July 2009


The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis today unveiled his new film, Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies Are More Dangerous Than Global Warming Itself. Over the next two weeks, he’ll be posting on globalwarming.org one excerpt from the film a day along with comments and links to newer information that has since come out. The videos present a powerful argument that the global warming debate is very far from “over.”

The Marshall Institute this week released “The Cocktail Guide to Global Warming,” a succinct compendium of replies to questions about climate change.

In the News

The Climate Science Debate Is Just Getting Interesting
Marlo Lewis, MasterRsource.org, 24 July 2009

Cold Shoulder to Climate “Urgency”
George Will, Washington Post, 23 July 2009

NY Mayor as Big a Climate Hypocrite as Gore
Leo Standora, New York Daily, 23 July 2009

Toxic Revenge
Silvia Santacruz, Forbes, 21 July 2009

GOP Targets Cap-and-Trade Supporters
Wall Street Journal, 21 July 2009

Obama’s Wacky Climate Czar
Joseph Abrahams, Fox News, 21 July 2009

Global Warming’s Missing Link
Chris Horner, Energy Tribune, 20 July 2009

Governors Bite Back
Paul Chesser, American Spectator, 20 July 2009

News You Can Use

Department of Inefficient Energy

The Wall Street Journal this week reported on a government audit of the Department of Energy that claims the DOE wasted almost $11 million in taxpayer money in 2009 due to inefficient energy use.

Your Taxpayer Dollars Pay for Alarmist Science
According to a new paper, “Climate Money,” written by Joanne Nova for the Science & Public Policy Institute, the federal government has spent $32 billion on climate research.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

All Politics Is Local

Senate Democratic leaders said this week that delaying votes on health care legislation until the fall will not derail the global warming express. Sure. Seriously, the question is whether health care will dominate town meetings during the August congressional recess or voters will still be angry about passage of Waxman-Markey. If enough voters still want to give their Senators an earful about cap-and-trade, then my guess is that it will have no momentum in the fall and the leadership will have a hard time rounding up sixty votes for anything related to energy rationing.

A video posted on You Tube of a town meeting that Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.) held over the Fourth of July recess is instructive in this regard.  Castle was one of the eight Republicans who voted yes on final passage of the Waxman-Markey bill.

A recent whining fundraising appeal from Fred Krupp of Environmental Defense Fund confirms that the House was flooded with calls and e-mails opposing Waxman-Markey: “For some House offices, their calls overwhelmed the switchboard.”  Krupp blames it on an organized conspiracy led by Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and “financed with hundreds of millions of dollars from big polluters.” Too bad he doesn’t mention who those big polluters are. As far as I can tell, many of the biggest companies in the U. S. support cap-and-trade and a couple dozen of them belong to the U. S. Climate Action Partnership. EDF is a member of USCAP and works as a front group for big companies that hope to get rich off the backs of American consumers from the higher energy prices required by cap-and-trade. Hundreds of millions has a nice ring, but does anyone actually believe that the opponents of cap-and-trade have even a tenth of the funding of its supporters?

So here’s hoping that Senators back home in August are going to hear from lots of constituents about Waxman-Markey and what energy rationing will do to them.

A Climate Bill We Can Support

Representative Marsha Blackburn on Thursday filed a discharge petition to bring her bill, H. R. 391, to a vote on the House floor. H. R. 391 would simply prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act.  A discharge petition is used to try to bring a bill to the floor that the chairman of the committee of jurisdiction opposes and won’t permit the committee to vote on. To discharge a bill from committee requires signatures from a majority (218) of House Members, so it’s not easy.

The Waxman-Markey energy-rationing bill that the House passed by a 219-212 vote on June 26th includes pre-emption of the Clean Air Act (albeit a partial and less-than-airtight pre-emption). Thus, the House has already agreed that using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions is a bad idea that needs to be prevented. It could be argued that Members have no reason not to sign the discharge petition to implement a piece of that bill. Doing so could also provide some cover for Members who are being attacked by their constituents for voting for Waxman-Markey.  So although Blackburn’s petition is a long shot, it does present interesting political possibilities.

