January 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, Scott Brown’s election is making the Democrats do all kinds of things that they wouldn’t have considered even last week. Bloomberg reports that cap-and-trade is dead (citing California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for one) for this year, so the Dems’ thinking is to try and move some of the alt-energy initiatives into a jobs bill:

Chief executives officers of Exelon Corp., Nike Inc., and 81 other companies [yesterday] urged Obama and lawmakers to enact climate legislation. In a letter, the group called for “strong policies and clear market signals that support the transition to a low-carbon economy and reward companies that innovate.”

The new Senate version of the jobs bill may include funding for a “cash for caulkers” program providing grants to make homes more energy efficient, said Lowell Ungar, policy director for the Washington-based Alliance to Save Energy.

“The money will run out from the recovery act and if there’s not further legislation to push these retrofits, there’s a real risk that the infrastructure we’re creating right now will wither,” Ungar said in an interview. “The people who are being trained right now to do these retrofits will no longer have jobs.”

Translation: “Rewarding companies that innovate” means giving them taxpayer dollars or else they’ll go out of business. Mr. Ungar could not have said it more plainly.

In the News

Will Cass Sunstein Stand Up to EPA?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 22 January 2010

A New Path for the Sierra Club: Agitation
Carter Wood, Shop Floor, 21 January 2010

Michael Mann’s Climate Stimulus
Wall Street Journal
editorial, 20 January 2010

An Environmental Tea Party Brewing against Wind Power?
Robert Bradley, MasterResource.org, 20 January 2010

How Many Taxpayer Dollars Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?
Greg Pollowitz, Planet Gore, 20 January 2010

Climate Change and National Security
William Yeatman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 January 2010

With Dems Doomed, Why Not Address Climate Change?
The New Republic
editorial, 16 January 2010

Global Warming and Wealth: Lessons from Haiti
Daren Bakst, GlobalWarming.org, 15 January 2010

Senator-elect Brown Opposes Energy-Rationing
Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe, 17 December 2010

News You Can Use


The Sunday Times of London broke the news this week that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-the so-called “scientific consensus”-misled the world on the stability of the Himalayan glaciers in its Nobel-prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report. According to the Sunday Times, the IPCC claimed that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, citing a World Wildlife Fund press release (which, in turn, cited a magazine article interview from six years prior). Glaciologists consider this claim “ludicrous,” yet it still passed through the IPCC’s supposedly rigorous peer review (and, if you believe the IPCC, was agreed to unanimously by thousands of top climate scientists). Then again, many of the IPCC’s authors and editors are key players in the ongoing Climategate scandal.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Update on EPA Reform

On Thursday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced a resolution to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.  Thirty-eight Senators, including three Democrats, signed on as original co-sponsors.  The Democrats are Senators Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), and Ben Nelson (Neb.).

The resolution of disapproval would suspend EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  It was introduced under the special rules of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), meaning Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cannot block it coming to the floor for an up-or-down vote and that only a simple majority is required for passage.

It’s not clear when Murkowski will bring her resolution to the floor.  Under the CRA, she has sixty legislative days after EPA transmitted the endangerment finding to Congress.  That gives her to early May by my rough guess of the Senate schedule.  I estimate the Senate will pass the disapproval resolution with around 55 votes.  The House has no special CRA rules, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) can prevent it from coming to the floor for a vote.  This means that Murkowski’s resolution isn’t going to be enacted this year.  However, Senate passage would send a clear message to the Obama Administration and set up efforts later in the year to offer an amendment to the EPA appropriations bill to withhold funds for regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

The most revealing initial response was from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  Boxer was quoted in a Washington Post story by Juliet Eilperin that the resolution was “a direct assault on the health of the American people,” and that if the public had to wait for the Congress to pass climate legislation “that might not happen, in a year or two, or five or six or eight or ten.”  This suggests that even the Senator from Fantasy-land now recognizes that cap-and-trade legislation is dead for this year and possibly for years to come.

