three branches. This is particularly common with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has used Chevron to bend the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to comply with its burdensome and costly regulatory agenda.

H.R. 4768 pushes back on this practice by requiring courts to review all questions of statutory interpretation “de novo,” or outside the agencies own reading of the statute. This would end Chevron deference and require agencies to be much more conservative in their statutory interpretation. In the energy and environment space, this would provide a marked victory for constitutionalists and those who favor the free market. This would also significantly damage the prospects of many EPA rules and regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, from surviving legal challenges.

Overall, H.R. 4768 provides smart, sound regulatory reform and helps rebalance the separation of powers that have been continually skewed towards the executive branch in recent decades. The American Energy Alliance urges all Representatives vote YES on H.R. 4768.

AEA Issues Statement on Green Climate Fund Vote

WASHINGTON – American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to funnel $500 million to the UN’s green climate slush fund:

“It’s disappointing that the Senate Appropriations committee has capitulated to the Obama administration’s climate agenda. The green climate slush fund is a political stunt to help politicians in developed countries feel good about themselves while their policies raise energy costs and consign millions of people around the world to poverty.

“Republicans have largely pledged to fight back against the president’s agenda, so it is inexcusable that they would even consider green lighting this blatant misuse of taxpayer funds. Even more appalling is the fact they did this through a voice vote to protect those who voted for it from scrutiny. This is exactly the type of action that has voters so upset with the established political class on both sides of the Atlantic. We’re confident that Majority Leader McConnell, Majority Whip Cornyn, and the rest of the Senate Leadership will swiftly announce their objection to this vote and will work with Speaker Ryan and the House Leadership to prevent the president from advancing his harmful climate agenda.”

Congress looks to Rein in the EPA

One of EPA’s main tactics in their assault on affordable energy is to get utilities, Public Utility Commissions, and others to implement a regulation before the courts have time to rule on its legality. If EPA can get power plant owners and other regulators to move fast enough, EPA can achieve its goal of closing affordable and reliable power plants before the courts even rule on the regulation. This is what happened with EPA’s MATS rule and is what EPA is trying to achieve with their regulation of carbon dioxide from power plants, even though the Supreme Court has stayed the rule. Congress has stood on the sidelines and let EPA go too far for too long, but Congress is starting to push back on EPA’s overreach.

While the MATS case was being heard in the courts, 40 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity prematurely closed to comply with the rule—that’s enough electricity capacity to power 30 million American homes. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled against EPA (the Supreme Court case did not overturn the rule, but required EPA to look at certain costs), but the damage was already done

Similarly, the Supreme Court imposed a stay on EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide from power plants—what EPA’s PR team calls their “Clean Power Plan.” This stay means that all of the deadlines and other requirements of the regulation are put on hold until after the Supreme Court rules on the regulation.

Despite the Supreme Court’s stay, EPA would still like states to continue implementing the regulation. Administrator McCarthy testified before Congress in March and gave coy answers to questions about the tolling of deadlines under EPA’s regulation. When asked about whether the regulation’s deadlines were tolled, McCarthy said, “Well that’s not what the Supreme Court said, but we assume that the courts will make that judgement over time or will leave that to EPA to make their own judgement.” When she was pressed further, she responded, “. . . the Supreme Court didn’t speak to that issue. The only thing they spoke to was the stay of the rule. They didn’t speak to any tolling or what it meant in terms of compliance time.”

Responding to this evasive and murky testimony, Rep. Ratcliffe organized a letter signed by 112 Representatives asking McCarthy to explicitly clarify EPA’s position on the implications of the stay of the regulation of carbon dioxide from power plants. This effort should be applauded. It is a good reminder that EPA and other regulatory agencies’ job is to carry out the will of the American people as expressed through law passed by Congress—not carry out their own regulatory agenda. Congress has let EPA and regulatory agencies go too far. Hopefully this effort marks the beginning of a renewed effort from Congress to rein in EPA’s excessive overreach.

Obama’s Rough Week in Court

This week has been a bad week for President Obama’s policies in the courts. The Supreme Court handed a defeat to President Obama over his immigration plan and a district court struck down his administration’s unlawful attempt for the Bureau of Land Management to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

The court’s hydraulic fracturing opinion was straightforward and simple. The court explained to the Obama administration that they cannot do anything they want, but only what they have been delegated to do by the legislative branch. Here is the conclusion to the court’s order:

