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Standing Athwart Waxman-Markey



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In today’s Wall Street Journal, Pete DuPont peels back the layers of the disaster-in-waiting that is the Waxman-Markey energy bill. His conclusion: massive government intrusion into our lives, unlikely new nuclear-energy projects, cap-and-trade permits that send trillions of dollars to the federal government to play with, and protectionist carbon tariffs. The main point: Waxman-Markey means higher energy and electricity prices. It means less energy, not more. 

If Americans don’t start paying attention to what Congress is up to, our nation’s energy policy may seriously change for the worse. A bill styled the American Clean Energy and Security Act, sponsored by Democrats Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, soon goes before the House. The enactment of laws to combat global warming is an established priority of the new administration and Congress, and their impact on the lives and opportunities of America’s people would be substantial and detrimental.

As Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute noted last month, “Waxman-Markey would put big government in charge of how much energy people can use. It would be the biggest government intervention in people’s lives since the second world war, which was the last time people had to have rationing coupons in order to buy a gallon of gas.”

The Waxman-Markey plan intends to give the federal government near-total control of America’s energy supplies and usage. Depending upon how the allowances are organized, it may also create the largest redistribution of money from American families to the federal government since the creation of the American income tax. To keep America prospering, our economy growing, and jobs expanding, we need not less energy, but more of it; not higher energy prices but lower ones; and more energy generation through nuclear power, clean coal and offshore oil and gas as well as possible new energy sources. Waxman-Markey will take us in one direction, but to keep America prospering we need to go in the opposite one.

Planet More



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Bruce from Down Under sends along yesterday’s Bjørn Lomborg item from the Australian.

According to conventional wisdom, we are voraciously using the world’s resources and living way beyond Earth’s means. This narrative of decline and pessimism underlies much of today’s environmental discourse and is often formulated in a simple fashion: by 2030, we will need two planets to sustain us, owing to higher living standards and population growth. If everyone managed to live at American living standards today, we would need almost five planets. But this received wisdom is fundamentally wrong.

Environmental campaigners use the so-called ecological footprint – how much area each one of us requires from the planet – to make their point. We obviously use crop land, grazing land, forests and fishing grounds to produce our food, fibre and timber, and we need space for our houses, roads and cities. Moreover, we require areas to absorb the waste emitted by our energy use. Translating all these demands into a common unit of physical area gives us an opportunity to compare it with Earth’s productive area, and thus to get a sense of how sustainable we are.

For more than a decade, the WWF and several other conservation organisations have performed complicated calculations to determine individual footprints on the planet. Their numbers show that each American uses 9.4ha of the globe, each European 4.7ha, and those in low-income countries just 1ha. Adding it all up, we collectively use 17.5 billion hectares.

Unfortunately, there are only 13.4billion hectares available. So the WWF points out that we are already living beyond Earth’s means, using about 30 per cent too much. And it will get worse. It tells us that the recent financial crisis “pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch”, which could presage “a large-scale ecosystem collapse”.

This message is being seared into the public consciousness. The British newspaper The Observer used the headline “Wanted: New Earth by 2050″; according to the BBC, Earth is “on course for eco-crunch”; and The Washington Post, horrified by the four extra planets needed, urges us to use more canvas shopping bags and energy-saving light bulbs.

The message has been received loud and clear. We are using up too much of the planet’s area.

But wait a minute. How can we do that? How can we actually use more area than there is on Earth?

Obviously, any measure that tries to aggregate many different aspects of human behaviour will have to simplify the inputs; the ecological footprint is no different. For example, when we talk about American lifestyles needing five planets, we assume that technology is frozen, whereas it is likely that worldwide land-use productivity will increase dramatically. Likewise, organic farming leaves a larger footprint than its conventional cousin.

Yet, despite such shortcomings, it is clear that areas we use for roads cannot be used for growing food and that areas we use to build our houses take away from forests. This part of the ecological footprint is a convenient measure of our literal footprint on Earth. Here, we live far inside the available area, using about 60per cent of the world’s available space, and this proportion is likely to drop, because the rate at which the world’s population is increasing is now slowing, while technological progress continues. So no ecological collapse here.

