Yes, yes, we were assured that the “climate change” portion of any energy bill was dead in this Congress. More popularly known as the “cap-and-trade” portion of such a bill, we were assured by Democratic leaders that it just wasn’t something that was possible or probable during this session of Congress.
Well, like most things they tell us, don’t ever believe anything:
Carol Browner, the White House’s top energy and environmental adviser, refused on Sunday to shut the door on passing climate change legislation this year — even though Senate Democratic leaders have conceded they lack the votes and have punted on the volatile issue.
Browner said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that President Barack Obama is still committed to pushing the bill through the Senate, and that there was "potential" for the bill to come up in a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.
Browner’s remarks will almost certainly give ammunition to Republicans who say Democrats are plotting to do mischief in a lame-duck session — even though top congressional Democrats have thrown cold water on an overly ambitious lame-duck agenda.
Agenda politics is agenda politics and the power shifts to the loser with a majority if in fact Democrats get drubbed in November. I mean, what do they have to lose at that point. So it will truly become more about agenda and party (and not what is best for America) – even more so than it is now.
Never, ever, ever think or believe the left is done with something they want badly. Ever. Even though the economics of an additional tax on energy at the height of a recession is absolutely the dumbest thing one can imagine doing, that won’t deter the ideologues from their agenda.
By the way, the EPA is attempting to do by fiat and interpretive regulation what the Congress hasn’t yet been able to do by law. And, God bless ‘em, Texas has told them to go pound sand.
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Eventually, no matter hard one tries to wish it away, reality will smack you in the face. Hard.
As predicted was inevitable, today the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta runs with a full-page article fessing up to the truth about Spain’s “green jobs” boondoggle, which happens to be the one naively cited by President Obama no less than eight times as his model for the United States. It is now out there as a bust, a costly disaster that has come undone in Spain to the point that even the Socialists admit it, with the media now in full pursuit.
La Gaceta boldly exposes the failure of the Spanish renewable policy and how Obama has been following it. The headline screams: “Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster.”
According to the Spanish government, the policy has been such a failure that electricity prices are skyrocketing and the economy is losing jobs as a result (emphasis added):
The internal report of the Spanish administration admits that the price of electricity has gone up, as well as the debt, due to the extra costs of solar and wind energy. Even the government numbers indicate that each green job created costs more than 2.2 traditional jobs, as was shown in the report of the Juan de Mariana Institute. Besides that, the official document is almost a copy point by point of the one that led to Calzada being denounced [lit. “vetoed”] by the Spanish Embassy in an act in the U.S. Congress.
The presentation recognizes explicitly that “the increase of the electric bill is principally due to the cost of renewable energies.” In fact, the increase in the extra costs of this industry explains more than 120% of the variation in the bill and has prevented the reduction in the costs of conventional electricity production to be reflected on the bills of the citizens.
Despite these facts, which quite frankly have been known for quite some time, the Obama administration is still planning to move ahead with its own policy based explicitly on the Spanish one. As Horner states:
That fight [over the “green economy” policy] begins anew next week with the likely Senate vote on S.J. Res. 26, the Murkowski resolution to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to impose much of this agenda through the regulatory back door without Congress ever having authorized such an enormous economic intervention.
Just as with the ObamaCare boondoggle that was rammed into law despite its (a) known problems that are only now being admitted to, (b) real costs that are only now becoming evident, and (c) unacceptability to the vast majority of Americans, Obama is going full steam ahead with this “green economy” nonsense. Regardless of facts or reality, this administration is dead set on re-creating America in the image it likes best (i.e. European social democracy), regardless of the costs. So long as we end up with all the bells and whistles that are the hallmarks of our European betters (e.g. universal health care, carbon taxes, depleted military, enhanced welfare state, overwhelming government controls of the economy, sufficiently apologetic “transnationalist” foreign policy), the actual results of that transformation are unimportant. We may end up an economic basket case a la Greece, but hey, at least we’ll have all the nanny-state accouterments necessary to commiserate with the cool European kids.
It’s gotten to the point where pointing out that the emperor has no clothes only results in naked orgies of Utopian spending. This cannot end well.
