March 2009

In the News

by William Yeatman on March 26, 2009

in Blog

Turn ‘Em on! Turn ‘Em All On!
Meghan Cox Gurdon, San Francisco Examiner, 26 March 2009

In a press release, CEI cheerfully applauded organizations such as the Kennedy Center, Wal-Mart, Target and the United States Marine Corps for keeping the lights on (and, in the case of the Marines, for continuing “combat and humanitarian operations around the world”) throughout Saturday night.

Obama To Delay Signing Agreement at Copenhagen?
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 26 March 2009

Barack Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year because of the scale of opposition in the US Congress, it emerged today.

Economy vs Environment
David Owen, New Yorker, 30 March 2009

So far, the most effective way for a Kyoto signatory to cut its carbon output has been to suffer a well-timed industrial implosion, as Russia did after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991.

New Poll: Global Warming Last on Americans List of Green Concerns
Lydia Saad, Gallup, 25 March 2009

The folks behind World Water Day — a largely U.N.-sponsored effort to focus attention on freshwater resource management, observed this past Sunday — may be on to something. Pollution of drinking water is Americans’ No. 1 environmental concern, with 59% saying they worry “a great deal” about the issue. That exceeds the 45% worried about air pollution, the 42% worried about the loss of tropical rain forests, and lower levels worried about extinction of species and global warming.

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

It is gradually dawning on Washington that cap-and-trade legislation won’t pass anytime soon–certainly not this year, and probably not next year either. One reason is public opinion: a Gallup survey released last week revealed that “for the first time in Gallup’s 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.” Just four years ago, protecting the environment enjoyed a 17-point edge; today, the advantage goes to the economy, 51-42.

Not Al Gore, but a local alarmist:

“Global Warming: Is the Kyoto Agenda Warranted?”
Noted Scholars Debate the Environmental, Economic, and Political Impact of Past and Present International Climate Efforts

March 25, 2009 – This April, the public is invited to hear Dr. James White and Christopher Horner discuss opposing views on the global climate debate, specifically in regard to the Kyoto Protocol. Sponsored by the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University, the debate is scheduled for April 8, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Pkwy., Lakewood, 80226.

The debate topic will be “Global Warming: Is the Kyoto Agenda Warranted?” Dr. White, taking the affirmative, is a professor of geological sciences as well as a fellow and the director of INSTAAR at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He specializes in global change, paleoclimate dynamics, and biogeochemistry. Christopher Horner, taking the opposite position, is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in Washington, D.C. As an attorney, he has represented CEI, scientists, and members of the U.S. House and Senate on matters of environmental policy in federal courts, and he is the author of two books on the climate issue.

Ought to be at least as good as William Schlesinger vs. John Christy.

Last fall my Carolina Journal colleague David Bass reported about how North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality (and their counterparts in other states) recruited companies they regulate to “voluntarily” become members of the nonprofit Climate Registry, and pay for the privilege of reporting their greenhouse gas emissions (again, no pressure!). Brock Nicholson, NCDAQ’s deputy director at the time, helped launch the Registry, joined its board, got NCDAQ to pay $100,000 for it, traveled on its behalf, and recruited other states to join — all on the North Carolina taxpayers’ dime.

Last month David explained in more detail Nicholson’s activities on behalf of the Registry.

Today his latest story is posted, in which David explains how half of North Carolina’s contribution to the Registry was paid for out of state gas tax revenues:

Former DAQ deputy director Brock Nicholson, who served on the Climate Registry’s board of directors and executive committee, said the funds paid by DAQ were temporary.

“Those were up-front fees to help seed the registry. We don’t anticipate that will ever be paid again,” he said.

Nicholson said North Carolina is benefiting from its partnership with the registry. “This is the foundational work for a program to identify emissions, and then therefore emissions reductions projects that [have] monetary value to our sources in North Carolina,” he said.

So, while North Carolina’s decaying road system continues to fall into disrepair amid cries that gas tax revenues are insufficient to maintain it, environmental bureaucrats are taking it upon themselves to use those same public funds to “seed” an outside, faux-regulatory agency that is unaccountable to voters/citizens/taxpayers. Oh, and an agency that will accomplish nothing to improve human health conditions.

It’s very likely this has happened in your state also.

