Iain Murray

Who Cares About the Consumer?

by Iain Murray on February 13, 2009

in Blog

Electricity consumers beware! The so-called-stimulus bill includes provision for something called “decoupling.” E&E Daily reports:

Also included in the final version is a requirement that governors who want additional state energy efficiency grants ensure that their state regulators guarantee revenue to utilities to support efficiency programs.

State regulators and consumer advocates strongly opposed the provision, saying it ties regulators’ hands and is not the best tool to promote efficiency.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners said many regulators cannot assure that “decoupling” requirements will be met. “These ambiguous conditions will create confusion and legal uncertainty and will likely delay or preclude the release of these critical funds,” NARUC said in a statement. “This benefits neither the States the utilities, nor, most importantly, the citizens they serve.”

“Decoupling” is a mystifying-sounding name for an economically terrifying concept. This is how it is described in government/regulatory jargon:

In order to motivate utilities to consider all the options when planning and making resource decisions on how to meet their customers’ needs, the sales-revenue link in current rate design must be broken. Breaking that link between the utility’s commodity sales and revenues, removes both the incentive to increase electricity sales and the disincentive to run effective energy efficiency programs or invest in other activities that may reduce load. Decision-making then refocuses on making least-cost investments to deliver reliable energy services to customers even when such investments reduce throughput. The result is a better alignment of shareholder and customer interests to provide for more economically and environmentally efficient resource decisions.

Now, in English: the laws of supply and demand mean that if the quantity demanded goes down, you sell less of the product you supply. In energy supply terms, this means that if conservation works, energy utilities see their profits decline, because in general they are regulated so tightly that they cannot raise their prices, which is the usual response to declining demand. Therefore, if there is a policy goal of increasing energy conservation, then utilities are likely to stand in the way, because their profits depend on selling more energy; they are unlikely to install technologies that reduce the need for energy, for example. Accordingly, the link between quantity sold and profits must be broken, or “decoupled.” This is normally done by regulating rates such that if more energy is sold, the marginal rate goes down and, if less is sold, the marginal rate goes up.

Now, to some this may sound like supply and demand at work, but it is actually a market manipulation aimed at achieving a policy goal. In fact, it most resembles a supply-side reform designed by someone who doesn’t understand supply-side economics. The utility remains regulated and the incentive structure is designed such that the utility is more inclined to respond to the regulator rather than the consumer. When profits are essentially guaranteed at a certain level, the utility will be more likely to spend money pleasing the regulator and delivering service improvements to that body than to the consumer. The consumer may end up paying more money for less electricity and the utility and regulator will both be happy. The dangers here are obvious; insulating the supplier from the consumer is a terrible idea.

Here is a useful paper from the Electricity Consumers Resource Council that raises several further objections to decoupling, which it says is a blunt instrument. They are:

  • 1. Decoupling Promotes Mediocrity In The Management Of A Utility.
  • 2. Decoupling Shifts Significant Business Risk From Shareholders To Consumers With
    Only Dubious Opportunities For Net Increases In Consumer Benefits.
  • 3. Decoupling Eliminates A Utility’s Financial Incentive To Support Economic
    Development Within Its Franchise Area. This Includes The Incentive To Support The
    Well Being of Manufacturers And Their Workforce.
  • 4. Revenue Decoupling Mechanisms Tend To Address ‘Lost Revenues’ And Not The Real
    Issue, Which Is Lost Profits.
  • 5. The First And Most Important Step Regulators Can Take To Promote Energy
    Efficiency Is To Send The Proper Price Signals To Each Customer Class.
  • 6. Several States Have Successfully Used Alternative Entities—Including Government
    Agencies—For Unselling Energy. This Creates An Entity Whose Sole Mission Is To
    Promote Energy Efficiency, And Retains A Separate Entity Whose Responsibility Is To
    Efficiently Sell And Deliver Energy.
  • (Not sure about that last one, but if there’s a policy goal to reduce energy consumption, that’s certainly a better way to go about it than decoupling).

