April 2009

In the News

by William Yeatman on April 23, 2009

D.C. Takes Up Evils of Modern Living
David Harsanyi, Denver Post, 22 April 2009

Get ready for a dazzling display of environmental alarmism this week as Washington takes up the evils of modern living.

On Global Warming, Politics Trumps Science
Anthony J. Sadar & Susan T. Cammarata, Washington Times, 22 April 2009

The professional practice of pure science, like most other honorable life pursuits, has its opinion leaders, its majority opinion and its minority opinion. However, the mix of pure science with politics, which is necessary from a practical standpoint, has obvious pitfalls.

Fuzzy Math
John McCormack, The Weekly Standard, 22 April 2009

It’s just another inconvenient truth: If Americans want any of the government remedies that would supposedly save a planet allegedly imperiled by global warming, it’s going to cost them.

Okay, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff didn’t actually say America doesn’t need coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He stopped short of openly embracing the We Can Solve It! agenda of ”repowering” America” with zero-emissions, non-nuclear electricity in 10 years.  He is not an avowed apostle of Gorethodoxy.

But he’s close enough for government work. Wellinghoff told reporters (Greenwire, subscription required) that we “may not need any [new coal and nuclear power plants], ever.” One reason being that new coal plants will be “too expensive.” Huh?

If coal plants are too costly, then why have eco-litigation groups fought so hard to stop coal plants from being built?

Silly me, Wellinghoff undoubtedly means that once Congress enacts the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, it will be too expensive to own and operate a coal plant. 

Wellinghoff, after all, is a member of Team Obama, and when the President was a candidate, he candidly admitted that his cap-and-trade plan would cause electricity prices to “skyrocket” and would ”bankrupt” anyone foolish enough to invest in coal-based power.

Wellinghoff believes that wind, solar, and biomass are poised to take off as sources of “distributed” generation, turning coal and nuclear baseload power into an “anachronism.” Funny, that’s what eco-visionaries told us in the 1970s. Yet, despite decades of taxpayer and ratepayer support and market-rigging rules, non-hydro renewables today provide about 3% of all U.S. electric power.

Does it worry you that folks like Obama and Wellinghoff are the anointed stewards of our economy in these troubled times? It does me.

In the News

by William Yeatman on April 22, 2009

in Blog

Exploding Myths on Energy, Environment
Drew Thornley, DC examiner, 22 April 2009

This year’s official Earth Day poster depicts a polar bear climbing a wind turbine that sits atop a sheet of ice floating at sea.  A catchy picture, to be sure, but hyperbole will not advance energy-policy discussions-especially when environmental goals must be balanced with the need to cope with a recession and rising unemployment.

Getting a Rise out of Us
Chris Horner, Washington Times, 21 April 2009

The Washington Times’ front-page story “Rising sea levels in Pacific create wave of migrants” (Page 1, Sunday) outrageously peddles a talking point circulated by activists such as former Vice President Al Gore. The article’s claim that human-induced climate change and sea-level rise spawned a migration of refugees from South Pacific island nations was found unsupportable by the only court to examine its merits (Dimmock v. Secretary of State (UK) for Education and Skills, UK High Court, Oct. 10, 2007).

EPA’s Endangerment Finding: Legislative Hammer or Suicide Note
Marlo Lewis, DC Examiner, 21 April 2009

EPA’s just-published endangerment finding puts a swagger in the step of cap-and-tax advocates in the Administration, Congress, and environmental groups. They believe the endangerment finding gives them a legislative hammer with which to beat opponents into submission. This is too clever by half.

Fears Over Higher Costs Dominate the Climate Debate
Dino Cappiello & H. Josef Herbert, AP, 21 April 2009

As Congress begins to debate climate change in earnest, the science is taking a back seat to economics: How much will it cost to slow the Earth’s warming because of man-made pollution – and what’s the cost of doing nothing?

This year, we at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are suggesting that those who will be celebrating Earth Day remember the challenges presented by living in the natural world, and the inspiring ways that human beings have worked to overcome them. This new perspective is celebrated in a short video titled “Humans Make Earth Day Better.”