In the News

by William Yeatman on March 25, 2009

in Blog

Cap-and-Trade Would Raise Energy Prices 30%
Reuters, 24 March 2009

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.

Senate Spurns Cap-and-Trade
Lisa Lerer, Politico, 25 March 2009

The budget debate on Capitol Hill has exposed deep splits among Democrats over combating climate change, a major priority of President Barack Obama, with moderate lawmakers opposing a bold legislative gambit to pass the administration’s cap-and-trade proposal through the budget reconciliation process.

Obama’s proposed “cap-and-trade” carbon tax on energy use and utility bills is expected to raise up to $2 trillion, more than the $646 billion the Administration earlier estimated. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney explains how this hidden tax works.

(Before his election, Obama explained that electricity bills would “skyrocket” under his Administration, but the press by and large wasn’t interested in reporting it).

The $2 trillion raised by Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme may be dwarfed by the money made, at consumers’ expense, by well-connected corporations that have learned how to game such schemes.

It won’t put much of a dent in the $4.8 trillion in additional debt resulting from Obama’s proposed budget, or the $8 trillion in spending commitments incurred by the Obama Administration (not counting another trillion dollars for the toxic-asset buy-up program and $800 billion for the economy-shrinking “stimulus” package), all of which contradict Obama’s campaign pledge of a “net spending cut.”

But you sure will notice it in your electric bills if it becomes a reality.

In the News

by William Yeatman on March 24, 2009

in Blog

Congressional Dems To Shelve Obama’s Energy Rationing Plan
Darren Samualsohn, New York Times, 23 March 2009

Capitol Hill Democrats are expected to bypass the fast-track budget process for global warming legislation but plan to keep the option open later this year if they cannot win bipartisan support on one of President Obama’s signature agenda items.

A Green Clash of Civilizations?
Reuters, 23 March 2009

China’s steel industry should face fees on its exports into the United States if Washington adopts greenhouse gas cuts and Beijing does not, U.S. steel industry officials and advocates said.

Global Warming Is Running out of Hot Air
Phyllis Schlafly,, 24 March 2009

The coldest winter in a decade in many places, with snow in unlikely cities such as New Orleans, has deflated some of the hot air in global warming. And a heavy snowfall that paralyzed Washington, D.C., upstaged a mass demonstration scheduled to promote global warming.

Human Achievement Hour

by Michelle Minton on March 23, 2009

in Blog

This week CEI announced the creation of Human Achievement Hour (HAH) to be celebrated at 8:30pm on March 28th 2009 (the same time and date of Earth Hour).

Our press release described ways people might celebrate the achievements of humanity such as eating diner, seeing a film, driving around, keeping the heat on in your home—all things that Earth Hour celebrators, presumably, should be refraining from. In the cheekiest manner, we claimed that anyone not foregoing the use of electricity in that hour is, by default, celebrating the achievements of human beings. Needless to say, the enviros in the blogosphere didn’t take to kindly to our announcement.

Matthew Wheeland, an environmental journalist called the holiday “mind-blowingly strange” and pondered if Earth hour folks are including in their numbers people in countries that don’t have enough electricity to make the choice to turn out their lights. Of course, they don’t have the choice to acquire electricity whereas anyone can choose to stop using human technology if they wish.

In fact, one might even say that they are seething about it–lighting up the various green-oriented blogs with comments such as this sarcastic gem from Jon Petherbridge:

Human achievement hour. Another great idea. I’ll remember how great we all are as I watch the heat mirages rising from the surrounding hoods as my arm hangs out the window during my next July traffic jam.

Or maybe I’ll remember it the next time an American attack aircraft blows up a wedding party in Afghanistan. At least in that example we don’t have to feel bad for the dead Afghanis as they have a sexist culture that we are morally obligated to obliterate, quite literally if necessary. I reckon I’ll celebrate human achievement hour when everybody’s divorced or bisexual and drinking coca-cola in traffic jams on their way to work folding sandwiches for the lawyers and the bankers who we will worship for allowing us to support them by paying on our credit cards.

Go human achievement hour. Pile it on. Diversify, equalize, refinance and over qualify.

I’m feeling better already.

I love and will not give up my electric toothbrush.

They are also attempting to erase any attention directed at HAH, such as the Wikipedia article.

