Post image for Is Earth Day Passé?

Is Earth Day Passé?

by Marlo Lewis on April 22, 2011

in Features

I just checked the Web sites of eight leading eco-activist groups, curious as to how prominently the organizations are featuring Earth Day messages and activities.

Surprisingly, seven of the groups — Center for Biological Diversity, EarthJustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council — say nary a word about Earth Day.

Sierra Club is the sole partial exception — they’re offering a $15 gift if you join the organization on Earth Day. It’s almost as if green pressure groups are as sheepish about Earth Day as their congressional allies are about the policy that dare not speak its name — cap-and-trade. 

So if they’re not advertising Earth Day, what are they talking about? Six of the eight groups’ Web sites feature strikingly similar photos and messages about the April 2010 BP oil spill:

  • Center for Biological Diversity – “Gulf Disaster One Year Later”
  • EarthJustice – “One Year After the Gulf Oil Spill”
  • Environmental Defense Fund – “One Year After BP Disaster, Congress Lags Its Response”
  • Greenpeace – “Deep Water Horizon One Year On”
  • National Wildlife Federation – “Status of the Gulf: Wildlife and Wetlands One Year after the Gulf Oil Disaster”
  • Natural Resources Defense Council – “Disaster in Gulf Lives On”

Groupthink (“We are Borg . . .”) can afflict partisans of any agenda, but it is endemic to ideologies demanding ever-greater political control over economic decisions.

Former Vice President Al Gore is the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of global warming alarmism and energy rationing policies. He leads what I think of as the Dream Team: Gore is the public leader; James Hansen is the go-to scientist; Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pushed through a cap-and-trade bill in the House that killed cap-and-trade; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the main promoter in the Senate; when he dropped the ball, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was in charge for awhile; and she has now been replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with help from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

I used to think that we were just incredibly lucky that the alarmist movement was led by this group of second raters.   I now realize that it isn’t luck.  Global warming alarmism attracts incompetents, know-nothings, and looney tunes.

We have missed Al Gore in the debate, but luckily Kerry and Graham were fully up to sinking cap-and-trade in the Senate (not that it had much chance anyway) without any help from the leader of the forces of darkness. So it was good to see that Gore returned this week on a conference call sponsored by Repower America (aka the Alliance for Climate Protection).

Gore on the conference call acknowledged that cap-and-trade was dead and that the alarmists had lost in 2010.  He bitterly blamed the usual suspects: Big Oil, King Coal, right-wing media, and professional deniers (I believe that is where he would put me and CEI).  This is boilerplate nonsense.  Three of the big five oil companies (BP, Shell, and Conoco Phillips) support cap-and-trade, as well as most of the big electric utilities (Duke Energy, P G and E, Exelon, PNM Resources, Entergy, etc.) and many other major corporations, such as General Electric, Dow Chemical, General Motors, and Ford Motor.  Cap-and-trade died when the American people found out that it was a colossal transfer of wealth from them to corporate special interests (see the list in the previous sentence).

Gore even said that our system of government was not working as the founders intended it to work.  In fact, in the debate over cap-and-trade the system of checks and balances in the Constitution is working exactly as the founders intended.  It has prevented an elite from hijacking the economy for its own enrichment.

I can see why Gore is bitter.  His comparatively modest investments in green energy promised to make him a global warming billionaire if cap-and-trade were enacted. Unluckily for him, the American people have said no emphatically.

[This was originally posted on Politico’s Energy Arena here.]

Post image for Regarding the Gulf, What Is Obama Thinking?

Here’s something I didn’t expect: Quite a few “green” journalists on the energy policy beat have concluded that President Barack Obama’s moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf is seriously flawed. To be sure, the LA Times editorial board has come out in favor of an extended drilling ban, but among reporters who have spent time in Louisiana, there’s an acknowledgment that the moratorium is hurting livelihoods.

I was recently in Dallas, and there I had the opportunity to speak with a broadcast news journalist who had been reporting from the Gulf. He said the people of Louisiana hate BP, but they really hate the moratorium, and they are vocal about it. This is the same sense you get from the aforementioned liberal coverage. Evidently, it’s tough to be on location, and not come away with a sense that the moratorium is unjust.

With local reaction so strong, I wonder what’s going through Obama’s head. He’s been given two opportunities to back down-federal judges have nixed the moratorium twice. Yet the President plows ahead. The Interior Department is trying to re craft the drilling ban to pass legal muster.

