Texas City Featured in Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Lost Millions in Its Green Energy Gamble

Former Vice President Al Gore hailed the city of Georgetown, Texas, for powering itself with only solar and wind energy, but now the city is losing millions on its green energy gamble.

Georgetown’s bet against fossil fuel prices cost the city-owned utility nearly $7 million this year, and prompted officials to look for a way out of their long-term contracts for solar and wind energy.

“It’s costing them big time,” Bill Peacock, vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “This doesn’t appear to be the first time they’ve lost money, just the first time it was big enough to have to go public with it.”

Georgetown made national news after being featured in Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. The film followed up on Gore’s inaccurate 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I think Georgetown is already a trailblazer,” Gore said during his 2016 visit to learn about Georgetown’s plan to get 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar power.

“And one thing that Georgetown demonstrates to other places that are just beginning to think about it is that the power supply is not only more affordable, the cost is predictable for at least 25 years into the future and really beyond that,” Gore said.

Standing next to Gore when he made those remarks was Mayor Dale Ross, the town’s Republican part-time mayor. Smithsonian Magazine called Ross the “unlikeliest hero of the green revolution.”

“This is a long-term pocketbook issue,” Ross said in August. “It’s a win for economics and a win for the environment.”

Ross said the decision was based on dollars and cents, not environmental concerns, but now the city is trying to renegotiate its long-term green energy contracts.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was scheduled to interview Ross on Saturday. The mayor canceled the phone interview, but did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry about rescheduling.

Since being featured in Gore’s film, other media outlets have asked if Georgetown is the “future” of U.S. cities. However, Peacock said Georgetown is becoming more of a cautionary tale.

“They went all-in on one thing. Anybody looking at this from a financial standpoint could have foreseen these problems,” Peacock said. “This doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is suing Georgetown for the pricing details of its long-term solar contracts. Energy rates are considered trade secrets under Texas law and must be sought with a government records request.

Georgetown began its shift toward 100 percent wind and solar energy several years ago, and the city says it reached that goal in July after the Buckthorn solar plant went online. The city owned utility contracts with Buckthorn and the Spinning Spur 3 wind farm for all its power needs.

Georgetown Utility Systems contracted to buy wind and solar at fixed prices until 2035 and 2043, respectively. Georgetown is obligated to buy about twice as much power as it actually needs from green power plants. The city is the first in Texas and the second-largest in the U.S. to go 100 percent renewable.

The idea was that Georgetown would have enough green power to grow into at fixed prices, avoiding market volatility and what it saw as the rising costs of fossil fuels. In the meantime, Georgetown would sell any excess power back to Texas’ electricity market.

But energy prices plummeted in recent years, particularly natural gas prices, meaning the city lost money selling power back to the market. Georgetown Budget Manager Paul Diaz told city councilors in late November the utility had lost $6.84 million. City officials are looking for ways to make up the shortfall.

“[Georgetown Utility Systems] is in the process of opening negotiations with our current energy suppliers to adjust the terms of our contracts,” City Councilman Steve Fought wrote in an email to constituents.

“Additionally, we are working to change our management strategy for daily energy market operations,” Fought wrote in his Nov. 26 email. “We also need to implement belt tightening measures in the electric department and shift funds to balance the GUS accounts.”

Georgetown Utility Systems’ energy costs were more than $23 million over budget in 2016 and 2017, according to Lisa Linowes, the founder of the anti-wind power group Wind Action.

Fought did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Representatives for Gore also did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Michael Bastasch is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MikeBastasch.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/Sipa USA/Newscom.

Trump Administration scuttles Obama-era WOTUS “Waters of the United States” rule

In a significant victory for farmers, ranchers, and other landowners, the Trump administration December 11 pulled the plug on an Obama-era regulatory scheme that would have subjected millions of acres of private land to federal zoning.

By rolling back Obama’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, the administration has put an end to the biggest power grab in the 48-year history of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Obama-era rule was sold as an effort to “clarify” the federal government’s jurisdiction over bodies of water under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA), which granted EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over “navigable waters of the United States.”

Over the years, questions arose over whether Washington also had jurisdiction over bodies of water, which may not be navigable themselves, but which are adjacent to, or have some connection to, navigable waters. The Supreme Court’s 2006 Rapanos v. United States decision, failed to resolve the issue, with Justice Anthony Kennedy infamously opining that federal jurisdiction extended to such waters provided they had a “significant nexus” to navigable waters.

The Power Grab

What constituted a “significant nexus” was anyone guess, leaving landowners, municipalities, businesses, and just about everyone else completely in the dark. Eager to take advantage of a murky situation and beef up EPA’s enforcement authority, the Obama administration in 2015 proposed “clarifying” the issue by greatly expanding EPA’s jurisdiction to include ditches, ponds, groundwater, and even “ephemeral” waters (those that form only after rainfall). The rule would have forced farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to obtain permits from EPA if they wanted to make any modifications to their property. A host or organizations sued EPA, and a federal judge ordered a stay on the rule in 24 states.

Having vowed to kill the rule during the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump issued an executive order in February 2017 directing EPA to carry out the “elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.” Trump’s first EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, tried to delay implementation of the Obama WOTUS rule, but a U.S. district court in South Carolina invalidated the delay in August 2018.

Now, the Trump administration has its own plan for untangling the jurisdictional mess that has surrounded the regulation of waterways for decades.

What is and What is not Subject to Federal Regulation

“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement. “For the first time, we are defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways.”

Under the Trump proposal, the federal government, for the first time, has divided navigable waters into six categories:

  • traditional navigable waters (rivers, bays, the Great Lakes, etc.);
  • waterways connected to navigable waters, including tributaries;
  • certain navigable ditches used for commercial shipping, such as the Erie Canal;
  • lakes and ponds that contribute to navigable waterways;
  • impoundments of jurisdictional waterways; and
  • wetlands adjacent to navigable waterways through “direct subsurface connection.”

Trump’s WOTUS proposal also clearly states what EPA and the Corps of Engineers will not regulate. These include “features that only include water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; storm water control features; and waste treatment systems.”

Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler, who has been nominated for the top job at the agency by President Trump, points out that most bodies of water not covered under the new proposal are still subject to state protection. “We don’t need to have the dual protection and the dual requirements and permits at both state and federal levels,” he said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show (Washington Times, Dec. 12).

The difference between the Obama and Trump approaches can not be understated. A 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation study, for example, found that 99% of Pennsylvania would be subject to the Obama WOTUS rule.