Despite the many problems cited with turning cereal grains into ethanol (price spikes, shortages, etc.) and a new study saying ethanol damages engines, the EPA is going ahead with plans to raise the amount of ethanol mandated in fuel mixes:
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a rule in the next few weeks that would permit oil companies to increase the percentage of ethanol in automotive fuel to 15 percent, up from the current level of 10 percent, so they can meet E.P.A. quotas for renewable fuels.
Like a true bureaucracy, the quota is much more important than the fact that increasing ethanol percentages could cause more pollution and damage car engines according to a new study:
But now the industry says it has conducted tests that confirm the higher-ethanol blend will cause problems in many cars.
Half of the engines tested so far have had some problems, said C. Coleman Jones, the biofuel implementation manager at General Motors, who spoke on behalf of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
More ethanol will confuse exhaust control systems and make engines run too hot, destroying catalytic converters, automakers say. It can also damage engine cylinders, they say.
For some car owners, “you will be walking, eventually,” Mr. Jones said. The industry is urging the E.P.A. to delay any changes to the fuel mix until after 2011, when more complete testing will be done.
The EPA’s answer?
An E.P.A. spokeswoman declined to discuss the E.P.A.’s specific plans beyond its November letter, in which the agency said it planned to make a decision by midyear. The agency said at that time that it was leaning toward allowing the change.
Bureaucratic inertia has set the ball in motion and facts simply don’t matter. And I loved this:
While the change is intended to apply only to cars of the 2001 model year and newer, it’s unclear how it would be enforced at the pump.
Heh … yeah, are we going to have 2000 and below model gas pumps now?
The heavily subsidized ethanol industry says it’s just the oil companies trying to keep their share of the market:
The ethanol industry argues that the proposed rule is essential for reducing reliance on imported oil. Ethanol makers say that most cars will run just fine on 15 percent ethanol and oil companies are standing in the way only because they want to hold on to market share.
Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said enough test data was available to approve the new blend. “You just see all this hand-wringing,” he said.
But it isn’t the oil industry objecting – it’s the auto industry saying such an increase will ruin engines. In fact, it’s Government Motors. And they have no particular skin in the game here – what is is.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve sunk a good bit on money in a new car recently. If this goes through and I end up walking because of it, who do I go see to recover damages?
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As regular readers know, we’ve been talking about why businesses are sitting on the sidelines and not hiring at the moment. Businesses don’t like unsettled questions about the arena in which they must operate. Health care legislation will effect the cost of doing business. Until that is settled, there’s little incentive to take a chance and hire or expand their business. If it costs more to do so after the legislation is passed – and it seems it will, they’ll wait to see the eventual outcome (and cost) and adjust accordingly. Same with cap-and-trade.
However, in that regard, the EPA seems ready to proceed on it’s own schedule and businesses are not liking what they’re hearing:
Officials gather in Copenhagen this week for an international climate summit, but business leaders are focusing even more on Washington, where the Obama administration is expected as early as Monday to formally declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.
An “endangerment” finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions — even if Congress doesn’t pass pending climate-change legislation. EPA action to regulate emissions could affect the U.S. economy more directly, and more quickly, than any global deal inked in the Danish capital, where no binding agreement is expected.
Bottom line – if the administration can’t get it done legislatively, they’ll just assume the authority and implement what they wish to do to restrict emissions and require “changes in machinery” unilaterally.
An EPA endangerment finding “could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said in a statement. “The devil will be in the details, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure we don’t stifle our economic recovery,” he said, noting that the group supports federal legislation.
Can you imagine a more pervasive “emission” or arbitrarily applied set of mandates? Start asking yourself who the favored and unfavored industries are out there? Do you suppose coal fired power plants might be target one? And I’d guess that refiners would be in the same boat – unless they make ethanol.
The point of course is this is a perfect way to target and increase the cost of operating businesses that the EPA decides are the worst CO2 polluters. They’ll just write regulations that require costly renovations and changes. The net outcome, of course, is increased cost to consumers – most likely in their electricity bills, the cost of goods (transportation) and just about every other aspect of life you can imagine.
An endangerment finding would allow the EPA to use the federal Clean Air Act to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, which are produced whenever fossil fuel is burned. Under that law, the EPA could require emitters of as little as 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year to install new technology to curb their emissions starting as soon as 2012.
