Thursday, June 25, 2009

US Government’s Climate Con-Job

This week is a big week in government related news. People are afraid and Congress is making major decisions that will greatly impact our personal lives and America as we know it. Even more startling is the fact that they are rushing these major decisions through, without reading the bill upon which they are voting, and voting under the cloak of darkness in the hope that no one will notice.

It is from this position that the CARE inbox has been inundated with interesting and thought provoking commentary that is worthy of sharing with anyone who might listen. This posting addresses the ongoing debate over climate change. As the American Clean Energy and Security Act is expected to be voted on late Friday, this is a front and center topic.

Americans are being made victims of the biggest con-job and propaganda campaign in US history. It’s vital that they become aware of the facts, so that they can take action.

“Report” On Climate Change Is Deceitful, Scare-Mongering, Bogus Science
Suppose a company doctored data, misrepresented study findings, replaced observations with computer simulations, and hired PR flacks to promote its new “wonder drug.” News stories, congressional hearings and subpoenas would be in overdrive. Fines and jail sentences would follow. And rightly so.

But the standards change when “climate catastrophe” is involved.

The White House has made global warming the centerpiece of its revenue-raising and energy policies. A House of Representatives 1,201-page bill would tax, regulate and penalize all US hydrocarbon energy use, to “save the planet from climate disaster.” The Senate promises an August vote.

But average global temperatures peaked in 1998 and since have fallen slightly, even as carbon dioxide levels continue to climb. Thousands of scientists say CO2 has little effect on planetary temperatures, and there is no climate crisis. Few developed countries are ready to commit economic suicide, by agreeing to reduce their CO2 emissions by a fraction of what the House bill demands for the United States.

Americans are beginning to realize the legislation would cost millions of jobs and trillions of dollars for a hypothetical 0.1 degree F reduction in global temperatures. Most put global warming dead last in a Pew Research list of 20 concerns.

The government’s answer to these inconvenient truths is simple.

Issue another report by government scientists carefully selected to exclude any who don’t subscribe to climate Armageddon. Ignore contrary data and analyses. Crank out more bogus computer-generated worst-case scenarios. Hire an activist media firm that specializes in environmental scare campaigns. And spend tens of millions hyping every imaginable climate disaster:

Rising sea levels, floods in lower Manhattan, California beaches permanently submerged. Ferocious hurricanes, floods and droughts. Food shortages, epidemic diseases, a quadrupling of heat-wave deaths in Chicago. Aged sewer systems convulsing from massive storm runoff. Wildflowers disappearing from Rocky Mountain slopes and polar bears from the Arctic. Leisure time gone, as people struggle to survive.

“Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” is the “most up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive” analysis ever done on how human-caused warming affects the United States, deadpans Obama “science” advisor John Holdren.

Actually, it’s the most flagrant attempted con-job and propaganda campaign in US history.

If it helps Congress enact cap-and-tax legislation, it will give activists, courts and bureaucrats control over virtually every aspect of our lives. It will enable them to confiscate hard-earned dollars, convert them to payoffs for activists and companies that get on the climate-crisis bandwagon, consign uncooperative companies and scientists to the ash heap of history, and conceal the exorbitant costs of restrictive energy policies--on families, industries, jobs and transportation--until long after the bill becomes law.

The bogus “report” conflates and confuses human activities and emissions with the powerful natural forces that have caused major and minor climate changes and weather anomalies since the dawn of time--from the Carboniferous Period to the Age of Dinosaurs, from the Big Ice Ages and interglacial periods to the Little Ice Age, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, Dust Bowl and countless others. It relies on conjecture, conformist thinking and conspicuous elimination of contrary, skeptical, realist scientists and studies that do not support climate cataclysm conjecture and ideology.

