In the News
News You Can Use
It Could Happen Here
As part of a last-minute lunge to make good on a pledge to reduce energy use per unit of economic output by 20 per cent over the five years ending this December, the Chinese government has ordered energy rationing, resulting in rolling blackouts across the country. More than 2,000 energy intensive industries have been ordered to close.
Inside the Beltway
Obama’s New Stimulus Proposal
President Obama this week unveiled new proposals to stimulate the economy. Included is at least one useful proposal—the immediate expensing of new capital investments. CEI has long supported replacing multi-year depreciation with immediate expensing as good economic and environmental policy. Increasing the turnover of manufacturing equipment will make industry more competitive while decreasing energy use and pollution. That’s because new equipment is almost always more energy efficient and pollutes less than old equipment. Unfortunately, the President isn’t proposing a permanent change in the tax code, but just a one-year gimmick to pump up the economy in the short term.
The proposed changes to increase taxes on the oil and gas industry are permanent, however. This means that the one temporary benefit in the President’s package is far outweighed by the long-term damage to our economy. These tax increases will put American oil producers at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign competitors. One of the consequences will be less domestic oil production and more imports. That means fewer high-paying American jobs and higher trade deficits.
This appears part of a broader plan by President Obama to force domestic petroleum production down. Other elements include the six-month moratorium on offshore leases in the Gulf, cancelling planned oil and gas leases federal lands in the West, and opposing new production on Alaska’s North Slope and offshore in the Arctic Ocean. Less energy and more expensive energy is extremely bad news for the American economy.
The President’s proposals to spend more taxpayer dollars on transportation infrastructure are a mixed bag. One of the bigger chunks is to go to high-speed rail projects. These are mostly colossally expensive boondoggles. On the other hand, the President has dropped the green energy and green jobs nonsense entirely, as an excellent story by Patrice Hill in the Washington Times noted.
[This is a slightly-edited version of a piece published on Politico’s Energy Arena.]
White House Rebuffs Green PR Stunt
The White House has refused to accept one of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter had installed on the White House roof in the late 1970s. Bill McKibben, the extremist environmental writer and founder of 350.org, took one of Carter’s solar panels, which have been stored at Unity College in Vermont, and drove it to Washington this week in a bio-diesel powered truck. The publicity stunt attracted a great deal of media attention on the way. But the White House is apparently not ready to admit that President Obama is returning America to the Carter era of economic malaise and energy shortages, despite the obvious similarities in their policies. President Ronald Reagan had the solar panels removed from the White House. Not coincidentally, Reagan solved the Nixon-Ford-Carter energy crisis by ending price controls on domestic oil production and de-regulating the industry.
Greens Pushing Fuel Efficiency Fantasy
A large coalition of environmental pressure groups sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday that urges the President to set new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (or CAFE) standards of at least 60 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year (which starts in 2024). The Administration earlier this year increased CAFE standards substantially for cars and light trucks to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. There is little evidence that consumers will buy very many of the cars that meet the 35.5 mpg average. There is a great deal of evidence that the 35.5 mpg average is wishful thinking by the Washington political establishment and the auto industry. Sixty miles per gallon by 2025 is sheer fantasy. It’s not clear to me why the environmental pressure didn’t think big and demand 100 mpg by 2025.
Across the States
Fiorina Supports Prop 23
Last week, the Cooler Heads Digest faulted California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R) for refusing to take a position on Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative to suspend AB 32, the State’s global warming law, until unemployment decreases to 5.5 %. As AB 32 is designed to raise the price of energy, which would harm the economy, Proposition 23 should be a political winner. On Friday, Fiorina announced that she supports Proposition 23 because AB 32 is a “job killer.”
California Backs off California Cap-and-Trade
At a Silicon Valley panel yesterday, California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said that California would not proceed with cap-and-trade—the most significant climate policy under AB 32—if other States do not contribute. In 2007, California formed a regional cap-and-trade, the Western Climate Initiative, with Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. They were soon joined by Montana and Utah. Since then, only New Mexico and California have decided to participate, and in New Mexico both candidates for governor are backing away from the WCI. As such, it appears that California will soon be the only State left, which is why Nichols is backing off a cap-and-trade. This is a stunning reversal.
Four States Planning Lawsuit if Prop 23 Fails
California Watch reports this week that the Attorneys General of Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota are preparing to sue California if Proposition 23 fails this November, on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce clause.
Two More States Challenge EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases
Three weeks ago, the Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Attorney General sent a letter last week telling the EPA why Texas will not change its laws in order to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and explaining why what the EPA was doing was illegal. If you didn’t read it, we have posted it on GlobalWarming.org here. Today Greenwire (subscription required) reported that two more States have sent letters to the EPA protesting the pending regulations. Democratic Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal told the EPA that his State doesn’t have the time to change its laws, while Ben Grumbles, director of Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality, suggested that it would be a waste of resources to follow the EPA’s directives because they are likely to be thrown out by the courts.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.globalwarming.org.