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Full Stream Ahead: Why EPA’s Water Rule Goes Too Far

The Obama administration didn’t listen. Instead, it went ahead with its regulatory overreach over America’s waters. This worries farmers, ranchers, and other businesses.

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released their final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule–known as the “Clean Water Rule” in EPA lingo–that claims jurisdiction over vast swaths of the country.

In a statement EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claimed, “This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters.” In reality, the rule does this by claiming federal jurisdiction over a huge number of waters.

Inside the 299 pages of regulations, definitions, explanations, and justifications for the rule, “adjacent” waters now under federal regulatory authority “include wetlands, ponds, lakes, oxbows, impoundments, and similar water features” that are “in the 100-year floodplain and that are within 1,500 feet” (five football fields) of a navigable water. The entire body of water is “adjacent” even if only a portion of it falls within the 100-year floodplain or within 1,500 feet of a navigable water.

While EPA and the Army Corps claim that WOTUS clarifies what waters are under federal jurisdiction, in agriculture’s case, nothing is clarified. The rule states [emphasis mine]:

Waters in which normal farming, ranching, and silviculture activities occur instead will continue to be subject to case-specific review, as they are today.

In fact, under this new definition bodies of water or wetlands over three-quarters of a mile from an navigable water could fall under federal jurisdiction if the federal government decides that it significantly affects another body of water [emphasis mine]:

[W]aters within 4,000 feet of the high tide line or the ordinary high water mark of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, the territorial seas, impoundments, or covered tributary are subject to case-specific significant nexus determinations.

The agencies claim they “do not anticipate that there will be numerous circumstances in which this provision will be utilized,” but who is to say the ever-growing Regulatory State won’t make this its default tool in its water regulation toolbox. Regulators’ best wishes are no guarantee that an agency’s power will be limited.

With federal jurisdiction comes costly federal permitting. “Over $1.7 billion is spent each year by the private and public sectors obtaining wetlands permits,” wrote the U.S. Chamber and 375 other associations in a comment on WOTUS to EPA and the Army Corps.

William Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs, said the process the agencies used to write the rule was “fundamentally flawed.”

Since issuing the proposed rule for public comment in April 2014, the agencies have somehow maintained that the proposal will have no significant regulatory or economic impact, and in fact the agency is simply ‘clarifying’ the current state of federal jurisdiction over waters. Such statements fly in the face reality.

Despite appeals from constituents and lawmakers across the country; countless business owners, farmers and industry leaders; and the Small Business Administration, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct any meaningful regulatory or economic impact analyses prior to issuing a final rule.

The Chamber filed lengthy public comments identifying exactly how the proposal could affect businesses of all sizes, including local municipalities, and requested the agencies convene a small business review panel to study and evaluate those impacts. Numerous state, local and business stakeholders and the Small Business Administration (twice) echoed that request, to no avail.

In a blog post prior to WOTUS being released, Kovacs worried that the water rule “would put [EPA] effectively in charge of zoning the entire country.”

Kovacs isn’t alone in criticizing the rulemaking process. While explaining that WOTUS will expand federal authority, Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, told a Senate Committee it was “incorrect” for EPA and the Corps to claim that the regulation won’t have “a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.”

It was no holds barred in the administration’s defense of its controversial rule. President Obama’s top environmental advisor Brian Deese said, “The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who threaten our clean water.”

Tell that to farmers, ranchers, home builders, and other businesses. They understand that clean water means everything to their customers and their businesses. Federal regulators going over the heads of local and state officials accomplishes little but adding more barriers to job creation and economic development.

With WOTUS businesses will be up a creek without a paddle.

Obama Keeps Telling Renewable Energy Lies

Imagine you wanted to get in your electric car and drive a considerable distance. It wouldn’t take long for your car to run out of power, so you would have to have another car, one using gasoline, to drive behind you to make sure you reached your destination.

That’s a description of “renewable energy”, wind and solar, in America today because they both require backup from traditional energy sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. And “renewable energy” based on “free” sun and wind power costs more to produce and purchase. Need it be said that the sun does not always shine consistently everywhere or at night and that the wind does not always blow?

Within twenty-four hours of one another I received a news release from the Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition celebrating the election of a new chairman and vice chairman, and read a CNN news article saying that “The White House wants to put more returning servicemen and women to work manufacturing and installing solar panels” as part of “his growing list of climate actions meant to combat global warming.”

That list was a twelve-page long, single-spaced White House fact sheet. The White House seems to think that the states can do something about “climate change”, but the climate is measured in decades and centuries, not whether it is going to rain next Monday which is something we call “the weather.” And just as you can do nothing about the rain, neither can you do anything to affect the climate decades from now.

The White House has a problem. There is no “global warming.” Even if you change the name to “climate change”, the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle for the last eighteen years.

For the past 5,000 years humans have, as often as not, “done something” about the climate by moving somewhere else it was less of a bother and threat or found ways to adapt. Other than prayer, there was and is nothing humans can do about Mother Nature.

Most surely, getting veterans to manufacture solar panels is about as lame and stupid an idea as the President has proposed in the last 24 hours. Does the name “Solyndra” ring a bell? It was one of several solar farms that, along with wind farms went belly-up, leaving investors and consumers with nothing but the sunlight and passing breezes.

Indeed, the best news of late has been that the U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to extend the federal wind Production Tax Credit (PCT) for another five years. The wind producers have benefitted from it for three decades. The federal subsidy to wind-energy producers expired along with other tax breaks at the end of 2013, but was retroactively extended through 2014 as part of the Cromnibus budget bill passed last December.

The PCT was intended to provide what was a then-new energy industry a helping hand, but it kept being extended and the industry benefitted as well from renewable energy mandates (REM) in 29 states and the District of Columbia. They require that a specific amount of electricity be purchased from renewable energy, wind or solar, producers. All that managed to do was drive up the cost of electricity to consumers. This is what happens when politicians get involved.

That’s a good reason to wonder why there is a Governors Wind Power Coalition in the first place. It consists of 23 Democratic and Republican governors from every region of the nation “working together to develop the nation’s wind energy resources”, but the nation doesn’t need wind energy which produces an unpredictable amount as opposed to traditional resources such as coal.

At the same time the President is talking about solar and wind power, his administration is pursuing a relentless “war” on coal that is forcing the primary source of electricity in America, coal-fired plants, to shut down. If that doesn’t sound like treason, then consider too that the U.S. is the greatest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and we have at least two century’s worth of known coal reserves. We have absolutely no need for wind or solar energy.

When Obama gave his State of the Union speech in 2014, solar power represented a pathetic 0.2 percent of the U.S. electricity supply according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. According to the Energy Research Institute, in 2013 wind power provided 1.6% of all the energy consumed in the U.S.

There isn’t a single good reason for either wind or solar power in an energy powerhouse like the United States. They are both costly, unpredictable, and a threat to a number of animal species. Neither the science, the cost, nor the recent history of “renewable energy” provides a single good reason to force Americans to pay for this “green” failure.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The EPA Myth of “Clean Power”

There are many things I do not like about the Environmental Protection Agency, but what angers me most are the lies that stream forth from it to justify programs that have no basis in fact or science and which threaten the economy.

Currently, its “Clean Power” plan is generating its latest and most duplicitous Administer, Gina McCarthy, to go around saying that it will not be costly, nor cost jobs. “Clean Power” is the name given to the EPA policy to reduce overall U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It is requiring each state to cut its emissions by varying amounts using a baseline established by the EPA.

Simply said, there is no need whatever to reduce CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is not “a pollutant” as the EPA claims. It is, along with oxygen for all living creatures, vital to the growth of all vegetation. The more CO2 the better crops yields will occur, healthier forests, and greener lawns. From a purely scientific point of view, it is absurd to reduce emissions.

Cartoon - EPA Torture ReportWriting in The Wall Street Journal on April 22, Kenneth C. Hill, Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, said “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set off a firestorm when he advised states not to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Yet that advice isn’t as radical as his detractors make it sound. As a state public utilities commissioner who deals with the effects of federal regulations on a regular basis, I also recommend that states not comply.”

Noting its final due date in June, that refusal would impose a Federal Implementation Plan on states “that risks even greater harm,” said Hill. “But the problem for the EPA is that the federal government lacks the legal authority under either the Constitution or the Clean Air Act to enforce most of the regulation’s ‘building blocks’ without states’ acquiescence.”

As this is being written there is are two joined cases before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, State of West Virginia v EPA and Murray Energy v EPA. They are a challenge to President Obama’s “War on Coal” and the EPA efforts to regulate its use. Fifteen states, along with select coal companies, have sued for an “extraordinary whit” to prevent the EPA from promulgating the new carbon regulations found it the Clean Power plan.

Writing in The Hill, Richard O. Faulk, an attorney and senior director for Energy Natural Resources and the Environment for the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University, noted that “The EPA’s argument confidently hinges on convincing the courts that the Clean Air Act doesn’t mean what it says. By its plain language, the bill prohibits the EPA from regulating the power plants from which these emissions derive. Moreover, coal plants are already addressed under an entirely different section of the bill than the one EPA insists justifies its powers.”