There is just one factor that keeps increasing: our carbon emissions. It is not at all obvious to anybody how to convert CO2 to area. The WWF and some researchers choose to get around this by defining the area of emissions as the area of forest needed to soak up the extra CO2. This now makes up more than 50 per cent of the ecological footprint and will grow to three quarters before mid-century.

In essence, we are being told that we ought to cut emissions to zero, and to plant trees to achieve that, meaning that we would have to plant forests today on 30 per cent more than all of the available land, and plant forests on almost two planets by 2030. This is unreasonable.

Read the rest here.

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A New Way to Stop Global Warming



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If we could just get all those poor people from cooking their food, imagine the CO2 savings!

KOHLUA, INDIA — “It’s hard to believe that this is what’s melting the glaciers,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, as he weaved through a warren of mud brick huts, each containing a mud cookstove pouring soot into the atmosphere.

As women in ragged saris of a thousand hues bake bread and stew lentils in the early evening over fires fueled by twigs and dung, children cough from the dense smoke that fills their homes. Black grime coats the undersides of thatched roofs. At dawn, a brown cloud stretches over the landscape like a diaphanous dirty blanket.

In Kohlua, in central India, with no cars and little electricity, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, are near zero. But soot — also known as black carbon — from tens of thousands of villages like this one in developing countries, is emerging as a major and previously unappreciated source of global climate change.

While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide. Decreasing black carbon emissions would be a relatively cheap way to significantly rein in global warming — especially in the short term, climate experts say. Replacing primitive cooking stoves with modern versions that emit far less soot could provide a much-needed stop-gap, while nations struggle with the more difficult task of enacting programs and developing technologies to curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

From DDT to Dursban



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Detroit, Mich. – Greens can take a bow: Bedbugs are back with a vengeance.

Responding to the biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted its first-ever “bedbug summit” Tuesday outside Washington to address a widening public outcry. Some of the most vulnerable communities are inner cities like Detroit, and the major culprit, as it turns out, was the summit host.

Nine years ago, the zealots at Bill Clinton’s EPA banned the pesticide chlorpyrifos (to widespread media and environmentalist hosannas), the most commonly available household product in the world to address bedbugs, cockroaches, and other nuisances. Better known by its trade name, Dursban, chlorpyrifos had been available for 30 years in some 800 products in 88 countries around the world.

But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations . . . and exaggerated risk estimates,” said Michigan State University toxicologist J. I. Goodman in a typical response.

Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency’s interpretation of his findings.

Such critics were also ignored by the press — as was evidence that the nation’s urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban. Children insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. “Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man,” warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute. “Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.”

Nine years on, Greg Baumann — Senior Scientist at the National Test Management Association — confirms that the Dursban void has been largely unfilled, leaving millions to fight pests with less convenient preventative measures. Extermination, for example, costs between $400 and $900 — out of reach for low-income Detroit families.

And those accountable for this predictable disaster? The very media outlets who were cheerleading the EPA ban now feign ignorance. “Out of concern for the environment and the effects on public health, the EPA has banned many of the chemicals that were most effective in eradicating the bugs in the U.S.,” shrugs the AP in graph ten of its story.

And the EPA Administrator who approved the ban? Browner has been promoted to “climate czar” in the Obama administration.

On Spent Nuclear Fuel, What’s Plan B?



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The Heartland Institute’s latest Environment and Climate News has a pair of pieces on Yucca Mountain. And whether or not you think the storage facility there is now dead (Max Schulz certainly doesn’t think so), these items argue that it shouldn’t be.

Heartland’s Jay Lehr suggests that the Obama administration let the science — not Hollywood-driven fears of radiation exposure — drive our policy on nuclear-waste storage.

