October 2009

In the News

Sins of Emission
Wall Street Journal
, 29 October 2009

Don’t let the State Choose Your TV
William Yeatman, Orange County Register, 29 October 2009

Senate Republicans Weigh a Boycott of Climate Bill
Richard Cowen, Reuters, 29 October 2009

Texas: Field of Dreams for Wind
Drew Thornley, Planet Gore, 29 October 2009

Rush-Defying Thought Experiments
Paul Chesser, American Spectator, 28 October 2009

Poll: Cap-and-Trade Losing Support
Keith Johnson, WSJ Environmental Capital, 28 October 2009

The Cap-and-Trade Folly
Senator David Vitter, Heritage Foundry blog, 28 October 2009

Unscientific America
William Tucker, American Spectator, 28 October 2009

UN Signals Delay on a Climate Treaty
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, 27 October 2009

Kerry-Boxer: Its Bite Is Worse than Its Bark
Marlo Lewis, MasterResource.org, 27 October 2009

News You Can Use

Cap-and-Trade: $3.6 Trillion Gas Tax

Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) last week released a report that estimates how much additional pain at the pump the Waxman-Markey would inflict on U.S. consumers. The title says it all: Climate Change Legislation: A $3.6 Trillion Gas Tax.

Inside the Beltway

Boxer’s Reckless Pace

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) is imposing a frantic pace on major energy-rationing legislation so she can meet a deadline set by the United Nations.

Boxer wants to have climate legislation out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, before the 15th Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, where the UN hopes to produce a successor climate treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol. To meet this December deadline, Senator Boxer has pushed an absurdly fast timetable for the usually-deliberative Senate. Last weekend, she introduced her “chairman’s mark” of S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. This week she conducted three days of marathon hearings. And she wants to begin a mark-up next Tuesday.

Of course, most of the deal-making will be made behind the scenes. Boxer’s strategy is to cobble together support for her bill by using the proceeds of the cap-and-trade scheme to buy off Senators otherwise inclined to vote against a massive energy tax. That’s how Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives passed energy rationing legislation.

Some Senators are wary of Boxer’s strategy. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), chair of the powerful Agriculture Committee has expressed concerns relating to the pace of cap-and-trade legislation. Republicans on the EPW Committee are so dissatisfied with Boxer’s recklessness that they’ve threatened to boycott the mark-ups next week, and thereby deprive Senator Boxer of a quorum for the mark ups.

Highlights from the Marathon Hearings

For three days this week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from over fifty witnesses on the Kerry-Boxer energy rationing bill, S. 1733, the Clean Energy and American Power Act. The written testimony and the televised hearings can be found here. Here are the highlights and lowlights:

Day 1
The highlight of the first day was Senator John Kerry’s (D-Massachusetts) testimony. Kerry co-wrote the legislation that the EPW Committee is debating, but his remarks indicate that he hasn’t yet read it. If he has, then he evidently doesn’t understand it. During his 30 minute testimony, Senator Kerry claimed that a cap-and-trade “is not a government-run program,” which is ridiculous. Cap-and-trade is a government-run scheme to ration energy. Perhaps his ignorance isn’t surprising. A month ago he told reporters, “I don’t know what cap-and-trade means,” despite having just released major cap-and-trade legislation that he authored.

Day 2
A highlight of day two was AEI’s Ken Green, who testified on the many misguided government policies that give Americans the incentive to become less resilient to global warming, should the planet ever start to warm (global temperatures haven’t increased in a decade, despite steadily increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, the supposed “cause” of climate change). Also on day two, Retired Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano, now with the Heritage Foundation, gave excellent testimony on the national security aspects of climate change mitigation policy.

Day 3
On day three, CEI’s Iain Murray testified on the international aspects of climate policy. Mr. Murray summarizes his panel here, here, and here. His testimony is available here.

Dems Ban the Evidence in “Astroturfing” Investigation

On Thursday the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held an investigative hearing on so-called “astroturfing”-deceptive grass roots campaign, created by lobbyists, and designed to fool Members of Congress into believing that there is popular support for or against a bill. The Republicans chose CEI’s Chris Horner to testify, which is a great choice, as Horner is the author of a book on dirty tactics (including astro-turfing) used by special interests to manufacture global warming alarmism. But the Democrats on the panel didn’t want to hear that, because the case for energy rationing legislation depends on global warming alarmism. So they objected to Horner as a witness. Click here for Horner’s thoughts on the panel and a copy of his forbidden testimony.

