Chris Horner

Obama RacineAlthough President Obama occasionally clings to the claim that his administration is the “most transparent” in history, with more and more revelations, this gets farther and farther from the truth. Clearly, we have an epidemic on our hands.

Over the past couple years, I have uncovered case after case of federal government officials, particularly those at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), knowingly and willingly moving select correspondence “off-line”, away from required, official email accounts. We have even found senior appointees at EPA, Department of Energy, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy using email accounts controlled by environmental pressure groups.

Regardless of intent, although I would argue these practices on their face indicate a desire to evade disclosure, the use of non-official email accounts for work purposes circumvents federal-recordkeeping responsibilities. Since employees have chosen to not search them in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or congressional oversight requests, this allows government officials to avoid revealing their actions to taxpayers who finance their salaries.

These corrupt practices are not isolated to the federal government. In requests the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), assisted Colorado’s Independence Institute with, we show the practice extends to activists employed in state government. In Colorado, this means Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief-of-Staff, the governor’s Chief Strategy Officer and Director of the Office of Policy and Research to Colorado, Alan Salazar, and the Director of Environmental Programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE), Martha Rudolph.

On October 15, 2013, I filed a FOIA request on behalf of CEI for all non-official account emails of former EPA Region 8 (Rocky Mountain West) administrator James Martin, a former Environmental Defense (ED) lawyer who we had already showed was using a private account to correspond on work-related issues with former ED colleagues and state officials. After these revelations, like another high-level EPA official — former administrator Lisa Jackson, also known as “Richard Windsor” in a false-identity account I also discovered — Martin resigned from his post in February 2013. Under congressional scrutiny after these revelations, he turned over more emails, which I obtained from the EPA.

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My former CEI colleague and now academic Jonathan Adler has an unfortunate post over on The Volokh Conspiracy manifesting a fundamental misunderstanding of how cap-and-trade is expected to work, how it has worked in Europe, and what the documents, received under FOIA from the Department of Treasury and causing his fellow academics so much angst, represent.

You can read Jonathan’s frustration for yourself (and the slightly better informed commenters’ thoughts, as well) here.

I have already addressed the 100% auctioning is irrelevant can’t we move on that’s old news line of, for lack of a better word, argumentation. The same revenue projections from 100% auctioning made by the administration in February were in the administration’s mid-session review published about three weeks ago: that is, it remains 100% the administration’s policy to 100% auction. Ok, the House passed a bill. That wasn’t the subject of the Treasury memos setting forth the administration’s expectations. Nice try.

Well, not that great, actually. That bill, Waxman-Markey may not arrange to sell 100% of the ration coupons — when it kicks in, it is three-fourths, not the 15% you are being distracted with — but it does require 100% of them be bought. That’s a distinction without a difference to the people who have to buy them, and to the consumer/ratepayer/taxpayer. The distinction is that the state gives away a quarter of the ration coupons to folks who are not covered by the law and have no use for them but to sell them to poor saps who are covered by the law. To the people that matter, trust me, that makes no difference. It is a phony argument at worst and a distraction at best.

Nor does it make any difference even if 100% were given away. At least, if you take Obama’s budget director at his word. You can read current OMB director and former CBO director Peter Orszag saying just that — on numerous occasions in several slightly different ways here among numerous other places:

Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away

Also, in Europe, we see that the ration coupons were given away for free, just as Waxman-Markey — again, not the focus of the Treasury documents– largely does as well for the scheme’s first few years. In Europe, prices of electricity and that which has electricity or energy embedded in it (everything) went up. Period. To claim, as Waxman-Markey proponents do, that they’ll just avoid Europe’s experience by telling local distribution companies to make sure the cost is not passed on to the ratepayer though emissions (energy use) must go down, flies in the face of practice and economic theory. This later case is made in a forthcoming paper, which to be thorough and fair I will note here, referencing this post.

Jonathan has waded in on matters on the side of the greens before and I have always enjoyed how the repartee ends up, so I welcome this foray, too. The more opportunity we have to correct silly distractions, misstatements and misunderstandings, the better.