Meanwhile, our own Drew Thornley discusses spent-fuel reprocessing with fellow Planet Gore contributor Bill Tucker.

President Obama has a tough choice ahead of him. He can lift the ban on reprocessing — France seems to be managing its plutonium adequately enough; on the other hand, it would be a shocking development for Obama to govern in any way different from Jimmy Carter. Or he can disturb the anti-nuke portion of his base and open Yucca Mountain. (Or he can pull a Gitmo, and make a big show of closing Yucca and find another place to store spent fuel rods.)

But the fact remains: if nuclear-plant waste doesn’t start taking up less room — soon — it’s going to have to be stored somewhere.

Reached grillside at his home in Texas, Drew Thornley adds:

So, what’s it gonna be? How many years and how many billions will it take — and how much will our energy supply and economy be damaged as a result of the foot dragging — to come up with anything remotely as promising as Yucca? Simply saying Plan A isn’t good enough isn’t . . . well, good enough.Give us Plan B. President Obama has yet to do so.

Or is this even about Yucca? Is the real goal simply to put the brakes on a safe, clean power source that gives us roughly 20 percent of our electricity?

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Socialism, Plain and Simple



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In the old Soviet Union, factories were measured not by the quality of what they produced, but by the quantity. With the state economy organized under Gosplan production targets, a successful factory was one that met its quota — not whether the product it produced was desired by consumers. Television assembly plants, for example, would rush out worthless televisions at the end of a production period lacking crucial parts just to meet quota.
 
Goodbye, Gosplan. Hello, Obamaplan.

With the recession and $2-a-gallon gas, hybrid car sales have tanked this year, with sales falling at a greater rate than gas-powered vehicles (-44 percent vs. -36 percent). Ford’s Escape and Mariner hybrid sales, for example, are down 33 percent compared to 12 percent for conventional model sales.

Consumers don’t want them, but Washington pols demand them. Regardless of market conditions, President Obama has determined hybrids are the car of the future. So on April 9, the Obama administration announced that it is buying 17,600 fuel efficient vehicles from Detroit’s Big Three by June 1, using $285 million from the $787 billion stimulus bill. April’s quota order is 2,500 hybrid sedans. Total 2008 hybrid sales for GM and Ford (Chrysler offers no hybrids) amounted to 34,000 units.

While $285 million is pocket change in this age of trillion-dollar deficits, it is worth noting that the bill should be a lot less — since hybrids typically cost $5,000 more per vehicle than the gas-powered cars, a premium that will not be made back from fuel savings. For example, a 30-mpg Chevy Malibu hybrid costs $4,000 more than the27.5 mpg gas-powered model, meaning it would take 20 years to make up the gas savings even at $4 a gallon.

“You know the truth,” the president fibbed. “It will . . . save the government significant money over time.”

Michigan lawmakers, however, were clear that the government buying program is all about producing products that guarantee jobs and meet government demands.

“The federal government’s purchase of thousands of hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles from the Big Three shows that our domestic auto industry will weather this current crisis and build the cars of the future,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.).

Your tax dollars at work. Happy April 15.

High Speed Trains to Nowhere



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Get your pencils ready, pork watchers. Team Obama is set to release tomorrow the details on how he’s going to waste our money on high-speed trains:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Obama administration is expected to unveil its plans on Thursday for accelerating development of high-speed rail, a concept that in the past has had mixed political support and little public funding.

“It will be broad and strategic,” Karen Rae, acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday about the initiative described by officials as President Barack Obama’s top transportation priority.

“It’s going to talk about how we begin to create this new vision for high-speed and intercity rail,” Rae said.

White House and transportation officials have spent the past several weeks weighing plans for developing at least six high-speed corridors.

High-speed rail initiatives are in various planning stages in California, Florida, Nevada, the Carolinas and the Northeast. States are already formulating how to use the large appropriation for high-speed rail projects in the economic stimulus act.

