Thursday, May 21, 2009

Republlican House leader Boehner continues irresponsible charges about climate bill



[Picture caption: John Boehner hits one WAY out of bounds]

If you haven’t seen it already, you might be interested in the communication below from House Republican leader John Boehner about the pending Waxman-Markey bill. This apparently was sent all over the country. (It came to us from a fellow in Minnesota.)

In it, Boehner repeats some of the irresponsible charges about the legislation – including the fantasy $3,100 figure – as well as some of the Frank Luntz talking points regarding an “energy tax,” a “light switch” and “common-sense GOP amendments.” At least Boehner didn’t goof this time and call CO2 a carcinogen again.

It is painful to see such a prominent elected official debase himself in this way. To him, this issue appears to be nothing more than a political game – an opportunity to get back into power by using scare tactics to get Republicans elected.

No wonder so many folks outside D.C. think politicians here are out of touch.

**

From: GOP Leader Alert [mailto:GOPLeaderAlert@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 9:25 AM
Subject: Democrats Vote for $5 Gas, 15 Percent Unemployment, and Shipping Jobs to China & India - All to Protect Their National Energy Tax





DEMOCRATS VOTE FOR $5 GAS, 15 PERCENT UNEMPLOYMENT & SHIPPING JOBS TO CHINA & INDIA – ALL TO PROTECT THEIR NATIONAL ENERGY TAX



HOUSE DEMOCRATS REJECT A SERIES OF COMMON SENSE GOP AMENDMENTS TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM NATIONAL ENERGY TAX IF ENERGY COSTS, UNEMPLOYMENT SOAR



May 20, 2009 | House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) | Permalink

Just how committed are Democrats to establishing a national energy tax on anyone who drives a car, buys anything made in America, or has the audacity to flip on a light switch? So committed that they are willing to let families and small businesses deal with $5 gas prices, 15 percent unemployment, and skyrocketing electricity costs just to ensure that the national energy tax becomes the law of the land.

Republicans believe there’s a better path to clean energy. Yesterday, during the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s consideration of the legislation, Republicans offered a series of amendments to protect Americans from paying the national energy tax – which would cost families up to $3,100 per year – if gasoline and electricity costs soared or if unemployment reached historic levels. But one by one, Democrats rejected these common sense amendments, barreling ahead with their plans to saddle Americans with a massive new tax when they can afford it the least. Here’s a quick review of some of the amendments Democrats voted against yesterday – reflecting just how committed they are to a national energy tax:

· Democrats Vote for $5 Per Gallon Gasoline. Democrats rejected a GOP amendment designed to protect middle-class families by shelving the national energy tax if gasoline prices hit $5 per gallon.

· Democrats Vote for 15 Percent Unemployment. Democrats rejected a GOP amendment that made clear that if the U.S. unemployment rate should exceed 15 percent, then the national energy tax would cease to be effective.

· Democrats Vote for Skyrocketing Electricity Costs. Democrats rejected a GOP amendment that would have protected residential customers from higher electric utility rates. The amendment would shelve the national energy tax if electricity rates increase by more than 10 percent over 2009 rates.

· Democrats Vote for Shipping American Jobs to China and India. Democrats rejected a GOP amendment designed to provide a level playing field for American industries. It simply made clear that China and India must adopt the same emissions standards that the United States will be forced to comply with under the Democrats’ national energy tax, and if they don’t then it will not go into effect in the United States.

· Democrats Vote For Keeping Consumers in the Dark About Energy Price Spikes. Democrats rejected a GOP amendment to require that any price increase for consumers as a result of the national energy tax be fully disclosed on each utility bill, fuel pump, manufactured product label, or food label.


Republicans know that we can clean up our environment, create more jobs, and bring down energy prices at the same time – without raising taxes. Cornerstones of the House Republicans’ strategy are:

Increasing environmentally-safe energy production on remote lands and far off our shores;

Promoting the use of alternative fuels that will reduce carbon emissions, such as nuclear, clean-coal, and renewable energy technologies; and
Encouraging conservation to preserve and protect our natural resources.

While Democrats cling to their irresponsible plan for a national energy tax on families and small businesses – even if gas prices, electricity costs, and unemployment soar – Republicans will continue promoting their “all of the above” strategy. Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) will host a series of forums next week in California, Pennsylvania, and Indiana to highlight the plan – and shine a spotlight on the devastating consequences of the Democrats’ national energy tax.

Republican Leader Press Office

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

H-204, The Capitol

(202) 225-4000

http://gopleader.gov/

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boucher to C-Span: I want more changes to climate bill

Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher, who has now been identified as the front man for the electric power lobby, says he’ll vote for the compromise version of the Waxman-Markey bill that he helped negotiate.

But Boucher vows he will push for additional changes in the bill as it moves forward in the legislative process.

In an interview broadcast this morning by C-Span, Boucher said “further improvements” are needed in the legislation. (This echoes language used by EEI President Tom Kuhn in a May 18 email, in which he noted that Boucher was the “staunch ally” of the electric power industry in this debate. Kuhn bragged that, through its use of Boucher, the electric power lobby had already achieved many of its objectives in weakening the bill. But that it wanted further changes to delay cleanup and give further huge financial value to the power industry.)

Boucher said he would vote at the committee level for the bill as it now stands. But he added that “I intend to be a key participant in this process” as it moves to the House floor and to an ultimate conference committee with the Senate. Boucher noted that he would work “to make sure the further needed improvements” are included in any final version.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep an eye on power industry checks rolling into Boucher’s office. He’s giving the power lobby good value so far.

