Tag: Global Warming

‘Green Jobs’ Could Push California (Further) Into the Red

The California and Manufacturers Technology Association held a news conference Wednesday to release results of a new study, “The Truth About Green Jobs and California.” Key report conclusions:

1. Where existing jobs are counted as green and when policies create green jobs at the expense of existing jobs, the true impact of green policies can’t be determined.
2. Green job policies are counterproductive if California becomes economically inefficient — creating green jobs but raising costs or reducing output.
3. Due to these and other factors, no study yet proves that green job policies will be beneficial to the California economy.

As CMTA’s Jack Stewart argues: “California should be the home of clean tech innovation and manufacturing. Improving the business climate would grow the ‘right’ green jobs, not short term jobs that only survive with government subsidies and hurt the state’s overall economy.”

The report was conducted by the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting. The Ventura County Star covered its release.

The report, co-authored by the center’s director, economist Bill Watkins, was commissioned by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. It becomes the latest in a series of conflicting reports and analyses on the potential economic impacts of AB32, California’s landmark climate-change law, and will add fuel to the debate over a November ballot proposition that seeks to suspend the law’s implementation.

The report, which Watkins called “a review of the evidence,” argues that there will be no net economic benefit from any green jobs created as a result of the legislation.

“It is simply impossible to see how draconian legislation — particularly those mandates imposed in only one state — cannot have serious deleterious economic impacts,” the report says.

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Congress Votes to Surrender Policymaking to Executive Branch

By a vote of 47 yeas to 53 nays, the Senate voted against the motion to proceed to a vote on S.J.Res. 26, the resolution to disapprove the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

It used to be that Congress jealously protected its rights and prerogatives against the encroachment of the Executive Branch.

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) is now on the Senate floor praising the Chicago Blackhawks.

UPDATE (5 p.m.): Here’s the roll call vote. Puzzling to see the Senators from coal and lignite states, especially, vote to let the EPA determine the fate of all of these energy-related jobs.

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Well, At Least for Two Years

The Hill reports that some Senate Democrats may attempt to have it both ways on whether the Executive Branch should set climate and energy policy  by supporting a resolution by Sen. Jay Rockefeller that would put a two-year moratorium on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

What message does that send? 

  • With this vote, we affirm Congress’ policymaking role in the American system of government. Well, at least for two years .
  • EPA regulation would be disastrous for the economy. Therefore we stand strongly against its destruction of jobs and prosperity. Well, at least for two years.
  • We recognize that EPA regulation is wrong, but important political constituencies demand some sort of action — even if it is EPA command-and-control. We believe this resolution represents a reasonable compromise. Well, at least for two years.

 

Do they not recognize that uncertainty is the enemy of investment, jobs and economic recovery?

George Will’s column today is timely and on point, “Jobs report a nightmare for Obama progressivism.”

Today investors and employers are certain that uncertainties are multiplying.

They are uncertain about when interest rates will rise, and by how much. They do not know how badly the economy will be burdened by the expiration, approximately 200 days from now, of the Bush tax cuts on high earners — aka investors and employers.

They know the costs of ObamaCare will be higher than was advertised, but not how much higher. They do not know the potential costs of cap-and-trade and other energy policies.

They do not know if “card check” — abolition of the right of secret ballot elections in unionization decisions — will pass, or how much the economy will be injured by making unions more muscular.

They do not know how the functioning of the financial sector will be altered and impeded by the many new regulatory rules and agencies created by the financial reform legislation.

Let uncertainty multiply. The recovery is not a priority. Jobs can come later.  The economy will not get well, at least for two years.

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Support S.J.Res. 26

With the debate under way on S.J.Res. 26, the Murkowski resolution of disapproval,  we again note these communications from the National Association of Manufacturers:

 

The NAM’s energy policy experts are Tweeting the debate at www.twitter.com/Shopfloor_NAM

(ao) is Alicia Oman
(km) is Keith McCoy

The most popular hashtag seems to be #Murkowski.

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No Quorum on Comer, Dismissal of Global Warming Suit Stands

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today concluded that it could not form a quorum to hear an en banc appeal of the lawsuit claiming damages from global warming, Ned Comer, et al v. Murphy Oil USA, et al. Therefore, the court ruled, its earlier order that had the effect of dismissing the original suit stood.

Reached after a convoluted process with an unusual turn of events, the court’s decision that dismisses the suit is welcome news for those who believe the judicial system is the wrong place to handle claims of harm from global warming. The only venue left for the litigation is the U.S. Supreme Court, to which the plaintiffs will no doubt appeal.