Around the World

Climate Hero: Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, this week admonished two diplomatic envoys for insisting that India sacrifice poverty reduction for climate change. During a press conference on Monday, Ramesh told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he would “like to make it clear that India’s position is that we are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emission reduction,” after Clinton had pressed for Indian participation in an international effort to reduce emissions.

Yesterday, Ramesh hosted Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, who claimed that developed nations were willing to put “money on the table” to help developing nations pay for expensive energy climate policies, but only if developing countries agreed to act, according to the Financial Times. Ramesh dismissed his counterpart’s suggestion, and he even took a shot at alarmist science that predicts the Himalayan glaciers will disappear in 40 years. “Science has its limitation,” Ramesh told Carlgren, “you cannot substitute the knowledge that has been gained by the people living in cold deserts through everyday experience.”

Across the States

California: 1 Step Forward, Two Steps Back

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic and Republican leaders of the state legislature agreed this week to a temporary fix for the state’s $26 billion budget deficit.  It includes a provision to allow new oil production within state waters (which extend three miles out from the coastline), which is expected to generate $1.8 billion in royalties over the next ten years plus higher tax receipts from the additional economic activity.

This is quite a change from California’s strong and long-term opposition to drilling in federal offshore areas, even in areas more than fifty miles from shore.  Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Resources Committee, in 2006 opposing Pombo’s bill to open federal offshore areas to oil and gas exploration. The bill would have given States veto power over drilling within fifty miles of their coasts and a share of federal royalties. The bill passed the House, but a big majority of California’s 53 House Members voted against it.

Also this week, the California Small Business Roundtable released a report that estimates that AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act (a climate bill that would reduce California emissions by 25% from current levels through 2020), would cost 1.1 million jobs. The state budget would lose nearly $5.8 billion in taxes.

The Science

New Peer Reviewed Study Throws Cold Water on Alarmist Predictions

Carl Volk
A new paper on climate sensitivity by Drs. Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi of MIT has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. Their paper compares the observed change in global forcing with the observed change in sea surface temperature to determine that climate sensitivity is low (under 0.5 degrees C for a doubling of CO2) and is dominated by negative feedbacks that work to dampen the effects of increasing CO2. This research runs completely contrary to the conclusions of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and suggests that man-made global warming will be minimal. Lindzen discussed the paper in layman’s terms at Heartland’s recent climate change conference in DC. The accepted paper can be found here.

Springtime in the Rockies

Julie Walsh

Last week, I went heli-hiking near Glacier National Park in the Canadian Bugaboos where they were enjoying spring flowers. A 40-something guide mentioned that their recent spring was the coldest that she had ever lived through. Heartland Institute’s James Taylor recent piece explains the still-receding glaciers despite the long-term cooling trend.

Elsewhere, this graph from the University of Illinois Polar Research Group shows the continued rebound of Arctic sea ice.  And in the Southern Hemisphere, Argentina has been experiencing historic snow.

I could spend all my days hat-tipping Marc Morano at Climate Depot for the treasure trove of climate realism he posts there, but it’s almost like citing a Drudge link — what’s the point of drawing attention to a story that everyone else who follows Web news has already read?

Nevertheless occasionally it’s still worth doing, and today’s reason is Newsweek science editor Sharon Begley. Morano’s link calls her column in the August 3 issue “silly,” but for years Begley has been a doddering old media leftist whose science perspective parallels Helen Thomas’s political taint. Still operating as though weekly newsmags add insightful background to mainstream thought, Begley rambles through tired global warming alarmism peppered with her own clumsy brand of activist exhortation:

The loss of Arctic sea ice “is well ahead of” what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast, largely because emissions of carbon dioxide have topped what the panel—which foolishly expected nations to care enough about global warming to do something about it—projected….

In an insightful observation in The Guardian this month, Jim Watson of the University of Sussex wrote that “a new breed of climate sceptic is becoming more common”: someone who doubts not the science but the policy response. Given the pathetic (non)action on global warming at the G8 summit, and the fact that the energy/climate bill passed by the House of Representatives is so full of holes and escape hatches that it has barely a prayer of averting dangerous climate change, skepticism that the world will get its act together seems appropriate.