Across the States

Mainstream Media Misreports California’s Energy “Success”

Recently, both The Atlantic and Time have run lengthy stories arguing that California energy policy should be regarded as a success. As “proof,” both articles note that per-capita electricity consumption in California is 40% below the national average and attribute this “success” to energy policy. But there are many reasons for California’s relatively low per capita electricity consumption, including the state’s mild climate, urbanization and high household density. In fact, energy conservation policies account for a paltry 23 percent of the difference in electricity consumption between the average Californian and the average American, according to a recent report from Stanford University. And this percentage is largely explained by the fact that California has some of the highest electricity prices in the country, which depresses demand.

Only in California…

Next Tuesday, Californians will vote on a ballot initiative that would force all California utilities to generate at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 50% by 2025. According the Public Utilities Commission, a 33% by 2020 standard would increase electricity rates 20%.

Around the World

European Union member states today agreed to contribute a “fair share” to an international effort to pay for clean energy technologies as part of a successor treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol. But EU leaders failed to enumerate specific commitments among member states, which suggests that this “conditional agreement” is a face-saving gesture in the wake of media reports last week that negotiations would end in recriminations over burden sharing.

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.

When Senator John Kerry released a draft of S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, he told reporters, “I don’t know what cap-and-trade means.” That was a pretty strange thing to say, seeing as how he wrote the legislation, and its centerpiece is a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme.

In the month since, it doesn’t seem as though Kerry bothered to learn anything about the bill he supposedly wrote. Yesterday he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that a cap-and-trade “is not a government-run program.” Huh?!?

Perhaps the truth is too damaging politically for the Senator to countenance, so I’ll go ahead and define a cap-and-trade for you: It’s an government-run program designed to raise the price of hydrocarbon fuels that account for 85% of America’s energy. That is, it’s an energy tax.

I pay my power bill online, so whenever I get something from Dominion Virginia Power over snail mail it catches my attention. Usually, it’s some notice about utility work nearby. However, the mailing I got today was unusual. It was an appeal to sign up for Dominion’s Green Power initiative.

The scheme appears simple enough. The mailer says, “When you sign up for Dominion Green Power, you add a little extra to your monthly bill which Dominion will use to purchase certified renewable energy certificates on your behalf.”

And what does the consumer get in return? Well, that’s a good question. Dominion’s Green Power Web page features a video that features a family that “pays an extra 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and the money is used to purchase renewable energy certificates to support green energy development through a vendor called 3 Degrees.”

And what does 3 Degrees actually do? According to its website:

3Degrees enables businesses and individuals to advance their climate needs and strategies We do this by originating and providing Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Certificates and third-party certified Verified Emission Reductions (aka, carbon offsets) from around the world to help our partners reduce their environmental footprint. We also provide customized consulting services to help businesses address their climate- and energy-related challenges.

This is precisely the kind of climate policy rent-seeking that cap-and-trade policies are designed to encourage. As CEI’s Marlo Lewis has warned, this kind of “certificate” can only have value under a cap-and-trade scheme. In light of the difficulty that the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are having in pushing through climate legislation, 3 Degrees’ business model may be riskier than its founders had envisioned.

But whatever the future of climate policy, one thing is for certain: Private subsidy schemes like this net the consumer nothing tangible. And for those who do go in for that sort of thing, the warm, fuzzy feeling of feeling less guilty about helping to warm the planet must wear off fairly quickly.

Revised 10/28/09

At the first Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on S. 1733, the Kerry-Boxer “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained the economic rationale for adopting a Kyoto-style cap-and-trade program.

His argument, in a nutshell, goes like this:

  1. Reducing emissions globally will require a massive investment in “clean technologies” — an estimated $2.1 trillion in wind turbines and $1.5 trillion in solar voltaic panels by 2030. These investments will create many green jobs.
  2. “The only question is — which countries will invent, manufacture, and export these clean technologies and which will become dependent on foreign products.”
  3. The United States is falling behind. “The world’s largest turbine manufacturing company is headquartered in Denmark. 99 percent of the batteries that power America’s hybrid cars are made in Japan. We manufactured more than 40 percent of the world’s solar cells as recently as the mid-1990s; today we produce just 7 percent.”
  4. To seize the opportunity of clean tech and keep from falling farther behind, “we must enact comprehensive climate legislation,” the most important element of which is a “cap on carbon emissions that ratchets down over time. That critical step will drive investment decisions towards clean energy.”