The EPA has said it will only require permits from big emitters — facilities that put out 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. But that effort to tailor the regulations to avoid slamming small businesses with new costs is expected to be challenged in court.
Legislators are aware that polls show the public appetite for action that would raise energy prices to protect the environment has fallen precipitously amid the recession.
Understanding that the public appetite for such action is very low, legislators are perfectly happy to let cap-and-trade languish. So the bureaucracy is being empowered to go where no elected politician dares at the moment. And if you’re a business, that means you’re still not clear what that means to you at the moment.
And so, you don’t hire. You don’t expand. You’re barely competitive in the global market as it is and now they’re talking about adding more cost? Yeah, that settles everything, doesn’t it? They’ll start hiring tomorrow.
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Whether you prefer “Climategate” or “Warmaquiddick” or “Climaquiddick” (most seem to prefer something with “quiddick” v. “gate” for some reason) as a name for the developing scientific scandal, the fact is that the emails revealed this week from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit are significant and damning.
The leaked documents (see our previous coverage) come from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in eastern England. In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: it claims the world’s largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report. That report, in turn, is what the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged it “relies on most heavily” when concluding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and should be regulated.
To me that’s more than enough reason to step back, call a halt to all this talk about global treaties and take a good hard look at the science involved in all of this. What should be obvious to everyone is that more than enough questions have emerged over the past year to seriously question the conclusions reached by the CRU.
This data is the source of the EPA’s decision to regulate CO2. The fact that the data may be false or fudged then throws into question not only the conclusions of the IPCC’s report, but the EPA’s decision. If, in fact, they indicate scientific fraud as they seem too, then it also calls into question any other science or decisions made based on their conclusions. We’re literally talking about trillions of dollars hanging in the balance and a massive shift in government power (through regulation and taxation) and intrusion in our lives.
Yet, despite the fact that this story has been circulating for at least a week, some media outlets have declined to pursue it and have done the journalistic equivalent of yelling “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” by publishing editorials and articles which talk about the threat of global warming. Thankfully their readers, in some cases unmercifully, clue them in. The Washington Post, one of the few media outlets to even acknowledge the scandal, essentially blows it off in an editorial ironically entitled “Climate of Denial”, preferring to pretend that there’s really nothing of significance to the emails except perhaps, the CRU should have been a little more transparant than they were. It also refers to the emails as “stolen”.
In fact, it appears that the revelation of the emails may have been the work of a whistleblower, who, unlike WaPo, saw the real significance of what was being concealed:
It’s not clear how the files were leaked. One theory says that a malicious hacker slipped into East Anglia’s network and snatched thousands of documents. Another says that the files had already been assembled in response to a Freedom of Information request and, immediately after it was denied, a whistleblower decided to disclose them. (Lending credence to that theory is the fact that no personal e-mail messages unrelated to climate change appear to have been leaked.)
Interestingly the media exception to that is Declan McCullagh at CBS’s blog “Taking Liberties”. He does a pretty good and indepth job of looking at it all. I’ve linked ot his piece above (about the significance of the scandal). Make sure you read the emails concerning the programing and the data base. If that alone doesn’t set off alarm bells and tell you that what CRU produced might have some very serious problems, I’m not sure what will. Also read Phil Jones attempt to explain away the “hiding the decline” comment in one of his emails as meaning something colloquial which, of course, he claims doesn’t mean what in means otherwise. Very poor.
With all of that said, and ending with citing the Jones quote, I present for your entertainment, “Hiding The Decline”:
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But Energy Secretary Chu, when asked if he agreed with an EPA chart which depicted that, said, without explanation, that he did not:
During a hearing today in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate. Moreover, when presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.
“I believe the central parts of the [EPA] chart are that U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels,” Administrator Jackson said.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) presented the chart to both Jackson and Secretary Chu, which shows that meaningful emissions reductions cannot occur without aggressive action by China, India, and other developing countries. “I am encouraged that Administrator Jackson agrees that unilateral action by the U.S. will be all cost for no climate gain,” Sen. Inhofe said. “With China and India recently issuing statements of defiant opposition to mandatory emissions controls, acting alone through the job-killing Waxman-Markey bill would impose severe economic burdens on American consumers, businesses, and families, all without any impact on climate.”