“This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources, and productively work their land without having to hire and army of lawyers and consultants,” said farm bureau president Zippy Duvall (Washington Times, Dec. 12).

The fight is far from over, with environmental groups expected to bring suit against EPA and the Corps.

There will be a 60-day public comment period that will last until mid-February 2019.

COLUMN BY

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

EDITORS NOTE: This CFACT column with images is republished with permission.

The Curry Wall: Preventing access to public information. Maybe we should “recycle” politicians?

Putting stuff into the yellow-topped curbside recycling bins may make homeowners feel virtuous, but it probably isn’t saving the taxpayers any money.

The popular notion is that the garbage is sold and the operation breaks even or makes a profit.

Not quite.

The city does get $1.5 million in revenue, but it spends $2.2 million, not even counting the cost of collection. (It also avoids using space in the landfill.)

What is more, the prospects are dim for improving the situation.

Waste Management, which is heavily involved in trying to make recycling work, has been closing recycling centers and its CEO has noted: “To be sustainable overtime, recycling operations must make economic sense.”

The reasons that recycling is losing ground are that processing costs are up and commodity prices are down.

Contamination is a major problem and is the main reason much of the material collected after considerable time and expense ends up in a landfill, by a circuitous route.

Homeowners can help by recycling all empty bottles, cans and paper, and keeping food, liquids and loose plastic bags out of the recycling bin.

Turning garbage into gold isn’t magic.

Duval County collected nearly 3 million tons of solid waste last year. Only five other counties had more.

One interesting note: Among the largest counties, Duval collects the most waste per capita – an eye-opening 17.3 pounds per person per day. That number has been growing since 2013.

Duval had a recycling rate of 58 percent, which was better than the top five but more waste went into landfill than four of the top five, because Duval burns almost no solid waste. Hillsborough recycles less but burns 27 percent of the waste it collects and Palm Beach burns 36 percent.

At one time, Duval burned much of its waste. During the 1980s there was a proposal to build an incinerator that would produce energy, but it failed to pass the City Council.

Florida, incidentally, has an ambitious goal of reaching 75 percent recycling by 2020, but isn’t even meeting the current 60 percent goal.

One reason is that the commercial sector generates two-thirds of the waste. Household recycling alone simply won’t do the job.

Since recycling, burying and burning all entail a cost, the question is whether Jacksonville is using the most cost/efficient mix of waste disposal.

It affects everyone. Currently, using recycling is optional. It could become mandatory and even more burdensome on the homeowner if he is required to separate materials himself.

We wanted to ask City Hall about this and other matters pertaining to solid waste disposal but were unable to break through the Curry Wall, which prevents access to public information.

As the recent Task Force on Open Government noted, the Curry administration seals off access to public officials in order to “control the message,” which is one way of saying “spin it in the mayor’s favor.”

We couldn’t find the information on the city’s Web site (also criticized by the task force) so we went to the people who are supposed to provide the public with information.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s highly paid public information officer gave us several snarky replies to our requests, then basically told us to go get the information ourselves from the state government. That is where we obtained the figures about waste collection and disposal.

It doesn’t tell us anything about whether the city’s costly recycling program is efficient or worthwhile, but Eye on Jacksonville will continue to seek ways to climb Curry’s Wall and obtain information.

COLUMN BY

LLOYD BROWN

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Eye on Jacksonville. It is republished with permission.

Some Recent Energy & Environmental News

Here is the latest Energy and Environmental Newsletter.

We’ve had an extremely positive response to our proposed international meeting about improving the PR (i.e. communications) of our messages. We are still considering applications to be a participant, but the window will close soon.

One of the most important energy developments in this news-cycle, is the response of French citizens to the oppressive carbon tax. There is a special section of the Newsletter that has several good articles about this situation — like this one.

Some of the more interesting Energy related articles are:

Medical Director Warns of Turbine Health Consequences

Major Good News: Ontario Scraps the Green Energy Act

Wind Projects and Property Rights

But How do Affected Citizens Think about Wind Energy?

NY Town passes ideal wind ordinance

Some of the more informative Global Warming articles are:

Good news about Climate Change

Climate Change: Identifying the Problem

Outstanding video re Climate Change (15:30-28:00)

Former Top US Oceanographer Sentenced for Accepting a Salary from China

We are most appreciative of our network’s support and effort in 2018 — which is one of the reasons good things have been accomplished. We are optimistically looking forward to more of the same in 2019, and wish you are yours a healthy, happy and holy holiday season, and New Year.

Note 1: We recommend reading the Newsletter on your computer, not your phone. Some documents (e.g. PDFs) are easier to read on a computer. We’ve tried to use common fonts, etc. to minimize issues.

Note 2: Our intention is to put some balance into what most people see from the mainstream media about energy and environmental issues… As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and link to this on your social media sites. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you’d like to be taken off this list, simply send me an email saying that.

Note 3: This Newsletter is intended to supplement the material on our website, WiseEnergy.org. The most important page there is the Winning page.

Note 4: I am not an attorney, so no material appearing in any of the Newsletters (or our WiseEnergy.org website) should be construed as giving legal advice. My recommendation has always been: consult a competent licensed attorney when you are involved with legal issues.

The Future of Energy Sustainability Has Never Looked Brighter… Thanks to Free Markets

The congruence of private gain and social good in energy markets is reason to give thanks this holiday season.


Depletion … pollution … security … climate change. These flashpoints of energy sustainability have been invoked time and again to advocate forced (government) transformation away from fossil fuels. But each complaint has been highly exaggerated for the purpose of demoting the primary role of mineral energies (natural gas, coal, and petroleum) in modern living.

The congruence of private gain and social good in energy markets is a great reason to give thanks this holiday season. Consumers in good conscience can stay warm with natural gas and fuel oil, as well as travel on gasoline and diesel. Electricity, too, can be generated with the cheapest and most versatile carbon-based energy without regret.

Energy sustainability is an offshoot of sustainable development, classically defined in a 1987 report by the World Commission on Environment and Development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The so-called Brundtland Report led to the 1992 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro and Agenda 21, a 350-page action plan by the United Nations for global sustainable development, signed by 178 countries, including the United States. For implementation ideas, the Clinton/Gore Administration created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (1993–99), which defined sustainability as “economic growth that will benefit present and future generations without detrimentally affecting the resources or biological systems of the planet.”

According to the “Vision Statement” of PCSD’s Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the Future (1996):

Our vision is of a life-sustaining Earth…. A sustainable United States will have a growing economy that provides equitable opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high quality life for current and future generations. Our nation will protect its environment, its natural resource base, and the functions and viability of natural systems on which all life depends (p. iv).