The authors “largely ignored” critical comments to earlier drafts and made the final version “even more alarmist” than infamous UN “summaries” of global warming “crises,” says Joseph D’Aleo, first director of meteorology at the Weather Channel and former chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s Weather Analysis and Forecasting Committee. The report is simply “wrong on many of its claims” and marks “an embarrassing episode for the authors and NOAA,” D’Aleo concludes.

University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. says the report “misrepresents” his own work, makes claims that are not supported by citations provided, relies heavily on analyses that were never peer reviewed, ignores peer-reviewed studies that reach opposite conclusions from those proclaimed by the report, and cites analyses that do not support conclusions rendered.

“I didn’t notice a single recognized hurricane expert in the list of authors,” says NOAA Hurricane Research Division scientist Stanley Goldenberg. The report relies heavily on surface temperature data from monitoring stations located next to parking lots and air conditioning exhaust ports--falsely skewing temperature records upward--other experts noted. It is lead-heavy on assumptions, assertions and speculation--hydrogen-light on evidence.

But the most egregious miscarriage of science in this agit-prop exercise is its near-total dependence on worst-case scenarios conjured up by computer models. That’s where it gets its litany of “Day After Tomorrow” Hollywood disasters.

These climate models have never been validated by actual observations, notes Professor Robert Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at Australia’s James Cook University. Indeed, Australia’s own climate modeling agency (CSIRO) stresses that climate change scenarios are based on computer models that “involve simplifications of [real world] processes that are not fully understood. Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted … for the accuracy of forecasts inferred” from its reports.

“Modeling results are interesting--but worthless for setting public policy,” says Carter. But that is exactly how they’re being used.

Sure, it’s conceivable that Antarctica could melt, and cause sea levels to rise 20 feet, as Al Gore and the government con-artists suggest. Greenhouse gases would merely have to increase average annual Antarctic temperatures from their current –50 degrees F to +40 degrees for a century or two, to melt 200,000 cubic miles of South Pole icecaps. A mere 90-degree swing.

That may be as likely as having the planet overrun by raptors and T-rexes cloned from DNA in fossilized mosquitoes. But it’s conceivable. And in the realm of global warming politics, that’s all that matters. As MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen observes, “global warming has developed so much momentum that it has a life of its own, quite removed from science.”

As one climate activist group put it: “The task … is not to persuade by rational argument.” It is “to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement. The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.” The strategy is to treat “climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is the route to mass behavior change.”

This is the kind of science, transparency, honesty and accountability we have come to expect over “human-caused climate chaos.”

If the congressional, administration and activist conspirators behind this massive deceit were in the private sector--peddling bogus drugs, rather than bogus science--they’d quickly become convicts. Instead of jail time, though, they’ll probably get bonus checks.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – black death.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Started the Environmental Craziness?

Following CARE’s active involvement in the Mount Taylor TCP situation and the subsequent frustration, we were pleased to see this piece arrive in our mailbox. There is a general misunderstanding of NEPA and its ramifications by the public and an overall misuse by those who seek to block energy production--or any type of development they do not like.

This was sent to us by Perry Pendley, President and Chief Legal Officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation and author of several books including Warriors for the West. A new source of information for Comments About Responsible Energy. We hope to hear from him more often.

After reading this, you are apt to ask two questions. Who are these “groups?” And, “How can they do this?” Our answer to the first one is the Sierra Club, et al. Lest you think we are just being mean, read what they say, in their own words, about the Mount Taylor issue. Additioanlly, please check out the “Watermelon” section of CARE’s website. In answer to the second question, please CARE’s recent commentary about the current outcome of the Mount Taylor battle and a slightly earlier piece entitled Hypocrisy That Knows No Bounds which includes an interesting quote from Patrick Moore, one of the founders of GreenPeace.

Please print this out and pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested in it. The general public needs to have a more clear idea of what is happening.

