The noted scientific journal, Nature, has fallen for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Though it was not quite love at first sight, it is clear that the editors are smitten with the Senator. His announcement last month that he is seeking the American presidency did not charm them.
But his declaration that the GOP must have a coherent “climate policy” certainly did. Graham is now a climate comrade, just like Nature’s editorial team, and other fellow travelers in the “scientific establishment,” who don’t rely on science to inform their ecological opinions. In their love note to Sen. Graham, the editors state that “climate change is the “defining social, and therefore, political issue for the 21st century.” (Scientific issue, eh, not so much.)
The editors are also into the fact that Graham is calling on all Republican candidates, no matter how inconsequential the office they are running for, to articulate their views, in the affirmative only, on climate change.
“Here’s a question you need to ask everybody running as a Republican: What is the environmental policy of the Republican Party?” said the Senator. “When I ask that, I get a blank stare.”
Nature approves, lovingly, of this call for climate alarmist cant to be incorporated into the GOP’s talking points. “Graham could not be more correct,” the editors enthuse, in the June 18, 2015 issue of the journal, in an article entitled, The right climate: A Republican U.S. presidential candidate speaks on climate change, but will his party listen?
As we approach the birthday of the land of the free and the home of the brave, we have much to be thankful for.
But this year we are especially grateful that the school choice movement has won many victories that embody our All-American values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal opportunity for all.
While charter schools, our public schools of choice, have long flourished in most states, new private school choice programs are now being passed in many of them at an accelerating rate. We currently have 56 different school private choice programs in 28 states and D.C., their number doubling every four years since 2000.
Just a few weeks ago, Nevada passed the nation’s first universal choice program, giving almost every child in the state the right to a school chosen by their parents. When Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill, it was a reminder that the greatest moments in our nation’s history have involved striving for liberty.
The inspiring words of Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War, when he spoke of “… a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal,” embody the fundamental value of the school choice movement. The overarching tenet that undergirds this movement is that the poor as well as the rich shall get to choose the best school for their children.
Sixteen days after D-Day, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law our nation’s first voucher program, the G.I. Bill of Rights, and honored the returning soldiers with public funding of their choice of college.
In 1972, federal scholarships — which came to be known as Pell Grants — were instituted. More than five million students can use their grants at any one of more than 5,000 colleges, many of which are private and religious institutions.
In 1991, Polly Williams, an African-American welfare mother of four, led the battle in Milwaukee for our nation’s first voucher program, which, with the help of Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, passed in the Wisconsin legislature with bipartisan support. The across-the-aisle aspect of choice continues today. At a recent pro-school choice conference, Democrats including strategist James Carville and former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams shared a stage with Republican governors and presidential hopefuls Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker. Jindal summed up the event by saying, “This shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue, this should be an American issue.”
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, comprised mostly of poor and minority students, was established in 2004. Today it boasts a 91 percent graduation rate for participants, compared to just 70 percent for kids in public schools.
Parents are still battling for liberty when it involves their kids’ schooling. But today’s conflict is not with a monarch, but rather the teachers unions and other entrenched special interests that refuse to cede any ground in their grip on the government monopoly. One of their rallying cries is that public dollars should not go to religious schools, though they support Pell Grants which are nothing more than vouchers on the college level. Additionally, in 2002 the Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that because educational funding goes to the parents and not the school, it in no way breaches the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Our Statue of Liberty is engraved with words that greet immigrants to our shores: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” That door has begun to open for more than immigrants. As school choice spreads across the land, both immigrant and native born, rich and poor, black and white, special ed and gifted — everyone — will benefit as all parents will be empowered to make the best educational choices for their children. Freedom of school choice is quintessentially American. And We, the People, are making it a reality in our time.
Alan Bonsteel is president of California Parents for Educational Choice. Larry Sand, a retired teacher, is president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.
Posted with permission of Larry Sand. Originally published at Los Angeles Daily News.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Amanda Maxham. Maxham, a writer and research associate at the Ayn Rand Institute, is a physicist who became a policy wonk. Maxham joins Burnett to discuss how alarmism regarding climate and science is preventing society from thriving.
In this podcast, Maxham argues that public policies should be directed at helping people flourish, and improving human lives and how that necessarily conflicts with environmentalists stated aim that human not impact nature. She believes that climate change alarmism is not about science but rather about the moral view that humans are wrong to have an impact on nature — even if that impact improves human lives. Fossil fuel, she argues, are the great benefactor of human civilization, rather then being the bane of human existence.
Eco-liberals who love to hate “Big Oil” — prepare to be shocked. U.N. climate change treaty negotiators recently received a proposal from Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and four other European petroleum companies to collaborate with the international body on the climate change treaty, according to Christiana Figueres, the senior global warming official at the U.N.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Figueres said the European oil companies have endorsed the proposals for carbon taxes, and cap and trade emissions credits as a component of the treaty. Delegates will meet in November and December of this year in Paris for treaty talks.
U.S. companies Chevron and ExxonMobil are, however, refusing to go along with a treaty agreement, and the CEO of Chevron, John Watson, told the FT that he did not share the Europeans’ taste for taxes and regulations.
U.S. consumers want “low energy prices, not high energy prices,” Watson told the FT.
Who benefits from BP and Royal Dutch Shell’s concord with the U.N. That’s the key question here for this quite questionable deal.
Noted expert on all things liberal. Robert ‘The Sundance Kid’ Redford, and other celebrities, have endorsed the climate change hypothesis. Is that persuasive to BP, Royal Dutch Shell, et al? Or is there a secret benefit for them in the U.N. climate change treaty?
Bus Drivers for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s transit system announced on Tuesday evening they will go on a three day strike beginning on Wednesday at 3:00 AM. News of a work stoppage could severely impact economic activity during the final weekend of the 2015 Summerfest music festival held in the city’s lakefront area.
The Amalgated Transit Union Local (ATU) 988 is striking over drivers being asked to contribute more to their health insurance along with hiring part-time drivers to cut down on overtime pay. The Milwaukee County Transit System offered the union a 2 percent pay increase and a 1.3 percent reduction in the employee contribution to pensions. The average bus driver in Milwaukee County makes $62,000 annually in salary, including overtime pay.