Given this definition, are mineral energies “sustainable”? The answer is a resounding yes under a free-market interpretation of sustainable development:

A sustainable energy market is one in which the quantity, quality, and utility of energy improve over time. Sustainable energy becomes more available, more affordable, more usable and reliable, and cleaner. Energy consumers do not borrow from the future; they subsidize the future by continually improving today’s energy economy, which the future inherits (Bradley, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy, p. 187).

The energy sustainability triad has been depletion, pollution, and climate change. A fourth area, energy security, primarily relating to unstable oil imports from Middle Eastern countries, arose in the 1970s and peaked with the Gulf War in 1990–91.

Depletionism concerns resource exhaustion, better known as Peak Oil (and Peak Natural Gas), where demand outraces supply to result in increasing prices. Pollution has centered around the criteria air pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), lead (Pb), and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Climate change has shifted from brief worry about anthropogenic global cooling to an ongoing concern of anthropogenic global warming.

Peak supply fears have been quelled by new generation oil and gas extraction technology that, yet again, has turned high-cost and inaccessible supply into economically mined resources. In response, fossil fuel foes have turned to a keep-it-in-the-ground strategy conceding that many decades, if not centuries, of oil and gas inventory await. And with the US becoming the oil and gas center of the world, earlier concerns over energy security have faded.

Regarding the once vexing problem of urban air pollution, the US Environmental Protection Agency has documented a 73 percent decline in criteria emissions since 1970, with further improvement expected. Technology in light of achievable regulatory rules has made fossil fuels and clean air a success story that industry critics did not think possible early on.

Climate change? This is an issue entirely separate from the above, but the direct benefits of carbon dioxide fertilization and moderate warming have made the debate over costs versus benefits of anthropogenic climate change ambiguous. The public policy takeaway is not to regulate CO2 but to embrace free markets at home and abroad to capitalize on the positives and ameliorate the negatives of weather and climate change, natural or anthropogenic.

The energy sustainability debate relates to the larger intellectual tradition of free market environmentalism. The private property and voluntary exchange model was codified by authors Terry Anderson and Donald Leal as follows:

Free market environmentalism emphasizes the importance of market processes in determining optimal amounts of resource use. Only when rights are well-defined, enforced, and transferable will self-interested individuals confront the trade-offs inherent in a world of scarcity (Free Market Environmentalism, 1991: p. 22).

Private entrepreneurship seeking gains from trade is key to overcoming negative externalities:

As entrepreneurs move to fill profit niches, prices will reflect the values we place on resources and the environment. Mistakes will be made, but in the process a niche will be opened and profit opportunities will attract resources managers with a better idea (ibid., pp. 22–23).

“In cases where definition and enforcement costs are insurmountable, political solutions may be called for,” Anderson and Leal add, warning that “those kinds of solutions often become entrenched and stand in the way of innovative market processes that promote fiscal responsibility, efficient resource use, and individual freedom” (ibid., p. 23).

In a 1993 essay, “Sustainable Development—A Free-Market Perspective,” Fred Smith applied the Anderson/Leal framework as an alternative to sustainable development. Free market environmentalism, Smith states (p. 297), “recognizes that the greatest hope for protecting environmental values lies in the empowerment of individuals to protect those environmental resources that they value (via a creative extension of property rights).” He explains (pp. 298–99):

Sustainable development is not an artifact of the physical world but of human arrangements. Environmental resources will be protected or endangered depending upon the type of institutional framework we create, or allow to evolve, to address these concerns.

After going through examples of self-interested solutions to economic and environmental progress, Smith concludes: “The empirical evidence is clear: resources integrated into a private property system do, in fact, achieve ‘sustainability’” (p. 301).

Smith also insists that “government failure” be assessed alongside alleged market failure, noting how “individuals who make resource-use decisions in a bureaucracy are rarely those who bear the costs or receive the benefits of such decisions” (p. 304). In this regard, he contrasts the politicization of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) with drilling in the Audubon Society’s Rainey wildlife sanctuary in Louisiana (ibid.).

In a 1999 policy analysis for the Cato Institute titled “The Increasing Sustainability of Conventional Energy,” I concluded:

[T]he technology of fossil-fuel extraction, combustion, and consumption continues to rapidly improve. Fossil fuels continue to have a global market share of approximately 85 percent, and all economic and environmental indicators are positive. Numerous technological advances have made coal, natural gas, and petroleum more abundant, more versatile, more reliable, and less polluting than ever before, and the technologies are being transferred from developed to emerging markets. These positive trends can be expected to continue in the 21st century.

Almost twenty years later, production and consumption trends for mineral energies remain robust despite determined, costly government policies to force wind power and solar energy into electrical generation and ethanol into transportation markets. The global market share for fossil fuels remains more than 80 percent, with the most recent year registering growth rates of 3 percent, 1 percent, and 1.6 percent for natural gas, coal, and oil, respectively.

It is not doom-and-gloom in the energy market but quite the opposite. New generations of technology have made our ever-increasing quantities of oil, coal, and natural gas environmental products, not just energy products. The sustainability threat is not free markets but government ownership and direction of resources in the name of energy sustainability. That supreme irony must be the subject for another day.

COLUMN BY

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

The Counterintuitive Truth about Earth’s Resources

Earth was 379.6 percent more plentiful in 2017 than in 1980.


Are we running out of resources? That’s been a hotly debated question since the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb in 1968. The Stanford University biologist warned that population growth would result in the exhaustion of resources and a global catastrophe. According to Ehrlich, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

The University of Maryland economist Julian Simon rejected Ehrlich’s thesis. In his 1981 book The Ultimate Resource, he argued that humans were intelligent beings, capable of innovating their way out of shortages through greater efficiency, increased supply, or development of substitutes. He wrote:

There is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose.

A just-released paper, which I co-authored with Brigham Young University economics professor Gale Pooley, revisits the Ehrlich-Simon debate. In “The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources,” we look at prices of 50 foundational commodities covering energy, food, materials, and metals. Our findings confirm Simon’s thesis. Between 1980 and 2017, the world’s population increased from 4.46 to 7.55 billion or 69 percent. Yet, resources have become substantially more abundant.

To arrive at our conclusion, we introduce four new ways of measuring abundance of resources. Ehrlich and Simon looked at inflation-adjusted prices of commodities. By our count, those fell by 36 percent. Taking that analysis a step further, we have come up with a “time-price” of commodities, which allows us to cost resources in terms of human labor. We find that relative to the average global hourly income, commodity prices fell by 64.7 percent between 1980 and 2017.