NEPA Needs U.S. Supreme Court Intervention
On New Year’s Day 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the purposes of which, among other objectives, were to “encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment [and] stimulate the health and welfare of man.” NEPA’s most significant single provision was its requirement that federal agencies prepare an environmental study whenever any proposal for “major Federal action” would “significantly affect the quality of the human environment,” in essence, the workshop equivalent of “measure twice, cut once.”

Unfortunately, in the nearly 40 years since its enactment, NEPA has become the weapon of choice for groups and judges to kill activities of which they disapprove. It is not just that NEPA has killed major projects like oil refineries, nuclear power plants, and pre-Katrina improvements to New Orleans’ levees; it also has delayed and thus killed salvage of fire-damaged timber, transfer of a rig from one drilling site to another, and movement of cattle to a different grazing location. Three NEPA cases now in court provide new evidence of NEPA’s pernicious effects.

In 1997, natural gas was discovered on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease in New Mexico. Over the next eight years, the BLM produced thousands of pages of documents, received hundreds of comments, and held scores of meetings and hearings.

In January 2005, it issued an oil and gas plan that allows a maximum surface disturbance of only 1,589 acres in Otero and Sierra Counties from well pads, roads, and pipelines--less than one-tenth of one percent of the total surface area. Because only 141 exploratory wells could be drilled with no more than 84 producing wells, the plan was the BLM’s most restrictive ever. Nonetheless, neither environmental groups nor Governor Bill Richardson was satisfied; they sued. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the BLM had not taken the “hard look” that NEPA requires and sent the BLM back to the drawing board.

In 2008, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, as to the right “to keep and bear arms,” and following a request from 51 Senators, the National Park Service (NPS) adopted a new rule regarding the possession of guns in parks and wildlife refuges. That rule--like those of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the BLM--provides, in accordance with principles of federalism, that state law determines whether park visitors may possess guns. Anti-gun groups sued, claiming that the NPS should have conducted a NEPA study to assess the environmental impact. The NPS argued that there was no environmental impact, hence no NEPA requirement. The judge ruled that, because guns will be used for “self-defense against persons and animals,” the NPS’s rule “will obviously have some impact on the environment, whether direct, indirect, or cumulative.” The NPS was sent packing.

In the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania where oil and gas activity is underway on privately owned resources beneath the federal surface, environmental groups filed a “sweetheart lawsuit” to require the USFS to do a NEPA study when an oil and gas company advises the agency that it is operating in the forest. Notwithstanding that the agency, like every other surface owner, can do nothing short of a lawsuit to deny oil, gas, or mineral owners access to their property, the USFS appears to have concluded that the mere receipt of the notice--as to which it has no discretion and can take no action--is “major federal action” and triggers NEPA. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reaffirming the property rights of oil and gas operators should have ended the USFS’s plans; instead, the agency says it will prevent all oil and gas activity.

What NEPA needs now is an intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court; whether the Court will take such a case remains to be seen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Are Gasoline Taxes The “Transparent” Way To Reduce Consumption?

For the last two years, CARE has been watching CAFE Standards legislation since alerted to them by Sam Kazman’s June 2007 article entitled "First, Do No Harm to Motorists." Executive Director Marita Noon includes commentary in one of her speeches that touches on CAFE standards and we’ve posted previous comments here from Diana Furchtgott-Roth. Marita wrote a recent opinion editorial following Obama’s announcement about the increase in CAFE Standards. Within a short period of time, this piece from Diana Furchtgott-Roth arrived in CARE’s in box. While it addresses the same topic as the piece distributed through CARE, it takes a totally different--but compatible--angle. CAFE is just one of the onslaught of legislation hitting the American public that limits freedom. If you support private property rights, free-market principles and energy freedom, you’ll want to read on. If you do not support that short shopping list, you need to read on.

Beyond the news element to this story, it also answers a question you may have thought of, “What happened to the family station wagon?” or “When did the station wagon become the SUV?”

What do you think?

