Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is the Murkowski Resolution?

Through CARE’s Monthly Newsletter, The PowerLine, and through special e-mail alerts, we have been encouraging people to contact their Senators asking them to support the Murkowski Resolution. The Debate on the floor has been postponed until June 10. There is still time to push for approval of the “Resolution of disapproval.”

It is a complicated legislative process that is hard to fully comprehend. This posting by our friend from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Marlo Lewis and Former Senator and Governor of Virginia, George Allen, offers the best overview we’ve seen. Please give it a read. If the EPA’s power grab alarms you, pass this link on to everyone you know and ask them to contact their senators too! Here’s a link to make sending your Senator a note asking him or her to support the Murkowski Resolution!

The EPA's Shocking Power Grab
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out one of the biggest power grabs in American history. The agency has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate policy for the nation and amend the Clean Air Act—powers never delegated to it by Congress. It has done this by declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, in a proceeding known as the "endangerment finding."

On June 10 the U.S. Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution of disapproval to overturn the endangerment finding. The resolution is absolutely necessary to restore democratic accountability in climate policymaking.

If allowed to stand, the EPA's endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade through multiple provisions of the Act. America could be burdened with a regulatory regime more costly than any climate bill Congress has rejected or declined to pass, yet without the people's representatives ever voting on it.

Consider how the endangerment finding will expand the EPA's power beyond any plausible congressional mandate.

To begin with, the finding compels the EPA to establish greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles. About 95% of all vehicular greenhouse gas emissions are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor fuel combustion. Because there is no commercially proven technology to capture CO2 tailpipe emissions, the principal way to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per mile is to reduce the amount of fuel consumed per mile. In other words, greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles are basically fuel economy standards by another name. By empowering the EPA to set greenhouse gas emission standards, the endangerment finding also empowers the EPA to determine the stringency of fuel economy standards, even though the Clean Air Act gives the EPA no such authority.

Once the greenhouse gas emission standards go into effect, CO2 becomes a "regulated air pollutant" and, thus, automatically subject to additional regulation under the Act's Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program and Title V operating permits program. Under the Act, a firm must obtain a PSD permit before it can build or modify a "major stationary source" of regulated air pollutants, and obtain a Title V permit before it can operate such a source. The problem is that an immense number and variety of previously non-regulated entities—big box stores, office buildings, apartment complexes, small manufacturers, even commercial kitchens—emit enough CO2 to qualify as "major" sources.

By the EPA's own admission, applying PSD and Title V to CO2 leads to "absurd results." The EPA and its state counterparts will have to process approximately 41,000 PSD permit applications per year (instead of 280), and 6.1 million Title V permit applications per year (instead of 14,700). Agencies' administrative resources will be overwhelmed, producing ever-growing backlogs that slam the brakes on new construction and force millions of firms to operate in legal limbo. A more potent anti-stimulus package would be hard to imagine.

To avert a red ink nightmare, the EPA proposes to "tailor" the permitting programs so that they exempt for six years all sources emitting less than 50,000 tons per year (TPY) of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. But the Act plainly states that a source is subject to PSD if it has the potential to emit 250 TPY of a regulated air pollutant and Title V if it has a potential to emit 100 TPY. In reality, the EPA proposes to amend the statute. This breach of the separation of powers only compounds the constitutional crisis inherent in the EPA's bid to hijack fuel economy regulation and climate policymaking.

Even if courts uphold EPA's tailoring rule, it's anybody's guess how many smaller sources EPA will try to regulate after 2016. Government burdens have a habit of ratcheting up over time.

The tailoring rule also provides no protection from the endangerment finding's most absurd result—rulemakings to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), set below current atmospheric concentrations, for greenhouse gases. Environmental litigation groups are only acting on the obvious implication of the EPA's assertion that the root cause of endangerment is the "elevated concentration" of greenhouse gases when they demand that the EPA initiate such rulemakings.
The economic consequences would be devastating. Even a global depression lasting several decades would not be enough to lower CO2 concentrations from today's level—roughly 390 parts per million—to 350 ppm, the new politically correct "stabilization" target advocated by former Vice President Al Gore, the Center for Biological Diversity and numerous other environmental groups. Yet under the Clean Air Act, states are obligated to attain NAAQS within five years or, at most, 10 years. The endangerment finding thus sets the stage for environmental activists to transform the Act into a deindustrialization mandate via litigation. The Murkowski resolution would nip all this mischief in the bud.

