February 2012

Post image for Climate McCarthyism: Democrat Congressman Demands Hearing on Interior Employee Linked to Heartland

Yesterday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) requested that the House Resources Committee investigate whether Department of Interior employee Indur Goklany accepted “illegal outside payments” from the Heartland Institute, and “what confidential information Goklany may have shared with Heartland officials in the course of negotiating his payment agreements.”

Grijalva made this request in a letter to Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The alleged ‘issue’ arose because one of the stolen Heartland documents, the Institute’s 2012 budget, proposes to pay Goklany $1,000/m to write a chapter on economics and policy for a forthcoming book, Climate Change Reconsidered: 2012 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

Grijalva, citing a letter from Greenpeace to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, claims federal employees are not allowed to take payment from outside organizations, particularly for “teaching, speaking and writing that relates to [their] official duties.”

I fully understand why Greenpeace and Grijalva want to harass and silence Goklany. Goklany is one of a handful of indispensable thought leaders in the climate policy debate.  He has demonstrated, for example, that, largely because of mankind’s utilization of fossil fuels, global deaths and death rates related to extreme weather have declined by a remarkable 93% and 98%, respectively, since the 1920s. He has also demonstrated that, even assuming worst-case impacts from the UN IPCC’s high-end warming scenario, developing countries in 2100 are projected to be much richer than developed countries are today. Nobody takes the hot air out of climate hype like Indur Goklany! So naturally, Greenpeace guttersnipes want to besmirch and muzzle him. [click to continue…]

Post image for From Climategate to Fakegate

Anthony Watts’s indispensable Web site, Watts Up with That?, has a trove of hard-hitting commentaries on climate scientist Peter Gleick’s theft and publication of the Heartland Institute’s fund-raising documents and apparent forgery of a “confidential” climate strategy memo. Gleick earlier this week confessed to stealing the documents, but not to fabricating the strategy memo, although textual and other evidence point to him as the culprit.

Gleick, who described his conduct as a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics,” has resigned from his post as Chair of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Integrity. He nonetheless tried to blame the victim, claiming “My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”

Yep, it’s the small underfunded band of free market think tanks who are stifling the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Academy of Sciences and their numerous brethren overseas, the European Environment Agency, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the EPA, NRDC, Greenpeace, etc. etc. Heartland invited Gleick to attend a public event and debate climate change just days before he stole the documents. Gleick turned down the invitation. Yet Gleick has the chutzpah to plead “frustration” at those trying to “prevent this debate.”

Among the key posts on Anthony’s site to check out: Joe Bast’s Skype interview with the Wall Street Journal; Dr. Willis Eschenbach’s Open Letter to Dr. Linda Gunderson, who succeeds Gleick as Chair of the AGU Scientific Integrity Task Force; and Megan McCardle’s column in The Atlantic reviewing among other things evidence fingering Gleick as the author of the fake strategy memo. [click to continue…]

Whining about the way in which the media covers climate change stories is probably absolutely a waste of time, but many mainstream media outlets seem to consistently misinterpret (intentionally or unintentionally) the skeptical position on climate change.

This is to be expected from organizations who are well-established as being on the other side of the fence (I will call them climate hawks, which I believe is a neutral term), but one would like to think that the allegedly objective media would make an effort to at least accurately express the views of those they write about (the U.S. is, admittedly, better than many things I’ve read from Europe):

I don’t know every small detail regarding Heartland’s attitude towards climate change, but I’ll work off of Joe Bast’s recent comments to the WSJ.

Where do we start? [click to continue…]

On the Heartland Controversy

by Fred L Smith on February 22, 2012

in Blog

The recent acquisition of Heartland documents (apparently along with a fraudulent “strategy” document) has created a minor journalist firestorm.  I’ll comment on the particulars of this incident but the broader implication is but one battle in the war to drive the market from the marketplace of ideas.  More on this but first let me summarize the facts as they now appear.

Peter Gleick, a climate scientist, claimed to be a board member and thus requested that Heartland re-forward him the materials sent out for a forthcoming Board meeting.  The staffer did so and Mr. Gleick then emailed “the” documents to interested parties, and they were originally posted on DeSmogBlog. I put the in quotes because it now appears that amongst the purloined documents was also enclosed a “strategy” document that outlined ideas to advance a more balanced understanding of the global warming policy area.  Serious doubts about the authenticity of this strategy document have since been raised. Not surprisingly, the global warming alarmists view this entire imbroglio as “proof” that skeptics are “only doing it for the money!”  I wonder whether they’ve ever done a comparison of salaries in right-of-center and left-of-center NGOs?