Second, the price elasticity of population (PEP) allows us to measure sensitivity of resource availability to population growth. We find that the time-price of commodities declined by 0.934 percent for every 1 percent increase in the world’s population. Put differently, over the last 37 years, every additional human being born on our planet appears to have made resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.

Third, we develop the Simon Abundance Framework, which uses the PEP values to distinguish between different degrees of resource abundance, from decreasing abundance at the one end to super abundance at the other end. Considering that the time-price of commodities decreased at a faster proportional rate than population increased, we find that humanity is experiencing superabundance.

Finally, we create the Simon Abundance Index (SAI), which uses the time-price of commodities and change in global population to estimate overall resource abundance. The SAI represents the ratio of the change in population over the change in the time-price, times 100. It has a base year of 1980 and a base value of 100. Between 1980 and 2017, resource availability increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.32 percent. That means that the Earth was 379.6 percent more plentiful in 2017 than it was in 1980.

Based on our analysis of the relationship between resource availability and population growth, we forecast that the time-price of commodities could fall by a further 29 percent over the next 37 years. Of course, much will depend on policies and institutions that nations pursue. For time-price of commodities to decline and resource abundance to increase, it is necessary for market incentives and price mechanisms to endure. For it is when prices of commodities temporarily increase that people have an incentive to use resources more efficiently, increase their supply, and develop cheaper substitutes.

Simon’s revolutionary insights with regard to the mutually beneficial interaction between population growth and availability of natural resources, which our research confirms, may be counterintuitive, but they are real.

The world’s resources are finite in the same way that the number of piano keys is finite. The instrument has only 88 notes, but those can be played in an infinite variety of ways. The same applies to our planet. The Earth’s atoms may be fixed, but the possible combinations of those atoms are infinite. What matters, then, is not the physical limits of our planet, but human freedom to experiment and reimagine the use of resources that we have.

This article was reprinted with permission from CapX.

COLUMN BY

Marian L. Tupy<

Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

How companies should engage on climate

A while back I was speaking to a major pipeline company and was asked how they should engage on the climate issue. Here’s my answer (lightly edited):

Why engage? You’re a company that exists so that people can consume a certain product. When they consume that product, there’s a byproduct of CO2, and people are concerned about the consequences of that byproduct. Many people think it’s an overwhelming priority to minimize it, which means to put you out of business.

You need to take a position, and I think you need to define a position that your company’s management actually believes. If you think about it one way and talk about it another, I think that’s wrong and it will be very awkward.

Then, when you talk about the climate issue, don’t just share your conclusions, but how you think of the issue. I recommend that companies should have as part of their values a commitment to scientific thinking, a concern for environmental quality, a commitment to cost/benefit analysis, and an overall goal of promoting human flourishing. Then, when you talk about climate, you can reference those values to show how you reach your conclusions.

The most important thing is to reframe the discussion in a pro-human way. What fossil fuel opponents want is to turn it into a debate over whether we have an impact on climate. Their framework is that our goal should be to minimize our impact on nature and so the ideal is to have no impact on climate.

If you frame things from a human perspective, then it’s really a debate on what we should do about energy. The impact on climate is part of how we evaluate fossil fuels, which is part of deciding what to do about energy.

If our goal is to maximize human flourishing, then our actual ideal is not no climate impact, but making sure we’re completely protected from climate. That’s what actually matters to human beings.

And the number one thing for climate protection is industrialization–which requires a lot of cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. Let’s say, for instance, there’s someone in India, it’s 120° in the summer, and they just have a little fan. The “green” solution is to de-industrialize the world so that instead of 120°, it’s 119°.

No, the solution is to get them an air conditioner. That’s the first thing. Allow them to achieve industrialization and energy abundance through using fossil fuels. Then we can talk about 120° or 119°.

RELATED ARTICLE: Don’t Believe the Scary Predictions From the National Climate Assessment


The Human Flourishing Project: Seeking stimulation vs. seeking nourishment

On the latest episode of The Human Flourishing Project I discuss a concept I’ve been refining this week as I’ve been sick: the tendency to seek short-term stimulation when we’re uncomfortable—and why we should seek “nourishment” instead.

Visit our Facebook page and join in the discussion. And for the latest news visit humanflourishingproject.com where you can sign up to receive email updates.


EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission. The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

‘Borderline Impossible’: Noted Scientist Tackles Sea Level Rise Alarmism

When it comes to alarming projections of global warming-induced sea level rise, veteran climate scientist Judith Curry says people need to cool it.

“Projections of extreme, alarming impacts are very weakly justified to borderline impossible,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Curry’s latest research, put together for clients of her consulting company near the end of November, looks in detail at projections of sea level rise. Curry’s ultimate conclusion: “Some of the worst-case scenarios strain credulity.”

“With regards to 21st century climate projections, we are dealing with deep uncertainty, and we should not be basing our policies based on the assumption that the climate will actually evolve as per predicted,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Climate variability and change is a lot more complex than ‘CO2 as control knob,’” Curry said. “No one wants to hear this, or actually spend time understanding things,” Curry said.

That’s really the opposite message of what we usually hear from prominent scientists in the media. Much of the worry over sea level rise has centered on the western Antarctic ice melt, which studies say has accelerated in recent years.

The global average sea level has risen about 7 inches since 1900. For perspective, sea level rise has averaged about the thickness of two pennies every year.

But if warmer temperatures substantially increase melt from the world’s glaciers and ice sheets, some scientists and activists say sea level rise could be devastating. Warming also increases thermal expansion of the ocean, scientists warn.

Former NASA head climate scientist James Hansen warned in 1988 that New York City’s West Side Highway would be underwater in 20 to 40 years. More recently, Hansen warned “the planet could become practically ungovernable” from sea level rise due to melting ice forcing millions of people to flee coastal cities.

Pacific islands national leaders went before the United Nations in 2015 to warn that unchecked global warming would overwhelm them, forcing thousands to emigrate to the continents—so far, there’s little evidence of island nations being engulfed by the sea.

“Now if you ask us, we have to say maybe closer to 6 to 8 feet,” Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann warned at a debate in June. Curry also participated in the debate in Charleston, West Virginia.

Mann said that was the “best estimate” of sea level rise by the end of the century, which is considerably higher than he said it was just five years earlier.

“We’re talking about literally giving up on our coastal cities of the world and moving inland,” Mann warned in September 2017.