    A true supply-side reform would actually reduce regulation to the basics (reasonable safety requirements etc) and thereby not only allow but encourage the best conservation measure of all – demand-based pricing. This would allow rates to increase and decrease not according to some bureaucrat’s assessment of whether a policy goal is being met, but hourly, according to whether the system is being over- or under-used. Less energy will be consumed at peak times, thereby reducing the need for back-up energy generation, and more will be used at off-peak times, reducing the amount of wasted energy then. Overall, as long as the consumer responds to the price signal, consumers will probably use less electricity but also see their bills drop, while the utilities will save in lower production costs. Decoupling-style rate regulation actually stands in the way of this win-win goal.

    Image by Skagit Information Management Systems, used under Creative Commons License.

    Tucker 1 Lovins 0

    by Iain Murray on February 10, 2009

    Those who have been following the “alternative energy” fantasists for a while will recognize the name of Amory Lovins, the so-called “sage” (yet another pseudo-religious title utilized by liberal environmentalists for their heroes) of the Rocky Mountain Institute. They will also remember that he regularly advances marvelous-sounding schemes for re-imagining America’s energy mix, which never seem to go anywhere. He’s at it again, this time on the popular Freaknomics blog, where he suggests that renewable “micropower” is the future of energy:

    Power plants also got irrationally big, upwards of a million kilowatts. Buildings use about 70 percent of U.S. electricity, but three-fourths of residential and commercial customers use no more than 1.5 and 12 average kilowatts respectively. Resources better matched to the kilowatt scale of most customers’ needs, or to the tens-of-thousands-of-kilowatts scale of typical distribution substations, or to an intermediate “microgrid” scale, actually offer 207 hidden economic advantages over the giant plants. These “distributed benefits” often boost economic value by about tenfold. The biggest come from financial economics: for example, small, fast, modular units are less risky to build than big, slow, lumpy ones, and renewable energy sources avoid the risks of volatile fuel prices. Moreover, a diversified portfolio of many small, distributed units can be more reliable than a few big units. Bigger power plants’ hoped-for economies of scale were overwhelmed by diseconomies of scale.

    Thankfully, William Tucker, author of the excellent new book Terrestrial Energy, has responded in the comments section. His comment is worth reproducing in full:

    Quite briefly, Lovins is drawing a false analogy between the miniaturization and distribution of computing and telecom instruments and the production of energy. Computers and telephones can be miniaturized and distributed according to Moore’s Law because they involve information. You can use less and less energy to store each bit. For that reason you can have as much computing power on your desktop today as Univac had in an entire room in the 1960s. Computers can be distributed because they have become so powerful.

    But things don’t work that way with energy. A kilowatt is a kilowatt, whether it’s generated in your backyard or at a power station. You can “distribute” generation anywhere you want but you still have use the same amount of fuel or wind or whatever. We could replace central thermal stations with gas turbines on every street corner, but the fuel is going to be expensive and produce a lot more carbon emissions, which is something Lovins conveniently overlooks.

    The real irony, however, is his suggestion that wind fits this small-is-beautiful scenario. Sure wind is “distributed.” After all, you need 125 square miles of 45-story windmills to generate the same 1000 megawatts that can be generated in one square mile at a central thermal station. You’ve got to put them somewhere! And that’s just their nameplate capacity. To produce 1000 MW of base load electricity, you’d need at least three or four 125-square-mile wind farms scattered at diverse locations around the country.

    That’s the reason Lovins himself has suggested covering all of North and South Dakota with wind farms. Al Gore matches him by asking for 1/5 of New Mexico, the fifth largest state, for solar collectors. On top of this, they want to rebuild the entire national grid to 765 kilovolts in order to ferry all this electricity from the remote areas where it’s best generated to population centers. And Lovins calls 1000-MW power plants operating on the current transmission system “irrationally big!”

    What Lovins never wants to acknowledge is the energy density of nuclear power. With nuclear, the energy produced from 500 square miles of windmills can be generated with a fuel assembly that would fit in the average living room. Why “distribute” all this generating capacity into big, ugly structures that litter the landscape and only work when the wind blows? Why not concentrate it all in one place? Then once every 18 months a single tractor-trailer can come in with a new set of fuel rods.