Better Late Than Never



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Here is that Fox News item Chris referenced earlier today, covering the study he highlighted on March 27:

For the last several months, President Obama has held up Spain, Germany and Japan as countries America needs to emulate in creating so-called green jobs — those involved in renewable energy production — to rev up the economy.

“Will America watch as the clean energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan or Germany?” he asked in January.

But a new report out of Spain says if that country is any indication, Americans shouldn’t be depending on green jobs to help the U.S. economy.

Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, a professor, has released a study with startling claims about what’s happened in Spain and what he predicts will play out in America.

Calzada says for every green job that’s created with government funding, 2.2 regular jobs are lost and that only one in 10 green jobs wind up being permanent.

With billions slated to go toward similar programs in the U.S. the study is sparking new concerns.

Pointed Criticism



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Speaking of silly EU “green” mania and its policies — and killing things — here are a couple of gems from today’s OpenEurope update:

“Binge flyers as bad as stabbing people”, says Green MEP Caroline Lucas
The Mail reports that Green MEP Caroline Lucas has caused outrage by comparing “binge flyers” who regularly use budget airlines to those “stabbing people in the street”. According to the paper, Lucas made the remarks during a live debate on British television about the proposed third runway at Heathrow airport. When asked if flying to Spain was as bad as stabbing someone in the street, Lucas is quoted as saying, “Yes — because they are dying from climate change.”
’Green’ taxes cost every adult £741 a year
A new report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance says that every adult in Britain is paying £741 in ‘green’ taxes, according to the Mail. The article reports that electricity and gas bills are typically £77 higher because of regulations like the Carbon Emission Reduction Target and the EU’s carbon Emissions Trading Scheme.

Spanish Fly-in-the-ointment



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Several outlets have now picked up on Spanish economic professor Dr. Gabriel Calzada’s study of the economic impact of Spain’s “green jobs” scheme, touted by President Obama as a model for the U.S. to follow.

Yesterday, Fox News Channel (America’s Newsroom, Special Report), Fox Business, and Michelle Malkin joined The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, various EU outlets, and Planet Gore in noting this analysis — which shows that Spain’s artificially created, propped up, and now bubble-bursting and job-hemorrhaging renewables industry killed more than twice as many jobs elsewhere in the economy (jobs that didn’t require full-time state support, by the way) than were created by all the “investment” in renewables.

So the White House was asked about it and, in response, spokesman Robert Gibbs provided more fodder to certain radio hosts who have found much joy in his insight:

Q: Back on the President’s speech today, a Spanish professor, Gabriel [Calzada] Álvarez, says after conducting a study, that in his country, creating green jobs has actually cost more jobs than it has led to: 2.2 jobs lost, he says, for every job created. And he has issued a report that specifically warns the President not to try and follow Spain’s example.

MR. GIBBS: It seems weird that we’re importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build — to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case.

Q Is that a suggestion that his study is simply flat wrong?

MR. GIBBS: I haven’t read the study, but I think, yes.

Q Well, then. (Laughter.)

That of course is equal parts non sequitur and nonsense, as the rather piquant response from the study’s authors demonstrates:

If in order to sell turbine parts to another country you have to create a bubble in a whole sector and apply massive subsidizes that amount to $771,000 per green job, you might wonder whether selling those turbine parts is a good idea at all, since those resources could have been used to create other more valuable goods that would better satisfy consumer wants as well as create twice as many jobs in the rest of the economy (in the sector from where those resources have been taken away).

The White House spokesman should read academic studies before ruling out their conclusions with no knowledge of them. This is especially true when his government is considering spending billions of taxpayer dollars on uncertain experiments supported by subsidies that in Spain — after more than 10 years following this path — have produced highly disappointing results, even from a gross job-creation perspective.

Or (Calzada accepts this translation): What “seems weird” is that the U.S. would need subsidies and mandates to artificially create demand for renewables if the study were “flat wrong.”

Given that knowledge tends to trump ignorance, I suggest that this one goes to the Europeans. The issue now is whether the White House can continue to profess a lack of curiosity about the costs that their utopianism will inflicts on our economy.