There is so much silliness packed into Chu’s testimony that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s start with Step 1: The world will need $3.6 trillion worth of clean tech by 2030. Suppose the world does decide to reduce emissions. There’s no good reason to suppose that wind turbines and solar panels will ever contribute more than a small fraction of the “solution,” because these technologies are not economically “sustainable” — they consume more wealth than they produce.

A recent report by the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut (RWI) finds that Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has utterly failed to make wind and solar power either commercially viable or cost-effective as an emission-reduction strategy. Herewith a few highlights.

First, renewable power is a net drain on Germany’s economy:

  • Germany subsidizes solar photovoltaics (PVs) at a rate of 59¢ per kWh. That is “more than eight times higher than the wholesale electricity price at the power exchange and more than four times the feed-in tariff [subsidy] paid for electricity produced by on-shore wind turbines.”
  • “Even on-shore wind, widely regarded as a mature technology, requires feed-in tariffs [subsidies] that exceed the per-kWh cost of conventional electricity by up to 300% to remain competitive.”
  • Germany has the second-largest installed wind capacity in the world, “behind the United States,” and the largest installed PV capacity in the world. However, installed capacity is not the same as production or contribution, and “by 2008 the estimated share of wind power in Germany’s electricity production was 6.3% . . . The amount produced by solar photovoltaics was a negligible 0.6% despite being the most subsidized renewable energy, with a net cost of about 8.4 Bn € (US 12.4 Bn) for 2008.”
  • “The total net cost of subsidizing electricity production by PV modules is estimated to reach 53.3 Bn € (US $73.2 Bn) for those modules installed between 2000 and 2010. . . .wind power subsidies may total 20.5 Bn € (US $28.1 Bn) for wind converters installed between 2000 and 2020.”

Even as a carbon-reduction strategy, wind and solar power are uneconomic:

  • “Given the net cost of 41.82 Cents/kWh for PV modules installed in 2008, and assuming that PV displaces conventional electricity generated from a mixture of gas and hard coal, abatement costs are as high as 716 € (US $1,050) per tonne [of carbon dioxide].”
  • “Using the same assumptions and a net cost for wind of 3.10 Cents/kWh, the abatement cost is approximately 54 € (US $80) [per tonne CO2]. While cheaper than PV, this cost is still nearly double the ceiling of the cost of a per-ton permit under Europe’s cap-and-trade scheme.”
  • Carbon permits are trading at 13.4 € per ton. “Hence, the cost from emission reductions as determined by the market is about 53 times cheaper than employing PV and 4 times cheaper than using wind power.”
  • Germany’s “increased use of renewable energy technologies generally attains no additional emission reductions beyond those achieved by ETS [European Trading System] alone. In fact, since establishment of the ETS in 2005, the EEG’s net climate effect has been equal to zero.”

Although the EEG creates some “green jobs,” the net impact on wealth and jobs is negative:

  • “While employment projections in the renewable sector convey seemingly impressive prospects for gross job growth, they typically obscure the broader implications for economic welfare by omitting any accounting of off-setting impacts. These impacts include, but are not limited to, job losses from crowding out of cheaper forms of conventional energy generation, indirect impacts on upstream industries, additional job losses from the drain on economic activity precipitated by higher electricity prices, and consumers’ overall loss of purchasing power due to higher electricity prices, and diverting funds from other, possibly more beneficial investment.”
  • “Proponents of renewable energies often regard the requirement for more workers to produce a given amount of energy as a benefit, failing to recognize that it lowers the output potential of the economy and is hence counterproductive to net job creation.”

As my colleague Don Hertzmark observes: “If you must continually pour external resources into an energy source, then it cannot be a net source of jobs in the economy, since those resources could have gone somewhere else to create real work.”

So, yes, via mandates and subsidies, governments around the world could pump $2.1 trillion into wind turbines and $1.5 trillion into PVs. But this is an unsustainable market that will make the world poorer, not wealthier, as Chu imagines.

Okay, now for Step 2: We must choose either to make clean tech or become dependent on foreign producers. This point is silly on many levels.