Roughly 150,000 individuals use the bus system every day in Milwaukee County. Daily ridership increases by about 20,000 during the 11 day music festival. Some people will take the bus to get home from Summerfest if they plan to have a few beers during an evening of music. With the bus off the table as a safe transportation option, some concertgoers will have to look at alternatives. Ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber may see increased demand during the three days bus drivers are on strike.
County Supervisor Deanna Alexander warned of the potential of increased incidents of drunk driving during the strike. “This is a major public safety concern and I can hardly believe that the ATU would choose to take the thousands of people drinking at Summerfest hostage during this strike, increasing the risk that those who can’t find a bus they are accustomed to relying on, may get behind the wheel,” said Alexander.
Wisconsin, known for its beer drinking culture, is the only state in the nation that treats first offense drunken driving as a traffic citation. This results in a fine of $872.50 and a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for up to nine months.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Research Fellow Isaac Orr speaks with Holly Bellmund. Bellmund is president of Proppant Today LLC, a media, research and consulting company providing best-in-industry thought leadership into proppants and its effect within the unconventional oil and gas industries. Bellmund joins Orr dive into the workings of proppants and their uses in fracking.
Proppant is used in the fracking field to keep the fractures open, this includes frac sand. Bellmund gives a closer look at this market and explains what it means to the energy market.
The U.S. Supreme Court will review the case of Rebecca Friedrichs, a California public school teacher objecting to the dues she is paying even though she resigned from the California Teachers Association (CTA). Friedrichs contends CTA’s use of the dues is “not in the best interests of me or my community.”
“We are seeking the end of compulsory union dues across the nation on the basis of the free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” said Terry Pell, the CIR president.
A related case was Harris v. Quinn (2014). The Supreme Court ruled “Non-public employees cannot be forced to pay union dues Non-public employees cannot be forced to pay union dues.” In the ruling itself, the Court wrote the following (p. 2):
The Abood Court’s analysis is questionable on several grounds. The First Amendment analysis in Hanson was thin, and Street was not a constitutional decision. And the Court fundamentally misunderstood Hanson’s narrow holding, which upheld the authorization, not imposition, of an agency fee. The Abood Court also failed to appreciate the distinction between core union speech in the public sector and core union speech in the private sector, as well as the conceptual difficulty in public-sector cases of distinguishing union expenditures for collective bargaining from those designed for political purposes. Nor does the Abood Court seem to have anticipated the administrative problems that would result in attempting to classify union expenditures as either chargeable or nonchargeable, see, e.g., Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Assn., 500 U. S. 507, or the practical problems that would arise from the heavy burden facing objecting nonmembers wishing to challenge the union’s actions. Finally, the Abood Court’s critical “labor peace” analysis rests on the unsupported empirical assumption that exclusive representation in the public sector depends on the right to collect an agency fee from nonmembers. (pp. 8–20)
CIR claims it represents “ten California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International.” CIR said, “Collective bargaining is inherently political,” and “Political opt-out is burdensome.”
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the fall and rule by June 30, 2016.
No prior presidency has used and abused government to do more for its friends – and more to its friends’ competitors – than has this one.
The default answer to that last question is “But of course.”
Almost certainly the Administration’s Best Crony – is Google.
All of which begs (at least) a couple of questions. Why would Congressional Republicans want to thus emulate this Administration – and does Google really need even more Big Government assistance?
Some Elephants bizarrely seem to think the answer to the latter is – “But of course.”
Can anything be called “reform” – if it’s creating even more Big Government Cronyism? For one of the biggest Cronies going?
Congress has yet another way to build in even more Cronyism for even more Cronies – the legislative amendment process. Thankfully, there are some objecting.
(O)nce again Cong. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced an amendment to extend the (Covered Business Method) CBM program, which is set to expire in 2020….
The (American Banking Association) ABA Banking Journal described the defeated amendment as an “ABA-supported amendment to extend the Covered Business Method program….”
The committee defeated Issa’s amendment by a 18 to 13 vote….
There should be as many objections as there are Crony amendments.
The drug industry is circulating a sign-on letter to build support for exempting drugs from a streamlined patent challenge process….
A companion bill in the Senate, the PATENT Act, doesn’t include the carve-out either, but key senators have pledged to continue working with the industry before that legislation advances to the floor for a vote.
“Key Senators” should pledge to not do any such thing.
We’ve had a lot of warped impositions of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment “equal protection” clause. Creating different law for different patent types would be yet another – and should be avoided like the plague.
Thankfully, Congressman Bob Goodlatte recently said at a hearing that he didn’t want to turn his Innovation Act into a Crony carve-out fest. Excellent on him.
But the Congressman’s bill is too big, too far-reaching – too much government. If the bill is too much government for some – hence their requests for exemptions – it is too much government…period.
The solution is – Less Government. A patent reform bill that is thus actual reform.
Fortunately – there are already two.
This is not fundamental transformation. It specifically reforms demand letter abuse – without total system disruption.
It gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to deal with bad demand letter writers – on an a la carte basis. The FTC examines each case as it comes – rather then preemptive, all-encompassing legislation where every single patent holder trying to protect their intellectual property is assumed to be acting in bad faith.
And that’s about it. With DC – less is almost always more….
This isn’t fundamental transformation either. It reforms demand letter abuse – and cleans up some previous DC mistakes.
The last patent reform bill – the America Invents Act – established overly broad standards for when and how patents can be challenged at the patent office. This bill tightens them.
And it uses the TROL Act language that ends abusive demand letters.
A lot of time and effort can be saved by not trying to amend a bad, too-much-government bill – and instead going with a ready-to-go, less government, equal-protection, Cronyism-free good one.
It would be an incredibly refreshing change of D.C. pace.
Among all the hallelujahs and groans about Pope Francis and his highly politicized climate change encyclical Laudato Si’, there’s scant mention of who actually formulated its core content. It wasn’t the Holy Father.
This is no disrespect to Pope Francis; nobody pretends that he produced the 127-page, 245-paragraph document alone. The ten Pontifical Academies have multitudes of honorary experts available, plus many other advisers. German climate scientist Hans Schellnhuber, widely celebrated as “the Vatican’s atheist adviser,” was just another honorary expert. In January, Catholic historian Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., said of an early draft he received that “the Vatican seems to be consulting widely and may incorporate some of the pointed feedback in the final text.”
Later, Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, convened a workshop of Vatican officials and 60 high-level contributors: 20 science, business, diplomatic, and development experts; 20 religious leaders; and 20 academicians, according to the resulting document, The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.
