July 2011

This Week in the Congress

by Myron Ebell on July 31, 2011

in Blog

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The Bright Side of the Debt Ceiling Deal

Elana Schor in Greenwire (reprinted by the New York Times here) on Thursday reported that the debt ceiling deal still being worked out between House Republicans and Senate Democrats will almost certainly cut funding drastically for years to come for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of the Interior and Energy.  Schor quotes a number of Democrats who oppose cutting spending on environmental programs, but doesn’t quote anyone on the obvious point: the federal government is broke and isn’t going to be able to afford a lot of things for many years.

While we will have to wait to see how severe the cuts will be, the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and EPA Appropriations bill is still being debated on the House floor.  According to Schor, environmental pressure groups have had little time to focus on the debt ceiling debate because they have been working overtime to try to undo some of the 38 or so riders in the appropriations bill that put limits on EPA and Interior.  At the same time, Republicans are trying to add more riders to stop implementation of new regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

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For most of the last decade, alarmists have rung the global warming bell. Back in 2006, when Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was released, it seemed folks were beginning to wake up to the alarm. Public concern regarding global warming peaked following the release of Gore’s movie and is now back down to pre-propaganda levels. Addressing the declining public alarm about global warming, Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, said, “The erosion in both public concern and public trust about global warming should be a clarion call for people and organizations trying to educate the public about this important issue.”

Ed, Al, et al, should be alarmed, as three different news items in one week add to the public’s growing skepticism about global warming.

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Post image for Auto Industry Caves on New CAFE Standards: Consumers Will Take the Hit

Last week I wrote about the brave automakers who were taking out radio ads opposing the Obama Administration’s proposal to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (or CAFE) standards for new cars and light trucks to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025.  This week I must report that thirteen automakers signed on to a 54.5 miles per gallon CAFE standard by 2025.   President Obama announced the deal on Friday.

My CEI colleague Marlo Lewis discusses this insanity here.  Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.), Chairman of the House Science Committee, sent out a press release last night making the point that CEI’s Sam Kazman has made for decades: CAFE kills.  Kazman makes the point again here.

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Obama’s CAFE Fairy Tale
Henry Payne, The Michigan View, 29 July 2011

EPA’s Air Quality Overkill
Steve Milloy, Washington Times, 29 July 2011

Heartland Responds to Nature
Joseph Bast, Heartland Institute, 28 July 2011

Polar Bear Scientist Under Investigation
Becky Bohrer, AP, 28 July 2011

New Paper “On the Misdiagnosis Of Surface Temperature Feedbacks From Variations In Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance”
Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science, 26 July 2011

Earlier this week, Politico published an op-ed by former Sen. Majority Leader George Mitchell (1989-1995) and former EPA Administrator William Reilly (1989-1993) that is as intellectually mushy as it is politically devious. 

In “Calif. Must Again Lead Way on Emission Standards,” Mitchell and Reilly pretend that the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) proposal to establish a 62 mpg fuel economy standard is the moderate middle between automakers who “protest that the proposal is too demanding” and environmentalists who “want something more stringent.” Horsefeathers!

In September 2010, CARB, EPA, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an Interim Joint Technical Assessment Report where they considered raising the passenger car fuel economy standard from 35.5 mpg in 2016 to 47 mpg, 51 mpg, 56 mpg, or 62 mpg in 2025.

Let’s not forget that the 2016 standard imposed by EPA, CARB, and NHTSA accelerated by four years the standard Congress set in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which was itself 27% more stringent than the previous standard (27.5 mpg). In May 2011, the Auto Alliance, citing a U.S. Energy Information Administration assessment (p. 26), cautioned EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that a 62 mpg standard would depress auto sales in 2025 by 14%. Team Obama subsequently settled on a 56 mpg standard. That’s a tad less extreme than the 62 mpg standard championed by CARB, but it’s still over the top.