Time and Newsweek long ago were consigned to the advocacy bin with The Nation and Mother Jones, but even with their proliferation of Obama fawning, Begley is a curiosity. Rasmussen and Gallup polls show more public skepticism about climate alarmism than concern. Temperatures have gone down over the last ten years and even the New York Times is asking about the sun’s influence. Scientists are clearly divided, debunking the Gore-blustering “consensus.”

But Begley and Newsweek act as though dissent doesn’t exist, or worse, proving that the magazine doesn’t need Stephen Colbert to produce joke journalism.

When Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT), came out in 2006, I expected to see some hard-hitting criticism by scientists of Gore’s unfounded alarmism and by economists of his blithe disregard of the human suffering that energy rationing (cap-and-trade) and mandatory reliance on costly and under-performing renewable energy would inflict on low-income households and poor countries. However, with a few notable exceptions, Gore’s film got mostly rave reviews, earned an Academy Award, and later helped bag him the Nobel Prize.

Because few specialists in the science and economics fields took Gore to task, I jumped into the breach. At first, I thought I could write an adequate expose of Gore’s errors and exaggerations in about 20 pages. But as I dug into the book version of AIT, I found that nearly all of Gore’s assertions about climate change and climate policy were either one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or just plain wrong. My critique–published by CEI in March 2007 under the title Al Gore’s Science Fiction: A Skeptic’s Guide to An Inconvenient Truth–grew to 150 pages.

I gave several talks based on this research, including an hour-long presentation on C-SPAN and a minute and fifteen seconds of fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show,* along with several video shorts produced by CEI.

Conversations with friends and colleagues persuaded me, though, that the best strategy was to fight fire with fire–produce our own “documentary” about global warming.

We teamed up with Jared Lapidus, a talented young New York-based filmmaker. Jared and I interviewed over 20 experts during 2008 and early 2009. The result is a film titled Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies Are More Dangerous Than Global Warming Itself. To view the film, click here.

Policy Peril reviews the science to assess whether global warming is the “planetary emergency” Al Gore claims it is. We take a critical look at what Gore and other alarmist claim regarding heat waves, global temperature forecasts, air pollution, malaria, hurricanes, ice sheet disintegration, sea level rise, and the paradoxical scenario in which global warming causes a new ice age. We conclude that global warming is not a catastrophe in the making. There is no climate “crisis.”

We then review the human costs–the health and safety risks as well as adverse impacts on jobs and growth–of Al Gore’s proposed “solutions”: carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, fuel economy standards, bans on new coal-fired power plants, mandates to “repower America” with renewable energy, and carbon tariffs. The film concludes that these policies have potentially devastating impacts on human welfare, especially to the extent they are exported to developing countries–which they must be if the world is to reduce global emissions 50% by 2050, as Gore and others advocate.

Finally, the film examines alternative strategies to enhance human well-being in a warming world. It concludes that “focused adaptation”–solving with proven methods existing health and environmental problems that global warming might aggravate (such as malaria and hunger)–would save far more lives at less cost than Kyoto-style energy rationing schemes. Moreover, the best climate protection strategy for the world is free trade and economic growth.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be posting one excerpt from the film every other day along with comments and links to newer information that has since come out. The global warming debate is very far from “over.” In fact, the scientific, economic, and moral case against Kyoto-style energy rationing keeps getting stronger.

I look forward to your comments on the film, the individual segments, and the supporting materials.

– Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

* Gore got the first and last word on Oprah, but I replied minutes after the show aired on Youtube.

Update 8/10/09

One of the excerpts from Policy Peril is the wrap up, where I summarize the main points of the entire film. If you’re one of those people who like to skip to the end to see how the story turns out, click here to watch the wrap-up segment. Or just read the text (with links to supporting information), which appears below:

Global warming is not a planetary emergency. To create the illusion of a crisis, Al Gore repeatedly crosses the line between fact and fiction, science and speculation.

There is no know way to make deep cuts in U.S. CO2 emissions over the next few decades without also making deep cuts in our economy.

Banning new coal power plants means banning the most affordable source of new electric power. It could also create an energy crisis.

Mandating a carbon-free electric system in ten years would fail dismally and set a world record for government waste.

Energy rationing schemes would transfer trillions of dollars from consumers to special interests.

Fuel economy mandates can kill by making the average car lighter, smaller, and therefore less safe in collisions.