The document set the agenda for the April 28 “Pope’s Climate Summit,” hosted by Sánchez Sorondo (Francis did not attend) at Casina Pio IV, a patrician villa in Vatican City now housing several of the Pontifical Academies.
The co-host and moderator chosen by Sánchez Sorondo for the summit stunned the Catholic world: economist Jeffrey Sachs, arguably the world’s foremost proponent of population control using abortion as a way to reduce fertility. The shock came after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gave the opening address and was followed by his long-time Special Advisor and Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Sachs. No one mentioned that Sánchez Sorondo is a member of the Network’s Leadership Council, which oversees Sachs’ projects. That would have sparked outrage.
After introductory speeches, Sachs formed the experts into four panels that he moderated for the rest of the day:
Panel 1: “Technical Aspects” (evidence on social exclusion and climate);
Panel 2: “Justice and Responsibility” (leading representatives from the major religions);
Panel 3: “Practical aspects from local to global” (proposed solutions); and
Panel 4: “Eliminate Human Trafficking and Resettle its Victims” / “Next Steps Towards Sustainable Development”.
The scientists and religious leaders ended by adopting a declaration for the pope that supported the theory that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate. According to a critical report by Catholic attorney Stefano Gennarini, the declaration’s authors did not see the accompanying background note that went to the pope. It had a Vatican emblem at the head and added the world’s population as a problem. Sachs was listed as an author.
All then waited to see what stamp they had impressed upon the Encyclical of Pope Francis.
In June, when Catholic historian Robert Royal saw the published Encyclical, he noted that “the Holy Father follows what may fairly be called some of the more extreme environmental views.” Royal found it particularly odd that the Pope’s whole message was coiled around “sustainable development,” a Big Green phrase that can mean anything, but advocates see it as implying population containment. As Royal put it, “Almost any human activity can be categorized as ‘unsustainable,’ from using fossil fuels to having babies.”
Sustainability ideology made it into the encyclical, almost point for point, from the failing theory that climate change is a crisis, to massive wealth transfer from rich countries to poor, to rapid replacement of fossil fuels, to ending national sovereignty in favor of central global governance. It seemed designed for December’s United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.
Sachs and the summit cohort evidently prevailed. Who is this Sachs? He is Columbia University Professor of Sustainable Development. He is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. His money machines include the Millennium Villages Project, operating 102 “sustainable” villages in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, a joint effort of his Earth Institute, the United Nations Development Programme, and his Millennium Promise Alliance. The Alliance is a support network launched and nourished with $75 million from notorious billionaire George Soros.
Heartland Institute research found that Sachs’ Earth Institute received 65 percent of its 2014 revenue from governments and his Alliance gets millions from America’s sustainabiity elite. Between 2005 and 2013, it received 126 grants from 38 prominent foundations – including Bill Gates’ Microsoft billions and the celebrity-packed Entertainment Industry Foundation – totaling $45,067,242.
Sachs was blasted by law professors Brian Scarnecchia and Terrence McKeegan with the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute in a study titled, The Millennium Development Goals In Light of Catholic Social Teaching.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are eight save-the-world goals adopted in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000, some irreconcilably hostile to Catholic teachings. Jeffrey Sachs was the lead architect of the MDGs and engineered the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” over and against objections from the Holy See and the United States. Sach’s Earth Institute now oversees the implementation of the MDGs.
Francis did not countenance these direct challenges to the Faith. In paragraphs 119 and 120, he pushed Sachs away: “Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures” and “concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” Yet the Pope included the core of Big Green’s sustainability ideology, as if unaware of its implications. However, close analysis suggests all of Laudato Si’ was the sincere personal message of Pope Francis himself. And how will that play out in politics?
One Catholic put it in a nutshell: “Catholics are required to believe abortion is wrong. We’re not required to believe in Global Warming.”
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Julie Kelly, a food writer in Orland Park, Ill., joins managing editor Kenneth Artz to talk about the state of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the well-intentioned signature policy of First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Mounting evidence suggests that the law may not be serving either end as complaints about inedible meals, food waste and misspent funds mount. The cost of the program has ballooned and students are not satisfied with the change of menu. Kelly breaks down the school lunch program and explains how bad the situation really is.
The Ohio Legislature sent a proposed state budget to Gov. John Kasich (R). The budget does not include funding for the Common Core-aligned tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
Kasich has the power of line-item veto in Ohio. He is a staunch supporter of the Common Core State Standards. There is no indication yet on whether he will sign the section defunding PARCC.
Kasich’s school funding change was defeated as reported by The Columbus Dispatch:
The governor’s move to eliminate funding guarantees for public schools and base state funding on their ability to raise taxes locally also was largely dismantled, with the House and Senate ensuring that no district loses state aid.
Education Week also reports that the final budget language was changed, with the phrase “nationally normed, standardized assessments” eliminated.
Kasich will answer the question on dumping or keeping PARCC soon enough.
UPDATE: Kasich signed the budget bill and allowed PARCC elimination to stand. Ohio is now officially out of PARCC.
The U.N.’s climate change treaty talks are being imperiled by a “lack of political will” among government leaders around the globe, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on Monday.
Fabius and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon spoke to journalists after a high-level negotiation session, setting the scene for the COP 21 talks in Paris this fall.
Moon complained that the agenda-setting discussion of foreign ministers was moving at a “snail’s pace” and that only “10 days” were left on the U.N. calendar to decide the issues that will merit Paris-level discussion.
“Key political issues” were “still undecided,” Moon said.
Moon said many heads of state had not given their ministers “clear guidance” on climate change policy, and that kind of leadership was needed to “speed negotiations” in the preparatory talks now.
One does not need an official U.N. translator to decifer that global bureaucratese — the climate change treaty talks are in trouble.
At this year’s International Climate Change Conference (ICCC-10) hosted by Heartland Institute, speakers and scientists praised the social and economic benefits of carbon dioxide – a position in direct contrast to those popularly held among climate change radicals.
Historical Background of Concern Over Climate Change
As part of Agenda 21 (See here the Agenda) the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 2 -14, 1992. According to Myron Ebell, a member of Panel 14 at Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change, Republicans didn’t want George H.W. Bush to sign on to the UN framework, but he went ahead and made the U.S. a signatory, insisting that the agreement was non-binding and no harm would come of it.