A strong case can be made that the EPA's endangerment finding is scientifically flawed. However, the Murkowski resolution is a referendum not about climate science but about the constitutional propriety of the EPA exercising powers not delegated by Congress. The resolution would overturn the "legal force and effect" of the EPA's endangerment finding, not the EPA's scientific reasoning or conclusions.

Who should make climate policy—the people's representatives or politically unaccountable bureaucrats, trial lawyers and unelected activist judges appointed for life? That is the sole question raised by the Murkowski resolution. The U.S. Constitution permits only one answer.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., warns that if the public has to wait for Congress to pass legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions, "that might not happen, in a year or two, or five or six or eight or 10." Yes, but that is representative democracy. And the democratic process is more valuable than any result that the EPA might obtain by doing an end run around it. Of all people, U.S. senators should understand this basic precept of our constitutional system.

George Allen is a former U.S. senator and governor from Virginia. He is also chairman of the American Energy Freedom Center. Marlo Lewis is a senior fellow in environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill Equals Lost Jobs

What would happen to you and your family if you were laid off from work? You would be immediately faced with the daunting task of finding another job when national unemployment stands at 9.9%. This nightmare scenario could quickly become a reality if Congress manages to pass the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, also known as the American Power Act. This monstrosity of a bill would destroy job opportunities for hard working American families struggling to make ends meat through higher taxes, higher utility rates, and outsourcing solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing to China. In addition, unilateral economically self-destructive behavior on part of the United States would result in lower wages for American works while workers in China and India would remain unhindered.

This blog entry will change your view on how environmental/energy policy affects you, your family, and your community. The actions of Washington have very real consequences and it's time to take notice and begin putting political pressure on your members of Congress to KILL THIS BILL! (Please click on text for Congressional contact information directory)

Kerry-Lieberman Equals Lost Jobs
Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (IND-CT) claim that their new energy bill, the American Power Act, would save the environment. What they don't tell you is that it would powerfully destroy jobs.

The Congressional Budget Office is more honest. Last week it issued a report entitled "How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment." The report concluded that "job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate."

With the national unemployment rate now 9.9%, Americans are concerned about their job prospects and those of friends and neighbors. Polls show that many believe that reducing global warming, the so-called benefit of lower greenhouse gas emissions, is less important than economic growth. With the slowdown in many measures of global warming over the past decade, it's an inconvenient truth that climate change is playing second fiddle to jobs.

Adding to the public's skepticism are leaked emails from the University of East Anglia in November 2009 showing the destruction of original global temperature data and the suppression of research papers authored by global warming dissenters. Americans are no fools - they know that no reduction in global warming will occur if America reduces greenhouse gases without similar action by China and India, and these countries have not agreed to comparable steps.

The Kerry-Lieberman bill is the Senate companion to the climate change bill that the House passed last summer, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, cosponsored by Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey, Chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, both Democrats.

Senator Lindsay Graham, an influential South Carolina Republican, was originally one of the cosponsors of the Senate bill, making it nominally bipartisan and giving it a greater chance of passage. But he dropped his sponsorship at the end of April.

On Wednesday, Mr. Kerry issued a statement saying that "It is time for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to come together to pass legislation that will create American jobs and achieve energy security, while reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050."

The bill requires that the country's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 be 5% lower than 2005 levels and that levels in 2020 be 17% lower - even as the economy, one hopes, has been expanding - and that by 2050, emissions be 80% below the 2005 baseline.

Representative Joe Barton, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, declared, "And just like with Waxman-Markey, we'll need to crash dive the economy back to something resembling the 1870s in order to reach the anti-global warming targets that Kerry-Lieberman sets for 2020, 2030, and 2050."

Indeed, it's not technologically possible to meet these goals now without radically reducing the American standard of living. The bill's sponsors appear to believe - or hope - that passage of the law will inspire technology to appear as needed. The bill contains numerous grants to "eligible partnerships" to develop such technology, as well as to study the fields of clean and renewable energy.

The mechanism for achieving the bill's proposed, ambitious goals for emissions reduction is standards for power plants, heavy industry, and transportation, and a "cap-and-trade" program beginning in 2013.

Under this new, far-reaching regulatory regime, Environmental Protection Agency politicians, in consultation with other Cabinet agencies, would issue regulations within a year governing the allocation of allowances to emit greenhouse gases.

The bill would require EPA to shrink allowances steadily to 2050. When any year's emissions exceed a firm's cap, it would have to purchase allowances from the government or other companies. That is a tax under another name, driving up costs that would be passed on to consumers.