Biofuel mandates may actually increase CO2 emissions and by inflating food prices threaten the world’s poorest people.

Banning coal plants in China, India, and other emerging economies would trap millions of people in deadly poverty.

Using proven methods to solve underlying problems that global warming might aggravate could save many more lives than Kyoto type policies at far less expense.

The best climate protection strategy for poor countries is rapid economic growth.

On a personal note, I’ve been analyzing public policy in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years. I have never seen an agenda so lacking in justification, with so great a power for mischief, captivate so many influential people, the way this global warming agenda has.

We are still at the baby steps of this agenda. Yet already climate policies have increased world hunger, fueled deforestation, inflated energy prices, and enriched special interests at consumers’ expense.

The time to demand more reasonable policies from our leaders is now. Don’t be another lemming walking off the cliff of policy peril. Save our prosperity, and we can really improve the state of the world.

Is the science debate on global warming “over”? Politicians, pundits, and academics never tire of repeating “the debate is over” mantra. They could not be more wrong.

As I explain today on MasterResource.Org, all the basic science issues in the global warming debate–attribution, sensitivity, and even detection–are unsettled and more so now than at any time in the past decade.

For those who want to delve more deeply into these and other fascinating issues, check out the marvelous Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report, Climate Change Reconsidered, authored by Drs. Craig Idso and Fred Singer with 35 contributors and reviewers. On a wide range of issues (nine main topics and 60 sub-topics), the NIPCC report demonstrates that the scientific literature allows, and even favors, reasonable alternative assessments to those presented by the U.N. IPCC, the self-anointed scientific “consensus.”

Leave it to the Experts

by Ryan Young on July 23, 2009

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are difficult to dispose of. They contain mercury that can leak into the environment. If one breaks, cleaning it up is an even trickier matter. The EPA has a 19-point guideline on proper procedure.

Some smart-aleck came up with a simpler idea: Send your used light bulbs to Washington! They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, one of the founding members of the Western Climate Initiative which has co-opted the staff of the Western Governors Association to do WCI work, has engaged in a pattern of deceit and has circumvented the state legislature to advance her global warming agenda.

The most recent example was in her June 22 letter (critiqued brilliantly by the Washington Policy Center) to Washington’s House delegation, urging them to vote in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (or, Waxman-Markey). Among the many errors and fallacies pointed out by WPC, Gregoire continued to push cherry-picked data, in making the claim that a May study from the University of Washington “shows we’ve already lost 20 percent of our snow pack over the last 30 years.” Former Oregon state climatologist George Taylor and former Washington assistant state climatologist Todd Albright — who both were muzzled and forced out of their jobs because they dared challenge the global warming alarmists’ orthodoxy — have set the record straight (Microsoft Word document) on the Cascades snow pack:

Actual snow pack numbers show a 22 percent INCREASE in snow pack over the past 33 years across the Washington and Oregon Cascade Mountains.

The difference? As Taylor explains (referencing an earlier piece he wrote) in a rebuttal to a study authored by alarmist former Washington climatologist (and current Oregon climatologist — replacing Taylor!) Philip Mote, it all has to do with your timeframe:

Note the starting point for this analysis; the late 1940s-early 1950s were an exceptionally snowy period in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The Mote, et al papers used 1950 as a starting point because snow pack measurements were “widespread by the late 1940s” (Mote, et al, 2005) and much less extensive earlier. However, in view of the fact that climate conditions prior to the late 1940s were very different, one might wonder if inclusion of longer period data sets would change the result.”

They did. Period-of-record trends were very different for longer data sets than they were for the period beginning in 1950. The conclusions of that analysis:

“The use of snow pack trends from 1950 through current suggests a much different (steeper) trend than if period of record measurements are used. Granted, there exist relatively few stations that extend back prior to 1940, but those stations whose records are available make it clear than monotonic decreases in snow pack do not occur through the entire period of record.

“Based on a limited analysis, there are indications that precipitation is a much more significant influence on snow pack than is temperature.

