March 2009

“Nobel Prize-winning liberal economist Joseph Stiglitz points out that the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s plan to have the government subsidize investments in ‘toxic assets’ creates a serious moral hazard: Private investors will pocket any gains, while the federal government promises to cover virtually all potential losses: ‘Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people.’”

It’s the London Telegraph that’s reporting this, though. U.S. newspapers are too busy running puff pieces about Barack and Michelle Obama — and describing critics of Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package, which the Congressional Budget Office admits will shrink the economy in the long run, as being opposed to what the papers dishonestly refer to as the “economic recovery plan.” (With a few exceptions, the press did not report the CBO’s finding that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy, which contradicts Obama’s false claim that failing to pass the bloated stimulus package would lead to “irreversible decline.”)

Although many economists oppose the Administration’s policies, the newspapers make it sound like only right-wingers object to the Obama Administration’s bailouts. They do that even though the liberal Nobel Laureate and economist Paul Krugman, a big Obama supporter, admitted that Obama’s trillion toxic-asset buy-up program is a rip-off best described as “heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose.”

The result is that although Obama has proposed record budget deficits (expanding deficits by $4.8 trillion to an eye-popping $9.3 trillion, despite tax increases of $1.9 trillion), public opinion polls show 52% of the public approves Obama’s handling of the deficit.

In 2008, Obama explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that electricity bills would “skyrocket” under his Administration due to its global-warming regulations. But the press by and large wasn’t interested in reporting it, since it would have hurt Obama’s chances of getting elected.

Now, the Obama Administration is backing a two trillion-dollar cap-and-trade carbon tax. But that, too, is getting little press coverage — as are Obama’s broken campaign promises, like his pledge of a “net spending cut” if elected.

The U.S. press has barely mentioned Treasury Secretary Geithner’s role in the destruction of the economy of Indonesia, a major oil-producing nation of 200 million people, in the 1990s (even though Australia’s long-time Prime Minister Paul Keating has been scathing in his criticism of Geithner).

Given their unwillingness to print interesting — but ideologically inconvenient — news, it’s no wonder that lots of newspapers, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have folded in the past year. Biased coverage is boring coverage not worth paying for.

Representatives Henry Waxman (D-California) and Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) today unveiled the Clean Energy and Security Act, a massive bill that incorporates virtually every lame-brained global warming policy ever considered by Congress (and then some).

To read the bill, click here.

To read the executive summary, click here.

To read CEI’s reaction to the bill, click here.

Remember last month when the president and vice president photo-opped the signing of the $787 billion stimulus bill in Denver? Part of the trip was devoted to President Obama’s promotion of “green” energy initiatives, many of which will benefit from the mass subsidization in the new legislation. One project he toured was a solar panel project on top of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which the Denver Post says, “The sun generates enough energy on the museum rooftop to power about 30 homes.” Well, investigative reporter Todd Shepherd of Colorado’s Independence Institute tried to verify that and other claims about the project:

…That claim cannot be verified at this time, and in fact, seems to be belied by the scant information provided by the museum and other sources. Laura Holtman, public relations manager for the museum said in an email, “Because the array generates less than 5 percent of the museum’s power, [the purchased energy] is not a particularly large bill.”

The Independence Institute asked the Denver Museum of Science and Nature to provide certain statistical information regarding the now-famous solar array. Specifically, the Institute asked for:

1 ) Two years worth of electric bills prior to the installation of the solar array,
2 ) All electric bills following the completion of the installation.

The Museum denied those requests.

As Shepherd explains, it turns out the solar panels were so expensive ($720,000) that the museum declined to undertake the project for itself. Instead, a private company was able to make it worthwhile to own the project via taxpayer-subsidized “rebates” through Xcel Energy, and via state and federal tax “incentives.”

Given the circumstances it is absurd to believe the claims made about the amount of power generated by the panels. But note the statement: “The sun generates enough energy on the museum rooftop to power about 30 homes.” Any detail beyond that hopeful generality is lost on the uncurious, lazy reporter. Note that the statement isn’t talking about the energy generated from the panels; just how much solar energy is hitting the top of the roof. And enough energy on the rooftop to power 30 homes for how long? Or how long does the sun have to hit the roof to power the homes (and for how long)? How big are the homes? Etc., etc….