Obama Should Ditch Deadly CAFE Standards
Why does President Obama want to preclude Americans from buying bigger, safer, vehicles, mostly made by domestic auto companies, who need all the business they can get? Motorists should be allowed to pay the cost of cars and the fuel to run them, including taxes to reflect costs imposed on society.

Yet earlier this month, using authority granted in the 2007 Energy Act, Mr. Obama announced that automakers will be required to achieve a higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, 35 miles a gallon by 2016, four years earlier than Congress had mandated, rising from 27 MPG now for cars and 22 MPG for light trucks. Enacted in 1975, CAFE requires automakers to calculate average fuel economy--miles per gallon--across their fleets.

Never mind that the 35 MPG CAFE standard, calculated by the Transportation Department, corresponds roughly to a 26 MPG Environmental Protection Agency standard, the measure that is found on window stickers of new cars. This is met already by 29 car models and 36 truck models. Half these trucks and one third of the cars are made by domestic automakers.

This discrepancy in MPG arises because for CAFE the Transportation Department tests the vehicle on a dynamometer, a machine designed to measure fuel intake in a repeatable pattern that is not the same as ordinary driving. This yields better “mileage” than would the EPA measure of driving over the road.

Hence, there was less to Mr. Obama’s announcement than met the eye--or made the headlines.

Whatever the true MPG measure, CAFE standards aren’t the best way to increase it. If Mr. Obama wants Americans to use less gasoline--a goal that many don’t share--he should propose a gasoline tax. Last summer, when the price of gasoline climbed above $4 a gallon, Americans cut back on their driving—with no extra CAFE standards.

Paradoxically, Mr. Obama’s increased CAFE standards may have the unintended effect of encouraging motorists to hold on to their older gas guzzling cars, as new models become more expensive. In contrast, a higher tax would create incentives to turn over the auto fleet more quickly, as drivers choose more fuel-efficient models.

Motorists should be allowed to choose between purchasing more safety with a larger car, or saving fuel by buying a smaller car. Other things being equal, heavier cars will be safer. Data show that fewer fatalities occur when large cars hit each other than when small cars do the same. In crashes between small and large cars, small cars’ occupants are at a disadvantage.

And poor people will be the most likely to get hurt under Mr. Obama’s new regulations. University of California (Santa Barbara) economics professor Stephen DeCanio in a telephone conversation yesterday declared, “CAFE standards are regressive. They put an undue burden on those who are low-income, who will buy cars that are smaller and less safe. Speaking as someone who is in favor of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, CAFE is not the way to go.”

The first CAFE standards, according to a 2002 National Research Council study, resulted in 1,300 to 2,600 more Americans killed on the roads in a typical year, because cars were lighter. If a toy manufacturer had killed that many children in a year the company would go out of business.

After dead motorists, the biggest losers from higher CAFE standards are Americans who prefer large vehicles to carry families, equipment, and pets on daily trips or long vacations.

One reason that Congress does not want to tax gasoline is that taxes are unpopular. People see taxes, whereas they do not observe the costs of CAFE directly. Despite Mr. Obama’s many calls for transparency in government, CAFE standards hide the costs of the regulation, contributing to poor governance.

Furthermore, CAFE regulations yield no revenue that the government could use to make infrastructure investments, engage in research and development, lower income taxes, or cushion the effects of the cost of the emissions reductions on low-income Americans. A gasoline tax, if accompanied by decreases in income taxes, could be revenue neutral. Low-income Americans who do not pay taxes could receive credits from the revenues to be used against the purchase of gasoline.

By yielding to Congress’s unwillingness to raise gasoline taxes and relying on regulations to increase gas mileage, Mr. Obama offers no incentive for manufacturers to exceed the CAFE standard or motorists to reduce their driving. A tax, on the other hand, would create a continuing incentive to improve vehicle MPG and reduce miles driven.

