The Motion that Won the Stay

by Marlo Lewis on February 11, 2016

in Blog

Post image for The Motion that Won the Stay

The Supreme Court’s decision to put a stay on EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan took nearly everyone by surprise. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had already scheduled an expedited review of the Power Plan, and, as the New York Times observed, “the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court.”

The stay is a major setback for the global warming movement. The Power Plan is President Obama’s signature domestic climate policy as well as the sheet anchor of his emission-reduction pledge to the United Nations in the Paris climate treaty negotiations. The stay not only puts the Plan on ice pending final resolution of complex litigation on the merits, a process that could take years, it also indicates that five justices have serious doubts about the Plan’s legality.

The usual suspects were quick to condemn the stay as a partisan decision, a product of coal-fired, oil-fueled Republican politics. A typical Orwellian inversion by rank partisans who would never admit, no matter how overwhelming the evidence, that the Power Plan is an unlawful power grab.

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CEI’s discovery in late 2012 of then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s false-identity “Richard Windsor” email account drew a fair amount of attention at the time.  Some media outlets, realizing they may have been getting the runaround from the “most transparent administration, ever” along with the rest of us, set off on broader campaigns to root out other tricks.  A Windsor-inspired AP inquiry prompted headlines like these.

CEI was forced to sue to get the Windsor emails it at first sought.  The first revelations, from just emails with certain “climate”-related keywords, painted a picture of an agency out of control, sweating the policy sheets with media allies and green group lobbyists…the few they hadn’t brought in-house to ply their trade. We then sought all emails on that false-flag account.   EPA said it would slow-walk this second request to the pitiful tune of 100 emails per month, for the next century.  So we sued.

In the meantime, the Windsor affair became notorious while leaving some in the media confused, possibly unsure that this was such a bad thing so long as it was the right kind of administration doing these things.  As recently as last month it was still being twisted by apologists at the Washington Post, whose reportage of yet another investigation sparked by Windsor included pure invention: “The 2012 request by CREW was sparked by the discovery that Lisa Jackson, then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had been using an alias email at work with the name “Richard Windsor,” largely for personal communication.”

There having been a handful of personal-ish emails among the many tens of thousands of responsive pages— which are largely available, specifically set-aside, online — this is simply made up.  In fact this email account was Jackson’s principal account for corresponding with senior EPA officials, other cabinet officers, White House staff, and the odd lobbyist (CEI’s litigation also revealed that Jackson used her actual personal account, with Verizon, used for corresponding with lobbyists from industry and green pressure groups).

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Post image for Satellites and Global Warming: Dr. Christy Sets the Record Straight

Earlier this week, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) atmospheric scientist John Christy testified at a House Science Committee hearing on the Paris climate treaty. Christy’s testimony covers several important topics including the “low effectiveness” of surface temperature records for detecting anthropogenic global warming, the “curious” procedure NOAA scientist Tom Karl used in his “pause-busting” adjustment of sea-surface temperatures, the “tiny” impact the Paris Agreement is likely to have on global temperatures, and the insufficient empirical basis for claims that climate conditions are worsening.

Today’s post focuses on Christy’s rebuttal of a Yale Climate Connections video designed to discredit satellite data as a reality check on the models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to forecast global warming and the associated climate impacts.

What’s got the climate establishment in a tizzy is a chart–Figure 1 in Christy’s testimony–that shows a growing divergence between model predictions and observed temperatures in the mid-troposphere (the layer of air from the surface up to 50,000 feet).

Christy modeled versus observed temperatures mid troposphere just trends 1979-2015, Jan 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Five-year averaged values of annual mean (1979-2015) global bulk (termed “mid-tropospheric” or “MT”) temperature as depicted by the average of 102 IPCC CMIP5 climate models (red), the average of 3 satellite datasets (green – UAH, RSS, NOAA) and 4 balloon datasets (blue, NOAA, UKMet, RICH, RAOBCORE)

Mid-troposphere (MT) data are a valid test of the models’ accuracy because the MT “overlaps with the region of the tropical atmosphere that has the largest anticipated signature of the greenhouse response by bulk mass – between 20,000 and 50,000 feet.”