  • If we don’t enact cap-and-trade, then we won’t even have to consider buying or making trillions of dollars worth of “clean tech.”
  • Even if we choose to limit emissions, the German experience indicates that investing billions (let alone trillions) in clean tech is not cost-effective.
  • Even if we do enact a cap-and-trade program, and even if clean tech becomes cost-effective, why would we want to make our own wind turbines and PVs if imported products are cheaper?
  • Chu worries the United States could become “dependent on foreign products” — as if Denmark or Japan might refuse to sell us wind turbines or hybrid cars. Even oil is not the “energy weapon” it is sometimes cracked up to be, as Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute explain.
  • Besides, Toyota makes lots of cars — including hybrids — in the United States. Similarly, although Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, is, as Chu says, ”headquartered” in Denmark, it is investing $1 billion in four Colorado plants. Chu’s fear of “dependence on foreign products” makes no sense in a globalized economy.

Step 3: The United States is falling behind in clean tech manufacture. If we’re “falling behind,” then why do Toyota and Vestas build factories here? Besides, “falling behind” is a problem only if the clean-tech industy is a net wealth-creator. As we have seen, this is not the case for wind turbines and PVs, which is why they require market-rigging subsidies, mandates, and penalties (caps or carbon taxes) levied against carbon-based energy.

If clean tech ever does become sustainable, the only legitimate role for policymakers would be to eliminate political impediments to market-driven investment. As MIT’s Thomas Lee, Ben Ball, Jr., and Richard Tabors wrote in the conclusion of Energy Aftermath, a retrospective on Carter-era energy policies:

The experience of the 1970s and 1980s taught us that if a technology is commercially viable, then government support is not needed and if a technology is not commercially viable, no amount of government support will make it so.

Step 4: To be leaders in clean tech manufacture, we must put a price on carbon — a cap that ratchets down every year.

This is convoluted. Chu began by arguing that we needed to invest in clean tech in order to reduce emissions. Now, he says we must reduce emissions to spur investment in clean tech! Apparently, if you can’t sell cap-and-trade on the basis of climate alarm, claim that it’s “about jobs.”

Another confusion — Chu suggests U.S. firms can’t or won’t develop clean-tech products for sale in the global marketplace unless the federal government boosts domestic market share by putting a price on carbon. Two problems here. First, a price on carbon does relatively little to increase the market share of wind and solar power, because even with a price on carbon to handicap fossil energy, renewable power is still uncompetitive. That’s why the Waxman-Markey bill includes a renewable portfolio standard in addition to a cap-and-trade program.

Second, a booming domestic market for a product is not a prerequisite to success in exporting that product. In the 1980s, the Asian Tigers produced enormous quantities of exports that were not widely purchased, and in some cases not even offered for sale, in domestic markets. If clean-tech products yield high returns in the global marketplace, enterprising U.S. firms will get into the game even if the products do not have a big market in the United States.

The irony is that a cap-and-trade program could actually be counter-productive to the development of an export-oriented clean-tech sector. Low-cost energy is a source of competitive advantage. By increasing energy costs, cap-and-trade would make all U.S.-based manufacture less competitive, including companies specializing in clean-tech products.

Yesterday the Cooler Heads Coalition hosted Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Video of Dr. Lindzen’s presentation, “Deconstructing Global Warming,” will be available shortly, but his power point presentation is online now.

Today, on MasterResource.Org, the free-market energy blog, I examine the Kerry-Boxer bill’s not-so-hidden fangs.

Like its House companion bill, Waxman-Markey, Title VII, Part A of Kerry-Boxer contains language that will:

  1. encourage CO2 tort litigation against businesses smaller than those subject to the cap-and-trade program, and
  2. pressure policymakers to “move the goal posts” (amend the legislation to tighten the caps).

 Bottom Line: The costs of climate legislation may greatly exceed the most pessimistic estimates of recent modeling studies. Those looking for “regulatory certainty” in these bills haven’t read the fine print.

A few years ago, environmental guru, Merry Prankster, and Whole Earth Catalog author Stewart Brand caused a minor stir with an article he wrote in the MIT publication, Technology Review.  Brand, who was an early advocate of the “back to the land” movement of the 1960s and 1970s, had done some re-thinking, and concluded that environmentalist opposition to things like urbanization, population growth, biotechnology, and nuclear power generation, was wrong and needed to change.

Now, Brand has written a new book, called Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, in which he takes on these environmental shibboleths in a more concerted fashion.  On American Public Radio’s Marketplace program yesterday, host Kai Ryssdal discussed the new book with Brand.  Asked what prompted him to write the book, Brand said that,

“My fellow environmentalists have been wrong about a couple of issues and were getting in the way of important things we should be doing, both with biotechnology and with nuclear technology, and in terms of how we think about cities, and in terms of how I know we’re going to think about geoengineering–that is, direct intervention in the climate.”

