Posts Tagged ‘environment’
October 4th, 2011 at 1:27 pm
EPA Stacked the Deck on Endangerment Finding

Don’t bother me with the facts; we’re trying to save the world here!

That’s essentially what Patrick Michaels of the CATO Institute says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did when it decided that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger the environment and must be regulated.

The problem for EPA is that its own Inspector General recently stated that the process EPA used to justify its decision violated both federal law and scientific integrity.  According to Michaels, federal law requires any endangerment finding that is “highly influential” to be rigorously peer-reviewed to ensure that economy-altering regulations are based on the best science available.

EPA violated that standard when it based its endangerment finding on a facially biased United Nations report favorably reviewed by at least one federal climatologist who worked for EPA – a clear conflict of interest.

The stakes are high.  EPA’s endangerment finding is the legal basis for the agency to dictate energy regulations down to the kind of light bulb Americans can use in their homes.  By cooking the books that authority rests on, EPA has destroyed any credibility it may have had.

Let the legal challenges begin (again).

July 1st, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Feds Take a Side in “Owl Wars”

Well, isn’t this a hoot?  Ever since the spotted owl was listed as an endangered species in 1990, the federal government has gone out of its way to limit timber companies from diminishing its wooded living spaces.  But while the Feds were concentrating on keeping dreaded homo sapiens at bay, another creature swooped in threatening to kill-off spotted owls: barred owls.

It turns out that barred owls are bigger and meaner than their spotted cousins.  According to Reuters, barred owls “have made steady gains in displacing spotted owls, which are being disrupted during nesting and are losing out in the competition for mice and other food.”

Some questions come to mind.  Who’s protecting the mice these owls are hunting mercilessly?  Surely, the mouse “and other food” constituencies are being impacted negatively by the increase in predator supply.

Also, isn’t the barred owl vs. spotted owl contest really a matter of survival of the fittest?  If human societies always evolve toward higher, better, more progressive outcomes, why not members of the animal kingdom?

Maybe this bird-on-bird fight has another dimension that liberals don’t want to contemplate.  Perhaps the spotted owls got fat and happy with government removing competition for resources.  As it nested quietly, maybe the species forgot how to fight for food.

There’s one other point to make: The barred owls are from the East Coast.  They only began settling in the spotted owl’s Pacific Northwest territory in the 1970’s.  In only a few decades, the barred owls have multiplied faster and staked out more territory than the native spotted owls.  If the Feds let nature and demography continue there will be no spotted owls left in a few years.

Partisans for the spotted owl want the Feds to take “decisive action” against the barred owl to save the spotted owl’s way of life.  The Feds are contemplating doing just that, even though it probably means capturing and killing owls who are just trying to scratch out an existence.  The real problem here seems to be letting a situation get out of control through either ignorance or incompetence.  Now, there are no good options for getting the genie back in the bottle.

Much like mice, food for thought.

May 13th, 2011 at 1:15 am
Chevron/Ecuador Judge Smacks Down Lawyers

Yesterday I blogged about new developments in the Ecuadorian environmental case against California-based Chevron Corp., and said I would have a second part of the blog ready today. Well, here it is.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has been giving fits to the plaintiffs’ lawyers who have so, uh, creatively pursued this case for years, refused plaintiffs’ demands that he recuse himself. What was particularly devastating in his answer was the fact that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had praised to high heaven his handling of the case:

“[I]n light of the complexity of this case and the urgency of its adjudication, we wish to note the exemplary manner in which the able District Judge has discharged his duties,” the appellate court stated. “There is no question but that all concerned, not least this Court, are well served by the careful and comprehensive analysis which is evident repeatedly throughout the many memoranda and orders of the District Court, many of which were produced with rapidity in the context of the District Court’s daunting schedule in this and other important cases.”

That’s about as effusive an endorsement from a higher court as I’ve ever seen. It’s also, effectively, a total smack-down (in advance) of the plaintiffs’ recusal motion.


Kaplan also denied ever having “urged” Chevron to file racketeering suit.
     The Ecuadoreans contend that Kaplan made the suggestion by asking during a hearing: “Now, do the phrases Hobbs Act, extortion, RICO, have any bearing?”
     But Kaplan said he posed the question after Chevron made its accusations known.
     “Chevron had laid out its RICO, Hobbs Act and extortion claims well before the motion to quash was argued and well before the Court even posed its question,” Kaplan wrote. “In short, the chronology is flatly inconsistent with the LAP Representatives’ contention.”