Comer v. Murphy Oil was brought by Mississippi residents trying to hold 150 energy and industrial companies responsible for damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. Their theory is that the companies emitted greenhouse gases that cause global warming, which made Hurricane Katrina more destructive, therefore these companies – and only these companies — should pay up.

In August 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., of the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed the lawsuit, ruling the plaintiffs lacked standing and the tort claims were non-justiciable ones that had to be resolved by the political system. (Opinion here, via Global Climate Law Blog.) The plaintiff’s appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and on Oct. 16, 2009, a three-judge panel ruled two-to-one that the lawsuit had indeed raised justiciable issues that should be heard at trial. (Opinion here.)

The defendants appealed for an en banc hearing by the full Fifth Circuit, which was granted. (The National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation and American Tort Reform Association had joined in an amicus brief arguing for the hearing, as well.)

In an agreeing to the en banc consideration, the full Fifth Circuit vacated its three-member panel’s ruling on the Comer litigation, anticipating that it would hear the case and make its own ruling. That decision reinstated the district judge’s dismissal of the Comer suit. However — and this is the odd turn of events — right before briefs were due, the Fifth Circuit announced that an eighth judge had recused him or herself. The only reason stated was “new circumstances arose.” (Seven judges had already withdrawn; the usual reason for recusal is stock ownership.)

But the court had constituted itself correctly, and although the judges considered several options for further consideration, they decided that the previous action — dismissal — had to stand. From the Fifth Circuit’s order, filed today:

In sum, a court without a quorum cannot conduct judicial business. This court has no quorum. This court declares that because it has no quorum it cannot conduct judicial business with respect to this appeal. This court, lacking a quorum, certainly has no authority to disregard or to rewrite the established rules of this court. There is no rule that gives this court authority to reinstate the panel opinion, which has been vacated. Consequently, there is no opinion or judgment in this case upon which any mandate may issue. 5TH CIR. R. 41.3.

Because neither this en banc court, nor the panel, can conduct further judicial business in this appeal, the Clerk is directed to dismiss the appeal.

This is hardly the end of climate change litigation, unfortunately. Expect more appeals and suits from plaintiffs hoping to hit the jackpot and environmental activists trying to create a carbon-command-and-control economy through the courts.

But for now, a bad lawsuit has been dismissed. That’s good enough for today.

For more, see the NAM’s Manufacturing Law Center entry on Comer v. Murphy Oil. Earlier Shopfloor.org posts here.

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Including the Negative Reaction to President’s Energy Plan

Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, “Don’t Fall For Obama’s Energy Shell Game“:

In fact, if anything, the policies announced by President Obama yesterday will actually decrease and delay future U.S. oil production. The President actually canceled four lease sales off the Alaska coast that were planned to begin producing oil within the next two years, delayed a planned lease off Virginia until at least 2012, and placed some areas off limits for at least seven years. Go back and look at President Obama’s actual announcement again: he only promised new exploration off the Atlantic coast. There is absolutely no guarantee that any new drilling will ever occur. Secretary Ken Salazar’s Interior Department still has full discretion to never allow a single drop of oil to be harvested from these waters. And that doesn’t even begin to address the court challenges the enviro-left will employ to attack and delay the entire process.

Will Yeatman, Competitive Enterprise Institute, “OCS Sleight of Hand“:

[While] all the talking heads are chattering about Obama’s supposed pragmatism, the EPA will release today its final rule to allow California to regulate greenhouse gases from automobiles under the Clean Air Act. That’s the real story, because once a “pollutant” (remember, we are talking about carbon dioxide, the stuff we exhale) is regulated under the Clean Air Act, it becomes subject to further and further regulation. The President will have the power (the obligation, according to well funded environmental lawyers) to regulate anything larger than a mansion — your small business, your office complex, your apartment building.

Thomas J. Pyle, Institute for Energy Research, “Obama Energy Announcement: More Imported Oil, Less Domestic Production, Fewer Jobs“:

America’s offshore energy resources belong to the American people. Not a company, not a special interest, and not a single administration. And a clear majority of the American people supports the commonsense strategy of producing more oil and gas here in America. Unfortunately, today, and to our economic detriment, the President once again ignored the will of the American people. (continue reading…)

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EPA’s Administrator Musters a Breathtaking Army of Straw Men

Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, speaking at the National Press Club Monday criticized citizens who disagree with the power grab(s) being undertaken by the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. Jackson sends an army of straw-men arguments marching into a very important debate about science, our economy, and the authority of an executive branch agency to set policy.

As you might expect, we’re running into the same old tired arguments.

Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible. Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?

Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.

This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change…despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.

Yeah, breathtaking. We get it.

Let’s take a look at Jackson’s claims.