And the museum has no business withholding the information that Shepherd is looking for. According to its 2007 annual report, almost a quarter (22.6%) of DMNS’s support was coerced from taxpayers: from the City and County of Denver, and from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (which receives 1 percent of a sales and use tax in a seven-county region surrounding the city). I would say that reaches the public interest threshold where you ought to turn over your electric bills, especially when you are trying to get to the bottom of another dubious project that is heavily subsidized by taxes and surcharges.

Bonus observation from the Denver Post story: Obama cheerleading reporter Allison Sherry, again demonstrating she is devoid of any critical thinking capacity, regurgitates his assertion that “the stimulus bill could create 60,000 jobs here and 400,000 jobs nationwide.” Really? Colorado would likely get 15 percent of the stimulus-driven jobs for the whole nation?

Bonus observation II from the article: Blake Jones, who owns the company that installed the solar panels, looks forward to the stimulus funds:

Jones said he called other CEOs of solar companies to evaluate what they found in the stimulus bill. “The consensus is that this bill will immediately benefit companies like ours,” he said.

Jones said green-technology companies have dozens of projects on hold because of the freeze on venture-capital funding. He believes the stimulus package will get that funding flowing again.

More proof that these things are only attractive with a massive influx of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

The mainstream media is in thrall to global warming alarmism because doom sells print. Rather than run a story about steady global temperatures over the last decade, an editor is much more likely to go with an article about how global warming would harm polar bears (if it ever starts warming).

The Cato Institute has a novel solution to the media’s doomsday bias. It took out a full-page advertisement in major papers across the country, to fight global warming alarmism.

To see the ad, click here.

Suffice to say, 100 respected scientists “maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated.”

I applaud the Cato Institute for combating climate alarmism, and I hope the ad makes people think twice. But I also bemoan the state of the media when an advertisement is the news most fit to print.

In the News

by William Yeatman on March 30, 2009

Cap-and-Trade War
Wall Street Journal, 30 March 2009

One of President Obama’s applause lines is that his climate tax policies will create new green jobs “that can’t be outsourced.” But if that’s true, why is his main energy adviser floating a new carbon tariff on imports? Welcome to the coming cap and trade war.

Bustin’ a Cap-and-Trade
Paul Chesser, Spectator, 30 March 2009

The increasing atmospheric CO2 has overwhelmed the environmentalists. It’s made them fizzy. And they can’t claim that any new, associated heat has made them delusional, because  it ain’t happenin’.

Obama’s China Syndrome
Iain Murray, DC Examiner Opinion Zone, 27 March 2009

It is looking less and less likely that President Obama will be able to institute his vaunted cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gas reduction through the back door of the budget reconciliation process.  This places him in a very awkward situation internationally in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference on emissions reduction in December.  Moreover, it forces him to confront face-to-face the biggest problem in any attempt to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide: China.


  • editor Steven Milloy has a provocative new book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them. To read a review of the book by Marc Morano, click here. To purchase the book, click here.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled Project No Project, a great new web site that chronicles how NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) activists “block energy projects by organizing local opposition, changing zoning laws, opposing permits, filing lawsuits, and bleeding projects dry of their financing.” For commentary on the new site from CEI’s Marlo Lewis, click here.
  • CEI’s Michelle Minton has organized Human Achievement Hour for Saturday, March 28th, from 8:30 to 9:30 PM. This coincides with Earth Hour, which calls on people to turn out the lights for an hour in symbolic protest against human energy consumption. Human Achievement Hour encourages hospitals, airlines, fire stations, and other essential services to keep the lights on.
  • The John Locke Foundation, an independent, non profit public policy think tank in North Carolina, has joined the Cooler Heads Coalition.

In the News

The Civil Heretic
Nicholas Dawidoff, New York Times Magazine, 25 March 2009

Economic Downturn Makes Climate Legislation Unlikely
Ben Lieberman,, 27 March 2009

UN Climate Plan Would Redistribute $ Trillions
George Russell,, 27 March 2009

Turn Them On! Turn Them All On!
Meghan Cox Gurdon, San Francisco Examiner, 26 March 2009

Obama To Avoid Agreement at Copenhagen
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 26 March 2009

Economy vs. Environment
David Owen, The New Yorker, 26 March 2009

The Energy Strangulation Policy
Kenneth P Green,, 26 March 2009

The Anti-Industrial Coup
Robert Tracinski,, 26 March 2009

$2 Trillion: Hidden Cost of Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Scheme
Hans Bader,, 24 March 2009