The letter written to Washington congressmen by Gov. Gregoire is only the latest in the desperate attempts by her and others who have hung their political credibility on global warming alarmist policy. The Evergreen State is one of many — including nearly all the members of WCI — that have fallen under the spell of greenhouse gas paranoia cast by the Center for Climate Strategies, which has convinced dozens of governors to let them take over their climate policy development. CCS, as part of their strategy to push greenhouse gas limitations from the states up the food chain to Washington, has also worked on regional initiatives, including WCI.  As executive director Tom Peterson has explained (video):

“We’ve been supporting the [states] in the formation of comprehensive climate action plans and all the policies that are involved in reducing (GHG) emissions from all the different economic sectors in the economy, and ultimately (hope it will) lead to national policies and we hope even international agreements that can lead the nation forward in terms of addressing the (global warming) problem.”

As for Gregoire, she is far down the global warming road and has shown no sign of turning back, despite mounting evidence of global cooling the last decade (despite increasing CO2 emissions). When the Washington legislature refused to approve the state’s participation in WCI’s cap-and-trade agreement, the governor issued an executive order implementing the program anyway. “I wanted cap-and-trade,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t get it.”

Pretty brazen for a narrowly elected governor, whose state economy would suffer (as would all of them) under cap-and-trade. Clearly by begging her state’s delegation to pass Waxman-Markey, she is hoping that the federal government will absolve her of any blame for the consequences such a program will bring.

Hat tip: Joe D’Aleo

In 2008, Obama promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. But he is now breaking that promise by proposing to tax some middle-class families to pay for health care. Obama has also falsely pledged that if you like your health insurance, you will be able to keep it under his plan. But the Congressional health-care bills he backs would destroy countless inexpensive health-care plans by gutting a federal law called ERISA that makes it possible for employers to offer them. Obama’s plan does nothing to curb the main drivers of health-care costs, even as it raises the specter of rationing and social engineering. It will not cover as much of the population as the health-insurance systems in France or Switzerland, but it will cost much more.

As CNN notes, Obama’s plan would take away “5 freedoms,” including the freedom to choose your doctors, the freedom to choose what’s in your plan, the freedom to keep your existing plan, the freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, and the freedom to choose high-deductible coverage.

Obama’s health-care plan is drawing criticism from one of his own advisers, Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein. In the Washington Post, Feldstein warns that “For the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, the Obama health plan is bad news. It means higher taxes, less health care and no protection if they lose their current insurance because of unemployment or early retirement.” Obama’s plan would “cost more than $1 trillion,” and raise the top federal “income-tax rate from 35 percent today to more than 45 percent,” he notes.

Its increase in health-care costs is so obvious that even Democratic governors openly worry that it will explode their states’ Medicaid costs. Conservatives are concerned that it would single out illegal aliens for preferential treatment, because it permits illegal aliens, but not American citizens, to avoid buying health insurance, even though illegal aliens could access government-sponsored health insurance through the so-called “public option,” thanks to its lack of eligibility verification safeguards. Supporters of universal health care coverage like Mickey Kaus worry that it will lead to arbitrary restrictions on health care for people who now have decent health-care coverage.

In 2008, Obama promised not to impose any kind of tax increase on people making less than $250,000 a year: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” (Barack Obama, September 12, 2008, Dover, NH). But millions of people now face direct or indirect tax increases under his plan.

Obama’s plan so obviously would increase the deficit that its supporters are now crafting a tax on health insurance provided to non-union workers. Never mind that Obama’s campaign spent millions of dollars on campaign ads attacking the very idea of taxing health-insurance benefits.

It’s not the first breach of Obama’s campaign pledges to the middle class. Obama earlier broke his promise by signing into law an excise tax increase (the SCHIP tax) paid mainly by the poor, and advocating income tax increases on households that make thousands of dollars less than $250,000 a year. These tax increases are part of a long line of broken promises, such as Obama’s pledge to enact a “net spending cut,” which he flouted with proposed budgets that will explode the national debt through $9.3 trillion in massively increased deficit spending.