    In one respect, though, Lovins may be right. Maybe we shouldn’t be building nuclear reactors to 1500 MW. Hyperion, a New Mexico company, has invented an 80-MW mini-reactor the size of a gazebo that can power a town of 20,000. You could put it in someone’s basement and no one would ever notice. While “alternate energy” has gotten more and more gigantic, nuclear is getting smaller and smaller.

    Who would have thought it would be nuclear that is small and beautiful?

    Indeed. As Mr Tucker explains at greater length in his book, the real problem with “renewable” energy is that it is just so distribute and dispersed that collecting in the quantity and quality we need it is a real problem, one that size alone can solve. Lovins’ argument is just about the reverse of reality.

    No TV station seems to be covering this live, but you can watch here.

    Kerry in his introduction says “if there was a cost-free way of tackling climate change, we’d take it, but there isn’t.” There is (at least comparatively) – adaptation – and Kerry, Gore and their ilk have stood in the way of research and implementation of adaptation. Lugar makes this point in a slightly confused fashion (and gives too much credence to the finagled Stern Report), but eventually gets good on the subject of biotech.

    Gore links global warming, financial crisis and terrorism as all caused by our use of coal and oil. How convenient for him. Oh, and China as well. Urges Congress to pass “the entirety” of the shtimulus bill. Presumably including the resodding of the National Mall as a vital step in combating the climate crisis.

    Says Kyoto II must be negotiated this year, not next. I presume he will strongly criticize the Administration when this doesn’t happen.

    Says developing companies are leading the way. Praises Brazil for its bold leadership – when they are investing over $100 billion in oil exploration over the next 5 years. There’s an inconvenient truth for you, Al. And what about the gorilla in the room – China?

    Praises Reagan for leading the Montreal Protocol, which he says is a model. This was debunked by CEI ten years ago.

    Here comes the slideshow! All of a sudden it’s “some scientists,” not all scientists. Interesting. Arctic graphics all very impressive, but fact remains that there are strong arguments that the changes there are natural. Gore remains worried about Greenland. He’s out of date.

    No real change in Gore’s arguments about glaciers, beetles and wildfires from An Inconvenient Truth. All are dealt with in Marlo Lewis’ magnum opus Al Gore’s Science Fiction. Still wants to link Hurricanes to Global Warming, despite retreats on that from scientists.

    Shows he’s read ‘How to Lie with Statistics’ in his contemptible attempt to say disasters now are worse than they were. Roger Pielke Jr and Indur Goklany have both debunked that notion comprehensively.

    On oceanic acidification, there is a splendid new study from SPPI that really puts that question to rest.

    In questions, Gore endorses 350ppm as the “target level” for CO2, and notes that some people don’t think we can do “what the science mandates.” Very revealing phrasing. To those in the coal industry, he says that new energy jobs will give them “even better jobs.” I’d like to see the evidence for that specific claim.

    Says wind power is now fully mature and competitive. So no subsidies needed, then? No, he says it can expand its role with subsidies. Aha. Meanwhile, perhaps someone should tell the backers of the London Array.

    Also says that solar is mature too. The plain fact is that all forms of solar energy are remarkably inefficient, and the best summary of why is in William Tucker’s new book, Terrestrial Energy (and Tucker supports strong action on global warming).

    Unfortunately, technical problems made me miss the rest of Kerry’s questions, so I’ll end there.

    Bottom line: nothing new from Gore, despite his assertions to the contrary. His concerns are overblown and his “solutions” remain grossly expensive pipe dreams. I personally believe global warming is a risk, but Gore’s program represents a potentially disastrous misallocation of global resources.

    Apparently, global warming is now irreversible. Or, at least, it is if you don’t consider any of the policy options that might, you know, reverse it. As Roger Pielke Jr points out, the study didn’t examine the potential for geoengineering:

    Geoengineering to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere was not considered in the study. “Ideas about taking the carbon dioxide away after the world puts it in have been proposed, but right now those are very speculative,” said Solomon.

