Chris Horner

Post image for Algae: Forever the Fuel of the Future

I’m still thinking about this algae thing, having been on the road when the hilarity ensued. As I understand it, we’re talking about algae because those stupid Republicans keep saying we should produce more oil domestically if we want to lower the price, since we have so darned much of it. And the President responded, that’s stupid because it won’t be here tomorrow.

We instead should “invest in” algae (see, “invest in” Solyndra, “invest in” Beacon Power, “invest in Ener1″…need I continue?). Because algae will be here…um…well, don’t be a cynic.

Because the true engine of… fuels for your engine… will always be energy sources like algae (man, I just wish I was in the room when the consultants worried, “how do we avoid him telling people the real answer is properly inflating their tires,” and the response to this brainchild was “YESSSSSS!,” high fives all around!).

Of course, any insider fool knows that this is a big waste of money because the prez has “invested” a lot of our money in Fisker and the Volt. They don’t need no stinkin’ pond scum to get you where you’re going.

Anyway, flash forward using time travel, which, really, like anti-gravity boots and the rest, has never been more promising (technically, you have to admit he’s right), and enter the world when we pull up to the station and say fill ‘er up with algae! (Free packet of Sea Monkeys with each tank!). It’s just around the corner, as competitive wind and solar electricity have been just around the corner since the ’80s…the 1880s.

The price is 425 dollars and 9 10ths of a cent per gallon. Question for our economist in chief: if we produce more algae, does that bring the price down? Just a window into your thinking.

I sense somehow we’ll be told that we’re really captive to a world algae cartel and that the U.S. is powerless therefore to impact the price. And so stop asking that we produce more. We all know, by now, you can’t produce your way to lower prices.

So that’s stupid. We should instead be investing in…

Post image for Let’s Make a Bet, Mr. President

The president sneers at drilling for domestic oil. After all, it wouldn’t be to market for a few years. It won’t do anything to alleviate the pain you feel now.

Which is what the same crowd said when vetoing opening ANWR in 1995. And in opposing opening ANWR in 2000. And in 2002. And, per him in a speech in Miami the other day, in 2007. And again today.

So, here’s a challenge, Mr. President.

Let’s have a race.

Allow for more drilling. And, since you’re going to do so anyway, you go spend a bunch of our grandkids’ money on putting some algae in our tank.

Might work as well as Solyndra. Or Synfuels. Who knows?

First one there wins.

You’re a confident guy. That sarcastic speech in Miami, dripping with condescension at your fellow countrymen who would like to tap domestic resources indicates, wow, he must really know something. We’re impressed. We want to believe you.

Whaddyasay. Deal?

Post image for Hell, that’s just one month’s work for Sierra Club…

According to BusinessWeek, Chesapeake Energy is being fined $565,000 by the state of Pennsylvania over three separate incidents in 2010 and 2011.

For perspective, consider that Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon gave Sierra Club $26 million over 4 years or $6.5 mil per year or $541,666 (.666, for any of the faith out there wondering about this font of evil…) per month.

Unfortunate Sign of the Times

by Chris Horner on December 5, 2011

in Blog

Post image for Unfortunate Sign of the Times

Tomorrow night, Politico will name EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as the most influential energy policymaker of the year, presumably for implementing a regulatory train wreck that will certainly make energy more expensive, and perhaps even turn out the lights.

What? Was the president of the Sierra Club unavailable?

In a blockbuster story soon to be swept under the carpet, Politico reports:

“The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.

In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.”

In weasel words that even make this Washingtonian of twenty years blush, the Department of the Interior Inspector General writes:

“‘The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,’ the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.” (emphasis added)

One can certainly “lead to an inference“. But … “led to the implication”? Oh, right. You are trying not to say “implied“.

This is Exhibit A for why law schools drill into every first year’s head do not use the passive voice. It obscures meaning, begs questions, and diminishes confidence and credibility in the speaker. You come off as trying to weaselly avoid saying something. Like this guy.

And here is the, ahem, ‘implication’ placed in the administration’s twisted report before asserting the recommendations of engineers who in fact did not approve or recommend the moratorium. Prepare yourself to wade through the fog:

“the recommendations contained in this report have been peer reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering”.