The latest news as reported by Myron Ebell, the director for energy and environment of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is that “Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) this week introduced a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. S. 1324, the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, has 26 original co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).”

“Both Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Inhofe have said that they are determined to stop EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, so I expect quick action to move Capito’s bill. In the House, a bill to block the rules, H. R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, was voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on 29th April and is awaiting floor action.”

It’s worth noting that, when Obama took office, fifty percent of America’s electrical energy was supplied by coal-fired plants and, just six years later, that has been reduced by ten percent. What kind of President would deliberately reduce American’s access to affordable power?

It’s the same kind of President that believes—or says he does—the pronouncements of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report” claims that world will face “severe, pervasive and irreversible damage” if coal-fired and other carbon-based—coal, oil, and natural gas—energy sources aren’t replaced with “renewable energy sources”—wind and solar—by 2050. It wants fossil-fueled power generation “phased out almost entirely by 2100.” Now this is just insanity, unless your agenda is to destroy the world’s economic system and kill millions. That would be the only outcome of the IPCC recommendations.

The columnist Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston, points out that “As for expecting renewables to fill in the power curve, European Union experiences offer a painful reality check. Approximately 7.8 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from wind, 4.5 percent from solar. Large as a result, German households already fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe—often as much as 30 percent above the levels seen in other European countries. Power interruptions add to buyer’s remorse.”

Heartland - Climate News (2)As reported in The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, “European governments, once at the vanguard of renewable energy mandates, appear to be having second thoughts about their reliance on giant wind farms…” There has been a sharp drop in such projects with installations plunging 90% in Denmark, 75% in Italy, and 84% in Spain.

What the EPA is attempting to impose on America is a drain on our production of electricity coupled with an increase in its price. It is an obscene attack on our economy.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Shutterstock.

Earth Month: 22 Ways to Think about the Climate-Change Debate

Reasoned agnosticism is a welcome antidote to hysteria by MAX BORDERS.

Reasonable people can disagree about the nature and extent of climate change. But no one should sally forth into this hostile territory without reason and reflection.

“Some scientists make ‘period, end of story’ claims,” writes biologist and naturalist Daniel Botkin in the Wall Street Journal, “that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn’t happening.”

These scientists, as well as the network of activists and cronies their science supports, I will refer to as the Climate Orthodoxy. These are the folks who urge, generally, that (a) global warming is occurring, (b) it is almost entirely man-made, and (c) it is occurring at a rate and severity that makes it an impending planetary emergency requiring political action. A Climate Agnostic questions at least one of those premises.

Trying to point out the problems of the Climate Orthodoxy to its adherents is like trying to talk the Archbishop of Canterbury into questioning the existence of God. In that green temple, many climatologists and climate activists have become one in the same: fueled both by government grants and zealous fervor.

Room for debate

But the debate must go on, even as the atmosphere for dialogue gets increasingly polluted. The sacralization of climate is being used as a great loophole in the rule of law, an apology for bad science (and even worse economics), and an excuse to do anything and everything to have and keep power.

Those with a reasoned agnosticism about the claims of the Climate Orthodoxy will find themselves in debate. It’s April 22nd — Earth Day. So I want to offer 22 ways to think about the climate-change debate. I hope these points will give those willing to question man-made climate change some aid and comfort.

1. Consider the whole enchilada

First, let’s zoom out a few orders of magnitude to look at the Climate Orthodoxy as a series of dots that must be connected, or better, a series of premises that must be accepted in their totality.

  • The earth is warming.
  • The earth is warming primarily due to the influence of human beings engaged in production and energy use.
  • Scientists are able to limn most of the important phenomena associated with a warming climate, disentangling the human from the natural influence, extending backward well into the past.
  • Scientists are able then to simulate most of the phenomena associated with a warming earth and make reasonable predictions, within the range of a degree or two, into the future about 100 years.
  • Other kinds of scientists are able to repackage this information and make certain kinds of global predictions about the dangers a couple of degrees will make over that hundred years.
  • Economists are able to repackage those predictions and make yet further predictions about the economic costs and benefits that accompany those global predictions.
  • Other economists then make further predictions based on what the world might be like if the first set of economists is right in its predictions (which were based on the other scientists’ predictions, and so on) — and then they propose what the world might look like if certain policies were implemented.
  • Policymakers are able to take those economists’ predictions and set policies that will ensure what is best for the people and the planet on net.
  • Those policies are implemented in such a way that they work. They have global unanimity, no defections, no corruption, and a lessening of carbon-dioxide output that has a real effect on the rate of climate change — enough to pull the world out of danger.
  • Those policies are worth the costs they will impose on the peoples of the world, especially the poorest.

That is a lot to swallow. And yet, it appears that the Climate Orthodoxy requires we accept all of it. Otherwise, why would the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publish a document called “Summary for Policymakers”?

2. Models are not evidence

The problem with models is that they are not reality. Whenever we try to model complex systems like the climate, we’re only getting a simulacrum of a system, designed to represent projected scenarios. So when a climatologist presents a model as evidence, he is playing a kind of game. He wants you to think, by dint of computer wizardry, that he has drawn for you a picture of the world as it is. But he hasn’t. And if observation of surface temperatures over the last 18 years has shown one thing, it’s that climate models have been inadequate tools for forecasting complex natural phenomena.

3. Forecast is not observation 

In the first IPCC assessment of 1992, the authors wrote, “Scenarios are not predictions of the future and should not be used as such.” Whether one views the models as predictions or as scenarios, the evidence is barely within the most conservative of these in the most recent assessment, which is essentially designed to hide good news.

When one attempts to forecast — that is, to tell the future — one is not engaging in observation. That is not to claim that prediction isn’t a part of the scientific enterprise; it’s simply to say that when one’s predictions (or scenarios) are off, one’s theory is suspect, and it must be modified and tested again. Any theory, and any forecast scenarios on which it’s based, have to be tested in the crucible of observation. The Climate Orthodoxy has thus far failed that test.

4. Climate systems are complex

As I alluded to above, climate systems are complex systems. And complex systems are notoriously immune to certain types of prediction and forecast. As Edward Lorenz famously taught us when he coined the term “butterfly effect,” the slightest changes in initial conditions can give rise to wild, unpredictable outcomes in the system. It’s no different for a simulation. “I realized,” said Lorenz of his findings, “that any physical system that behaved non-periodically would be unpredictable.” Now, those concerned about climate change will try to use this perspective to suggest changes to the atmosphere could cause wild, unpredictable climatic catastrophes. And that might turn out to be true. (But it might not. We’ll discuss Pascal’s Climate Wager later.) What we should be concerned about for now is how easy it is for a single tiny error (or purposeful fudge) in a climate model to generate ranges that, though they can feed hysteria, are out of touch with reality.

5. Garbage in equals garbage out

Complex systems also make modeling difficult to undertake because a model is a kind of simulation whose success turns on the accuracy of inputs. Computer scientists have an apt saying for such simulations: “Garbage in, garbage out.” If any of your variables are in error, your results are suspect. And the more variables you introduce, the more likely you are to introduce errors. But for the model to resemble reality, you have to be more granular by including more and more variables that represent causal relationships in the world. As more variables get introduced, the likelihood of introducing false inputs goes up proportionally. And those errors compound. In The Black Swan, Nicolas Nassim Taleb writes:

Simply, we are facing nonlinearities and magnifications of errors coming from the so-called butterfly effects … actually discovered by Lorenz using weather forecasting models. Small changes in input, coming from measurement error, can lead to massively divergent projections — and that generously assumes we have the right equations.

In other words, the lower “res” the model, the less it conforms to reality’s details. The higher “res” the model, the more likely it is to be infected with errors. This is one of the great paradoxes of modeling.

6. Data can be detached

The problem with numbers is that they’re sometimes detached from the phenomena they’re meant to describe. If we see a record of a person’s body temperature from 1969 — at 99.1 degrees — we might assume he had a fever. But knowing the context of that measurement may lead us to tell a different story about what caused his temperature at that time: for example, that the man had been sitting in a hot tub. Climate data from the past can offer even less context, clarity, and accuracy.

But let’s suppose all the world’s thermometers — both satellite and land — have neither heat-island effects nor any other distortions, and that they offer an accurate description of the earth’s temperature. Let us also assume that the temperature readings over the last hundred years are completely accurate and represent the planet as a whole, and that the temperature data derived from inferential methods such as ice core samples and tree rings also paint an accurate picture of surface temperatures well into the past, which is doubtful.

We are still left with a problem: We cannot simply look at the outputs of the climate system (temperature), because they are linked to all-important inputs — that is, those factors that caused any changes in temperature. The inability for climate scientists to tell a more conclusive causal story about factors in past warming is another reason to remain agnostic about trends over longer timescales.

7. Decomposability is a virtual impossibility

Another serious problem with the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is that, if it is a theory at all, it seems to be a cluster of interconnected theories and interconnected models. Let that settle for a moment. Consider that the IPCC, the central climate-science organization whose job is to give the definitive word on climate change, has to assemble the work of hundreds, maybe thousands, of scientists and weave it into a comprehensive report. But as Norgaard and Baer write in Bioscience, “Models developed and heretofore interpreted within individual scientific communities are taken out of their hands, modified, and used with other models in ways over which the original scientific communities no longer have control.”