1. “Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible.” Really? Who’s arguing that? Here is a paragraph from the National Association of Manufacturers’ policy on climate change:

The NAM understands the fundamental importance of protecting the environment. Our member companies are committed to greater environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global climate change. We know we cannot solve the climate change issue alone. The U.S. Congress must engage in a thorough and transparent deliberative process for establishing federal climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining a competitive level playing field for U.S. companies in the global marketplace.

The policy then lists a set of principles for federal action on climate, stating that policies must be equitable and economywide in scope, include all sectors and recognize the different competitive environments and abilities of sectors. The EPA does not have the authority to accomplish this balancing under the Clean Air Act.

2. “Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?” Ah, alarmists. Because with unemployment near 10 percent amid inconsistent signs of a recovery, and the United States competing in a global economy, anyone who expresses concerns about a vast new regulatory regime imposing new costs on the energy sector, manufacturers, and transportation is an “alarmist.” Here is a link to a study conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation on the effects of the Waxman-Markey legislation, including a loss of $2 trillion to $3 trillion in economic growth and two million jobs over the 18 years of the bill.

3. “Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.” Thank goodness for these “most drastic” efforts, also known as legislation. You see, it’s not only industry and lobbyists and citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights in calling for a delay in the EPA’s unprecedented power grab. It’s Senators, like Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). And Representatives like Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

4. “This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change.” That’s a point of some contention, isn’t it? We see scandal after scandal undermining the credibility of the most prominent scientific polemicists on climate change. (From Iain Murray at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Climategate: This Time It’s NASA,” and “The Real Climate Confusion.”)

5. “despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…” Advocates  often simplify the court’s decision in Massachusett v. EPA as ordering the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. It’s not that direct. The court ruled that the EPA did have the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and is required by the Act to base the decision on a consideration of “whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change.” In any case, that’s a statutory authority that Congress, as the policymaking branch of government, can remove or modify as it wishes.

6. “and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.” Unlike, say, the federal debt? In any case, Administrator Jackson is using the tired political tactic of invoking “the children,” in this case on behalf of a false choice. Opposing the Obama  EPA’s power grab, arguing against the agency’s attempt remake and burden the U.S. economy over the wishes of the public and policymakers does not mean “leaving this problem for our children to solve.” It means accurately identifying the problem, relying on our elected policymakers to address the issue through the political process, avoiding Pyrrhic victories that burn down our economy, and using the best of technological advances to improve efficiency and energy conservation.

What’s breathtaking about that?

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Blaming Business for Katrina: 5th Circuit to Hear Case En Banc

Last October a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in Comer v. Murphy Oil USA [585 F. 3d 855 (5th Cir. 2009)] that private landowners along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi could use Mississippi state law to sue more than 150 energy and manufacturing companies for having contributed to global warming. The argument was that global warming made Hurricane Katrina more powerful, causing the damage to their property, and therefore the companies should pay up. (Opinion)

The panel’s opinion was a terrible example of a court deciding that the judiciary is the proper authority to rule on a matter of policy — how society should allocate economic resources in response to the possibility of anthropogenic global warming — that appropriately belongs with the elected, policy-making branch of government, Congress. Indeed, the trial court had dismissed the suit on the grounds it raised non-justiciable political questions.

Good news. In a little noticed decision last Friday, the Fifth Circuit vacated the panel’s ruling and ordered an en banc hearing of the case, that is, decided to bring the litigation before the full court of appeals. (The order is here.) En banc hearings are relatively rare, but the stakes in this case — and the extreme position taken by the panel — warrant the review.

The National Association of Manufacturers joined the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Tort Reform Association in filing an amicus brief urging the en banc consideration. Excerpt:

The theories alleged by Plaintiffs would dramatically change tort law and negatively affect business and consumer practices far beyond the energy industry and the parties before the court. The practical application of these theories will burden trial judges with extraordinarily speculative litigation against American farms,manufacturers, and virtually all other businesses; arbitrary selection by plaintiffs’ counsel will be the touchstone for liability. The tenuous link between plaintiffs’ alleged harm and defendants’ alleged conduct is beyond anything ever recognized in American tort law. Causation issues will also create an impossible burden for judges and juries. Adjudicating such claims would require a fact-finder to balance the social utility and costs of an enormous range of industrial, agricultural, manufacturing and individual activities that are only remotely related (if at all) to the alleged harm in order to assess and to assign potential liability.

Further, complex regulatory matters should remain within the domain of the political branches, as the constitutional power to engage in the balancing of such economic, environmental and international interests is vested in them. Constitutional issues aside, only these branches of government can fully assess the impact of carbon emissions limits on the entire range of emitters, whether energy producers, farmers, or others not before the court. Those branches can also factor in the financial burden on consumers to afford the added costs associated with such restrictions to their utility, food and other bills.

