In the News
War on Coal’s Collateral Damage Will Hit Non-Coal States, Too
Filip Jolevski & David Kreutzer, The Foundry, 31 January 2014
Steyer’s Jingoistic Anti-Keystone Ad Gets 4 Pinocchios
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 31 January 2014
Climate Science Is for Second-Raters Says World’s Greatest Atmospheric Physicist
James Delingpole, Guardian, 29 January 2014
News You Can Use
Poll: Climate Change Is a Low Priority
According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 27% of voting Americans believe that addressing climate change should be an “absolute priority” in 2014, while 29% said that it should not be pursued. By comparison, 91% of respondents said that job creation was an absolute priority in 2014.
Inside the Beltway
Rep. Henry Waxman Announces Retirement from Congress
Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced this week that he will not seek re-election to Congress in this November’s election. Waxman was elected to the House in 1974 after serving six years in the California Assembly. He is currently the ranking minority member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and served as chairman in the 111th Congress, 2009-10. While chairman, Waxman led the effort on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill which culminated in its passage by the House on a 219-212 vote on 26th June 2009. The Waxman-Markey bill then died in the Senate.
Waxman was also chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2007-08. Before Republicans won majority control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections, Waxman was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s health and environment subcommittee. Besides his many legislative accomplishments on environmental issues, Waxman was a principal author of the amusingly-titled Affordable Care Act.
Waxman is a highly intelligent and determined hard leftist and has admirably pursued his leftist agenda over forty years in the House with perseverance, hard work, and extremely capable staffing. That he has not achieved more is due largely to his lack of interest in compromising with more moderate Members. In short, he lacks the legendary political touch of his predecessor as chairman of Energy and Commerce, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). When President-elect Obama in December 2008 told Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he wanted Waxman to replace Dingell as chairman, my reaction was that opponents of cap-and-trade had caught a lucky break. Looking back on our successful efforts to stop Waxman-Markey, I still think we might have lost if Dingell rather than Waxman had been in charge of putting together a cap-and-trade bill.
Together with the retirement of Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) announced earlier this month, the House next year will be without its two leading leftists on environmental, energy, federal lands, health, education, and labor policies. Miller served as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee from 1991 through 1994 and of the Education and Labor Committee from 2007 through 2010. He is also a close ally and advisor to former Speaker Pelosi and was considered the power behind the throne during her speakership. Waxman and Miller are the last two Democrats in the House elected in the post-Watergate Democratic blowout in 1974.
State Department Releases Keystone Analysis
The U. S. State Department on 31st January released its final supplemental environmental impact study on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the southern part of the pipeline that has already been built. Like the draft released in March 2013 and also like the first final EIS released in 2011, the final report concludes that the pipeline will not significantly increase carbon dioxide emissions because production from the oil sands will simply be sent somewhere else if the pipeline is not built. Bloomberg News quotes the EIS: “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil.”
Supporters of Keystone will be mildly encouraged by the State Department’s conclusions, but need to recognize that it is part of President Obama’s strategy to kill the pipeline through delay. He doesn’t want to make the decision to permit the pipeline because that will alienate Canada, our closest ally and chief trading partner; nor does he want to grant the permit because that will alienate his environmental pressure group supporters as well as many of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party and to his two presidential campaigns. White House spokesman Jay Carney immediately commented that the SEIS was just “another step in the process.”
The State Department’s role is not finished. State will now solicit advice from other federal government departments and agencies on whether the pipeline is in the national interest and will also accept public comments. This national interest determination will consider other issues as well as environmental ones and will last at least ninety days. At some indefinite time after that Secretary of State John Kerry will send the Department’s final recommendation to the White House. Then it’s up to the President to decide. Don’t hold your breath.
Same Old, Same Old: State of the Union
President Barack Obama delivered his state of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress on 28th January. It was a snoozer and perhaps the dullest part was on energy and climate issues. As Darren Goode noted in Politico, “President Barack Obama made it clear Tuesday that he still thinks he can have it both ways on energy—taking unprecedented action on climate change while proudly presiding over a historic boom in oil and natural gas drilling.”
Obama claimed that “one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy.” That word “our” is the key to his continuing attempts to mislead the public on what his policies really are. He continued: “The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.” His “strategy” has nothing to do with the shale oil and gas boom created by combining horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and new smart drilling technology. Oil and gas production is booming on private and state land, while it is declining on federal lands and in federal offshore areas. This is to say that the boom is occurring despite the Administration’s policies.
The President didn’t say much about his climate policies that are killing coal and that will eventually raise electricity prices for consumers and manufacturers. But he did take credit for the fairly large reductions in U. S. greenhouse gas emissions, which are only partly due to gas replacing coal. Lower emissions are also partly due to the continuing stagnant economy, but Obama didn’t mention that.
He finished talking about energy and climate with a brief re-avowal of his belief in global warming and its energy-rationing agenda: “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” He did not mention that the temperature in Washington while he was addressing Congress was probably the coldest ever recorded for a state of the Union. I guess the President doesn’t do irony.
Senate Holds First Congressional Hearing in 25 Years on Crude Oil Export Ban
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday held the first congressional hearing in 25 years on the crude oil export ban, a relic of 1970s stagflation and malaise. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the committee’s top ranking Republican, reiterated her call to lift the ban to strengthen job creation, lower consumer prices, and enhance U.S. energy security. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) did not endorse her proposal but neither did he oppose it and agreed the issue is timely. In a comedic moment indicating how far public attitudes about oil have changed, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said he wished North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven would “discover some oil in Minnesota.” For additional commentary on the hearing and excerpts from the testimony of Harold Hamm, Chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, Inc., the largest leaseholder and most active driller in the Bakken shale play, see my post at GlobalWarming.Org.
Across the States
NYC Mayor de Blasio Weighs in on Fracking
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week weighed in on the ongoing debate over hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” the generic term given to advances in drilling that have made possible the economic extraction of vast reserves of oil and natural gas from shale formations. Much of western New York lies above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, which can now be drilled thanks to fracking, yet New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has instituted an indefinite moratorium on the practice. On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio addressed the subject, telling reporters:
“The one thing I am firm about is that I don’t see any place for fracking. The science simply isn’t reliable enough…. So my view is that there should be a moratorium on fracking in New York State until the day comes that we can actually prove it’s safe, and I don’t think that day is coming any time soon.”
Notably, the Mayor has said in the past that his take on fracking is influenced by the anti-energy documentary “Gasland,” a movie that has been debunked. Moreover, de Blasio’s take is contradicted by New York state geologist Dr. Taury Smith, who has called the state’s gas reserves a “huge gift,” and who labeled environmentalist opposition to fracking as being “the worst kind of spin.” Finally, de Blasio’s anti-fracking stance is at stark odds with his populist platform. New York’s neighbor, Pennsylvania, has sparked an economic renaissance in formerly depressed rural areas by allowing drilling in the Marcellus Shale. By supporting a fracking ban, de Blasio is robbing poor, upstate New Yorkers of an economic boon.
Around the World
Climate Confab Finally Produces Something of Value
Huffington Post this week reported that NSA spied on foreign dignitaries at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference. Were NSA to have procured actionable intelligence, it would mark the first time that these otherwise feckless UN climate confabs produced anything of worth.