Now, in stitching together the various individual theories, studies, and models of such a diverse and inevitably error-prone community, the problem goes deeper. Never mind that the IPCC central committee has deep incentives to interpret the data in a way that creates the impression of a single, uniform theory. Suppose that every climate scientist that gets picked by the IPCC for its report claims 95 percent confidence. Even if each scientist were 95 percent certain of his particular prediction or set of parameters, we can’t be so certain about the agglomeration of 10 scientists’ opinions about disparate phenomena, much less 50. Nor can any given scientist be 95 percent confident about the work of any other scientist.

8. Stats stand in for certainty

People crave certainty, and politicians want to provide it. So when we hear that a scientist is 95 percent confident about his or her conclusions, we feel like that’s close enough, derived as it presumably is through some sort of statistical analysis. “Yet since things are ultimately uncertain,” writes theoretical mathematician William Byers:

We satisfy this need by creating artificial islands of certainty. We create models of reality and then insist that the models are reality. It is not that science, mathematics, and statistics do not provide useful information about the real world. The problem lies in making excessive claims for the validity of these methods and models and believing them to be absolutely certain.

Byers’s book The Blind Spot: Science and the Crisis of Uncertainty is a welcome antidote to this sort of scientific hubris.

Climatologist Judith Curry put matters a little differently. When a journalist asked her how the 95 percent number was determined, she replied, “The 95% is basically expert judgment, it is a negotiated figure among the authors. The increase from 90–95% means that they are more certain. How they can justify this is beyond me.”

The reporter then asked if it was really all so subjective. Curry’s reply: “As far as I know, this is what goes on. All this has never been documented.”

9. AGW might not be a theory at all

What makes a scientific theory a theory at all? This has been debated among philosophers of science, but most people generally agree that a certain set of minimum criteria should be in place. Among them, at least, are these:

  1. Is the theory testable? Can we formulate hypotheses grounded in the theory, then figure out a way to test the hypotheses?
  2. Is the theory falsifiable? Is there evidence that could call the theory into question? What evidence would exclude the theory?
  3. Does the theory unify? Does the theory unify seemingly unrelated phenomena under a single explanatory framework?

AGW is not testable in any laboratory sense, of course, but many natural phenomena are not. And yet we’ve already discussed the problems of testing models against available evidence — considering the models’ hypotheses and seeing whether these track with what we can observe. One might argue that models stand for hypotheses, and suffice for a testability criterion. But this is unclear.

Perhaps the most damning of the three for AGW is the falsifiability criterion. That is, the Orthodoxy has created a situation in which models play a major role in the theoretical framework. But when the models fail to track with observation, the Orthodoxy claims the timescales are not sufficient to determine a climate trend — for example, that discussing the pause of the last 18 years is “cherry picking.” Fair enough. But then what sort of data wouldcount to falsify the theory? And what, going forward, is a time scale sufficient to determine a climate trend? 100 years?

If we accept these longer timescales as sufficient to smooth out natural variability, we might reasonably ask the Orthodoxy to remain agnostic about AGW while another 70 years of data come in. (After all, they have had to rely on spurious proxies to “trick” temperature trends in the past.) But the Orthodoxy then changes tack and argues that’s too long to wait! After all, we might be going through an emergency that requires immediate action. So, despite the insufficient timescale, they expect everyone to accept the climate consensus as the basis for policymakers’ faith-based initiatives.

Finally, does AGW unify diverse phenomena under a single explanatory framework? AGW is meant to explain everything from ocean acidification to melting sea ice, to rising sea levels, to regional desertification. The trouble is with the explanatory part. When taken in isolation, each of these purported consequences of global warming either aren’t happening as predicted, or, if they are, they can be explained by factors outside AGW theory. So it’s not clear that AGW satisfies any unification criterion, either.

10. It’s matter of degree

What if the Climate Orthodoxy is wrong and the “lukewarmists” like Judith Curry turn out to be right? If we look at the empirical data over the last 30 years or so, they might be. As Rational Optimist author writes, “I found myself persuaded by the middle-of-the-road, ‘lukewarm’ argument — that CO2-induced warming is likely but it won’t be large, fast or damaging.” The Climate Orthodoxy might have been hyperventilating over a degree of warming over a century. (And, of course, policies driven by hysteria could mean the poorest people might be prevented from joining the middle class for the sake of an almost imperceptible change.)

11. Pascal’s Climate Wager

Suppose we all agreed that 100 years of accurate temperature data would be sufficient to determine a climate trend. The Climate Orthodoxy argues that we must act now to prevent climate change, in case they are right. People familiar with theology will recall this is the analogous to Pascal’s Wager, in which 17th-century Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal tells us we’d better believe in God, Heaven, and Hell. If we believe and we’re wrong, we haven’t lost anything, according to Pascal. But if we disbelieve and we’re wrong, we have eternity to suffer. Similarly, we must believe, suffer, and sacrifice now to stave off climate change.

There are a number of problems with this rationale, but the biggest one is rather ironic. There is no viable political climate solution currently on the table that is capable of mitigating any predicted warming. Taking the IPCC’s own assumptions, Patrick Michaels and Paul “Chip” Knappenberger found that there is no winning “wager” here:

Assuming the IPCC’s value for climate sensitivity (i.e., disregarding the recent scientific literature) and completely stopping all carbon dioxide emissions in the US between now and the year 2050 and keeping them at zero, will only reduce the amount of global warming by just over a tenth of a degree (out of a total projected rise of 2.619°C between 2010 and 2100).

If you think that a rise of 2.482°C is vastly preferable to a rise of 2.619°C then all you have to do is set the carbon tax large enough to drive U.S. emissions to zero by mid-century — oh yeah, and sell that tax to the American people.

So even if all the models turn out to be true, there is little we can do with policy at this point. So unlike Pascal’s Wager, there is no amount of repenting and belief that could save us. We’re either all going to climate hell, anyway, or something ain’t right. The whole conversation about “climate action” appears to be moot at this point. Don’t believe it? Check the Handy Dandy Climate Temperature Savings Calculator.

12. The debate is not over, and the science is not settled

Freeman Dyson, a brilliant theoretical physicist, is no man of the right. But he is intellectually honest enough to wear the mantel of “heretic.” Here’s why:

I am especially unimpressed by the claim that a prediction of rapid and dangerous warming is “settled science,” as firm as evolution or gravity. How could it be? It is a prediction! No prediction, let alone in a multi-causal, chaotic and poorly understood system like the global climate, should ever be treated as gospel. With the exception of eclipses, there is virtually nothing scientists can say with certainty about the future. It is absurd to argue that one cannot disagree with a forecast. Is the Bank of England’s inflation forecast infallible?

Indeed. And to say that the debate is over is not to say that those willing to debate have nothing to say. It is rather to say that you have turned off your curiosity, your humility, and your willingness to engage in discourse so that you can get what you want.

And what should we say about all this “consensus” talk? Science writer Ronald Bailey (no agnostic about climate change) wisely says:

One should always keep in mind that a scientific consensus crucially determines and limits the questions researchers ask. And one should always worry about to what degree supporters of any given scientific consensus risk succumbing to confirmation bias. In any case, the credibility of scientific research is not ultimately determined by how many researchers agree with it or how often it is cited by like-minded colleagues, but whether or not it conforms to reality.

13. Climate science isn’t climate policy

One of the biggest problems with the Climate Orthodoxy is that one set of experts that is cocksure about the science really has no expertise in the economics of climate change or in climate-change policy. How in the world is an expert in albedo effects going to have anything meaningful to say about whether climate change is good or bad for the world today — much less 50 years into the future? This profound disconnect has never stopped scientists like James Hansen from advocating for certain types of policies.

Seeing this disconnect, however, the Orthodoxy has begun training up so-called specialists in the economics of climate change, led by such “experts” as Sir Nicholas Stern, whose models and predictions are the stuff of both speculation and spectacle. More tempered in his prognostications is Yale’s William Nordhaus, but economists such as Robert Murphy offer very good reasons to question Nordhaus’s almanac, as well.

If you think modeling the climate is hard, try modeling an economy. As economist Arnold Kling writes,

I think that if the press were aware of the intellectual history and lack of scientific standing of the models, it would cease rounding up these usual suspects. Macroeconometrics stands discredited among mainstream academic economists. Applying macroeconometric models to questions of fiscal policy is the equivalent of using pre-Copernican astronomy to launch a satellite or using bleeding to treat an infection.

Whatever the pedigree of the economist, his laurels, or his letters, mixing macrometeorology with macroeconomics is like trying to read tea leaves.

14. The climate orthodoxy is inherently corruptive

Here’s the heretic Dyson again:

The politicians and the public expect science to provide answers to the problems. Scientific experts are paid and encouraged to provide answers. The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, “Sorry, but we don’t know.”