An implication that “led to”. A ‘lie’. Whatever. All good. (Except to the federal judge who caught…er, was led into… it, too; see p. 3).

So, the sexed up report implied something that wasn’t true — that ‘science’ and not ideology drove the numb-skulled left-wing fever dream of a drilling moratorium still effectively ravaging the Gulf Coast’s economy — an ‘implication’ which was nowhere to be found in the original report before the political and ideological spinmasters were called in late the night before the White House issued its sexed up document. They moved some language around…’implying’ a politically desirable conclusion that was patently untrue.

Contrast this with the allegedly scandalous toning down of unsupportable language in a legally meaningless climate report to the UN by former George W. Bush staffer Phil Cooney, who became the subject of a smear job in Al Gore’s silly sci-fi movie (treated in detail here). The Obama administration’s stunt entailed sexing up claims for political/ideological purposes. Where’s the outrage? (come to think of it…where’s Gore?)

Not toning hyperbole down. Sexing claims up unsupportably.

The former was scandalous — we were told. The other is being dismissed by the same crowd as, if anything, simply a result of people not reading the report objectively.

Which is where things get worse. Heads now really must roll.

“Steve Black, energy counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, was the department’s point man for the safety report…Black said he didn’t have any issues with the White House edit; he and his staffer both told the IG it never occurred to them that an objective reader would conclude that peer reviewers had supported the six-month moratorium.”

Ah. Interior thinks White House did nothing wrong in…rewriting outside parties’ work to fit the ideology and agenda of Interior and the White House. So I assume BP can indeed clear itself, too?

But the smear of others never ends with people who are never wrong. Guess who the unobjective parties alluded to here are? The scientists who wrote the report that was re-written in the wee hours by an uncomfirmed (because she is unconfirmable) anti-energy czar’s ideologues!

That’s right: The White House is blaming the scientists for not recognizing their own report after the ideologues got through with it. It was they who read their bastardized work and complained. Two of the peer reviewers, upset about the ‘implication’, sent letters to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The DOI sent letters of apology for the misunderstanding.

Now, having been outed by one of their own, if with weasel-worded friendly fire, the administration blames the people they wronged, for not being objective in reading how people flagrantly mischaracterized their own conclusions.

Incredible. And to think, coming from Carol Browner’s office! Who knew? (well, I did, dedicating the better part of a chapter — “Van Jones Was No Accident:  The Obama Administration’s Radical ‘Green’ Activists” — to her and her M.O.). Orwell and Nixon both live on in the Obama administration.

Reconciling the various, final pre-election surveys of voter sentiment indicates a that “it’s the spending, stupid.” It is remarkable how quickly public consciousness has developed to know that debt equals taxes.

Cap-and-trade is now dead, having proven, as we predicted serially, to be the 1993 BTU tax, redux. Members in the House voted on both measures on the assurance the Senate would not leave them hanging out to dry, isolated with that difficult vote, only to see their trust misplaced. As opposition grew more intense from the people-who were not at the table when their wealth was redistributed to various interests-the senators realized that they wanted to save jobs. Theirs.

We also see that cap-and-trade’s ugly Plan B cousin, “green jobs,” is not only sure to be an obsession very soon. The public will equally soon come to understand the bankrupting expense of “green jobs” programs: in President Obama’s erstwhile model, Spain, it cost them $750,000 per (temporary) “green job,” placing the nation’s energy infrastructure and economy in peril leading to an ongoing political crisis.

All over Europe Obama’s previously touted model states are struggling to rein in the subsidy schemes which threatened to expand the Greek contagion. These are economic black holes paying small fortunes for each job created, crowding out private sector growth, displacing real jobs responding to market forces with temporary jobs that disappear when the subsidy does, as it must (see: “census jobs”). All the while they necessitate higher energy costs as part of the plan. That makes them much worse than other make-work programs like ditch-digging-and-filling.

Still, just last week Obama’s Energy Department claimed in the Washington Post that its own stimulus version of the scheme was an “unqualified success”-at a half a million dollars per temporary job created! Moreover, all parties acknowledged in the article that the bubble has to be renewed annually or it bursts. Somehow this disastrous failure proved to the Obama administration that ”clean-energy investments [sic] are ready for prime time.” Oh, dear.

