May 2008

I’m reading two competing versions of May Senate ENR Committee congressional testimony by Congressional Research Service researchers regarding the Lieberman-Warner bill slated to come to the floor on Monday, S. 2191. They are revealing for three key reasons:


First, one of the statements in particular makes the point, if still indirectly, that all of the tricks built into the bill eliminate the one reason that cap-and-traders offer for this inefficient scheme over just taxing the activity that they want to reduce: a supposed certainty of emissions/ reductions.


On its face this is absurd as anyone familiar with Europe’s three years of experience can tell you. But it remains important because cap-and-trade is appealing to policymakers who insist on “doing something” exclusively because it allows them to hide the tax on energy use, burying it in a scheme of artificial, state-created scarcity that they then call a “market”. Rather than admit that, its champions instead insist that rationing is preferable to a tax for the reason that a tax provides no assurance what level of emission reductions you would receive. Yet each of these flexibility mechanisms added to the cap-and-trade scheme – domestic “offsets” and inclusion of “international carbon credits” –further removes any notion that one might predict what emissions, or reductions would be, and that it is highly likely no reductions will occur at all.


We see here that last fig leaf being stripped. Neither would “do anything”, both are taxes, but the regulatory tax is less efficient, more easily gamed by rent-seekers and other politically favored constituencies, and more expensive. Cap-and-trade is a refuge for political scoundrels who want to make energy more scarce, which threatens jobs, but don’t want to reduce that threat to your job with the simpler tax because to do so would threaten theirs.


Second, “the proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard could significantly raise fuel prices and limit supply.” Enough said.


Third, “S. 2191’s potential climate-related environmental benefit is best considered in

a global context and the desire to engage the developing world in the reduction effort.” Knock knock, euphemism police! That is to say that this will under no scenario have any remote prospect of having any impact on that which it purports to address, the (always changing) climate, so needs to be viewed as an offering to China and India to please do this, too, given that we’ve gone done it to ourselves.


In sum, Lieberman-Warner is a price-hiking, job-exporting gesture that, as in Europe, will do nothing regarding the climate and likely won’t yield any emissions reductions; it is instead aimed at so demonstrating our seriousness of purpose that it will prompt people to do something who serially and adamantly ask us to understand that they have zero intention to do it.


At some point the voting public will demand their policymakers stop being so frivolous with other peoples’ economic futures.



Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

The New York Times reports today that the United Nations "called on world leaders Wednesday to agree to urgent measures to ease demand for grains and ease high food prices," which would include "reconsider(ing) policies that encourage the production of ethanol and other biofuels." The U.N., with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, also released a report that "was critical of government policies that encouraged biofuel production, saying their environmental, energy security and economic benefits were modest at best and “sometimes even negative.” Of course, out of the other side of the U.N.'s mouth they continue to promote biofuels. I'm sure the explanation is, as is common with liberals, that such activity be "responsible" promotion of biofuels, which they conveniently leave undefined.

Meanwhile have the Center for Climate Strategies, the two dozen or so climate commissions they direct, and "enlightened" governors like Kansas's Kathleen Sebelius, who have drunk the U.N. IPCC Kool-Aid ("settled science"), embraced the U.N.'s change of mind (and science?) on biofuels?


Seven eastern European Union countries led by Hungary are calling for an overhaul of the bloc's efforts to curb carbon dioxide so as to take account of their historical reductions before they joined the EU.

Drill Already

by William Yeatman on May 28, 2008

With the end of Memorial Day weekend comes the beginning of summer, and with it the beginning of America’s heaviest driving season as millions of Americans take to the highways for summer breaks. But if recent trends hold, vacationers are likely to put fewer miles on their odometers this summer than last. High gas prices are finally curbing America’s demand for the open road. Transportation Department statistics for March indicate that the country just experienced its first year-over-year decline in miles driven since 1979.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Tuesday he is ready to debate Al Gore about global warming, as he presented the English version of his latest book that argues environmentalism poses a threat to basic human freedoms. "I many times tried to talk to have a public exchange of views with him, and he's not too much willing to make such a conversation," Klaus said. "So I'm ready to do it."


Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Exxon Mobil has turned off the oxygen…help…skeptics-may-not-survive…

There’s a new global warming consensus in town. It’s too bad the once-level-headed, but now chicken-hearted Bush Administration has already skedaddled, perhaps leaving our standard of living at the mercy of Barack Obama and his high regard for the international hate-America crowd.

Newly-elected London Mayor Boris Johnson once famously promised that a vote for his team meant “your wife will get bigger breasts and your chances of driving a BMW M3 will increase”.

John McCain’s tempestuous relationship with his own party will be on full display when the Senate dives into a major global warming debate next week.

Then Who’s Left?

by William Yeatman on May 27, 2008

Democrats are lining up to explain their vote against Lieberman-Warner, knowing full-well they will get away with blaming Republicans for its defeat. As I posted earlier, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) opposes the bill because it is disproportionately harmful to her state, whose energy mix is far less reliant on hydrocarbons; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) opposes it as he comes from a coal-heavy state that would like to hold on to what remains of its manufacturing base. Unstated but inescapable is that this bill is the biggest outsourcing or offshoring bill in our history.

As my colleague Marlo Lewis pointed out to me the beauty of this:

"This bill will disproportionately harm states that aren’t as reliant on hydrocarbon or “fossil fuel” energy, and disproportionately harms those that are."

The rest of you will be just fine.