In fact, CAFE standards may have contributed to lowering the fuel efficiency of the personal transportation fleet because light trucks were not covered. Manufacturers developed a new kind of “light truck,” the Sport Utility Vehicle, built on a truck chassis. Many motorists who could not buy large sedans or station wagons due to CAFE turned to SUVs, some of which had lower fuel efficiency than the prohibited sedans.

Automotive fuel efficiency has been rising without stricter CAFE standards as older cars are replaced with newer ones. If Mr. Obama wants Americans to use less fuel, a tax would be simpler, fairer, and more effective.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Hudson Institute's Center for Employment Policy. She is the former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Zealand May Go Bust Over Global Warming

As America seems to be heading whole-hog into embracing the idea that global warming is going to ruin the earth and that America is the one to save it, it is worth looking into what this gamble is going to cost us. We cannot trust the wildly-divergent numbers various economists throw around as they seem to be able to manipulate the numbers to suit their purpose. Instead, we can look to what is happening in other countries who have already adopted Kyoto and are about to pay the steep price tag of compliance.

Here, from one of our regular contributors Dennis Avery, is a look at the cost of climate change mandates in New Zealand.

Emperor of Global Warming Has No Clothes
No country in the world would risk as much for “global warming” as New Zealand if it goes ahead with the cap-and-trade energy taxation installed by Helen Clarke’s now-departed Labour Government.

New Zealand’s economy is almost completely dependent on its farm exports: lamb, dairy products, beef and high-end white wines. Half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions come from cattle and sheep. If New Zealand taxes its cows and sheep hundreds of dollars per animal for methane emissions and manure handling fees, Argentina would almost immediately displace New Zealand’s farm exports. Argentina has more grass, more cattle, the potential for more lambs, a surging wine industry--and no Kyoto obligations.

Based on U.S. and Australian “discussions,” a 500-cow dairy might have to pay $250,000 per year for cattle emissions and manure handling permits, plus a hefty increase in its costs for low-carbon electricity and diesel. An Argentine dairy would pay none of these increased costs--and every dollar of cost differential would be a further incentive for Argentine dairymen to expand their exports at the expense of New Zealand.

That would leave Kiwi cities like Auckland and Christchurch without visible means of support.

I said this recently to several New Zealand government ministers and business leaders at a private dinner in Wellington. My message was not welcomed. John Key’s new government seems to understand that New Zealand’s economy would be at terrible risk from carbon taxes--but its voters apparently don’t realize it.

The Clark government told New Zealand voters that the cost of “leading the world” with a carbon tax would be about $150 per year. That figure is laughably low. The British government now admits its new carbon tax law could cost as much as $27,000 per UK family.

The Key government has temporarily suspended the cap-and-trade, but has not dared repeal it. Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is installing his own cap-and-trade, and playing footsie with President Obama on “solidarity” with a U.S. carbon tax. If Australia and the U.S. agreed on some benchmark carbon tax, most New Zealanders would expect their country to join in.

Never mind that the earth’s global warming stopped after 1998 because the sun has gone into a startling quiet period. That’s why New Zealand’s many glaciers have been growing recently instead of receding. Never mind that even full member compliance with Kyoto would “avoid” only about 0.05 degree C of warming over the next 50 years--by the alarmists’ own math.

The urbanites in New Zealand don’t really appreciate the sophisticated management that juggles pastures and feed crops that produce milk, cheese and Merino wool. They love the wine, but don’t understand the massive per-acre investments needed to turn their grapes into award-winning vintages.

Meanwhile, Obama’s U.S. government has just punished New Zealand with trade-distorting dairy export subsidies--because our corn ethanol program has pushed our cost of dairy feed too high. World corn prices have doubled in real terms, and may go higher as our ethanol mandates keep rising. That jacks up the U.S. cost of “alternative fuels” even further--while New Zealand will have to file a well-justified case against America under the World Trade Organization rules.

Ah, what a tangled web we’re weaving, rather than admit the Emperor of Global Warming has no clothes.

Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to