It did, however, put a noose around today’s economy. A really bad break happened when the Supremes ruled that the Clean Air Act could be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in a 5-4 decision. In its wake, Obama’s EPA declared CO2 a pollutant. Although the results haven’t been overly oppressive as of yet — the Koyoto Protocol was dead on arrival and President Obama did fail in his attempt to implement cap and trade — in typical Obama fashion, executive orders have been issued to fight global warming, with more scheduled to be unleashed.
Are We Living in an Age of Poisoned Weather?
According to Marc Moran of Climate Depot, a project of CFACT, who appeared on Panel 14 at the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change appropriately titled “Fresh Start”: “We are now living in what some call an age of Poisoned Weather.” As a global warming denier, Moran knows first-hand how skeptics are smeared and discredited by climate change alarmists. Moran further questioned whether this present era might be the end of constant and dependable electricity in our home, only to be replaced by a situation where the use of power will depend upon its availability?
A current project of CFACT, “Climate Hustle: The global warming shakedown”, is to be released in the fall. This new documentary will be hosted by Marc Moran.
For those who dare call atmospheric CO2 a pollutant, shame of them. CO2 is a non-toxic, non-irritating, and natural components of the atmosphere. Higher atmospheric levels of CO2 increase agricultural yields. It is not a pollutant, nor will it cause catastrophic global warming. Real pollution (smog, fly ash, etc.) can be cost-effectively controlled. CO2, declared a pollutant under the Clean Air Act by the EPA, constitutes a scam to diminish American economy and a way for crony businesses to make money on carbon trading and “green technology” crony businesses. The scam additionally serves well as a means to redistribute wealth from those who create it to poor countries governed by criminal tyrants.
As related by G. Cornelis van Kooten, Ph. D., a ICCC-10 Panel 5 participant in speaking on “The Economic Consequences of Carbon Dioxide Regulation”: “The transfer of millions of dollars to rich people in poor countries will inevitably end up in the pockets of the well-to-do or the elites.” What is instead needed is the creation of wealth in these poor countries, beginning with the development of energy resources, for energy is the life blood of a nation. It’s immoral to deny energy to the poor in the world.
Fiddling With Numbers Exaggerates the Severity of Climate Change
There are many social benefits of carbon, but they are meaningless if the tradeoffs between mitigation, adaptation, and damages are not similarly assessed. Such a process can be carried out directly by ascertaining what people are willing to pay for avoiding certain physical consequences. The present U.S. Administration strongly endorses the Interagency Working Group’s BCA (Benefit Cost Analysis) estimates. As speaker Marlo Lewis, Jr., Ph. D. so succinctly stated as a member of Panel 4 in expounding upon his topic, “The Social Costs of Carbon Dioxide”. . . “by fiddling with the social cost of carbon, analysts can get almost any result they desire.” And why fiddle? Agencies have an incentive to report climate change in the worst possible way, for by inflating the estimated social cost of carbon, the purported net benefits of their regulations can be increased. Lewis noted these fiddling tricks that are employed:
- Ignore all the climate sensitivity literature.
- Use below market discount rates. When discount rates are as low as 1% renewable energy appears to be more efficient, making renewables look like a bargain at any price.
- Simply ignore the benefits of CO2 fertilization.
- Assume that doomsday is not only more likely, but also more costly.
“The real damage is not climate change, but trying to change the climate”
Paul Driessen, in his Panel 5 discussion about “How Climate Change Prevention Schemes Impact Human Welfare”, noting how the temperature has barely budged in 18 years, reflected: “The real damage is not climate change, but trying to change the climate.” According to Driessen, 1.3 billion world inhabitants still lack electricity — 320 million in India and 730 million in Africa. Four million individuals die every year from lung and intestinal disease caused by using animal dung for cooking and heat. There is also no refrigeration for food.
In action that defies common and moral sense, the World Bank (OPEC) won’t provide funding in Africa to build energy producing facilities. Why? Because building energy facilities to provide electricity would result in more global warming. Does this in any way constitute sound moral judgment? It is notable that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican, Hans Schellnhuber, appears to believe in a Mother Earth, the Gaia Principle. And what about 40% of the U.S. corn crop being used for fuel? Not only has the cost of meat increased here in the U.S., but 412 million people could be fed with the corn being used to make ethanol. In regard to global warming, cold kills. A modest warming of the planet would result in a net reduction of human morality from temperature-related events.
Panel 12 speaker, Canadian Tom Harris, bemoaned how Canada used to receive 25% of its electricity from coal. Now it’s down to zero percent. Thousands of gigantic onshore wind turbines are being constructed in Ontario, Canada, resulting in grave sites containing millions of birds and bats. These 610 feet turbines, costing $250,000 each to build, require 30 years to realize a return on the original investment.
John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, likewise a speaker on Panel 12, further expounded on the use of wind turbines for energy. Energy provided by wind turbines will cost the average American family $1,200 more a year. If a carbon tax is implemented, the yearly cost of energy for the average American family will increase to $4,000.
Economic Implications of War on Fossil Fuel
Of the many noted and learned speakers at the ICCC-10, Jay Lehr, Ph.D., as a Panel 4 participant, had much to say about his topic, “The Future of Fossil Fuels,” which covered the economic implications of the war on fossil fuels. Lehr, was direct, unapologetic, and passionate in his rhetoric, calling it insanity to limit the use of fossil fuels which only raises the cost of what we buy. Cheap energy is the only way out of poverty and is needed in Africa and India to improve the standard of living. Continuing, Lehr observed the following:
- Nuclear, which has the biggest bang for the buck, is being made more expensive with a burden on safety. Although two nuclear plants are being built, one each in Georgia and South Carolina, most likely these new plants will end construction for the next 20 years.
- Coal is a cheap source of energy. As such coal is needed to fuel the poorest parts of the world and is needed, as well, in this country. “If we can put men on the moon, we can burn coal cleanly.”
- There is enough gas and oil to last 1000 years as shale is the most prolific rock on the planet.
- Regarding bio fuels, it is ridiculous to burn food for fuel.
- Wasteful spending of tax payer monies by Navy and Airforce going green. Bio-fuel for ships costs $27.00 per gallon vs. $3.50 for regular fuel. Bio-fuel for jets costs $454 per gallon as compared to $57.00 for regular fuel (This article relates to how President Obama is recruiting the Pentagon to advance his sweeping climate change agenda ranging from building clean energy projects at military installations to the use of expensive green fuels in planes.).