War Over Carbon Trade War?
Iain Murray, NRO Corner, 26 March 2009

New Nano Car Thrills a Billion Potential Drivers in India
Hormazd Sorabjee,, 25 March 2009

Flashback: IPCC Heads Calls Nano Car a “Nightmare”
Gavin Rabinowitz, USA Today, 10 January 2008

A Cap-and-Trade Calamity?
William Galston, The New Republic, 23 March 2009

The Oceans Are Cooling
Jennifer Morahasy,, 21 March 2009

News You Can Use

Gallup Poll: Global Warming Ranks Last among Environmental Worries

Global warming is the environmental issue of least concern to Americans, according to a Gallup public opinion poll released this week. Respondents were asked about their level of worry of 8 environmental issues, and global warming placed 8th. Clean drinking water was their first concern.

More News You Can Use

Moody’s: Cap-and-Trade Would Raise Energy Prices 30%

Reuters reports that U.S. electricity prices are likely to rise 15 to 30 percent if a national cap on carbon dioxide emissions is instituted, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Climate Alarmists Confirmed for Top Science Posts

The Senate last week on a voice vote confirmed the nominations of Dr. John P. Holdren to be White House Science Adviser and Dr. Jane Lubchenko to be administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Obama’s False Choice

President Barack Obama made an astonishing statement at his televised press conference on Tuesday night. He said, “We can remain the world’s leading importer of foreign oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy.” There are at least two problems with that choice. The first is that we use the oil we import to run America’s cars, trucks, buses, trains, jets, and ships. America couldn’t run without it. Second, there is no export market for renewable fuels because no one will buy them (unless required to by their repressive governments-and those repressive governments almost always require such fuels to be domestically produced) because they are far more expensive than petroleum-based fuels. I have said that it is a question whether President Obama is going to model himself on Tony Blair or Juan Peron. He’s looking more and more like Peron.  If he wants to reduce oil imports, then why is his Administration actively moving to block increased domestic oil production on federal lands and offshore areas?

Back Door Cap-and-Trade Unlikely

The House and Senate are ready to vote on their FY 2010 budget resolutions next week.  It looks increasingly unlikely that they will use the budget reconciliation process to enact cap-and-trade legislation. The budget reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered and so only requires a bare majority to pass rather than the three-fifths’ super-majority needed to invoke cloture for most controversial bills in the Senate. That’s why it’s a tempting way to try to pass cap-and-trade. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) kept open the possibility in remarks this week, but on Friday the senior Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a long letter to the White House urging the President to support moving cap-and-trade legislation through the normal legislative process. This is on top of the letter from thirty-some Senators arguing against using reconciliation.

Obama Wages War on Real Jobs

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson intervened this week to delay the issuing of over 150 permits by the Army Cops of Engineers for surface coal (sometimes called mountaintop removal) mining projects in Appalachia. A federal appeals court panel last month overturned a lower court ruling that would have required the Corps to do more extensive environmental reviews. That cleared the way for the Corps to start issuing the permits. Now, EPA is going to use the Clean Water Act to delay these new mines indefinitely.

The decision is in line with President Obama’s anti-coal statements in the campaign.  But it would seem to conflict with what he said about getting the economy moving again and creating new jobs. Choking off America’s coal supply is not only going to cost coal miners their jobs.  It’s also going to threaten people whose jobs depend on low-cost electricity. But perhaps President Obama is more interested in killing the coal industry than he is in economic prosperity. I also sense that he thinks a fifteen-dollar an hour job to install compact fluorescent light bulbs created by a taxpayer-funded federal program is better than a sixty dollar an hour coal-mining job.

The True Costs of Energy Rationing

Many congressional hearings drag on for hours and hours without anyone ever saying anything of interest, but they still remain valuable because occasionally a Member of Congress who is paying attention asks some clever questions and the witness actually answers them without equivocation and qualification. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Thursday on the subject of how to deal with price volatility in a cap-and-trade regime (that is, the tendency for the price of rationing coupons to fluctuate wildly). Ranking Republican Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asked the Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Elmendorf about the costs of cap-and-trade.  Elmendorf replied that cap-and-trade was an indirect tax on consumers that would work by raising energy prices and, further, that it was unlikely there were any goods and services that would not increase in price as a result of raising energy prices. Dr. Elmendorf also said that an indirect tax such as cap-and-trade would depress incomes and therefore that receipts from other taxes would decline. He said that CBO estimated that for every dollar in revenues raised by selling rationing coupons under a cap-and-trade scheme, other federal revenues would go down by 25%.

