October 2010

In the News

Prop 23 and the Green Jobs Myth
T. J. Rodgers, Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2010

Prop 23 Puts Jobs before Wishful Thinking
Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 October 2010

Prop 23 Is All about Saving the California Economy
Ben Boychuck, Planet Gore, 29 October 2010

Should States Step up on Climate?
Myron Ebell, Politico Energy Arena, 28 October 2010

Robust Economy Needs Affordable Energy
David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 28 October 2010

Schwarzenegger Is a Climate Cuckoo, Not A Climate Hawk
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 28 October 2010

Climategate: Did Jones Delete Emails?
Stephen McIntyre, Climate Audit, 27 October 2010

Daniel Greenberg Meets the Climate Scientists
Roger Pielke Jr, Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog, 27 October 2010

More “Green Jobs” Success for Obama’s Models
Chris Horner, American Spectator, 26 October 2010

Can the Endangered Species Act Force De-Industrialization?
Marlo Lewis, MasterResource.org, 25 October 2010

The Green Crusade against Cars
Clifford Atiyeh, Boston Globe, 24 October 2010

News You Can Use

According to a new North American Electric Reliability Corporation report released this week, the United States could lose 7 percent of its electric capacity due to pending EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants. The shutdowns could threaten grid reliability in the northeast.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Elections: Running from Cap-and-Trade

Campaigns often become annoying as election day approaches, but they do have the benefit of sucking all the energy out of Washington.  Congress has been out for a month to allow Members to campaign, and even the agencies tend to go silent just before an election for fear that announcing some new rule or policy could become a damaging campaign issue.

But when Washington springs alive again after next Tuesday, it will be a city transformed by the election results.  Even if the rout of House and Senate Democrats occurs precisely as predicted (minus 50 House seats and 7 Senate seats is the average guess; here is a typical forecast), it will all look and feel different after it has happened than in anticipating it.

While the reactions to big election swings are often surprising, one thing that is absolutely clear already is that cap-and-trade has been a significant issue in the campaign and that cap-and-trade will be totally dead after November 2nd.  Every Republican incumbent and challenger is running against cap-and-trade.  Most are running against global warming alarmism.  House Democrats who voted against the Waxman-Markey bill are featuring that vote in their campaigns.  Only a handful of the more than 200 Democrats who voted to pass Waxman-Markey in 2009 are even mentioning it in their campaigns.

Cap-and-trade is especially potent as an issue in coal country.  In West Virginia, it has become so toxic that Governor Joe Manchin (D) revived his Senate campaign against John Raese by running a television ad in which he shoots a copy of one of the Senate cap-and-trade bills.   Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV)), the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, voted against Waxman-Markey, but is now in the race of his life against a challenger, Elliott Maynard, who is scoring points with voters by arguing that Rahall’s opposition was weak and that he in effect supports cap-and-trade because he voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is in even worse shape in his nearby district in Virginia.  Boucher put the interests of his party ahead of the interests of his coal-mining district when he made a deal and rounded up the votes necessary to pass Waxman-Markey on June 26, 2009.  In 2008, Boucher didn’t have a Republican opponent.  This year Morgan Griffith appears to be running a very close race. Boucher’s loss would send an unmistakable signal to congressional candidates in energy-producing and energy-using manufacturing districts for many elections to come.

Across the States

California Releases Cap-and-Trade Energy Rationing Plan

The California Air Resources Board this afternoon released a cap-and-trade regulation. The release begins a public comment period culminating in a December 16 public hearing in Sacramento, California, at which the Board will consider adopting the proposed program. Click here for a two-page summary of the plan.

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.

Last week, David Roberts at Grist coined the phrase “Climate Hawk,” to describe “people who understand climate change and support clean energy but do not share the rest of the ideological and sociocultural commitments that define environmentalism as historically understood in the U.S.”

Of course, a “hawk” in political jargon has long referred to policymakers who are bullish on the use of military might to advance American interests. The national security overtones are meant to impart a seriousness to global warming alarmists otherwise conflated with hippy-dippy granola environmentalists. According to Andrew Leonard at Salon, Roberts’s term is “a brilliant jiujitsu move of rhetorical framing.”

Roberts’s new meme was adopted quickly by the green journo beat. Today, for example, both Joe Romm (of Climate Progress) and Brad Johnson (at the Center for American Progress) refer to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Climate Hawk in the wake of a recent interview he did with Diane Sawyer, in which he said,

“We need to go to Washington and say, “Look what happened. You, because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington.” What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors, our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country, and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies?”