Under the radar: WH taps Bob Perciasepe as EPA Deputy; Senate Republicans fume over Waxman bill

Amid all the hoopla over the new vehicle standards, the White House officially nominated ex-EPA and ex-state official Bob Perciasepe to become Deputy EPA Administrator. http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing_room/PressReleases/

This is a great choice! For clean-air advocates, this should be a cause for celebration.

Some of you may recall Bob from his days in the Clinton era. At different times, he ran both the water pollution and later the air pollution divisions. Before that, he was the head of the Maryland state environmental program.

He is as qualified as anyone in the nation for this job. (For the top job at EPA as well, for that matter.) He is a real problem solver. You may remember some of his great accomplishments included tougher standards for cars, SUVs, gasoline sulfur, diesel sulfur and diesel trucks and buses. We have cleaner air today thanks to things Perciasepe did a decade ago.

Let’s hope the Senate spoil sports, including Barrasso and Inhofe, don’t try to hang him up as they have the Gina McCarthy nomination as head of the EPA air program. Clean Air Watch is still gathering signatures for a petition urging the Senate to confirm her. And some of the personalized comments are indeed touching.

And speaking of those Senate Republicans… Politico has a fascinating piece this morning on a cynical Senate Republican “strategy memo” which seeks to attack the Democrats as the party of “big business.” http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=5B00C1F3-18FE-70B2-A8D198AC15FAA4AA

This is a pretty cynical and transparent way to lay the groundwork for future attacks on the Waxman-Markey climate bill. They focus their attack on the corporate members of the US Climate Action Partnership, which put together a compromise (which we have been critical of) which formed some of the basis of the still-evolving legislation.

These Senate Republicans are obviously pretty desperate. And talk about being the wrong messenger! The Republican Party has generally been viewed as the ally of “big business” at least since the William McKinley era.

Not only that, as we pointed out some weeks back, http://www.jimrogerswantsyourmoney.com/uscap.html , the USCAP companies gave quite a lot of campaign cash to Inhofe as well as to other diehard opponents of climate legislation.

Perhaps for their next act, they will denounce EEI President Tom Kuhn for using Democrat Rick Boucher as their puppet to weaken the Waxman-Markey bill. http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2009/05/eei-chief-bouchers-our-staunch-ally.html

Kuhn, close college buddy of former President Bush, understands that it’s cold cash – not party loyalty -- that really pulls the strings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

EEI Chief: Boucher’s Our “Staunch Ally”




He helped power polluters water down the Waxman climate bill…

But now they want even more.


It was only last week that the Washington Post quoted a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute as saying the electric power lobby would support the watered-down climate bill sponsored by California Democrat Henry Waxman and Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/12/AR2009051203962.html?hpid=sec-politics

But now the truth is emerging. Even though EEI got much of what it wanted through campaign contributions and back-door lobbying, the power moguls want even more weakening changes to the compromise legislation.

“This bill includes significant improvements over the earlier draft, thanks to your hard work and the input of supporters on the Hill – including Rick Boucher (D-VA) who has been a staunch ally and advocate on many of our major issues in ongoing discussions with Chairmen Waxman and Markey,” EEI President Tom Kuhn noted in an email to member companies late yesterday afternoon. (See below.)

“However, much work still needs to be done,” said Kuhn.

“Attached is EEI’s statement on H.R. 2454, which we provided to Rep. Boucher today. Our goal was to be supportive of the process – including highlighting some significant improvements – while noting some key issues requiring further modification as the bill makes its way through the Congress.”

Kuhn brags that “Some of the notable changes from the March discussion draft [released by Waxman and Markey] include: 35% allowance allocations to the power sector; bonus allowances for CCS; allocations to support investments in clean vehicle manufacturing (including PHEVs) and infrastructure; and major improvements in the offsets, strategic allowance reserve, and citizen lawsuit provisions. This bill also moderates the RES/EERS mandate from 40% by 2025 to 20% by 2020, and moderates the 2020 ghg reduction cap slightly from 20% to 17%.”

In the letter referenced by Kuhn, EEI notes that “we do continue to have concerns with several key elements – including the very ambitious near and mid-term targets for greenhouse gas reductions and the short phase out of the allocation program.” It adds “we will be continuing to seek appropriate adjustments in these and other provisions.”

Boucher, of course, received more campaign cash from the electric power industry – more than $230,000 -- in the last election cycle than any other member of Congress except for John Dingell of Michigan. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/recips.php?ind=E08&cycle=2008&recipdetail=H&mem=Y&sortorder=U

If anything, power industry spending on Boucher has ramped up this year. As we noted several weeks ago, Boucher has received campaign contributions in the first quarter of this year from EEI as well as a number of its leading coal-heavy companies, including Duke, AEP, Progress Energy, Xcel, Allegheny Energy, Alliant and Ameren. http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2009/04/whos-trying-to-buy-swing-votes-in.html

No wonder Kuhn refers to Boucher as EEI’s “staunch ally and advocate.”

Here is the whole Kuhn email:

From: Tom Kuhn [mailto:tkuhn@eei.org]
Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 5:41 PM
To: EEI.Member.Company.CEOs
Cc: ceoasst@ls.eei.org
Subject: Waxman/Markey Markup Begins

Attached is an EEI summary of the Waxman-Markey climate/energy legislation which was released last Friday and will be marked up in the Energy and Commerce Committee this week. Opening statements began today, and we expect a full week of debate over amendments. Chairman Waxman’s goal remains to report the bill from Committee before leaving for the Memorial Day recess.