Around the World

New Spanish Study Show Folly of Green Job Subsidies

Chris Horner, Planet Gore

A new study from the King Juan Carlos University in Madrid demonstrates the economic harm inflicted by subsidies to create green jobs.

Here are some highlights (largely in my words):

Based upon the Spanish experience, if President Barack Obama succeeded in his (oddly floating) promise to further intervene in the economy to create 3 million to 5 million “green jobs”, the U.S. should expect to eliminate at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs elsewhere in the economy.

That is because green jobs schemes in Spain killed 2.2 jobs per job created, which, the study shows, become wards of the state dependent on continuation of the mandates and subsidies to continue, subject to the ritual boom and bust of artifically concocted jobs (read: ethanol).

The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent $760,00  to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than 1.33 million per wind industry job. Each “green” megawatt installed destroys 5.39 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics, 4.32 by wind energy, 5.84 by mini-hydro.

The Science

Global Warming-Malaria Link Is Hot Air

Speculations on the impacts of climate change often focus on malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. Alarmists say there will be hundreds of millions more cases in the tropics, and the diseases will move north to North America and Europe. In a recent article, Professor Paul Reiter of the prestigious Pasteur Institute makes it clear that these predictions are made with little or no understanding of how complex this subject is.

He quotes 30 articles written by activists and then proceeds, with scientific logic but no hype, to demolish them. He acknowledges that temperature plays a role in transmission, but makes it perfectly clear that obsession with global warming is wrong. Ecology and behavior are the dominant factors. In his opinion, we should be spending our money on preventing people getting sick instead of worrying about the weather.

The article is published in the peer-reviewed journal, Malaria Journal, and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Yesterday Ranking Members of both two House committees and two subcommittees wrote to the new U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and asked him to clarify the Administration’s position on the issue of carbon tariffs.  The letter was sparked by recent remarks of Energy Secretary Steven Chu that the U.S. was considering levying tariffs against countries that haven’t taken steps to reduce carbon emissions.

In their letter Congressmen Joe Barton, Ralph Hall, Greg Walden, and Paul Brown cautioned:

Any emissions-related trade policy will be extremely complicated.  Careful consideration of the pros and cons — and legality — of any such policy is critical.  Poor decisions can lead to destructive trade wars that could put tens of thousands of U.S. workers out of a job, and severely harm our economy.

As Congress moves on proposals for mandated reductions in carbon emissions — such as a cap-and-trade scheme — the notion is gaining that “something has to be done,” such as carbon tariffs, so that the U.S. can compete with countries that haven’t committed to emission reductions.  The Republican lawmakers — all on committees that have some jurisdiction on global warming issues — presented a list of hard and focused questions to USTR Kirk on what the Administration is planning and whether some of the serious downside risks of border measures have been considered. (The congressmen are Ranking Members on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Committee on Science and Technology and its Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.)

The letter is a formal request, and the USTR is obligated to respond to the policymakers’ questions.  Maybe this will take some of the wind out of the carbon tariff sails, especially since climate negotiators from nearly 190 countries will be meeting in Bonn, Germany starting March 29 to come up with concrete plans for what they hope will be an agreement in December.

So, in the midst of a deep worldwide recession, countries will be planning to make energy less affordable, to force some major emitters out of business, and maybe start a trade war over border tariffs.  Don’t we already have enough economic problems to contend with?

(Hat-tip: Iain Murray)

This funny headline is the title of a column in the March 26 issue of Wired Science.

“Scientists have devised a new way to transform coal into gas for your car using far less energy than the current [Fisher-Tropsche] process,” Wired reports. “The advance makes scaling up the environmentally unfriendly fuel more economical than greener alternatives.”

Now, you might think that inexpensive motor fuel is a good thing, especially in these times of financial peril, fiscal chaos, and high unemployment. In addition, since America is the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” conversion of coal to motor fuel, provided it is economical and market-driven, could enhance U.S. energy security.

So why is this “bad news”? Because coal-derived fuel “could produce twice as much CO2 [carbon dioxide] as traditional petroleum fuels and at best will still emit at least as much of the greenhouse gas.” Consequently, what these scientists are proposing to do “is simply not allowable if we want to avoid the perils of unconstrained anthropogenic climate change,” declares Pushker Karecha of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Okay, then how about some candor in the energy policy debate? Climate activists claim repeatedly that their agenda will benefit consumers and achieve real energy security. How? By jump-starting a “beyond petroleum” economy, which will free consumers forever from pain at the pump and relegate OPEC to the dustbin of history.