Ignored in all this is, however, a larger and even more serious issue – the growing effort to drive the market (and market-friendly voices) from the marketplace of ideas.  The left has found that their statist alliances – trial lawyers and environmentalists, unionists and consumer groups – have been powerful in advancing their agenda.  They’re not eager to see economic liberals do the same.

Note their systematic ideological-cleansing program:  no one with any business links serving on a government policy advisory group; no one with a business background to serving in government; pejorative labeling in academic journals of any business funded research; banning academics funding by business; passing stockholder resolutions against companies assisting pro-market policy allies; providing financial aid to our groups or of even interacting cooperatively with us (e.g. the Heartland crime).

If these efforts succeed, then the only legitimate voices in the policy debates will be crony capitalists and statist intellectuals. A serious threat and one that the Heartland incident should alert us to.

Post image for Stolen Heartland Documents: DeSmog Blog Keeps Blowing Smoke

Updated 4:34 pm, Feb. 21, 2012

“Climate scientist Peter Gleick has acknowledged that he was the person who convinced the Heartland Institute to hand over the contents of its January Board package, authenticating the documents beyond a doubt and further exposing the disinformation campaign Heartland has pursued in the last week, trying to discredit the information,” writes DeSmog Blog in a post titled “Whistleblower Authenticates Heartland Documents” (Feb. 20, 2012).

Gleick is indeed the culprit, but he is not a “whistleblower” because to be a candidate for that honorable title, he’d have to be a current or former employee. Gleick acknowledges that he, an outside critic of the organization, solicited and received Heartland documents under false pretenses, an action he describes as a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics.”

More importantly, contrary to DeSmog’s spin, Gleick does not claim to authenticate the document titled “Confidential Memo: Heartland 2012 Climate Strategy,” the only document among those posted on the DeSmog Web site that even vaguely resembles the stuff of scandal.

Even more pathetic is the sanctimonious open letter by Michael Mann and six colleagues who suggest that Heartland merely got its comeuppance for cheering and publicizing the release of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails that sparked the Climategate scandal. [click to continue…]

This Week in the Congress

by Myron Ebell on February 19, 2012

in Blog

Post image for This Week in the Congress

House Passes Energy Bill That Includes ANWR and Keystone Pipeline

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday evening, 16th February, for a package of four energy bills that if enacted will greatly expand U. S. oil and natural gas production on federal lands and the Outer Continental Shelf plus permit the Keystone XL pipeline. The omnibus energy bill, H. R. 3408, passed by a vote of 237 to 187.  Twenty-one Democrats voted yes, and twenty-one Republicans voted no.

The most significant provision would require the Department of the Interior to open a small portion of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska’s North Slope to oil and gas exploration.  Producing oil in ANWR has been an issue since Congress enlarged the Refuge in 1980 and allowed oil production in the coastal plain subject to a report from the Department of the Interior that it could be done without compromising the Refuge’s purpose of protecting wildlife.  That report was issued in 1986.  The Congress passed legislation in 1995 to open ANWR, but President Bill Clinton vetoed it.  The House and Senate passed different bills opening ANWR in 2005, but couldn’t agree on the same bill.

[click to continue…]

Post image for DeSmog Blog’s Bogus Exposé of the Heartland Institute

Updated February 18, 12:34 a.m.

Earlier this week, the climate hysterics at DeSmog Blog and ThinkProgress tried (but failed) to manufacture a scandal by posting board-meeting and fund-raising documents stolen under false pretenses from the Heartland Institute, the Illinois-based free-market think tank. You can read Heartland’s response to the document heist here.

In the climate debate, Heartland is perhaps best known as organizer and host of six international climate conferences and as publisher of Climate Change Reconsidered: The Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

The Heartland conferences transformed the disparate ranks of climate-alarm skeptics into a confident, energized, networked movement. The NIPCC report and related publications not only debunk Al Gore’s “planetary emergency” but also provide the only comprehensive, fully-documented alternative to the alleged “scientific consensus” represented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

So it’s not hard to understand why eco-bloggers are desperate to sully Heartland’s good name and damage the Institute’s funding. But, it turns out, one of the documents is a fake, one of the facts headlined in the exposé is an error, and all that the documents show is what everybody already knows: Heartland seeks financial support from like-minded individuals, foundations, and corporations to combat climate alarmist propaganda, and, to its credit, generously seeks to help fund other worthy organizations to build the larger movement of which it is a part. [click to continue…]