The greens have responded with, so far as my experience has it, unprecedented fury and bile to my FOIA request exposing the Department of the Treasury’s internal discussion of how the administration, like the rest of us, expect cap-and-trade to chase away manufacturing jobs particularly in key industries like steel, chemical and cement, and lard the full equivalent of the entirety of environmental regulation on what’s left of the economy (while shaving a full 1% off of GDP).

What has most riled them, indicating that it is what most frightens them, is the internal assessment that the administration expects to raise between $100-200 billion per year from the taxpayer in revenues from selling CO2 ration coupons. Oddly, that’s up to three times how much the administration asserted to the public in February it expected to raise from 100% auctioning, which they said they still expect it to raise,  as of three weeks ago (p. 33), well after the March memo citing the $100-200 billion was written. So much for having abandoned their position of auctioning, which it turns out is still the administration position.

In response the greens have tossed out any number of distractions, like claiming that we are ignoring “CBO data” (sic); by which they mean a remarkably cherry-picked CBO estimate of the cost in the cheapest year of the Waxman-Markey bill, a bill not referenced in Treasury’s outed expectation. That’s a distraction but it’s not data, although with so little on their side I understand their need to fudge.

Let me say this as plainly as I can, at risk of House censure: With the help of a remarkably incurious media, Big Green’s claims about what we revealed include not just stretchers but brazen, outright fabrications.

Consider Politico, and how the greens talked the same reporter who they talked into saying that Al Gore signed Kyoto into repeating, with the accuracy we are coming to expect, their new mantra that auctioning the ration coupons is “a long-ago-scrapped proposal made by the Obama administration.”
Ahem. Not “long-ago-scrapped”. The accurate phrase is “House-passed.”

No one who has read Waxman-Markey – a universe I know better than to expect includes reporters “reporting” on it – can honestly claim to believe that the bill scrapped auctioning, if not 100%, then the vast majority of these “allowances”. It mandates it.

It’s right there plain as can be in the 1,400 page bill, Title VII, Subtitle B, Sections 701 through 729 and Subtitle B, Part H! It ends up selling three-fourths of the things (with the rest politically allocated to groups not required to have them and with no use for them other than to sell ‘em to less politically favored saps who do). How can they miss that?

What this tells us is the folly of claiming that the House bill makes Treasury’s assumption of auctioning many or most allowances irrelevant. The allowances that bill does still give away in a few years are given away to entities for resale, not to the productive sector covered by the requirement that they have the things. That means that for all intents and purposes by giving none away to the people and businesses required to have them, Waxman-Markey is de facto auctioning 100%. For anyone familiar with the scheme to say that auctioning is “long-ago-scrapped” is a fabrication intended to deceive.

In the same newspaper we see a lie wrapped in an even bigger whopper intended to distract, in the form of a claim that Treasury’s internal assessment is irrelevant. For example, Politico’s Ben Smith quoted the League of Conservation Voters stammering incoherently:

“Specifically, the original White House plan had 100% of emissions permits being distributed by auction; the plan that passed has just 15%.  ‘Can you say “irrelevant analysis”? It would be like pricing the health care bills currently in front of Congress based on a single-payer system,’ [LCV spokesman] writes.”

But as we see, his implication that the House bill only requires auctioning of 15% is flagrantly untrue.

What an actual journalist might do is note how the teaser “only of 15% auctioned!”, which explodes to 100%, gives meaning to Friends of the Earth’s description of the scheme as “subprime carbon”.
But that wouldn’t help the agenda’s chances now, would it?

Now, what about the claim that giving away the ration coupons changes the cost, the cost being what the greens are up in arms over?

Not a bit. At least, if you believe Obama’s economic team. As you see below, even OMB director Peter Orszag-led CBO recently noted the taxpayer pays either way, it’s just that they give corporate buddies much of the loot for a while as part of the deal. It isn’t even disputed in relevant quarters that it doesn’t matter who gets the money — 85% to special interests and 15% to the government or 100% to the government — it still comes out the taxpayer’s pocket.

“Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away.”

The supposedly controlling Waxman-Markey effort merely gave most of these allowances away for a few years to the GEs and Duke Energys and Chicago’s Exelon, for example, for a few years to buy political support.

One might think that the fact that Waxman-Markey still will ding the taxpayer but for billions to be handed over, at least for the introductory decade, to rent-seeking industry that spent so much on making the scheme happen. That’s not an issue they should want to emphasize, on its face, but that’s the trouble with lying in the first place. It’s out there.

Glenn Beck is addressing this issue this afternoon, as he has already indicated on his radio program earlier, including by kindly including me. I get a sense that his picking up on the scent is the thing that’s most unnerving the greens at the moment. Can anyone say “Van Jones”?

On the heels of creating a new position for the scandal-plagued and therefore, presumably, unconfirmable Carol Browner to lord over Senate-confirmed cabinet officials in pursuit of the global-warming agenda, the former employer of leading global warming alarmist Dr. John Holdren reports that he “appears to be President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for science adviser.”

At least this will require Senate confirmation. The Senate should consider certain factors, including those detailed in the new book Red Hot Lies: How global Warming alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.

Although touted as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Holdren was admitted through a back door called the “temporary nominating group”, a process which appears designed and has certainly been exercised to gain entry for large numbers of environmental alarmists who, it is fair to presume from this exception, would not gain election through the normal channel.

Also typically styled as a professor at Harvard, Holdren is primarily employed by the Woods Hole Research Center (an environmental advocacy group, not to be confused with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution which is a research organization — both discussed [later in the book]). Despite his outside affiliations and activism he typically instead carries the Harvard tag, lending the institution’s academic prestige to his environmentalist advocacy, thereby embodying a growing tactic of environmentalists using credentials from an academic perch where they may not be all that active to push an activist agenda through other, pressure group perches where they are in fact quite busy.

The vocal Holdren predicted in the mid-1980s that climate-related catastrophes might kill as many as one billion people before the year 2020 but now brushes off inquiries about such failed catastrophism while continuing to sound a similar alarm. He is a longtime collaborator with none other than failed prognosticator of doom Paul Ehrlich, with whom he collaborated to hold a “Cassandra Conference” in 1988 (Cassandra is the lass from Greek mythology whose prophecies were always true and always ignored).

As I note in Red Hot Lies, Holdren’s name also pops up in various, largely successful efforts to elevate taxpayer funding of the global warming industry. Finally, note that Holdren’s recent record includes being enlisted by Scientific American in its clumsy effort to smear and otherwise discredit Bjørn Lomborg.

With a Holdren nomination, the President-Elect will have made his intentions unmistakably clear. This will unleash a policy battle royale and, fortunately, likely the ultimate defeat of the alarmist agenda.

Change of Tune

by Chris Horner on January 7, 2008

There has been a subtle yet important shift in the rhetoric of some global warming alarmists, whose industry has thrived for years on a disciplined party line of “ignore the skeptics.”  This has played out in many absurd ways , including by insisting that only a dozen or so actually exist.  The audience for their rhetoric has remained instead the public.

 

We see here what appears to be almost desperation, coming on the heels of widespread pickup given to a recent Inhofe, et al compilation of more than 400 scientists — from both “soft” and “hard” disciplines, just as is true with the IPCC and alarmists, generally, though they conveniently forget this when attacking (see the series of exposés on this from the gang at Climate Resistance).

 

The icing on the cake is the rest of the instruction, to change the subject.

 

To borrow their phrase, that’s “climate progress”.

