- Freedom Action this week released its Affordable Energy Congressional Vote Ratings for the 112th Congress. The ratings include votes on every major energy issue in 2011 and 2012. Click here to read the report.
- The Cato Institute today published a study which details information missing from a 2009 report used by the Environmental Protection Agency to justify the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The report, by a team of scientists led by Dr. Patrick Michaels, is titled, “Addendum: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.” It is available here.
In the News
Sen. Vitter Threatening to Fight Potential Romney EPA Chief James Connaughton
Bruce Alpert, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 27 October 2012
News You Can Use
Dismal Results for Obama’s Green Energy Stock Picks
According to a Washington Examiner investigation, the 2009 stimulus gave almost $700 million in grants and guaranteed an additional $500 million in loans to green energy companies, whose stocks collectively have fallen by 78 percent. If Obama had invested all that money in a Standard & Poor’s index fund of the top 500 publicly-traded companies, his investment would have increased by 73 percent since he took office.
Inside the Beltway
AEI Can’t Keep Its Hands off a Carbon Tax
Proponents within the Republican establishment of a carbon tax keep beavering away. The American Enterprise Institute (not to be confused with the much smaller but more free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute where I work) recently announced an all-day conference on Tuesday, 13th November, titled The Economics of Carbon Taxes. AEI’s co-sponsors are the Brookings Institution, the International Monetary Fund, and Resources for the Future.
The purposes of the conference apparently do not include discussing whether a carbon tax is a good idea. I offered a prize to the first person who could identify a speaker on the agenda who opposes a carbon tax. So far no one has claimed the prize.
Instead of debating the pros and cons of a carbon tax, AEI’s conference seems to be more concerned with how the revenues are going to be distributed. I think this is why it’s going to be difficult to enact a carbon tax even if it’s included as part of a large tax reform package. Greens want the revenue from a carbon tax to go to subsidize green energy boondoggles. Conservative tax reform advocates want to make a tax reform deal revenue neutral by using the revenue from a carbon tax to offset the revenues lost by eliminating corporate income taxes. Deficit hawks want to use the additional revenue to reduce the federal debt. A variety of people on the left want to use the additional revenues to pay for more government programs.
There is also the problem of redistribution. A carbon tax will cost poorer people a much higher percentage of their incomes than wealthier people. Thus, many supporters of a carbon tax insist on some kind of kickback scheme that will compensate poorer people for the carbon taxes that they pay. Thus a new tax would also create a new welfare program that would make a sizable part of the population more dependent on the whims of government.
Perhaps AEI’s conference will be a step toward reaching agreement between these factions on the all important question of how to divvy up the booty.
Usual Suspects Try To Exploit Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy has brought out all the usual ambulance chasers who try to take advantage of the suffering created by big storms to promote global warming alarmism. Here are a few examples among hundreds of instances. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, drew on personal experience: 350.org’s office in Brooklyn was flooded by the hurricane, which caused McKibben to demand that fossil fuel companies pay for the clean-up. Al Gore came out of his bunker to post a blog on his web site. Joe Romm at Climate Progress has chimed in repeatedly.
Among the media opportunists, I’ll mention only two. The know-nothings at the Washington Post have been especially active: an editorial cartoon by Tom Toles on 1st November and an op-ed column by Eugene Robinson and a “She the People” column by Melinda Henneberger on 2nd November. But by far the most notable is the cover of Bloomberg Business Week magazine, which consists of a huge headline, “IT’S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID.” According to Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed, Business Week’s editor Josh Tyrangiel tweeted, “Our cover story this week may generate controversy, but only among the stupid.”
That was good enough for the owner of Bloomberg Business Week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He endorsed President Barack Obama on the grounds that the hurricane had concentrated his mind on the need to take immediate action to stop global warming and that the President is the man to do what is needed.
On behalf of the stupid, Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. (who is not a global warming skeptic and appears to hold conventional liberal academic political views) set the record straight in an op-ed in the 1st November Wall Street Journal:
“While it’s hardly mentioned in the media, the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane ‘drought.’ The last Category 3 or stronger storm to make landfall was Wilma in 2005. The more than seven years since then is the longest such span in over a century.”
Pielke summarizes his published research on comparing the damages caused by hurricanes in different eras:
“In studying hurricanes, we can make rough comparisons over time by adjusting past losses to account for inflation and the growth of coastal communities. If Sandy causes $20 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars), it would rank as the 17th most damaging hurricane or tropical storm (out of 242) to hit the U.S. since 1900—a significant event, but not close to the top 10. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list (according to estimates by the catastrophe-insurance provider ICAT), as it would cause $180 billion in damage if it were to strike today. Hurricane Katrina ranks fourth at $85 billion. To put things into even starker perspective, consider that from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall—Carol, Hazel and Diane—that in 2012 each would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy.”
To a typical ambulance chaser column, “Will the Climate Get Some Respect Now?” by the New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof, James Taranto responded with a post titled “We blame Grover Cleveland” in his Best of Web Today round-up:
“On the same page [of the 31st October New York Times], Matthew Algeo … describes how severe the weather has become. ‘On Tuesday, Aug. 22, in the Atlantic Ocean, four hurricanes were swirling simultaneously, an event never before recorded…. Wednesday night, one of the hurricanes slammed into New York City. At least 30 people were killed.’ Four days later, an even more powerful hurricane killed some 2,000 in and around Savannah, Ga.
“What, you don't remember reading about those storms in the papers? That's not because reporters are dropping the climate-change ball, but because Algeo is writing history, not news. The hurricanes in question occurred in 1893.
“Grover Cleveland did nothing," Algeo writes. The 24th president, a Democrat, ‘opposed government intervention in natural disasters,’ which he thought, as he once wrote in a veto message, ‘encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.’”
Across the States
Michiganders To Vote on Green Energy Production Quota
On Tuesday, the Michigan electorate will vote on Proposal 3, a ballot initiative that would increase the state’s green energy production quota. Under the current program, 15 percent of Michigan’s electricity must come from renewable energy by 2015; Proposal 3 would increase this to 25 percent by 2025. Because renewables like wind and solar power are expensive and unreliable, they increase the cost of electricity, which is the last thing that the state’s ailing manufacturing base needs. According to study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Proposal 3 would raise utility bills 16 percent and also cause 10,540 job losses. This week, the Detroit Free Press and a local broadcast news program conducted a poll showing that Proposal 3 trails with 55 percent opposing and 35 percent in favor.
Around the World
Rift Develops in British Government Over Windmills
A major disagreement erupted this week in the British government over future onshore windmill installations. The number two minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes, MP, declared that “enough is enough,” and that no more wind farms needed to be built in the United Kingdom. Hayes complained that wind turbines had been “peppered across the country” without regard for public opinion.
Hayes’s boss, Energy Minister Ed Davey, MP, quickly and angrily responded that Hayes’s views are not shared by the Cabinet and that there is no formal change in government policy towards renewable energy.
Davey is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is the junior partner in the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government. Hayes, a member of the Conservative Party, clearly speaks for the majority of MPs in his party.
In response to a question by Ed Miliband, MP, leader of the Labour Party opposition, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that government policy had not changed, thereby apparently backing Davey. But then Cameron said that it was time for a debate about future policy on onshore wind installations.
Official British government policy aims for 13 gigawatts of wind capacity by 2020. Current capacity is 7.3 gigawatts, with hundreds of wind turbines currently under construction.
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.