Curry, however, sees estimates of sea level rise above 2 feet by the end of the century as “weakly justified,” even at high levels of warming. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the likely range of sea level rise at 10 to 32 inches.

Alarming sea level rise predictions are based on “a cascade of extremely unlikely-to-impossible events using overly simplistic models of poorly understood processes,” Curry wrote in her report.

Current sea level rise is well within natural variability of the past few thousand years, according to Curry. Curry said coastal communities should base their future flood plans on likely scenarios, such as 1 to 2 feet, rather than high-end scenarios.

“There is not yet any convincing evidence of a human fingerprint on global sea level rise, because of the large changes driven by natural variability,” Curry wrote. “An increase in the rate of global sea level rise since 1995 is being caused by ice loss from Greenland.”

However, the “Greenlandic ice loss was larger during the 1930s, which was also associated with the warm phase of the Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern,” Curry wrote.

COLUMN BY

Climate Change Alarmism Is the World’s Leading Cause of Hot Gas

Even as anti-gas tax riots raged in France this week, naturalist David Attenborough warned a crowd at a United Nations climate change summit in Poland that “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

U.N. General Assembly President Maria Espinosa told the media that “mankind” is “in danger of disappearing” if climate change is allowed to progress at its current rate.

Speakers, who flew in to swap doomsday stories, advocated radical changes to avoid this imminent environmental apocalypse. These days, “the point of no return” is almost always in view, yet always just out of reach.

Sorry, but by now, this rhetoric is familiar.

You can go back to 1970, when Harvard biologist George Wald, riding a wave of popular environmental panic during the decade, estimated, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

Or you can go back to 1977, when Barack Obama’s future science “czar,” John Holdren, co-authored a book with Paul R. Ehrlich predicting that global warming could lead to the deaths of 1 billion starving people by 2020. (The authors theorized, “Population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution.”)

Or you can go back to 2006, when Al Gore warned in his Oscar-winning documentary that sea levels would rise by 20 feet “in the near future.” The producers even offered chilling depictions of cities underwater. Gore was only off by 20 feet or so.

Anyway, South Beach is still with us.

The problem for alarmists is that warming is now here—allegedly the cause of an untold number of disasters, small and large—yet somehow humanity slogs onward, living longer, safer, richer lives. People internalize this reality, no matter what they tell pollsters.

At a big 2005 conference of concerned climate scientists and politicians in London, attendees warned that the world had as little as 10 years before it would reach “the point of no return on global warming.”

They warned that humans would soon be grappling with “widespread agricultural failure,” “major droughts,” “increased disease,” “the death of forests,” and the “switching-off of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream,” among many other terrible calamities.

Who knows? Maybe one day, humanity will be ravaged by new diseases because of a rise in temperature. Right now, though, we are on the cusp of eradicating such diseases as polio, measles, and syphilis.

There is new hope that all mosquito-borne diseases will be eradicated someday, that a cure for AIDS is within reach, and that a vaccine will be able to cut Alzheimer’s disease cases in half. Cancer survival rates have soared.

So perhaps in some far-flung era, humans will be toiling in a dystopian world of “widespread agricultural failure” as alarmists have been warning for many decades, but trends do not look promising for the Chicken Littles.

Since 2005, humans have seen a spike in the use of genetically modified crops, as well as advances in heat-resistant crops, leading to booming yields in agriculture. According to the U.N., there were 200 million fewer hungry people in 2015 than there were in 1990.

Although not so big as the massive spike in climate change hysterics since 2005, there also has been a spike in fossil fuel consumption among nations that are slowly embracing the most effective poverty-killing program ever invented by man.

And capitalism, even its worst iterations, runs best on cheap energy. This reality has produced a giant reduction in poverty, the extreme variety being cut in half around the world, according to the World Bank. The less poverty there is, the more cars we will see, and the less the U.S. and Europe can do about it.

Fortunately, Attenborough, Gore, and the 22,000 delegates attending the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change can’t begin to contemplate the staggering number of advancements in productivity and science that await humans.

Of course, simply because Malthusians have been completely wrong about human ingenuity and adaptability for more than 100 years doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong now.

On the other hand, at no point in history has a massive top-down social engineering project ever worked as intended. It’s worth noting, for example, that the 10 worst famines of the 20th century were caused not by the excesses of capitalism or by environmental disasters, but by collectivists trying to control human nature.

Trade-offs, ignored by doomsdayers since the beginning of history, are something people intuitively understand. That’s why the fearmongering hasn’t worked and probably never will.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of the forthcoming “First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History With the Gun, From the Revolution to Today.” Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Don’t Believe the Scary Predictions From the National Climate Assessment


Vive la révolution! Vive les Gilets Jaunes!

Hundreds of French people in yellow vests advanced along the Marseilles waterfront.

As CFACT covered the march, two armored cars approached from the opposite direction.

A lone woman ran forward and situated herself in between, waving a yellow kerchief which smartly coordinated with her yellow vest.  The Berliet VXB-170 twelve ton behemoths continued their advance.

The woman stood her ground.  With the approaching force just feet away, she threw wide her arms and defied them.  For a moment, one brave héroïne slowed the power of the state to a crawl.  The next, a police officer in full riot gear swept her aside, and a platoon of police marched onto the scene.

Undaunted, the protestors continued until the police gave way.

The picture and video Adam Houser took of this modern day “Marianne” having a courageous “Tiananmen Square” moment are CFACT exclusives.

CFACT used the weekend break at COP 24, the UN climate conference in Poland, to head to France to do some research.  After interviewing many gilets jaunes (yellow vests), and observing their demonstrations, CFACT can report that the streets belong not to the government, nor to the police, but to the men, women and children in the yellow vests.  Moreover, contrary to what you may have seen in the media, in their hearts, the police are with the protestors.

The demonstrators are in fact the friends, neighbors and families of the police arrayed against them.  Except in extreme cases, the police are standing aside and leaving the gilet jaunes in charge.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there.  We’ve all seen images from Paris and other cities of masked hooligans in yellow vests smashing windows and setting fires.  Nearly all of this violence has come from radical leftists who never miss a chance to riot.  CFACT encountered these same thugs three years ago in Paris during UN COP 21, well before anyone thought to don a yellow vest.  The real gilets jaunes are upset that their president and the media are using the violent thugs to smear them.  The average French observer knows the protesters.  They get it.  Will the French government succeed in smearing the earnest, nonviolent people in the yellow vests elsewhere around the world?

