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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.

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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.

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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.

Polar Bear Update



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The horror.  Global warming is now forcing polar bears to eat Easter bunnies. North Pole elves, no doubt, are next on the bears’ menu. . .

Global Warming Lawsuits



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The lastest and greatest from the Democrats:  Global warming lawsuits.

An under-the-radar provision in a House climate bill would give plaintiffs who claim to be victims of global warming a way to sue the federal government or businesses, according to a report Friday in The Washington Times. 

The Times reported that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts added it into a bill they authored.

The provision, which was just released, reportedly would set grounds for plaintiffs who has “suffered” or expect to suffer “harm” attributable at least in part to government inaction. The provision defines “harm” as “any effect of air pollution (including climate change),” according to the Times. Plaintiffs could seek up to $75,000 in damages a year from the government, with $1.5 million being the maximum total payout. 

Sherlock Holmes They Ain’t



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AP:

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington state environmental regulators say they’ve finally found the source of pollution that has been fouling a creek near Vancouver Lake: the agency’s own sewer pipes.

City workers have discovered that an office building’s sewer line was mistakenly connected to a storm drain, rather than the municipal sewer main.

The 1970s-vintage building houses Washington state Department of Ecology regional offices, as well as those of the Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Sewage from the building has been making its way into Burnt Bridge Creek and eventually into the lake. Jay Manning, the environmental agency’s director, says the discovery was “embarrassing and upsetting.”

The building owner is paying for repairs.

Headline of the Day



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MSNBC’s article on the New York Auto Show:

The SUV is dead – long live the SUV

SUVs, crossovers dominate at 2009 New York auto show

Too Alarming Even for the Alarmists?



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There’s substantial pushback on a new study that says the Amazon is doomed. The “Dot Earth” blog at NYTimes.com reports:

The lure of the “front-page thought” – for both scientists and the press – was very much on display at the recent Copenhagen summit on climate change. Presentations and speeches were followed by a wave of coverage, primarily in Europe, focused on what many papers said was strong new evidence of pending climate calamity.

Some scientists who attended the meeting pushed back. Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia criticized efforts to cast the six-point manifesto released at the meeting’s end as the product of a broad consensus (simultaneously published on the Prometheus blog). Other scientists, who study facets of how global warming could affect things that matter – in particular the Amazon rain forest – criticized what they saw as overstatements coming out of the meeting and have now followed up afresh.

Yadvinder Malhi, a professor of ecosystem science at the University of Oxford, and Oliver Phillips, a professor of tropical ecology at the University of Leeds, have written a response to a story in the Guardian on a modeling study that projected that the Amazon forest was poised to die off. The scientists contend in a response published today in the paper that the single study, not yet peer reviewed, was laced with uncertainties downplayed both by the scientists describing it and the resulting news story.

What’s the Carbon Footprint of a Pizza?



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For President Obama, quite a lot higher than the average American. From Kathryn over on the Corner:

When you’re the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do – even if that means flying a chef  860 miles. 

Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.

He had apparently been handpicked after the President had tasted his pizzas on the campaign trail last autumn. 

’It’s surreal, it’s a huge honour,’ said Mr Sommers, who owns Pi restaurant in St Louis.

’It will be a casual lunch and hopefully we’ll have a chance to say hello to the president.’

Mr Somers was accompanied by this business parnter Ryan Mangilardo who will help prepare the dinner for 140 this evening.

It will feature his signature dishes – ten deep dish and ten thin crust creations.

He is also planning a pizza especially for the president – the Hyde Park topped with chicken and hot sauce. 

Exit question:  Who paid for the trip and how is this different than CEOs flying to D.C. on their private jets for hearings?

Fact Checking the LA Times on Global Warming Alarmism



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Attention Australian readers: what say you about this LA Times piece? The excerpt about the 4,000 flying foxes dropping dead on the same day strikes me as suspect. (A quick search of Google News turned up only this LA Times piece.) Also, any additional news items on the fires, which we’ve covered before, please send along.

Many here believe Australia already has a death toll directly connected to climate change: the 173 people who died in February during the nation’s worst-ever wildfires, and 200 more who died from heat the week before. A three-person royal commission has convened to decide, among other things, whether global warming contributed to massive bush fires that destroyed entire towns and killed a quarter of Victoria state’s koalas, kangaroos, birds and other wildlife.

The commission’s proceedings mark the first time anywhere that climate change could be put on trial. And it will take place in a nation that still gets 80% of its energy from burning coal, the globe’s largest single source of greenhouse gases.

The commission’s findings aren’t due until August, but veteran firefighters, scientists and residents believe the case has already been made. Even before the flames, 200 Melbourne residents died in a heat wave that buckled the steel skeleton on a newly constructed 400-foot Ferris wheel and warped train tracks like spaghetti. Cities experienced four days of temperatures at 110 degrees or higher with little humidity, and 100-mph winds. In areas where fires hit, temperatures reached 120.

On the hottest day, more than 4,000 gray-headed flying foxes dropped dead out of trees in one Melbourne park.