Speaking of California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the majority and minority leaders of the California legislature brought their begging bowl to Washington this week.  They were asking for a few billions from Congress to help bail them out of their continuing budget crisis.  I think Members of Congress would be more sympathetic to this request if California’s leaders were taking serious steps to undo some of the policies that have put their State into economic freefall, including California’s global warming policies to ration energy.

Around the World

Solar Subsidies Slashed in Germany

The German government this week slashed taxpayer subsidies for solar power. The Federation of Renewable Energy, the leading lobby for solar power producers, said in a statement, “The proposed cut threatens the foundations of the German solar industry.”

UN Kicks the Climate Can down the Road

Under the Copenhagen Accord, signatory nations had until January 31st to submit non-binding emissions-reductions commitments, but this week Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the deadline “soft” and “flexible,” which means it will be ignored, just like every prior deadline established by the UNFCCC.

Today, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Sam Graves (R-MO), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) sent a letter to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Cass Sunstein sharply critical of EPA’s December 7, 2009 finding that “air pollution” from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) endangers public health and welfare. 

“On the basis of EPA’s endangerment finding,” the legislators warn, “virtually every economic activity undertaken in America stands to come under the thumb of federal regulation.” They explain: “These actions begin with EPA’s and the Department of Transportation’s proposed new light vehicle emission standards, continue through greenhouse gas (GHG) preconstruction and operating permit requirements for stationary sources and extend as far as the mind can contemplate.” They continue: “In these ways, EPA threatens to burden our economy with vastly expanded regulation not contemplated by Congress when it passed the Clean Air Act.” 

Yes, indeed. As I discuss here and here, EPA’s endangerment finding starts a regulatory cascade that could (1) subject tens of thousands of previously unregulated small businesses to Clean Air Act (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting regulations, (2) subject millions of small businesses to CAA Title V operating permit requirements, and (3) compel EPA to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) that would effectively require the United States to de-industrialize. The Supreme Court pushed EPA to make the endangerment finding in its April 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision.

The four Members of Congress ask OIRA chief Sunstein to make EPA convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel to develop and evaluate regulatory alternatives to mimimize the endangerment finding’s impacts on small business. Until and unless EPA does this, the lawmakers say, the endangerment finding should be “withdrawn.”

The representatives acknowledge that EPA’s proposed October 2009 Tailoring Rule  “seeks to delay for a handful of years the imposition of requirements on sources emitting less than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.” However, this fix is by design temporary, and it is legally dubious, since EPA would be flouting clear statutory language. Under the CAA, entities must obtain a PSD permit in order to construct or modify a facility with a potential to emit 250 tons per year of a CAA-regulated air pollutant, and a Title V permit in order to operate a facility with a potential to emit 100 tons per year.

EPA estimates that if these provisions are enforced as written, the number of entities applying for PSD permits would jump from 280 to 41,000 per year, and the number applying for Title V permits would jump from 14,700 to 6.1 million per year. The flood of permit applications would overwhelm agency administrative resources, the permitting programs would implode under their own weight, construction activity would grind to a halt, and millions of firms would find themselves in legal limbo — all in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  

It will be interesting to see how Sunstein responds to the lawmakers’ letter. Will he stick up for small business and honor the spirit of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), or will he bless EPA’s evasive legal semantics? 

Under the RFA, agencies are to convene a small business review panel unless the agency head certifies that the proposed regulation will not have a “significant impact upon a substantial number of small entities.”  In a recent year, each PSD permit on average cost $125,120 and 866 burden hours for sources to obtain (just the paperwork and administrative costs, exclusive of any associated technology investments). The going rate for Title V administrative fees is $43.75 per ton, implying a virtual carbon tax (exclusive of administrative expenses) of $4,375 for a small business emitting 100 tons of CO2 per year. The Tailoring Rule estimates (p. 55338) that if small sources of CO2 must comply with the law as written, rather than as doctored by EPA, they will incur an expense of more than $38 billion just for Title V compliance over the next six years.  A significant economic impact by any standard.