Moreover, just about everyone with an agenda is trying to horn in.  This includes climate campaigners who are trying to claim the gilets jaunes as their own.  They’ve posed in yellow vests for the media during carefully staged climate events. Don’t buy it for a second.  We spoke with a wide assortment of protesters and asked them point blank.  (Video to follow).  Climate taxes? “They are BULL SHIT” is among the more genteel exclamations that question engenders.

Here are the straight facts:

The gilets jaunes represent a broad cross section of the French working and middle classes.  They are butchers, bakers and automobile makers.  They are the folks who drive the trucks, farm the food, build the buildings and fix what breaks.  They are France.  They have had enough.

The gilets jaunes took over a large toll station on the road to Marseilles.  CFACT was there.  They narrowed the lanes, but allowed traffic to pass.  Toll collectors and police left them completely in charge. The protestors did not allow motorists to pay the toll.  They are prepared to starve leviathan.

France, like many European nations, has gone much further down the UN climate road than Americans have.  They are already feeling the pain that Californians and so many others have in store.  Climate taxes on fuel to pay for inefficient, variable wind and solar power and other climate fantasies are a waste, and the folks in the yellow vests know it.  They refuse to redistribute more of what they earn in the name of global warming. They realize that climate taxes are regressive, and resent the elites with the means to take confiscatory taxes in stride.  President Macron has vowed to suppress and outlast the protestors.  He has no idea.  He also has no friends among them.

President Macron declared, “We have to tax fossil fuels more in order to fund our investments in renewable.”  Then, when faced with mass protests, he suspended the most hated climate tax for six months.  The protesters see right through this. Saturday their battle cry was, “we stay on our course.”

Over 120,000 nice, normal, fed up French citizens took to the streets in every corner of their country Saturday.  President Macron deployed 89,000 police and 80 of those armored cars to stop them.  He failed.

The yellow vest protestors are right on the merits.  Their movement has already spread to Belgium and the Netherlands.  Who will be next?

Vive la révolution!  Vive les Gilets Jaunes


Thank you to everyone who chipped in to make our work possible.  We can’t wait to share with the UN what we learned in France!  We keep finding so much more to do.  Will you give right now and help us do it?  


EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Adolf Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth gains the future.”

Schools have become the epicenters for pushing propaganda and various political agendas. Schools are not educating children to think critically or to become life long learners. School should be preparing our youth to become productive citizens not activists.

What we must have is more learning in schools and less activism.

The poster child for less learning and more activism in schools is a 15-year old girl named Greta Thunberg. Greta Thunberg is a disabled child. According to Wikipedia Greta has been diagnosed with Asperger syndromeWebMD says this about Asperger syndrome:

Asperger’s syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own. It is now part of a broader category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Those with ASD tend to have “an obsessive focus on one topic or perform the same behaviors again and again.” Greta’s obsessive focus is on climate change.

Greta is being used to push the environmentalist agenda of climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP24) conference in Poland.

Pat Carlson, Environmental Chairman for the Eagle Forum, in an article titled “Controlling The Youth” writes:

Conference of the Parties COP24 reflects 25 years of saturating the world’s youth in the dogma of global warming or, as we now refer to it, climate change. They have been told all their lives that humans (their parents) are killing planet Earth with all of our modern conveniences. Of course, the most advanced economies of the world are the most guilty of this crime with the United States being the worst offender.

One young Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, learned about the crisis of global warming when she was 7. She was so concerned she quit talking or eating and became ill. She is now 15 and acts as though she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders trying to stop climate change. She has been skipping school one day a week or striking, as she calls it, to bring attention to this crisis. This has made her a celebrity in Sweden.

I have learned from my good friend John Casey that: 1.) The climate changes; 2.) these changes follow natural cycles; and 3.) there is nothing mankind can do to change these natural cycles. Casey found that there is a 260 year cycle where the sun has few or no sunspots. This natural cycle causes the earth to cool and can last for decades. Carlson confirms what Casey discovered stating:

The fact is, according to satellite readings, Earth’s temperature has been in a pause for the last 20 years and has had no significant additional warming. Furthermore, Don Easterbrook, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western University, is one of several scientists who say the Earth is cooling. Prof. Easterbrook predicts Earth’s temperature will cool 3/10th’s of a degree Fahrenheit over the next 20 years and will continue that cooling trend for several decades.

Carlson notes:

The United Nations is not going to miss cashing in on her fame. She is at COP24 and she is being held up as a hero. Her anguish over this is heart-wrenching. In just one interview she referred to the crisis as an “existential threat,” the “biggest crisis humanity has ever faced,” and “we must try to save what we can save.”

She has had an audience with United Nations’ Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, as well as other heads of state telling them “they are behaving like children.” She is being used as a pawn by the U.N. to further their cause. What adult can resist the impassioned plea of a child asking for help?

Hitler also said, “I use emotion for the many and reason for the few.”

President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He has said that he is “not convinced” about global warming/climate change.

It is clear that Greta is being used. It is clear that the United Nations wants to push it’s climate change agenda and is more than happy to use Greta as their pawn to do so.

The problem is implementing the UN COP24 agenda harms human flourishing and especially children. Just look at Paris burning to understand the social cost of the UN agenda. Macron followed Greta’s advice and now he faces its consequences on his own people.

Carlson concludes:

Climate change is just a smoke screen for the U.N.’s hidden agenda to have a centralized government giving it the ability to globally regulate and redistribute wealth from rich countries to poor countries and of course, itself. The global warming lie has deprived the youth of the world the hope of a prosperous future. That hope has been replaced with fear.

President Trump is showing great courage and true leadership in pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement and questioning the whole human-induced global warming claim.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Environmentalism, Pantheism, Statism and Pessimism

Climate Change Alarmism Is the World’s Leading Cause of Hot Gas

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EDITORS NOTE: The edited featured image of Greta Thunberg is by Marc Femenia from Wikipedia.

The Green Agenda Burns to Ashes in Paris

A riot is an ugly thing.

The anarchical mayhem in the streets of Paris in recent days paint a picture of a fractured society with deep-seated problems—a breakdown of the fragile yet essential rule of law.

While we’ve come to expect such things in France, there are specific reasons why these protests have erupted in the last month.

The “climate” agenda, peddled as a means to save the planet and reduce inequality, is being exposed in France as an agenda inherently at odds with the interests of middle- and working-class people.

Last year, a wide range of American and international media, celebrities, and activists excoriated President Donald Trump for pulling the United States out of the international Paris climate agreement. Trump said in 2017 that he would put “no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens” and that he would reject an agreement that would force taxpayers to “absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.”

Former Vice President and climate change activist Al Gore said at the time that leaving the deal was a “reckless and indefensible action.”

