June 26, 2009: On the day the House passed Cap and Trade by a 219 to 212 vote, a triumphant Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) hosted a press conference. Markey is the outgoing chief of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He is shown with Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA). Their victory was short lived because the legislation died in the Senate. Every major economic analysis of the House-passed bill showed job destruction. Some were as high as multi-millions.
The impact of the 2010 election is starting to be felt on Capitol Hill. The last hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was held yesterday. This panel received huge national attention when it was created by the then new Democratic majority in January of 2007, and it was considered a major triumphant for the environmental movement. The GOP Steering Committee has voted to abolish the panel. Continue reading
Reviewed by Gregory Hilton
1973 was not a good year for America’s prestige and psyche. Problems involving Vietnam, Watergate and inflation were looming, but the most significant long term obstacle is described in The Oil Crisis of 1973-1974 by Karen R. Merrill. A key turning point occurred 37 years ago today when President Richard Nixon signed legislation which would dominate political debate for the next 8 years. Continue reading
At the wheel is the Prince of Wales who is shown with British racing great Stirling Moss, right. The heir to the throne has given many speeches about global warming and the need to reduce oil consumption. His Aston Martin, Jaguar, Range Rover and Audi all run on bio-ethanol fuel. The Prince has been criticized for extensive use of various aircraft available to members of the Royal household, and for the past three years he has been purchasing carbon offsets. The most recent figures are from 2008 when he paid over $60,000 for offsets to compensate for 84 “essential airplane trips."
In an upcoming NBC documentary, the Prince of Wales says his duty is to save the world, and he will advocate a cap and trade system during his U.S. visit. The documentary “Harmony” will air in November and is based on the Prince’s new book of the same title. Continue reading
Advocates of the Kerry cap and trade bill say it is necessary to stop sea levels from rising and flooding low-lying coastal areas such as New York City. The graphics used in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" movie predicted a 20 foot increase in sea levels. Gore received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC has significantly revised its data and they now say a six inch increase is possible over the next century. Even that claim is seriously disputed.
Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) cap and trade system is going down to defeat in a major victory for conservative Republicans. The legislation was supposed to be on the Senate floor this afternoon, but now a vote on cap and trade is highly doubtful. Continue reading
Reed Clifton of Portland, Maine is a professional musician concentrating on folk, country and blues. He was born in northern New Jersey. He describes his hometown as a “New York City suburb/inner city ghetto, and spent much of his early life as a product of his environment. After cleaning up his life he attended college in California’s San Joaquin Valley. In college he began frequenting country music clubs such as Trouts in the Oildale section of Bakersfield, and his love and appreciation of country music grew.” He describes his philosophy of life by saying: “Some folks journey’s take them on sidewalks, mine goes over Everest. Wouldn’t have it any other way.” Continue reading
Senate Democrats led by John Kerry (MA) are expected to unveil their new national energy legislation on Monday, April 26th. It will be known as the American Power Act but the details are still secret. The legislation is expected to appeal to conservatives by expanding nuclear power and allowing more off shore drilling.
Its fate could well be determined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which is now involved in negotiations with the Obama administration. The Chamber was in forefront of the opposition to the climate change legislation in the House, but they could now shift sides if the bill is altered significantly.
President Obama said on Friday his administration would shift its focus to climate change after finishing financial regulatory reform. The President said “This is one of these foundational priorities from my perspective that has to be done soon.”
The cap and trade national energy tax passed the House last year on a 219 to 212 vote. The bill would require emissions of greenhouse gases to be reduced by 17 percent by 2020. Speaker Pelosi secured the victory despite the opposition of 44 Democrats.
If enacted cap and trade would be the largest tax increase in American history, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost at close to a trillion dollars. CBO said the average American household could pay an additional $1,600 a year because of cap and trade, while other studies had a higher cost. The House passed the measure despite the fact that only 33 percent of voters believe global warming is mainly caused by human activity.