- According to the U.S. Energy Administration, wind and solar can’t compete economically when subsidies end. Even with 2016 technologies:
- New wind projects are nearly double the cost of conventional.
- New solar projects are three to five times more expensive.
Other thoughts shared by Jay Lehr: 1) Get rid of all regulations — the earth is not warming as a result of anything man is doing; 2) Stop picking winners and losers as providers of energy, such as Solyndra, and allow the market to decide; 3) Keep drilling. Russia is drilling in the Arctic, but this nation’s drilling is restricted; 4) Repeal cafe standards — the only way to increase mileage is to produce lighter cars which result in more fatalities.Jay Lehr’s plan to phase out the EPA in a five-year plan was detailed in his July, 2014 Policy Brief for the Heartland Institute titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency.” It was circulated widely and has been received positively by at least one influential Republican senator.
Overwhelming Social Benefits of CO2
Following are the greatest benefits pertaining to those associated with the development of our modern technology-based society:
- Unprecedented economic growth.
- Higher standard of living.
- Increased human life span.
- One billion persons elevated out of poverty in the past 200 years.
- Increased agricultural yields to combat hunger.
A booklet handed out at ICCC-10, “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case” by Kathleen Hartnett White, produced by the Texas Public Policy Foundation www.TexasPolicy.com, notes how fossil fuel was a necessary ingredient of industrialization’s beginning and for its continued growth, having freed billions of human beings from poverty. Since the Industrial Revolution life expectancy has tripled (a modest warming of the planet is good), while income per-capita has increased 22-fold.
Now consider renewable energy resources from wind, solar, and biomass as ways to replace fossil fuels that are falsely blamed for global warming. Man can control access to and conversion of energy held in fossil fuels, but no machine or person can control when the wind blows or at what velocity, nor can man or machine control how much of the radiant heat of the sun will hit the earth on a given day or hour. When considering renewable biomass like corn for ethanol, annual weather and the growing cycle control the timing and quality of harvest.
Heartland Has Last Word
Lastly, consider the below statements that are backed by sound scientific research, in contrast to the unproven global warming hypothesis of the U.N. (accepted as gospel by the Obama administration) obtained from flawed climate models and which portend that the sky is falling unless immediate global action is taken.
From Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science. II: Physical Science. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute:
- “Global climate models are unable to make accurate projections of climate even 10 years ahead, let alone the 100-year period that has been adopted by policy planners. The output of such models should therefore not be used to guide public policy formulation.”
- “Neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979 – 2000) lay outside the range of normal natural variability, nor were they in any way unusual compared to earlier episodes in Earth’s climatic history. If anything, solar forcing of temperature change is likely more important than is currently recognized.”
Articles by Thorner about the June 11-12 ICCC-10 conference in Washington, D.C.:
- Heartland Institute Honors Sen. Inhofe for Challenging Climate Change Myths
- What if the Pope’s Encyclical Destroys Rather Than Save Humanity?
- Global Warming: A Theory that Predicts Nothing, Explains Everything
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Mark Mills. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has a background in science and actively works in economics and technology. Mills and Burnett discuss his Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) presentation: Shale 2.0.
He discusses why fossil fuels still dominate the energy market and will continue to dominate our energy future for decades to come. He also talks about how modest improvements in the efficient use of fossil fuels produce far more energy than dramatic gains in renewable technologies and why improving efficiency actually leads to more, not less energy use.
There are only two possible explanations. They are either really, really ill informed and naive. Or they know they’re wrong – and they are each respectively lying both of their faces off.
Let’s revisit just a few.
The mis-assertions endlessly abound.
And on, and on, and….
So on to the next set of…questionable assertions.
In February, the Barack Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – specifically, the Commission’s three unelected Democrat bureaucrats – fundamentally transformed how the government regulates the Internet.
These three unilaterally imposed 1934 landline telephone law – passed by Congress eighty-one years ago – onto a Web that didn’t even exist until roughly twenty years ago.
This is not just Network Neutrality – which is awful enough. And has already been twice previously imposed by the FCC – and twice unanimously rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court.
This is Net Neutrality – plus the full boat government-mandated-monopoly regime of massive amounts of regulations and lots and lots of taxes.
Leading the charge is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler – previously seen being a two-time campaign cash bundler for President Obama. And look – he’s promising government restraint.
But fret not, the regulators tell us. They will wield just some – and not all – of their massive new powers. They will practice “forbearance.”
“(F)orbearance” refers to a special magic power that Congress gave the FCC…which gives the FCC the power to say “you know that specific provision of law that Congress passed? We decide it really doesn’t make sense for us to enforce it in some particular case, so we will “forbear” (hence the term ‘forbearance’) from enforcing it.”
Because we all know how restrained government always is. There will be omni-directional, near-limitless powers and taxes to wield – but the wielders are promising they won’t wield them.
Doesn’t sound very forbearance-y to me.
The promises continue.
(B)ecause it distorts the operator investment business decision, net neutrality has the potential to significantly discourage infrastructure investment.
Because massive new government intervention never increases the cost of doing business. Like ObamaCare didn’t increase the cost of doing business. Like all government intervention doesn’t increase the costs of doing business.
Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.
If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking…ahead of India.
No big deal, they say.
That’s a really expensive whimper.
See what the government did there? In the name of “protecting consumers,” they take for themselves a ton of money. From a company – that will of course have to pass that exorbitant cost on to their consumers. Not so much pro-consumer – as pro-government.
Does government move as fast as the private sector? Not so much.
Which means the government imposed massive new regulations in February. Which they didn’t define before imposing them – and won’t define for at least half a year after.
Would you invest in a sector where the regulations are amorphous and undefined? And will be for an indeterminate amount of time going forward? And could change yet again, over and over, at any moment – if a bureaucrat decides to change his or her mind about forbearance?
Neither would I.
We’ll close with the broadest possible government Socialism.
Does that to you sound like a government looking to limit itself – as promised?
Not to me either.
It is seventy years, now, since near the end of the Second World War Austrian economist, and much later Nobel Prize winner, Friedrich A. Hayek published his most famous article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” in September 1945, demonstrating why it is impossible for a system of socialist central planning to effectively manage a complex and ever-changing economy better than a functioning, competitive free market order.