He’s right. It is nearly impossible to inoculate science from the influence of those who pay the bills. As I wrote in “The Climate Complex Strikes Back” (Freeman, February 2015), “That government money shouldn’t corrupt is just another application of the unicorn fallacy so common among well-meaning greens.” And it’s even tougher not to develop blind spots and biases when those who fund you claim to be on the side of the angels. That is why we must put our faith not in centralized hierarchies of experts but in the Republic of Science itself.

15. Reasoned agnosticism is not “denial”

Godwin’s law surfaces quickly in the debates about global warming. Here’s Botkin again:

For me, the extreme limit of this attitude was expressed by economist Paul Krugman, also a Nobel laureate, who wrote in hisNew York Times column in June, “Betraying the Planet” that “as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.” What had begun as a true scientific question with possibly major practical implications had become accepted as an infallible belief (or if you’re on the other side, an infallible disbelief), and any further questions were met, Joe-McCarthy style, “with me or agin me.”

Of course, the term “denier” is meant to evoke Holocaust denial.

16. AGW might be beneficial on net

If Stern and Nordhaus (see #11) can engage in economic speculation, then we can, too. In fact, when we look back at warmer periods in the history of civilization, we see relative flourishing.

According to Matt Ridley, writing in the UK Spectator, Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University aggregated 14 major academic papers about the future effects of climate change. Tol determined that things look rosier than the Orthodoxy would have us believe:

Professor Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2°C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper). This means approximately 3°C from pre-industrial levels, since about 0.8°C of warming has happened in the last 150 years.

And in a more recent paper, Tol looks back over the last 100 years. He concludes that climate change raised human and environmental welfare during the 20th century:

By how much? He calculates by 1.4 per cent of global economic output, rising to 1.5 per cent by 2025. For some people, this means the difference between survival and starvation.

Sure, it’s speculative, even looking back. But isn’t it just as likely that there will be benefits as costs? It might turn out that if the planet does warm a couple of degrees, there will be new forms of flourishing.

17. One hundred years of certitude

One wonders what people in 1915 would have thought about our lives today. The pace of technological change has been staggering. And though a few people tried to make predictions, they were not cut out for the task. Likewise, we cannot readily say what forms of energy we’ll use, and what technologies they will power. As Troy University economist Daniel Sutter reminds us,

A dynamic market economy will feature too much creative destruction to allow detailed planning for the distant future. Nothing is sure in a market economy ten years from now, much less 100 years, and discounting in cost-benefit analysis simply reflects this reality. The economic future becomes more predictable when government controls economic activity, but then stagnation results. Discounting in climate change economics tells us to create wealth to protect future generations. Economic freedom and the institutions of the market economy, not central planning of energy use, is the prudent policy approach to a changing climate.

Inherent in our inability adequately to plan and predict is a recommendation that we adapt instead.

18. Adaptation as policy prescription

If the climate is warming some, and it might be, then what is the best policy? One can make a powerful case for adaptation. Adaptation is not about doing nothing. It means liberalizing the world on a number of dimensions of economic freedom to ensure that countries are rich enough to be resilient. A wealthy and adaptive people like the Dutch can figure out how to live with rising waters. A rich and resilient people like the Hong Kong Chinese can figure out how to build a city-state on a rock in 50 years. A rich and resilient citizenry of the world should be able to handle what a degree or two of change in average global temperature has in store for us — especially as we will undergo untold technological transformations over the next decade or two.

19. Climate policy has a defector problem

The problem with climate-change policies like carbon taxes is that they require near-global unanimity to work. That is, if the United States adopts a carbon tax, energy becomes more expensive for Americans. But if energy becomes more expensive here, it might be less expensive in other parts of the world. And, indeed, businesses and the energy industry will engage in energy arbitrage. Developing countries like India, China, Brazil, and Russia will welcome these energy arbitrageurs with open arms. They might develop even as we stagnate. And they should: they are lifting billions of people out of poverty. But there’s a problem here for climate policy. Every signatory to a climate treaty has strong incentives to defect. And as defectors do their thing, carbon continues to pour into the atmosphere. Nothing changes to mitigate climate change; industry simply shifts around.

20. Climate policy has an efficacy problem

Suppose we don’t accept Pascal’s Climate Wager and we conclude that no climate policy under consideration will do much to mitigate warming. Those who claim that action is vital respond to this claim by saying, “We have to start somewhere!” But if you’re conceding that no policy under consideration does very much, why would you start with a failed policy? It appears to be more empty rhetoric used to justify an unprecedented level of taxation designed to feed some of the most insatiable and predatory governments in the world.

21. Climate policy has a corruption problem

Earlier, I suggested that the Climate Orthodoxy has a corruptive influence on science. We shouldn’t stop there. The “climate industrial complex“ is large and growing. Scores of green energy companies are on the take, donating campaign contributions to politicians who control the purse strings at the Department of Energy. Legacy energy utilities lick their chops, seeing opportunities to game the system in a carbon-tax environment that is unfavorable to their competitors. Traders get in on energy credit schemes. Green NGOs play “Baptists” to all the corporate “bootleggers,” and when you scrutinize it all — including the billions of dollars the federal government pours into the “science” — the whole things starts to smell like one festering pile of corruption.

22. The confidence game

If you’re feeling uncertain, consider that the Climate Orthodoxy has to do everything it can to pull members of the public like you into assent. Here’s one final nod to Dyson:

The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities. So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas, which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed.

If you are a Climate Agnostic, that’s okay. (You won’t burn at the stake; you’ll merely burn in the heat of a baking planet.)

Postscript: We are creative conservationists

As the world changes for this reason or that, we are growing richer, stronger, smarter, and more resilient. We are becoming more conscious about the environment and its natural treasures. On almost every environmental dimension — including air quality, water quality, the extent of forestland, and the return of wildlife — things are getting better. Whether you think most of these gains are a consequence of environmental regulations or improvements in market efficiencies, one thing is clear: wealthier is healthier. We should continue to cherish the beauty of the planet and continue to grow economically so we can afford to protect its wonders. Being agnostic about climate change does not require that we stop loving Planet Earth, it only means keeping a cool head and an open mind, even when the discourse overheats.

Max Borders

Max Borders is the editor of the Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

The Environmental Insane Asylum

Earth Day was declared in 1970 and for the past 45 years we have all been living in the Environmental Insane Asylum, being told over and over again to believe things that are the equivalent of Green hallucinations. Now the entire month of April has been declared Earth Month, but in truth not a day goes by when we are not assailed with the bold-faced lies that comprise environmentalism.

Around the globe, the worst part of this is that we are being victimized by people we are told to respect from the President of the United States to the Pope of the Catholic Church. Their environmentalism is pure socialism.

Organizations whom we expect to tell the truth keep telling us that “climate change is one of the biggest global security threats of the 21st century.” This was a recent statement by “world leaders” like the G7, a group of finance ministers and central bank governors of seven advanced economies, the International Monetary Fund, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. On April 17 they adopted a report about the “threat” put together by think tanks that included the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

When I speak of “climate” I am referring to data gathered not just about decades, but centuries of the Earth’s cycles of warming and cooling. When I speak of “weather”, the closest any of us get to it other than today’s, are local predictions no longer than a few days’ time at best. The weather is in a constant state of flux.

Climate change is not a threat and most certainly there is no global warming. As Prof. Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook College in Queensland, Australia, has written, “For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco.”

The fact that the Earth is now into the nineteenth year of a natural planetary cooling cycle seems to never be acknowledged or reported. “The problem here,” says Prof. Carter, “is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike.”

In a book I recommend to everyone, “Climate for the Layman” by Anthony Bright-Paul, he draws on the best well-known science about the Earth noting that “Since there is no such thing as a temperature of the whole Earth all talk of global warming is simply illogical, ill thought out, and needs to be discarded for the sake of clarity. The globe is warming and cooling in different locations concurrently every minute of the day and night.”

“Since it is abundantly clear that there is no one temperature of the atmosphere all talk of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is simply an exercise in futility.” A look at the globe from either of its two poles to its equator and everything in between tells us with simple logic that being able to determine its “temperature” is impossible. The Earth, however, has gone through numerous warming and cooling cycles, all of which were the result of more or less solar radiation.

The Sun was and is the determining factor. The assertion that humans have any influence or impact that can determine whether the Earth is warmer or cooler is absurd.

The Earth had passed through warming and cooling cycles for billions of years before humans even existed, yet we are told that the generation of carbon dioxide through the use of machinery in manufacturing, transportation or any other use is causing the build-up of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. We are told to give up the use of coal, oil and natural gas. That is a definition of insanity!

Here’s the simple truth that most people are not told: The Sun warms the Earth and the Earth warms the atmosphere.

As for carbon dioxide, the amount generated by human activity represents a miniscule percentage of the 0.04% in the Earth’s atmosphere. There has been more carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere—well before humans existed—contributing to the growth of all manner of vegetation which in turn generated oxygen.

Without carbon dioxide there would be no life on Earth. It feeds the vegetation on which animal life depends directly and indirectly. As Anthony Bright-Paul says, “A slight increase in atmosphere of carbon dioxide will not and cannot produce any warming, but can be hugely beneficial to a green planet.”

The Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 0.9% Argon, 0.04% Carbon Dioxide, and the rest is water vapor and trace gases in very small amounts. They interact to provide an environment in which life, animal and vegetable, exists on Earth.

When you live in a Global Environmental Insane Asylum, you are not likely to hear or read the truth, but you can arrive at it using simple logic. We know instinctively that humans do not control the waves of our huge oceans, nor the vast tectonic plates beneath our feet, the eruptions of volcanoes, the Jetstream, cloud formation, or any of the elements of the weather we experience, such as thunder, lightning, and other acts of Nature.

Why would we blindly assume or agree to the torrent of lies that humans are “causing” climate change? The answer is that on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, we will be deluged with the propaganda of countless organizations worldwide that we are, in fact, endangering a “fragile” planet Earth. We hear and read that every other day of the year as well.

The achievement of the human race and the last 5,000 years of so-called civilization is the way we have learned to adapt to Nature by creating habitats from villages to cities in which to survive and because we have devised a vast global agricultural and ranching system to feed seven billion of us.

As for the weather, John Christy, the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, says he cringes “when I hear overstated confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next one hundred years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system’s behavior over the next five days.”

“Mother Nature,” says Christy, “simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, behind the mastery of mere mortals—such as scientists—and the tools available to us.”

Whether it is the President or the Pope, or the countless politicians and bureaucrats, along with multitudes of “environmental” organizations, as well as self-serving “scientists”, all aided by the media, a virtual Green Army has been deliberately deceiving and misleading the citizens of planet Earth for four and a half decades. It won’t stop any time soon, but it must before the charade of environmentalism leaves us all enslaved by the quest for political control over our lives that hides behind it.

We must escape the Environmental Insane Asylum in which they want us to live.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

What Are You Willing to Give Up for Earth Day?

Comrades, Earth Day™ is just around the corner. We’re not talking about Christmas or Easter or Yom Kippur, we’re talking about Lenin’s Birthday!Now some outdated, religious traditions include themes of guilt and forgiveness. You know the routine. We are guilty before God and justly deserving of His punishment, but He lays our sins on His Son, Jesus Christ, and that by believing in Him we can find forgiveness of sin and eternal life. But that’s so two millennia ago.

On the other hand, Earth Day (Lenin’s Birthday!) is so progressive that it offers guilt and more guilt! See, in this advanced, highly evolved, and inclusive belief system, you are guilty before Gaia for exhaling and destroying her atmosphere, turning it into an “open sewer” to quote the Prophet Algore (PBUH). Now with Gaia, there’s none of this nonsense about atonement, justification, or propitiation. Those are big words and too hard for you to understand. You’re guilty because you might drive an SUV, consume food, once used electricity, or maybe you’re just plain white. You may have accessed healthcare to prolong your selfish, resource sucking life, and that means some poor minority child or kitten was denied healthcare – just because of you.

Forgiveness? Are you serious? When it comes to the Green Gospel, there’s only one solution, and that’s extermination. If it wasn’t for man, Bambi’s mother would be alive today instead of having her head mounted over some redneck’s fireplace desecrated with a bandanna and non-union manufactured sunglasses. We need a plan for sustainability. That’s a big word, but what it means is that we get to decide who’s a burden to Earth Mother, and who isn’t.

So who’s guilty, you ask? Probably you. Why do you think you dig holes in the ground on Earth Day? One happy day, perhaps Next Tuesday™, our government will be empowered to recycle its non-productive, Earth exploiting citizens. It’s called giving back, and it’s the only way you can redeem yourself. If we don’t take action now, all the furry animals will be dead in just ten years.

But until Next Tuesday comes along, you need to do your part. You need to confess your guilt. You need to give back. So in the days leading up to Earth Day, you need to tearfully, publicly, and loudly proclaim your sins against Gaia. You need to publish your shame by wearing awareness ribbons and riding a bicycle. In so doing, you induce feelings of necessary guilt in others, and you get a smug sense of self-righteous satisfaction because you care more. What’s not to like?

So come on, comrades, what are you willing to confess and give up in the days left before Earth Day?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Peoples Cube.

Using the Global Warming Hoax to Destroy America

When President Obama announced on March 31 that he intends to ensure that the U.S. will slash its “greenhouse gas emissions” 26% below 2005 emissions levels by 2025 in order to keep pledges made to fulfill the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, he failed to mention that such levels would be comparable to what they were in our Civil War era, 150 years ago.

He also failed to mention that the U.S. has made no such pledges as regards the 1992 “Kyoto Treaty” which was resoundingly rejected by the U.S. Senate when then Vice President Al Gore brought it back from the U.N. conference.

There is no need, globally or nationally, to reduce such emissions. It would be a crime against humanity, especially for the millions that would be denied electrical power or would see its cost rise exponentially. “The President has no credible evidence to back up his claims,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a Research Fellow with the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute. “Obama’s climate actions are likely to cause far more harm to people, especially the poor, than any purported threats from global warming.”

“Global warming” and “climate change” are attributed to the use of fossil fuels to manufacture and transport ourselves and our goods, and to create electrical energy, despite the fact that the Earth, its oceans and land areas naturally generate such gases.

Volcano with SmokeThere are, for example, more than 1500 potentially active volcanoes and countless others under the oceans. They produce billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases that are identified as “greenhouse gas emissions.” The human contribution pales in comparison to natural sources such as the warming ocean surface which releases CO2.

Even so, CO2 constitutes a mere 0.04% of the atmosphere. There is no evidence CO2 plays any role in the Earth’s global temperature.

Do these “greenhouse gas emissions” trap heat? Apparently not because the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle for the past eighteen years breaking and making records for snow and ice. In the 1970s scientists were predicting a new Ice Age. Ten years later they were predicting “global warming.”

Why then is the President intent on slashing “greenhouse gas emissions” when (1) the Earth is not a greenhouse and (2) doing so would harm our economy for decades to come?

The answer lies in his promise to “fundamentally transform” a nation that does not need transformation except for the reduction of the size and scope of the federal government. Its economic system is the best in the world. Its military is the strongest. Its agriculture feeds Americans and is exported to other nations.

As David Rothbard, the president and co-founder of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a free market think tank, noted in the wake of Obama’s announcement, “The President will have to bypass the law-making process and use executive orders and regulations” to achieve his goal of slashing emissions. “To do so requires tortured readings of the Clean Air Act and other current laws.”

Significantly, “the President offers no suitable replacement for the lost generating capacity beyond pointing toward wind and solar which is not up to the task.” When Obama took office, coal-fired plants provided 50% of U.S. electricity. It is now down to 40% and headed lower if Obama has his way.

Rothbard warns that “Global warming campaigners see this presidency and the Paris U.N. Summit as the best chance they are likely to see to take control of American energy. The ramifications are disastrous for American freedom and prosperity.”

This brings us to the what John L. Casey, founder of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC), an independent scientific research organization in Orlando, says about the forthcoming November 30 to December 15 U.N. climate conference in Paris which he describes as “doomed” and that’s the good news.

Its announced goal of imposing global limits on greenhouse gas emissions will not be mandatory and “President Obama has effectively gutted any meaningful agreement among the major industrialized nations, by having granted to the planet’s largest CO2 producer, China, free license to build as many coal power plants as they wish, and emit as many gigatons of greenhouse gases as they wish until 2030.”

This is, in fact, a global trend as many developing nations such as India do the same thing. Nor will they suddenly shut down electricity production fifteen years from now.

This huge, international farce formerly known as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, began as an international treaty created in 1992. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, but pledges to reduce greenhouse gases were made by 33 out of 195 countries, called their “Intended National Determined Contribution” are the main feature at the forthcoming Paris conference.

For all the media attention the President will try to generate for this idiocy, Ken Haapala, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, says “It is unlikely that the current Senate would approve a binding agreement.” Haapala notes that lawmakers that include the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)m and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), “have all insisted that the international agreement the U.N. is working on is a treaty and cannot be enforced without Senate approval.”

Sen. McConnell warned, “Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. Federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”

While most Americans have concluded that “global warming” or “climate change” are low on their list of fears President Obama has elevated this hoax to the top of his agenda for his last two years in office, along with the deal that would give Iran the opportunity to build a nuclear arsenal of weapons.

He doesn’t want to “transform” America. He wants to destroy it.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The $15 Billion Failure to Store Nuclear Waste

“The American people have spent 30 years and $15 billion to determine whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe repository for our nation’s civilian and defense-related nuclear waste.” That’s a quote of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reported in the April issue of The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News.

Compare that with the one year and 45 days it took to build the Empire State Building or the five years it took to build the Hoover Dam in the depths of the Great Depression. In the first half of the last century, Americans knew how to get things done, but the rise of environmentalism in the latter half, starting around the 1970s, has increased the cost and time of any construction anywhere in the U.S. In the case of Yucca Mountain it has raised issues about nuclear waste that is currently stored is less secure conditions.

