climate change

5.       New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Christie’s skepticism of global warming alarmism is great. What’s not so great is his continued participation in a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. For whatever reason, the climate skeptic sounding governor has yet to pull his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the aforementioned energy tax.

4.       Florida Governor Charlie Crist (lame duck)
In 2007, Crist signed a series of environmentalist executive orders, which, thankfully, never came to fruition because they were spurned by the State Legislature. Crist earned his spot on this list for his invertebrate take on offshore drilling. When he campaigned for Governor, he opposed offshore drilling; when gas prices spiked in the summer of 2008, he supported drilling; and after the Gulf oil spill this past summer, he reverted back to opposing the practice.

3.       California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (lame-duck)
As I’ve explained here, here, and here, the Governator’s environmentalist pandering is empty blathering. For all the talk about California going green, the fact of the matter is that California’s environmentalist energy policies have been ineffectual at achieving anything other than higher energy prices. Rather than environmentalist accomplishments, Schwarzenegger’s only lasting legacy will be the almost-unlimited power he has bequeathed to his successor, Governor-elect Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown. Starting in 2011, the law accords the Governor amorphous, yet absolute, authority to mitigate climate change.

2.       New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (lame duck)
Using authority derived from 1978 state law, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) last month imposed a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. The lame-duck Governor enacted the energy-rationing scheme administratively on November 2, the same day that voters indicated their displeasure with expensive energy climate policies by electing Susana Martinez (R) to succeed Richardson. She had campaigned against cap-and-trade. To be sure, Richardson’s energy policy is largely toothless; nonetheless, the executive power grab is disconcerting.

1.       Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (lame duck)
It will take a generation for Coloradans to undo the harm inflicted by the Governor Bill Ritter’s much-ballyhooed “New Energy Economy.” At Ritter’s behest: the General Assembly changed the mission of state utilities from providing “least cost” electricity, to fighting climate change; the Public Utilities Commission allowed the nation’s first carbon tax; and Department of Public Health and Environment exaggerated the threat of federal air quality regulations in order to justify legislation that picks winners and losers in the electricity industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency sprang two surprises last week. First, EPA asked a federal judge to allow them to delay issuing the boiler MACT (Maximum Available Control Technology) rule until April 2012, which would give EPA time to reconsider and rewrite the proposed regulation.  The rule is designed to cut air pollution from approximately 200,000 industrial boilers, process heaters, solid waste incinerators, etc.  Industrial users of boilers have made a good case that the proposed standards were going to be impossible to meet in many cases.

Next, EPA announced that the ozone or smog rule would be delayed until July 2011, while it reconsidered the scientific and health studies on smog’s effects.  The announcement suggests that EPA has bowed to intense opposition from Congress, state and local governments, and industry and is now going to re-write the smog rule so that it is less economically catastrophic.  EPA nonetheless is going ahead with regulating greenhouse gas emissions from major stationary sources on January 1, 2011.  There is little reason to think that those regulations are any less damaging than the smog rule.

The EPA also announced last week that it was holding its second National Bed Bug Summit meeting in early February. You may laugh, but at least with bed bugs EPA is addressing a real environmental health problem.

German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer gave an eye-opening interview to Neue Zürcher Zeitung (translated here), in which he said that “one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy….This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.” Mr. Edenhofer was appointed as joint chair of Working Group 3 at the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dan Berman reported in Politico on Wednesday that: “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.”  This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama Administration’s improper manipulation of science to support its agenda.  I responded in a CEI press release by calling for the firing of President Obama’s Climate Czar, Carol Browner. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and two of his colleagues on the committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.), have requested that the committee hold a hearing on the Inspector General’s report.

President Barack Obama left on Friday for a ten-day trip to Asia beginning in India.  Before he left, he held a press conference on the election results and gave an interview to Sixty Minutes, which has been released by CBS ahead of its broadcast on Sunday night.  In reply to two questions at his press conference, the President spoke at length about alternatives to cap-and-trade.  He said, “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.  It was a means, not an end.  And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”

The President said that there were several areas where he might be able to find common ground with the Republicans in Congress.  These included natural gas, nuclear power, and electric vehicles.  He also said that, “The EPA is under a court order that says greenhouse gases are a pollutant that fall under their jurisdiction.”  This is a misunderstanding, but he then also seemed to express some openness to congressional intervention in EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions: “And I think EPA wants help from the legislature on this.  I don’t think that the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here.”

Greens Desperate to Avoid Blame” was the headline on Darren Samuelsohn and Robin Bravender’s story in Politico on Wednesday. Environmental pressure groups moved quickly to spin the election results as having nothing to do with them.  In particular, they claimed that passage in the House of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill did not cause Democrats to lose.  On the contrary, the reality is that Waxman-Markey did contribute to the defeat of a number of Democrats, as I argue in Politico’s Energy Arena.