Note also that the $38 billion figure refers just to the direct expenses small firms would incur to comply with Title V. It does not include the reduced output and job losses due to the diversion of resources to regulatory compliance. Nor does it include the loss of investment in firms that, due to their sheer number, face years of delay and uncertainty in obtaining permits to build or operate their facilities.

The endangerment finding is what tees up all these costs and consequences, so you’d think it would be a no brainer that it has ”significant impact upon a substantial number of small entities.”

Well, EPA says otherwise. In the Endangerment Finding (p. 66545), Administrator Lisa Jackson certifies that EPA’s findings “do not in-and-of-themselves” impose new requirements on small entities. Hence, there’s no need for an RFA review panel. Similarly, EPA’s GHG motor vehicle standards proposal (p. 49628) certifies that it would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities, since the standards would apply to automakers, very few of which are small businesses.

By making new cars more costly, however, the rule could adversely affect thousands of auto dealers, most of whom are small businesses. EPA says not a word about that potential impact. More importantly, the GHG motor vehicle standards are what directly trigger the PSD and Title V requirements.

EPA says the Tailoring Rule (p. 55349) won’t have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities, because it “will relieve the regulatory burden associated the PSD and Title V operating programs for new and modified major sources that emit GHGs, including small businesses.” So EPA acknowledges there is a burden to be relieved — a PSD/Title V burden. Where does that come from?  The endangerment finding and the GHG motor vehicle emissions rule. Yet EPA claims those actions have no impact of any consequence for small business.   

Isn’t legal hair-splitting grand? Of course, the findings “in-and-0f-themselves” regulate nothing — but they compel the adoption of GHG motor vehicle standards under CAA Sec. 202, which then automatically trigger pre-construction permitting requirements under Secs. 160-160 and operating permit requirements under Secs. 501-507.

The endangerment finding also sets the stage for regulation of GHG emissions from motor fuels under CAA Sec. 211, non-road engines and vehicles under Sec. 231, the establishment of GHG new source performance standards (NSPS) for scores of industrial source categories under Sec. 111, and the establishment of economy-wide NAAQS regulation of GHGs under Secs. 107-110.  ”Yes, Your Honor, I pulled the trigger, but I am innocent; the bullet killed the man!”

And if litigation and the logic of the CAA compel EPA to establish NAAQS for CO2 and other GHGs, which could easily qualify as the most expensive rulemaking in history, you can bet your bottom dollar what EPA will say. There’s no significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses, because NAAQS “in-and-of-themselves” don’t regulate anybody. The actual regulation of businesses large and small will be done by the states, through their State Implementation Plans (SIPs). “Once the rockets are up who cares where they come down, that’s not my department,” says Wernher Von Braun.

Small business clearly needs an advocate in the room and at the table whenever EPA deliberates about any regulatory action pertaining to greenhouse gases and CO2. Congress enacted the RFA to protect small business from regulatory excess. Right now it’s not working. Cass Sunstein has an opportunity to ensure that small businesses have a say in regulatory decisions affecting their very survival. He should seize it.

“The glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, a large number of them may disappear by 2035 because of climate change.” Such was the lede of one of countless articles about how 1.3 billion Asians were in imminent danger of first flooding and then drought. And that’s not to mention the certain extinction of the abominable snowman.

You didn’t need a Cray computer to figure that this was nonsense, that temperatures would have to more or less instantly soar to incredible heights and stay there for this to happen. (As it turns out, 18 degrees Centigrade.) But people wrote it, read it, and believed it. You’d think a magazine with the name Technology Review would know better, yet its latest issue declares: “The Himalayan glaciers that feed rivers in India, China, and other Asian countries could be gone in 25 years.”

Why did they say it? In part, because it was convenient. And in part because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it in its Fourth Assessment Report (2007). Now the IPCC is saying, “Whoopsie!”

