Staring at the Sun Too Long?


Look, I understand that enviros are generally rich people who feel so badly about their wealth that they want to make sure that others avoid the same fate, but this must be one really big house we’re talking about here (about two-and-a-half minutes in). Like, John Edwards-big.

And that is by no means inconsistent with your typical green activist. But we are told by Greenpeace’s “solutions director” that spending $37,000 to make one’s home run on solar power would pay for itself in six years.

Let’s forget about the time-value of money here for a moment — just so as to stay on the same page of “green economics” — and ask about the circumstances requiring someone to pay about $515 per month in home energy costs.

In Virginia, a rather large home for a family of four, including young children who require lots and lots of hot water and electricity to run a washer and dryer and dishwasher for hours on end pretty much daily, who eat in most nights, and who otherwise do not shy away from creature comforts, entails a monthly bill that is less than half of that for both gas and electric.

The background behind the Greenpeace rep in this clip suggests that the speaker is in California and, giving her the benefit of the doubt, let’s suppose that her anecdotal friend also lives in that state, known for its government interference that causes energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket” to the global warmists’ initial Target Level. It nonetheless would seem that Greenpeace’s problem solver has failed to convince her energy-intensive friend to walk the greens’ talk (outside of checking into the price of solar panels).

Someone please tell me how I’ve got this wrong. Do we have here yet another case of the greens’ fuzzy math? They have a habit of selling their agenda by promising that it will make us all rich — despite having quite the opposite effect wherever it has been tried.

But perhaps this Greenpeace woman is on the level. Still, if Californians pay twice as much as I do for home heating and cooling — in a mild climate requiring a fraction of such activities as are required throughout most of the country — and other home energy needs, then it only reaffirms that the only way to make wind and solar remotely economic is to skyrocket the cost of their competitors.

Mommy, Why Does President Obama Hate Polar Bears?


From a Center of Biological Diversity press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Utilizing authority granted to him by Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rescinded a rule passed in the final days of the Bush administration that weakens the Endangered Species Act by exempting thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Endangered Species Act. Salazar, however, did not take action to rescind a rule that sharply limits protections for the threatened polar bear despite having authority to rescind this rule as well.


The CHUcago Way


If they bring a knife, you bring a million bucks.

Energy Secretary Chu is giving piles of taxpayer money to researchers at his old lab:

The Department of Energy will pay $30 million over five years to two professors at the University of California, Berkeley, for research on cleaning up power plant pollution.

Professors Berend Smit and Donald DePaolo will get $2 million and $4 million a year, respectively, to seek better ways to clean carbon out of the emissions from power plants and natural gas wells and to put it underground.

This “carbon capture and sequestration” technology will keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, where it is believed to add to global warming.

Smit is a chemist and DePaolo is a geologist and head of the Earth Sciences unit at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the hill above U.C. Berkeley’s campus. . . .

Steven Chu, Obama’s energy secretary, was the director of Lawrence Berkeley Lab before being tapped for the DOE post.

Black(out) Humor


I just got off a segment on Bernie Thompson’s radio show, blasting out of northwest Florida — where global warming cheerleading by rent-seekers such as the utility FPL has left the ratepayers worrying about the “wind gap.”

That is the phenomenon raised by a questioner on that odious Earth Day panel I mentioned last week, about how a national renewable-energy standard — pushed so hard by (surprise!) windmill and solar-panel companies that would not now exist had there not been government subsidies, mandates, and of course taxes to bring them about — would disadvantage rather windless states like Florida. In response to which the American Wind Energy Association representative casually remarked that it’s no problem, Floridians can pay for wind energy from as close as “eight states away.”

How easily that tolls off the tongue when it’s other peoples’ money you’re talking about (and trying to get the federal government to turn into your money). Whereas the idea of leaving such decisions to states that actually find it beneficial — as opposed to an inefficent, financial drain — is simply unacceptable.

So, in addition to the “wind gap,” Bernie let me in on other delightful turns of the phrase on the matter:

“We have to break our addiction to foreign wind,” and “How I learned to stop worrying and love the wind.”