This bill includes significant improvements over the earlier draft, thanks to your hard work and the input of supporters on the Hill – including Rick Boucher (D-VA) who has been a staunch ally and advocate on many of our major issues in ongoing discussions with Chairmen Waxman and Markey. Some of the notable changes from the March discussion draft include: 35% allowance allocations to the power sector; bonus allowances for CCS; allocations to support investments in clean vehicle manufacturing (including PHEVs) and infrastructure; and major improvements in the offsets, strategic allowance reserve, and citizen lawsuit provisions. This bill also moderates the RES/EERS mandate from 40% by 2025 to 20% by 2020, and moderates the 2020 ghg reduction cap slightly from 20% to 17%. However, much work still needs to be done.

Attached is EEI’s statement on H.R. 2454, which we provided to Rep. Boucher today. Our goal was to be supportive of the process – including highlighting some significant improvements – while noting some key issues requiring further modification as the bill makes its way through the Congress.

We should note that there have been some differences in understanding over the allocation numbers. To clarify, as currently structured, the electricity sector would get allocations representing 35% of a declining allowances budget from 2016 – once all the covered sectors are phased in – to 2025, with a phase-out by 2030. We receive proportionately more in the early years of the program (2012-2015).

As always, thank you for your dedication, hard work and counsel on this critical issue. We look forward to continuing to work with you and your staff on improvements to the bill as it progresses through the legislative process.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you have comments or questions.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Joe Barton unveils cynical Republican alternative to Waxman climate bill


Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) today unveiled what I would characterize as a cynical Republican alternative plan to the compromise climate legislation being developed by Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The document (if you check the “document properties” of the attached summary) is titled The Republican alternative should encompass the energy and technology initiatives that our Members can present as a viable alternative to a mandatory cap and trade plan.

Note: it doesn’t have to be a viable alternative – only something that can be presented as one.

In other words, this is basically a pr stunt aimed at conning the public.

The plan includes such choice items as:

Repealing the Supreme Court decision which said the US EPA could limit greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Preempting state authority. (Mary Bono Mack – are you paying attention? Is the California media? This is a direct attack on the state of California and other states that have sought to reduce climate-related emissions.)

Providing regulatory and financial rewards to coal-burning power plants that use “currently available technology.” In other words, more dirty coal.

Providing added financial incentives for new nuclear power plants. (And also promote “clean coal” along the lines suggested by the panel’s Brown Dog Democrats.)

Promoting more oil drilling off the coasts as well as “environmentally sensitive American energy exploration” [NOTE: THIS LINE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN OR INSPIRED BY CYNICAL POLLSTER FRANK LUNTZ] in the Arctic wildlife refuge.

You can see the whole document here: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dndqqzt_2dc5nj4gc

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waxman appears to win over some Brown Dog Democrats


Some of you may recall that last November, when Henry Waxman successfully challenged John Dingell, I predicted that Waxman would be far more likely to produce effective and aggressive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The latest news – that Waxman may have secured agreement from enough Democrats on his committee to pass compromise legislation – appears to confirm my prediction.

Obviously, this is still a work in progress. (And it is a compromise. There’s a reason it’s called politics.) The actual revised bill language hasn’t been made public, and some members of the Waxman panel still seem to be hedging their bets. And the Republicans seem to be doing little more than playing negative politics. (They are irresponsibly holding hostage President Obama’s nominee to run the EPA air pollution control program, and, as you will recall, were aggressively shopping around that OMB memo yesterday. Next up, apparently, will be hundreds of mud-slinging amendments to the Waxman bill.)

Even so, Waxman deserves congratulations. He is on the verge of a landmark accomplishment. (His emission reduction target for 2020 – 17% -- is a retreat from his earlier draft, but it is actually more aggressive than the 14% target put forward by President Obama.)

And he’s had to cope not only with the snarling Republicans, but with Brown Dog Democrats dedicated to protecting industrial constituents. Waxman is trying to make carbon chicken salad. Only time will tell if the mayonnaise has been left in the heat too long.

On the critical question of how to handle carbon permits – auction them or give a major share of them away for free to big polluters – perhaps now we can have a real debate as the legislation moves forward. President Obama, of course, has favored an auction approach, with most of the proceeds being returned to taxpayers. As part of the compromise here, permits worth perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars will be distributed for free to electricity distribution companies and other industries. It did send a chill up my spine to read in this morning’s Washington Post that the Edison Electric Institute likes the plan. (No wonder an Associated Press story this week described the concession as a “major win for industry.”)

If you haven’t seen it, there was excellent testimony last week from the head of the Congressional Budget Office http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/101xx/doc10115/05-07-Cap_and_Trade_Testimony.pdf who warned that giving allowances for free to local distribution companies was a topic that needs “further research” and might increase the overall cost of the program. CBO also pointed out that an auction approach, by contrast, would permit the government to give rebates to low-income households and other taxpayers.

A key question moving forward is how consumers would be protected under the strategy of the compromise legislation, which appears to rely on state public utility commissions – very political bodies – to make sure the electricity companies don’t play financial games with their potential windfall. We will look to see if the fine print of the evolving legislation deals with this.

