In the News
Obama’s Justice Department Joins Britain’s Climategate Leaker Manhunt
Chris Horner, Washington Examiner, 15 December 2011
New You Can Use
Another Alarmist Myth Debunked
According to an IPS interview with Richard Armstrong, a geographer at Colorado University’s National Snow and Ice Centre and the lead author of the first comprehensive study of the glaciers of High Asia, 96 percent of the water that flows down the mountains of Nepal into nine local river basins comes from snow and rain, and only 4 percent from summer glacier melt. Of that 4 percent, says Armstrong, only a minuscule proportion comes from the melting away of the end points of the glaciers due to global warming. The study debunks a long-held talking point of global warming alarmists, that climate change could incite a resource war between India and Pakistan by melting away Himalayan glaciers.
Inside the Beltway
Congress Agrees to Repeal Light Bulb Ban
House Republican leaders and Senate Democratic leaders finally agreed Thursday night on the conference report for the omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the 2012 fiscal year. The Congress is expected to send the bill to President Obama for his signature before midnight Friday, thereby averting a government shutdown.
There were a number of riders in the Interior and EPA appropriations bill passed by the House. Nearly all of the EPA riders were taken out by the House-Senate conference committee. The omnibus bill does cut EPA funding by $240 million below the FY 2011 level.
One Department of Energy rider that did survive will block implementation of the ban enacted in 2007 on standard incandescent light bulbs. That ban was scheduled to begin taking effect on January 1, 2012, when it would have become illegal to sell 100 watt bulbs. The rider only delays the ban from taking effect until the fiscal year ends on October 1, 2012. However, once adopted, most riders are routinely extended in succeeding appropriations bills. To take the rider out in future years, supporters of taking away consumer choice on light bulbs will have to mount a major effort.
Keystone XL Update
As of mid-day Friday, the House and Senate are still wrangling over the bill to extend the payroll tax cut for another year. A major stumbling block are two energy-related provisions included in the bill, H. R. 3630, that the House passed earlier this week by a 234 to 193 vote. The first would require the president to make a decision within sixty days on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project. The second would block the EPA’s Boiler MACT rule from going into effect.
President Obama and the White House have stated several times that including these two provisions in the payroll tax cut extension bill is unacceptable, but it’s not clear whether a veto threat has been made. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has refused to allow the Senate to consider the House-passed bill because of the Keystone and Boiler MACT provisions.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Friday that the Keystone language was going to be in any payroll tax cut extension bill passed by the House. Boehner did not make an exception for a two-month extension. Thus if the Senate sends any bill minus Keystone back to the House this weekend, then the House Republican leadership seems determined to call the House back into session next week and re-attach the Keystone provision and send the bill back to the Senate. The House would then recess for the rest of the year.
Boehner’s strategy seems to me to put President Obama and Senate Democrats in a very difficult political position. If the Senate doesn’t accept the Keystone provision or if President Obama vetoes it, then Social Security taxes will return to their usual level in the new year. The president and Senate Democrats will then have to defend raising taxes on the grounds that that was the only way to stop the $7 billion Keystone project that will create thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs and increase supplies of Canadian oil.
Across the States
California Extends, Increases Failed Auto Targets
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) this week proposed to amend its Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), so that plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles would account for 15.4% of all new cars sold in California by 2025 and nearly 100% by 2040. By 2050, 87% of all vehicles on the road will be ZEVs, CARB estimates.
Back in 1990, California adopted a law requiring specified percentages of all new cars sold in the state to be ZEVs: 2% by 1998, 5% by 2001, and 10% by 2003. Due to the vehicles’ high cost and their limited range between recharging, the consumer response to electric cars was underwhelming. CARB had to relax the quota several times, scaling back the 2003 goal from 10% percent to 2%.
Wacky Green Group Insists Fracking is a Human Rights Issue
Earthworks has commissioned a report in the interest of anti-fracking New Yorkers entitled, “A Human Rights Assessment of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas,” which concludes that the “environmental damage” created by process of hydraulic fracturing poses “a new threat to human rights.” This claim is grounded in a recent United Nations Resolution that states “environmental damage can have negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights.” Believe it or not, the report goes further, accusing fracking of violating the Nuremberg Code on the basis of human experimentation without informed consent. So apparently, under the green code of ethics, gas extraction is comparative to the immorality of human testing.
EPA Imposes Visibility Plan on Oklahoma
On Thursday, EPA finalized a federal plan for Oklahoma to improve visibility. In February, Oklahoma submitted plan that would require fuel switching from coal to natural gas at six power plants by 2022, but EPA rejected this approach in March, and proposed a federal plan that would require almost $2 billion in emissions controls, in addition to fuel switching. Although the Clean Air Act clearly gives states primacy over EPA in decision-making for visibility improvement, Oklahoma is one of three states subject to a federal plan. In August, EPA imposed a plan on New Mexico that cost $740 million more than the state’s plan. In September, EPA proposed a federal plan for North Dakota. All three states are challenging EPA in federal court.
Around the World
Historic Agreement to Meet Again Soon Reached at COP-17 in Durban
Following up on our summary of the negotiations at COP-17 in Durban, negotiators worked through the weekend to salvage some sort of framework for future negotiations. You can read the final text of the two-page agreement here. The outcomes: the current Kyoto Protocol set to expire at the end of 2012 has been extended until 2017. They have also agreed that the $100 billion in annual climate “aid” will be overseen by the United Nations, though no progress was made in coming up with the money for the fund.
Finally, countries have agreed that by 2015 they will have developed a “protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” for carbon dioxide emissions that will be adopted by 2020. However, this language was a step-down from previous language which would have made a globally binding treaty more likely, and some believe that no real agreement has been reached, and that future negotiations will continue to go nowhere, unless China, India, and other developing countries decide to pursue domestic emissions reductions.
Canada Announces Formal Kyoto Exit
As was expected, Canada announced this week that it would formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Formal withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol requires one year’s notice, which explains the announcement prior to the end of 2011. This will dissolve Canadian commitments to the Kyoto Protocol at the end of 2012, in spite of the recent push at Durban to temporarily extend Kyoto.
Contra Christina Figueres—the secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—who claimed that Canada still has a legal obligation to reduce their emissions, there is no real penalty for withdrawing from Kyoto. Had Canada remained part of the Kyoto Protocol, they would likely have been held financially responsible for the purchase of billions of dollars of carbon “credits” as Canadian emissions are almost 30 percent higher than allowed by Kyoto.