Ryssdal contrasted Brand’s earlier support for the back to the land movement with his current belief that big cities are better for the environment.

“Not only big cities, but big slums … that’s how [poor people in the developing world] are getting out of poverty.  They’re emptying out a lot of the subsistence farms that have been tough on the landscape all over the world, moving into towns for opportunity, building jobs for each other.  They’re also moving up what’s called the energy ladder, toward more and better grid electricity.  By and large the cities are probably the greenest thing that humans do.”

On his support for biotech crops, Brand said,

“Already, the crops we have now, the herbicide-tolerant and the insect-resistant crops … [are] getting what amounts to higher yields. You can raise more food on less land, and all of that is good for ecology in general and the climate particularly.”

Challenged that critics call them Frankenfoods, Brand replied,

“The idea there was that Dr. Frankenstein was doing something against nature, and that somehow the genetically engineered food crops are against nature.  And as a biologist, I’m just baffled by that line of argument because agriculture has been in that sense against nature for 10,000 years. That we’re finally able to do more precise tuning of the crops is a huge gain, not a loss.”

A quick point to add to Fran Smith’s excellent post on Sweden’s experiment in labeling food and menus for their carbon footprints: don’t read too much into the labels.

The New York Times notes that “the emissions impact of, say, a carrot, can vary by a factor of 10, depending how and where it is grown.” With that much imprecision built in, if the labels change consumer behavior as much as supporters hope, it’s entirely possible that eco-concsious diets could result in more carbon emissions, not less. A classic case of leaping before you look.

This new religion is a piece of work. It comes complete with a deity (Gaia), clergy (activists), indulgences (carbon credits), and now, dietary restrictions.

Next week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold three hearings on S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” also known as Kerry-Boxer after its co-sponsors Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Kerry-Boxer is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), also known as Waxman-Markey after its co-sponsors Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA).

Part A of Title VII of Kerry-Boxer sets forth the emission reduction targets and timetables of the bill’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program. It is nearly identical to the corresponding section of the Waxman-Markey bill, the main substantive difference being a tougher emissions reduction target for the year 2020. Waxman-Markey requires a 17% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020; Kerry-Boxer, a 20% reduction. 

It would be a mistake, though, to suppose that those numbers reflect the full extent of the regulatory burdens Title VII Part A could impose on the U.S. economy. Identical language in both bills could (1) unleash a torrent of lawsuits against tens of thousands of relatively small emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), and (2) put pressure on future presidents and congresses to adopt substantially tougher emission reduction targets. 

Section 701 Findings: Setup for CO2 Tort Litigation

Under the Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey bill, business entities would be subject to the cap-and-trade program only if they emit at least 25,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2-e) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So on superficial inspection, if you are small manufacturer or just about any type of non-industrial facility, you will have no emission reduction obligations. That perception helps the bills’ proponents divide-and-conquer the business community.

In reality, the Findings in Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey are the setup for litigation demanding additional emission reductions beyond those specified in the bills’ cap-and-trade programs. This is particularly worrisome because state attorneys general and environmental groups are already suing energy companies under tort law for emitting CO2.

The Findings say that “each increment of emission … causes or contributes … to the acceleration and extent of global warming and its adverse effects,” and “accordingly, controlling emissions in small as well as large quantities is essential” to reduce “threats” and “injuries,” including disease, death, property damage, bad weather, business losses; harm to forest, plants, wildlife, water resources, and air quality; and – as if that list weren’t inclusive enough — “other harm.”
Worse, the Findings go on to equate risk of harm with actual harm: “the fact that some of the adverse and potentially catastrophic effects of global warming are at risk of occurring and not a certainty does not negate the harm persons suffer from actions that increase the likelihood, extent, and severity of future impacts.” Get that? All plaintiffs will need is some remote, speculative possibility of catastrophic impacts — and of course that’s what the global warming scare is all about — and voila, harm has been done, injuries cry out for redress.
If the language in the Findings becomes the law of the land, there will be no stopping the flood of common law nuisance suits. Any increment of emissions, no matter how small, will be deemed to cause or contribute to global warming and its harmful effects. And even if no harm can be proved, the risk of harm will count as actual injury.