He lost Louisiana by a wide margin, so maybe he doesn’t care. Perhaps this is part of a master plan to get a critical mass of oil rigs out of the Gulf, and force a demand response turn to a fuel efficient Ford Fiestas and GM Volts. That’s wacky, and mildly tongue in cheek, but still…

The chance that the Senate will pass a comprehensive energy-rationing (a k a climate) bill this year remains close to zero.  BP’s big oil spill in the Gulf changes very little.

The global warming movement peaked last June 26 when the House passed the Waxman-Markey bill.  When members went home for the Fourth of July, many who voted for it discovered that their constituents were angry and mobilized.

Seeing the public reaction, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped plans to move a cap-and-trade bill before the August recess and turned to health care reform.  It’s been all downhill since then.

The Kerry-Boxer bill, which is very similar to Waxman-Markey, passed the Environment and Public Works Committee last fall, but it was clear that it couldn’t get 51 votes, let alone 60, on the floor.  That’s when Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) began working on a “middle-of-the-road” package with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Even if he does finally release a draft of the measure this week, it’s still not going anywhere.  Whether Graham is on board doesn’t matter because he doesn’t bring any other Republicans with him.

Kerry’s draft has restricted cap-and trade to electric utilities only.  And he’s stopped calling it cap-and-trade because the American people have figured out that it is an indirect tax on them.  Now it’s “pollution reduction and investment.”  Similarly, a gasoline tax has been renamed “linked fee.”  Call it whatever you want, it’s still a tax that consumers will have to pay.  Adding some offshore oil or nuclear incentives or clean coal research can’t hide the fact that prices will go up when energy is rationed.

What’s become increasingly apparent is that this legislation no longer has much to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  It’s a monstrous collection of payoffs to big business special interests, ranging from Goldman Sachs to Duke Energy to General Electric.

(This piece originally appeared on the New York Times’s Room for Debate web site. )

The coalition of major corporations hoping to get rich off cap-and-trade legislation started to crack up yesterday when BP America, Conoco Phillips, and Caterpillar dropped out of the U. S. Climate Action Partnership (or US CAP ).  Their defections end the exceedingly small remaining chance that cap-and-trade could be enacted this year.

BP America and Conoco Phillips did not pull out because they realized that the Climategate scientific fraud scandal has revealed that global warming alarmism is based on junk science.  Nor did they pull out because they finally recognized that energy-rationing policies will wreck the U. S. economy.   They pulled out when it became clear that they were not going to get rich off the backs of American consumers if the cap-and-trade bill enacted is anything like the specific bills being considered in Congress.

The Waxman-Markey bill that the House passed last June by a 219 to 212 vote and the Kerry-Boxer bill introduced in the Senate would, as intended by US CAP, raise energy prices for consumers through the roof.  Unfortunately for BP America and Conoco Phillips, the primary beneficiaries of this multi-trillion dollar wealth transfer from consumers to big business would be electric utilities and General Electric.

In other words, the two oil companies lost the political pushing and shoving match to James Rogers of Duke Energy and Jeffrey Immelt of GE.  That’s no surprise: Immelt has been driving GE into the ground ever since he took over, but he’s a savvy political operator; and Rogers learned how to get to the government trough first from the master, Ken Lay of Enron.  It is worth recalling that Enron Corporation was the leading promoter of the Kyoto Protocol and cap-and-trade before it went spectacularly bankrupt.

Caterpillar’s case is different.  As the major manufacturer of heavy equipment used in coal mining, Caterpillar must have been asleep when they joined US CAP.  The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project has been gently shaking Caterpillar’s top executives for several years, and perhaps they finally woke up.

So cap-and-trade is dead.   But other piecemeal energy-rationing policies are still very much alive.  The Environmental Protection Agency is going ahead with regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working with Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) on a “compromise” package that can gain bi-partisan support.  Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has passed a renewable electricity requirement and new building energy efficiency standards out of his committee.

And big corporations are still circling the trough.   By my count, US CAP still has twenty-three corporate members plus eight environmental pressure groups that front for big business.  And of course, BP America, Conoco Phillips, Caterpillar, and many other companies that don’t belong to US CAP still hope to make money off the “right” sort of policies to raise energy prices.

The good news is that public opinion has turned decisively against global warming alarmism and energy-rationing.  People have figured out that they, not big business special interests, will end up paying the bills when energy prices, in President Obama’s elegant formulation, “necessarily skyrocket.”  In the November elections, the American people have a lot more votes than James Rogers of Duke Energy or Jim Mulva of Conoco Phillips.