Posts

Data: ‘Global warming’ NOT behind California drought

The media is once again attempting to portray the current California drought as historically unprecedented. See: Californian water source at 500-year low: “We should be prepared for this type of snow drought to occur much more frequently because of rising temperatures,” lead author Valerie Trouet, a professor at the University of Arizona, said in a statement. “Anthropogenic” –- or manmade –- global warming “is making the drought more severe,” she added. 

But recent peer-reviewed studies and historical data refute these drought claims.

Two new studies show that global warming is not behind California drought – there is a gigantic warm blob in the Pacific Ocean that is fueling California’s four-year-long drought, and it has nothing to do with global warming. Two new studiesreleased in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters”, explain how this large expanse of warm ocean water is affecting California’s weather as well as the East Coast’s past two brutal winters. Read more here.

Other studies counter the notion that California is experiencing unprecedented drought.

AMS Journal study finds California drought is ‘not unprecedented’ over past 440 years: 9 other droughts as bad or worse – Published in American Meteorological Society journal – Study: ‘An analysis of the October 2013–September 2014 precipitation in the western United States and in particular over the California-Nevada region suggests this anomalously dry season, while extreme, is not unprecedented in comparison with the ~120-year long instrumental record of water year (WY, October–September) totals, and in comparison with a 407-year WY precipitation reconstruction back to 1571. Over this longer period nine other years are known or estimated to have been nearly as dry or drier than WY 2014. The three-year deficit for WY’s 2012–2014, which in the California-Nevada region exceeded the annual mean precipitation, is more extreme but also not unprecedented, occurring three other times over the past ~ 440 years in the reconstruction.’

NOAA Study: Causes of Calif. drought are natural, not man-made – Natural weather patterns and climate variability, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought that’s parching California, says a study out today from federal scientists. “It’s important to note that California’s drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state,” said Richard Seager, report lead author and professor with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report, “Causes and Predictability of the 2011-14 California Drought,” was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say – ‘The state has been parched for much longer stretches before that 163-year historical period began’ – Scientists who study the West’s long-term climate patterns say the state has been parched for much longer stretches before that 163-year historical period began. Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.’

E&E News on 2012 U.S. drought: ‘For the scientists who take the long view of history, it’s merely a climatological blip’ — 1930s ‘Dust Bowl & 1988 both eclipse 2012 drought, scientists say’ – ‘Scientists say [2012] drought is practically embryonic compared with severity & extent of others in America’s past…The Dust Bowl held on for as many as 8 years in some parts of Great Plains, with successive dry spells hitting in 1934, 1936 & 1939-1940. The multiyear drought of 1950s began in SW but eventually spread to cover 10 states before it ebbed in 1957. The current drought, in contrast, is just about 2 months old’

In addition, many other peer-‘reviewed studies and data refute the notion of unprecedented drought in California or elsewhere.

Extreme weather failing to follow ‘global warming’ predictions: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Droughts, Floods, Wildfires, all see no trend or declining trends – Extreme weather at or near historic lows.

NPR: 3 new papers make the case that forest fires in the West today burn less than in historical times

New Research Confirms Human CO2 Not Causing A Global Drought Increase

New Research Confirms Human CO2 Not Causing A Global Drought Increase – ‘Droughts in the U.S. are more frequent and more intense during COLDER periods’

New study finds drought 1100 years ago in southwest US was much more severe & extreme than any drought since – Published in PNAS

New paper debunked: Claims AGW pushed the ‘Western US toward the driest period in 1,000 years’ – The claim that AGW has “pushed the Western US toward the driest period in 1,000 years” is not supported by the proxy data shown in the paper. In addition, the modeling claim that AGW will cause “unprecedented risk of drought in the 21st century” is entirely based upon overheated climate models which have been falsified at confidence levels exceeding 98%.
Hillary Clinton’s ‘Drought’ debunked: Claimed ‘climate change was causing extreme weather and droughts’

Climatologist Dr. John Christy in testimony to Congress: ‘Extreme events, like the recent U.S. drought, will continue to occur, with or without human causation’ — ‘These recent U.S. ‘extremes’ were exceeded in previous decades’ — ‘The expression of ‘worse than we thought’ climate change as documented in [James] Hansen’s OpEd does not stand up to scrutiny’