The GOP and What Cap-and-trade ‘Would Cost’


The Times makes room for Climate Wire today (though apparently not a proofreader):

“This is the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I have ever experienced,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, adding that he feared the cap-and-trade proposal [sic] more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and former President Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on national television boldly questioned U.S. EPA’s decision to propose regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, saying “the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is flirting with his own 2012 presidential run, made the ultimate threat, saying President Obama could lose the White House over global warming. “If he signs a trillion-dollar tax increase, I suspect it’ll make it much harder for him to get re-elected because I think the economy would react to the tax increase,” Gingrich said last week.

Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans won a small victory yesterday, as Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) punted a markup to next week and agreed to an extra hearing Friday on their draft bill.

Meanwhile, Republicans are criticizing Democrats for not being more transparent. Waxman and Markey left blank the section on emission allowances, prompting the GOP to throw the kitchen sink at the majority for failing to disclose the full details of the bill and accusing Waxman of arm-twisting and using back-room secret deals to buy votes.

When the markups do come, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member of the full committee, is promising “mass chaos.”


Government Motors’ Choice: Green Cars or Greenbacks?


Should it happen, the General Motors/Treasury proposal to give majority control of America’s biggest automaker to the federal government would put Washington in the awkward position of being both owner and regulator.

“At some point,” says Michigan economist Pat Anderson, “Legislators would realize that the only way they can make the company profitable is by making cars they don’t like.”

The quickest way for government to nurse a nationalized GM back to health is by playing to its strengths of manufacturing big cars and trucks. But standing in the way are the government’s own egregious CAFE laws which will force automakers by 2020 to make a vehicle fleet that averages 35 mpg — a mandate that drives up production costs (an estimated $85 billion) at the same time it forces automakers to manufacture cars that customers don’t necessarily want. Other perverse clauses in fuel mileage laws include the “two-fleet” rule that requires small cars be built in the U.S. to satisfy UAW demands — even as such cars could easily be manufactured more profitably abroad.

Anderson believes this untenable conflict will ultimately convince Treasury that Washington’s equity share must be short-lived.

However, there is a second scenario — that Congress will try to have it both ways. In their determination that GM make the “right” products, Democrats will offer more aid, effectively handicapping GM competitors such as Ford that must make CAFE-compliant fleets without government help.

Anderson again predicts that reality will forestall this scenario: American taxpayers are already showing themselves to be impatient with auto bailouts, never mind an endless gravy train. Still, the rapidly mounting complications of federal involvement in the auto industry is a reminder of why Washington should never have crossed the Rubicon in the first place.

The Crushing Weight of My Predictive Powers


Climate Depot turned me on to a Guardian story today that only adds to the burden placed on me by my inerring prescience.

The Obama administration is softening up its European counterparts to accept the fact that he will not sign up to Kyoto II at Copenhagen; apologists insist that this really, really is rather different than his GOP predecessor — whose stance (somehow) was also really, really quite different from his Democratic predecessor — and are falling over themselves to explain it away. The important role that Congress plays in all of this has been rediscovered (after eight long years of being the Republican executive’s doing). And — oh by the way — the administration is plotting a Plan B of circumventing the Constitution’s treaty requirement by simply waving a wand and declaring Kyoto II to be not a treaty but an executive agreement (misstated as “executive order” in the piece).

Sound familiar to Planet Gore readers? If the truth weren’t that the global-warming activists and their cheerleaders are so easy to figure out, I’d say it’s time to go to Vegas and make profitable use of these prodigious prognosticatory powers, but our president has told us that’s a bad idea. I might end up using energy — like, say, some absurd Earth Day gesture or Air Force One boondoggle.

Green Jobs Exploding!


Watts Up With That has a nice post on the implosion — and explosion — of green jobs.

Bring Back Bourbon


In case you missed it yesterday, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has even more bad news for the U.S. corn-ethanol industry:

California’s decision to adopt new-vehicle fuel standards to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will have little short-term impact on corn-ethanol demand, but in the long term it is seen hurting the biofuel.

The state’s Air Resources Board approved the measure by a 9-1 vote Thursday. The regulation will require a lower “carbon intensity” in fuels starting in 2011.

It also includes land-use changes due to ethanol production in assessments of ethanol’s carbon intensity, a facet of the rule fiercely opposed by the ethanol industry.

The change would mean that emissions stemming from crop production, including the destruction of forestland or pasture to make way for crops, would be added to ethanol’s carbon footprint.

The decision is a long-term roadblock that indicates “less of a bright future for corn-based ethanol,” said Michael Swanson, agricultural economist with Wells Fargo.