Comer is one of three major cases where the courts are being asked to assign liability to U.S. companies for contributing to global warming and property damage. The others are Kivalina v. ExxonMobil, in which an Alaskan native village has sued oil companies for beach erosion, a suit since dismissed by a federal district judge; and Connecticut v. American Electronic Power, in which the Second Circuit has ruled that states may bring a federal public nuisance suit against electric utilities.

News, commentary:

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Redefining, Overheated

Former Vice President’s Al Gore’s apocalyptic op-ed in Saturday’s The New York Times, “We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change,” has already produced worthy rebuttals of his scientific contradictions, notably this editorial in Investor’s Business Daily, “A Blizzard Of Lies From Al Gore.”

Gore’s rhetoric is also something to marvel at: “In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.”

He’s talking about carbon dioxide, a gas, the product of respiration and required for life on Earth. No matter your view on anthropogenic global warming, trying to relabel CO2 as pollution and comparing its discharge to sewage discharge is an obvious attempt to deceive and confuse.

Gore quotes Winston Churchill to end his column, but his use of language is Orwellian: language corrupting thought.

UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): Trying to build on the NYT op-ed, Gore’s group, the Climate Protection Action Fund’s Repower America campaign, has been bombarding its email list with entreaties to contact U.S. Senators in support of some sort of global warming legislation. This morning’s e-mail from Dave Boundy, campaign manager, implores:

This morning we’re kicking off an all-out, bare-knuckled, three-day calling campaign to demand the strongest possible climate and clean energy legislation — with a goal of 20,000 calls from Repower America supporters alone.

With critical negotiations happening right now in the Senate over climate and clean energy and a bill due to be announced soon, lobbyists from big polluting corporations are scrambling to throw as much firepower as they can against a strong bill.

We have to fight back. Thousands of Repower America supporters like you have already pledged to call, and reports of calls from across the country are flooding in right now. Can you join them by calling now?

Twenty thousand calls doesn’t sound like a lot to us. And what the heck is a bare-knuckled calling campaign?

The e-mail is in the extended entry.

UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): Steven Hayword at the American Enterprise Institute observes, “Everything That’s Wrong With Al Gore in a Single Sentence,” with that sentence being: “From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption.” (Hat tip: The Chamber Post.)

(continue reading…)

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Bad Guidance: SEC Playing Global Warming Politics

On Jan. 27, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 to issue interpretive guidance instructing publicly traded companies to inform investors of the possible material impact of governmental reactions to possible climate change. In a statement, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said, “We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace it might be changing, or due to what causes. Nothing that the Commission does today should be construed as weighing in on those topics. Today’s guidance will help to ensure that our disclosure rules are consistently applied.” According to the SEC’s news release, the four areas that companies must take into account are:

  • Impact of Legislation and Regulation
  • Impact of International Accords
  • Indirect Consequences of Regulation or Business Trends
  • Physical Impacts of Climate Change

Commissioner Kathleen Casey, a Republican, strenuously objected: “I can only conclude that the purpose of this release is to place the imprimatur of the commission on the agenda of the social and environmental policy lobby, an agenda that falls outside of our expertise and beyond our fundamental mission of investor protection.” For the other commissioners’ statements, go to the SEC statement page.

There’s no doubt the SEC’s disclosure requirements will exacerbate the reputational risk that the litigation industry seeks to exploit, creating another point of attack in the public relations campaigns that now accompany high-profile environmental lawsuits. James Freeman, a Wall Street Journal editorial writer, called the guidance “a litigation breeder” that would consume SEC time and resources best spent on real priorities. (See WSJ News Hub video.) The New York Times summarized in a predictable editorial, “The commission, which took pains to say that it was not expressing an opinion on whether the world’s climate was changing, has long required companies to reveal financial or legal impacts from other environmental challenges — potential liabilities under the Superfund law or the Clean Water Act, for instance. It has also been petitioned by investor groups and environmentalists to add climate change to the list of those challenges.”

Yes, and that list of petitioners includes familiar promoters of litigation shakedowns against business: The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo among others. (The Ceres investment group, CalPERS and the Environmental Defense Fund issued a joint news release and Pax World Management also praised the SEC.) See their original petition (Sep. 18, 2007) to the SEC, and the Supplemental petition (Jun. 12, 2008).

Freeman suggests the Obama Administration is trying to achieve through its executive branch appointments what it cannot achieve in Congress, that is, implementation of regulatory regime to control greenhouse gas emissions. Probably so. What’s not subjec to dispute is that the SEC guidance will impose additional costs on companies, draw SEC resources away from other, more pressing enforcement needs, and serve the interests of the litigation industry.

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