In the News
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CEOs: California Has Worst Business Climate
American CEOs consider California to be the worst place to do business in the country, according to a new poll by Chief Executive Magazine. Not coincidentally, the Golden State is also the national leader in onerous environmental regulations, including AB 32, and high energy prices.
Inside the Beltway
Update on Murkowski’s Disapproval Resolution
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has at least until the Memorial Day recess to offer her resolution under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. S. J. Res. 26 has 41 co-sponsors, including three Democrats-Lincoln (Ark.), Landrieu (La.), and Nelson (Neb.). Nine more votes are needed to get to the 51 needed for passage.
It appears likely that Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine will vote against the resolution and that Scott Brown, the new Republican Senator from Massachusetts, will vote for it. That means Murkowski needs to find eight more Democrats. The most likely are from coal and manufacturing States. If the White House sees it as a threat, then they may lean pretty hard on some of these Democrats to vote no. On the other hand, Murkowski has been assiduously lobbying her colleagues for months. My guess is that it will be very close, but the resolution will pass. The vote could occur any time in the next three weeks.
If the Senate passes S. J. Res. 26, then the House can take up the resolution at any time. The House Democratic leadership will not bring it to the floor, which means that the only way to get it to the floor for a vote is through a discharge petition signed by a majority of House Members. There are two identical House resolutions of disapproval. H. J. Res. 76 was introduced by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and now has 47 co-sponsors. H. J. Res. 77 was introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and now has 115 co-sponsors. That’s a start, but still a long way from 218 signatures on a discharge petition.
Graham Clears Everything Up
The picaresque saga featuring Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) grows ever more farcical. Kerry this week once again promised to release a draft of their energy-rationing bill next Wednesday, with or without Graham’s support. Graham’s comments have been all over the map. He said that there was still a chance this year to get the sixty votes necessary to pass the bill. Then he said that the bill was dead for this year. Most recently, he said this in an interview with Environment and Energy Daily: “There is no bipartisan support for a cap-and-trade bill based on global warming. There is bipartisan support in the future, at the right time and in the right circumstances, for an energy independence legislation, green job creation and clean air.”
BP’s big oil spill off the Louisiana coast complicates the issue. On the one hand, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) announced that he would oppose any bill that included more offshore oil production. Several other Senators on the left would probably do the same. On the other hand, several Senators in the middle have said they will not support an energy-rationing bill unless it has more offshore oil production in it. What I think Kerry should do is what he did with cap-and-trade, which he renamed “pollution reduction and investment,” and the gasoline tax, which he renamed “linked fee.” He should call it the Offshore Wind, Solar, and Other Energy Title. That way no one will know that it’s about offshore oil.
Across the States
Anti-AB32 Initiative Will Proceed to November Ballot
California voters will have the choice whether to proceed with costly carbon controls in the midst of an economic depression. On Monday, The California Jobs Initiative submitted 800,000 signatures of support for a ballot initiative that would delay implementation of AB 32, California’s 2006 global warming law, until the State’s unemployment declines to 5.5% (it currently stands at 12.8%). That’s more than double the number of signatures required to get on November’s ballot.
Coal State Democrats Protest the EPA Coal Crackdown
Representatives Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) yesterday sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing their concerns over the EPA’s plans to shut down surface coal mining in Appalachia (and the leading revenue generator in West Virginia) in order to protect the mayfly, an insect that isn’t even an endangered species. In fact, the EPA established bug-protections so stringent that they would outlaw almost all construction near an intermittent or ephemeral stream, but the EPA is trying to target the regulations solely on Appalachian coal mining. Reps. Rahall, Mollohan, and Boucher asked Administrator Jackson why “a hardrock mining operation in California, or a shopping mall construction project in New Jersey…should not be held to the same standard.” Good question.
Around the World
Obama Loses a Clean Energy Talking Point
Chris Horner, from The Daily Caller
Spain’s socialist Zapatero government has laid the groundwork for abandoning its vaunted “green jobs” schemes, admitting in an official if not yet released document the damning criticisms levied by an academic team. This is very bad news for the Obama administration whose leader on eight separate occasions instructed us to “think about what’s happening in countries like Spain” if we wanted to see his model and vision for a “green economy.” He would launch America into a new era of prosperity premised in “new technologies” like windmills-yes, he actually said that. Read more here.
UK Elections: The Greens Gain, a Nation Loses
Britain’s inconclusive election merely reaffirmed that the nation is going to go further down the road of unsustainable energy policy. Not only was the Green party leader, Caroline Lucas, elected to be the party’s first ever MP in the former Conservative stronghold of Brighton, but millionaire playboy Zac Goldsmith was elected nominally under the Conservative banner but stressed he was in Parliament to work on green issues. Goldsmith has proved extremely influential on party leader David Cameron, and the Conservatives’ manifesto (platform) took a very alarmist line on climate and energy issues.
At time of writing, there are also suggestions that David Cameron’s outreach to the Liberal Democrats to join a coalition government includes further concessions on a low-carbon economy, although it is hard to see how much further the Conservatives can go. With a mounting public sector debt crisis the size of Greece’s, a Prime Minister David Cameron and his adviser Goldsmith might well see their dreams of emissions reduction realized through the simple expedience of economic collapse. It is certainly hard to see how Britain can recover economically with the albatross of decarbonization hanging around her neck.
Proponents of cap-and-trade have taken to arguing that climate change legislation is an economic necessity because the U.S. risks falling behind in a global, zero-sum competition for green industrial supremacy. The influential columnist Thomas Friedman, for example, has prophesied that future historians will associate the 21st century’s first decade with China’s “Green Leap Forward.” He also has warned that the Chinese are going to “clean our clock” unless the Congress passes a cap-and-trade energy-rationing scheme. This is ridiculous: Green energy is mere window dressing in China, which is building a new coal fired power plant every week to meet its growing energy needs. This reality was reinforced today, when the New York Times reported that China’s “surging demand for power from oil and coal has led to the largest six-month increase in the tonnage of human generated greenhouse gases ever by a single country.”
The European criminal intelligence agency (Europol) has said that as much as 90 percent of the entire market volume on emissions exchanges was caused by fraudulent activity. Examples of fraud abound.
Worse, Mark Shapiro in a Harper’s Magazine article entitled “Conning the Climate” details the factors in carbon trading that make fraud inherent in the system:
If cap-and-trade in the United States were to become reality along the lines of proposals now before Congress, up to 2 billion of the new credits would be drawn from carbon offsets, potentially increasing the worldwide supply of such credits by a factor of seven.
The United Nations has certified twenty-six firms worldwide-in U.N. lingo, Designated Operational Entities (DOEs)-to “validate” emissions offsets and then to “verify,” often years later, that those reductions actually occurred.
The developers of emissions-offset projects are by and large funded or owned outright by multinational firms, particularly financial houses such as JP Morgan Chase, which owns the biggest developer in the world, Eco-Securities, and Goldman Sachs, which has a significant interest in the largest U.S.-based developer, Blue Source.
Far from being independent third-party auditors, the DOEs get paid by these very developers and have to compete vigorously to win business.
But only 4 percent of requests for verification of offsets since 2005 have been rejected.
A Berlin think tank, the Öko-Institut, conducted a review of the validation process on behalf of World Wildlife Fund International and concluded that none of the top five validations scored higher than a D in an A-to-F grading scale.
Mark Shapiro met with Mark Trexler, the director of Climate Strategies and Markets for DNV (one of the two main companies in the carbon offset-verification business), who said that the reality is that everyone- emitting businesses, carbon-project developers, entrepreneurs in the developing world, and governments-has a vested interest in validating as many projects as possible.
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.