“We went from having endless ethanol growth to having: ‘hmm, what kind of future do we have there anyway?’” Mr. Swanson said.

The ethanol market has broader economic concerns, analysts said. Chad Henderson, analyst for Prime Ag Consultants, said that corn traders see ethanol demand as more politically motivated than economically driven.

He said he isn’t anti-ethanol or pro-ethanol, “but at some point down the road, you would think ethanol needs to stand on its own two feet economically.”

Mr. Swanson said that main problems facing ethanol are weak demand and improved fuel efficiency, which could cause a cut in ethanol demand even as it increases market share. He said there is little bullish news emerging from the ethanol market for corn traders.

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Enron


This is a worthy topic for continued congressional exploration. In short, the video and accompanying narrative dissect Al Gore’s Friday Capitol Hill appearance touting a scheme to ration energy while in the process rewarding those businesses who helped concoct the scheme:

Al Gore obfuscates, downplays and refuses to discuss the role that CEOs have played in crafting his Cap-and-Trade C02 trading schemes and carbon swapping systems.

Al Gore tries to put a lid in Congressional committee testimony on a little reported but vitally important subject in the global warming, carbon-tax ‘debate’ — the new derivatives bubble in the emerging green-energy credit-swap market. . . .

The point from Rep. Scalise that is gaveled over by the chairman and stuttered-over by Gore is that many of the Congressmen are ‘concerned about turning over our energy economy over to firms like Enron and some of these Wall Street firms that wrecked out financial economy.’

Fmr. Vice President Al Gore denies that Ken Lay and other CEOs developed carbon scheme: “I didn’t know him well enough to call him ‘Kenny-boy’.

Of course, Gore wasn’t the home-state governor of this Fortune 15 company either, so I guess his supposed lack of familiarity (keep reading) would make sense. But one might ask what nickname Gore had for close family friend and (ahem) benefactor, the Soviet stooge Armand Hammer? Maurice Strong? The gang at his own personal Enron — scam-artist and buddy-run Molten Metals? Et cetera, et cetera…


Here, we see how Gore lapses into his true self, well-known before adoption of this Right Reverend persona, awkwardly trying to change the subject from something that is rightly discomfiting to him. So allow me to address the point, as there is much, much more to the story.


Twelve years ago almost to this very day, I left my law firm to accept a position that had rather unexpectedly fallen in my lap: I had gotten a call from Enron asking me to be their Director of Federal Government Relations. Everyone polled suggested it was a great opportunity, a company admired throughout town, not only by the Clinton-Gore administration (with which it was very close), but by Republicans, too.


I believe it was my first day on the job when I walked into my boss’s office in Enron’s suite across from the White House, smack into a meeting between her and two of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s senior DC officials. The next day, I sat in for “Kenny Boy” at a meeting in the fancy D.C. offices of a New York law firm, around a table of Baptists and bootleggers, rent-seekers and green puritans, all discussing how to ensure a global-warming treaty came about according to our collective design, and how to rope the U.S. into it.


Seeing very measured groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists on my immediate left (naturally), I turned to a representative of one of the rent-seekers (in on the meeting were the American Gas Association, Niagara-Mohawk Power, and BP, among others) on my right and asked, “What are we doing sitting around a table with a bunch of people who want to put us out of business?” I was told with a laugh, “They want to put coal out of business first.”


Lovely people, these folks kind enough to introduce me to the world’s second-oldest profession — making one’s fortune off of policy favors from buddies in government instead of by innovation or competition. Frederic Bastiat, phone your office.


So I fired off a “Houston, we have a problem” missive to my boss asking if Enron knew what it was getting into in this group. That’s when they explained the specifics of their business plan to me — which did include setting up a trading business with Goldman, by the way, as one of Goldman’s energy practice chiefs at the time also roared to me in joy about about all of the money they were going to make. This cannot conceivably be news to Al Gore and his VC partner and former Goldman pooh-bah David Blood discussed in the linked item above.


This plan has since been carried off to greener pastures by any number of Kenny Boy’s protégés — including one of the most vocal leaders of the current industry push for the cap-and-trade rationing scheme, as I detail in Red Hot Lies. Read that if you want to know just how Rep. Scalise really did nail things in his questioning.