In a statement released on Wednesday, the group admitted “poorly substantiated estimates.” More specifically, it appears to have been based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published in 1999. That story, in turn, was based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist in Delhi. And Hasnain has since admitted his assertion “speculation” unsupported by any formal research.

The IPCC says it will “probably” issue a formal correction. “Probably?”

But admit it guys, wasn’t it fun while it lasted?

Scott Brown’s decisive victory in the Massachusetts Senate race has upturned the Democrats’ Progressive agenda.  Brown, “the people’s seat” senator, had a resonant message that tapped into the electorate’s disenchantment with ever-increasing government (with the health care proposals figuring strongly), huge deficit spending, and increased taxes to pay for the trillions of dollars in new government programs. Jobs and the economy were an overarching issue.

It was a populist victory that carried many of the themes of the “Tea Party” movement, which, so far, haven’t been promoted by either party.  If the Republicans don’t latch onto those themes with an agenda of their own, they really are the “dumb Party.”

What’s a cause for concern, however, is how the Democrats are likely to embrace people’s fear and anger by taking up their own populist cudgel to even more vigorously attack capitalism, consumer choice, and any and all Big Business entities.

There indeed is fierce popular anger at bank bailouts and big bonuses – Wall Street has become a synonym for greed and arrogance that caused the financial meltdown, with little recognition that government and quasi-government entities like the Federal Reserve and Fannie and Freddie contributed to the financial problems.

Though some banks deserve much of the public disapprobrium because of their mismanagement and sellout on TARP funds, even those banks that were healthy or fought their own way back to solvency are being asked to pick up the tab for their less-responsible brethren. Expect the Democrats to exact more such retribution from banks — in the name of the people.

In addressing the big issues of jobs and the economy, the Democrats will have a hard time spending more money on stimulus packages that seem to evaporate before any jobs are created. But there will probably be an even bigger push for “green jobs.” Democratic leadership may decide that a massive and economically destructive cap-and-trade bill isn’t feasible in this political climate.  They may look to more “green jobs” and “alternative fuels” boondoggles through taxes and fees on fossil fuel industries as a better way to sell the idea of restrictions on and higher costs for energy use. Yet those subsidized jobs themselves are costly, as the Wall Street Journal noted in mid-December 2009 about the 253,000 of direct jobs created:

The 253,000 direct jobs works out to a cost of about $90,000 a head-just for one year. Clean-energy manufacturing jobs are even more expensive to create, costing about $135,000 per job.

It will be difficult to relate the Democrats’ health care proposals to jobs and the economy when the costs are projected by the Congressional Budget Office at $1 trillion in additional federal spending over the next 10 years. But that figure – while astronomical — doesn’t include the states’ mandates, which will cost $25 billion more over 10 years or the unknown costs of the mandates for individuals and employers to buy insurance. Those costs will be paid for by increased yet hidden taxes – and not just on the so-called rich.

Plus, the closed-door negotiations on the bills have resulted in deals that most people consider unfair and outrageous, for instance, Nebraska is the only state that won’t have to pay future unfunded Medicare and Medicaid mandates; Louisiana gets $300 million for agreeing to support the Senate bill; and union members don’t have to pay “Cadillac-plan” taxes on their generous health care plans. These proposals will actually hold back job creation by causing uncertainty among both small and large businesses and thus reluctance to expand jobs. And taxpayers rightly understand that they will bear the increased costs.

In the wake of Scott Brown’s election, whether the Democrats will continue their shenanigans on their health care proposals isn’t yet clear.  Right now, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Recently, CEI’s president Fred Smith wrote an article titled “Change we can really believe in,” which sets out a blueprint to stimulate the economy by liberating it.  Fred must have been prescient when he wrote this on January 4 — before the surge for Scott Brown:

This year holds promise for a new start for America. As 2010 begins, we may be teetering on a cliff, but Americans aren’t lemmings. Support for statist policies is dropping, and taxpayer anger is growing. There is a renewed understanding that the limitations on government of the Constitution are the best protections of our liberties. Their restoration should be the primary hopeful change advanced by all friends of liberty.