Another question: if an auction approach is a good idea in a decade or two, why isn’t it a good idea now? (The answer is probably related to the Brown Dogs and the campaign contributions they have received from companies likely to receive free emission permits.)

Climate "deniers" rev up for another kook fest

Well, you can tell those opponents of action on climate are getting more and more desperate now that the House Energy and Commerce Committee appears poised to pass compromise legislation.

The Heartland Institute, the last bastion of the flat earth society, has scheduled its “Third International Conference on Climate Change” in Washington, D.C. on June 2.

http://www.heartland.org/

Of course, it’s only been two months since the institute held its last kook fest. That one, like its maiden meeting in 2008, was held in New York and gave new meaning to the term “off-Broadway production.”

http://www.heartland.org/events/NewYork09/proceedings.html

Perhaps it’s just time to take the show on the road.

The new gathering of climate change “deniers” will take place almost in the shadow of the Capitol. Will Senators James Inhofe, John Barrasso and Congressmen Joe Barton and John Boehner make guest appearances? (Members of Congress have been invited. Here is an excerpt from the invitation. The full invitation is below.)

The purpose of the June event is to expose Congressional staff and journalists to leading scientists and economists in the nation's capital. Senators and Representatives will be invited to speak side-by-side with leading scientists and economists. Allied organizations have been invited to be cosponsors, to help supply speakers and promote the event to their members and supporters.

The conference's theme will be "Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis." The theme reflects the fact that the scientific debate is not over and that economic analysis is more important than ever, now that legislation is being seriously considered.

The list of co-sponsors reads like a who’s who of virtually every organization that’s ever gotten money from Exxon Mobil or other companies that have worked over the years to try to discredit mainstream scientists. (The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George Marshall Institute, etc.)

http://www.heartland.org/events/WashingtonDC09/cosponsors.html

The scintillating speakers noted for their impartial scientific expertise include Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently declared that his “constituents may be interested to learn of the growing scientific consensus that global warming is not manmade, if it is in fact even occuring.[SIC]” http://rohrabacher.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=4299

Perhaps he will repeat his colorful assertion that prior warming cycles were caused by “dinosaur flatulence.” http://thinkprogress.org/2007/02/10/dino-flatulence/

Another speaker is former astronaut and New Mexico Senator Harrison Schmitt, chairman emeritus of The Annapolis Center, which – as the Wall Street Journal exposed more than a decade ago – was set up with funding by National Association of Manufacturers companies to try to undermine science supporting tougher clean-air requirements.

Other speakers include Patrick Michaels, Willie Soon, and Craig Idso, who’ve been linked to money from dirty industries. (See stories below the invitation immediately below.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Peter Fotos [mailto:pfotos@heartland.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 12:26 PM
To: Zonia Pino
Subject: Heartland's Third International Conference on Climate Change

From the desk of

Zonia Pino
Legislative Specialist
zpino@heartland.org


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 11, 2009


Dear Members of Congress and Staff:

I write today to invite you to join The Heartland Institute in Washington, DC for a major policy event.

On June 2, 2009, we will be hosting the Third International Conference on Climate Change at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. It will call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted "consensus" on various aspects of climate change and global warming.

Our first international climate change conference, which took place in March 2008 in New York, dramatized the view that global warming is not a crisis, that it is probably natural and not caused by human activity, and that computer models are unreliable guides to future temperature change. The second conference, which took place in March 2009 in New York, focused on areas where alarmists have lost credibility and where skeptics have gained ground during the past year.

The purpose of the June event is to expose Congressional staff and journalists to leading scientists and economists in the nation's capital. Senators and Representatives will be invited to speak side-by-side with leading scientists and economists. Allied organizations have been invited to be cosponsors, to help supply speakers and promote the event to their members and supporters.

The conference's theme will be "Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis." The theme reflects the fact that the scientific debate is not over and that economic analysis is more important than ever, now that legislation is being seriously considered. The real science and economics of climate change support the view that global warming is not a crisis and that immediate action to reduce emissions is not necessary. This is, in fact, the emerging consensus view of scientists outside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most economists outside environmental advocacy groups.

To register for the event, please fill out the reply form linked here and fax it to the number indicated at the bottom of the page. Please note the registration fees indicated on the form are for the general public only--registration is free for all national, state, and local elected officials and their staff.

This is a purely educational event that is free for all elected officials and their staff. The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit tax-exempt charity under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. No gifts from foreign entities were solicited or accepted for this event.

Please return the registration form before Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

If you need any further information regarding this event, please visit http://www.heartland.org/events/WashingtonDC09/index.html.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 312/377-4000 or by email to zpino@heartland.org if you have questions or require additional information. See you in June!


Sincerely,


Zonia Pino
Conference Manager and Legislative Specialist


**

[and here are a few background stories]



Utilities giving big bucks to global warming skeptic

By SETH BORENSTEIN27 July 2006



WASHINGTON (AP) - Coal-burning utilities are passing the hat for one of the few remaining scientists skeptical of the global warming harm caused by industries that burn fossil fuels.

Pat Michaels -- Virginia's state climatologist, a University of Virginia professor and senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute -- told Western business leaders last year that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists' global warming research. So last week, a Colorado utility organized a collection campaign to help him out, raising at least $150,000 in donations and pledges.

The Intermountain Rural Electric Association of Sedalia, Colo., gave Michaels $100,000 and started the fund-raising drive, said Stanley Lewandowski, IREA's general manager. He said one company planned to give $50,000 and a third plans to give Michaels money next year.