But Americans may in fact have a better grasp of their interests than a tiny elite across the pond and in America’s powerful media institutions. For proof, look to the streets of Paris.

Paris is now burning, and French President Emmanuel Macron, who was once widely praised as a kind of “centrist” savior of the global community, is in hot political waters.

Macron’s approval ratings sit at 23 percent in a recent poll, according to Reuters, a new low for his presidency. The “yellow vest” protesters, as they’ve been called, have forced his administration to back off its proposed new gas and utility taxes.

The protesters appear to come from a vast swath of French society and don’t fit neatly on the ideological spectrum. They’ve rebelled against high taxes while also calling for increases in the minimum wage.

Alas, the consequences of living in a society where the government is involved in every aspect of a person’s life.

“France’s violent Yellow Vest protests are now about many domestic concerns, but it’s no accident that the trigger was a fuel-tax hike,” read an editorial for The Wall Street Journal. “Nothing reveals the disconnect between ordinary voters and an aloof political class more than carbon taxation.”

France’s widespread use of nuclear power has allowed it to move a bit further away from the carbon economy in terms of energy costs, but its transportation sector is still highly reliant on oil, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Nicolas Loris, an economist and regulatory expert at The Heritage Foundation, highlighted the widespread economic harm that’s caused by “green” policies:

Global warming regulations for new and existing power plants will drive electricity bills higher for families and businesses. Fuel efficiency mandates for cars, trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles increase the up-front cost of vehicles by thousands of dollars. Methane regulations on oil and gas would introduce burdensome, complex processes that would likely slow the industry’s current efforts to reduce emissions, which have been falling for decades.

For the average person, the cost of the war on climate change can be severe.

In a country like France, which is already dealing with economic hardship, low growth, and high joblessness rates, you have a recipe for disaster.

Maybe there is something to be said about leaders asserting national self-interest after all.

The shocking images of riots are nevertheless emblematic of the collapse of the green agenda and the animosity it engenders from the people it harms: the forgotten men—squeezed by regulations and taxes—who don’t count themselves among the privileged few who receive generous green energy subsidies.

In France, many see this dysfunctional system as inevitable and unchangeable without extreme recourse.

Certainly, we should deplore the mobs and destruction of property. In America, we’d hope that our differences can be solved through elections, deliberation, and peaceful protest, if necessary.

This is certainly possible as long as we maintain our constitutional system and a cultural respect for the rule of law that the Founding Fathers and generations of Americans blessed us with.

While France’s economy is stagnant, the U.S. economy has been booming—in part due to the flourishing oil industry and the curtailment of regulations that were a hallmark of the Obama era.

Are the conditions in Europe really what we want to replicate in the U.S.?

California is going down this path, and perhaps the new Congress will as well. But the chaos in France should serve as a stern warning of what lies down the road.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. Twitter: .

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Climate Hoax: Global CO2 Emissions Spike, Despite Paris Climate Pledges

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Yellow Vests leader: Fuel tax moratorium is crumbs, we want the baguette

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Podcast: What It’s Like in France, Amid Heated Protests Over Green Tax


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Tatif/Wostok Press/ZUMA Press/Newscom.

Court Documents Suggest A Personal Vendetta Between Two Lawyers Might Be Fueling Climate Crusade

  • Two of the law firms suing Exxon Mobil sued each other over four years ago over disagreements about attorneys’ fees from a previous lawsuit targeting the oil company.
  • Court filings appear to suggest much of the anti-Exxon lawsuits is being fueled by a personal vendetta between two of the biggest law firms engaged in the climate crusade.
  • The trial attorneys behind the climate crusade have a long history of back-biting and bickering over attorneys’ fees from previous Exxon lawsuits.

Two of the attorneys representing various cities in climate litigation against oil companies have a history of suing and counter-suing each other over personal squabbles, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Environmental attorneys Vic Sher and Matt Pawa got into a multi-million-dollar legal dispute in 2014 stemming from a lawsuit they both worked on against ExxonMobil. Sher, who was with Sher Leff at the time, alleged Pawa’s group, Pawa Law Group, failed to distribute money from a settlement in the case. Pawa, in turn, argued in a lawsuit that Sher was the one cheating him out of millions of dollars.

Sher, who is now with Sher Edling, eventually paid Pawa about $6 million for the retributions, court documents show. The disagreement stems from a lawsuit New Hampshire filed in 2013 alleging Exxon negligently contaminated the state’s water ways with 2 billion gallons of MTBE, a gas additive experts believe poisons drinking water. The intrigue comes amid growing bad blood between the two sides.

The state initially sued 26 oil companies in 2003 over the contamination. New Hampshire previously collected over $130 million for MTBE cleanup from the other defendants. The jury eventually awarded the state damages of $816 million. Exxon was made to pay roughly 29 percent of market share, which equaled roughly $236,372,664 at the time of the lawsuit.

New Hampshire’s Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2015 after Exxon appealed the ruling to the top court.

People take part in protests ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 2, 2017. Placard reads “Global Warming is NOT a Myth”. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

A dispute arose between Pawa and Sher in 2012 relating to the division of attorneys’ fees between them under a contract with New Hampshire, which retained both to represent the state in the Exxon contamination case. A panel eventually awarded Pawa nearly $6 million for breaching the agreement.

Sher Leff refused to comply with the final award, including payment of the amounts awarded to Pawa’s law firm, even while Sher Leff pocketed more than $27 million in attorneys’ fees from the Exxon case. Sher countersued in 2014, arguing Pawa entered into a secondary oral agreement that the legal fees associated with the case would be delivered proportionally. Sher’s case was dismissed.

Neither Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a California-based law firm that now employs Pawa, nor Sher Edling responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment about how the nearly five-year-old lawsuit is affecting their current legal pursuits of Exxon.

Both law firms — Sher Edling and Hagens Berman — are barnstorming the country, convincing cities to sue energy companies for allegedly contributing to damage caused by climate change. The rivalry between the two attorneys heated up Nov. 26 after San Francisco and Oakland fired Hagens Berman and hired Sher Edling to represent the cities as they appeal a court’s decision to dismiss their lawsuits against Exxon.

Hagens Berman is handling King County, Washington’s lawsuit against five major oil companies. The California-based firm was also behind a now-dismissed climate lawsuit brought by New York City.

A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Hagens Berman’s fee would have been 23.5 percent of any winnings from its cases with San Francisco and Oakland. Hagens Berman stood to earn possibly billions of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings, had San Francisco, Oakland or New York City won their global warming suits.