Obama also backs a huge cap-and-trade carbon tax that would be borne disproportionately by low-income households. (The cap-and-trade tax was pushed through the House before the text of the bill even became available. The bill was over 1090 pages long and contained special interest giveaways to a legion of big corporations and their lobbyists. At the last minute, 300 more pages were added to the bill that few in Congress had even read, and had to be manually inserted into the existing 1000 pages after the bill was passed, based on guesses about where those pages would fit in. Thus, the bill did not even really exist at the time it was passed). In 2008, Obama privately admitted to San Francisco Chronicle reporter that his cap-and-trade carbon tax would cause people’s electric bills to “skyrocket.” The cap-and-trade bill will cost the economy trillions, while doing little to cut greenhouse gas emissions, since it contains so many special interest giveaways and environmentally-destructive provisions like protections for ethanol, which promotes soil erosion and deforestation. Meanwhile, Obama sabotaged nuclear power, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, by blocking use of the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste disposal site after billions of dollars in taxpayer money had already been spent developing it.

The Wall Street Journal explains how the health-care bills backed by Obama would destroy many cheap employer health-care plans by gutting key provisions of the federal ERISA law, which slices through red tape and allows employers to provide economical health-insurance plans on a nationwide basis. The bills would open the floodgates to costly lawsuits against employers that provide health insurance to their employees, and require bureaucratic approval of health-insurance plans before they could go into effect on a national basis. In the absence of ERISA, health insurance plans provided by a national company have to satisfy a bewildering array of conflicting regulations and mandates that differ from state to state, add cost, complexity, and delay to medical care, and balkanize the health-care sector.

Other countries that have cheaper health care do not have local health-insurance regulations, preferring one national regulatory scheme for everyone. My French father-in-law is a communist trade unionist, but it was obvious even to him that he needed private supplemental health insurance to fill the gaps in France’s national health-care system. So he bought a private health insurance policy on the free market that came in handy when he needed continuing care after his quadruple bypass surgery. Supposedly socialist France actually has much less regulation of health insurance than supposedly capitalist America, where insurance is terribly costly in states like New York and New Jersey because of all the regulations and government mandates.

Economists and insurance experts have long proposed ending the federal regulation that allows states to block consumers from buying health-insurance across state lines. Almost every other product can be bought across state lines. But the Obama Administration is rigidly opposed to this reform. In a debate with Sarah Palin, Joe Biden championed this harmful regulation that impoverishes American consumers to reinforce the power of state bureaucrats and the profits of expensive health-insurance providers that benefit by thwarting competition from cheaper out-of-state rivals. So much for fixing what’s wrong with the status quo.

Without the reforms opposed by Obama, we will never get our health care costs down to the levels of other countries, which have enormous cost advantages over the U.S. through things like lower doctor and nurse salaries, less defensive medicine from costly and unwarranted malpractice suits (America uses virtually unguided juries to decide malpractice cases, even though juries are not experts either at seeing through unfounded claims, or at recognizing genuine ones where the doctor was really negligent), and lower drug costs (mostly from those countries’ artificial caps on drug costs, which effectively forces U.S. consumers to pay for the entire world’s R&D costs, and partly from other factors like lower products-liability costs, since the U.S. refuses to preempt even lawsuits against FDA-approved drugs). Liberal lawmakers are seeking to make Obama’s plan even worse and more costly by turning it into a “trial lawyer bonanza.”

Earlier, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office gave an honest but “devastating assessment” of the incredibly high cost of the health-care plans backed by Obama, which would cost well over a trillion dollars, to cover just 16 million of the more than 40 million uninsured Americans.

Obama is angry about that truthful conclusion, as well as the CBO’s finding that his wasteful stimulus package will actually reduce the size of the economy “in the long run.” (The stimulus package also destroyed thousands of jobs in America’s export sector, and ended welfare reform).

So Obama recently invited CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, a “Democratic appointee,” to the White House to pressure him to reduce his cost estimates. Earlier, Democratic Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid earlier attacked Elmendorf for reporting the truth about the Administration’s costly health care plans, suggesting that Elmendorf should “run for Congress.” To Reid and Obama, politics comes before truth. But the last thing we need is Enron-style accounting from government accountants.

Obamacare would also restrict resources for end-of-life care for the elderly, and mandate the provision of wasteful end-of-life counseling for the elderly (such as lecturing them about the right to hasten their own death by refusing nutrition).

Yesterday my colleague Myron Ebell commented on a story that had appeared on the New York Times (France Resists a Power Monitoring Business,” 21 July 2009, David Jolly), about how French regulators intended to collect payment from a company that facilitates energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Myron extracted this quote from the article:

“At this rate, it will soon be obligatory in France to consume large quantities of electricity, or face taxes and fines, and maybe imprisonment, too,” the antinuclear group Sortir du Nucléaire said in criticizing the decision,”

And he noted, “Another reason why I love the French.”