    Then only reason geoengineering remains speculative is because the global warming industry is locked into one policy model: mitigation. If adaptation is the red-headed stepchild of global warming research, geoengineering is the unacknowledged bastard, kept tied up in the basement and fed only with a bucket of fish heads.

    Meanwhile, the McKinsey Global Initiative has come out with version 2 of its “we can save the world very cheaply” report, which is available if you register and give them your email address via the links here. The fiendish consultants have disabled the ability to cut their charts out, so you’ll have to get a copy for yourself, but their Exhibit 1 shows that all the “affordable” options are to do with energy efficiency, not grand new green energy projects, which are much more expensive and require aggressive carbon pricing (and this needs to be born in mind as well). Furthermore, these are truly global initiatives – something has has to be done everywhere, around the world – as Exhibit 4 makes clear. Something we can do quite affordably may be a different kettle of fish heads for the developing world. If you can’t afford an incandescent lightbulb, you can’t afford an LED lamp, whatever the CO2 abatement potential is. I hope to provide a full response to the McKinsey paper soon.

    Krugman is Wrong – Again!

    by Iain Murray on January 26, 2009

    in Science

    Boy, that wacky Paul Krugman. The newly-crowned Nobel laureate (they should be allowed to wear a laurel wreath everywhere they go, so we’d know of their brilliance), fresh from revealing how little he understands the history – or purpose – of liberalism, shows he knows diddly-squat about Air Traffic Control.

    In today’s column he argues, plonkingly,

    Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.

    Unfortunately for Krug, the fact is that the public sector does a pretty poor job of Air Traffic Control. Not because of large numbers of accidents – that doesn’t happen anywhere much these days – but in terms of waste and inefficiency. American ATC is based on a system of beacons from the early days of air transport. Those have long since been superseded in safety terms by GPS and other innovations, but the system is still based on them. Liberalizing ATC actually makes a huge amount of sense, which is why plenty of governments around the world have done it, without seeing mid-air collisions, erm, explode. As I say in the new Agenda for Congress:

    Liberalize Air Travel. … Privatization and modernization of the air traffic control system not only would allow faster flights and less delay at airports but save up to 400,000 barrels of oil per day, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions accordingly. And there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Canada’s successful air traffic control privatization offers a useful model.

    You can only really object to that if you’re a socialist dogmatist, or your thinking is stuck in the 1930s. I’m not sure which is the case with El Krug.

    For a broader picture, Jon Henke does a great job of commenting on the entire column over at The Next Right.

    The New Green Economy?

    by Iain Murray on January 21, 2009

    in Science

    I’ve spent a while crunching the numbers relating to energy and environment spending in the stimulus bill. The bill will spend about $80 billion on energy and environment, which can be broadly broken down into the following categorizations:

    Electricity infrastructure/efficiency – $35.6 billion
    Renewable projects – $11.95bn (mostly $8bn in loan guarantees and $2.4bn for clean coal)
    Climate science/general energy academic research – $9.3bn!!! (including $1.9 for nuclear research)
    EPA programs (Superfund cleanup etc) – $12.2bn
    Other environmental (National Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management etc) – $10.899bn

    So that means around $57 billion of the total is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Thanks to Jonathan Tolman, we can work out how many jobs this will create. As he says, not every program gives a figure for created jobs, but about 5/8ths of them do. That $50 billion is supposed to create just under 1 million jobs, but many of these are in the traditional environmental areas of clean-up.

    Of the $57 billion aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, just over half the expenditures have job numbers associated with them. Those total $32.3 billion, for a total of 353,000 jobs, at $91,000 per job. These are overwhelmingly related to the (much-needed) creation of a smart electricity grid, and improving the efficiency and weatherization of the housing stock, which will be a good thing even if global warming turns out not to be a problem*.

    The actual “green energy/jobs” program, in the sense most people think about it of revolutionizing our energy provision, amounts to $6.4 billion and 70,000 jobs. There may well be more (there are no job figures attached to the renewable energy loan guarantees, for instance), but that remains so speculative that it was not even suggested in the Bill.