As reported by CNS News in January, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the final two volumes of a five-volume safety report that concludes that Nevada’s Yucca Mountain meets all of its technical and safety requirements for the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.” Five volumes!

So why the delay? The NRC says the Department of Energy “‘has not met certain land and water rights requirements’ and that other environmental and regulatory hurdles remain.”

Harry ReidA Wall Street Journal editorial on March 30 asserted that It is not about environmental and regulatory hurdles. It is about a deal that Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, cut with President Obama to keep Yucca Mountain from ever opening for use. In return, Reid blocked nearly all amendments to legislation to shield Obama from having to veto bills. He virtually nullified the Senate as a functioning element of our government.

“Since there is no permanent disposal facility, spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear reactors—‘enough to fill a football field 17 meters deep’ according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report—is currently being stored at dozens of above-ground sites. The GAO expects the amount of radioactive waste to double to 140,000 by 2055 when all of the currently operating nuclear reactors are retired.”

The United States where the development of nuclear fission and its use to generate electrical energy occurred is now well behind other nations that have built nuclear facilities and are adding new ones. As Donn Dear, an energy expert with Power For USA, points out “there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction, all by Toshiba-Westinghouse LLC. One other plant, Watts Bar 2, whose construction was held up for several years, is being completed by TVA.”

Meanwhile, as Dear notes, “South Korea is building four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. The Russian company, Rosatom, is building power plants in Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The China National Nuclear Corporation is scheduled to build over twenty nuclear power plants.”

These represent jobs and orders for equipment that are not occurring in the United States, along with the failure to utilize nuclear energy to provide the growing need for electricity here. The same environmental organizations opposing construction here are the same ones supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on coal-fired electrical plants. The irony is, of course, that nuclear plants do not produce carbon dioxide emissions that the Greens blame for the non-existent “global warming”, not called “climate change.”

A cynical and false propaganda campaign has been waged against nuclear energy in the U.S., mostly notably with the Hollywood film, “The China Syndrome” about a reactor meltdown. If you want to worry about radiation, worry about the Sun. It is a major source. Three incidents, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, added to the fears, but no one was harmed by the Three Mile Island event and Chernobyl was an avoidable accident.

More recent was the March 11, 2011 shutdown of the Fukushima reactor in Japan as the result of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Three of its cores melted in the first three days, but there have been no deaths or radiation sickness attributed to this event. That’s the part you’re not told about.

CarterIn the end, all it takes is one ignorant President to set progress back for decades. In this case it was President Jimmy Carter for not allowing reprocessing of nuclear waste, a standard practice in France where only one-fifth of spent fuel requires storage. In the 1980s there were three U.S. corporations leading the way on the introduction and use of nuclear energy to produce electrical power; General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Babcock & Wilcox. Today only Babcock-Wilcox continues as a fully owned American company.

Thanks to President Obama, we have lost another six years on the Yucca Mountain project. That fits with his refusal to permit the Keystone XL pipeline. No energy project that might actually benefit America will ever see his signature.

Some are arguing that America is a nation in decline and they can surely point to the near destruction of our nuclear energy industry as one example. That decline can begin to end in 2017 with the inauguration of a new President.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The EPA Thinks You’re Stupid

The folks at the Environmental Protection Agency, starting with a long line of its administrators that now includes Gina McCarthy, think you and the Congress of the United States are stupid. They have been telling lies for so long they can’t imagine that their chokehold on the American economy will ever end.

EPA Director - Gina McCarthy

EPA Director Gina McCarthy

It is, however, coming to an end and the reason is a Republican-controlled Congress responding to the countless businesses and individuals being ravaged by a ruthless bureaucracy driven by an environmental agenda determined to deprive America of the energy sources vital to our lives and the nation’s existence.

This was on display in early March when Gina McCarthy testified to the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, asking for a nearly $500 million increase in its 2016 budget. The total discretionary budget request would have topped out at $8.6 billion and would reward states nearly $4 billion to go along with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

The problem is that the Clean Power Plan is really about no power or far more costly power in those states where the EPA has been shutting down coal-fired plants that not long ago provided fifty percent of all the electricity in the nation.

In February 2014, the Institute for Energy Research reported:

“More than 72 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generating capacity have already, or are now set to retire because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations. The regulations causing these closures include the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (colloquially called MATS, or Utility MACT), proposed Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), and the proposed regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

To put 72 GW in perspective, that is enough electrical generation capacity to reliably power 44.7 million homes—or every home in every state west of the Mississippi River, excluding Texas. In other words, EPA is shutting down enough generating capacity to power every home in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

EPA - Shutdown of Electricity

Plants closed or soon to be closed. For a larger view click on the map.

Over 94 percent these retirements will come from generating units at coal-fired power plants, shuttering over one-fifth of the U.S.’s coal-fired generating capacity. While some of the effected units will be converted to use new fuels, American families and businesses will pay the price with higher utility bills and less reliability for their electricity.”

What nation would knowingly reduce its capacity to produce the electricity that everyone depends upon?

Answer: The United States of America.

Why? Because the EPA has been telling us that coal-fired plants produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and it is causing ours and the world’s temperature to increase to a point that threatens our lives. They have been claiming that everything from blizzards to droughts, hurricanes to forest fires, are the result of the CO2 that coal-fired plants produce.

That is a huge, stupendous lie.

In the Senate Committee meeting, McCarthy said, “Climate change is real. It is happening. It is a threat. Humans are causing the majority of that threat…the impacts are being felt. Climate change is not a religion. It is not a belief system. It’s a scientific fact. And our challenge is to move forward with the actions we need to protect future generations.”

Climate change is real. It’s been real for 4.5 billion years and it has absolutely nothing to do with anything that humans do, least of all heating, cooling and lighting their homes, running their businesses, and everything else that requires electricity.

McCarthy said that the EPA’s overall goal was to save the planet from rising sea levels, massive storms, and other climate events that impact our lives. No, that’s not why the EPA was created in 1970. Its job was to clean the water and the air. It has done a relatively good job, but its mandate had nothing to do with the climate, nor does the provision of energy have any impact on the climate.

The reverse is true. The climate has a lot of impact on us.

Regarding the “science” McCarthy referred to, according to a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there were record low tornadoes, record low hurricanes, record gain in Arctic and Antarctic ice, no change in the rate of sea levels, and there had been NO WARMING at that point for 17—now 19—years.

When Sen. Jeff Sessions asked McCarthy a number of questions about droughts and hurricanes, she either dodged providing a specific answer or claimed, as with hurricanes, that “I cannot answer that question. It’s a very complicated issue.”

Asked about the computer models on which the EPA makes its regulatory decisions, McCarthy replied, “I do not know what the models actually are predicting that you are referring to.” Sen. Sessions said that it was incredible that the Administrator of the EPA “doesn’t know whether their predictions have been right or wrong.”

As for any “science” the EPA may be using, much of it is SECRET.

Heartland - Climate News (1)H. Sterling Burnett, the managing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, reported on The Secret Science Reform Act (HR 4012) introduced by the House Science Committee late last year. The bill would “prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based on science that is not transparent or reproducible.”

The House passed the Act on November 20, 2014 and it has been received in the Senate, read twice, and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. If it passes the Senate, that will be a giant leap forward in gaining oversight and control of the EPA.

Until then, the EPA’s administrator and staff will continue to work their mischief in the belief that both Congress and the rest of us are stupid. We’re not.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

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The EPA’s Ozone Nightmare

Putting aside its insane attack on carbon dioxide, declaring the most essential gas on Earth, other than oxygen, a “pollutant”, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently engaged in trying to further regulate ozone for no apparent reason other than its incessant attack on the economy.

In late January on behalf of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), Dr. Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D, filed his testimony on the proposed national ambient air quality standard for ozone. The EPA wants to lower the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 70 to 65 ppb, and even as low as 60 ppb.

“After promulgation of the current ozone standards in 2008,” Dr. Cohen noted, “EPA two years later called a temporary halt to the nationwide implementation of the standard in response to the severe recession prevailing at the time.”

In other words, it was deemed bad for the economy. “Now, EPA is proposing a new, more stringent standard even before the current standard has been fully implemented and even though, according to the EPA’s own data, ozone concentrations have declined by 33 percent since 1980.”

AA - Ozone molecule

Ozone molecule.

According to Wikipedia: “Ozone is a powerful oxidant (far more so than dioxygen) and has many industrial and consumer applications related to oxidation. This same high oxidizing potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 ppb. This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level. However, the so-called ozone layer (a portion of the stratosphere with a higher concentration of ozone, from two to eight ppm) is beneficial, preventing damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth’s surface, to the benefit of both plants and animals.”

So, yes, reducing ozone in the ground level atmosphere does have health benefits, but the EPA doesn’t just enforce the Clean Air Act, it also seeks to reinterpret and use it in every way possible to harm the economy.

As Dr. Cohen pointed out, “the Clean Air Act requires EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee to produce an evaluation of the adverse effects, including economic impact, of obtaining and maintaining a tighter standard. Despite repeated requests from Congress, (the Committee) has not produced the legally required evaluation. By ignoring this statutory mandate, and moving ahead with its ozone rulemaking, EPA is showing contempt for the rule of law and for the taxpayers who provide the agency’s funding.”

