September 2011

Post image for Malcolm Wallop, Stand-Up Guy, R. I. P.

Former Senator Malcolm Wallop died on Wednesday, September 14, after a debilitating illness that had confined him to his home near Big Horn, Wyoming for several years. He is survived by his wife, Isabel, and four children and their families.

Malcolm was a hero of mine long before I knew him, and so it was a great privilege to work for him after he retired from the Senate in 1995 and to become his friend.  After I worked for Malcolm and got to know him, I admired him even more. I loved working for him, as I expect all of his Senate staffers did. He was unfailingly polite and considerate, intellectually engaging, and entirely positive. Malcolm had a healthy sense of his own worth, but entirely lacked the swollen head that afflicts many Senators.

When Malcolm defeated a Democratic incumbent in 1976 (not a good year for Republicans), he came to Washington as an uncompromising Cold Warrior, but as somewhat moderate on many domestic issues. While many conservatives tend to drift toward the center after a few years in Washington (which is variously described as growing in office or selling out), he was so appalled by how Washington works that he rapidly became a hardcore conservative across the board.  He joined an extraordinary group of mostly Western conservatives in the Senate, a group which included Bill Armstrong, Steve Symms, Paul Laxalt, Phil Gramm, and Jesse Helms.

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Energy and Environment News

by Brian McGraw on September 12, 2011

in Blog

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Texas power company says EPA rules force it to close plant, cut jobs
Andrew Restuccia, The Hill’s Energy & Environment Blog, 12 September 2011

‘The message still has to be about the reality we’re facing’
An Interview With Al Gore, The Washington Post, 12 September 2011

Canada’s Oil Sands Are a Job Gusher
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2011

‘Green Jobs’ Welfare Queens Defend Their Indefensibleness
Chris Horner, The American Spectator, 12 September 2011

EPA Got It Wrong, Obama Got It Right on Ozone Limits
Editorial, Bloomberg, 11 September 2011


Post image for Is Gov. Perry ‘Anti-Science’? (Updated, Sep. 14, 2011)

During this week’s GOP presidential candidates debate in California, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a statement about global warming that Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, the UK Guardian, and others condemn as “anti-science.” Asked by moderator John Harris of Politico “which scientists” are “most credible” in questioning “the idea that human activity is behind climate change,” Perry replied:

Well, I do agree that there is – the science is – is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at – at- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just – is nonsense. I mean, it – I mean – and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell. But the fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.

The UK Guardian was quick to denigrate Perry’s answer:

It’s one thing to question the economic impact and legacy of current climate policy proposals – you would expect and wish for politicians to debate this – but for a politician to question the science in this way is striking. . . .Note how he studiously ignored the moderator’s well-crafted question: who exactly are these “Galileos” that you believe have so comprehensively cast doubt on the canon of climate science? Perry couldn’t – or wouldn’t – name them.

The Guardian makes a mountain out of a molehill. If Harris was so keen to know which climate scientists Perry finds most credible, he could have just restated the question. Perry was apparently more interested in making two basic points: (1) he does not view global warming as a warrant for imposing massive new regulatory burdens on the U.S. economy; (2) he is not impressed by appeals to an alleged “scientific consensus” because, after all, scientific issues not settled by counting heads.

The question Harris asked is bound to come up again and again in candidate forums, and it’s a bit of a loaded question at that. Alarmists would like us to believe that any human contribution to climate change constitutes a “planetary emergency” (Al Gore’s phrase) and, as such, justifies the imposition of cap-and-trade and other assaults on affordable energy. Hence, they would like nothing better than to trick opponents into arguing as if the case against cap-and-trade, or against EPA’s hijacking of climate policy, hinges on the implausible thesis that greenhouse gases do not have a greenhouse (warming) effect.

How then should presidential contenders respond to such questions? [click to continue…]

Post image for Why Paul Krugman’s “Regulate to Stimulate” Argument Doesn’t Work

Many influential opinion-makers, including former Vice President Al Gore, contend that President Barack Obama last week rolled back the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ozone regulation due to reasons of political expediency.