What has gone unsaid in all this is the irony (or hypocrisy) in the plaintiffs’ whining about supposed “bias” against them in U.S. courts, where the alleged bias involved no allegations of financial wrongdoing by the judge and no other conflict of interest — in other words, no real ethical conflict, but merely a glorified difference of opinion — while the plaintiffs’ lawyers have utterly belittled and denounced the importance of manifold evidence of actual ethical conflicts in the Ecuadorean courts that have been raking Chevron over the coals.

(Sorry for such a long sentence.)

When one key judge was videotaped participating in what looked to all the world like a bribery scheme in favor of the plaintiffs, “The Washington D.C.-based Amazon Defense Coalition, which supports the plaintiffs, said in a statement on Tuesday that the video showed Nunez had resisted the attempts to bribe him.” Well, not exactly. Even the judicial system of Ecuador, panned internationally as being corrupt or unreliable, was forced to remove Judge Nunez from the case. Yes, internationally.  As in:

On Feb. 2, a German newspaper featured a lengthy report headlined “Ecuador emerges as hub for international crime.” This follows actions in recent years in which the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, the International Bar Association and six major American business organizations all have denounced Ecuador’s court system as unreliable or corrupt.on Feb. 2, a German newspaper featured a lengthy report headli major American business organizations all have denounced Ecuador’s court system as unreliable or corrupt.”

So we have an American judge with no direct conflict of interest and a record praised by the courts above him being blasted by the same outfits who are perfectly happy with a corrupt Ecuadorean system that they themselves have said is all about graft. Chevron has noted:

On film, Donziger declared, “the only language that I believe, this judge is gonna understand is one of pressure, intimidation and humiliation.  And that’s what we’re doin’ today.  We’re gonna let him know what time it is . . . .  We’re going to scare the judge, I think today.”  These tactics were employed because, according to Donziger, judges in Ecuador “make decisions based on who they fear the most, not based on what laws should dictate.”  When it was suggested to Donziger that no judge would rule against them because “[h]e’ll be killed,” Donziger replied that, though the judge might not actually be killed, “he thinks he will be…  Which is just as good.”

This is not, repeat not, just a question of one company fighting off a lawsuit. This is a question of American companies being badly abused by a foreign court system, at the urging of American lawyers about whom several judges have raised the specter that they have acted fraudulently. This should be a matter where the U.S. government, through the White House and State Department, should weigh in diplomatically to protect American interests. That they have not done so should be a mark of shame for the Obama administration.

March 15th, 2011 at 10:42 am
In Memoriam: Owsley Stanley (1935-2011) – “King of LSD,” Grateful Dead Soundman and… Global Cooling Alarmist?
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Owsley Stanley, the famed 1960s “King of LSD” who helped pioneer the Grateful Dead’s trademark sound, has died following an auto accident in his adopted home country of Australia. So what led him to abandon America and flee to Australia, anyway?

It’s actually instructive regarding our current political climate.  Apparently, he became convinced during the 1970s that global cooling was about to trigger a new ice age, so he relocated to the southern hemisphere, which he considered less subject to that supposed oncoming disaster.  Mr. Stanley, of course, wasn’t alone in the global cooling hysteria.  Among others, Newsweek and The New York Times repeatedly sounded the alarm, and continuing climate alarmist Paul Ehrlich predicted massive crop failures and starvation.

Rest in peace, Owsley Stanley.  And thank you for the sobering lesson of the ephemeral nature of climate change alarmism amid the current fashion of global warming.

November 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 pm
The Only Problem with Green Jobs is that they Don’t Exist
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Senik’s Law of Subsidies: Subsidizing any industry into existence requires destroying its more efficient competitors. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of green jobs.

Luckily, the Obama Administration hasn’t been able to get its hands on the noose with which it intends to strangle the energy industry (I’m sorry … the industry that produces energy that actually works): that would be cap and trade. Thus, it’s had to settle for the silver medal of plowing money into “green jobs” that can’t balance the books without a chunk of your paycheck to stem the tide of red ink. The problem, of course, is that since conventional fuel sources like coal and petroleum are still the most feasible energy sources, the government is underwriting jobs that serve no discernible demand in the consumer market. Consider this passage from a story in today’s Washington Post:

With nearly 15 million Americans out of work and the unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent for 18 consecutive months, policymakers desperate to stoke job creation have bet heavily on green energy. The Obama administration channeled more than $90 billion from the $814 billion economic stimulus bill into clean energy technology, confident that the investment would grow into the economy’s next big thing.