"We cannot allow the discussion to be monopolized by the alarmists," Lewandowski wrote in a July 17 letter to 50 other utilities. He also called on other electric cooperatives to launch a counterattack on "alarmist" scientists and specifically Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Michaels and Lewandowski are open about the money and see no problem with it. Some top scientists and environmental advocates call it a clear conflict of interest. Others view it as the type of lobbying that goes along with many divisive issues.
"These people are just spitting into the wind," said John Holdren, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "The fact is that the drumbeat of science and people's perspectives are in line that the climate is changing."
Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington advocacy group, said: "This is a classic case of industry buying science to back up its anti-environmental agenda."

Donald Kennedy, an environmental scientist who is former president of Stanford University and current editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Science, said skeptics such as Michaels are lobbyists more than researchers.

"I don't think it's unethical any more than most lobbying is unethical," he said. He said donations to skeptics amounts to "trying to get a political message across."
Michaels is best known for his newspaper opinion columns and books, including "Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media." However, he also writes research articles published in scientific journals.

In 1998, Michaels blasted NASA scientist James Hansen, accusing the godfather of global warming science of being way off on his key 1988 prediction of warming over the next 10 years. But Hansen and other scientists said Michaels misrepresented the facts by cherry-picking the worst (and least likely) of three possible outcomes Hansen presented to Congress. The temperature rise that Hansen said was most likely to happen back then was actually slightly lower than what has occurred.
Michaels has been quoted by major newspapers more than 150 times in the past two years, according to a Lexis-Nexis database search. He and Lewandowski told The Associated Press that their side of global warming isn't getting out and that the donations resulted from a speech Michaels gave to the Western Business Roundtable last fall. Michaels said the money will help pay his staff.
Holdren, a Harvard environmental science and technology professor, said skeptics such as Michaels "have had attention all out of proportion to the merits of their arguments."

"Last I heard, anybody can ask a scientific question," said Michaels, who holds a Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It is a very spirited discussion that requires technical response and expertise."
Other scientific fields, such as medicine, are more careful about potential conflicts of interests than the energy, environmental and chemical fields, where it doesn't raise much of an eyebrow, said Penn State University bioethicist Arthur Caplan.

Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association announced a crackdown on researchers who do not disclose drug company ties related to their research. Yet days later, the journal's editor said she had been misled because the authors of a new study had not revealed industry money they got that posed a conflict.

Three top climate scientists said they don't accept money from private groups. The same goes for the Web site realclimate.org, which has long criticized Michaels. "We don't get any money; we do this in our free time," said Realclimate.org contributor Stefan Rahmstorf, an ocean physics scientist at Potsdam University in Germany.
Lewandowski, who said he believes global warming is real just not as big a problem as scientists claim, acknowledged this is a special interest issue. He said the bigger concern is his 130,000 customers, who want to keep rates low, so coal-dependent utilities need to prevent any taxes or programs that penalize fossil fuel use. He said his effort is more aimed at stopping carbon dioxide emission taxes and limits from Congress, something he believes won't happen during the Bush administration.
**
Energy industry touts dubious climate study Effort attacks belief in global warming

JEFF NESMITHCox Washington Bureau 1 June 2003The Atlanta Journal -
ConstitutionCopyright (c) 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, All Rights Reserved
Washington --- Nonprofit organizations with ties to energy interests are promoting a controversial climate study as proof that prevailing views of global warming are wrong.

The scientists who authored the new study contend that the global warming of recent decades is not without precedent during the past 1,000 years, as other scientists have claimed. In fact, they say the Earth was even warmer during what is known as the ''medieval warm period'' between 900 and 1300 A.D.
The paper has touched off a worldwide storm of e-mail among climate scientists, some of whom have proposed organizing a research boycott of two journals that published the study.

The links among authors of the new study, the nonprofit groups and the energy interests illustrate a three-way intersection of money, science and policy. Energy interests underwrote the study and help finance the groups that are promoting it.
The study also illustrates a strategy adopted by some energy companies in the late 1980s to attack the credibility of climate science, said John Topping, president of the Climate Institute.

''They saw early on that what they had to do was keep the science at issue,'' said Topping, a former Republican congressional staffer who founded the institute in 1986.
By relying on the news media's inclination to include both sides of a story, the industries were able to create the impression that scientists were deeply divided over climate change, Topping said.

''It was all very shrewdly done,'' he added.

The Climate Institute takes the position that climate change threatens the global environment and promotes international cooperation on the issue. Less than 1 percent of its funding has come from oil industry sources, Topping said, with the rest coming from foundations.

To measure long-term climate patterns, scientists rely on ''proxy'' indicators, such as the content of air bubbles trapped centuries ago under ice packs in Greenland and Antarctica, the chemical makeup of ancient ocean sediments, and the relative widths of old tree rings.

These natural records have been used to portray a global climate that has been largely stable until the late 1980s, when temperatures started rising sharply.
A millennium of these temperature records presents what has been called a ''hockey stick'' graph, depicting centuries with little relative change, then a sharp and sudden rise during the past two decades.

Most climate scientists think the rise results from the atmospheric buildup of heat-trapping ''greenhouse gases,'' especially carbon dioxide released by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

Industry-backed groups claim the new study challenges the validity of this view by presenting evidence of global warming at a time when fossil fuels were not being burned in appreciable quantities.

The new study, ''Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1,000 Years: A Reappraisal,'' was published several weeks ago in a British scientific journal, Energy and Environment.