Christy notes that in science, the test of whether we understand a natural system is whether we are able to predict its behavior. Thus, “If we are unable to make accurate predictions, then at least some of the factors in the system are not well defined or perhaps even missing.” Hind-casting is no substitute for prediction, because complex hypotheses such as climate models can be adjusted to produce results similar to what has already occurred. Yet Figure 1 shows that the models do not “even reproduce the past climate.”

Indeed, the models “clearly overcook the atmosphere,” overshooting observed warming in the MT by 250%. “The issue for congress here is that such demonstrably deficient model projections are being used to make policy.”

The remainder of this post excerpts Christy’s defense of the satellite data and summarizes his rebuttal of a common criticism of Figure 1.

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The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released on 29th January a statement and a technical document that leave no doubt that the Paris Agreement is a treaty according to all international criteria that requires depositing  “instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession” by the parties.  President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, and their legal allies in environmental pressure groups may quibble all they want that, although it may be considered a treaty by the United Nations and the entire international community, it’s still just a piece of paper that doesn’t rise to the level of a treaty requiring ratification by the Senate; but they cannot hide the reality that it is a treaty and according to the U. S. Constitution cannot go into force in the U. S. until it has been ratified by the U. S. Senate.

The UNFCC statement, Bringing the Paris Agreement into Force: Next Steps and National Climate Plans, confirms that the treaty will be open for signature from 22nd April 2016 to 21st April 2015.  The press release issued at the end of COP-21 in Paris on 12th December 2015 first shared the good news that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hold a hold a “high-level signature ceremony” at UN headquarters in New York City on 22nd April, which the press release refers to as “Mother Earth Day.”

The statement also makes clear that signing the treaty does not bind national parties to it.  That only comes after “at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least an estimated 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.” [all emphasis mine]  Thus President Obama may sign the treaty at the UN’s big Mother Earth Day celebration, but in order to become a party to the treaty the United States government will have to do something in addition to signing it.

The technical document, The Paris Agreement: Next Steps, makes it clear that the additional action required is ratification.

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Robert M. Carter, RIP

by Myron Ebell on January 22, 2016

in Blog

bobbyCIt is with great sadness that I report the death of Robert M. Carter on 19th January in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, several days after suffering a heart attack.  He was 74. The Heartland Institute has a tribute by Joe Bast plus tributes from many friends and colleagues. It also has videos of many of Bob’s excellent talks at Heartland International Climate Conferences.  A short, more formal obituary may be found here.

Bob was a fine man, an outstanding scientist, and one of the leading climate realists in Australia and the world.  It was my good fortune to get to know Bob and his wife Anne over the last decade when he came to America to speak at Heartland’s climate conferences.  He was in good form at Heartland’s conference in Paris on 7th December. I and many, many people around the world have lost a good friend.  The Cooler Heads Coalition has lost an esteemed ally.  May he rest in peace.

Post image for Mandating 100% Renewable Energy: It’s About Jobs?

Over at Energy in Depth, Steve Everley posts a detailed rebuttal of Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s widely-cited study, which claims that building a 100% renewable U.S. energy system will more than justify the costs. Even if we care little about the potential climate and air quality benefits, Jacobson and his allies contend, we should demand a rapid transition away from conventional (fossil and nuclear) energy, because that will create millions of jobs.

Everley summarizes the views of other researchers who argue that Jacobson underestimates the cost and feasibility of replacing fossil and nuclear energy with wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable technologies. But he also makes an original contribution to the debate.

Everley shows that according to Jacobson’s own data, transitioning to a 100% renewable energy system by 2050 would destroy more than 3.7 million permanent jobs. That exceeds by more 1.1 million the 2.6 million permanent jobs Jacobson estimates would be created.