What could go wrong? After all, if the administration is “confident”, there’s no reason to doubt, right? The Obama White House is know for nothing if not its clairvoyance (we’ll leave aside the question of why the “next big thing” would require subsidies). Oh, Mr. President, we hate to interrupt your dance with delusion, but reality would like to cut in:

The industry’s growth has been undercut by the simple economic fact that fossil fuels remain cheaper than renewables. Both Obama administration officials and green energy executives say that the business needs not just government incentives, but also rules and regulations that force people and business to turn to renewable energy.

Without government mandates dictating how much renewable energy utilities must use to generate electricity, or placing a price on the polluting carbon emitted by fossil fuels, they say, green energy cannot begin to reach its job creation potential.

Forget Afghanistan. Energy policy is the administration’s real parallel to Vietnam. We must destroy our energy sources in order to save them.

October 29th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
EPA Regulatory Lunge Could Result in 2011 Economic Plunge
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In an op-ed published today on The Hill’s Congress Blog, CFIF Vice President Timothy Lee warns that “regardless of what occurs on November 2,”  the EPA’s regulatory agenda moving forward threatens to hit consumers and business hard and right where it hurts: their pocketbooks.

Lee writes:

When we ring in the New Year in just two short months, next week’s elections will be in our collective rear view mirror. However — regardless of what occurs on Nov. 2 — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) campaign to impose its new round of economy-wide environmental regulations will continue in 2011. That should worry every American, because EPA’s wish list will hit consumers and business where it hurts: their pocketbooks.

Supported by an administration that has suffered defeat after defeat on Capitol Hill in its attempt to pass wholesale climate change legislation, EPA instead seeks to impose its costly and burdensome regulatory agenda through the back door. From overly complex new greenhouse gas rules to more stringent ozone standards to new mandates for recycled coal ash, unelected EPA bureaucrats hope to decree through regulatory fiat what they can’t enact through the democratic or legislative processes.

If successful, EPA’s agenda could cost American families $3,000 per year, according to Heritage Foundation estimates. …

Read the entire piece here.

April 8th, 2010 at 2:02 pm
This Just In: Cows Don’t Cause Global Warming
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Well, actually it’s been in for a few hours, but we were busy feeding the goats, who like to eat while listening to the exhaust of the V-12 just sitting there idling.

We’ve been told for years that we shouldn’t eat red meat, which is really tasty and harder to kick than Oxy, because red meat on the hoof emits methane gas, which is supposedly bad for the environment.  Of course, since dead red meat don’t emit nothing but eating pleasure (and shoes not made in a chemical factory), we’ve not been able to understand why we shouldn’t just eat as much as we can, keeping the herds properly thinned and methane-managed.

At any rate, according to the Telegraph, this researcher named Klaus Butterbach-Bahl of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany went over to Inner Mongolia and watched Inner Mongolian cows eat some Inner Mongolian grass.  Dr. Butterbach-Bahl then allowed as to how there were more nitrous oxide emissions (judged to be the third most noxious greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane) when the cows weren’t eating.  All about microbes in the soil, don’t you know.  So it’s okay to have cows eating grass, at least in Inner Mongolia, which is surely better than them eating the Inner Mongolians.

Not to be politically incorrect while scientifically accurate, Dr. Butterbach-Bahl said that his “study does not overturn the case for cutting down on red meat.”

We now return you to your regular programming, although unless you are watching an NCIS marathon, it’s just full of bad stuff that Dr. Butterbach-Bahl hasn’t studied yet.

September 27th, 2009 at 11:10 am
Krugman Goes Postal
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There is something distinctly undignified when a Nobel Prize-winning economist goes postal, but then no one has accused Paul Krugman of dignity in some time.

In one of his harangues on behalf of the Waxman-Markey bill (you know, otherwise known as cap-and-tax) to supposedly prevent some future tropical creature’s diet from including boiled people, Krugman makes the argument that in 2020 the bill would cost the average family “roughly the cost of a postage stamp a day.”

Krugman did not originate the line, around a while now, one of those analogies invariably conjured up by elitists to explain to us plain folks in plain language why we can afford to fund this or that government program.

With regard to this one, we would never stoop so low as to ask what the Postal Service, yet another already bankrupt government service, will do when all those average families, who really must live within their budgets, have to sacrifice just that one postage stamp a day (and that’s if you accept Krugman’s and the government’s math).  Do Nobel Prize-winning economists ever address the idea that resources which are not infinite cannot be infinitely taken?

No, we want to be positive by urging President Obama to begin selling ObamaCare by saying it’s only going to cost every senior citizen just two-and-a-half Depends diapers a day.