All the necessary knowledge to comprehensively and successfully plan an entire society does not exist in any one place or in the mind of any one person or group of people. Instead, the knowledge of the world is dispersed and decentralized among all the minds of all the people in the world.
To effectively utilize it for all to benefit it is essential to rely upon the market and the competitive price system, through which everyone is able to communicate with each other for the minimal amount of information to coordinate their activities with all the others in society.
(See, “F. A. Hayek and Why Government Can’t Manage Society, Part I,” EpicTimes, June 22, 2015.)
Hayek’s Message About Prices Still Relevant in a Post-Socialist World
With the failure and implosion of Soviet-style socialist central planning, Hayek and other thinkers like him where shown to have been right. Socialist central planning is died, relegated, to use Marx’s phrase, to the “dustbin of history.”
The issues confronting societies, now, are not markets versus socialist planning. But the form that markets can take on, and in this setting the degree to which government should or can regulate and intervene into the workings of the market system. Influencing and moving markets in one direction compared to another through government regulatory and fiscal policies are a far cry, it is said, from the “old days” of those calling for and predicting the “end of capitalism.”
But a logical extension of Hayek’s argument against central planning is that any interferences with the price system or the autonomy of market participants to act on their own best judgment in their respective local circumstances of time and place must necessarily prevent the “knowledge problem” of economic coordination from being most effectively solved.
Prices, in other words, need to be able to tell the truth: What are the actual demands of market participants for various consumer goods and services, and what are the actual available supplies and alternative demands for the scarce means of production with which those desired consumer and other goods may be manufactured (what economists called the “opportunity costs” of the land, resources, labor and capital in their competing uses on the supply-side of the market)?
Interest Rate Manipulation Distorts Savings and Investment Decisions
Market rates of interest represent a critical network of prices. Hayek made his early reputation as a money and business cycle theorist in opposition to Keynes’ policy proposals for “activist” monetary and fiscal policy.
Hayek argued that market-based interest rates are essential for coordinating the decisions of income earners concerning how much of their income and wealth to divide between consumption and savings with the decisions of potential borrowers desiring to use the savings of others to undertaken time-consuming investment projects that will bring forth desired consumer goods at some point in the future.
Monetary central planners through the central banking system attempt to influence interest rates and the types and amounts of investment spending through increasing the quantity of money in the banking system. The artificially lowered interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing and raise the prospective profitability of possible investment projects that would not have seemed worth undertaking at a higher market-established rate of interest.
The increase in the money supply creates the illusion that there is more savings available to be borrowed to start, complete and sustain investment projects than there are actual real saved resources to do so.
Borrowers and investors are misinformed by an important market signal to use their special and localized knowledge of time and place in misdirected ways that are inconsistent and eventually unsustainable with the real amount and types of scarce resources with which to undertaken their investment projects, given people’s actual decisions to save portions of their income, and thus “free up” a certain amount of resources for future-oriented production.
Precisely because the multitudes of individuals participating in the social system of division of labor cannot know all the others with whom they are interdependent in the complex networks of supply and demand, and therefore directly know what others are planning to do with their income and resources, everyone is dependent on the truthfulness of the price system through which all those individuals coordinate their diverse decisions and actions.
By falsifying interest rates – the intertemporal prices connecting savings choices with investment decisions – governments and central banks potentially set in motion distortions and imbalances in the use of resources, capital and labor that manifest themselves in the form the booms and busts of the business cycle.
Government manipulation of prices, therefore, can be just as disruptive as the abolition of prices by political edict. Just as automobile traffic on the road system would be chaotic if the traffic lights were turned off, it can be equally disruptive and dangerous if red lights are turned to green when the perpendicular traffic at an intersect is simultaneously given a green light signal as well.
Minimum Wage Laws Cause Unemployment and Distort Resource Use
The same applies with the recent political push to raise the U.S. minimum wage law from its current level to $15 per hour or more. Critics of the minimum wage increase have rightly emphasized that doing so will potentially drive many marginal workers out of their existing jobs and prevent other jobs from ever materializing. Setting a minimum wage below which no worker may be legally employed runs the risk of pricing out of the market those unskilled or low-skilled workers who employers find contribute a value to their production activities less than what the government mandates they are to be paid.
None of us pays more for something than we think it to be worth. This applies no less to employers whose only means of paying those they employ are the revenues they earn from selling products and services to the buying public. For an enterpriser to remain in business, costs of production cannot persistently be above the revenues received from sales of goods and services to consumers. Labor costs are no less a determinant of profit or loss than other expenses of doing business.
But besides this, the manipulation of wage rates through minimum wage laws also influence and disrupt the use of scarce resources in comparison to their allocation in a purely market-determined network of wages for different types and skills of labor.
Minimum Wage Can Result in Capital Replacing Labor When Not Needed
A number of both advocates and critics of a minimum wage increase have pointed out that some businesses have suggested that raising labor costs in this manner may result in replacing some workers with capital.
Computer tablets at restaurant counters can replace waiters and waitresses in taking orders conveyed to the cooks and chefs in the kitchen (as has already been happening in some places). And in Japan they have even been experimenting with robots that bring food orders to the counter or the restaurant tables in place of human servers.
All of this may end up being a market-based “wave of the future” to the extent that an aging and retiring population makes certain types of labor more scarce and expensive to employ over time. The demands for labor and their rising cost of employment over many decades in the twentieth century was a major factor behind the reduction in domestic servants in middle class households and their replacement with laborsaving home appliances and conveniences to do everyday housework.
Another example is how the greater cost efficiencies of office and laptop computers resulted, over time, in the disappearance of large numbers of secretaries employed in the “typing pools” of many large and small businesses throughout the economy.
By artificially rising the price and therefore the cost of certain types of labor through minimum wage legislation, the price system for workers no longer is fully telling the truth about who is available for work and at what market-determined wages to assist producers and enterprisers on deciding what would be the most appropriate use and combinations of labor and capital given the real, underlying supply and demand conditions in the market.
Capital that would be more profitably and efficiently utilized in other sectors of the economy will be drawn into these labor-saving activities due to the government imposing this higher wage floor for labor. This may occur, as a consequence, years or decades before the market would have determined that this was the best use for scarce laborsaving capital resources, and in some cases when it might never have been profitably desirable to redirect capital into those uses at all, if not for the minimum law.
So by manipulating workers’ wages through minimum wage legislation, people will, again, potentially make misdirected decisions on how best to use their local knowledge of their own particular place and circumstances in the market because the price of hiring labor will not be telling the truth.