Anyway, fast forward a few uncomfortable weeks of retaliatory behavior that I am confident you wouldn’t believe — but I’d be happy to take a speaking fee to tell you about. I’m no longer with the company, and Enron and the greens continue to pursue their agenda — which happens to be Congress’s current agenda. Soon thereafter, in July 1997, a unanimous Senate votes pursuant to Art. II, Sec. 2, gives its (unsolicited) “advice” to Clinton-Gore not to go to Kyoto and agree to that beast of a treaty. In December, Al Gore flies off to Kyoto and does just that.


The intervening event? An August 4, 1997 Oval Office meeting with Kenny Boy, Sir John Browne (then of BP), and the president and vice president of the United States. Let that sink in. Al Gore says he didn’t know the guy. But anyone who can even spell “Beltway” can tell you that that kind of attention requires serious influence. Ask Gordon Brown.


As revealed by the August 1, 1997, Kenny Boy briefing memo that entered the public record after the Enron unpleasantness, in this meeting Kenny Boy was to demand that the Senate be ignored, that the administration agree to Kyoto, and — most important — that it contain a cap-and-trade scheme.


I know where “advice and consent” is in the Constitution. I’m not so sure where Ken Lay and Sir John Browne are, probably in the back with all of the scary stuff. Anyway, you know who won.


So, in tossing things back to Gore to finally answer the question, I leave you with key excerpts from the “what I did in Kyoto” memo by Lay’s Kyoto aide (yep, he had one), John Palmissano, hailing Enron’s success:

  • “This treaty [Kyoto] is exactly what I have been lobbying for.”
  • “This agreement will be good for Enron stock!!”
  • “Enron now has excellent credentials with many ‘green’ interests including Greenpeace, [World Wildlife Fund], [Natural Resources Defense Council], German Watch, the U.S. Climate Action Network, the European Climate Action Network, Ozone Action, WRI . . . ”
  • “This position should be increasingly cultivated and capitalized on (monitized) [sic].”
  • “if implemented, this agreement will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring of the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.”

Don’t Expect a ‘Smart Grid’ in the Near Future


Today’s Baltimore Sun has a good piece on the daunting challenge of moving the United States to the “Smart Gird.” An excerpt:

The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated the cost of building a smart grid at a staggering $165 billion — about $8 billion a year for two decades.

And one of the biggest challenges in rolling out a smart grid, energy experts say, is getting hundreds of industries, from power generators to appliance and auto manufacturers, to agree on a set of standards — some already developed, many not ready yet.

Talk of complex standards may not sound as appealing as an in-home “smart meter,” displaying the energy that a refrigerator uses or how much of it is powered by a nearby solar farm. Yet without standards, that smart meter is just another “dumb” appliance.

“If you look at how vast the grid is, all the way from generator to consumer, to bring together a communication fabric so that information can be exchanged, will take four to five years, easy,” said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of power delivery and utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility industry think tank.

Hired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a road map of standards and find a consensus on a plan, Mansoor’s group will help the institute, Secretary Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke jump-start the process in early May.

The potential problems are daunting: “It will be a mess,” Mansoor says, if auto manufacturers each come up with a unique standard for how plug-in hybrid technology will communicate with the smart grid – reminiscent of the “VHS vs. Beta-max war” of the early 1980s. To avoid that, the electric utility industry is working with automotive engineers to develop plug-in standards.

Preparing for the Apocalypse


Via Tom Nelson, here’s Toronto Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein’s latest:

You don’t understand how a toxic combination of UN bureaucrats, opportunistic politicians, special interests, rent-seekers and scientists-turned-ideologues, has oversold not the reality of anthropogenic climate change, but the certainty about what’s going to happen, where, when, how severe and most important, what we should do.

To understand those controversies you need to read books like The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution and Fraud by Lawrence Solomon; Taken by Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick; The Emperor’s New Climate: Debunking the Myths of Global Warming by Bruno Wiskel (these first three books are by Canadians); The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, and Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Force, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, by Christopher Horner.

So please, go read a book. After all, if global warming poses the immediate, existential threat you say it does, don’t you think you should read at least one !!@#$#$* book on the subject before the apocalypse? Just one?