Those are tough words, but are they appropriate? After all, Schwarzenegger hasn’t actually implemented any difficult climate policies. Indeed, AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, doesn’t kick in until after the Governor leaves office. Moreover, Schwarzenegger in 2007 actually tried to delay early action climate policies under AB 32, in order to protect the construction industry, which had been a big donor to his 2006 reelection campaign. What “guts” has the Governator evinced?

Rather than “climate hawk,” a more appropriate bird metaphor for Arnold Schwarzenegger is “Climate Cuckoo.” The Cuckoo is a parasitic bird that lays its eggs in other nests, in order to be reared by other birds. That’s a pretty good parallel for what the California Governor is doing with respect to climate policy. He helped birth a climate law full of sacrifice that his successor will have to shoulder.


Hyundai has released a “green” (carbon-neutral) commercial to market itself as a “green” company. The production set includes rain collectors, solar panels, a tiny wind turbine, and electric generators hooked up to bicyclists (evidently, the solar panels and wind turbine just don’t provide enough juice).

The “greenest” feature, though, is that the car shown in the commercial doesn’t use any gasoline at all. Not one drop. A miracle? An all-electric vehicle?

Not even close. The car emits no greenhouse gases because nobody actually drives it on the set. Instead of the car moving people, people move the car. Literally. Three guys give it a shove to get it moving long enough (a few seconds) for the cameras to create the illusion of auto-mobility.

One of the glories of modern civilization is that it progressively substitutes machine labor for the muscular labor of human backs and limbs. The Hyundai ad implies that reversing this process, working our way back to a handicraft economy based on physical labor and low-density energy from wind, rain, and Sun, is the path of virtue.

Well, humanity has been there, done that. It’s called the Middle Ages. 

An exercise in post-modernist reflexivity, the Hyundai commercial is actually about the making of the commercial, rather than about the car shown in the commerical.  In fact, the vehicle is never mentioned by name, which is strangely fitting, since we never actually get to see it in operation. There is no way to tell from the commercial whether the car as an auto-mobile (a self-moving vehicle) is any good!

Even as an attempt to brand Hyundai as a green company, the ad is a flop. Yes, the film set is crunchy granola, but who says Hyundai had to build a set in the first place, transport a large tech crew to and from the set, buy or rent tons of equipment, and hire real actors? Hyundai could have avoided even more carbon emissions by making the commercial with a laptop and CGI software.

Global warming alarmism long has marred energy politics; now, it is blemishing the art world.

According to a story in today’s Guardian,

Wind turbines lining the Mall; a shanty town at the foot of Nelson’s column; the Thames frozen under Tower Bridge; and a nuclear power station in Kew gardens. These are some of the artistic visions of a future London loosely inspired by the predictions of climate science.

The provocative images are part of the Museum of London’s London Futures show, a series of 14 photomotage pictures exploring how the capital might be affected by global warming.

This “art” is the work of Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones, who work at London-based communications company GMJ. That is, it was created by a PR company, no doubt funded by deep-pocketed environmentalist organizations. Which begs the question: Why is the prestigious Museum of London presenting an alarmist PR-campaign as art?

In discussions of trade and economic policy, China increasingly plays the role that Japan once did — simultaneously vilified and lionized as both threat and model.

In the 1980s, “trade hawks” warned that Japan would “hollow out” our economy unless we adopted Japanese-style industrial policy to counter Japan’s “unfair” trade practices. Today, “progressives” warn that China will “eat our lunch” in the “clean tech race” unless we aggressively subsidize domestic manufacturers of wind turbines, solar panels, and the like, to counter China’s clean-tech subsidies, which, we are told, constitute “unfair” trade practices.

If there is any consistency in these discussions, it is that subsidies are always either good or bad, fair or unfair, depending on whether they rig the market for “our” companies or “their” companies.

Oh yes, there is one other point of consistency — everybody agrees “clean tech” can’t compete without subsidies. This came out during a conference earlier in the week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Sun Guoshun, first secretary of the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., defended his government’s use of subsidies as necessary to having a clean-tech sector. 

As reported today in Climatewire (subscription required), Mr. Sun said: “It is the consensus of the international community that renewable energy is not in a position to compete with fossil fuel energy. So if you’re not going to subsidize renewable energy, there will be no renewable energy.”