The authors contend in the 65-page paper that their reanalysis of data from more than 200 previous climate studies provides evidence of global temperature shifts that are more dramatic than the current one, including during the ''medieval warm period.''

The research was underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute, the trade association of the world's biggest oil companies.

Two of the five authors are scientists who have been linked to the coal industry and have received support from the ExxonMobil Foundation.

Two others, who are affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also have the title of ''senior scientists'' with a Washington-based organization supported by conservative foundations and ExxonMobil Corp.

The organization, the George T. Marshall Institute, is headed by William O'Keefe, a former executive of the American Petroleum Institute.

O'Keefe also was at one time the president of the Global Climate Coalition, a now-defunct organization created by oil and coal interests to lobby against U.S. participation in climate treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol.

''Statements made about the warming trend of the 20th century and the 1990s do not withstand close scrutiny,'' O'Keefe declared at a recent luncheon held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building here.

The purpose of the luncheon was for Willie Soon, a physicist and astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, to present a summary of the new research.
Promotion of the scientists' arguments began with a news release issued by the public affairs office of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center shortly after the paper was published. Headlined ''20th Century Climate Not So Hot,'' the release declared that the scientists had ''determined'' that the current warming trend is neither the hottest nor the most dramatic change in the past 1,000 years.

Didn't publish release

Major news organizations failed to publish the news release. However, it was picked up by the Discovery Channel Online, which declared that the 20th century may have been ''just another bump in the climate road.''

The Discovery Channel Online article was immediately copied and distributed by the staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, headed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), an outspoken skeptic about climate change.

The committee also circulated a statement by the Competitive Enterprise Institute declaring that ''the hockey stick theory has effectively been dismantled'' and ''the margin of error is so large that nearly any temperature trend could be drawn to fit within it.''

The principal target of the paper by Soon and his co-authors was Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, whose landmark compilation of thousands of ''proxy'' indicators led to the conclusion that the last two decades have been unusually warm and to the first depiction of the ''hockey stick'' graph.

Mann said last week that the Soon study does not even attempt to reconstruct global average temperatures but simply highlights anecdotal evidence of isolated warming trends.

In a statement issued jointly with environmental scientist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, Mann said that when all of these indicators are compiled and averaged, the ''medieval warming period'' fits within the long-range global trend. He said this was done not only in his study but also in nearly a dozen that have followed it.

Soon acknowledged during a question period at the Senate luncheon that his research does not provide such a comprehensive picture of the Earth's temperature record. He questioned whether that is even possible, and said he did not see how Mann and the others could ''calibrate'' the various proxy records for comparison.

''Then he needs to educate himself on several decades of very careful, painstaking research,'' Mann snapped.

The energy industry provides significant funding for groups that employ some of the authors or promote their new study.

Soon's four co-authors were Sallie Baliunas, also from the Harvard-Smithsonian center; Sherwood Idso and his son, Craig Idso, both of Tempe, Ariz., who are the past president and the current president of an organization called the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; and David R. Legates, a climate researcher at the University of Delaware.

The Idsos, who have previously been linked to Western coal interests, do not reveal the sources of financial support for their center, which on its Web site presents summaries of scientific studies purporting to raise questions about prevailing climate change theories.

The center had a budget of nearly $400,000 in 2001, the most recent year for which nonprofit statements to the Internal Revenue Service are available.

It operates from a post office box and offices in the homes of Craig and Sherwood Idso and a second son of Sherwood Idso, Keith Idso.

Identities of the four donors who provided the organization's $397,000 contributions in 2001 are blanked out of the Internal Revenue Service filing, and Sherwood Idso declined to name them.

''We generally do not say anything about our funding,'' he said. ''The feeling is that what we produce there should be evaluated on its own merit, not where any funding comes from.''

Records filed with the IRS by ExxonMobil Foundation show that it provided a grant of $15,000 to the Arizona center in 2000. These records and others show that ExxonMobil Foundation and ExxonMobil Corp. also have contributed $160,000 to the George T. Marshall Institute in the past three years and more than $900,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In a telephone interview, Soon declined to say how much he is paid to serve as a ''senior scientist'' with the George T. Marshall Institute. Both he and Baliunas have that title.

The institute was organized in the 1980s and is chaired by Robert Jastrow, a retired scientist from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration who was an early and vocal supporter of former President Reagan's ''Star Wars'' missile defense initiative. Photo A scientist examines an ice core from a glacier in Antarctica. Ice cores contain tiny trapped bubbles that can tell researchers about atmospheric conditions thousands of years ago./ University of Nevada Photo The studies by Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, which used ancient tree rings and other data, were attacked in the latest study./ University of Virginia

Monday, May 11, 2009

The influence game: polluters write big checks on global warming

THE INFLUENCE GAME: Firms exact climate price

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Utilities, steelmakers and oil industry lobbyists have tried to ease the pain of President Barack Obama's push to curb global warming, and they've gotten an early return on the millions of dollars they've spent influencing Congress.

Lawmakers determined to get a deal on climate change are going along with valuable concessions to polluters. It's part of the political trading necessary when powerful industries are involved.

The firms, many of which depend on coal , the biggest source of heat-trapping gases , hold heavy sway on Capitol Hill, where they have spent millions working to change policy and contributing to politicians' campaigns. They have a long history of halting environmental initiatives that threaten their profits, and their stance on the climate change measure , a key element of Obama's agenda , can't be ignored.