Revenge of the Aristocrats


Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne who is most famous for talking to plants, has signed a deal to make a movie and write a book about climate change. The project will be called “Harmony,” because, in Charles’s words, humankind must “rediscover that sense of harmony, that sense of being a part of, rather apart from, nature.” His film will educate the unruly masses — with their fast cars, fridges, and other planet-destroying luxuries — that human beings “have a sacred duty of stewardship of the natural order of things.”

The thought of being lectured about living more meekly by a taxpayer-subsidized prince who has never done a proper day’s work in his life — and who is currently flying around Europe on a private jet with a master suite and plush bathroom that will spew a whopping 53 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over the course of his five-day, $116,000 charter — is of course eye-swivellingly irritating. But this is something we’re getting used to in Britain — because here, environmentalism looks very much like the Revenge of the Aristocrats. The British green lobby is stuffed with the sons and daughters of privilege, for whom environmentalism provides a perfect, scientifically tinged gloss for expressing in a new way their old foul prejudices against mass, modern society.

Many of the major players in British environmentalism are posh, rich, and hectoring. One of Charles’s top advisers is Jonathon Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth and a patron of the creepy Malthusian outfit, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). Porritt is a graduate of Eton, Britain’s school of choice for the rich and well-connected, and is the son of Lord Porritt, the 11th Governor General of New Zealand. The increasingly influential OPT also counts Sir Crispin Tickell (who is as posh as his name suggests) and Lady Kulukundis, the wife of a Greek shipping magnate, among its patrons.

The head of the organic-promoting Soil Association, Peter Melchett, is also known as the Fourth Baron Melchett: that’s because he is the Eton-educated son of the Baron and Sir, Julian Mond — former chairman of the British Steel Corporation — and is heir to Sir Alfred Mond’s extraordinary ICI fortune. Melchett is the man who spearheaded the Soil Association’s recent attempts to prevent poverty-stricken African farmers from flying their organic produce to Britain on the basis that the “air miles” would further pollute the planet. This is what we call eco-colonialism.

Zac Goldsmith, editor of the greens’ monthly bible The Ecologist, is the son of a billionaire (Sir James Goldsmith) and an aristocrat (Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, the daughter of the eighth Marquess of Londonderry.) And if you thought it was grating to be lectured to by the mansion-owning, electricity-zapping Al Gore during his Live Earth bonanza two years ago, then spare a thought for us Brits: during Live Earth, we were given the Gore-approved “Global Warming Survival Handbook,” written by one David de Rothschild. Yes, David is a member of the mind-blowingly wealthy Rothschild banking family and is an heir to its enormous fortune. His book advised us — the little people — to wear a jumper instead of turning on the heat, to grow our own tomatoes, to ride bicycles instead of buying cars, etczzzz. In other words: live like paupers.

Even many of the younger, supposedly radical green protesters are the grandsons and granddaughters of privilege. The members of Plane Stupid, for example, the shrill anti-flying campaign, have better elocution and table manners than many of the attendees of dinner parties at Windsor Castle. Plane Stupid contains the spoiled children of baronets, lords, inventors, and aristocrats, and thus upholds a long and inglorious tradition of posh people sneering at crass mass tourism, which they see as drunken, destructive, and dangerous.

The aristocracy’s embrace of environmentalism, their unflinching commitment to “protecting the planet” from slovenly tourists, African farmers, or the overly fecund classes, is striking indeed. What it reveals is how innately reactionary environmentalism is, to the extent that it can become the political refuge of the landed classes, the moneyed set, and even royals who, by rights, should be stripped of their state subsidies.

British aristocrats’ historic disdain for teeming cities — with their distasteful record of providing upward mobility to the lower orders — can now be respectably recast as a desire to protect the green countryside from polluting urban life. Their long-standing suspicion of working-class communities, who apparently have too many children and are too obsessed with material things, is rehabilitated in the language of “population reduction” to protect “Gaia.” And their preference for the quiet local life, as lived in well-off villages where they are lord of the manor, is given a new lease on life in the discussion of the dangers of “cheap tourism” and of flying foreign food — planted and grown by Africans: yuck! — into the UK.

Most strikingly, environmentalism allows them to once again indulge their backward ideas about natural hierarchies and the rule of the intelligent, eco-minded few over the brash, greedy masses. As Charles says, his new film will remind us of the “natural order of things” — how convenient for the Prince to have discovered a new religion that endorses his long-lost divine right to rule.

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked and the author of Can I Recycle My Granny? And 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas.