Government Regulations Prevent the Use of Personal Knowledge
This is no less the case with government production regulations and restrictions. In a dynamic market, individuals are constantly coming up with new ideas based on changing supply and demand situations that create the incentives and profit-oriented alertness to discover and imagine new possibilities about what products to produce and how to produce them.
In a world in which change seems to come swift and fast, flexibility and adaptability to such change are keys to business success in meeting and beating the competition in capturing consumer sales. Compare the market world of today with that of twenty or ten or even five years ago, and you see the technological discoveries and applications that have transformed everyday life in ways that we often forget to fully appreciate since they have already become so taken for granted.
It has been pointed out that in the U.S. the private sector spends about $2 trillion a year on compliance with government regulations, which in the Code of Federal Regulations take up over 175,000 pages of rules, commands, restrictions and prohibitions. Businessmen and those they employ must apply their knowledge and time to meet the demands of politicians and bureaucrats rather than utilizing them toward consumer-oriented production, innovation, and improvement in all that their enterprises do.
At the same time, these thousands of pages of regulations serve as straightjackets that limit and inhibit entrepreneurial ability to take advantage of the changing circumstances of time and place because any and all responses, changes and adjustments are confined within the existing permissible rules and regulations imposed on the marketplace by the heavy hand of government.
Of course, appreciating the full impact of this is impossible to completely know precisely because it is part of what Frederic Bastiat explained as the “unseen.” These are all those market activities and outcomes that never occur, or at least not in their entirety, because the regulatory structure prevents or modifies all the forms they would have taken on in a more free market institutional environment.
That we cannot fully see or know all of these “might-have-beens” if not for government regulation does not any the less change the fact that individuals in the marketplace are prevented or restricted in how best to use the knowledge that they only possess and which the government regulators can never know or appreciate in the same way each of the individuals in the market do in their respective places in the division of labor.
The More Complex the Society, the Less Government Can Do Successfully
Another way of saying all of this is that Hayek challenged the entire trend of collectivist thinking and policy advocacy – whether in the form of central planning or price and production interventionism – by emphasizing the limits on what man can successfully command and control in the social and economic order of things.
For decades the socialists and interventionists argued that the more complex the society the less it could be left to the unhampered workings of the market system. The more intricate the social order and people’s relationships in it, the more there needed to be a centralized political guiding hand to assure that it did not fall into chaos and disharmony.
Hayek turned this argument on its head. He insisted that the more complex the social and economic system the less any single or handful of human minds could comprehend, master or manipulate the relationships for better outcomes than when the market was left free.
If we wish to use all of that ever more complex “knowledge of the world” for the benefit of all, we must leave alone those who possess it in decentralized fragments, and who know best its use through their own actions and interactions in their corners of society. We need to allow all of that dispersed knowledge to be effectively coordinated in an increasingly global community of commerce, culture, and creativity through the mechanism of competitively formed market prices to give each the minimal amount of necessary information about all the others with whom they are interdependent so to integrate what each does with the actions of everyone else.
In “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Hayek summarizes his argument:
“We must look at the price system as . . . a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function . . . The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates, and how little the individual participants need to know in order to be able to take the right action . . .
“It is more than a metaphor to describe the price system as a kind of machinery for registering change, or a system of telecommunications which enables individual producers to watch the mere the movement of a few pointers, as an engineer might watch the hands of a few dials, in order to adjust their activities to change of which they may never know more than is reflected in the price movement.”
Hayek went on to refer to the “marvel” of all the complex knowledge and actions of multitudes of millions of people the price system successfully and constantly tends to coordinate even in the face of continual unanticipated and uncertain change.
“I have deliberately used the word ‘marvel’ to shock the reader out of the complacency with which we often take the working of this mechanism for granted. I am convinced that if it were the result of deliberate human design, and if the people guided by the price change understood that their decisions have significance far beyond their immediate aim, this mechanism would have been acclaimed as one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind.”
Of course the competitive price system is not the creation or design of a grand council or benevolent king. Trade, competition and prices emerged “spontaneously” out of people searching for avenues and opportunities to improve their circumstances through discovered mutually advantageous exchange.
The Significance of Hayek’s Contribution to Human Knowledge
The fact that the market price system has emerged and evolved over centuries and not been created by the fanfare of a political command makes most people not even realize its importance, with it being taken for granted like language, or customs and manners, all of which makes society and social life possible but are also not the designs of political leaders.
Looking over the last seven decades since the appearance of Hayek’s “Use of Knowledge in Society,” we can now appreciate that in retrospect it represents one of the most important contributions to man’s understanding of how the world in which he lives and works is made possible without the guiding hand of government command.
And just how relevant his argument remains today in the face of political regulations and controls that prevent that “marvelous” price system from most effectively integrating and coordinating the actions of billions of people whose freedom to use their own bits of unique knowledge and knowhow is critical for the continuing advancement of mankind.
(The text is based on a talk given on a panel session devoted to “Friedrich Hayek as Defender of Liberty” at the Tenth Annual Moral Foundations of Capitalism Conference sponsored by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University in South Carolina, May 29, 2015)
No more, the FCC has changed the “can-do” Internet into a “can’t-do” Internet, by centralizing control via the imposition of unnecessary 1934 telephone utility regulation.
The FCC has enthroned itself as the ultimate gatekeeper of what’s possible and who has what opportunities on America’s Internet.
The FCC imagines it alone knows what’s best for the Internet, and that’s FCC Internet pessimism, not the Internet optimism that made the Internet what it is today.
It will take time and many predictable bad FCC decisions, for people to see the difference in the Internet ethos over time. When they do, they won’t like it.
In beginning to regulate the Internet like a 1934 telephone utility this month, a partisan FCC has self-imposed it’s bureaucratic “can’t-do attitude” on America’s Internet.
It now can tell Internet operators and innovators all of the things they no longer can do in operating and improving the Internet, and that huge fines await any Internet operator that dares doing so without first asking for permission from the FCC.
And the FCC also warns that it will be looking for more things that private sector Internet operators can’t do in the future.
Welcome to the FCC’s new centrally-controlled, can’t do, restricted Internet.
How did the original Internet that the public came to know and love, get changed?
A little history and perspective is helpful here.