Bottom line: Although EPA, initially, may only regulate entities emitting at least 25,000 tons of CO2-e per year, the Findings implicitly authorize litigation targeting vast numbers of small entities.

Section 705 Review and Program Recommendations: Setup for Moving Goal Posts
There’s a lot of mischief in this section, too. To begin with, Sec. 705 requires the EPA Administrator, every four years, to address “existing scientific information and reports, considering, to the greatest extent possible, the most recent assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reports by the United States Global Change Research Program … ” This provision will turn EPA into an even more uncritical rubber stamp for the IPCC and USGCRP than it already is. More than ever, IPCC and USGCRP will write their reports to influence U.S. policy (i.e. they will be even more politicized) and their influence will increase. Cheer if you like agenda-driven science!
Sec. 705 also requires EPA to report on annual emissions and annual per-capita emissions by country. Not a word, though, about tracking emission intensity (greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of output) by country. In other words, the metrics have been selected to paint the United States in the worst possible light.
Also, as you’d expect, the Administrator is required to assess the impacts of climate change on everything under the Sun — populations, health, livelihoods, tribal culture, weather, fresh water, ecosystems, agriculture, etc. — but there is no requirement to assess the impacts of climate policy on anything. This despite a requirement that the Administrator use a “risk management framework.”
Similarly, the Administrator is supposed to assess the potential non-linear, abrupt, or essentially irreversible changes in the climate system but he is under no corresponding obligation to assess factors that might stabilize the climate and counteract the forcing effects of greenhouse gases.
Now here’s where it gets serious. The Administrator is also required to assess what terrible things won’t be prevented by limiting CO2 equivalent emissions to 450 ppm or global warming to 2°C (3.6°F) beyond pre-industrial temperatures. This sets up the Administrator to advocate 350 as the new 450. It specifically requires the Administrator to identify “alternative thresholds or targets that may more effectively limit the risks” of climate change.
Similarly, the Administrator must assess whether the Kerry-Boxer bill, taking into account international actions and commitments, is sufficient to limit GHG concentrations to 450 ppm and global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, or whether ”other temperature or greenhouse gas thresholds identified” by the Administrator would be more protective.
So the U.S. Climate Action Partnership gang are naive if they think the Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey emission reduction targets, once enacted, will be set in stone. These bills are just the framework for more aggressive emission reduction requirements to come. Regulatory certainty is an illusion.
Perhaps because some people just don’t trust EPA — imagine that! — Kerry-Boxer requires the National Academy of Science (NAS) to undertake a similar four-year review of climate science and policy. If the NAS concludes that the United States will not meet the Kerry-Boxer targets, or that 450 ppm and 2°C are not sufficiently protective, the President “shall” submit a plan to Congress identifying the domestic and international actions that will achieve the additional reductions. This language implicitly makes the president a handmaid of the National Academy. Once Jim Hansen and his NAS buddies decide that 350 is the new 450, the president “shall” submit a plan explaining how we get there.

Much of the debate on Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey has centered on the bills’ emission reduction targets. Meeting those targets could destroy millions of jobs. The not-so-hidden fangs lurking in Sections 701 and 705 pose additional significant threats to the economy — and provide additional reasons to oppose such legislation.

In the News

Kerry’s Climate Strategy: An Ugly Repeat
William Yeatman & Jeremy Lott, American Spectator, 23 October 2009

The Chicago Way
Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal, 22 October 2009

WWF Extends Dire Consequences Deadline
Paul Chesser, GlobalWarming.org, 23 October 2009

The View from Vanuatu on Climate Change
Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal, 23 October 2009

Apple, Nike, and the U.S. Chamber
Myron Ebell, Wall Street Journal, 22 October 2009

Wellesley Walkout
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 22 October 2009

Tiny Bat Pits Green against Green
Maria Glod, Washington Post, 22 October 2009

Data Deflates Threat Multiplier Hype
Marlo Lewis, OpenMarket.org, 21 October 2009

China, India Form a Negotiating Bloc for Copenhagen
BBC News
, 21 October 2009

Time for Inaction on Cap-and-Trade
Pete DuPont, Wall Street Journal, 20 October 2009

Understanding the Copenhagen Climate Conference: The Fix Is in
Roger Pielke Jr., Energy Tribune, 20 October 2009

Cap-and-Trade Is a Costly Non-Solution
Sen. James Inhofe, Roll Call, 19 October 2009

Setting ‘The Economist’ Straight on Climate Change
Indur Goklany, MasterResource.org, 17 October 2009

Not Evil Just Wrong: A Cinematic Tea Party
Alicia Cohn, Human Events, 16 October 2009

News You Can Use

Pew Poll: People Are Paying Attention

Only 36% of Americans believe in man-made global warming, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center. That’s down from 47% a year ago.