Prof. Pielke Jr. on new Nature drought study: ‘It means that a widely accepted and oft-repeated consensus position expressed in IPCC 2007 now appears to have been incorrect’ — Pielke Jr.: ‘This should not be unexpected as a consensus position is a snapshot of perspectives, and in science, perspectives can change based on new evidence and study…This places drought into a category with tropical cyclones, floods, tornadoes & other phenomena where the evidence does not support claims that things are progressively getting worse — with more frequent and intense extreme events on climate time scales’

Prof. Pielke Jr. on new Nature drought study: ‘Once again the lesson is that if you are looking for a signal of human-caused climate change, it is best not to look at such extremes’ — Pielke Jr.:’There is very little evidence to support claims that the influence of such changes can be observed
in the observational record of extreme events. Advocates who justify action on climate change by appeals to the latest extreme event go well beyond what science can support, and in the process undercut the very cause that they are advocating for’

Nature paper: Global droughts unchanged in 60 years: ‘Worldwide drought is about the same now as it was in 1950′ — ‘Researchers finally accounting for fact that warmer world usually means more evaporation (especially from oceans) & thus more rain’ — ‘How many images have we seen of drought-stricken cracked land, or been told this is future?…Since end of WWII humans have produced 85% of all their CO2 emissions, but here is a new study showing that for all those emissions, & for all that warming, droughts back then were just as bad globally as they are today’

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: Over the climate time scales ‘droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century’ — ‘Some places have become dryer, others wetter, and not much confidence in asserting the presence of any trends at the global scale.’ — Pielke Jr. summarizing the bottom-line conclusions of two of the most recent major scientific assessments of extreme events and climate change, one by the US govt. released in 2008 then reaffirmed in the CCSP Unified Synthesis under the Obama Admin., and the 2nd from the UN IPCC.

Article in Nature says extreme weather events can’t currently be attributed to global warming — An editorial published in the current issue of nature notes that ‘Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.’ — ‘One critic argued that, given the insufficient observational data and the coarse and mathematically far-from-perfect climate models used to generate attribution claims, they are unjustifiably speculative, basically unverifiable and better not made at all.’

1974: Flooding, Drought, Crop Loss And Mild Winters Blamed On Global Cooling: TIME Magazine June 1974: ‘Another Ice Age?’: ‘In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S.,
Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest’

1976 CIA Shock News: Global Cooling To Kill Us All – ‘The CIA warned in 1976 that global cooling will increase the frequency of droughts’

1975: Newsweek Explained How Global Cooling Causes Extreme Droughts, Floods, Dry Spells And Heatwaves -Global cooling ’causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases – all of which have a direct impact on food supplies’
Scientists reject notion that human-caused climate change led to war in Syria – ‘Human-influenced climate change impact on the drought conditions was almost certainly too small to have mattered’

2014 Study: ‘The humanitarian crisis of the late 2000s largely predated the drought period.Focusing on external factors like drought and climate change in the context of the Syrian uprising is counterproductive as it diverts attention from more fundamental political and economic motives behind the protests and shifts responsibility away from the Syrian government.

Study: Drought Of 1934 In North America, During The Dust Bowl, Was The Worst In Thousand Years – ‘The drought of 1934 in North America was the driest and the most widespread of the last millennium, according to a new study based on a reconstruction of North America’s history of drought over the last 1,000 years. – Study published in the Oct. 17 edition of Geophysical Research Letters by researchers from NASA and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record,” Ben Cook, a climate scientist at NASA and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

What is the Legal Case Against EPA’s Water Rule?

Now more than ever, every time it rains, one Indiana farmer fears his land will be declared a federally-regulated body of water:

After a recent rainfall, Charlie Houin looked out over one of his cornfields in Marshall County as a clear stream of water flowed beneath him. With the summer’s high rain levels flooding fields, drainage systems and the streams that carry excess water away are crucial for farmers to maintain healthy crops.

But Houin, and farmers across the country, are now in a fight for control over these small waterways — battling a new rule in the Clean Water Act opponents say will be overly burdensome and costly to the agriculture industry.