A pithy column in Foreign Policy by the Breakthrough Institute’s Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger says that ”twice-fooled” Democrats, who have been “BTUed” by two Democratic administrations, “are unlikely to sign up for more of the same in the next Congress” (cap-and-trade being the regulatory form of a BTU tax on carbon-based energy).  

The phrase “BTUed” calls to mind Paul Simon’s great ’60s cut-the-hype, get-out-of-my-face folk anthem, A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission), and inspired me to attempt a bit of musical parody. Here it is, with apologies to Rhymin’ Simon:

I been Al Gore’d and Yvo de Boer’d.
I been Rajendra Pauchauri’d and regulatory’d.
I been UN’d and CRU’d till I’m blind.
I been Climategated and often hated
Called a skeptic ‘cause I follow the data
That’s what real science is about, well, never mind!
I been BTU’d and cap-and-traded.
I been Hockey Sticked, Hide-the-Decline-Tricked.
Well, I paid all the taxes I want to pay.
And I learned to doubt by debating these louts,
And offsets don’t mean no regrets,
So I blog about Gorethodoxy each day.

Richard Morrison, Jeremy Lott and the American Spectator’s Joseph Lawler assemble to bring you Episode 77 of the LibertyWeek podcast. We talk about Myron Ebell’s recent global warming debate during the Detroit Auto Show and the future of cap and trade in Congress. Segment starts approx. 12:30 into the show.

Dr. Rob Bradley, CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, documents in Political Capitalism how fraud and corruption at Enron were the inevitable consequence of a business strategy emphasizing the political pursuit of market-rigging regulations as a strategy to reap windfall profits and grow market share.

Enron, for example, was a key lobbyist for the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty calculated to increase demand for Enron’s services as a natural gas distributor, renewable energy seller, and cap-and-trade broker.

Today at MasterResource, the free-market energy blog, Bradley reveals that Enron also spearheaded the push for renewable energy mandates that made Texas the leading windpower state in the country.

Bradley worked at Enron for 16 years and frequently clashed with senior management over its infatuation with get-rich-quick green energy schemes. “Oh how sad I am that Enron purchased Zond [Corporation, a struggling wind energy company] and did so much to enable the artificial windpower boom in Texas and United States,” he writes.

The tragedy in Haiti can teach us something about the extreme policies of global warming alarmists.

The 1989 San Francisco earthquake measured a 7.1 on the Richter scale and the death toll was 62 people killed.

The recent earthquake in Haiti was measured at 7.0 on the Richter scale and the death toll could reach 50,000-100,00 people killed.

Why did Haiti suffer so many more lost lives than San Francisco?  The answer is  the country doesn’t possess the wealth necessary to build better infrastructure.

Yet, the alarmists want to push policies, such as cap and trade, which would drastically reduce our wealth.  They want countries like Haiti and other developing countries to take steps to reduce carbon emissions at the expense of their national well-being, including their health and infrastructure.

If we want to best survive the impact of natural disasters, wealth generation is the best means to do so.  Ask Haitians if they would have preferred to be in Port-Au-Prince or San Francisco when the earthquakes hit.

Assuming (for the sake of it) that global warming will lead to natural disasters, building better infrastructure and adapting to any changes is a far wiser choice than pushing policies that will have no measurable impact on global temperature while undermining any chance countries like Haiti would have to protect themselves from such disasters.

Pushing damaging policies that undermine wealth generation and having the arrogance to impose those policies on nations like Haiti is unethical, to say the least. If developing countries have to give up what we as Americans already enjoy, such as good infrastructure, the death toll for what should be relatively minor earthquakes will remain astronomical.