Sher Edling, for its part, is handling climate lawsuits for six California cities and counties. Local governments suing fossil fuel interests argue state nuisance and trespassing laws, which have sometimes been applied to pollution, also apply to global warming. They also accuse energy companies of trying to downplay the harms their products allegedly cause.

Hagens Berman and Sher Edling’s drama comes after New York filed a lawsuit in October against Exxon for allegedly downplaying for decades the risk the company’s oil products pose on the climate.

The lawsuit follows over three years of investigation first orchestrated by former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in April over abuse allegations from former romantic partners. The probe took many twists and turns and seemed to come to a halt shortly after his resignation.

Exxon engaged in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” to deceive investors, analysts and underwriters “concerning the company’s management of the risks posed to its business by climate change regulation,” the lawsuit notes.

COLUMN BY

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Anti-Exxon Attorneys Suffer Setback Amid Rash Of Legal Defeats

SEC Investigators Decide Not To Punish Exxon For Alleged Climate Heresy

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission from The Daily Caller. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

NYT: Biofuel Mandates Have Been an Environmental Disaster

Across the world, the effects of biofuels mandates have been profoundly negative.


Gridlock that stops any legislation from being passed is usually better than “bipartisanship.” To get bipartisan support, legislation has to buy off power brokers and special interest groups in both political parties. A classic example is America’s harmful legislation requiring the use of biofuels. It has resulted in the destruction of vast areas of tropical rainforest, massively increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The New York Times describes this in a story called “Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe.” The story explains that “A decade ago, the U.S. mandated the use of vegetable oil in biofuels, leading to industrial-scale deforestation—and a huge spike in carbon emissions.” In some areas once covered by rainforest, there are now “only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water.” As the Times explains:

Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. A lot more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions. Instead of creating a clever technocratic fix to reduce American’s carbon footprint, lawmakers had lit the fuse on a powerful carbon bomb that, as the forests were cleared and burned, produced more carbon than the entire continent of Europe.

Despite this massive destruction of forests, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House at the time, continues to defend the “biofuels mandate she shepherded into law.” She claims it is “reducing emissions” when it obviously isn’t. Her fellow Democrat and political ally, former Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), admits as much. He helped enact the mandate as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But he now recognizes the obvious reality that the mandate is “doing more harm to the environment” than any fossil fuels it has replaced.

Former President George W. Bush enabled this destruction by supporting the mandate and signing it into law. This bipartisan support for the mandate didn’t make it better because bipartisanship is usually a toxic blend of evil and stupidity. “In America, we have a two-party system,” a Republican congressional staffer told a visiting group of Russian legislators in the 1990s. “There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. … Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called—‘bipartisanship.’”

This harm to the environment was also facilitated by the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency. It massively underestimated the destruction of forest that the mandate would cause. Dire losses of forests were projected in its initial, honest estimate of what would happen from the mandate going into effect. But in response to lobbying from special interests, it replaced that estimate with a rosier one that dismissed forest losses as negligible.

As The New York Times notes, initially, the Obama EPA recognized that the negative effect on the environment “of land-use changes overshadowed any other consideration, and not by a small margin,” resulting in negative effects on the climate annually for at least 32 years and taking “a century” before the resulting replacement of fossil fuels would “reach the level of benefit required under the law.” But in response to lobbying, the EPA’s stance changed:

By the time the E.P.A. released its final rule in early 2010, it had made a complete about-face. Its models now found that the impact from land-use changes were almost negligible. For Indonesia, the E.P.A. estimated that just 110,000 acres of forest would be converted to cropland as a result of the American biofuels law, and almost none of it on sensitive peatland.

Across the world, the land substitution effects of biofuels mandates have been profoundly negative.

Biofuel mandates drove up wheat prices in Egypt, triggering riots and contributing to the ouster of pro-American ruler Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is now under a veiled military dictatorship that is far more oppressive and wasteful than Mubarak’s rule, and there is far more terrorism and much less tourism and growth in small businesses than under Mubarak. Related food price increases fueled terrorism and violence in places like Yemen and Afghanistan. They also contributed to hunger and child malnutrition in Guatemala.

This article was reprinted from Liberty Unyielding.

COLUMN BY

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘A Political Report Masquerading as Science’: The Truth About the New Climate Report

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

‘I Don’t See It’: Trump Doubles Down on Global Warming Skepticism

President Donald Trump doubled down on disagreements with dire predictions made in the latest U.S. government global warming report.

“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” Trump told The Washington Post in an Oval Office interview Tuesday.

“As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,” Trump said when the Post asked why he was skeptical of claims made in the latest National Climate Assessment released Friday.

The NCA, which is mandated by a 1990 law, issued dire warnings about future global warming’s potential effects on public health, ecosystems, and the economy. The report generated alarming media headlines of impending catastrophe if nothing is done to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The report claims “climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”

However, critics pointed out the report relies heavily on an “exceptionally unlikely” worst-case scenario that projects 4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

Trump echoed those criticisms, including disagreeing that global warming would substantially impact the U.S. economy.

“I don’t believe it,” Trump said on Monday when reporters asked about the NCA’s economic predictions.

Trump doubled-down on disagreements with the NCA’s projections, and the president also talked about global pollution problems.

“You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean,” Trump said. “But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including many other places, the air is incredibly dirty, and when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small.”

“And it blows over and it sails over. I mean we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia,” Trump continued. “It just flows right down the Pacific. It flows and we say, ‘Where does this come from?’ And it takes many people, to start off with.”

Trump also pointed to the “global cooling” scare of the 1970s as a reason he’s skeptical of global warming predictions.

“If you go back and if you look at articles, they talk about global freezing,” Trump said. “They talk about at some point, the planet is going to freeze to death, then it’s going to die of heat exhaustion.”

The Post suggested Trump may be referring to an “oft-cited 1975 Newsweek article titled ‘The Cooling World’ or a 1974 Time magazine story titled ‘Another Ice Age?’”

“But researchers who have reviewed this period have found that while such ideas were indeed afoot at the time, there was ‘no scientific consensus in the 1970s’ about a global cooling trend or risk, as there is today about human-caused climate change,” the Post reported.

However, many newspapers, including The New York Times, reported on the global cooling frenzy in the 1970s, not just Newsweek and Time. Scientists wrote to President Richard Nixon to warn of global cooling, and even the CIA prepared a report on the risks of global cooling.

The CIA’s 1974 report warned that continued cooling, as many scientists predicted, would “create worldwide agricultural failures in the 1970s.”