The Photo-Op


What was the carbon cost of the fly-by? Energy conservation for thee but not for me!

Yes, Government Motors


GM spells out its nationalization today in a press release:

“As a result of its ownership of GM common stock, the U.S. Treasury will be able to elect all of our directors and to control the vote on substantially all matters brought for a stockholder vote. In addition, through its stockholder voting rights and election of directors, and its role as a significant lender to us, the U.S. Treasury will be able to exercise significant influence and control over our business if it elects to do so.”

Anthony Pratt, an analyst at PwC Automotive Institute in Detroit, told Detroit News reporter Dave Shepardson that the government hasn’t shied from throwing its weight around, noting that the Obama administration has already forced out GM CEO Rick Wagoner. “(The feds) have considerable clout,” he said. “They will have considerably more authority, and I don’t think they will be afraid to exercise that authority.”

Coming soon: the Chevy Pelosi.

The Gore Effect Lives On!


Spring may have sprung and Al Gore came and went this past week with nary a winter storm on Capitol Hill, but it appears that his chilling effect endures. One story earlier today noted how Dems are backing away from cap-and-trade, as certain among us predicted while chiding the thumb-suckers to stop quivering already and fight. Now, on the heels of Gore’s Friday sermon, here’s the “Breaking News” from Greenwire:

CLIMATE: Energy and Commerce panel’s markup of global warming, energy bill postponed

 Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have postponed plans for a markup this week of a sweeping energy and global warming bill to allow more time for interparty negotiations …[saying] that they would wait at least until next week before beginning the subcommittee markup on their proposed legislation.

…The Democrats said hearings last week were “very helpful in airing the issues” on their draft 648-page bill, also known as the “American Clean Energy and Security Act.” “The hearings have spurred productive discussions between members on the legislation, which are continuing this week,” Waxman and Markey added….

A spokesman for ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) suggested the delay means Democrats simply do not have the votes to pass the bill. “After a week of hearings and a public plan to vote, you vote,” said Larry Neal. “Unless you’re going to lose. Then you stop and think about how not to lose.”

Ah, to be a fly on the wall in those “productive discussions.” I’m guessing they’re a lot like the ones that went on during the BTU debacle in 1993 — which I notice even commentators who were in short pants at the time are now citing as the operative parallel, even cribbing a particular notice that it is now a noun and a verb (as in “get BTU’d”). Now, if only a certain senator who asked me what BTU meant would follow . . .



The AP headline read across the country today reads: “GM to shed 21,000 U.S. factory jobs, shed Pontiac.” But the bigger story is that America’s largest corporation is being nationalized.

“Nationalize,” says UCLA law professor Lynn LoPucki, one of the nation’s foremost experts on bankruptcy law, means to “bring under government control. If the government obtains 50 percent of the common shares of GM, the government will control GM.”

Though General Motors has been working closely with Treasury since accepting government loans in December, the company — not the feds — is pro-actively asking Washington to take control by way of a debt-for-equity swap. In effect, this is self-nationalization.

Why would a privately held corporation invite government control?

Likely because the feds will be less demanding than bondholders whether inside or outside of bankruptcy court. Despite whittling its brands from eight to four, cutting its dealer network in half, and asking wage concessions from the UAW under its latest plan, GM will still have twice the number of dealers as Toyota and higher labor costs — even as Toyota has the same market share as the General.

Bondholders might be impatient with such halfway measures, while Congress will be more likely to accept GM’s argument that its plan is enough to get it through the current credit crisis. If the nationalization of GM is completed, it will draw inevitable comparisons to England’s nationalization of its largest carmaker, British Leyland, in 1968. The company became a financial drain on Britain’s government as well as a source of labor unrest and ultimately disappeared by the mid-1980s as its individual divisions were sold off.

Clinton(s): U.S. to Lead the Way


Here’s a headline from today’s Greenwire (subscription required):

CLIMATE: U.S. will ‘lead the way’ on emission curbs — Clinton

In opening remarks to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, Clinton called climate change a “clear and present danger to our world” and told environment ministers from the world’s 17 largest economies that the Obama administration is “fully engaged in negotiations toward a global emissions treaty.”

“I assure you that the United States will work tirelessly toward a successful outcome of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations,” Clinton said.