To me, this mainstream thinking makes sense. The rule likely would have put virtually the whole of the country into non-attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, and compliance costs would have been obscene. This being the campaign silly season, it stands to reason that the President didn’t want to be perceived by voters as kicking a down economy

At the New York Times website, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has challenged this conventional wisdom. According to Krugman, Al Gore and his ilk are way off-base, because the ozone rule, far from being an economic depressant, is actually an economic stimulus.

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Post image for Texas Reliability Watchdogs Bash EPA’s “Impossible” and “Unprecedented” Timeline for Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

In a previous post, I explained how the Environmental Protection Agency seems to have designed the recently finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to be uniquely onerous for Texas. I wrote,

Texas was excluded from the proposed [Cross-State] rule. In the final rule, however, Texas was included, due to the supposed need to slightly reduce emissions as monitored 500 miles away in Madison County, Ill.—a locale that meets the EPA air-quality standards in question. The EPA ordered the Lone Star State to reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions 47 % within 6 months, despite the fact that it takes 3 years to install sulfur “scrubber” retrofits on coal-fired power plants.

Luminant, the largest merchant power producer in Texas, called the EPA’s timeline “unprecedented” and “impossible.” It suggested that the only way to achieve the reductions, and thereby avoid costly penalties, would be to shut down power production.

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Post image for Solyndra Collapse: The Upside

So, President Barack Obama is shopping for a rooftop solar power system. The project was announced nearly a year ago, but it doesn’t seem to have moved forward since then. If the White House is holding out for a better price, I know where there’s a clearance!

Energy and Environment News

by William Yeatman on September 8, 2011

in Blog

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Had To Be Koch Money, for Christie’s Sake
Paul Chesser, AmSpecBlog, 8 September 2011

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Free Market Recommendations for President Obama and the Congress
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 8 September 2011

The Other Climate Theory
Anne Jolis, Wall Street Journal, 7 September 2011

Upton on Greengate
Henry Payne, The Michigan View, 7 September 2011

Will EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Stay or Go?
Robin Bravender, Politico, 6 September 2011

Post image for What Obama Could Say in His Speech That Would Really Turn the Economy around

Recent polling indicates that seventy-six percent (76%) of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track. Clearly, something needs to be done to turn the train around and head in a different direction.

First we need to know where we’ve been headed and then make a conscious decision to do a 180.

Three recent news stories—all under-reported—offer a snapshot of the wrong direction.

The Julia Field

Exxon is in a legal battle with the US government. The company has a new oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico in what is called the Julia Field. Exxon reports an estimated one billion barrels of recoverable oil—worth potential royalties to the government of $10.95 billion. The discovery is believed to be the largest in the Gulf of Mexico. (Note: we are not out of oil; we keep finding more.)

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Last week, President Barack Obama’s green jobs agenda suffered a major setback when Solyndra, Inc, a heavily subsidized manufacturer of rooftop solar power components, declared bankruptcy. In a previous post, I explained how the company’s collapse was a long time coming. In this post, I will address the political and policy fallout.

  • For starters, it will embolden Rep. Cliff Stearns’s on-going investigation into whether or not political connections had a role in the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office’s issuance of a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra.
  • In light of the troubling history of the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, House Republicans might attempt to freeze all pending loan guarantees until Rep. Stearns’s investigation is complete. Last week, the Los Angeles Times editorial board suggested such a course of action. This is notable because the LA Times editorial board is ardently environmentalist.

In late 2009, Solyndra, a California-based  manufacturer of solar power rooftop components, received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE). It was the first such loan guarantee offered by the DOE with stimulus money. Last week, in a major blow to President Barack Obama’s green jobs agenda, the solar company became the latest stimulus-beneficiary to fail. It announced that it was entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The announcement came as a surprise to many observers, such as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills). Over the summer, Rep. Waxman, the architect of the stimulus program that benefited Solyndra, praised the company’s economic outlook. In an April letter, he boasted that “Solyndra has obtained additional equity investments from existing equity holders, an indication of investor confidence in the company’s prospects.”

California Governor Jerry Brown, too, must have been surprised by Solyndra’s sudden collapse. Two weeks ago, he invited Solyndra, Inc. to join him onstage to unveil a proposed package of tax subsidies for green energy companies. Solyndra’s presence was supposed to lend evidence to the “success” of past clean energy subsidies. Obviously, this is a poor omen for Governor Brown’s tax plan.

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