This week National Journal’s Energy Experts Blog poses the question: “What’s holding back energy & climate policy.” So far 14 wonks have posted comments including yours truly. What I propose to do here is ‘revise and extend my remarks’ to provide a clearer, more complete explanation of Capitol Hill’s energy lethargy.
To summarize my conclusions in advance, there is no momentum building for the kind of comprehensive energy legislation Congress enacted in 2005 and 2007, or the major energy bills the House passed in 2011, because:
- We are not in a presidential election year so Republicans have less to gain from passing pro-energy legislation just to frame issues and clarify policy differences for the electorate;
- Divided government makes it virtually impossible either for congressional Republicans to halt and reverse the Obama administration’s regulatory war on fossil fuels or for Hill Democrats to pass cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, or a national clean energy standard;
- Democrats paid a political price for cap-and-trade and won’t champion carbon taxes without Republicans agreeing to commit political suicide by granting them bipartisan cover;
- The national security and climate change rationales for anti-fossil fuel policies were always weak but have become increasingly implausible thanks to North America’s resurgence as an oil and gas producing province, Climategate, and developments in climate science;
- Multiple policy failures in Europe and the U.S. have eroded public and policymaker support for ‘green’ energy schemes;
- It has become increasingly evident that the Kyoto crusade was a foredoomed attempt to put policy carts before technology horses; and,
- The EPA is ‘enacting’ climate policy via administrative fiat, so environmental campaigners no longer need legislation to advance their agenda.
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Anthony Watts’s indispensable Web site, Watts Up with That?, has a trove of hard-hitting commentaries on climate scientist Peter Gleick’s theft and publication of the Heartland Institute’s fund-raising documents and apparent forgery of a “confidential” climate strategy memo. Gleick earlier this week confessed to stealing the documents, but not to fabricating the strategy memo, although textual and other evidence point to him as the culprit.
Gleick, who described his conduct as a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics,” has resigned from his post as Chair of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Integrity. He nonetheless tried to blame the victim, claiming “My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”
Yep, it’s the small underfunded band of free market think tanks who are stifling the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Academy of Sciences and their numerous brethren overseas, the European Environment Agency, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the EPA, NRDC, Greenpeace, etc. etc. Heartland invited Gleick to attend a public event and debate climate change just days before he stole the documents. Gleick turned down the invitation. Yet Gleick has the chutzpah to plead “frustration” at those trying to “prevent this debate.”
Among the key posts on Anthony’s site to check out: Joe Bast’s Skype interview with the Wall Street Journal; Dr. Willis Eschenbach’s Open Letter to Dr. Linda Gunderson, who succeeds Gleick as Chair of the AGU Scientific Integrity Task Force; and Megan McCardle’s column in The Atlantic reviewing among other things evidence fingering Gleick as the author of the fake strategy memo. [click to continue…]
Whining about the way in which the media covers climate change stories is
probably absolutely a waste of time, but many mainstream media outlets seem to consistently misinterpret (intentionally or unintentionally) the skeptical position on climate change.
This is to be expected from organizations who are well-established as being on the other side of the fence (I will call them climate hawks, which I believe is a neutral term), but one would like to think that the allegedly objective media would make an effort to at least accurately express the views of those they write about (the U.S. is, admittedly, better than many things I’ve read from Europe):
I don’t know every small detail regarding Heartland’s attitude towards climate change, but I’ll work off of Joe Bast’s recent comments to the WSJ.
Where do we start? [click to continue…]
Updated 4:34 pm, Feb. 21, 2012
“Climate scientist Peter Gleick has acknowledged that he was the person who convinced the Heartland Institute to hand over the contents of its January Board package, authenticating the documents beyond a doubt and further exposing the disinformation campaign Heartland has pursued in the last week, trying to discredit the information,” writes DeSmog Blog in a post titled “Whistleblower Authenticates Heartland Documents” (Feb. 20, 2012).
Gleick is indeed the culprit, but he is not a “whistleblower” because to be a candidate for that honorable title, he’d have to be a current or former employee. Gleick acknowledges that he, an outside critic of the organization, solicited and received Heartland documents under false pretenses, an action he describes as a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics.”