Weird Science



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Here we go again. You may have noticed recently the spasmodic shrieks of climate change “happening faster than predicted!” — despite the fact that the only thing happening faster than predicted has been CO2 emissions . . . not concentrations, not warming (since it’s cooling), none of the parade of horribles — all of which shows how, to the alarmists, CO2 emissions equate with catastrophic climate change, whatever is really going on in the climate notwithstanding. Science!

 

You may also have noticed how those shrieks are a tad inconsistent with the spate of papers claiming to explain away why the warming hasn’t come. Mmm. Ah. Yes. Well. Just need more grant money.

 

Next Sunday will be no different, when an embargo expires on a paper claiming to have found the latest, bestest reason to explain why the warming — that’s happening much faster than predicted! — hasn’t actually been happening.

 

These particular authors — I have to be careful with this embargo thing — found lead in one-third of ice-forming particles formed back in the day before lead was phased out of fuels; they believe that lead formed half of all such particles, suggesting to them that lead triggers ice formation under natural conditions.

 

It could indicate all of that. Or not. I remember lessons from this debate along the lines of correlation not equaling causation — we’d all like to avoid the embarrassing problem encountered by Al Gore and later Laurie David claiming that CO2 caused warming, something which the literature doesn’t support (as the U.K. High Court solemnly pronounced), and which the IPCC hasn’t quite been able to establish — no matter what Hollywood says. So it is also possible that, say, lead likes ice . . . or at least ends up there sometimes . . . or even that leaded gas leads to global cooling. It could suggest any number of things.

 

Anyway, just something to remember when you hear these claims that they’ve alternately explained why the warming hasn’t quite happened as predicted, while also continually hyperventilating that it’s happening faster than expected.

Snowing on Their Parade



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Detroit, Mich. — Mother Nature, it seems, retains her sense of humor.

Green activist and author Bill McKibben was in Detroit on April 9 to speak to upper-crust, guilt-racked Grosse Pointe residents about global warming. His visit came the same day a spring blizzard dumped six inches of snow on the region, the latest salvo in what has been decidedly un-warm winter.

Fearmongers like McKibben have long used anecdotal weather incidents — the hot summer of 1988, Hurricane Katrina — to peddle their radical agenda. But as this year’s inconvenient weather proves, that trick can backfire.

Green: Stupid EU Tricks



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Whether intentionally or not, in this interview Stefan Singer — director for global energy policy at the WWF — indicates just how stupid it would be for the U.S. to fall for the sucker deal that Europe is touting for Kyoto 2.0 — or for the typical eleventh-hour Russian gambits seeking rents in return for their critical support for any pact. Any analysis of his remarks also reminds one of just how bad Al Gore fell for these tricks in 1997.

It’s nice to have the greens publicly join the party, a rather lonely one for lo these past eight years of dogma-driven rhetoric and reportage pushing an anti-Bush (and therefore, anti-U.S.) Kyoto mythology — the pinnacle of which is the hilarious Euro-posturing about their “world leadership” on (cough [Lie] cough) “emission reductions.” As noted here before, I even caught them increasing their 1990 emissions several times — as late as 16 years after the fact — to reduce their actual Kyoto violation and therefore subsequent financial obligation (in the form of wealth transfers). European parliamentarian Roger Helmer even got the Commission to admit, in response to a “priority question” that sought an explanation on where and how they suddenly found these emissions the size of Ireland’s, that well, Kyoto says we can say whatever we want until it goes into effect.

Mmm. Yes. Now, enter no agreements with these people.

Notice also that Singer acknowledges how President Obama has stumbled into Europe’s trap in his rush to join the posturing — trying to buy Euro-love with economy-crippling promises that green pressure groups can charge into court and enforce in one place and one place only: here.

Ah, “change.”