Of course, there are people out there who appreciate what we are trying to say. For example, Rajesh in India writes on his blog:

Coming from India where we routinely suffer power cuts due to mixed-market policies of the government, I found this post from The New Clarion fantastic…Lets use the wavelength of both light and philosophy to keep darkness at bay.

Green and private conservation are fine. We have no problem with an individual (or group) that wants to sit naked in the dark without heat, clothing, or light. Additionally, we’d have no problem with the group holding a pro-green technology rally. That’s their choice. But when this group stages a “global election” with the express purpose of influencing “government policies to take action against global warming,” we have every right as individuals to express our vote for the opposite

If our Human Achievement Hour is at all a dig against Earth Hour, it is so only by the fact that we are pointing out what Earth Hour truly is about: it isn’t pro-earth, it is anti-man and anti-innovation. So, on March 28th I plan to continue “voting” for humanity by enjoying the fruits of man’s mind.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled a NIMBY-Watch Web site called Project No Project .

With case studies from more than 30 states, Project No Project  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.” Many of the projects blocked are not coal plants but alternative energy projects or infrastructure often touted as “green.”

The site invites readers to provide examples from their own locales of NIMBY efforts to block or stall energy-related projects.

Proponents of “green jobs” should be concerned as much as free-market and property-rights advocates, because ”stimulus” projects are vulnerable to the same NIMBY tactics that, for example, have immobilized the Cape Wind Project in Nantucket, Mass.

Although Project No Project does not mention it, we also know from  comments submitted by the U.S. Chamber and allied groups on EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, that NIMBY forces will aquire powerful new litigation tools if EPA, in response to the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision, establishes greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for new motor vehicles. (For more background, see my recent post on MasterResource.Org.)

In a nutshell, vehicular GHG emission standards will make carbon dioxide (CO2) a “regulated air pollutant” under the Clean Air Act (CAA). That, in turn, will automatically make CO2 “subject to regulation” under the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program. 

The cutoff for regulation as a “major stationary source” under PSD is a potential to emit 250 tons per year (TPY) of a CAA-regulated air pollutant. Approximately 1.2 million previously unregulated entities (office buildings, hotels, big box stores, enclosed malls, even commercial kitchens) actually emit 250 TPY. All would be vulnerable to new regulation, monitoring, paperwork, controls, and penalties if EPA establishes GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles.

To qualify for a PSD permit, major stationary sources must comply with “best available control technology” (BACT) standards. Even part from any investments required for BACT compliance, the PSD permitting process is costly and time-consuming. In 2007, each permit on average cost $125,120 and 866 burden hours for a source to obtain. No small business could operate subject to the PSD administrative burden.

So NIMBY forces must be licking their chops at the prospect that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans on April 30 to issue an “endangerment finding” for GHGs. An endangerment finding  is the prerequisite to establishing GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles and, thus, the critical first step to making CO2 a CAA-regulated “air pollutant.” 

When and if EPA regulates CO2, expect a surge of litigation demanding that EPA impose PSD and BACT requirements on developers proposing to build or renovate big box stores, strip malls, fast-food restaurants, or other projects NIMBYites deem undesirable or contrary to “smart growth.”

Bottom line: Applying PSD and BACT to CO2–the inexorable consequence of establishing vehicular GHG emission standards–will turn the CAA into a gigantic Anti-Stimulus package. Is Team Obama paying attention?

Tomorrow, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the national security threats from melting Arctic ice. Greenwire (subscription required), the Online environmental news service, explains the rationale for the hearing:

 In a report last year, the European Commission warned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must be prepared for an intensified “scramble for resources” as melting glaciers and sea ice open up previously inaccessible areas to exploitation. The report explicitly expressed concerns over “long term relations with Russia,” (ClimateWire, April 2, 2008).

Now, opening up ”previously inaccessible” areas to oil and gas development could also be a font of economic and national security benefits. One thing we know for sure about Arctic mineral resources–they aren’t owned by Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Venezuela, and never will be controlled by OPEC.

Yes, there will be competition for those resources, but since when is competition an automatic negative for the USA?

Clearly, there are opportunities here as well as risks–opportunities to create thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs, boost GDP by tens to hundreds of billions of dollars, and generate billions in deficit-reducing tax revenues and royalties.

More pertinently, exploitation of previously inaccessible resources could significantly diversify U.S. oil and gas–a longstanding objective of U.S. energy security policy.