[ … ]

Houin said he not only sees this as one of the EPA’s biggest land grabs in history, but he’s worried the permit process is going to be crippling when he needs to repair ditches, waterways and drainage systems for his farm. When you have only one chance a year at the planting season, he said, having farmland and waterways tied up in an approval process will be costly.

Worry about federal overreach isn’t limited to farmers and ranchers. Many other businesses also oppose the agencies’ regulatory overreach.

This has driven business groups to take EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to federal court.

The U.S. Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Portland Cement Association, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and the State Chamber of Oklahoma filed suit to stop the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) which dramatically expands the definition of federally-regulated “navigable waters” covered by the Clean Water Act.

They make the case that the water rule gives the federal government unprecedented and unconstitutional regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in the United States and undercuts state and local government sovereignty.

Here’s a breakdown of their argument.

Violates the Clean Water Act

The plaintiff’s argue that the new waters definition goes beyond its authority under the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, because it “confers jurisdiction to the Agencies over waters that are not ‘navigable waters.'”

Under the Clean Water Act the federal government has jurisdiction over only “navigable waters.”

Initially that was defined as bodies of water where interstate transportation or commerce could take place. However, over the decades, the regulatory creep set in and that definition broadened from lakes and rivers bordering states (literally interstate waters) to include tributaries and wetlands that abut regulated water bodies. WOTUS is the latest expansion.

Through the water rule, “thousands of miles of intrastate waters that have no substantial effect on interstate commerce” are now under federal regulation, the plaintiffs note. This includes wetlands, streams, ditches, ponds, and bodies that only occasionally hold water.

This broad federal jurisdiction is what has farmers, ranchers, home developers, other businesses upset.

To understand the plaintiffs’ legal argument, you need to know about a 2006 Supreme Court case, Rapanos vs. United States. In it, the court established two tests for determining if a body of water falls under federal jurisdiction.

The first is “continuous surface connection.” In his plurality decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Clean Water Act requires that a body of water have a “continuous surface connection” to another federally-regulated body for federal regulators to have jurisdiction.

The second is “significant nexus,” found in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion. In order to be considered a navigable water, a body of water must “significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of “waters that are or were navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made.”

The water rule fails both tests, the plaintiffs explain:

[C]ountless waters, wetlands, and normally dry lands will be classified as ‘waters of the United States’ despite their complete detachment–both on a surface level and on a chemical, physical, and biological level–to any navigable water.

The Matrix Defense

One example of how EPA fails to meet these tests is by employing something I call the “Matrix Defense.” EPA claims it can determine a federally-regulated tributary to a body of water simply with the use of computer “desktop tools that provide for the hydrologic estimation of a discharge sufficient to create an ordinary high water mark.” Virtual reality trumps physical reality, as the filing explains:

“In other words, if a computer model suggests that a feature has enough flow to create a bed and bank and ordinary high water mark, the Agencies can determine that that feature is a ‘tributary,’ even if the physical indicators have not been observed in the field.”

Neo could stop bullets, but he didn’t have that this kind of power.

Unfortunately for EPA, this tactic doesn’t satisfy either Justice Scalia’s continuous surface test or Justice Kennedy’s significant nexus test.

WOTUS is Unconstitutional

The water rule doesn’t just violate the Clean Water Act. The plaintiffs argue it also violates the 10th Amendment, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

State governments have the authority to regulate land and water in their states. The Clean Water Act affirms that states have “the primary responsibilities and rights … to plan the development and use … of land and water resources.”

However, with the water rule, the federal government claims regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in America. Waters, including ditches, canals, ponds, and wetlands, as far as 4,000 feet from a navigable water can be regulated by the federal government.

This violates the 10th Amendment. As the plaintiffs state:

The Supreme Court requires a ‘clear and manifest’ statement from Congress to authorize [such] an unprecedented intrusion into traditional state authority.

State and local government sovereignty gets squeezed as the federal government expands its reach.

EPA Avoided Looking at the Economic Effects on Small Businesses

Not only does the water rule conflict with the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, regulators didn’t follow the proper rulemaking process.

The plaintiffs point out that EPA ignored the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) which requires federal agencies to analyze the effects of proposed regulations on small businesses, organizations, and governments.