The de-centralized Internet freedoms people have appreciated and benefited from over the last twenty years began in April of 1995.
That’s when President Clinton, with strong bipartisan backing in Congress, had the U.S. Government finally turn operations of the Internet over to the private sector, effectively ending the government’s ban on commercial activity on the Internet.
At core this bipartisan vision, consensus and wisdom was to decentralize operation and use of the Internet by handing it off to the private sector, competitive market forces, and individual innovation.
In parallel, Congress was in the process of finalizing the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which similarly embraced a vision of decentralizing communications by ending a failing monopoly communications policy and adopting a new communications policy of promoting competition and market innovation.
These two strongly bipartisan decisions to decentralize communications created the greatest deregulatory success story in history.
The Internet grew from a few American Internet users to roughly 280 million today and to three billion users worldwide.
Private sector competition, commercial incentives, and the freedom to innovate have led to an amazing thousand-fold increase in Internet speeds for the American Internet consumer.
And everyone appreciates the phenomenal amount of choice and diversity of Internet content, products and services that the bipartisan “hands-off-the-Internet” policy created.
However, as the old adage says, no good deed goes unpunished.
Fast forward to 2015, almost twenty years later to the month, the FCC implemented President Obama’s call for the “strongest possible” Title II utility regulation of the Internet, effectively imposing the most onerous, antiquated economic regulation available, on the most modern part of the economy.
The FCC has reversed the de-centralization of a private sector competitive Internet, by appointing itself the ultimate, centralized Internet “decider” for Internet operations.
In a nutshell, how has the FCC changed America’s Internet?
It unilaterally changed America’s wildly-successful and optimistic, “hands-off-the-Internet” policy to a more pessimistic, Government “hands-on-the-Internet” policy — over the strong objection of a majority of Congress.
It changed the bipartisan, “ClintonNet,” private sector vision of the Internet, to a partisan, “ObamaNet,” government-controlled vision of the Internet.
It changed decentralized Internet decision-making, to centralized Internet decision making by the FCC.
That’s how the FCC changed the “can-do” Internet into a “can’t-do” Internet.
On Monday, June 29th the Colorado Supreme Court struck down the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program as unconstitutional, preventing 500 students from having the chance to get out of failing and under-performing schools. The ruling was based on the majority finding of “unconditional aid to religious institutions”.
Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center stated, “This decision is difficult to swallow, especially for students who are struggling in their current school to reach their full potential … Families deserve access to more educational options.”
Colorado is one of 38 states that have a Blaine Amendment in their constitution. These amendments were mostly added during the late 1800s and were anti-Catholic in nature. Due to the large Catholic immigration influx many wanted to prevent any public monies from funding any parochial school.
The Education Policy Center, which was instrumental in the scholarship program, reports that is considering appealing this ruling to the US Supreme Court due to the state’s Blaine Amendment.
The U.N.’s standard for celebrity endorsements for the “climate change” agenda appears to have shriveled rather rapidly in recent days.
Last week, the U.N.’s Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was raving over the Pope’s backing, sort of, of the agency’s global warming hypothesis.
(Sadly, the carbon trading scheme favored by progressives didn’t merit the approval of his Holiness, which basically negates the whole command and control economic planning thing.)
The fact that the Pope , moreover, did not even attend the Vatican presser on his environmental encyclical, leaving those dreary duties to an atheist German physicist and a few of his chums from The Curia and The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences did not attract the attention of the media, so enthused were they by the chance to employ his visage to bash the Koch Brothers and their coterie.
Now that Pope Francis is fading from the headlines, the U.N. is trotting out another global celebrity, though one less consequential than the Roman Pontiff. Yes, the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford himself, appeared at the U.N. with Secretary General Moon on Monday to urge delegates to vote this fall in Paris at the COP 21 talks for a strong climate change treaty.
“This is it – this is our only life source,” said Redford, now 78 years-old. “Save the world before it is too late. ”
Clearly, Redford is no Pope Francis, and many who need celebrity guidance to make up their minds on “scientific issues” like climate change, are probably waiting for him to deliver long-time pal Barbra Streisand to increase the star wattage to a suitable level here. Of course, if she’s not available, there’s always Al Gore. He may never be POTUS – but, he is, as the Italians say, “papabile,” or worthy of being made Pope, for his altrustic work on the environment, right?
In Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court determined that the EPA over-stepped its own core mission after it decided to use the Clean Air Act to regulate the levels of mercury, arsenic and other poisons chemicals emitted by conventional power plants, without considering the burden placed on existing industry. The EPA’s interpretation created a huge cost for both the power plants themselves and individual states; the court determined that the action was not “appropriate and necessary,” within the boundaries of the Act.
In a loss for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA unreasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act when it decided to set limits on the emissions of toxic pollutants from power plants without first considering the costs of the industry to do so.
The ruling was 5-4, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent for the four liberal justices.
Bill Schuette, the attorney general for Michigan, the state named in the suit, cheered the ruling, as did several conservative voices.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for family budgets and job creation in Michigan,” Schuette said in a statement. “The court agreed that we can and must find a constructive balance in protecting the environment and continuing Michigan’s economic comeback.”
Earthjustice DC Senior Associate Attorney Neil Gormley, whose group that filed a brief in support of EPA, said the court’s ruling “doesn’t change EPA’s authority to protect the public from toxic air pollution.”
This won’t, of course, stop the EPA, which has shown, quite baldly, its willingness to pursue any measure necessary to put pressure on conventional power plants. The EPA has other measures at its disposal that accomplish a similar mission as their Clean Air Act “re-interpretation” might have, and green groups were quick to note that the Supreme Court did not destroy the Act itself, but merely placed a further burden in the EPA’s way.
On the other hand, the EPA will now be forced to consider whether their regulations are as cost-effective as they claim. This case involved 23 individual states, all of whom sued the EPA over its lack of research. According to documents filed in the case, the EPA estimated “health benefits” to amount to a $4 to $6 million cost savings, mostly in health care. In order to achieve that number, the EPA would require approximately $10 million in upgrades from conventional power plants, a cost which, the plaintiffs noted, would be passed along to consumers and to taxpayers. From now on, regulations of this sort should undergo a full return-on-investment analysis, at least, according to the Court.
All of this should have an impact on upcoming regulations, especially those governing air pollution and related emissions controls. Placing a financial test at the heart of environmental regulation means that the EPA will have to think more practically about how it can exact control.