A remarkable study by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) — The U.S. Automotive Market and Industry in 2025 (June 2011) — reveals how cockamamie these proposals are.  [click to continue…]

Good Ethanol News

by Brian McGraw on July 28, 2011

in Blog

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Senator John Thune (R-SD) concedes that there is little hope for sticking the ethanol ‘compromise’ into the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations:

“We had hoped to be able to hitch a ride on whatever the big debt package was going to be. We assumed there would be a tax title in that,” Thune said. “That unraveled.”

The plan would end the blenders tax credit early, months before the schedule expiration date of Dec. 31. Under congressional rules, Thune and Klobuchar would need to attach their plan to legislation that already deals with taxes.

Thune said members of Congress are generally hostile towards ethanol, making it difficult for the plan to pass as a standalone bill. [click to continue…]

Recently in Reuters, Peter Goldmark  vilified U.S. airlines for hiring lobbyists to fight EU emissions regulations.  He argued that airlines should willingly accept the new rules because they’re “modest” and compliance is “flexible.”

This is nonsense. Bowing to government threats and regulations is an open-door for more.  To wit, the U.S. airline industry “compromised” with the European Union and agreed to monitor greenhouse gas emissions on international flights.  Now the EU is forcing the industry to compromise further: Starting in January 2012, all airlines that operate flights into and out of European airports must participate in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, a cap-and-trade energy-rationing policy. This immodest regulation will jeopardize business by raising the cost of international travel. It’s also likely a violation of international law. The airlines can and should fight back.

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Post image for Easiest Deficit Solution: Rein in Regulatory State

Admittedly, we, as a country, need to get past this debt-ceiling crisis and, consequently, it has consumed the news cycle. But, the proposed solutions focus mainly on two elements of the problem, while the rating agencies seem to be looking at the bigger picture. Whether Republican or Democrat, the plans address only cutting spending or raising taxes, and the $14 trillion number is too large to meet in the middle—even if we did both. Long term, what Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are looking for is a plan moving forward that will fix the future.

So, how’d we get here? The over-simplified answer is basically the same way any household account gets into trouble: too much spending and not enough income. Both sides of the debate seem willing to cut some spending. President Obama apparently thinks the only way to increase revenue is by raising taxes.

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Big Green Blocks Oil Pipeline, Thousands of Jobs
Washington Examiner editorial, 28 July 2011

Federal “Clean Energy” Loan Guarantee: Crazy Dollars for Bubble Jobs
Vance Ginn, Master Resource, 28 July 2011

Markey’s Posturing on Revenue Sharing
Iain Murray, Planet Gore, 27 July 2011

Indefensible Enviro Agitprop
Paul Chesser, American Spectator, 27 July 2011

Amazing Job Security for EPA Bureaucrats
Dennis Cauchon, USA Today, 19 July 2011

Post image for Gingrich Still Confused About Climate

Newt Gingrich, like other Republican ‘candidates’ — if you can really call him one — is walking back previous climate change positions:

“I was trying to make a point that we shouldn’t be afraid to debate the left, even on the environment,” Gingrich said on WGIR radio of the 30-second television commercial. “Obviously it was misconstrued, and it’s probably one of those things I wouldn’t do again.”

Odd, the clip doesn’t sound like much of a debate. Gingrich’s decision to sit with Nancy Pelosi and chuckle whimsically about how much they disagree on non-climate related issues has, understandably, drawn ire from the few remaining people who pretend to take Gingrich seriously. The extent to which he truly has no consistent political beliefs is astounding, having provided talking points for every side of every issue. He hadn’t changed his mind 6 months ago when asked:

Gingrich told us Friday: “I meant exactly what I said in that commercial.”

So he meant exactly what he said, except that it was obviously misconstrued, and he probably wouldn’t do it again. Oh okay, that makes sense.

Here is Newt being paid to promote ethanol interests, then denying that he is any sort of ‘lobbyist’ for the industry.