Sea Treaty Fallout

by Chris Horner on October 30, 2007

Today one presidential aspirant joined a growing list of senators in opposing U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Taking as long as the opposition has to assert itself, this clearly was a difficult decision for these political leaders to step out on this matter, flying as it does in the face of one of President Bush’s “to do” items before he leaves office. The latter have an actual vote on the matter which appears likely (though by no means certainly) headed to the Senate floor this year. The former merely would have to live with LOST’s constraints and other fallout. If LOST is implemented as its opponents fear, this fallout will include a replication — only worse — of what we saw after Bush snubbed the International Criminal Court and Kyoto Protocol upon taking office, both of which were signed by President Clinton though only the former was unsigned by Bush (his treatment of the latter was for all legal and practical purposes no different than his predecessor, if rhetorically in stark contrast).

Whatever the motivations and difficulties underlying these decisions, they are the right ones. Much has been written about the principal reasons that LOST should remain among the more than 400 treaties signed by the U.S. but never ratified. In brief, these remain that: 1) LOST cedes far too much sovereignty to supranational governance, 2) this includes taxation, euphemized as “fee collecting”, authority, 3) elevating the level even of eco-governance to which we subject ourselves, specifically including sweeping authority to govern “land based pollution”, and 4) a binding tribunal and other dispute resolution ensuring that by the front door or back, the Kyoto agenda will be imposed upon the U.S.

The voting begins this week at the Senate subcommittee level.

Yesterday’s Washington Post ran a letter from the Central Valley (CA) program manager for a National Parks Conservation Association, titled “How to counter climate change”. The writer informs us that “climate change is melting snow packs and mountain glaciers that communities such as the Central Valley in California depend on for irrigation, drinking water and power generation”, to stop which “the federal government must cut pollution from coal-fired power plants”.

That, of course, is the same Central Valley where the daytime temperatures have been falling but whose nighttime temperatures have been warming rapidly, as Christy et al revealed (pdf pp. 13-18) are indeed directly a result of Man, but the agriculture-intensive Valley’s own land-use/irrigation.

Here is the point: when you look at daytime temperatures of the Valley versus the Sierras, you see a dramatic drop in the temperatures in the Valley versus the Sierras in the daytime, especially during the summer, and that is what is consistent with irrigation. Irrigation will cool the air in the boundary layer. You won’t see this up in the deep layer of the atmosphere, but in the boundary layer you would. Now in the nighttime temperatures, you see here rapid warming in the Valley; relative to the mountains, it peaks in the irrigation season. This is consistent with two things, both irrigation and urbanization. But what you don’t see up there is something that is consistent forcing of that particular part of the world. [pdf p. 14]

[Abstract of full paper: Christy, J. R., W. B. Norris, K. Redmond, and K. P. Gallo. 2006. “Methodology and Results of Calculating Central California Surface Temperature Trends: Evidence of Human-Induced Climate Change?” Journal of Climate 19(4): 548—563].

Quelle horreur!

by Chris Horner on September 4, 2007

A couple of weeks ago The Washington Post ran a story about the recent correction of surface temperature measurements the wonderful Steve McIntyre brought to NASA’s attention. Actually, as is to be expected with the Post, they didn’t report on the correction, but instead weighed in some time after it broke to report complaints by the alarmists that some skeptics had gone too far with claims about how much this proves or disproves. Distractions aside, we do know that the correction dramatically revised some of the global warming alarmists’ money quotes, like Al Gore’s claim that nine of the 10 “hottest” years on record were in the past decade. Of course now we know that of the 10 (warmest) years, four occurred in the 1930s, three in the 1990s, and one each in this decade, the 1950s and the 1920s.

The author of yesterday’s story, “In Northern France, Warming Presses Fall Grape Harvest Into Summertime,” apparently missed the prior story, and gets front-page treatment in the process to go on about the horrors confronting vintners:

Throughout the wine-producing world, from France to South Africa to California, vintners are in the vanguard of confronting the impact of climate change. Rising temperatures are forcing unprecedented early harvests, changing the tastes of the best-known varieties of wine and threatening the survival of centuries-old wine-growing regions.

How unprecedented? Well, so far as we can tell, since 1978, from which year, the Post reports, the date on which a certain farmer in Northern France harvested his grapes has moved up by nearly two months.

