June 2008

If it were possible to build a coal-fueled power plant in Virginia without controversy, it would happen here. In the state's Appalachian southwest, there is coal in the hills, coal in the rail cars, and coal in family histories that stretch back to picks and shovels.

As the Mile High City gears up to host a Democratic bash for 50,000, organizers are discovering the perils of trying to stage a political spectacle that's also politically correct.

But protecting the environment should not give state bureaucrats free rein to recklessly spend our hard-earned tax dollars to create expensive new government programs, without accountability to lawmakers or taxpayers. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the appointed bureaucrats at the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) have recently proposed.

A Prize for McCain

by William Yeatman on June 24, 2008

in Science

Speaking Monday at Fresno State University in California, Sen. John McCain put forward what may be the most promising and important energy-policy proposal of the campaign: a $300 million prize for the development of advanced battery technology. “In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure,” he noted. Yet rather than have Washington pick winners and losers from within the energy industry, McCain suggested that the government should reward innovation and actual achievement. “From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.”

Dow Chemical Co. will raise prices as much as 25 percent in July, the largest increase in company history and the second in two months, to recoup surging energy and raw-material costs.

Political Speculators

by William Yeatman on June 24, 2008

in Blog

Every dogma has its day, and so it is with the posturing that blames the run-up in oil prices on "speculators." The new political consensus is that further "common-sense regulation" of the energy futures market is necessary. Let's grant that the sentiment is common, but the sense – like the evidence – is nonexistent.

The Los Angeles Times reports that California Republican legislators plan to use upcoming budget talks to negotiate the costs of implementing AB 32, The Climate Solutions Act. Democrat lawmakers are proposing an $11 billion tax hike to help meet the state’s $15 billion deficit. GOP lawmakers object to increased taxes, but they are indicating that a compromise is possible if the governor exercises a provision in AB 32 that allows him to postpone implementation by declaring that it would cause the state "significant economic harm."

John McCain and Barack Obama are hammering each other on energy policy for a second week.

I think some environmentalists, such as Lawrence Solomon, foresee it but not many do: there may be a day that the global warming issue comes back to bite them.
In a national atmosphere requiring global warming alarmism and "energy security”, a phrase even enviros use when convenient, McCain is calling for 45 new nuclear power plants.  And Governor Crist of Florida, a strong proponent of global warming alarmist policies, is now considering allowing oil drilling off his coast. I can hear the greens wailing from here.
Did they really expect to run the United States of America off of windmills and corn cobs?


by William Yeatman on June 23, 2008


As Ed Craig notes below, the "muzzled" James Hansen is unloading today through the media and in Capitol Hill testimony about how people who disagree with him need to be tried for crimes against humanity.

First, this bodes ill for Gore producer Laurie David. Second, his legal counsel is proving as sound as his science advocacy.

Today's unhinged exhibition occurs in the context of commemorating Hansen's testimony 20 years ago, which kicked off the modern global-warming alarmist movement ten years into the warming spell — on the heels of 30 years of cooling — and ten years before that warming peaked.

And Ed is right to look to Hollywood for parallels, since the Left media has openly celebrated Hansen's dog-and-pony show as well-managed "stagecraft" — a story I chronicle in my forthcoming book, "Red Hot Lies" (a volume that surely guarantees my own trial for enviro-war crimes).

Specifically, the PBS series Frontline aired a special in April 2007 that lifted the curtain on the sort of illusions that politicians and their abettors employed to kick off the campaign.

Frontline interviewed key players in the June 1988 Senate hearing at which then-Senator Al Gore rolled out the official conversion from panic over “global cooling” to global warming alarmism. Frontline interviewed Gore’s colleague, then-Sen. Tim Wirth (now running Ted Turner’s UN Foundation). Comforted by the friendly nature of the PBS program, Wirth freely admitted the clever scheming that went into getting the dramatic shot of scientist James Hansen mopping his brow amid a sweaty press corps. An admiring Frontline termed this “Stagecraft.”

Sen. TIMOTHY WIRTH (D-CO), 1987-1993: We knew there was this scientist at NASA, you know, who had really identified the human impact before anybody else had done so and was very certain about it. So we called him up and asked him if he would testify.

DEBORAH AMOS: On Capitol Hill, Sen. Timothy Wirth was one of the few politicians already concerned about global warming, and he was not above using a little stagecraft for Hansen's testimony.

TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.

DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day? 

TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn't working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.[Shot of witnesses at hearing]

WIRTH: Dr. Hansen, if you’d start us off, we’d appreciate it. The wonderful Jim Hansen was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.[nice shot of a sweaty Hansen]

JAMES HANSEN: [June 1988 Senate hearing] Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe, with a high degree of confidence, a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect.

There's a lot more on this and Hansen both in those pages, plus here, here, and especially here.