Within 48 hours of giving a decidedly populist State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama shilled for the Billionaire’s Bailout. At the time, I thought this was situational irony of the worst sort. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

As was noted this afternoon by my colleague David Bier, the President’s budget, which was proposed this week, actually increases the regressive green vehicle tax credit financed by all taxpayers, but enjoyed only by the upper crust—i.e., the only kinds of people with enough spare cash to buy an eco-statement like the $100k+ Tesla roadster. People like Brad Pitt. According to political pundits, the President’s budget isn’t a serious proposal; rather, it is meant to galvanize his base. If this is true, then the EV tax credit is a regressive component of a progressive budget. Sort of like a black fly, in your chardonnay. Or a death row pardon, two minutes too late. Or, myriad spoons, when you only need a knife.

Post image for EPA Publishes Absurd Mercury Reg; Sen. Inhofe Counters; House Sleeps

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency published in the Federal Register the ridiculous Mercury and Air Toxics rule. It’s one of the most expensive regulations, ever, and its purpose is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen who consume more than 300 pounds of self-caught fish annually, from the 99th percentile most polluted fresh, inland water bodies. EPA never actually identified any such “victim”; instead, these voracious fisherwomen-cum-child were modeled to exist. In a series of posts on “EPA’s Big Mercury Lie,” I question whether it is reasonable to simply assume, as EPA has done, that there are, in fact, Americans who every year eat more than 300 pounds of fish, caught exclusively from the foulest water.

How did we get here? Below is a bare-bones timeline of the Mercury and Air Toxics rule’s development:

  • 1990: The Congress amended the Clean Air Act to beef up Hazardous Air Pollutants section 112, which sets the most stringent emissions controls. However, the Congress exempted coal fired power plants. Why? Because the same amendments to the Clean Air Act included a major new regulatory regime for coal-fired power plants: namely, a new sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade program to fight acid rain. Before it subjected the electricity industry to the most onerous provision of the Clean Air Act, in addition to the public health regulations to which generators and utilities already were beholden, Members of Congress first wanted to understand how the sulfur dioxide program would affect emissions of hazardous air pollutants. So, the Congress ordered EPA to conduct a study to determine the public health threat of toxic air pollution from coal fired power plants, after the implementation of the sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade. EPA could regulate coal-fired power plants under the Hazardous Air Pollutants section 112 of the Clean Air Act only after considering the results of this study, and then making a determination that doing so is “necessary” and “appropriate.”
Post image for President’s Budget Doubles Down on Eco-Car Fiasco

The president’s phony green economy is collapsing, drip by drip. While the rest of country is frantically trying to turn off the tap, it’s like the president has turned up his environmental music so loud he can no longer hear the coming cascade.

Consider the president’s clean car initiative, which has already funneled $5 billion into the electric car industry. Ener1—an electric car manufacturer who received $118 million from the Obama Department of Energy—went bankrupt two weeks ago. Fisker Automotive is downsizing and firing workers because the stimulus money that supported their green jobs ran out. Its battery supplier and fellow stimulus recipient A123 will also be down-and-out if Fisker goes. Even while the industry continues to receive tax credits for electric car sales, electric car manufacturers Aptera and Think both went bankrupt this month.

Enter the Obama 2012 budget, which fulfills his promise to “double-down” on clean energy investments. The budget not only continues the failed clean car fiasco, but actually escalates it, raising the $7,500 tax credit by $2,500 to $10,000 and broadening eligibility, in what sure looks like another industry bailout. Didn’t the president say something about bailouts in his State of the Union Address? Oh right, “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom,” he claimed. “No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.” Except for my green energy allies, he apparently forgot to add.

The budget also calls for one million electric cars “on the road” by 2015—no matter how long, or how much it takes. So let’s do the math: $10,000 X 1,000,000 cars = $10,000,000,000: $10 billion to make 1/234th of the total light duty vehicles on the road electric, and to reduce oil consumption by less than 1 percent.  If only 10,000 are sold next year, which would be low, it’ll cost taxpayers $100 million. As Iain Murray and I pointed out in a Washington Examiner op-ed last month, these are subsidies for the rich: “The Volt sells for about $40,000, while the Fisker Karma sells for $100,000—well above most Americans’ price range. That means that the federal government is again working to benefit the rich so they can drive cars that ease their environmental conscience.”

[click to continue…]