Casual observers of the issue might recall 1978 as the approximate end of the 30-year cooling trend, or, if one prefers, the beginning of the subsequent 30 years’ warming of the same, er, degree. No mention of that in the story.

Apologism

by Chris Horner on August 27, 2007

My colleague Iain Murray notes here at OpenMarket and at Planet Gore about a series of past alarmist NASA pronouncements, which list I admit is hardly exclusive but certainly illustrative; but it does seem odd that none of them mention how the purported scorchiness — as in truthiness – of the particular year at issue in any given release relates to the not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference heat of 1934 or the 1930s, generally.

After all, as the Washington Post rushed to helpfully note about NASA’s temperature correction — in a story not about the flaw and correction, which would be oh so gauche but, natch, about how it was being inappropriately flogged by some internet and radio chortlers — that “[c]limate researchers have long known that the mid- and late 1930s were quite warm and that 1934 may have been the hottest year of the century — although average temperatures in 1998 were statistically just as high”. Oh. Of course. The Post has regularly added such context when reporting on other NASA releases like those Iain cites, right?

No. While it is true, and James Hansen now rushes to protest, he did mention 1934 in this context previously (once…?…in 2001), can we at least admit that this pooh-poohing about a tenth of a degree here or there is a newfound induglence, and the notion of such small differences being, well, small have hardly been the topic of conversation — let alone reportage — that the Post‘s coverage and other alarmist apologism would have you believe?

The lesson of this episode has little to do with that tenth of a degree or so but that we are just about back to where we were in the 1930s, but certainly not abnormally warmer; that is, we see it affirmed that what we’re serially told isn’t true — that 1900, for example, was warmer than 2000 would certainly surprise most of the public — and that the organs telling us these things have a demonstrable bias toward hype and alarmism, and now apologism.

We’re right behind you

by Chris Horner on August 27, 2007

We see that Al Gore et al plan to commit upwards of $100 million to persuade the public to take the hit and agree to the “wrenching transformation of society” that Gore has so long preached, in the name of preventing catastrophic man-made global warming. Even though this campaign will certainly seek to frighten, as opposed to educate or otherwise logically persuade, the debate that it is certain to engender remains, on net, a good thing, given the stakes — it hasn’t warmed in a decade, after all — but it reminds us of one of the alarmists’ glaring contradictions: George Bush and a few dinosaurs are standing in the way of real action that the public supports, nay, demands; and to prove it we’re going to spend (another) $100 million to, er, get the public behind us.

This is not all that different from congressional Democrats shouting to the heavens for six years that they know the problem, they know the solution, we must act now, the public demands it, and your hearings are an irresponsible delay tactic (pant pant)…only, upon receiving the gavel, to schedule two dozen hearings, not one on a legislative proposal but all instead apparently to discuss how mean some Republicans are for not agreeing with them.

As such, note this recent gem, courtesy of Dr. Fred Singer’s most recent “The Week That Was “:

We Care About GW, But Not Really

Americans have the “right” opinions on environmental issues, but “they don’t really care,” concludes Matthew Yglesias, a blogger and editor for the Atlantic Monthly. He says he reached this conclusion after perusing the results of a report from the research and strategy firm American Environics and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

The report, “Energy Attitudes,” found that 69 percent of voters would support a candidate with whom they disagreed on environmental matters and that there are six issues, including gay marriage, abortion and taxes, that are more important to them).

Even people who described themselves as “environmentalists” put other issues higher on their priority lists. The upshot of the report, Mr. Yglesias writes, “is that while there’s public eagerness to do something about global warming, it’s very tenuous, and people are rabidly opposed to anything that would increase energy costs.”

From NY Times Aug. 25

In short, despite an unprecedented campaign to date, the public remains unpersuaded that the sky is falling, let alone that the prosperity about which, yes, they feel a little guilt about, will cause it. I believe this campaign meets the definition of the Gambler’s Dilemma.