You can watch Jackson confirm it and Chu deny it here:
Click through at the first link to see the chart – it’s rather hard to read, but the EPA analysis depicted on it essentially says what Inhofe points out – that without China and India and other developing countries, cap-and-trade will have no beneficial effect on the overall reduction of CO2 emissions.
Of course what’s most interesting is to watch “Mr. Science”, Secretary Chu, reject the EPA’s analysis without offering a single justification for such rejection.
Science over ideology, or so it was promised. It sure isn’t evident in Chu’s one word answer to the question posed to him.
I understand that everywhere else today it is “Michale Jackson is dead” day – I suspect days such as this must be infinitely boring to most news junkies because the news is dominated by a single topic.
Meanwhile Democrats are doing their best to rush cap-and-trade through the House today even while the pseudo-science that supports their effort continues to collapse. The WSJ has an article today which points out:
Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.
Interestingly, as the EPA story below points out, it has actually been suppressed here. But that hasn’t stopped the scientific community elsewhere from continuing to destroy the myth of consensus and replace it with a healthy, and might I add peer reviewed, skepticism real science brings to any theory:
In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.
The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming “the worst scientific scandal in history.” Norway’s Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the “new religion.” A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton’s Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists’ open letter.)
It is falling apart in big chunks now – not that anyone on the left here is listening. We’ve got the fingers firmly in the ears in Congress and the EPA. Both made up their minds years ago, having bought into the pseudo-science of Al Gore and are now determined to act on their preconceived notions – science be damned.
Economist John M. Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
The answer for the left is ignore them and pass economy killing legislation as fast as they can.
The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.
Meanwhile our blinkered ideologues push cap-and-trade while ignoring the new evidence.
Comforting, isn’t it?
That was the promise candidate Barack Obama made. He claimed that wasn’t the case during the Bush administration and under his leadership, science would be ascendent. They’d just let the chips fall where they may.
Well, except maybe in the EPA when a key to an ideological agenda item – declaring CO2 a pollutant – didn’t have the science available to support the desired result. Read the executive summary of this suppressed report. It outlines why the science doesn’t support the desired agenda item of declaring CO2 a pollutant. Of course without such a declaration, legislation for pollution standards for autos as well as this abomination of a cap-and-trade bill before the House today are without basis.
Michelle Malkin is all over this and it’s ironic that what occurred sounds exactly like what the left accused the Bush administration of doing:
The EPA now justifies the suppression of the study because economist Carlin (a 35-year veteran of the agency who also holds a B.S. in physics) “is an individual who is not a scientist.” Neither is Al Gore. Nor is environmental czar Carol Browner. Nor is cap-and-trade shepherd Nancy Pelosi. Carlin’s analysis incorporated peer-reviewed studies and, as he informed his colleagues, “significant new research” related to the proposed endangerment finding. According to those who have seen his study, it spotlights EPA’s reliance on out-of-date research, uncritical recycling of United Nations data, and omission of new developments, including a continued decline in global temperatures and a new consensus that future hurricane behavior won’t be different than in the past.
It appears, at least in this case, that science isn’t of interest to the ideologues on the left any more than it was to the ideologues on the right. That may be an “inconvenient truth”, but there it is. Again we find what was promised by Obama during the campaign, just like transparency and fiscal responsibility, were “just words”.
Another “horrible Bush-era rule“, uh, er, kept:
The Obama administration on Friday let stand a Bush-era regulation that limits protection of the polar bear from global warming, saying that a law protecting endangered species shouldn’t be used to take on the much broader issue of climate change.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that he will not rescind the Bush rule, although Congress gave him authority to do so. The bear was declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act a little over a year ago, because global warming is harming its habitat.
So why is this interesting (and important)?
The US Environmental Protection Agency designated polar bears an endangered species last year, because their habitats were disappearing as ice-caps melted.
Environmentalists seized on the ruling, arguing that endangered species were entitled to heightened protection under US law and that the government was therefore obliged to crack down on the carbon emissions causing global warming.