Waxman and Markey’s War on Coal



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Here’s an idea: Punish our most abundant domestic energy source — which powers literally half of our lives and our economy — unless said power source employs a technology that at present is not commercially viable. Brilliant!

From Environmental NewsStand:

Inside EPA, April 13, 2009 — Performance standards for coal-fired power plants in draft climate change legislation offered by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) would impose a major barrier on the construction of new facilities without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, according to industry consultants and many environmentalists.

Some industry analysts are calling the proposal a “de facto ban” on new coal-fired facilities and predicting political battles over the provision will be hard fought.

The language, however, is causing concern among some environmentalists in part because no immediate carbon performance standards would be imposed on individual facilities given a final permit within the next six years, unless EPA determines that CCS technology is commercially available.

The performance standards for new facilities are just one part of the draft Waxman-Markey legislation that would establish a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. The draft includes a variety of concessions to industry, including language that would bar application of a range of Clean Air Act regulatory authorities concerning greenhouse gases. In addition, the draft includes incentives for industry to go beyond the minimum performance standards in the legislation — provisions that proponents say will help jump-start CCS commercialization.

The performance standards set forth timetables for imposing minimum emissions standards on coal-fired power plants permitted after Jan. 1, 2009, and would effectively require use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology at such plants once the limits are triggered.

Arrested Development



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Here are a couple of stories reminding us of the folly of government — made more idiotic with the contradictions inherent in the green axe-grinding now, er, driving its decision-making.

Is Barack Obama Lying?



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When I wrote Red Hot Lies, I backed up the claim with specifics and evidence. Sadly (if typically), a new talking point has emerged among the cap-and-trade cheerleading Left — not including those on the Left who are not financially vested in the scheme, to their credit — which came up at two town hall meetings I attended with Rep. Michele Bachmann last Thursday.

 

At both meetings, the press — whose penetrating questions beforehand were restricted to “Who’s paying for your trip out here?” (Bill McAuliffe, Minneapolis Star Tribune: it was that mean old Young America’s Foundation) — and the Alinskyites in the audience at one session clung like grim death to a supposed life raft in the sea of cap-and-trade red ink: “an MIT study on cap and trade” that disputes certain cost estimates for the scheme.

 

Today, I see the Huffington Post is repeating the claim that Rep. Bachmann was lying . . . without saying what the lie was, or otherwise backing up the language. Somebody denies cost projections about a scheme — whose express purpose is to price energy out of current levels of use — and somehow that makes anyone who projects cost estimates a “liar?” For press coverage to make that the take-away point relies on playground logic.

But fine, we’re used to that. Playground logic, ad hom, subject-changing, and all that. But here’s the test:

 

Is Barack Obama lying?

 

Numerous cost estimates, all projections of the future, are floating around about what a cap-and-trade bill would cost. It is a fool’s errand to bother claiming to know which is most representative — one I lapsed into during a Q&A once, I will admit, by offering a range of projections (and an audience member shouted “Lie!”. . . no, it’s actually a range of projections). A principal reason this is a time-waster is that the Waxman-Markey bill — “the” game in town right now — cleverly avoided assigning specifics to their scheme, thereby ensuring that all potential recipients of its rents will pant after the project in hopes that it is their beak that gets most wet at the expense of the economy.

 

So, again, the question is whether the man pushing this scheme — the man whose political vanity or social engineering dreams it seeks to satisfy — is lying?

 

The only relevant estimate of cap-and-trade legislation is that it would cause your energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket.” That’s Obama.

Hey, Left, stop changing the subject and answer the question: Is Obama lying?

Cap-and Trade Skepticism



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Carbon regulation is a disaster waiting to happen. The potential for economic harm, for corruption and gaming the system, and for governmental intrusion into our homes and offices should not be underestimated.  So I’m always pleased to see voices opposing cap-and-trade. Here are a couple of snippets from this week that do just that. Hopefully, we’ll put on the brakes before our affordable-energy train derails.