In the News

EPA Sniffs Smog
Iain Murray & Roger Abbott, American Spectator, 14 January 2010

Don’t Like the Numbers? Change Them
Michael Boskin, Wall Street Journal, 14 January 2010

Secret Science from the CIA?
William Yeatman, Washington Times, 13 January 2010

Obama’s Green Jobs Fantasy
Vincent Carroll, Denver Post, 13 January 2010

Post Climategate, A Brave New World
Paul Chesser, GlobalWarming.org, 13 January 2010

We Need Much More Debate on Global Warming
Detroit News
editorial, 13 January 2010

(Video) CEI’s Myron Ebell Debates Climate Change at Detroit Auto Show
Detroit News
, 12 January 2010

Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Jobs Act Is a Mistake
William Yeatman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 12 January 2010

CEI’s Horner Addresses American Farm Bureau Meeting
Farm Bureau News
, 10 January 2010

Farm Bureau Declares Opposition to Climate “Power Grab”
Allison Winter, New York Times, 11 January 2010

Obama Regulates Away Jobs
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, RealClearMarkets.com, 11 January 2010

States Want Delay on Emissions Rules
Ian Talley & Stephen Power, Wall Street Journal, 11 January 2010

Houston’s Climategate Debate
Robert Bradley, MasterResource.org, 10 January 2010

News You Can Use

Cold Kills Citrus Crop

Orange juice is going to get a lot more expensive, thanks to record cold temperatures in Florida that threaten the Sunshine State’s citrus crop. According to the National Weather Service, Florida’s string of 12 consecutive sub-freezing days this January is the longest in a century. Must be the global warming.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Murkowski Pushes EPA Reform in Senate

It now appears almost certain that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will offer a privileged motion under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to disapprove the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cannot keep it off the floor, and it only requires a majority to pass.  Murkowski has the votes, but the House is under no obligation to take it up.  Still, a Senate vote against the endangerment finding will be a powerful rebuke to the Obama Administration, will put Senators on the record, and will lay the groundwork for an amendment to an appropriation bill cutting off funding for EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  Under the CRA, Murkowski has sixty legislative days to offer the motion, so it could happen between now and around early May.

Senator Murkowski also secured an agreement with Majority Leader Reid just before Christmas that allows her to offer a climate-related amendment to the bill to raise the ceiling on the national debt.  That bill is scheduled to come to the floor on 20th January.  It’s not clear what that amendment might be.  This week her staff floated the idea that she might demand a vote on the Kerry-Boxer energy-rationing bill, S. 1733.  Supporters of Kerry-Boxer panicked.  Here’s what Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress said to Robin Bravender of Environment and Energy News PM (subscription required):

“What she’s trying to do is force Democrats to vote against a bill that is clearly one that is not ripe to be brought to the Senate floor,” said Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, noting that the bill was intended to be combined with an energy bill aimed at lowering energy costs and spurring investments in technology.

“This is Lisa Murkowski giving the finger to those who believe we need to reduce global warming pollution because this is not a serious proposal,” Weiss said.

It’s interesting that Kerry-Boxer is not ready to go to the Senate floor.  I wonder why the Environment and Public Works Committee marked it up and sent it to the Senate floor in November on a vote of 11 to 1.  The no vote was from Democrat Max Baucus (D-Mont.), while the Republicans on the committee, led by ranking Republican James Inhofe (R-Okla.), boycotted the mark-up because-among other good reasons-they said the bill wasn’t ready to go to the Senate floor.  I don’t recall Weiss agreeing with the Republicans then, but perhaps he has had time to reflect and realize the wisdom of their position.

I cannot imagine that Murkowski will actually offer the Kerry-Boxer bill as an amendment to the debt ceiling bill because it would be purely symbolic and would allow Democrats to provide cover for themselves by voting against it.  Those who did so could then later vote for another version of the bill and argue that they voted against a bad cap-and-trade bill, which consequently had been so much improved (with more payoffs to big business special interests in their States) that they could now vote for it.  My guess is that, failing to find a substantive amendment that can get sixty votes, she might not offer any amendment next week.