The coming, attempted ’green jobs’ binge is no more than WPA-style spending, which FDR confidantes admitted as a flop, and the debt to underwrite which delays the recovery further, just as the public seems to recognize the Obama agenda has already done.

There is the coming “energy” debate in a nutshell, and how, in a rational world, it will play out. Fortunately, ‘green shoots’ of rationality do seem to be popping up. The public realize “it’s the spending, stupid” and grasp the illusory nature of economic activity predicated on such “stimulus”-style debt-spending.

An AB32 Primer

by Chris Horner on October 25, 2010

in Blog

So, we read that Hollywood, Al Gore’s group, rent-seeking industry and other green groups have been joined by the rest of the usual suspects-Google, Bill Gates-in opposing Proposition 23, a ballot initiative to delay their state’s energy rationing law which will soon take effect. That is, barring voter intervention putting a temporary stay on this economic suicide pact until the state’s economy recovers somewhat.

I should think that’s about all one needs to know about Proposition 23.

Still, all of that money to protect the global warming industry’s gravy train seems to be having an effect among telephone survey respondents. But it remains a close one. And that’s why they suit up and play the game.

The people who will be hurt most by this costly gesture by elites who for the most part will not feel the pinch of California sinking further down the drain, particularly Hispanic voters, support reclaiming voter sovereignty on an issue the political class has proven an inability to responsibly manage.

I suppose this is just fodder for so much more hand-wringing by the Left about the regular voter being too stupid for the elites to stomach. How dare those imbeciles not wildly fall for it! Remember, AB 32 was passed as a global warming law. When it began to dawn on people that now was not the time for foolish gestures, even in California, and since no one actually posits that AB 32 would ‘do something’ to the climate in any detectable way (or even close, accepting all of the alarmists’ assumptions), the party line promptly switched to it being a jobs bill. Yeah, that’s it.

And, now, as the truth is making the rounds that this “world’s first” scheme has in fact proven to be a job-killing bog in many places already, the global warming industry has now done its usual late-hour race to the bottom. One pressure group is blitzing the airwaves with shameful ads saying this is about (of course) childhood respiratory function. Not a word in the ad about global warming. Huh. This comes from the California chapter of a group long having had a difficult relationship with being straight on such matters (including, as Reason’s Joel Schwartz has pointed out on many occasions, about California-specific issues and, as I detailed in Red Hot Lies, about global warming).

Which begs the question, unless they are just torturing the facts and being alarmist (again), why wasn’t that the reason AB 32 was passed to begin with? Instead, it was (risible) state-specific computer-modeled scenarios of doom unless the people allowed the political class to strip them of ever more freedoms. It was the faddish “global warming” pony they sought to ride to the long-held desire to price energy out of the reach of the same average voters whose proliferation and attainment of automobility, vacations and the like the elites just couldn’t tolerate.

You will know them by their deeds, and the global warming industry’s have a pretty miserable record.

Today’s exhibit about Spain’s economic miracle — you could call it a sector-specific collapse — comes from Bloomberg, a heartbreaking tale of the gravy inevitably running out. It is a tale that, pre-collapse, President Obama expressly sought to emulate and California is still actively pursuing, as is typical for the equally bankrupt California. Obama is now silent about Spain as his model and California claims its law is, er…the “world’s first!”

As happened in Spain, California’s bill is certain to come due long before the preening political class expected. The U.K.’s Global Warming Policy Foundation has a roundup with the top six stories in today’s update being relevant, as well.

So, yes, dear, these “green economy” schemes grow the economy. Of course, then so did Mr. Ponzi’s scheme. And, naturally, the plaintiff’s bar grows the economy, too, because we need a bigger court system and people to craft the instructions on shampoo bottles. Except upon slightly more scrutiny than the statists would like, they actually kill jobs. But if you only focus on this part I’m waving my hands at over here

And upon such scrutiny, their approach of name-calling and fabrication instead of arguing the merits begins to look pretty good.

A Climate Dictatorship?

by Chris Horner on November 13, 2009

in Blog

The Chamber of Commerce recently bowed to pressure from big member companies which have crafted schemes to pick your pocket under cap-and-trade, and cravenly pleaded for some form of global warming legislation. It defended this with the argument distilled as “we merely restated our position. A different way.” So it is with Congress, in a fashion, with its controversial Sec. 707 identically stuck in both the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer bills.