Post image for Will EPA Regulators Leave America In The Dark?

There’s no doubt that federal regulations lead to economic harm, but could the wave of Obama regulations affecting electric power plants lead to electricity shortages as well? A new study from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) finds reason for concern.

Resource Adequacy Impacts of Potential U.S. Environmental Regulations looks at four pending Environmental Protection Agency rules – the Cooling Tower Rule, the MACT Rule, the Clean Air Transport Rule, and the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule – that would impact coal-fired electric generating units. These power plants currently provide half of America’s electricity. It should be noted that there are several other proposed or recently finalized rules that also affect these units – including the EPA’s massive global warming regulatory agenda – that are not considered in this study. Nonetheless, NERC concludes that these four rules raise issues about electric reliability in the years ahead.

The study concedes considerable uncertainties regarding how strict the final version of these proposed rules will be as well as their ultimate compliance costs. For example, multiple rules with fairly urgent and overlapping timetables place great constraints on the existing supply of skilled labor and equipment needed to comply, while a more sequential rollout would be less onerous. In any event, NERC fears enough premature retirements of older coal-fired plants, along with significant downtime for units undergoing retrofits, to raise the possibility of reliability shortfalls.

This much is certain – the billions in compliance costs from EPA’s rules will boost electric bills. But whether there will be enough electricity to meet the nation’s growing demand while avoiding brownouts or blackouts is just one more piece of regulatory uncertainty to be piled onto the economy in the years ahead.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus last week gave the inaugural annual lecture at The Global Warming Policy Foundation in London. To watch Klaus’s lecture, titled “The Climate Change Doctrine,” click here. To read a transcript, click here. President Klaus wrote a related oped (“An Anti-Human Ideology“) in the National Post.

A global food crisis is “forecast as prices reach record highs [1].”  “Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years.”  “Global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks while meat prices are at 20-year highs.” “Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels.”

Drought is one factor in the price spikes.  Biofuels and ethanol subsidies and mandates are another major factor.  According to the UN, “large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors for biofuels is squeezing land suitable for agriculture [1].”

Ethanol subsidies have resulted in forests being destroyed [2] in the Third World, and caused famines [3] that have killed [4] countless people in the world’s poorest countries [4].

These subsidies are expanded in the global warming legislation backed by the Obama administration.  Its ethanol subsidies will result [5] in “damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality.”  The Washington Examiner earlier explained how the global warming bill backed by President Obama would cause deforestation by expanding ethanol subsidies, and thus increase greenhouse gas emissions [6] in the long run.   It was larded up with corporate welfare: 85 percent [7] of its carbon allowances were given away to special interests free of charge, thanks to lobbying that turned the bill into an orgy of corporate welfare.

Earlier, Ron Bailey wrote in Reason magazine about the “global food crisis” that has resulted in food riots across the world [8], in countries like Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen, Haiti, and Egypt.   The crisis, he notes, is caused by “stupid energy policies” in the form of ethanol “mandates” and subsidies, which result in the world’s breadbaskets producing less food and more ethanol.

In 2008, two prominent environmentalists, Lester Pearson and Jonathan Lewis, published a Washington Post editorial, “Ethanol’s Failed Promise [9],” which explained how ethanol subsidies and mandates are destroying the environment and fueling hunger and violence worldwide [9].

Turning one-fourth of our corn into fuel is affecting global food prices. U.S. food prices are rising at twice the rate of inflation, hitting the pocketbooks of lower-income Americans and people living on fixed incomes. … Deadly food riots have broken out in dozens of nations in the past few months, most recently in Haiti and Egypt. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warns of a global food emergency.

Moreover, they noted,

food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy – most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.  Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm. Here in the United States, farmers are pulling land out of the federal conservation program, threatening fragile habitats. … Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time Magazine reported [10] this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest ‘carbon sink.’ And when the forests are cleared and the land plowed for farming, the carbon that had been sequestered in the plants and soil is released. Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger has modeled this impact and reports [11] in Science magazine that the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions – and thus a catalyst for climate change.

In Human Events, Deroy Murdock explained how rising food prices resulting from ethanol forced Haitians to literally eat dirt [12] (dirt cookies made of vegetable oil, salt, and dirt), caused tortilla riots in Mexico, and fueled violent protests in unstable “powder kegs” like Pakistan and Egypt.