They'll accept a costly new "cap and trade" system that would set a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions and essentially tax them, then allow companies to either reduce their pollution or buy credits from firms that have met the targets. But only if Congress makes it worth their while , by giving them at least some of those permits for free.

The companies, backed by many sympathetic lawmakers whose support will be crucial to a final agreement, say they're not looking to help themselves but instead trying to cushion the blow to their customers, workers and communities of complying with a costly new emissions limit.

"Utilities will end up paying a king's ransom to comply with this statute whether they are allocated credits or not," said Scott Segal, a lobbyist whose clients include power producers Duke Energy and Southern Company as well as oil refiners. "It's a way to give them the wherewithal to achieve the objective of the statute."

But some environmentalists portray the lobbying as legislative blackmail.

"They've basically said, 'You want to pass something? Write us a check,'" said Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch. "They know that investing a few thousand bucks now (on lobbying and campaign donations) could mean literally tens of billions of dollars later."

The "check" would come in the form of free permits to emit greenhouse gases. The allowances would be hugely valuable in the cap and trade system, where firms would essentially buy and sell pollution permits to meet emissions limits.

More at http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/nation/washington/congress/20090511_ap_theinfluencegamefirmsexactclimateprice.html

Note to Senate: don't hold EPA air nominee hostage

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Let-McCarthy-begin-her-job-at-EPA



Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pro-corn congressman threatens to oppose global warming bill to protect his favorite commodity

A fascinating piece today in Greenwire, which notes that Minnesota Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is threatening to oppose global warming legislation because the US EPA is trying to do an honest job of evaluating corn-based ethanol.

Peterson, a favorite of ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland, blasted the US EPA for following the law and trying to evaluate the lifecycle emissions of "biofuels."

Here is an excerpt from the article:

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson said today that he won't support pending House climate legislation because he has lost faith in U.S EPA for its handling of proposed biofuels regulations.

"I will not support any kind of climate change bill," the Minnesota Democrat said at a hearing on the biofuels proposal with EPA and Agriculture Department officials. "I don't care. Even if you fix this. I don't trust anybody anymore."

Peterson said later that he would support a climate bill only if it were "ironclad" and detailed enough to keep EPA from writing implementing rules. But he added that he was unsure this was possible.

At issue: EPA draft rules for implementing the expanded renewable fuels standard that includes measurement of biofuels' greenhouse gas emissions. The rules include measurement of emissions from "indirect" land-use changes associated with biofuels -- an aspect Peterson and other ethanol defenders decry as unfair and unready for adoption.

The draft rules conclude, depending on the time frames modeled, that traditional corn ethanol could have slightly more "lifecycle" emissions than gasoline when these land-use changes are factored in.

Peterson told reporters he was suggesting to Democrats from other ethanol states that they also not support the House climate bill.

"By the time it gets down to the agency, what the hell is going to come out of it?" he said. "This thing is out of control."

Obama White House said to be exploring oil drilling deal to help stuck-in-the-political-mud global warming bill




From May 6, 2009 Energy Daily:


[Rep. Gene ]Green also confirmed a story published in the May 4 edition of The New Yorker that the White House is considering adding a provision to the legislation to allow limited offshore oil and natural gas production—a move seen as boosting support

from Oil Patch lawmakers. “The president said we need to produce more domestic hydrocarbons—oil and natural gas,” Green said. “He said we’re not going to drill everywhere, because there are some areas that need to be protected, but he said we need to produce more oil and gas.”

**

[from the New Yorker original]:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/04/090504fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all


Obama’s White House is filled with former members of Congress and congressional staffers. They are legislative strategists and dealmakers, and these days they often use the phrase “grand bargain” when asked how they expect to achieve their ambitious agenda. The senior White House official told me that they were exploring an energy deal that would include a “serious” and “short-term” increase in domestic production—perhaps opening up for oil exploration places like the waters off the coast of California—that would appease the “Drill, baby, drill” crowd, while also adopting a cap-and-trade plan that could take effect one or two (or more) years after 2012, which is when Obama’s current plan would start. “You need to have something like T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore holding hands on a broad compromise,” the official said. Such a plan wouldn’t look much like the one in Obama’s budget proposal—more like a third cousin than like a sibling, let alone a twin—but, unlike his current plan, it could get through Congress.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

EPA's `renewable' fuel proposal... is it corny?

The U.S. EPA, seeming subordinate to the U.S. Agriculture Department, today rolled out its proposed "renewable" fuel standards. http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/index.htm#regulations

As we predicted, EPA concedes the plan will lead to increased levels of some key pollutants, including a major upsurge in cancer-causing acetaldehydes.

We project the proposed program will result in significant increases in ethanol and acetaldehyde emissions, increasing the total U.S inventories of these pollutants by 30-40% in 2022 relative to emissions resulting from the RFS1 mandate. We project more modest increases in NOx, formaldehyde, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, acrolein, and sulfur dioxide We project a decrease in ammonia (NH3) emissions (due to reductions in livestock agricultural activity), CO (due to impacts of ethanol on exhaust emissions from vehicles and nonroad equipment), and benzene (due to displacement of gasoline with ethanol in the fuel pool).


The agency (we suspect under some pressure from other parts of the pro-corn Obama administration) also has proposed some shaky assumptions about how "green" corn is compared to gasoline, when considering the greenhouse gas impacts.