Some on Team Liberty insist there’s nothing to see here, because you’ll notice that the language says the President “shall” exercise “existing statutory authority”. QED. My former CEI colleague Jonathan Adler adopts Ed Morrissey’s position posted on Hot Air, phrasing it on Volokh:

“The above provision grants no new powers to the federal government, let alone the President. Zero. Zilch. Rather, it directs the President to have agencies use “existing statutory authority” to ensure greater greenhouse gas emission reductions.  In other words, it requires the President to ensure that agencies are using all the tools Congress has already delegated to them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – tools that such agencies could use even if the section is not triggered – and demands the President “submit to Congress” a request for additional authorities the President believes are necessary to ensure greater emission reductions.  Moreover, insofar as this provision constrains the Executive Branch’s discretion over what emission-reduction measures it wants to take, it actually reduces executive authority.”

That first part is true. It says use all existing authority. All of these tools. But, um, a (often radically) different way, that is, for a (often radically) different purpose. That “shall” thing is big, too. Leaning too heavily on “existing authority” to say there’s nothing new here has several perils, including that it ignores that this phrase is read by the courts as meaning existing laws, not existing applications of these laws. Jonathan is correct. Existing tools. This provision mandates using them in new ways.

It says use all existing authority – the Clean Water Act, NEPA, Endangered Species Act, and any federal law requiring a permit for any economic activity that does or could lead to GHG production – in a way that (to be charitable) is not at all clear is consistent with the legislative intent, design or otherwise (before this bill) feasible use.

This asserts on Congress’s behalf that these laws are now legislatively intended to serve as GHG suppression regimes. After establishing, in an earlier provision, causation by and harm from each and every existing or new increment of economic activity that uses or produces resources.

That’s new. That’s big. Both on its face and taken in context. All laws intended for purposes A, B, and C are now also expressly intended to be used – mandated – to chase an elusive global GHG concentration downward by emission avoidance. This is not the IRS getting Capone on tax evasion because the Feds couldn’t nail him for his racketeering, murder, etc. Tax evasion laws were intended to be used against tax evaders no matter what else those people did, and were employed for the purpose of prosecuting tax evasion.

Not every law on the books was intended to keep CO2 from being emitted. Now, everything in an enormous suite of laws intended to (again, being charitable) manage interstate commerce in the name of ensuring free-flow of goods, services, and other economic activity turned into an environmental law seeking, in practice, the rationing of permitted interstate commerce in the name of the atmosphere.

I have a book to write, right now. My earlier foray was not as short or concise as one prefers and pursues when one has the time. I didn’t, and still don’t. But the conclusion and argument there was still clear enough when read:

“My point, truncated, is that this provision at issue clears out any legal clutter possibly standing in the way of ongoing attempts to treat the ESA, CWA, NEPA, and in fact all other laws on the books as carbon dioxide suppression/ avoidance laws. These laws, particularly ESA, are sweeping in their power even to shut down, but particularly to block anything new. That is in many ways a game-changer for the greens, is why it is being fought, and saves years in the courts fighting over whether such authority actually exists….

The first paragraph at issue tells the executive branch to use all existing laws (and all authorities in this bill) to do whatever it thinks necessary to try and lower atmospheric GHG concentrations below where they are the day the law goes into effect; this of course goes far and beyond “cap-and-trade” quotas and timetables. The second paragraph says you can also ask Congress to spell it out if you think you are lacking authority despite “(a)”. But “(b)” is a complement to, not a condition precedent for, aggressive action under “(a)”.

This language approves the idea of implementing all federal statutes as GHG suppression measures. How huge that is is impossible to overstate. There is nothing on the books today supporting that proposition. ..Adopting such authority as that at issue here is not smart. The provision is not an accident. …This language is a license to steal. It is a serious threat. Arguing whether it creates new authority argues a distinction without a difference.”

So all remains the same. Just radically different. “But these laws could’ve been used as such, before!” Hmm. “Could’ve”, maybe, but that’s a stretch. But now they must. NEPA and ESA, with language and regulatory extensions sympathetic to that use, have been slouching there for some years and are just about there to different degrees but aren’t there yet. They, and every other law on the books – every one – now immediately are, if this passes. That’s new. That’s a big tool.