Here’s Why:

A new Public Strategies/Politico poll asks what is the “most important issue in deciding [your] vote if the congressional election were held today?”, and found that 45% of respondents said that the economy was the most important issue, while only 4% said global warming. Of those polled, 62 percent agreed that “economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.”

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Senate Hearings on Kerry-Boxer

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding three full days of hearings next week on the Kerry-Boxer energy-rationing bill-S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.  My CEI colleague, Iain Murray, is one of 53 witnesses (by my count) who have been invited to testify.  You can find the whole witness list on the EPW committee’s web site.  It appears to be Chairman Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) intention to mark up the bill and pass it out of committee some time in November between election day, 3rd November, and the Thanksgiving recess.

That is probably as far as the bill will get this year.  Senator John Kerry is working hard to make deals for votes, but the latest count shows that he is still far short of the sixty votes needed to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote on the Senate floor.  According to Environment and Energy Daily, the number of undecided votes has increased (subscription required).  I think this is because two related realities are sinking in.  Energy rationing is going to be very expensive for consumers.  And voters (who are also consumers) dislike cap-and-trade more the more they find out about what it is.  Mother Jones Magazine explains the declining poll numbers as due to the fact that “climate change skeptics are dominating in the language battle.”  Which is another way of saying that people are finding out that cap-and-trade is a tax on them.  That’s why Senator Kerry said, “I don’t know what cap-and-trade means,” and is now calling it “pollution reduction and investment” in his bill.  Another factor that will probably keep the bill off the floor this fall even if Kerry rounds up the votes is that the Senate calendar is still jammed with appropriations conference reports and the health care legislation.

The Gore Effect?

The Washington Post had a small item at the bottom of page B5 in its 17th October issue: “Something happened in Washington that had not occurred in 138 years of weather history: for the first time since the National Weather Service began compiling daily data here, the high temperature for Oct. 16 was below 50 degrees.”  In fact, the high was 45 degrees.  That’s 23 degrees below normal and 37 below last year’s high, according to the Post.

It may only be a co-incidence, but I have it on good authority that former Vice President Al Gore was inside the Beltway last Friday, 16th October, to do a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, Creigh Deeds, at a private house in McLean, Va.  But as I say, that could just be a co-incidence.

More Hijinks

A left-wing prankster group, the Yes Men, held a press conference at the National Press Club Monday morning to announce that the U. S. Chamber of Commerce had changed its position and was now supporting the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer energy-rationing legislation.  They represented themselves as officials of the Chamber.  Several news outlets fell for it and rushed out with e-mails and web postings.  I hope they feel very foolish.  As it happens, the House Select Committee on Energy and Independence is holding a hearing next week on another recent hoax-forged letters of opposition to Waxman-Markey sent to several Members of Congress purportedly from local minority groups.

Across the States

Marlo Lewis

California Court Dismisses Global Warming Nuisance Lawsuit

In another chapter in the continuing saga of whether energy companies can be sued under tort law for emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs), a federal district court in California yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Kivalina Alaska Native Village and others against a large number of energy companies.  The Court became the fourth federal district court to find, in essence, that there is no common law nuisance tort of global warming.  One of those district court decisions, however, was recently reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the Connecticut v. AEP case, which we reported on extensively in a previous client alert available at the link provided below….read the rest.

EPA Assaults Appalachian Coal (Again)

The Environmental Protection Agency this week took the unprecedented step of revoking a Clean Water Act permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to a surface coal mining project in West Virginia. It’s the first time in the 37-year history of the CWA that the EPA has revoked a permit that had been issued. This comes on the heels of the EPA’s decision last month to review pending permits for surface mining in Appalachia. All told, the EPA’s anti-mining actions threaten to shut down surface coal production in Appalachia, which sustains 80,000 jobs. The EPA’s justification is outrageous-it is acting against the coal industry to protect mayfly populations, a bug that lives for a day. It has been alleged by EPA that populations of some species of mayflies are declining as a result of surface mining projects. None of these species is listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.