California Hypocrisy



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California supports environmental regulation, just not the kind that affect them personally. Like taking shorter showers or watering your lawn:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Despite dire warnings of water shortages due to prolonged drought, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday rejected a plan to ration water in the nation’s second-largest city for the first time in 18 years.

The unanimous 15-0 vote against the plan marked a surprise setback for Los Angeles water managers, who like their peers in cities throughout California were directed to cut water use 20 percent this year under a drought emergency proclaimed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But David Nahai, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation’s biggest municipal utility, insisted that the proposal was not dead.

“The city must cut back its water use. There are no two ways about that,” Nahai told Reuters after the vote.

But, honestly, if the Los Angeles City Council can’t even implement this water plan, is there really a chance that President Obama’s cap-and-trade program, with its attendant skyrocketing energy bills, will ever pass muster?

Marc Morano Profiled in the Times



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An excerpt from the Times doing its best to hype Marc’s new venture before it launches:

In his work with Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Morano, whose thick build fills out his suit like a bulldog in a restraining jacket, did not hesitate to go after journalists he saw as biased. He promoted any study or statement that could be construed as cutting against the prevailing view that heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide contribute to global warming. Peter Dykstra, a former executive producer for CNN’s science, environment and technology unit, recently called him the “drum major of the denial parade.”

Mr. Morano may be best known for compiling a report listing hundreds of scientists whose work he says undermines the consensus on global warming.

But environmental advocates and bloggers say that many of those listed as scientists have no scientific credentials and that their work persuaded no one not already ideologically committed.

Mr. Morano’s new Web site is being financed by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues.

Craig Rucker, a co-founder of the organization, said the committee got about a third of its money from other foundations. But Mr. Rucker would not identify them or say how much his foundation would pay Mr. Morano. (Mr. Morano says it will be more than the $134,000 he earned annually in the Senate.)

Public tax filings for 2003-7 – the last five years for which documents are available — show that the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the ExxonMobil Foundation and from foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime financer of conservative causes best known for its efforts to have President Bill Clinton impeached. Mr. Rucker said Exxon had not contributed anything last year.

PUMA Roadkill



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I Didn’t Think So



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The NRC didn’t take Bill Tucker’s double-dog dare from earlier this morning.

They renewed Oyster Creek’s license today.

The U.N.’s Global Green Raw Deal



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Day by day, our government is taking more and more control over once-private corporations, with plenty of green strings attached. GM will be required to produce more hybrid cars that people won’t buy. Employee compensation will be determined by federal fiat. “Everyone will be better off.”

Not surprisingly, the United Nations has just jumped on President Obama’s hybrid bandwagon, demanding yet another trillion dollars (coming mostly from you-know-who) to fund “A Global Green New Deal for Sustainable Development.” Translation: The U.S. will provide funds to poorer nations so that they, too, can tell their private companies what to make, whom to employ, and how much to pay them. The U.N. wants your money pronto, by the end of next year.

The U.N.’s “deal” really amounts to drastic interference in the development of other nations that are neither recipients of nor contributors to the cool Trillion. India’s Tata Motors has just unveiled a $2,000 mini-car, which could be a hit in a lot of poor countries. China’s Cherry is poised for a global pounce as soon as liquidity reappears. But the U.N. proposes to spend our money fighting “automobiles, which are environmentally harmful,” promoting instead a “shift to clean public transport” which they then call “clean fuel buses.”

Huh? So the UN is hoping to close developing markets in poor countries to developing producers in countries a tier or two up the economic ladder, and then substitute a nonexistent technology?

Our researchers are still busy at work trying to figure out what a “clean fuel bus” is. It can’t be one run on ethanol, because that takes more energy to produce than we currently get out of it. If it‘s run on electricity produced by solar panels, the physics become daunting. An array required to run just one bus for 100 miles per day would stretch over ten miles. And where would the energy come from at night?

Like Obama’s initiatives, the U.N.’s purpose is to provide “green jobs.” Nothing new here. Germany put in a similar program a few years ago, sending out an army of people otherwise employed or not employed to install solar panels. German taxpayers subsidized each of these 35,000 jobs at $170,000 apiece. Now the UN wants to do the same with your money — all over the world.

Worse still, the “Green New Deal” wants energy subsidies from you — called global “feed-in tariffs” — to boost inefficient energy sources. This reverse tariff would “overcome” the “difficulty” of noncompetitive energy, providing guaranteed purchase prices to producers in developing countries for a period of 20 years. The electricity would then be sold to final consumers at a lower price.

What’s the difference between a “feed-in” tariff and a real one? There isn’t one. It basically says that anyone who has cheaper electricity for sale across national borders need not apply. As is the case with Obama’s cap-and-trade energy taxes here in the States, the U.N. says their tax on us is “desirable on climate-related grounds.”

Nothing is new here. The U.N. is hoping for more green stimulus from an already overstimulating and intrusive president, and returning more of the same: higher taxes, and technologies that won’t work and that will cost a fortune.

– Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of the forthcoming Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.

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