Since President Obama took office in 2009 he has used the EPA as one of his primary tools to harm the U.S. economy. In a Feb 2 Daily Caller article, Michael Bastasch reported that “Tens of thousands of coal mine and power plant workers have lost their jobs under President Obama, and more layoffs could be on the way as the administration continues to pile on tens of billions of dollars in regulatory costs.”

The American Coal Council’s CEO Betsy Monseu also testified regarding the proposed ozone standards, noting that the increased reductions would affect power plants, industrial plants, auto, agriculture, commercial and residential buildings, and more.

Citing a study undertaken for the National Association of Manufacturers, “a 60 ppb ozone standard would result in a GDP reduction of $270 billion per year, a loss of up to 2.9 million jobs equivalents annually, and a reduction of $1,570 in average annual household consumption. Electricity costs could increase up to 23% and natural gas cost by up to 52% over the period to 2040.”

In a rational society, imposing such job losses and increased costs when the problem is already being solved would make no sense, but we all live in Obama’s society these days and that means increasing ozone standards only make sense if you want to harm the economy in every way possible.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Obama Has Two More Years Left to Destroy the U.S. Economy

As 2015 began the Journal Editorial Report on Fox News was devoted to having its reporters, some of the best there are, speculate on what 2015 holds in terms of who might run for president and what the economy might be. The key word here is “speculate” because even experts know that it is unanticipated events that determine the future and the future is often all about unanticipated events.

How different would the world have been if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated? One can reasonably assume there would not have been the long war in Vietnam because he wanted no part of the conflict there. Few would have predicted that an unknown Governor from Arkansas would emerge to become President as Bill Clinton did. Who would believe we are talking about his wife running for President? That is so bizarre it is mind-boggling.

Most certainly, few would have predicted that an unknown first term Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, would push aside Hillary Clinton to become the first black American to be nominated for President and to win in 2008. Despite the takeover of the nation’s healthcare system with a series of boldfaced lies, he still won a second term.

Obama now has two more years in which to try to destroy the U.S. economy; particularly its manufacturing and energy sectors. The extent to which he is putting in place the means to do that still remains largely unreported or under-reported in terms of the threat it represents.

Obama Says Planet is WarmingThe vehicle for the nation’s destruction is the greatest hoax of the modern era, the claim that global warming must be avoided by reducing “greenhouse gas” emissions.

A President who lied to Americans about the Affordable Care Act, telling them they could keep their insurance plans, their doctors, and not have to pay more is surely not going to tell Americans that the planet is now into its 19th year of a cooling cycle with no warming in sight.

To raise the ante of the planetary threat hoax, he has added “climate change” when one would assume even the simple-minded would know humans have nothing to do with the Earth’s climate, nor the ability to initiate or stop any change.

In 2015, the White House is launching a vast propaganda campaign through the many elements of the federal government to reach into the nation’s schools with the climate lies and through other agencies to spread them.

In particular, Obama has been striving to utilize the Environmental Protection Agency to subvert existing environmental laws and, indeed, the Constitution unless Congress or the courts stop an attack that will greatly weaken the business, industrial and energy sectors. It will fundamentally put our lives at risk when there is not enough electricity to power homes and workplaces in various areas of the nation. At the very least, the cost of electricity will, in the President’s own words, “skyrocket.”

Why doesn’t anyone in Congress or the rest of the population wonder why White House policies are closing coal-fired plants that provided fifty percent of our electricity when Obama took office and now have been reduced to forty percent? Did you know that more than 1,200 new coal-fired plants are planned in other nations with two-thirds of them to be built in India and China? We live in a nation that has such huge reserves of coal we export it.

The EPA attack on these plants is so illegal and unethical that one of the nation’s leading liberal attorneys, Laurence H. Tribe, who began teaching about environmental law 45 years ago, went on record to declare the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

The plan is a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s electric power plants. Tribe pointed out that a two-decade old Supreme Court precedent forbids the federal government from taking action to commandeer the powers of state governments by leaving them no choice but to implement it.

“The brute fact,” said Tribe “is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.”

As 2014 came to a close, the Obama administration either proposed or imposed more than 1,200 new regulations on the American people.

Alex Newman, writing in the New American, calculated they will add “even more to the already crushing $2 trillion per year cost burden of the federal regulatory machine.” Not surprisingly, “most of the new regulatory schemes involve energy and the environment—139 during a mere two-week period in December, to be precise.”

“In all,” Newman reported, “the Obama administration foisted more than 75,000 pages of regulations on the United States in 2014, costing over $200 billion, on the low end, if new proposed rules are taken into account.” Just one, the EPA’s “coal ash” regulation, “is expected to cost as much as $20 billion, estimates suggest.”

Then add to that the EPA’s “ozone rule” that is estimated to cost “as much as $270 billion per year and put millions of American jobs at risk under the guise of further regulating emissions of the natural gas.” Released the day before Thanksgiving, “Experts also pointed out that the EPA’s own 2007 studies showed no adverse health effects from exposure to even high levels of ozone.”

These are just two examples of the regulatory strangulation of the nation’s economy and energy infrastructure.

This is Obama’s agenda for the remaining two years of his second and thankfully last term in office. Whether you know anything about the science of the climate or have ever even read the Constitution, the sheer disaster of ObamaCare should have told you by now that everything Obama has put in motion has had the single objective of destroying the nation’s economy in every possible way.

The voters have put Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress and their primary responsibility will be to reverse and repeal the damage of Obama’s first six years. The courts will play a role, but this is a job for our elected representatives.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Broken Windows: The Flawed Economic Logic of EPA’s Carbon Regulations

EPA’s Gina McCarthy gave a speech to Resources for the Future defending EPA’s proposed carbon regulations on economic grounds. However, the crux of her argument is based on a logical fallacy that will be costly to jobs and the economy.Here are two passages from her speech:

Climate action is not just a defensive play, it advances the ball. We can turn our challenge into an opportunity to modernize our power sector, and build a low-carbon economy that’ll fuel growth for decades to come.

Not only is global climate action affordable, but it could actually speed up economic growth.

In her mind, new mandates and regulations that end coal (and eventually natural gas) use in electricity generation will result in jobs and economic growth. McCarthy mentions that smart economists helped develop EPA’s carbon plan. However like her, they succumb to the “broken window” fallacy. This is the logical misconception that generating jobs and economic activity by breaking things is good for society.

In his essay, “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen,” the French economist Frédéric Bastiat tells the parable of the broken window:

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James B., when his careless son happened to break a square of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact, that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation – “It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

One unseen cost of EPA’s attempt to restructure the power grid, will be the shutdown of reliable coal-fired power plants. For instance, Duane Highley, CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., told Arkansas Business he “would prefer to invest in scrubbers” for the 1,480-megawatt plant near Redfield, “and let it run for another 20 or 30 years” rather than shut it down.

What’s more, enormous investments that have already been made to many of these plants to make them meet other EPA standards. Take the Ferry Power Station in Hatfield, PA. The plant’s owner installed $650 million of scrubber technology in 2009, but closed it four years later because of more EPA regulations.

During a July 23 hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) summed it up when she said that EPA’s regulations will

force the premature retirement of efficient, low-cost coal-fueled generation; lead to the potential loss of billions of dollars in investments made over the last decade to make coal plants cleaner; require construction of higher-cost replacement generation; and increase natural gas prices.

Let’s not forget some of the significant costs that we will see. EPA estimates that its regulations will mean electricity price increases of six to seven percent nationally in 2020, and as much as 12% in certain places. There are also the job losses. The United Mine Workers expects over 152,000 jobs lost in the coal sector by 2035.

(We could have a clearer understanding of the proposed carbon rule’s job effects but EPA has failed to do the analysis.)

All these seen and unseen costs, and for what? Minimal global impact, as the Institute for 21st Century Energy’s Matt Letourneau notes:

The reduction in emissions from EPA’s rule would actually only decrease global emissions by 1.3%.  Based on projections from the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that will be reduced from EPA’s power plant rule is equivalent to just 13.5 days of Chinese emissions in 2030!

McCarthy can puff up the economic benefits of EPA’s carbon regulations all she wants. By using a little bit of logic and looking at the facts, we can see her agency’s plan will be a millstone on the economy. Just as a concerted effort to break windows doesn’t benefit the economy, forcing the restructuring of the power grid is not a path to sustained economic growth.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: Image credit: Elvert Barnes. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Greens are the Enemies of Energy

Here in America and elsewhere around the world, Greens continue to war against any energy other than the “renewable” kind, wind and solar, that is more costly and next to useless. Only coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear keeps the modern and developing world functioning and growing.

The most publicized aspect is Obama’s “War on Coal” and, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, it has been successful; responsible for shutting down several hundred coal-fired plants by issuing costly regulations based on the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to save the Earth from “global warming.”

Light Bulb

Rest in peace.