More importantly, contrary to DeSmog’s spin, Gleick does not claim to authenticate the document titled “Confidential Memo: Heartland 2012 Climate Strategy,” the only document among those posted on the DeSmog Web site that even vaguely resembles the stuff of scandal.
Even more pathetic is the sanctimonious open letter by Michael Mann and six colleagues who suggest that Heartland merely got its comeuppance for cheering and publicizing the release of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails that sparked the Climategate scandal. [click to continue…]
The individual (or individuals) who, in November 2009, released 1,000 emails to and from IPCC-affiliated climate scientists, igniting the Climategate scandal, struck again earlier this week. The leaker(s) released an additional 5,000 emails involving the same cast of characters, notably Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, and Michael Mann, creator of the discredited Hockey Stick reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperature history. The blogosphere quickly branded the new trove of emails “Climategate 2.0.”
The timing in each case was not accidental. The Climategate emails made painfully clear that the scientists shaping the huge — and hugely influential — IPCC climate change assessment reports are not impartial experts but agenda-driven activists. Climategate exposed leading U.N.-affiliated scientists as schemers colluding to manipulate public opinion, downplay inconvenient data, bias the peer review process, marginalize skeptical scientists, and flout freedom of information laws. Climategate thus contributed to the failure of the December 2009 Copenhagen climate conference to negotiate a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. Similarly, Climategate 2.0 arrives shortly before the December 2011 climate conference in Durban — although nobody expects the delegates to agree on a post-Kyoto climate treaty anyway.
Excerpts from Climategate 2.0 emails appear to confirm in spades earlier criticisms of the IPCC climate science establishment arising out of Climategate. My colleague, Myron Ebell, enables us to see this at a glance by sorting the excerpts into categories. [click to continue…]
Citing the potential for “financial harm,” the University of East Anglia last week denied a Freedom of Information request by “Hockey Stick” debunker Stephen McIntyre for the controversial Yamal temperature data. This is the third time he has been rebuffed by the University, which was scandalized by last year’s Climategate controversy over, among other things, inappropriate avoidance of FOI requests.
The University of Virginia last week said it will use “all available exemptions” to avoid having to turn over documents related to debunked “Hockey Stick” creator Michael Mann in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Tradition Institute. This stands in stark contrast to the University’s treatment of Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climate skeptic. When Greenpeace asked filed a FIOA for his records, the University was willing to comply readily.
Paul Krugman, never one to mince words when writing about Republicans, looks desperately for common ground on two unrelated issues in his latest column. As a result of a blog post (among other pieces) written by a Professor William Cronon of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Republican Party has requested copies of all communication that Cronon has made using his University e-mail related to the recent union struggle in Wisconsin.
They seem to be legally entitled to this information under a state law similar to the Freedom of Information Act. It’s not clear that Cronon’s e-mails could be construed as anything other than embarassing, as he isn’t directly involved in preparing policy summaries that have enormous political implications.
Regardless of how you feel about this specific issue, Krugman errs when he tries to relate this to Climategate, insinuating that they are at all similar:
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Elsewhere in the blogosphere, my colleague Chris Horner and “hockey stick” fabricator Michael Mann are engaged in a highly charged debate on Climategate.
It started with this post by Horner at the Daily Caller. The intro aptly sums his argument:
A federal government inspector general has revealed prima facie proof that the so-called independent inquiries widely if implausibly described as clearing the ClimateGate principals of wrongdoing were, in fact, whitewashes. This has been confirmed to Senate offices. It will not be released to the public for some time because the investigation is ongoing.
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Richard Morrison and Marc Scribner welcome back long-lost co-host Michelle Minton to Episode 101 of the LibertyWeek podcast. Among other issues, we discuss the IPCC’s latest attempt to muzzle its own advisory scientists (segment begins approximately 10 minutes in).
Hosts Richard Morrison and Jeremy Lott welcome guest William Yeatman to Episode 94 of the LibertyWeek podcast. We examine Chris Horner’s recent freedom of information requests to the University of Virginia, over key Climategate figure Michael Mann. Segment starts approximately 5 minutes in.