But Gorethodoxy demands blind obedience by its votaries. Discussing the potential benefits of global warming is strictly verboten.


  • Click here to see Global Warming Apocalypse? No!, a Congressional staff and media briefing by Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Advisor, Science and Public Policy Institute.
  • The Heartland Institute has posted videos of the keynote speeches from the second International Conference on Climate Change.

In the News

Obama Budget Will Bring Back $4 Gas
Andrew Moylan, DC Examiner, 20 March 2009

Cap-and-Trade Promises Disaster
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Washington Times, 20 March 2009

Clean Coal Won’t Be Dirt Cheap
Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal, 20 March 2009

How Can Greens Make Themselves Less White?
Naomi Riley, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2009

Human Sacrifices to Global Warming God
Jay Ambrose, The Daily Sentinel, 19 March 2009

Cap-and-Trade’s Economic Impact
William Yeatman, Council on Foreign Relations, 19 March 2009

Global Warming Ranks Last in Public Concern
Thomas Cheplick, Environment and Climate News, 19 March 2009

CO2 Regulation under the Clean Air Act: Legislative Thuggery
Marlo Lewis,, 19 March 2009

Exposing Cap-and-Trade Energy Rationing in Obama’s Budget
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Senate Floor Speech, 18 March 2009

Climate Hype: Let the Backlash Begin
Iain Murray, DC Examiner Opinion Zone, 17 March 2009

White House Admits Cap-and-Trade Costs Triple Its First Estimate
Phil Kerpen,, 17 March 2009

Elitist Enviros Hurt Blue Collar Americans
Joel Kotkin, Forbes, 17 March 2009

UK Halts Green Investments
Ashley Seager, Guardian, 16 March 2009

News You Can Use

Attention Congress:

For the first time in Gallup’s 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent, according to Gallup’s Frank Newport.

Inside the Beltway

CEI’s Myron Ebell

The True Cost of Cap-Trade-Trade Energy Rationing

Tom LoBianco reported in the Washington Times this week that a top White House official estimates that President Barack Obama’s plan to create a cap-and-trade scheme to ration energy would raise two to three times the estimate in the President’s budget of $646 billion in its first eight years. Jason Furman, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, let the cat out of the bag at a private briefing for Senate staffers last month.

Even in these days of trillion fatigue, nearly two trillion dollars still seems like quite a lot of money. I wonder what the Congress and the Administration will do with all that money? Oh, that’s right, they’re going to give it back to “us.” Well, some of us, anyway.  Somehow, I think it’s going to be hard to convince most people that they will be among the lucky us who get their money back.

A Real Stimulus Package

Senator David Vitter (R-La.) and Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) last week introduced the No Cost Stimulus Act of 2009. The bill is numbered S. 570 in the Senate and H. R. 1431 in the House. The bill is really much better than no cost. It would create hundreds of billions of dollars of economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing a steady revenue stream into the federal treasury.

The Vitter-Bishop bill would open federal offshore areas and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and expedite the procedures for environmental review and preparing leases for competitive auction. The lease sales would produce at a minimum a few billions of dollars. Once production started, royalty payments would start flowing to the Treasury.

The No Cost Stimulus Act would also streamline the permitting of new nuclear plants, encourage leasing on federal lands for oil shale production, limit reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act to 270 days so that NEPA cannot be used to delay projects indefinitely, and prevent the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and prohibit using the Endangered Species Act to regulate emissions. The bill has already attracted a number of co-sponsors in both the House and the Senate. It’s so good that it has no chance of going anywhere as long as the Democrats control the Congress.

Around the World

Energy Chief Threatens Trade War

Fran Smith

Just as the World Bank released a report on increased trade protectionism in the world, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu came out in favor of using carbon tariffs as a “weapon” against countries that aren’t taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions and as a way to protect U.S. manufacturers.

He seemed not to notice that the day before China’s top climate change official Li Gao had warned that carbon tariffs imposed on developing countries would be a “disaster” and perhaps start a trade war. Chu also doesn’t seem to remember that the European Union likes the idea of carbon tariffs against such countries as-gasp-the U.S.

Read more about the dangers of a carbon tariff: Click here for commentary from CEI’s Marlo Lewis, on how a cap-and-trade scheme is inherently protectionist.