The Endangered Species Act bars federal agencies from “taking actions that are likely to jeopardise the species or adversely modify its critical habitat”, and lays down civil and criminal penalties for people that kill or injure designated animals.
But the Bush administration passed a rule exempting “activities outside the bear’s range, such as emission of greenhouse gases” from prohibition.
Which, apparently, the Obama administration has found to be the proper rule:
It is this rule that the Obama administration has decided to let stand.
Because, you see:
“The Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions,” Mr Salazar said.
“Instead, we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy that curbs climate change and its impacts.”
While I’m not so sure about Sec. Salazar’s last point, I agree whole-heartedly with his first.
The usual suspects, of course, are livid – but then they spend most of their life livid.
Some relatively good news and some bad news. The good news has to do with “cap-and-tax” as the WSJ article cited refers to “cap-and-trade”:
Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander called it “the biggest vote of the year” so far, and he’s right. This means Majority Leader Harry Reid can’t jam cap and tax through as part of this year’s budget resolution with a bare majority of 50 Senators. More broadly, it’s a signal that California and East Coast Democrats won’t be able to sock it to coal and manufacturing-heavy Midwestern states without a fight. Senators voting in favor of the 60-vote rule included liberals from Wisconsin, Michigan and West Virginia. Now look for Team Obama to attempt to impose cap and tax the non-democratic way, via regulation that hits business and local governments with such heavy costs that they beg Congress for a less-harmful version.
I say relatively good news because the author is right – if the Obama administration can’t get it through Congress, there’s little doubt they’ll look for an administrative way to impose cap-and-trade through the executive branch. One route may be through the EPA.
Of course, there is always the distinct possibility that one of the Democratic Senators who is presently against limiting the filibuster will be pressured into changing his mind. And then there are always the RINOs.
But the possibliity remains that the cap-and-trade economy killer may be defeated in Congress, or at least delayed for a while. If passed, you could rest assured we’d not be seeing an economic recovery anytime soon.
However, cap-and-trade isn’t the only problem on the horizon. The health care push will be coming up soon as well, now that Congress has passed the Obama budget blueprint with no Republican support.
The most important remaining fight this year is over health care. Democrats seem intent on trying to plow that monumental change through with only 50 votes, even as they negotiate to bring along some Republicans. We hope these Republicans understand that a new health-care “public option” — a form of Medicare for all Americans — guarantees that the 17% of GDP represented by the health-care industry will be entirely government-run within a few years. This is precisely Mr. Obama’s long-term goal, though he doesn’t want to say it publicly.
It is a back-door means of claiming the reforms are “market” oriented while setting up the system to be quietly shifted to government control. And this at a time when more and more doctors are leaving the Medicare system because of low payment.
In the case of health care, the use of “reconciliation” appears to be a possiblity. That means, as an exception to the rule which now requires 60 votes for cloture on all measures of law, the Senate could require a mere majority (51 votes) to pass this monstrosity and see the government devour another 17% of GDP.
The game plan is fairly evident. Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, said in an interview:
“We really have a pretty good idea of the outline of the plan they are going to be proposing,” she said. They’ll want to “require everyone to have health insurance and require all employers to pay.”
Since some companies and individuals may not be able to afford that, the taxpayers will be told they are making up the difference, she warned.
The real danger, she suggested, is that with a government-run program, private insurance soon will start disappearing.
“If you expand access to government programs, more and more will drop private coverage,” she said. “A lot of this is going to be, I fear, replacing the private coverage with taxpayer supported coverage.”
That will just raise the costs even higher, and be the first step to what she expects eventually will be “a monopoly player.”
Routed through the government bureaucracy, the same inefficiencies that every government run health care service will emerge. And as with any system in which unlimited demand meets finite supply, some sort of rationing will take place. Since government will be the monopoly player, as Turner calls it, that rationing won’t be by price, as it now works, but instead by denial of service:
Already, she said, $1.1 billion is being allocated for “comparative effectiveness studies.”
That will be “what treatments are good and bad, what’s going to be available to us or not. That’s the first step toward rationing,” she said.
That $600 billion dollar “downpayment”, as Obama calls it, will eventually morph into a deficit of trillions. Why? Because the promise is low-cost universal health care. And there is no such animal that is worth a tinker’s dam.