This was one of the major promises in last year’s presidential campaign. In January of 2008, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) described his proposal:
Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Coal-powered plants…natural gas…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was…would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers…So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being omitted.
The good news is that the prospects for stopping cap and trade are excellent, and as of today the Democrats only have 26 solid votes in favor of the House plan. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has signaled the upcoming Democratic strategy change by saying, “I think the term ‘cap-and-trade’ is not in the lexicon anymore.” Even Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has acknowledged that Congress may take years before it passes a global warming cap and trade bill.
The new energy legislation will be somewhat similar to health care. The House passed a health care public option but it was immediately rejected by the Senate. Now the Senate is expected to abandon cap and trade. The editorial in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor noted:
A successful US cap-and-trade program in the 1990s reduced emissions known to cause acid rain from coal-burning plants. But the program was limited in its scope, and simple. Relatively few plants slowly switched to low-sulfur coal or added scrubbers.
Scaling up this idea for greenhouse-gas emissions – and allowing the trading of permits for green projects around the world – is asking for trouble. Public confidence in curbing global warming could nose-dive if a cap-and-trade plan results in a slew of dubious schemes.
One climate bill reportedly to be introduced in the Senate may dilute a cap-and-trade system by also offering a gasoline tax – a proven way to cut the burning of fossil fuels but one that may be anathema to voters. Before Congress leaps into cap-and-trade, it should take a lesson from voluntary offsets: Buyer beware.
As usual, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh is speaking for many conservatives in questioning the need for any climate change legislation. He recently said, “Computer models can not predict within hours where the wind will take the ash cloud from Iceland. Nevertheless, we are supposed to significantly alter our lives because of what similar computer models say global climate temperatures are going to be in 50 years. All of liberalism is a giant hoax. It’s just a giant lie with a bunch of subset of lies to support the big one.”
President Obama today agreed to open parts of the Atlantic coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the north shore of Alaska to offshore oil exploration. exploration. Offshore drilling could provide enough oil to replace Middle East oil imports for 35 years, and it would also yield an 18-year supply of natural gas. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the former Chairman of the Resources Committee, responded immediately by criticizing the Obama plan:
The President is essentially placing a moratorium on the Pacific Coast, delaying planned lease sales in Alaska, and subjecting previously studied areas to even more study , which is a waste of taxpayer time and dollars. Additionally, anything open to leasing will also be open to the inevitable lawsuits that will follow today’s announcement, so essentially we are back where we started. Sixty-eight percent of the American people support expanded offshore drilling, and yet not one lease sale in an area previously under moratorium will occur during President Obama’s term. This plan closes more than it opens, and is a complete farce. There is no question that this ‘Obama Moratorium’ will have dire impacts on the economic future of our country.
That was then, this is now
In 2008, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) said offshore drilling was “a political stunt.” Speaker Pelosi called Bush “the oilman in the White House,” and said offshore drilling was “a hoax.” At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said off shore drilling was a give away to big oil. She was adamantly opposed to offshore drilling “because I’m trying to save the planet,” and “my flagship issue” is global warming.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called it “a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.” Reid described offshore drilling as “the same old ideas meant to pad the pockets of Big Oil. . . Bush-McCain Republicans just don’t get it. . . They want to feed our addiction to oil.” All of that is forgotten now with President Obama’s announcement today. In addition to blocking off shore drilling, Democrats in the past have also blocked drilling in ANWR, building oil refineries, nuclear energy production and clean coal production.
Offshore drilling would have to be approved by Congress, and some prominent Democrats have today come out in opposition. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) both said they would oppose the Obama plan, and they are quoting the President.
In June 2008 the President said “Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or this year or even the next few years, I would consider it. But, it won’t.”
In a related development, the Department of Energy is saying world oil production could decline from 2011 to 2015 “if the investment is not there.” The decline would be due to the lack of investment in oil production capacity, which is another serious energy security issue.