Jacobson Job Losses 100 Percent Renewables

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Mark Jacobson

The proper goal of economic policy is to foster wealth creation, not job creation. Consider, for example, that replacing mechanized agriculture with subsistence agriculture would create lots of farm labor jobs, but it would also produce lots of poverty, hunger, sickness, and death.

Nonetheless, when renewable-energy advocates claim their agenda is “about jobs,” examining the net employment impacts of their schemes is fair game. See, for example, economist Gabriel Calzada’s study finding that Spain’s renewable energy subsidies destroyed about 2.2 jobs for every 1 job created.

Everley’s entire post is worth reading. Below is a summary in his own words. [click to continue…]

Post image for Paris Agreement: Recycled “Process” Socialism

At the Paris climate conference, President Obama got exactly what he wanted: the framework for a multi-decade, global campaign of political pressure directed chiefly against Republicans and their fossil-fuel industry allies.

The Paris Agreement does not directly impose “legally binding” emission-reduction and “climate finance” commitments on the United States. But both conservative gloating and green grousing about the treaty being “toothless” overlook what matters most in climate policy: politics.

Obama will use the Agreement to claim that EPA’s Clean Power Plan and other elements of his climate agenda are promises America has made to the world. The Agreement, moreover, will establish the institutional framework for a global coalition of 190+ foreign leaders, legions of UN bureaucrats, scores of green pressure groups, and hundreds of corporate rent-seekers. The coalition will demand that future Congresses and the next president enact and adopt whatever additional laws and regulations are needed to meet Obama’s emission-reduction pledge — known in bureaucratic parlance as the U.S. “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC).

The Agreement contemplates that Parties will submit ever-more “ambitious” NDCs every five years. So the global coalition will be poised to demand that future U.S. NDCs also be turned into laws and regulations. No chains are as binding as those we forge for ourselves!

The Paris pressure cooker is recycled process socialism. There’s an old joke that socialism (spending other people’s money) would be fun if it weren’t for all the committee meetings. Actually, socialist leaders got their jollies at such meetings, which employed a confessional exercise called criticism and self-criticism to cure “false consciousness,” inculcate doctrinal conformity, and enhance understanding of and allegiance to “the plan.”   

The parallel to the Paris regime is striking. The Agreement and accompanying “Decision of the Parties” envision endless rounds of meetings and reports. The incessant bureaucratic activity will facilitate the naming and shaming of Parties who doubt the so-called consensus of scientists, deviate from their five-year plans, or fail to demonstrate the desired climate “ambition.”  [click to continue…]

Post image for Paris Agreement Is a Real Tiger: Lock and Load

Summary: The Paris climate agreement is “non-binding, underfunded, and unenforceable,” as one conservative commentator put it. However, Paris is a “paper tiger” only on paper. The treaty’s core purpose is not to impose legal obligations but to establish the multi-decade framework for a global political pressure campaign. The pressure will be directed chiefly at those who oppose EPA’s unlawful Clean Power Plan and other elements of the President’s climate agenda. Republicans will get rolled unless GOP leaders organize a political counter-offensive centered around a Byrd-Hagel 2.0 resolution. Key message point: Contrary to President Obama, the Paris agreement is a treaty, hence it is not a policy of the United States until the Senate ratifies it.

Dismissing the Paris Climate Agreement as a paper tiger because America’s emission-reduction and foreign-aid commitments are not “legally binding” is whistling past the graveyard. The Paris agreement is first and foremost a device for mobilizing political pressure against U.S. opponents of President Obama’s climate policies. Those would be Republicans and their fossil-fuel industry allies.

At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris, President Obama wanted, and got, an agreement in which each nation’s core commitments are “politically binding.” Those who laugh about the phrase being an oxymoron, because politicians break their promises all the time, miss the point. What chiefly determines climate policy is not science or law but politics. [click to continue…]

Post image for Climate Change Hearing: Lessons from Data vs. Dogma

I finally got around to watching the Dec. 8 Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with clarity and rigor. Mark Steyn was spellbinding. John Christy’s data were awesome. Nonetheless, as an effort to reframe the public conversation on climate change, the hearing was, all in all, disappointing.