Dow Jones summed it up nicely:

The EPA proposal walks a fine political line that attempts to placate a very large ethanol voter base, especially in the Midwest where corn for ethanol is an economic staple, and carves out a pathway to biofuels that emit fewer greenhouse gases over the production life-cycle…


My friends with the Clean Air Task Force spell out one of the big problems:

Contact: Jonathan Lewis

617.624.0234 x10

jlewis@catf.us



EPA’s RFS Proposal: One Step Forward … and Another Step Back?



May 5, 2009 – For Immediate Release: By proposing to measure the substantial greenhouse gas emissions from land use changes that are indirectly caused by increased production of biofuels, EPA has taken an important step forward. But EPA has also proposed an accounting gimmick that would allow major increases in greenhouse gases to be averaged and discounted over a 100-year timeframe.

“EPA should be doing everything it can to figure out how to lower greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades,” said Jonathan Lewis, an attorney with the Clean Air Task Force. “EPA's proposed approach would perpetuate the use of corn ethanol and other outdated biofuels that contribute to global warming. We urge the Agency to reject the 100-year timeline and to adopt rules that ensure near-term greenhouse gas reductions.”

EPA’s proposed rule would implement revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard enacted by Congress in 2007. The 2007 revisions included a sevenfold increase in the annual production mandate (from 5.4 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022) and a requirement that new biofuels have lower net greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fuels, taking into account the full lifecycle over which the fuels are produced and consumed.

The feedstocks used to make biofuels compete for land, water, and other agricultural commodities.

Growing crops for energy in addition to food and feed requires the cultivation of additional land. In an increasingly globalized food market, the make-up food often will be grown where land and other agricultural inputs are the most inexpensive. As farmers and ranchers around the world respond by clearing forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other areas to make them suitable for agriculture, enormous quantities of soil- and plant-carbon are released into the atmosphere.

The large CO2 release that occurs when a plot of land is cleared to indirectly accommodate biofuel production can be offset over time by the modest greenhouse gas reductions achieved by replacing petroleum with the biofuels produced from the energy crops harvested annually. The problem is that this process can take many years, especially for poor-performing fuels like corn ethanol. EPA calculates that under the best-case scenario, an increase in corn ethanol production will not provide
net greenhouse gas reductions as compared to gasoline until 2055. In the intervening years, corn ethanol would produce a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, it is highly unlikely that a plot of farmland use to grow corn for ethanol in 2022 will still be used for that purpose in 2055, to say nothing of 2122 – meaning that the climate benefit projected by EPA will never be realized.

In light of the Obama Administration’s commitment to deep greenhouse reductions by mid-century, a policy proposal that endorses decades of greenhouse gas increases should be rejected out of hand.

Nevertheless, by proposing an option to calculate the net climate impact of corn ethanol and other biofuels over a 100-year timeframe, EPA is considering an approach that would frustrate efforts to slash greenhouse gases by 2050. A shorter analytic timeframe – like the 30-year period also under consideration by EPA – would complement other climate stabilization policies.

EPA expects to issue a final rule implementing the RFS revisions later in 2009.

****

The Clean Air Task Force is a nonprofit organization with a mission to reduce and reverse the

harmful human impacts on Earth’s atmosphere and related systems through scientific and policy

research, business facilitation, and policy advocacy. Visit us at www.catf.us.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Will the corn lobby celebrate... while the risk of cancer goes up?


As you may know, last week the White House Office of Management and Budget finally completed its review of proposed EPA rules to quadruple the amount of ethanol in gasoline. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=200810&RIN=2060-AO81

So EPA could propose this rule at any time. And the contents are worth close scrutiny.

You may recall there has been a huge ongoing battle behind the scenes about a key aspect of this proposal – how to account for the “indirect” emissions of greenhouse gases caused by clearing land to plant more corn. The corn lobby has fought tooth and nail to discount this sort of analysis because it shows that corn-based ethanol makes global warming worse!

The state of California dealt the corn lobby a setback in its recent “low-carbon” fuel standards, but there are signs this morning that the Obama administration – which has been a vocal proponent of ethanol – may be more generous in its treatment of corn. (Climate Wire notes this morning that “ethanol advocates are optimistic that EPA has heard some of their concerns.”

This could happen if EPA manipulates its analysis to minimize the impact of indirect emissions. (I can give you a short version of this. Our friend, Jonathan Lewis with the Clean Air Task Force, is a real expert on this. If you’re interested, he’s worth consulting.)

I do want to point out a separate problem with ethanol, brought to mind by a story in the May 5th edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, published by a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2009/11861/abstract.html

The article, on the risk of breathing cancer-causing air pollutants, notes that more than 100 sites around the nation already have unacceptably high levels of acetaldehyde, which the federal government views as a probable human carcinogen. And that is before ethanol levels are quadrupled! (Prior EPA analyses – see below – note that increased use of ethanol will caused increased acetaldehyde emissions.

So the corn lobby may be celebrating, but at what risk to public health?

**

The full report Environmental Health Perspectives report is at http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/11861/11861.pdf

The map on page 23 of supplement http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/11861/suppl.pdf

shows a widespread problem with acetaldehyde in the East, Southeast, Midwest, California and other areas.



EPA studies showed that the national concentrations of acetaldehydes could skyrocket with increased use of ethanol – up by 36% (page 179 of regulatory impact analysis of 2007 rule)



EPA notes on increased emissions from earlier (2005) RFS requirement at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/420f07019.htm