    * This should not be taken as an endorsement of government expenditure on the programs.

    Fatal conceit alert! Here’s the text of the Inaugural Address, with some comments from your humble servant.

    For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

    Obama already shows that he does not understand infrastructure. The grids – roads and electric grids and so on – only work if the flows – cars and energy – are allowed to flow freely. And flows only work if the grids are sufficient to allow them to flow. This is why liberating or constructing grids is of no help if you restrict the flows, and vice versa. An electric grid designed to meet the demands of the next 30 years will be of no help if we restrict ourselves to the false promise of solar and wind power, which cannot possibly provide more than a tiny fraction of our energy at current – or foreseeable – technology. Similarly, what good is a road network if we restrict our cars to a range of 40 miles? A proper approach to infrastructure liberates both. The best government can do for infrastructure is actually to get out of the way. NEPA reform is essential.

    As for “science in its rightful place” – I hope so! Something to inform, not dictate policy.

    And “soil” – does that mean nuclear?

    Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

    What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

    Ah, a classic obfuscation deployed against the “cynic” – that’d be me, a loyal follower of Diogenes the Dog. “Big plans” are the fatal conceit. “Big works” we could and can handle. There is a big difference. As for the question of the size of government, the most important insight of liberalism is that government that “works” is often still harmful (see J.S. Mill, passim). The tyranny of the majority works for the majority, not the minority. That’s why government has to be limited as a moral imperative, never mind the mountain of economic evidence in favor of limited government.

    Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

    The market has self-limiting devices to prevent it spinning out of control, but too often government regulates against them. It can also be spun out of control by government pushing it too hard in the wrong direction, as happened here, both in the UK and US. I do have to agree with him on opportunity, however. Opportunity is at the base of resiliency and adaptation to circumstance. What we cannot do, on the other hand, is guarantee opportunity, for that by its very nature reduces resiliency. Instead, we must have institutional reform to allow people to make the most of what they have, whether their resources be modest or ample. Property rights, rule of law, the market, many others – all are institutions that allow opportunity and which government has weakened.

    …roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life

    Interesting juxtaposition. It would be nice if he meant it. Moreover, the use of the word specter is appropriate – a terrifying fantasy that exists only to frighten naive people.

    To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

    Again, I agree completely with the professed end, but the means by which he hopes to achieve it contradict the end. Artificially restricting energy access on a global basis will keep the poor in poverty and guarantee suffering outside our borders. That is why we need a different approach.

    I’ll pass over the cant and the security issues, and end by commenting on a misinterpretation of George Washington:

    “Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

    Notice the subject and the voice. The people came forth voluntarily. they were not commanded by a government or leader. Thomas Paine is asking his compatriots to help, but no government forced it – indeed, that is the point of the request, that it should be said that people did it voluntarily. And respond they did. They sprang forth from their farms and homesteads to see off a tyrant whose list of abuses to their ancient rights and freedoms served as an affront to their heritage and liberty. There was no fatal conceit in the creation of America, rather a reaction against it. [This paragraph has been edited to correct a misrepresentation. See comments.] That is why the misunderstandings, contradictions and wishful thinking embodied in this inaugural address will be no more than a footnote in history.

    A Tide Turning?

    by Iain Murray on January 20, 2009

    in Science

    Very interesting new poll from Rasmussen that suggests a significant reversal in public opinion over the causes of global warming.

    Forty-four percent (44%) of U.S. voters now say long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming, compared to 41% who blame it on human activity.

    Seven percent (7%) attribute global warming to some other reason, and nine percent (9%) are unsure in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

    Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party by eight points put the blame on planetary trends.

    In July 2006, 46% of voters said global warming is caused primarily by human activities, while 35% said it is due to long-term planetary trends.

    In April of last year, 47% of Americans blamed human activity versus 34% who viewed long-term planetary trends as the culprit. But the numbers have been moving in the direction of planetary trends since then.