More significant is the fact that the new Republican majority in the House is largely skeptical of the claim that global warming is a potential crisis and is close to unanimously opposed to cap-and-trade and other energy-rationing measures.  Not only is cap-and-trade dead, but there is a good chance that the House next year will move legislation to block or delay the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The question is, can such a measure pass the Democratic-controlled Senate?  There is certainly a majority in the Senate for blocking EPA, but sixty votes will be needed.  My guess is that there will be more than sixty votes.  As EPA regulations start to bite next year, Senators will start to hear complaints from their constituents.  And a number of Democratic Senators are up for re-election in 2012 and will want to avoid the fate of so many of their colleagues this year.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus last week gave the inaugural annual lecture at The Global Warming Policy Foundation in London. To watch Klaus’s lecture, titled “The Climate Change Doctrine,” click here. To read a transcript, click here. President Klaus wrote a related oped (“An Anti-Human Ideology“) in the National Post.

A global food crisis is “forecast as prices reach record highs [1].”  “Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years.”  “Global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks while meat prices are at 20-year highs.” “Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels.”

Drought is one factor in the price spikes.  Biofuels and ethanol subsidies and mandates are another major factor.  According to the UN, “large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors for biofuels is squeezing land suitable for agriculture [1].”

Ethanol subsidies have resulted in forests being destroyed [2] in the Third World, and caused famines [3] that have killed [4] countless people in the world’s poorest countries [4].

These subsidies are expanded in the global warming legislation backed by the Obama administration.  Its ethanol subsidies will result [5] in “damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality.”  The Washington Examiner earlier explained how the global warming bill backed by President Obama would cause deforestation by expanding ethanol subsidies, and thus increase greenhouse gas emissions [6] in the long run.   It was larded up with corporate welfare: 85 percent [7] of its carbon allowances were given away to special interests free of charge, thanks to lobbying that turned the bill into an orgy of corporate welfare.

Earlier, Ron Bailey wrote in Reason magazine about the “global food crisis” that has resulted in food riots across the world [8], in countries like Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen, Haiti, and Egypt.   The crisis, he notes, is caused by “stupid energy policies” in the form of ethanol “mandates” and subsidies, which result in the world’s breadbaskets producing less food and more ethanol.

In 2008, two prominent environmentalists, Lester Pearson and Jonathan Lewis, published a Washington Post editorial, “Ethanol’s Failed Promise [9],” which explained how ethanol subsidies and mandates are destroying the environment and fueling hunger and violence worldwide [9].

Turning one-fourth of our corn into fuel is affecting global food prices. U.S. food prices are rising at twice the rate of inflation, hitting the pocketbooks of lower-income Americans and people living on fixed incomes. … Deadly food riots have broken out in dozens of nations in the past few months, most recently in Haiti and Egypt. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warns of a global food emergency.

Moreover, they noted,

food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy – most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.  Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm. Here in the United States, farmers are pulling land out of the federal conservation program, threatening fragile habitats. … Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time Magazine reported [10] this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest ‘carbon sink.’ And when the forests are cleared and the land plowed for farming, the carbon that had been sequestered in the plants and soil is released. Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger has modeled this impact and reports [11] in Science magazine that the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions – and thus a catalyst for climate change.

In Human Events, Deroy Murdock explained how rising food prices resulting from ethanol forced Haitians to literally eat dirt [12] (dirt cookies made of vegetable oil, salt, and dirt), caused tortilla riots in Mexico, and fueled violent protests in unstable “powder kegs” like Pakistan and Egypt.

In 2008, finance ministers and central bankers called for end to ethanol subsidies and biofuel mandates [13]. South African finance minister Trevor Manuel called such subsidies “criminal [14].” Earlier, the Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram noted that [14] “in a world where there is hunger and poverty, there is no policy justification for diverting food crops towards bio-fuels. Converting food into fuel is neither good policy for the poor nor for the environment.”

The EPA is now ratcheting up [15] ethanol use, heedless of the fact that ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier [16], increases ozone pollution [17], and increases the death toll from smog [18] and air pollution.  Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution [19].

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.

This afternoon I attended an informative panel, “Saving the Polar Bear or Obama’s CO2 Agenda?,” on how the Endangered Species Act is easily manipulated by environmentalist lawyers intent on gumming up economic activity. The panel was videotaped, so you can see it for yourself at the Heritage Foundation’s website. If, however, you don’t have an hour, then here are the highlights:

  • Robert Gordon of the Heritage Foundation cited the Iowa Pleistocene snail. Seemingly, the snail is a smashing success story. It was listed as an endangered species in 1978, and after implementing protections, the snail recovered. Indeed, it far-exceeded the criteria first set out to de-list. Nonetheless, the Obama administration upgraded its peril. Why? Because, the Obama administration says, the snail is threatened “in the long term” by global warming! This example supported Mr. Gordon’s conclusion, that the Endangered Species Act is a “tool for those that wish to constrict economic activity.”
  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s R.J. Smith questioned which section of the Constitution authorizes the government to favor animals and insects over humans. He joked that the 3rd amendment prohibits the government from forcing Americans to quarter soldiers, yet the Endangered Species Act can force Americans to give quarter to snails.
  • I asked Reed Hopper of the Pacific Legal Foundation to flesh out the regulatory consequences of listing the polar bear as an endangered species due to climate change, and his response was sobering. According to Mr. Hopper, a citizen suit provision of the Endangered Species Act means that anyone could sue anyone for harming the polar bear by emitting greenhouse gases. He said it would be “unprecedented.”