In 2008, finance ministers and central bankers called for end to ethanol subsidies and biofuel mandates [13]. South African finance minister Trevor Manuel called such subsidies “criminal [14].” Earlier, the Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram noted that [14] “in a world where there is hunger and poverty, there is no policy justification for diverting food crops towards bio-fuels. Converting food into fuel is neither good policy for the poor nor for the environment.”

The EPA is now ratcheting up [15] ethanol use, heedless of the fact that ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier [16], increases ozone pollution [17], and increases the death toll from smog [18] and air pollution.  Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution [19].

Green Buyer Beware

by Brian McGraw on October 26, 2010

in Blog

TerraChoice, an environmental marketing and consulting firm, released a report recently identifying a troubling trend in the marketplace for “green” products. The green marketplace has exploded in the past few years, with their 2010 report noting a 73% increase in the availability of green products.

The executive summary of the report indicates that over 95% of products identified as green have committed at least one of the “Seven Sins of Greenwashing”. A glass-half-empty approach might report that less than 5% of products labeled “green” pass the test.

From the report, the Seven Sins of Greenwashing:

1. Sin of the Hidden Trade Off

2. Sin of No Proof

3. Sin of Vagueness

4. Sin of Irrelevance

5. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

6. Sin of Fibbing

7. Sin of Worshipping False Labels

A hastily completed look at consumer preference for green products led me here, which indicates that a majority of consumers claim to prefer green products, but aren’t nearly as willing to cough up the extra dollars for green products.

Buying Green? The report stated that Big Box Stores (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.) are most likely to carry products that live up to their “green” labeling, though even significant improvements from a 95% failure rate aren’t very promising.

Politicians using Q&A sessions to promote talking points and push half-truths is rarely worth looking at, though Grassley’s skillfull balance of promising everything to his constituents is an exception:

5. How would you lower or eliminate the federal budget deficit?

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a discretionary spending freeze would save $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. This freeze can be accomplished by reducing wasteful spending while protecting vital programs. Congress should begin with a moratorium on congressional earmarks and continue with a ban on non-essential government travel. Congress should consolidate duplicate programs and terminate programs that fail to achieve intended results as determined by the administration’s Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Talking Point 1 – Convince citizens that you’re serious about the budget woes of the U.S. without discussing any real way to solve it.

4. Do you think global climate change is a threat, and how would you deal with it?

If the United States acts alone to cap carbon dioxide, Americans would pay more for energy and goods, without any measurable impact on the climate. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified that unilateral action by the U.S. would provide no real environmental gain. A carbon cap without including the largest emitter, China, and other developing nations, would mean lost jobs for Americans. Any effort to reduce greenhouse gases should be made through an international agreement. The cap-and-trade legislation passed last year by the House of Representatives would increase the cost of energy for homes and businesses, especially in the Midwest.

Talking Point 2 – Increases in energy costs are bad if unmet by other countries (non-committal).

8. Do you support continued subsidies for ethanol? If so, how, if at all, would you change them?

In April, I introduced legislation to extend through 2015 the ethanol blender’s credit, the small ethanol producer tax credit, the cellulosic producer tax credit and the ethanol import tariff. Extension of these policies is the right thing to do because bio-fuels offer an alternative to foreign oil and generate economic activity in the United States. Today, ethanol comprises nearly 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply. Ethanol produced in the Midwest replaces oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria. Ethanol is good for rural economies, and a recent study found that the failure to extend the blender’s credit and the secondary tariff would result in the loss of 112,000 jobs nationwide and reduce ethanol production by nearly 40 percent. Iowa would lose the most jobs at nearly 30,000. The lapse of the separate tax credit for biodiesel, which expired at the end of 2009, also has cost jobs. Last year, 29,000 clean-energy jobs were lost nationwide and many of the remaining 23,000 jobs have disappeared with the lapse in the credit. We can’t risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake.

Talking Point 3 – Ignoring the several inaccuracies in this last question, talking point 3 involves a reminder to constituents that though he is incredibly serious about reigning in these budget deficits (and not raising energy prices), he isn’t going to cut anything near and dear to Iowa.

A question for you, Senator Grassley: What effect do you think the continued pursuit of the Renewable Fuel Standard will have on the energy prices for Americans? Instead of buying oil from foreign countries will we be spending $65.00 per gallon on fuel?