EPA claims it didn’t have to do this because the water rule “will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities,” and it “will not affect small entities to a greater extent than the existing regulations.”

The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy disagreed:

[T]he Clean Water Act and the revised definition proposed in this rule directly determine permitting requirements and other obligations. It is unquestionable that small businesses will continue to seek permits under the Clean Water Act. Therefore they will be subject to the application of the proposed definition and the impacts arising from its application.

The “fundamentally flawed” rulemaking process drove SBA to ask EPA to “withdraw the rule and that the EPA conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before proceeding any further with this rulemaking.”

EPA ignored the SBA along with similar comments from the U.S. Chamber and other business groups and went ahead with finalizing the new definition.

It’s Hard to Know How to Obey the Law

Finally, the water rule is too vague. If people can’t understand the regulation, how are they supposed to behave lawfully? The water rule “fails to provide fair notice of what conduct is prohibited by the civil and criminal provision of the Clean Water Act and grants overly broad enforcement discretion to” federal regulators, writes the plaintiffs.

To see how this applies in the real world, let’s go back to Charlie Houin’s story:

The water rule states that a “tributary must show physical features of flowing water — a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark — to warrant protection,” as well as connecting to a larger body of water.

Discussing the rules with The Tribune, Houin stood near one of his small waterways that, he said, he has always thought of as a ditch and has never had regulatory issues with. But based on the EPA’s definition, Houin’s small “ditch” could be considered as a tributary because it has continually flowing water that empties into the nearby Yellow River.

This is a major problem, [Justin Schneider, senior policy adviser for the Indiana Farm Bureau] said, because no matter what a farmer may think a waterway is, it comes down to the EPA’s interpretation. A farmer could be in violation and not realize it, he said, calling it “an issue with potential for big repercussions.” Beyond having to obtain expensive federal permits, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said farmers could face civil penalties up to $37,500 a day for violating the new rule.

Citizens “cannot reasonably determine based on the face of the relevant statutes and regulations what is required of them,” plaintiffs state.

Let’s step beyond how the water rule violates the Constitution and ignores federal law. It also will shower uncertainty over every property owner.

An economy can’t function effectively if people fear that taking some ordinary action like filling in a ditch will require costly permits or unleash the fury of federal regulators.

The easier path to take is to not invest in and improve one’s business. Don’t build an addition to a factory that could employ more people. Don’t build a housing development and increase the housing supply for families. Don’t touch that gully the rain cut in the corn field. Instead, let it go fallow.

That may satisfy a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., but it means frustration for Americans having to live under those rules.

Meet Sean Hackbarth @seanhackbarth Follow @uschamber

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a Holstein cow grazing by a pond in Lancaster, NH. Photo credit: Bloomberg.

EPA: Hydraulic Fracturing is No Threat to Drinking Water

Hydraulic fracturing, when done correctly, is safe and saves Americans money. The science says so.

EPA looked at scientific studies, government, NGO, and industry data and concluded that hydraulic fracturing has not had “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.”

For those of us closely involved in the debate over shale energy, this report simply reaffirms what previous science has shown, as Katie Brown explains at Energy In Depth:

EPA’s study actually builds upon a long list of studies that show the fracking process poses an exceedingly low risk of impacting underground sources of drinking water.  It corroborates a “landmark study” by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into hydraulic fracturing fluid and found no groundwater contamination after twelve months of monitoring. It is also in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council, to name just a few.

“The results of EPA’s exhaustive new analysis of hydraulic fracturing should not come as a surprise,” Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, said. “As the scope of America’s shale oil and gas opportunities have become understood, states and industry have developed regulatory environments and practices that ensure that hydraulic fracturing is done safely.”

In light of EPA’s study, some people have some reevaluating to do:

This study shows that states are successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing and duplicative federal rules aren’t needed. “Shale energy development continues to be a major economic driver of our economy, and it is critical that the federal government does not layer on duplicative and unnecessary regulations,” said Guith.

As for hydraulic fracturing opponents, they need to stop denying the science.

Meet Sean Hackbarth @seanhackbarth Follow @uschamber

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of a hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Pennsylvania. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg.

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.