The story closed with what had to be delivered in studied deadpan, “Kevin Curtis, deputy director of the Pew Environment Group, issued a statement hailing the talks as a “much needed momentum boost” to climate change talks.”

I recall writing something for NRO years back revealing the obsession with recycling among Kyoto-friendly headline writers and reporters, along the lines of “World reaches historic climate pact. Again. But not really”.

Flashing back a little more than 11 years ago, here’s what Secretary of State Clinton’s husband had to say (1998 SOTU address):

This past December, America led the world to reach a historic agreement, committing our Nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through market forces, new technologies, energy efficiency.

We have it in our power to act right here, right now. I propose $6 billion in tax cuts and research and development to encourage innovation, renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, energy-efficient homes.

Every time we have acted to heal our environment, pessimists told us it would hurt the economy. Well, today our economy is the strongest in a generation. And our environment is the cleanest in a generation. We have always found a way to clean the environment and grow the economy at the same time. And when it comes to global warming, we will do it again.

You know what? Sure global emissions continued going up, if more slowly here than,  I dunno, say . . . Europe . . . and much faster elsewhere than anyone ever imagined. But, disregarding the “settled science” of climate models, the planet did begin cooling mere months later. The ultimate triumph of soft power!

A little before that, Pres. Clinton had said:

Next, we must meet a very large environmental challenge in the next three months. We will work toward a worldwide climate change treaty this December in Kyoto that protects the environment even as it promotes global growth by committing the nations that sign on to it to specific, clear guidelines in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. . . .

Now, this will be a very controversial debate. And there will be people who say, President Clinton has spent five years killing himself to revitalize the American economy and now he’s going to take it down overnight be committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in America. . . .

We can grow this economy and do right by the environment. I think you believe that, and I need you to help me convince the American people that it can be done.

So, the song remains the same, except for the billions more we just spent for those technologies that, apparently, are still sitting on the shelf. (Ever get the feeling that politicians aren’t being straight with you on these marvelous technologies that are always just over the horizon? Just wondering). They’re right next to the 200 mpg carburetor I’ve heard is also being stymied by the industrial-government complex.  

Projection on a Green Canvas


We see today two further examples how, in the “green jobs” and related “global warming” sectors, words simply have lost all meaning.

First, we read of Spain’s “booming renewables sector” — um, not exactly.

The there’s Tom Friedman intoning how it’s actually the refusal to impose this agenda — the express purpose of which is to increase energy prices — that is the real carbon tax. If we would only tax the stuff, it would be cheaper. (Uh-huh.)

Hey, this counts as relative sanity in the world where cooling is just further proof of warming.

Government Motors


Detroit, Mich. — “If the government now has a 50 percent equity stake in GM, how do you feel about being a nationalized company?” asked an on-the-ball British newspaper journalist in General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson’s press conference this morning in which the Obama-appointed GM chief outlined the company’s latest restructuring plan in which Washington takes an equity stake in return for canceling half of federal loans by June 1.

Replied Henderson: “I don’t think the Treasury has any interest in running GM.”

Maybe the Treasury doesn’t, but its bosses certainly do. And Democrats’ interest is not profitability, but building cars that will satisfy their green political constituency.

GM’s other new major stockholder would not seem to be interested in profitability either. Under GM’s debt/equity proposal, the United Autoworkers would now own 39 percent in return for at least 50 percent of the $20 billion the company owes the union to run a trust covering retiree health expenses.

In theory, the UAW would have a profit interest since the health of its health trust fund is now at stake. Historically, however, the union’s interest has been with job preservation, not the bottom line.

To summarize, then, 89 percent of GM will now be owned by two entities that have historically worked against Detroit profitability. Of the remaining shares, 10 percent will go to bondholders and just 1 percent to existing shareholders.

“GM has entered the never-never world of government ownership,” says Mackinac Center economist David Littman. While CEO Henderson says bankruptcy is still likely for GM, Littman says that term has now lost its meaning since the bondholders have become minority shareholders.

“The bondholders are the government’s competition,” adds Littman, who adds that many of GM’s bondholders are also addicted to TARP money and therefore between a rock and a hard place. “The government now has control. What they’re talking about is a euphemism for bankruptcy. It’s a restructuring. This has become a legal charade.”

With government calling the shots, says Littman, GM will now become a ward of the state producing products that politicians want, not customers.


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