April 2008

Time to Start Drilling

by William Yeatman on April 30, 2008

in Blog

What to do about oil? First it went from $60 to $80 a barrel, then from $80 to $100 and now to $120. Perhaps we can persuade OPEC to raise production, as some senators suggest; but this seems unlikely. The truth is that we're almost powerless to influence today's prices. We are because we didn't take sensible actions 10 or 20 years ago. If we persist, we will be even worse off in a decade or two. The first thing to do: Start drilling.

Forcing German industry and energy companies to buy permits for their greenhouse gas emissions from 2013 at auction will drive up energy prices and burden power customers, energy users' group VIK said on Tuesday.

I just received a hard copy of an opinion in San Francisco Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute et al. v. EPA et al. The plaintiffs in this matter sought all sorts of things, all of which involved EPA continuing to do things that Congress is terrified of taking responsibility for expressly telling EPA, or any other agency, to do — regulate carbon dioxide. The requests included a writ of mandamus compelling EPA immediately to declare that CO2 emissions from autos pose an endangerment to public health and welfare, and to regulate it.


For beleaguered opponents of the global warming industry, the opinion is a must read. It comes from a fairly unexpected source, Federal District Judge Charles R. Breyer, a Ninth Circuit Clinton appointee and brother of SCOTUS’s Stephen Breyer, making it ever more refreshing. Although its precedential impact will be minimal simply by virtue of the nature of the requests and ruling, the federal mandamus and Administrative Procedure Act discussions are very instructive reads, given the persistence of ignorant if common claims such as the contention that the Court in Mass. v. EPA determined that CO2 was a pollutant posing an endangerment, and that EPA and the Bush Administration are now somehow in violation of the opinion, and so on. About these claims, specifically, the here court notes "The Supreme Court was careful not to place a time limit on the EPA, and indeed did not even reach the question whether an endangerment finding had to be made at all."


This court vigorously slapped such nonsense down and in no uncertain terms. Most rewarding is the pithy dismissal of the complaint itself, in the process of rejecting the request for Rule 11 sanctions (for filing frivolous claims), the latter which represent a course that our side is increasingly pondering in the face of the increasingly outrageous global warming litigation industry. "A close call" as the court said, at best, but pretty rough stuff from out in those parts against what was a fairly typical Ninth Circuit "environmental" plaintiff.


Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

I'm a bit tardy with this, but the latest critique of state climate change commission recommendations from the Beacon Hill Institute came out last week, this one for Montana. Of course, since every state commission is producing nearly the same 50 or so ideas thanks to the predictable Center for Climate Strategies, it's gotten to the point where BHI can do these things almost in their sleep:

For policy makers, there is no worthwhile guidance in the MCCAP report. Its cost-savings estimates cannot be believed. Moreover, it fails to quantify the monetary benefits of reduced carbon emissions. As a result, policy makers are left with no basis on which to judge the merits of the MCCAP recommendations on how to mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Repetition makes work so much easier, doesn't it?


Sen. John McCain has reaffirmed his promise that, if elected president, he will veto any legislation containing "pork-barrel spending."

Meanwhile, I see a record developed over years as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation as a devoted adherent of the belief that the science of man-made global warming is "settled."

I see, too, that the federal taxpayer expenditure on climate-related research now approaches $6 billion — more than we send to the National Cancer Institute, and far more than we spend on AIDS. Seeking the cures for these diseases is even more "settled," no?

As such, the reasonable conclusion is that Sen. McCain would agree that, yes, billions of this is wasteful spending that can be trimmed from the budget or, at least, spent elsewhere (a good test for scientists spouting the same dogma, one might add). Or, at least, he will surely be the first candidate to clarify this contradiction.

It is, after all, a glaring contradiction. One that rivals McCain decrying high energy prices — calling for a gas tax holiday, even — and vowing that the worst thing for the economy right now is raising taxes, while at the same time adamantly supporting imposition of a CO2 cap-and-trade scheme that even the Congressional Budget Office recognizes is an energy tax — if a far more expensive one, due to its inefficiencies.

That is, if anyone were to ask such questions. We can always hope.

Opec’s president on Monday warned oil prices could hit $200 a barrel and there would be little the cartel could do to help.

Cellulosic ethanol—derived from wood scraps and other forms of inedible plant mass– may or may not turn out to be a real technological breakthrough.  On the one hand, it could reduce the ruinous impacts of grain-based ethanol on food prices.  On the other hand, the extensive set of federal mandates and subsidies for cellulosic ethanol is not a good omen—good technologies rarely need federal help, and the existence of federal aid is often a tip-off that a new technology is a loser.


But here’s another question: if cellulosic ethanol does take off, what impact would that have on the clichés we use?  Would we have to scrap the old saying about separating the wheat from the chaff, and instead talk about separating the chaff from the wheat?

Big-government, command-and-control technocrats believe that when central planning fails, the solution is a better plan and smarter planners. They never step back and look at whether planning makes sense in the first place. This was true of the Soviet Union, with tragic five-year plan after five-year plan. It was true of Communist China, with Mao’s revolutionary upheavals. And today, here in the United States, it is true of government energy policy.

The US has said post-Kyoto protocols to tackle climate change will not make any sense if India and China are given a "pass" and that Washington will not be a signatory to any such framework if the two Asian giants are not on board.

Russia will not accept binding caps on its greenhouse gas emissions under a new climate regime, currently being negotiated to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, top officials said on Monday.