To which I responded in an email,

This isn’t dissimilar from “decoupling” utility bills from energy consumption, which the CPUC claims is “largely responsible” for California leading the nation in energy efficiency. In this instance, it seems that French regulators are making the middleman pay, instead of the customer, assuming the news report is accurate-which it likely isn’t. I have a tough time believing that the NYT reporter knows the French regulatory regime for electricity pricing well enough to draw such a distinction.

According to Waxman, decoupling is not mandated in the energy efficiency provisions of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, but that’s debatable (the text appears to make decoupling a precondition for receiving federal energy efficiency funds, although it leaves the decision up to state regulators).

Reading this exchange, it’s not necessarily clear what “decoupling” means, so I’ll spell it out. A provider of electricity makes money based on how much electricity it sells. So if the government forces consumers to become more energy efficient, the utilities lose money, because people need less electricity. Utilities, however, are very large companies, whose business model is almost entirely predicated upon federal and state political decisions. That is, utilities are big-time donors to politicians who need money to win elections so they can keep on wasting taxpayer money. As such, politicians who want to appease their “green” base by forcing consumers to become more energy efficient also want to appease their friends in the utility business. That’s why California politicians “de-coupled” energy consumption from the price of electricity. By freeing the price of electricity from the forces of supply and demand, California politicians ensure that utilities get paid, no matter how energy efficient consumers in the Golden State become.

Democrat governors in support of cap-and-trade, that is.

You just bop around YouTube (and especially Sen. Inhofe’s neighborhood there) and there’s no telling what you’ll find. In a crowning height of hypocrisy, the chairman of the Western Governors Association and of the Democrat Governors Association, Brian Schweitzer of Montana, slammed cap-and-trade on Bill Maher’s show last week:

Maher: …it’s an incentive to make clean energy.

Schweitzer: Maybe.

Maher: Maybe?! (with incredulous emphasis)

Schweitzer: It also says to the biggest utilities in America, “We’re going to add a trillion dollars to your bottom line. We’re going to franchise you, and only you, to be the only producers of CO2.” I think it’s the wrong approach.

Maher: You do?! (more incredulity)

Schweitzer: Absolutely.

Maher: But isn’t that the Democrat approach?

Schweitzer: It might be some of the Democrats’ approach, but I think if you want to get to the root of the problem, you establish a price of the cost of that pollution to the rest of society….

Worse than fellow WGA Democrats Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming and Bill Ritter of Colorado, Schweitzer joined the Western Climate Initiative — whose goal is a cap-and-trade agreement among member states (AZ, NM, CA, OR, WA, UT, and MT)!! Now he says out of one side of his mouth that it’s wrongheaded, while out of the other side he defends WCI (and WGA’s management of it) to the hilt.

What kind of craziness is going on at WGA? Do you have to be a Wild West Looney Tunes to be a member? Apparently pandering to all the environmental groups who run and fund the place has driven the governors nuts.

Cross-posted at American Spectator.

But State Still In Trouble With Global Warming Law

WASHINGTON, DC, July 21, 2009 – Top California lawmakers have included a plan for expanding oil drilling off the Southern California coast, as part of a budget compromise aimed at closing the state’s $26 billion shortfall.  The move drew praise from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“State Republican legislators, led by Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, are to be commended for forcing Republican Governor Schwarzenegger and the Democratic majority in the legislature to accept a budget deal that includes no tax increases, significant budget cuts, and new offshore oil and gas production,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Ebell, however, also warned that drilling won’t be enough to save the state.  “California’s budget agreement will not bail out California’s economy, but it won’t contribute to further decline.  California must repeal the state’s economically catastrophic global warming legislation.”
The state in 2006 passed legislation requiring carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 25 percent cut mandated by 2020.  The cost of the global warming legislation, according to a new study, will be enormous – over 1 million jobs.
Under the governor’s plan, the state would allow drilling off the Santa Barbara coast, estimated to generate some $1.8 billion in revenue over time. It would reportedly be the state’s first new offshore oil project in four decades.
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