Senator John Ensign in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

President Barack Obama has been shockingly upfront about his heavy-handed plans to govern energy production across the country from Washington, D.C. His plan is known as cap-and-trade, but it amounts to a new national energy tax that will be detrimental to consumers’ pocketbooks at the worst possible time.

During the recent budget debate, it became clear that senators have many different designs on the revenue that would be raised by cap-and-trade. In fact, media reports suggest that the revenue could be used for their government-controlled health care plan.

The bottom line is that our country would face a massive tax increase adding up to some $3,000 per household per year — or $4,560 per family of four, if you prefer. American consumers would pay more just for turning their lights on, keeping their homes warm, and driving their cars. And because energy is an input for other goods and services, Americans would have to pay more to feed their families and put clothes on their backs.

If you think thousands of dollars in a new energy tax is going to end up in your pocket instead of being spent on big government programs and special interests, you haven’t been watching the way Washington works lately.

William O’Keefe in U.S. News & World Report:

The American people have had enough of convoluted, indecipherable financial schemes and the opportunists who exploit them. The public is understandably angry about Wall Street’s exploitation of Main Street, and yet our political leaders are setting the stage for another complex trading market, ripe for corruption. The future Enrons and Bernie Madoffs of the world would like nothing better than to see the U.S. impose a new market for carbon emission trading.

The cap-and-trade system being touted on Capitol Hill would create a multibillion-dollar playground that would, once again, create a group of wealthy traders benefiting at the expense of millions of average families — middle to low-income households that would end up paying more for food, energy, and almost everything else they buy.

They Save on Gas, But . . .



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AP:

WASHINGTON –  Micro cars can give motorists top-notch fuel efficiency at a competitive price, but the insurance industry says they do not fare well in collisions with larger vehicles.

In crash tests released Tuesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of 2009 versions of the Smart “fortwo,” Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris could face significant leg and head injuries in severe front-end crashes with larger, mid-size vehicles.

“There are good reasons people buy mini cars. They’re more affordable, and they use less gas. But the safety trade-offs are clear from our new tests,” said Adrian Lund, the institute’s president.

Automakers who manufacture the small cars said the tests simulated a high-speed crash that rarely happens on the road. They also said the tests rehashed past insurance industry arguments against tougher fuel efficiency requirements. The institute has raised questions about whether stricter gas mileage rules, which are being developed by the government, might lead to smaller, lighter vehicles that could be less safe.

Trust Us: We Mean Well



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On the homepage, Kevin Williamson discusses Dambisa Moyo’s book Dead Aid and the reaction to it from would-be international do-gooders — like the ONE Campaign, an organization founded by U2 lead singer (and Irish tax evader) Paul “Bono Vox” Hewson. Kevin writes:

Bono’s organization, defending government-to-government aid, argues that Moyo is taking a blinkered view, citing as evidence the fact that “between 2005 and 2007, in Rwanda and Ethiopia malaria cases and deaths were more than cut in half thanks to a dramatic increase in bed nets and access to anti-malaria medication.” It is a remarkable indictment of this celebrity-based movement that such a high-profile organization finds itself unable or unwilling to ask the logical, and necessary, follow-up questions: How does a nation become so poor and backward that it cannot provide something so simple as a mosquito net?

I have another question: Since eco-conscious white Westerners have prevented the ready availability of DDT throughout Africa — thus helping to promote the malaria pandemic that kills hundreds of thousands of children every year — why would anyone anywhere listen to them about what’s best for Africa?

Could Obama’s Economic Advisor Want American Car Companies to Fail?



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Fortune profiles Warren Buffett and his investment in Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD.

Last fall Berkshire Hathaway bought 10% of BYD for $230 million. The deal, which is awaiting final approval from the Chinese government, didn’t get much notice at the time. It was announced in late September, as the global financial markets teetered on the abyss. But Buffett and Munger and Sokol think it is a very big deal indeed. They think BYD has a shot at becoming the world’s largest automaker, primarily by selling electric cars, as well as a leader in the fast-growing solar power industry.

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