While Earth Day has previously focused on traditional concerns like pollution and recycling, we think it’s also a perfect time to think about the challenges human beings themselves face around the world – like hunger, disease and poverty – and the many ways human ingenuity has helped drive them back.

Many thanks to CEI Studio Producer Drew Tidwell for his excellent work on the video.

I’ve always been a fan of Lewis Black’s take on things, even when it’s obvious we disagree politically, but this take on the way TV networks are marketing Earth Day to kids is great whether you’re deep green or a free-market environmentalist. Enjoy.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Kids’ Earth Day
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

Russian Voting Tinged with Green

This Washington Post headline from earlier this month illustrates one of worrisome side-effects of authoritarian rule.  Political freedom is denied the citizenry but the pressures to allow some form of dissent remain.  Religious dissent often is treated more liberally – and the eco-theocratic values of today are the dominant religion of our secular society.  The risk the Russians face is that in their effort to escape Red tyranny they may rush into the hands of the Greens.  That would be tragic — Virginia Postrel noted long ago that she preferred the old Reds to the new Greens.  Both restricted economic and individual freedom but, at least, the Reds aimed at helping humanity.  That goal is rarely given much priority by green zealots.

Rasmussen has done another poll of registered voters about their views on global warming, just three months after a surprise revelation that more believe that natural causes drive climate than humans. Here are the findings reported Friday:

Climate change caused by planetary trends: 48%

Climate changed caused by human activity: 34%

Other reason: 7%

Aren’t sure: 11%

Compare that to responses reported on January 19:

Climate change caused by planetary trends: 44%

Climate changed caused by human activity: 41%

Other reason: 7%

Aren’t sure: 9%

So in the space of just three months, the percentage of those polled who believe humans drive climate change dropped seven percentage points from an already low 41 percent, while those who are confident that natural causes influence climate more increased by four percentage points.

If this represented an actual election it would be called a landslide of historic proportions. I mean really — only one-third of people believe humans are the chief cause of climate change?

Anyone ready to cave in to EPA, Waxman or the president on this issue ought to have his head examined.

Hat tip: Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters.

In the News

Small Cars Are Dangerous Cars
Sam Kazman, 17 April 2009

Obama’s New Energy Tax Hits Louisiana the Hardest
William Yeatman, Alexandria Town Talk, 17 April 2009

Upset over Offsets
Iain Murray, DC Examiner, 16 April 2009

Sapping America’s Energy
Pete Du Pont, Wall Street Journal, 16 April 2009

Green Energy Boondoggles
Chris Horner, Glen Beck Show, 14 April 2009

No, We Don’t Need 5 Planets
Bjorn Lomborg, The Australian, 15 April 2009

Beware the Geeks Calculating Climate Polices
Michael Barone, DC Examiner, 15 April 2009

Cap-and-Trade: Disaster Waiting To Happen
Terry Easton, Human Events, 14 April 2009

Where’s the Benefit?
Paul Chesser, American Spectator, 14 April 2009

Don’t Trust Climate Conformity
Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2009

Green Jobs Myth
Iain Murray, The Independent, 12 April 2009

When the Inmates Are in Charge
Alan Caruba, Canadian Free Press, 12 April 2009

News You Can Use

It Could Happen Here

A new report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance says that every adult in Britain is paying $977 in “green” taxes.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

EPA Finally Pulls the Trigger on Endangerment Finding

Lisa M. Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, today officially found that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The finding will now be published in the Federal Register and be open for public comment. There have already been a number of reactions. For example, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Jackson said several weeks ago that she would really rather not have to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions but instead have the Congress pass cap-and-trade legislation. That’s because even she recognizes that it will create more economic chaos than the public will tolerate. Which raises the question, why did she then make the finding? The most plausible answer is that it’s a way to pressure Congress. But is it really a plausible threat to say, if you don’t pass legislation that will wallop the economy, we’ll regulate it to death?

In EPA’s press release, Jackson said, “This pollution problem has a solution – one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.” Yes, EPA regulations can create millions of jobs by destroying tens of millions of others.  And we won’t need a lot of foreign oil when many tens of millions more can no longer afford to own a car.