At risk of getting into a peeing match which my time budget may not allow me to finish, I believe that the dispute between Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air and the folks at the Washington Examiner joining Sen. David Vitter (and, by implication, I suppose me) is not necessary but worth resolving. Caution: it is also for the legislatively inclined or otherwise the pointy-headed. But, since I arguably joined the fray on Big Government on Tuesday, here goes.

At issue is a provision buried in both the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer “global warming” bills.

I had to leave for a few hours after starting my comment on this, in which time I decided not to wage the war over how strongly we need to argue that it prima facie nullifies the rest of the respective legislative language that too many lobbyists tout was carefully crafted to provide “certainty”. Lobbyists of course tend to say things reflecting well on their defense of client interests.

What is inescapable is that this language dispels such notions of certainty. But that shouldn’t be shocking. The bills statutorily establish “global warming” causation, for every existing or new increment of GHGs (read: employers, economic activity), as well as harm caused. And they fail to preempt states and elsewhere EPA as needed, or the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act or Endangered Species Act, or every other tool that’s already being tried out as a “global warming” law. Let alone the rest of the U.S. Code. All of which is relevant to context, as we shall see.

My point, truncated, is that this provision at issue clears out any legal clutter possibly standing in the way of ongoing attempts to treat the ESA, CWA, NEPA, and in fact all other laws on the books as carbon dioxide suppression/avoidance laws. These laws, particularly ESA, are sweeping in their power even to shut down, but particularly to block anything new. That is in many ways a game-changer for the greens, is why it is being fought, and saves years in the courts fighting over whether such authority actually exists. Now, if you choose, read on.

The issue is whether this language poses a serious, substantive threat or not, with what I view as the controlling language emphasized:


(a) AGENCY ACTIONS.-The President shall direct relevant Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions identified in the reports submitted under sections 705 and 706, and to address any shortfalls identified in such reports, not later than July 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter.

(b) PLAN.-In the event that the Administrator or the National Academy of Sciences has concluded, in the most recent report submitted under section 705 or 706 respectively, that the United States will not achieve the necessary domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions, or that global actions will not maintain safe global average surface temperature and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration thresholds, the President shall, not later than July 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter, submit to Congress a plan identifying domestic and international actions that will achieve necessary additional greenhouse gas reductions, including any recommendations for legislative action.

So, when viewing the meaning of this provision at issue in the appropriate context in order to view its most likely meaning, we also should note two things. First, no one says that this bill if perfectly implemented would control global concentrations of greenhouse gases – which is the trigger for deciding that “more” is needed, a trigger set where it will be exceeded ab initio – or that it would have a detectable climate impact. Which is to say, going in, we know that the answer by EPA and the National Academy of Sciences (kidding, right?) will be, also ab initio, “more”. Second, bear in mind that this language at issue was important enough to be identically inserted in bills otherwise so different that they range from about 800 pages to 1,300 pages in two different houses of Congress.

Ed styles what he sees as the Examiner’s/Vitter’s questionable reading of this as follows: “If true, it would undermine the entire notion of a cap-and-trade system – and give the President dictatorial powers over energy production and manufacturing.” (emphasis in original)

This is already sufficiently detailed that I do not think the best approach is to address the conflict as whether there are “emergency powers” for the president in the provision – that was rhetorical license, I believe, as there is no such category created here, if that’s the issue for anyone and, if it is, it’s the wrong issue. Although, in practice, a command to exercise any extension of all statutory authority found in the U.S. Code (including this bill), whatever the law or program may be, in the name of attaining some carbon dioxide objective beyond U.S. regulatory control is far too similar to such a description for me to decide that such word choice is the issue.

Instead, the issue appears to be whether this provision opens a floodgate of executive activism, and/or litigation seeking to compel a reluctant executive, such that the idea that the “cap-and-trade” is anything but a floor as opposed to the ceiling and patently phony “certainty” it is sold and, sadly, accepted by many as.

That is, the issue is the objective, first half of Ed’s framing of things, disregarding for the moment the latter characterization of the language’s possible use.

I think the answer to that is obvious. Yes.

Whether the latter characterization, as allowing (let’s say “plenary”) power over all manner of economic activity requiring federal permits, is found in this language depends upon whether the greens would sue to ensure the letter of the 707(a) authority is followed, and prevail. Now we are speculating. But I speculate yes they would, and their record and that of the courts is that they would prevail more often than not.

