Cooler Heads Digest

by William Yeatman on October 10, 2008

In the News

Five-Star Green Hypocrisy

Steven Milloy, FoxNews, 9 October 2008

Michigan Sacrifices for the Climate

Henry Payne, Planet Gore, 9 October 2008

Putin’s Useful Idiots
William Yeatman, Foreign Policy, 8 October 2008

Failure To Communicate
Max Schulz, NRO, 8 October 2008

Energy Department Warns of Higher Energy Bills

H Josef Herbert, AP, 8 October 2008

The Greening of Thomas Friedman
William Tucker, American Spectator, 6 October 2008

EU: Saving the Economy or Saving Green Dreams
Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 5 October 2008

News You Can Use
Blackouts Imminent?

The U. S. faces the prospect of demand-driven blackouts as soon as 2009, according to a report issued last week by the NextGen Energy Council. The study, “Lights Out in 2009?,” says that U.S. base-load generation capacity reserve margins "have declined precipitously to 17 percent in 2007, from 30-40 percent in the early 1990s."  A 12-15 percent capacity reserve margin is the minimum required to ensure reliability and stability of the nation’s electricity system.  Compounding this capacity deficiency, the projected U.S. demand in the next ten years is forecast to grow by 18 percent, far exceeding the projected eight percent growth in baseload generation capacity between now and 2016.

Inside the Beltway
Dingell Unveils Climate Plan
CEI’s Myron Ebell

Representatives John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) this week released a 461-page draft bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their cap-and-trade proposal is full of detailed plans for distributing and auctioning the rationing coupons. The most obvious difference between it and most of the other cap-and-trade bills that have been introduced in this Congress is that the targets start out easy before reaching roughly the same level by 2050. The Dingell-Boucher draft would start reducing emissions in 2012 to reach a target of six percent below 2005 levels by 2020, then 44% below by 2030 and 80% below by 2050.

Since Dingell is Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Boucher is Chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction, this is where the debate will start in the 111th Congress. However, Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) have attracted a lot of support in the House Democratic Caucus for a plan with much more ambitious targets.   

The Debate

What’s the Difference?
CEI’s Myron Ebell

This week’s debate between the presidential candidates again offered slim pickings on global warming and energy. There was one question specifically about global warming, while energy prices and energy security came up briefly in several contexts.

Senator John McCain (R-Az.) actually began his answer to the first question by saying that the solution to the financial crisis was energy independence. “Now, I have a plan to fix this problem and it has got to do with energy independence.” 

Neither candidate brought up global warming as a major problem that needed to be addressed by the next President until asked about it. Both then agreed that it was a huge challenge that had to be faced. McCain said that he would solve it and address our energy problems by building lots of new nuclear plants. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said that he would solve it by creating five million new green jobs. Obama also denied that he was against new nuclear power plants, clean coal technology, or more offshore oil production.

Obama said that McCain had voted against subsidies for alternative fuels 23 times.  McCain said that the reason he did that was because those bills were loaded down with billions of dollars for the oil companies. Obama also mentioned his plan to end all oil imports from the Middle East within ten years by spending $150 billion on researching and developing alternative energy. 

While Senator McCain has been the leader in the Senate on promoting cap-and-trade legislation for the past six years and Senator Obama supports cap-and-trade, neither mentioned cap-and-trade during the debate. The major economic and environmental issue of the decade thus remains ignored and undebated in the campaign. The American people might be in for a surprise next year.

I am reminded of Governor George Wallace’s comment on the Democratic and Republican Parties when he ran for President in 1968 as a third party candidate.  At least on global warming and energy issues, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between McCain and Obama.

Gore (and McCain) Hijinks
CEI’s Myron Ebell

Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for President, said last week that he would ask former Vice President Al Gore, Jr. to help lead the U. S. effort to negotiate a new international global warming treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. The Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, did not make a similar pledge.

Around the World
EU Climate Plan in Limbo

In March 2007, EU member states pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, and the EU Commission (the executive branch of the EU) has since proposed a skeleton strategy to meet the 2020 target.

Substantial disagreement among member states exists for almost every component of the Commission’s plan, and as a result, Brussels has postponed decisions on virtually all of the important issues, most important among them: Which economic sectors in which countries will pay what?

The European Parliament (the legislative branch of the EU) tried to partially answer that question on Tuesday, when it endorsed a proposal that would force utilities to buy 100 % of their emissions quotas from an auction starting in 2013.

The Parliament’s recommendation, if adopted, would make the use of coal to generate electricity much more expensive. That’s why Poland, which gets 95% of its electricity from coal, now leads a group of six coal-dependent states, including Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, that are trying to thwart the 2013 emissions auctions with a blocking minority. Without coal, these states fear increasing energy dependence on Russia.

Meanwhile, the global financial crisis gave pause to some EU member countries in Old Europe. Italy’s environmental minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo told the press that “in this period of international economic difficulties it is absurd that Europe alone should take on a heavy burden of costs to achieve very modest environmental benefits.”

Two weeks ago in Berlin, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a conference that “the crisis changes priorities…One cannot rule out that interest in protecting the climate will change because of such a crisis.” German officials have already said that they would exempt domestic energy-intensive industries from the ETS, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has lobbied conspicuously for weaker fuel efficiency regulations to protect Germany’s powerful automakers.

In the Community

The Washington Policy Center  hosted Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Seattle, where he gave a speech on the dangers posed to liberty by environmentalism. A transcript of President Klaus’s remarks are available at the WPC website, here. Earlier, the Cascade Policy Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Prosperity-Oregon co-hosted a lunch and a press conference with President Klaus in Portland.

Capital Research Center has published an interactive list of the “worst environmental prophecies of catastrophic doom.” It is a list of eleven of the most interesting and pointed cases of environmental activists raising the red alert, and the unintended fall out from it.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Iain Murray has a new video,”Squaring the Geopolitical Circle,” that dissects the intractable interstate issues inherent to all global warming mitigation policies.

Last week State Policy Network member Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted Dr. Roy Spencer at a breakfast in Houston. 

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