Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rumors are flying that President Bush may propose to cap CO2 emissions from electric power plants in the upcoming state of the union speech. It's deja vu all over again.

Back in September 2000, the Bush-for-President campaign proposed to cap CO2 emissions from electric power plants. Not long after the presidential inauguration in January 2001, rumors were flying that Bush would propose CO2 caps in the state of the union message. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and other free-market groups urged President Bush to abandon that ill-considered proposal. A conservative pundit who weighed in was former Reagan official Alan Keyes. His hard-hitting column, "Bush's road to an energy tax," is available here

Along with CEI and its allies, Keyes pointed out that Bush's advocacy of CO2 caps for power plants was inconsistent with his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. He noted that enacting carbon caps would undermine bi-partisan congressional efforts to prevent "backdoor" (regulatory) implementation of the non-ratified climate treaty. Most importantly, Keyes warned that carbon caps would function as energy taxes at a time when energy prices were soaring and the economy was sliding into a recession. All those objections against carbon caps remain valid today. 

Fortunately, Bush decided to disavow the campaign proposal and stick to pro-growth energy policies in 2001. As White House press secretary Ari Fleisher explained at a March 15, 2001 press briefing, a December 2000 report by the Energy Information Administration found that imposing carbon caps on power plants "would lead to large increases in the price of electricity. And given where California is today and where our nation may be facing in terms of high energy bills and a looming energy crisis, the President does not think it would be wise to proceed." 

Kyoto proponents like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) professed to be outraged at Bush's "breathtaking betrayal." It was all mighty silly. They fumed as if Bush had hoodwinked them into supporting him instead of Gore, only to find out that he was not really their man on CO2! Bush could not honor both his "promise" to promote energy abundance and prosperity and his "promise" to cap CO2. He wisely chose to keep the energy abundance/prosperity promise.

But will he stay the course this time around? Or will Bush's legacy end up being to take slings and arrows for seven years opposing Al Gore's anti-energy agenda only to enact that agenda at the end of his second term? Stay tuned.

I earned my Nobel Peace Prize by making the United Nations fix a deliberate error in its latest climate assessment. After the scientists had finalized the draft, UN bureaucrats inserted a new table, but with four decimal points right-shifted. The bureaucrats had multiplied tenfold the true contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise. Were they trying to support Al Gore’s fantasy that these two ice-sheets would imminently cause sea level to rise 20ft, displacing tens of millions worldwide?

Energy Disaster Looming

by Julie Walsh on January 23, 2008

Iain Murray, CEI, posted on National Review Online

There are strong suggestions circulating that the Administration is being firmly lobbied to announce a cap-and-trade scheme for electricity utilities in the State of the Union address as a 'legacy' item and in a futile attempt to bind the hands of an incoming President.  This would be a disaster.

At a time when the Fed and the rest of the Administration is doing its best to avoid recession, what Mike Huckabee might call the "Wall Street Lobby" within the White House is doing its best to counteract all that effort.  Given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that household energy prices rose by a staggering 17.4 percent in 2007, but electricity prices rose only 3.4 percent.  Cap and trade will push up those electricity prices too.  It is the last thing we need at present. 

Moreover, cap and trade just doesn't work.  The Europeans have had a system in place for a couple of years now and it has worked so badly that the EU President – supposedly a friend of America – is threatening a carbon trade war because, he claims, "There is no point these industries cutting emissions in Europe if they lose business to countries with more lax rules on carbon emissions."  In other words, an American cap and trade scheme will be the perfect economic stimulus package – for China and India.


It appears that the people who are pushing this within the White House are exactly the same people who, together with Enron's Ken Lay and Environmental Defense's Fred Krupp, snuck a cap and trade promise into the Bush campaign's August 2000 energy plan without the knowledge of the campaign's energy advisory committee.  They're all very well connected with the rent-seeking companies and the Wall Street banks that will make a fortune selling the permits to each other.


There are some very highly-compensated law firms out there currently lobbying for this at rates that pro-free-market groups simply (and ironically) can't afford and they are hiring Bush advisers by the troughload. Yesterday's Greenwire (subscription required), for instance, identified 2004 campaign head and former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, as "a Washington attorney working for corporate clients who back mandatory climate controls."


The American consumer, however, gets the shaft.  If you don't want higher electric bills, it really is time to get angry.

The Group of 77 developing nations, representing about two-thirds of the world's population, said it is concerned that climate-protection laws will be used to curb their exports to rich nations.

Following in the footsteps of an earlier study, government scientists on Tuesday said warmer oceans should translate to fewer Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States.

The reason: As sea surface temperatures warm globally, sustained vertical wind shear increases. Wind shear makes it difficult for storms to form and grow.