Lots of Hearings for Energy Rationing Bill

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment has a heavy schedule of hearings next week on the draft Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade-and-the-kitchen-sink bill. The hearings haven’t been officially announced yet, but the schedule should appear on the committee’s web site soon. Expect a long line of witnesses testifying about how profitable they expect energy rationing will be for them. The subcommittee is planning to mark up the bill the week of April 26th.

Gore Hijinks

Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection has begun running radio ads in support of the Waxman-Markey bill to raise your energy costs. According to Tom LoBianco in the Washington Times, “The group has targeted moderate Democrats and Republicans, including Rep. Mary Bono Mack, California Republican; Rep. Gene Green, Texas Democrat; Rep. John Barrow, Georgia Democrat; and Rep. Baron P. Hill, Indiana Democrat.” They are all members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Again to quote the Times’s story, “‘If we repower Ohio with clean energy, it will jump-start our economy, reduce carbon pollution, break our dependence on foreign oil and create 80,000 clean-energy jobs in new industries for Ohio workers,’ a narrator says in an ad airing in Ohio.” I suppose it will jump start someone’s economy as industries move abroad, but it isn’t going to be Ohio’s.

Post Profiles Climate Envoy

The Washington Post’s Style section on Tuesday the 14th published Juliet Eilperin’s flattering profile of the Obama Administration’s top climate negotiator, Todd Stern.  Stern is a lawyer who served as a White House adviser for many years in the Clinton Administration. Funny, but I don’t remember the Post ever running a similar puff piece on Stern’s outstanding predecessor, Dr. Harlan Watson, who was the Bush Administration’s climate negotiator for eight years.  But then I found this more negative story. Watson is now back working for Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, so Eilperin still has an opportunity to write an admiring profile of him.

Across the States

What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Two years ago, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) refused to permit the construction of two coal-fired power plants in the southwestern part of the State because she is alarmed by global warming. Her constituents clearly disagreed with her decision-the State Legislature has passed four bills to overturn Sebelius and allow the coal plants. Each time, however, the Governor vetoed the will of the people, most recently this week. President Barack Obama chose Sebelius to become the Secretary of Human Health and Services, and her likely confirmation by the United States Senate is soon expected. Unfortunately, Sebelius’s successor, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, has said that he will veto any bill that allows the construction of the plants.

Around the World

Deal or No Deal

Global warming alarmists long have held that developing countries such as China and India-which will account for the preponderance of future, global greenhouse gas emissions-will fight climate change once developed countries demonstrate “leadership” on global warming. Evidently, climate “leadership” is no longer sufficient. Environmental ministers from European Union member countries met this week and determined that a successor treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol is impossible unless developed countries pay $230 billion a year through 2020 to finance a global green energy revolution. EU Commissioner to the Environment Stavros Dimas told reporters, “No money, No deal.” No thanks, Commissioner Dimas.

The CO2 litigation campaign that begat Massachusetts v. EPA turns out to be too clever by half. As Roger Pielke, Jr. and Michael Shellenberger astutely observe, Team Obama’s threat to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act (CAA) unless Congress enacts cap-and-tax legislation is tantamount to a promise to commit political suicide. However costly cap-and-tax might be, litigation-driven CAA regulation of greenhouse gases is potentially far more damaging to the economy. Instead of being a hammer that beats opponents into submission, EPA’s forthcoming endangerment finding–the first step in regulating greenhouse gases under the CAA–should strengthen Congressional Republicans’ resolve to fight cap-and-tax. By doing so, they will ensure that Obama and his allies bear all the blame for raising consumer energy prices, destroying jobs, and de-stimulating the economy. For further discussion, see my post on MasterResource.Org.

When an alarmist comes out to dismiss the erstwhile poster children, as I just saw in an article:

“‘When you come down to it, nobody really cares about what the global mean temperature is doing, or what the global mean sea level is,’ said Antonio Busalacchi, an oceanographer who chairs the WCRP.”

Oh. Right. Of course and…we knew that. So this must be the person who led the charge against throwing billions in taxpayer dollars at research on global mean temperature and sea level, and telling, e.g., Barack Obama to clam up about such piffles.

Nothing to see here..oooh, look over there!