As this Court has previously noted, our system of government operates based upon the principle of limited and enumerated powers assigned to the three branches of government. In its simplest form, the legislative branch enacts laws, the executive branch enforces those laws, and the judicial branch ensures that the laws passed and enforced are Constitutional. See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 176 (1803). A federal agency is a creature of statute and derives its existence, authority and powers from Congress alone. It has no constitutional or common law existence or authority outside that expressly conveyed to it by Congress. See Bowen v. Georgetown Univ. Hosp., 488 U.S. 204, 208 (1988); see also Michigan v. EPA, 268 F.3d 1075, 1081-82 (D.C. Cir. 2001). In the absence of a statute conferring authority, then, an administrative agency has none. See American Petroleum Inst. v. EPA, 52 F.3d 1113, 1119-20 (D.C. Cir. 1995). This Court “must be guided to a degree by common sense as to the manner in which Congress would likely delegate a policy decision of such economic and political magnitude to an administrative agency.” Brown & Williamson, 529 U.S. at 133. Given Congress’ enactment of the EP Act of 2005, to nonetheless conclude that Congress implicitly delegated BLM authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing lacks common sense. Congress’ inability or unwillingness to pass a law desired by the executive branch does not default authority to the executive branch to act independently, regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the Citizens of the United States. “[The Supreme] Court consistently has given voice to, and has reaffirmed, the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that, within our political scheme, the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty.” Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, 380 (1989).

Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. The BLM’s effort to do so through the Fracking Rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law. As this finding is dispositive as to each of the Petitions for Review, the Court need not address the other points raised in support of setting aside the Fracking Rule. THEREFORE, the Court holds the Fracking Rule is unlawful, and it is

ORDERED that the BLM’s final rule related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands, 80 Fed. Reg. 16,128 (Mar. 26, 2015), is hereby SET ASIDE.

 

Appropriations Bills Signal Step Forward

As the FY 2017 appropriations season rolls along, both Chambers have begun consideration of their respective Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bills. These bills cover a range of agencies and funds, including the Department of Interior (and its various bureaus), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Many of these agencies are responsible for regulations that govern various aspects of energy, natural resource development, and environmental policy that has a profound impact on an array of industries and American businesses. Thus, this appropriations bill holds significant import and carries the opportunity for pro-energy, pro-growth policies. The House Interior bill shows promise, reeling in several key regulations while also reducing overall funding levels. The Senate version also includes key spending cuts, but lacks policy riders that would cut red tape and block harmful regulations. Ideally, the Senate will address this deficiency at the full Committee level or during floor debate.

This year, the House FY2017 Interior Appropriations comes in at $32.095 billion, roughly $64 million less than FY2016 enacted levels. This includes $12.049 billion for the DOI and $7.976 billion for the EPA, a roughly $33 million increase and a $163 million decrease, respectively, from FY2016 enacted levels. Of note, the bill reduces funding for the Bureau of Land Management by roughly $10 million. The bill also appropriates $322 million for the Land and Water Conservation fund which, while above the traditional $300 million per year allocation, is a $128 million decrease for a program used to annex private and state lands.

Overall, these funding levels are a good step towards greater financial accountability. The levels are consistent with the subcommittee’s commitment towards responsible environmental stewardship all while working to decrease the size of the federal government and roll back unnecessary red tape.

The House version goes a step further by including a number of provisions aimed at cutting burdensome regulations and rules promulgated by various agencies. While some might call these “poison pills,” these riders are fully within Congress’ prerogatives, consistent with Constitutional authority, and sound public policy.

These riders reel in several potentially disastrous regulations by prohibiting funds for: the regulation of greenhouse gases from new and existing sources under the Clean Air Act (collectively known as the so-called “Clean Power Plan”); expanding reach of federal bureaucrats with new definitions of what constitutes “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act (known as “Waters of the United States”); driving up the cost of natural gas production through new methane emissions regulations; and continuing the use of the inherently-flawed social cost of carbon (SCC) metric. The bill also delays the implementation of the administration’s overzealous ozone regulation (similar to Rep. Olson’s ozone bill) and requires a report to Congress accounting for all federal funding being directed to programs dealing with climate change.

Including these policy provisions in the subcommittee draft indicates that Congress is keen on tackling these major issues and strongly disapproves of agency action in these areas. By exercising its power of the purse, the House Appropriations Committee can send a message that these regulations do more harm than good. This House Interior Appropriations bill, with its funding levels and policy riders, is a welcome change to the usual trend of do nothing appropriations legislation, and should be approved.

The Senate is also working on it’s own Interior Appropriations legislation. Their bill, as drafted by the Subcommittee, similarly complies with the 302(b) allocation levels and appropriates $32.034 billion, about $125 million less than FY2016 enacted levels. Funding for DOI checks in at $12.16 billion, roughly $144 million above FY2016 enacted levels. EPA funding sits at $8.1 billion, over $31 million below FY2016 enacted levels. The bill does include an increase for the BLM, about $6 million above FY2016 enacted levels to $1.24 billion.