The EPA is the government’s ultimate enemy of energy, though the Department of the Interior and other elements of the government participate in limiting access to our vast energy reserves and energy use nationwide. By government edict, the incandescent light bulb has been banned. How insane is that?

The Earth has been cooling for seventeen years at this point, but the Greens call this a “pause.” That pause is going to last for many more years and could even become a new ice age.

A study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on the impact of the proposed new EPA regulation of emissions found that, as CNSNews reported, it “could be the costliest federal rule by reducing the Gross National Product by $270 billion a per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040” adding $2.2 trillion in compliance costs for the same period. Jay Timmons, CEO and president of NAM, said, “This regulation has the capacity to stop the manufacturing comeback in its tracks.”

EPA FactsAs Thomas Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), said in June, “President Obama is delivering on his promise to send electricity prices skyrocketing.” Noting a proposed EPA regulation that would shut more plants, he said “With this new rule, Americans can expect to pay $200 more each year for their electricity.” Having failed to turn around the nation’s economy halfway into his second term, Obama is adding to the economic burdens of all Americans.

America could literally become energy independent given its vast reserves of energy sources. In the case of coal, the federal government owns 957 billion short tons of coal in the lower 48 States, of which about 550 billion short tons—about 57 percent—are available in the Powder River Basin. It is estimated to be worth $22.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, but as the IER notes, it “remains unrealized due to government barriers on coal production.” It would last 250 years, greater than Russia and China. When you add in Alaska, the U.S. has enough coal to last 9,000 years at today’s consumption rates!

In 2013 the IER estimated the worth of the government’s oil and coal technically recoverable resources to the economy to be $128 trillion, about eight times our national debt at the time.

There isn’t a day that goes by that environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, along with dozens of others, do not speak out against the extracting and use of all forms of energy, calling coal “dirty” and claiming Big Oil is the enemy.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Greens held off attacking the nuclear industry because it does not produce “greenhouse gas” emissions. Mind you, these gases, primarily carbon dioxide, represent no threat of warming and, indeed, as the main “food” of all vegetation on Earth, more carbon dioxide would be a good thing, increasing crop yields and healthy forests.

Events such as the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster raised understandable fears. The Greens began opposing nuclear energy claiming that radiation would kill millions in the event of a meltdown. This simply is not true. Unlike France that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel, President Carter’s decision to not allow reprocessing proved to be very detrimental, requiring repositories for large quantities.

To this day, one of the largest, Yucca Mountain Repository, authorized in 1987, is opposed by Greens. Even so, it was approved in 2002 by Congress, but the funding for its development was terminated by the Obama administration in 2011. Today there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction and, in time, all one hundred existing plants will likely be retired starting in the mid-2030s.

The Greens’ attack on coal is based on claims that air quality must be protected, but today’s air quality has been steadily improving for years and new technologies have reduced emissions without the need to impose impossible regulatory standards. As the American Petroleum Institute recently noted, “These standards are not justified from a health perspective because the science is simply not showing a need to reduce ozone levels.”

The new EPA standards are expected to be announced in December. We better hope that the November midterm elections put enough new candidates into Congress to reject those standards or the cost of living in America, the capacity to produce electricity, the construction and expansion of our manufacturing sector will all worsen, putting America on a path to decline.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

DARK WINTER BOOK COVERRELATED VIDEO: The Space and Science Research Corporation founder and president and former White House national space policy adviser John L. Casey joins Newsmax TV – Mid Point to discuss facts about ominous changes taking place in the Sun and the climate.

Casey highlights some revelations from his new book, “Dark Winter: How The Sun Is Causing A 30-Year Cold Spell.”

A Remarkable 37th President

Forty years ago, on August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the office of President; the first and only President to do so.

I was just into my thirties in 1968, the year Richard Nixon was elected the 37th President of the United States. What I recall most of that year was the way the Chicago police, after enduring an onslaught of name-calling and insults from anti-war protesters aggressively drove them away from their effort to disrupt the Democratic Party convention that would nominate Hubert Humphrey.

His opponent would be Nixon. George Wallace, a segregationalist, ran as an independent that year as well. I wasn’t particularly interested in politics at the time. My focus was on my career where I had transitioned from having been a journalist to positions with the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Looking back, I now know I should have been paying more attention because, in the end, whoever is President affects the lives of not just Americans, but others throughout the world.

Like millions of Americans I had turned against the Vietnam War and, in a seminal way, it would influence my movement toward conservatism. For many people Nixon was instrumental, not just in rejuvenating the Republican Party, but for giving a voice to the “silent majority” who didn’t like the war in general and Lyndon Baines Johnson in particular. In 1968, LBJ announced he would not seek reelection.

Cover - Greatest ComebackIn the years since the Watergate scandal whose cover-up forced Nixon to resign in 1974, subsequent generations know him only for that historic event. Patrick J. Buchanan has done us all a favor by writing “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority.” and it is a special treat for anyone who loves history in general and politics in particular.

As much as today’s media may have loved Obama when he was nominated the Democratic Party’s candidate, in Nixon’s day he was loathed by them for his strong anti-communist stance when he served in the House of Representatives and Senate, and thereafter throughout the Cold War. After having been Eisenhower’s Vice President for two terms, Nixon would lose to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and in a race to become the Governor of California in 1962. Few would have ever imagined that he would be elected President in 1968. In 1972 he was reelected in a landslide.

Labeled by his political enemies “Tricky Dick”, Nixon was a politician of prodigious talent, but mostly he was a man who, through sheer determination overcame defeat, revived the Republican Party, and, while devoted to conservative principles, was also pragmatic enough to be open to new ideas and events. His circle of advisors shared his principles, but diverged among each other as to tactics and issues. Nixon wanted that. He would choose what advice he thought best.

Buchanan was a member of Nixon’s inner circle, a writer of superb talent and one with a keen eye for the political times in which he lived and which Nixon would shape. As he notes in his book, “The years that followed that 1969 inaugural would be a time of extraordinary accomplishment. By the spring of 1973, all U.S. troops were out of Vietnam, the POWs were home, every provincial capital was in Saigon’s (South Vietnam) hands.”

“Nixon had negotiated SALT I and the ABM treaty, the greatest arms-limitation treaties since the Washington Naval Agreement” in 1922. Significantly, “he had ended decades of hostility between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, dating to Mao’s revolution and the Korean War. He had put an end to the draft, signed into law the eighteen-year-old vote, put four justices on the Supreme Court including Chief Justice Warren Burger and future chief justice William Rehnquist.”

Those of us who lament Big Government must acknowledge that Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and on the plus side the National Cancer Institute. He would “rescue Israel from defeat in the Yom Kippur War (and) end Soviet domination of Egypt.”

What I recall about the 1960s was how volatile and violent that decade was. There were riots in many of our largest cities which engendered Nixon’s “law and order” message that was widely embraced. There were anti-war protests and there were assassinations that took the lives of JFK, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The greatest contrast between now and then is a general feeling of apathy that does not manifest itself in marches on Washington, D.C. anymore and a very distinct breakdown in social mores that includes the embrace of same-sex marriage and the push to legalize marijuana in some states.

The al Qaeda attack on 9/11 generated a massive intelligence program and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. It made Americans angry enough at first to endorse the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq.

Later Americans would watch the chaos the “Arab Spring” and these days the threat of the Islamic State, a self-declared caliphate that intends to control the whole of the Middle East and then destroy Israel and the U.S. The greatest threat of our times is Iran’s intention to build its own nuclear weapons.

Nixon brought about change on the basis of his vast knowledge of history, foreign affairs, and his judgment regarding the American people. By contrast, President Obama does not seem to like the American people or America.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EPA Still Wants to Garnish Your Wages Without a Court Order

A few weeks ago, EPA quietly tried to reinterpret its authority and wanted to garnish wages from those who owe it a debt. After a storm of criticism from Members of Congress and the public, EPA pulled back.

However, the agency is still trying to grant itself this power, only this time it’s going through the standard notice-and-comment process that most federal regulations go through.

What’s is the problem EPA wants to solve by having the ability to dig to go after your wallet? Will this stop polluters? Is EPA inundated with deadbeats?

Apparently not, according to Catrina Rorke and Sam Batkins at the American Action Forum who looked at EPA’s data.

They point out that, over the past six years, EPA has imposed more than $2.3 billion in “non-major” fines against companies and individuals that committed “infractions that do not involve large facilities emitting tons of toxic pollutants annually.”

However, Rorke and Batkins found, “the majority of fines for individuals involve paperwork infractions – not environmental contamination.” Individuals or businesses were fined for failing to file notification or reports with EPA.

And as for a delinquency problem, here’s their key finding:

[T]he average length of time that individuals were delinquent paying EPA was zero quarters. In other words, people generally pay their fines on time.

So why does EPA want to be able to garnish an individual’s wages? Based on its data, it’s not to ensure a cleaner environment nor solve delinquency problems. Roark and Batkins conclude (correctly in my view):

EPA’s proposal to grant itself wage garnishment authority more closely resembles a power grab than an appropriate administrative step to rectify an observed issue in their fine repayment process.

Stay tuned.