cap and trade

On GQ’s blog, there’s an interesting interview with two acclaimed sports writers, about the Bowl Championship Series. As millions of Americans know well, the BCS is the complicated system that chooses a national champion in the billion dollar college football industry. There are more than 100 schools vying for the crystal football awarded to the BCS champion, so it’s not surprising that every year, more than 100 schools are dissatisfied with a system didn’t crown them #1. That is, the BCS is universally reviled.

So we all know and hate the BCS, yet even college football enthusiasts like me don’t know how it works. Somewhat paradoxically, this might be the very reason it persists, according to these two sports reporters,

GQ: What was the thing your reporting that surprised you the most or caught you off guard?

2 Sports Reporters: How little even the people in college sports know how this [BCS] works. It’s less of a conspiracy as much as it’s people just too uninterested or incapable of figuring out what the real deal is.

No one likes the BCS, but it fumbles on, because it’s too arcane to be bothered with. I think this dynamic is represented well by Kaiser Soce’s famous admission in the Usual Suspects that the devil’s best trick is to make people think he doesn’t exist.

Something very similar is going on with President Barack Obama’s energy policies. Americans don’t like energy taxes-especially ones they didn’t vote for-but they can’t be unhappy when they are oblivious. After all, ignorance is bliss. Undoubtedly, Obama’s energy policies will make energy more expensive (see here, here, and here), yet it is achieved primarily through the impossibly convoluted procedures of the regulatory state with which virtually no one is familiar. Behind this cloak, the President proceeds apace with his anti-energy agenda, without engendering unwelcome scrutiny.

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 was in charge for awhile; and she has now been replaced by Sen.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.]

After 7 months of negotiations, Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman last week unveiled a major climate bill to a chorus of…silence. On the day after the rollout, the American Power Act failed to make the front page of a single paper with a national scope. The Sunday political talkies also ignored the bill. I didn’t hear a single mention of the American Power Act on Fox News Sunday, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, the McLaughlin Group, or the Chris Matthews Show.

What gives? The mainstream media LOVES global warming as an issue, because it’s divisive and it’s yellow. So why would they ignore it? The only explanation I can think of is that the media believes the bill is dead. My only evidence is anecdotal. Last Thursday I did a taped interview with a very pro-cap-and-trade reporter from Al Jezeera, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “So this bill is dead, right?” I’m not so sanguine, because I once thought the same thing about health care “reform.” Nonetheless, the media’s evident apathy is curious.

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 Spin Zone

by Ryan Lynch on April 20, 2010

in Blog, videos

[youtube: 285 234]

[youtube: 285 234]

Duke Energy advises its customers to prepare for the ravages of global warming.

Duke Energy advises its customers to prepare for the ravages of global warming.

While Duke Energy’s Chairman, CEO, and President, James Rogers, spends millions of dollars of his customers’ money lobbying for cap-and-trade on Capitol Hill, the company’s web page for its South Carolina customers is passing along tips on how to handle cold weather.  Shouldn’t Duke Energy be warning its customers how much more they are going to have to pay to Duke Energy in higher electric rates if Congress passes the cap-and-trade legislation that Duke Energy supports?

It’s not clear what Al Gore has been doing the past three months since the Climategate scientific fraud scandal broke–perhaps doing a bit of interplanetary travel or hanging out in a remote cave discussing how to de-industrialize America with his fellow global warming alarmist, Osama bin Laden.  No matter, Gore has returned to his global warming crusade with an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times.  And what an op-ed!   “We can’t wish away climate change” is 1896 words, or about three times the length of most op-eds.  Unfortunately, the leader of the forces of darkness hasn’t learned a thing during his mysterious sabbatical.

Gore begins by claiming that “it would be an enormous relief” if global warming turned out not to be a crisis.  This is undoubtedly true for most people, but Gore can’t resist piling on: “I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion.”  Oh, really?  Can anyone believe that the man who has remade himself from a losing presidential candidate into the savior of the planet wants it all to go away?  And who stands to make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars from investments in green technology if energy-rationing policies are enacted?  Would he give back his Oscar and his Nobel Peace Prize?

Gore then summarizes Climategate as “the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”  Yes, at least two mistakes.  One that he doesn’t mention is the systematic manipulation of data in order to make the 1930s and ’40s appear cooler and the 1990s and 2000s warmer in the surface temperature record.  Another is the conspiracy to cover up the Medieval Warm Period with the infamous hockey-stick graph.  Nor does Gore mention that Professor Phil Jones, the central figure in Climategate, conceded in a recent interview that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995.

For Gore, the scientific case for alarmism is exactly as it was before Climategate, except that it’s “clearer and clearer” that things are actually worse than scientists thought.  This is a refrain Gore trots out every few months, and it is  the main reason he continues to lose credibility.

From misrepresenting the science Gore moves on to describe the political obstacles to global energy rationing.  He correctly summarizes the obstacles as formidable, but can’t resist telling another tall tale.  He claims that China “had privately signaled last year that if the United States passed meaningful legislation, it would join in serious efforts to produce an effective treaty” in Copenhagen.  But when the Senate failed to pass cap-and-trade, “the Chinese balked.”  This “private signal” is sheer fantasy.  The Chinese government have made it clear in the most direct, undiplomatic language at every international global warming pow-wow for years that they will not commit to mandatory emissions reductions.

Gore concludes with a long, incoherent rant about why he and his fellow doomsters have so far failed.  It all started with the fall of Communism.  This allowed “market fundamentalists” to convince ignorant voters that, “Laws and regulations interfering with the operations of the market carried a faint odor of the discredited statist adversary we had just defeated.”

So what is to be done?  Here Gore becomes totally unglued.  “…[W]hat is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption.”  The point about a regime of laws in particular and politics in general is that they cannot be instruments of human redemption.  Gore’s global salvationism (to use English economist David Henderson’s insightful term) is not far removed from the totalitarianism of Communism and National Socialism, as he makes clear in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

And where does Gore put his hopes for human redemption?  Hilariously, Gore is counting on Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who may release a draft energy-rationing bill this week that Gore hopes “will place a true cap on carbon emissions.”

This shows that Gore can still get a laugh now and then, but he’s become another illustration of the old adage that even the best vaudeville acts eventually wear out.  It’s time for Al Gore to hang up the soft shoes and shuffle off the stage.

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.

(This just in from our good friend, Ray Evans, in Australia.  Ray is an officer of the Lavoisier Group, a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.  Their web site address is:  Ray and the Lavoisier Group have waged a brilliant and determined fight against cap-and-trade in Australia.  They deserve much of the credit for today’s stunning vote.)

Ray Evans reports:

1130 hrs AEST

The Australian Senate voted this morning to defeat, for the second time, the Rudd Government’s CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) Bill thus creating a second trigger for a double dissolution election. A DD election means that every senate position is declared vacant, and that after such an election a joint meeting of both houses could pass the contested Bill by a simple majority.

In reaching this position the former Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull was deposed (he had declared his full support for the CPRS Bill) and by one vote his successor, Tony Abbott, a long-time if mostly silent sceptic, was elected as leader. The party room then declared overwhelming support (54 – 29) for deferring or voting down  the Bill.

The Liberal Party is now ready to fight an election on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) (an Australian version of cap-n-trade) which is at the heart of the CPRS Bill. Whether Prime Minister Rudd will call a DD election is open to doubt. But for the first time in Australian politics we have a situation where the electorate now gets to have a say. It has been a bad week for the chattering classes.