Remember. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments brought “certainty”. Then EPA started to get clever, and the greens litigious, with the New Source Review provisions. Certainty, lost. I suggest that no one familiar with that progression quickly dismisses the above language as a new, substantial threat.

Then we turn to the world before Massachusetts v. EPA “global warming” case which suddenly divined that, well, golly, EPA can regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Compare that to the world after that opinion, which reminds and affirms that – even though the notion of covering CO2 as a “pollutant” under the CAA was debated in 1990, and rejected – once the greens and the courts get together, with a little assist from an activist administration and EPA, we know how things turn out. Far less ambiguity has been tortured by the courts, including now the Supremes (you gotta read Scalia’s Mass. V. EPA dissent), into confessing to things that previously were dismissed far more rakishly than Ed dismisses the concerns expressed by the Washington Examiner and Sen. Vitter.

This also reminds us that the authority for an agency to do something is not the same as a requirement that it do something. That is relevant to what I see as a red herring, the idea that this “shall” language does not create any new powers, be they “emergency” or otherwise. Tru, dat. Yet at the same time it also removes any potential question whether any provision in any law which an activist administration now claims is or can be used as a GHG suppression measure is now authorized to be one. Between that and creating new authority is, I suggest, a distinction without a difference.

Remember. The day this law goes into effect, atmospheric concentrations will already be beyond what the law says is acceptable. And nothing that we do could lower them. But pretty well everything we might possibly try is now authorized. EPA doesn’t even need any new authority to change the acceptable atmospheric concentration from 450 parts per million from to 350. It’s on. All laws on the books are now interpreted, consistent with legislative intent, as tools to reduce or avoid GHG emissions in the name of lowering a global concentration.

This is why I suggest context is so important to understanding the meaning of this language.

I won’t even get into possible separation of powers or delegation issues raised here (if the National Academy of Sciences says jump and how high the federal government of the United States must act? Really?). As such, my conclusion is as follows:

The first paragraph at issue tells the executive branch to use all existing laws (and all authorities in this bill) to do whatever it thinks necessary to try and lower atmospheric GHG concentrations below where they are the day the law goes into effect; this of course goes far and beyond “cap-and-trade” quotas and timetables. The second paragraph says you can also ask Congress to spell it out if you think you are lacking authority despite “(a)”. But “(b)” is a complement to, not a condition precedent for, aggressive action under “(a)”.

This language approves the idea of implementing all federal statutes as GHG suppression measures. How huge that is is impossible to overstate. There is nothing on the books today supporting that proposition. So far, even in the absence of such a sweeping declaration, we rarely see the courts declare grants of authority as insufficient for all manner of mischief under the discretion granted EPA and other agencies called “Chevron deference”. That doctrine means that we have a fairly substantial burden of proving she was arbitrary and capricious in her interpretation of authority granted her by Congress.

EPA is already trying to implement the Clean Air Act to allow it to create a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade scheme in the context of a different cap-and-trade program the Agency had concocted despite recent admonition by a federal court that the Agency cannot just make up that very authority as it sees fit. It is also proceeding with what it calls a GHG “tailoring rule” to read the number 250 in the Clean Air Act as 25,000, even though the statute is clear that 250 means 250. And so on, as those of you who’ve toiled in the increasingly troubling field of EPA regulation know all too well.

Adopting such authority as that at issue here is not smart. The provision is not an accident. Remember. No one says this bill will have a climatic impact if the carefully designed caps and timetable are followed. If this legislation is indeed about the climate to its promoters, then this provision is intended just as it reads.

This language is a license to steal. It is a serious threat. Arguing whether it creates new authority argues a distinction without a difference. It effectively makes the cap and timetable mere sideshows, but inescapably ensures that seeking the refuge of “certainty” in this bill, as more and more CEOs have told me their lobbyists promise them is available here, is a fool’s errand.

In context, the reason for ensuring this precise language appeared identically in both “cap-and-trade” bills is clear. This is to be defeated, not dismissed. Guarding against alarmism on our side is proper. We should guard against dismissing broad grants or set-ups for interpretations of authority just as vigilantly.