Supporters of the bill claim that the new regulations will create jobs as more Americans are employed to produce new emissions-suppressing technology. But funds for new capital expenditures have to come from somewhere, and the costs are passed to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Not only does the bill penalize American firms through higher costs of production, it causes jobs to be created abroad through required investments in wind turbines and solar panels, now commonly manufactured in China. But carbon-intensive sources of energy such as coal and oil, which are disfavored by the bill, are produced domestically and employ American workers.

The CBO report shows that emissions reduction programs would cause job losses in coal mining, oil and gas extraction, gas utilities, and petroleum refining. In addition, workers' wages adjusted for inflation would be lower than otherwise because of the increase in prices due to a cap and trade program. CBO concludes that some workers, therefore, would leave the labor market, because at the new lower wages they would prefer to stay home.

Any reader of the CBO report would realize that it's not in the interests of American workers to embark on an emissions reduction program with our current high unemployment rate. According to CBO, "While the economy was adjusting to the emission-reduction program, a number of people would lose their job, and some of those people would face prolonged hardship." Workers laid off in declining industries would find it hard to get new jobs.

The CBO report points out that "In cases in which a shrinking industry was the primary employer in a community, the entire community could suffer." The tax base would dwindle and real estate would lose its value as unemployed workers moved elsewhere. The community's personal income would diminish and real estate values would fall as the jobless moved away.

Despite the creation of 290,000 jobs in April, the unemployment rate stands at 9.9%, higher than the United Kingdom, Canada, and even Germany and Italy. When given a choice between the ephemeral benefits of carbon reduction and jobs that pay for rent and groceries, out-of-touch politicians might choose Kerry-Lieberman. But, for most Americans, jobs win every time.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green-Think: It Is Less About The Environment And More About Using Environmental Accidents To Advance Social And Political Agendas

With the daily news continuing to focus on the oil spill in the Gulf, there is ongoing discussion as to what it all means. One suggestion is that the environmentalists are grieved. Surely there is truth to that as everyone—oil producers included—is. But there is much more going on in the background.

We were pleased to receive the following insights from Steven Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them , widely known for his popular website: This piece is bound to stir up some controversy while offering substantial food-for-thought.

If you are not familiar with Steven Milloy, we invite you to listen to CARE’s Conference Call recording when he was our featured guest, March 2009.

Greens Love Oil Spills
If you think that environmentalists are lamenting the Gulf oil spill, think again.
President Obama discomfited the greens in March when he announced that he would expand opportunities for offshore drilling. Although not a sincere policy proposal, the President’s announcement nonetheless worried the greens as they thought that they might have to make a concession on offshore drilling to get oil industry support for a climate bill.

Although the President reiterated his support for more drilling after the spill, Congressional Democrats, environmental groups and the Center for American Progress have all publicly breathed a sigh of relief. Their view is that the spill not only strengthens their hand against more drilling, but increases the likelihood of getting a climate bill through the Senate.

“Environmentalists hope the BP spill turns into a game changer that will help propel the climate legislation’s passage much like the Exxon Valdez oil spill led to the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments,” reported Climatewire (May 4).

This is not likely to be the case since the public of 2010 is much more hip to the green agenda than it was in 1990, but the Climatewire report provides clear insight into green-think. They don’t care about the planet’s environment so much as they do about how they can use environmental accidents to advance their social and political agenda.

Not convinced?

Consider the puzzlingly slow response of the Obama administration to the spill.
Although Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano claims the government has been involved since “day one,” in fact, that “day one” response was limited to search and rescue efforts. Days after the spill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the severity of the accident, stating, “I don’t honestly think it opens up a whole new series of questions, because, you know, in all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last.”
As the spill got worse, threatening coastal areas and the administration, the administration remained content to allow the inept BP—responsible for the largest oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope in 2006—to putter around with unsuccessful efforts to repair the leak and contain to the spill.

For an administration that claims to be so sensitive to the environment, its reaction was curious. Why didn’t the administration rush to action? If your house is catches fire, does the 911 operator respond to your call for help with, “Let’s wait and see if you can put it out before we send a fire truck.”

Interestingly, a Clinton administration-era plan calls for the immediate use of fire booms in case of a major Gulf oil spill, according to a Mobile Press-Register report. A single boom (costing only a few hundred thousand dollars) towed by two boats can burn 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, “raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.”

But there were no booms onsite or anywhere close. It took federal officials more than a week to even conduct a test burn. Booms won’t be onsite until Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

It’s hard to know for sure whether this all simple lameness on the part of government, or whether the Obama administration is in no rush to prevent a disaster because it perceives an oil-drenched Gulf Coast as a way to advance cap-and-trade and anti-oil agendas. But why would it let a good crisis go to waste?

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).