While the Senate bill does cut overall funding and does make strides in instituting a more responsible fiscal track, the bill does not contain as strong policy riders as the House draft does. The bill blocks funds for implementing WOTUS, but fails to include many of the other significant House riders.

The Senate does operate under different processes than the House and Senators traditionally withhold many policy riders until full committee or floor consideration. However, inclusion of riders blocking funds for the “Clean Power Plan,” methane rule, and SCC in the base bill would have been a positive step for the upper chamber.

While much work remains, the proposed Interior Appropriations bills include important spending cuts and at least begin the process towards a more accountable and manageable federal government. Ideally, Congress will continue to debate these bills and work to implement policies that return power over America’s natural resources and energy policy back to states and individuals. After all, communities, not bureaucrats, best know how to meet their energy and environmental needs. Congress should use Interior Appropriations legislation as an opportunity to revert back to federalist principles and rein in the power of some of these bloated federal agencies.

Paris Climate Deal: Forget the Media Hype, Only 0.04% of the World’s GHG Emissions Are On Board

On April 11th, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post wrote that the Paris Climate agreement could enter into effect earlier than many think. But now, more than two months after their article, only 17 countries which represent only 0.04 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have officially ratified the Paris agreement.

Paris Agreement

In the PR campaign for the run-up to the signing ceremony for the Paris agreement, it sounded like more countries would quickly move to ratify the agreement. Mooney and Eilperin wrote:

In late March, when the United States and China jointly declared that they’d be moving to immediately sign and then join the Paris climate agreement “as early as possible this year,” it was seen as the latest show of joint leadership by the two largest emitters.

White House senior adviser Brian Deese made a point of saying, on a March 31 press call, that the fact that China had indicated it wanted to join the accord “as soon as possible this year” was “significant.”

Based on the administration’s comments and the Post’s reporting, it sounded like the United States would quickly “ratify” the agreement (according to the U.N., to formally join the “agreement” countries need to “deposit their instrument of ratification.”) The article in the Post was more than two months ago and neither the U.S. nor China has ratified the agreement.

It is a little strange that the Obama administration has not deposited their instrument of ratification given that they are clamoring for the agreement to quickly enter into effect before they leave town. This is especially true because, unlike countries like Norway, France, and Fiji the Obama administration does not intend to have the people’s elected representatives vote on acceptance of the Paris climate agreement. They prefer executive fiat, without a whit of pesky representative government involved.

Just last week there seemed to be conflicting statements from the White House and India about India’s ratification of the agreement. According to the Washington Post, “The leaders of India and the United States vowed Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord this year…” The Indian media contradicted this claim. According to NDTV, “White House officials indicated that it is their understanding that India completes [the] process during this year, before President Barack Obama’s term expires in November. But top government officials have told NDTV that India is ‘unlikely to sign the agreement this year, or even the next.’”

The European Union has been very pro-Paris agreement, however, the EU is nowhere near ratifying the agreement. As E&E Publishing explained:

The union can’t ratify an agreement without giving all 28 member parliaments time to do their work. “Although the E.U. negotiates in the [Conference of the Parties] as a single entity, the ratification process requires actions in individual countries and their parliaments,” said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. “And Europe is heterogeneous.”

But for logistical reasons internal to the 28-nation compact, it is expected to do so in 2017 or 2018 — likely after other countries cause it to take effect.

One complicating factor for the EU is the possibility of the UK exiting the EU. The trend in the polling is that the UK will vote to leave the EU on June 23rd. If that happens, it will embolden countries like Poland who are pushing back on GHG cuts.

In the last couple days, France has voted to ratify the agreement and Norway has too. However, France’s vote was symbolic because France’s GHG contribution is a part of the EU’s contribution and Norway has not officially deposited their articles of acceptance with the UN.

Conclusion

Despite all the hype, so far, the road to ratification of the Paris Climate agreement has not been super speedy, as only 0.04 percent of the world’s GHG emitters have officially signed up. The Obama administration, because they do not intend to have the Senate vote on it, could quickly accept the agreement, but to date, they have failed to do so. This is far from being a done deal, even though its Big Government supporters would like to convince the public otherwise through disinformation campaigns.

Which begs the question itself—why are some in the media, and governmental supporters – so intent on convincing everyone that this is a done deal that can’t be changed or altered in any way? Could it be that their greatest fear is that a new administration might change directions, and demand more transparency about the process and the science that has gone into this Public Relations gambit? It makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

For reference here is the UN’s official page on the Paris Agreement. And here are ratification trackers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and here is another from Climate Analytics.