One problem is there were four majority witnesses (John Christy, Judith Curry, Will Happer, Mark Steyn) and only one minority witness (David Titley). You might suppose that would give the Republicans an advantage. Not so.

Coordinating questions and answers in advance with one witness is easier than with four witnesses. In addition, one witness can more easily reiterate a simple set of talking points.

Limiting the expert panel to just one majority and one minority witness would have facilitated genuine debate and non-evadable scrutiny of competing assumptions and data. When former Senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.) was chairman of the House Small Business Committee, he held a pair of hearings during the 105th and 106th Congresses that had only one and two witnesses, respectively. In each hearing he was able to pursue a single line of inquiry from start to finish. The results were spectacular. He thoroughly discredited the Clinton administration’s Kyoto Protocol economic analysis.

Another problem hindering Chairman Cruz at the “Data or Dogma” hearing is that all the other Republican senators left after the first round of questions. Result: Titley got more questions than all the majority witnesses combined. He alone had enough time to make, defend, and embellish his case. He also had more opportunities to rebut the other witnesses than they had to rebut him.

That allowed Titley to pull some fast ones. [click to continue…]

Post image for Is the Paris Climate Agreement a Treaty?

Is the Climate Change Agreement adopted in Paris by the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) a treaty? In other words, is it the type of international agreement to which the United States is a party only if the U.S. Senate ratifies it?

It is indeed, as this post will show.

Are the treaty’s emission-reduction and climate-finance “commitments” binding on the United States as a matter of international law? No.

From day one, Obama administration negotiators pushed to make the treaty’s core elements non-binding to encourage “participation” and “ambition.” That is, nations are more likely to participate, and promise more than they can deliver, if there are no legal consequences for broken promises.

The treaty’s emission-reduction and climate finance “commitments” might be compared to a non-binding Sense of Congress resolution, but for the fact that all Members of Congress can legitimately claim to represent people who elected them. In stark contrast, the 25,000 official delegates at COP21 do not represent peoples but rather “government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society” (i.e., environmental pressure groups). Only a small minority of participating governments are full democracies.

Also from day one, the Obama administration envisioned the treaty to be “politically binding.” That’s simply an obfuscatory way of saying that once adopted at COP21, the treaty will put political pressure on governments — first and foremost U.S. leaders after 2016 — to honor the treaty’s non-binding promises.

As President Obama opined in Paris, his successor, regardless of party affiliation, will have to abide by the agreement because COP21 demonstrates that “99% of world leaders think this is really important.”

Nice try. COP21 demonstrates that political elites in developing countries want U.S. and other First World taxpayers to fork over $100 billion to $450 billion annually in wealth transfers, dubbed the “Green Climate Fund.”

COP 21 also demonstrates that political elites everywhere want to expand their power to rig energy markets and control trillions of dollars in energy-infrastructure investments — from now until 2050 and beyond.

Those are not honorable motivations, and Obama’s successor should promptly submit the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.

The real reason Obama insists the Paris agreement is not a treaty is obvious. Under the U.S. Constitution, the United States does not become a party to a treaty until “two thirds of Senators present” vote to ratify it (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). There was no prospect of that happening even when Democrats held a majority of Senate seats.

What should GOP leaders do? They should pass resolutions explaining why the Paris agreement is a treaty, why the President must therefore submit the agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent, and why until ratified the treaty is no more politically-binding on the people and Congress of the United States than the long lists of never-to-be-enacted proposals in presidential state of the union speeches. The concurrent resolution introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) is exactly the kind of action needed to frame the debate.

House and Senate leaders should also use the power of the purse to block agency expenditures for activities related to the Paris treaty as long as the President works to circumvent the Constitution.

Finally, congressional leaders should continue their efforts to overturn EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which constitutes the largest part of the U.S. COP21 emission-reduction pledge (known in bureaucratic parlance as our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC).

Let’s now examine why, contrary to President Obama, the Paris climate agreement is a treaty.

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