    I must put in the obligatory disclaimer here: I believe that the weight of the scientific evidence points towards human activity having an effect on climate. However, I also believe that this effect is minor and that it is likely to remain minor. Which means that I believe these 44% are wrong. But what is and isn’t true actually isn’t the case here.

    The truth is that political action in a democracy depends on what people believe, not on what actually is fact. This significant reversal trend suggests that it will be much harder to justify significant costs – particularly at household level – to combat global warming.

    The new Administration and Congress would therefore be wise to step away from expensive anti-energy measures and concentrate instead on improving the resiliency and adaptive capacity of those who are most vulnerable should global warming turn out to be a problem. Otherwise, they run the risk of the electorate reacting like Batman.

    Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was present at the Kyoto negotiations back in 1997, and predicted their failure because of the inability to get the developing nations like China to commit to emissions reductions.  He has recently returned from the Poznan Conference of the Parties aimed at drawing up Kyoto II, and is of the opinion that nothing has been learned from history.  He has set out his concerns in a letter to President-elect Obama (copy below).

    Of course, in many ways the developing nations are right to object to the imposition of emissions restrictions.  Emissions represent the fastest way out of poverty for their peoples.  That's why, as I argue here, we need to think again and move away from the emissions reduction paradigm as the only solution to the global warming risk. Nevertheless, Rep. Sensenbrenner is to be congratulated for calling attention to at least one reason why the current approach is doomed to failure.

    Letter follows.


    The Honorable Barack Obama

    President-Elect of the United States

    451 6th St., N.W.

    Washington, D.C.  20002



    Dear Mr. President-Elect:


    On November 18, speaking by videotape to the Bi-Partisan Governors’ Global Climate Summit, you invited Members of Congress who would be attending the 14th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznań, Poland to report back to you on what they learned there.   I have just returned from serving as the only Member of the U.S. House of Representatives to observe the negotiations and the only Member of Congress to observe the entire final week.  I am happy to accept your invitation. 


    By way of background, I currently serve as the Ranking Republican Member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, a committee created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 110th Congress to study policies, strategies and technologies to substantially and permanently reduce emissions that contribute to global warming.   I have attended three prior UNFCCC Conferences of Parties and led the U.S. House delegation to Japan, which observed the 1997 negotiations that produced the Kyoto Protocol.  


    I am deeply concerned that the current negotiations, which are intended to lead to a new international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol next year in Copenhagen, are recreating Kyoto’s fatal flaws.  Specifically, any treaty that does not include legally binding and verifiable greenhouse gas emissions reductions from developing countries will not be ratified by the U.S. Senate because it will not accomplish the fundamental goal of reducing global emissions.


    You are aware of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which the U.S. Senate adopted by a 95-to-0 vote on July 25, 1997, expressing the sense of the Senate that the U.S. should not be a signatory to an agreement that does not include specific scheduled commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions for developing countries or will result in serious harm to the U.S. economy.  Because the Kyoto Protocol failed to satisfy these requirements, neither President Clinton nor President Bush submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification.  At a meeting in Poznań, Senator John Kerry and Vice President Al Gore agreed that an international treaty must include mandatory emissions reductions from developing countries. 


    The current negotiations seem to be leading toward a similarly flawed outcome.  At another meeting in Poznań, I met with negotiators from foreign countries, including China and India.  These countries, the first and third largest CO2 emitters in the world, clearly stated that they would not accept legally binding emissions reductions. 


    The impasse that international negotiators have reached indicates that a new strategy is necessary.  I am eager to assist you in emphasizing that, without legally-binding,  verifiable commitments from all nations, global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are neither scientifically nor politically achievable.


    I look forward to scheduling a more detailed briefing. 


    My best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.





    F. James Sensenbrenner         

    Blood Out of a Stone

    by Iain Murray on November 11, 2008

    in Science

    Roger Pielke Jr has the tale of how Steve McIntyre, who has uncovered numerous egregious errors in global warming science, such as the infamous Hockey Stick scandal, attempted to get some information from prominent alarmist scientist Ben Santer.  Santer's response is,as Roger suggests, a perfect example of why more and more people just don't trust the alarmist scientific establishment.