But this deliberately confuses the green solar-hydrogen utopia, which may never materialize, or which may come about only after technological breakthroughs nobody today can plan or predict, with the restrictions, burdens, and penalties climate activists mean to impose on us today and for the foreseeable future.

If OPEC is a problem because it restricts oil supply to drive up price, how is cap-and-trade, which also–and by design–inflates motor fuel costs, a solution? If dependence on oil supplies from unstable or hostile foreign countries is a problem, how is banning domestic oil production in Alaska, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the deep waters off the U.S. East and West Coasts, a solution?

Again, if volatile motor fuel prices and dependence on Mideast oil are problems, how is restricting imports of oil from Canadian tar sands a solution? And how, pray tell, is blocking development of unconventional motor fuel from Rocky Mountain oil shale or West Virginia coal a solution?

If greenies believe global warming is so terrible that we must pay any energy price and make any sacrifice of energy security to combat it, fine. Plainly say so, and we can then debate whether or not global warming is the planetary doom they claim it is.

But candor demands that they immediately stop posturing as defenders of consumer welfare and energy security. Their policies lead straight to more pain at the pump and an America more at the mercy of events in unstable and unfriendly parts of the world.

Affordable energy is under attack around the world, even though billions still suffer in areas where energy is scarce. Clean drinking water, safe methods of heating and cooling homes, and even basic life-saving medicines are out-of-reach for many in the developing world—access to energy would help to end this scarcity and save countless millions of lives.

Yet tomorrow, between 8:30 and 9:30pm in your respective time zone, you can expect to see participants in “Earth Hour” lamenting the very notion of energy use by shutting the lights off, unpluggin the TV, and presumably turning off the heat.  The World Wildlife Fund has organized a global campaign asking people to abstain from using energy for an hour.

What many caught up in this hype don’t realize is that not using energy for an hour is worlds away from what the WWF and other environmental lobbying and political groups are proposing.  Rather than leaving you free to shut things off for an hour or two, these alarmists believe we need governments around the world to ration, tax, and other restrict the use of energy.  This is an affront to our basic liberties, but also a life-threatening proposition for those living in the developing world.

So, rather than taking of the banner of the anti-energy, pro-government control brigade, I suggest that you join the Competitive Enterprise Institute in celebrating Human Achievement Hour.  You can participate by leaving the lights on, watching a movie, going out to eat, or doing anything else that’s a part of modern life.  You can also tell your friends about sites like that are making the consequences of environmental alarmism known.

Also, check out the news coverage that HUman Achievement Hour has received and CEI’s video celebrating human achievement:

USA Today
Charleston Daily Mail
National Review Online
Syndicated Columnist Michelle Malkin
The National Post
The Daily Mail

Tomorrow, thousands of people around the world will participate in “Earth Hour” a holiday invented by the World Wildlife Fund that asks people to turn off the lights for an hour and think about the consequences of their energy use.  Thousands of cities, iconic monuments, and even national government are participating in this anti-energy event.  Even the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis in Athens, and even the Empire State Building will go dark for the event.

Tomorrow’s hour in the dark—to take place between 8:30pm and 9:30pm—isn’t something to be celebrated.  Its organizers are not asking for people to voluntarily cut back on their energy use, but are using the event as a way to convince those in power to restrict our ability to use energy as we see fit.  In short, this is a world-wide call for energy rationing, taxing, and the hidden tax known as “cap and trade.”

This isn’t just a threat to basic liberties, but a threat to life itself.  Contrary to the beliefs of environmentalist zealots, affordable energy has made the world safer and much healthier.  Those who still live without clean drinking water, safe means to heat their homes, or life-saving medications that all rely on abundant energy aren’t crying out for a energy-restricted world—they want to be plugged in to the modern economy.  Putting an already energy-starved world on a diet just doesn’t make sense.

So, instead of turning off the lights tomorrow and lamenting the very notion that human beings live modern lives, we encourage you to celebrate Human Achievement Hour.  Rejoice in the fact that your fellow human beings have mastered fire, created an agricultural world, built wondrous monuments, invented miraculous machines, and otherwise exercised their creative powers to make the world the great place it is today.

Check out the coverage Human Achievement Hour has received:
USA Today
Charleston Daily Mail
National Review Online
Syndicated Columnist Michelle Malkin
The National Post
The Daily Mail