Climategate Update

Julie Walsh, Freedom Action

Mann-made Warming

You and I paid for furtherance of “climate science.” Yes, a half million dollars of the stimulus funds went to Michael Mann, a scientist from Penn State implicated in the climategate scandal. Cooler Heads Coalition member National Center for Public Policy Research is demanding that these funds be returned to the U.S. Treasury, pending the results of investigations into his actions. In fact, Mann and his colleagues received almost $6 million from us over the years.

Climategate Scandal Broadens

Certified consulting meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo of Icecap.us and a computer programmer from San Jose, Michael Smith, have written an expose of extensive manipulation of the temperature data by the federal government’s National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University in New York City. D’Aleo says in the report, “NOAA is seriously complicit in data manipulation and fraud…CRU’s Director at the time Phil Jones acknowledges that CRU mirrors the NOAA data. ‘Almost all the data we have in the CRU archive is exactly the same as in the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) archive used by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.'”

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, aired a special last night on KUSI-TV covering their discoveries: A 14-minute video segment is available here. The report’s four key revelations:

1. NCDC is no longer monitoring many actual temperature stations. Coleman explains, “In the transition to a computer averaging system, the National Data Climate Center deleted actual temperatures at thousands of locations throughout the world as it evolved to a system of global grid boxes. The number that goes into each grid box is determined by averaging the temperatures of two or more weather observation stations nearest that grid box.” This method is inaccurate according to D’Aleo because “temperatures are not linear over space, but instead vary enormously because of differences in terrain, elevation, vegetation, water versus land and urbanization.” It also makes an apples and oranges situation, comparing today’s averaged grid boxes to past actual station temperatures.

2. The number of weather stations NCDC uses was reduced 75%, from approximately 6,000 to 1,000 stations.

3.  The vast majority of the stations cut from the record were from the cooler higher latitudes and altitudes. Smith says, “The more I looked, the more I found patterns of deletion that could not be accidental. Thermometers moved from cold mountains to warm beaches; from Siberian Arctic to more southerly locations and from pristine rural locations to jet airport tarmacs. The last remaining Arctic thermometer in Canada is in a place called ‘The Garden Spot of the Arctic,’ always moving away from the cold and toward the heat.”

4.  Temperatures then were altered by “homogenization,” a process which always seemed to result in higher readings. According to the report,”the data centers then performed some final adjustments to the gathered data before final analysis. These adjustments are in some cases frequent and undocumented. Examining raw data versus processed final data shows numerous examples where the adjusted data shows a warming trend where the raw data had little change.”

Across the States

California’s Renewable Energy Failure
Gregg Morris, director of the Green Power Institute, believes there is “no chance” California will meet its legally-mandated renewable energy target this year, according to a report this week from GreenWire (subscription required). In 2006, the legislature passed a law requiring that investor-owned utilities generate 20 percent of California’s electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Four years ago, renewable energy accounted for 13.5% of the Golden State’s electricity, but Morris said that utilities “have actually fallen behind every single year since the program went into effect.” Despite this imminent failure, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year issued an executive order to increase the renewable energy target to 33% by 2020.

EPA Strikes Again in Arkansas
Energy and Environment News
(subscription required) reported this week that the Environmental Protection Agency again has refused to permit a coal-fired power plant, this time in Arkansas, because it wasn’t a natural gas fired power plant. Specifically, the EPA told Arkansan regulators that they had not adequately considered “Best Available Control Technology” for greenhouse gases so as to comply with the Clean Air Act. In particular, the EPA determined that the state officials had failed to consider natural gas as the BACT for a coal plant. Using similar reasoning, the EPA refused to issue air permits for coal plants on the Navajo Nation reservation in the Four Corners region, as well as Kentucky. The EPA seized the power to dictate BACT technology early in the Obama administration, although the agency’s right to regulate carbon dioxide from stationary sources will not become final until March. To learn more about this regulatory morass, read posts (here and here) from CEI’s Marlo Lewis.

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.