Energy

Income redistribution at U.S. expense

Many of us are still stunned that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize even though he has no accomplishments to this credit beyond his major difference of opinion with his predecessor, if not practically every American president. He is determined to make amends for our nation’s sins by apologizing for them in speeches given abroad, as well as changing public policies to bring the nation in alignment with his thinking. In the text of the Nobel Peace Prize Citation, Obama is lauded for his efforts for promoting nuclear disarmament and combating "global warming," but I was particularly struck by this passage:

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Let’s unpack that paragraph. Not for a moment forgetting that our President still has no significant accomplishments to his credit, let us take seriously his current hold on "the world’s attention." Obama is believed to agree with the "values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population." Judging from other statements in the Text, that would be the aspiration for democracy and human rights.

While it may be true that most people either enjoy or seek democracy and human rights, a majority of the world does not enjoy them or is likely to. Democratic republics are to be found mostly in Europe and North America, with a scattering of them in Latin America and Asia. The only reliably democratic regime in the Middle East is Israel, which for its virtues has earned the hatred of Muslim nations, and many others besides.

Russia, China and emphatically the Islamic terrorists are not fond of democracy or human rights, not to mention the rogue regimes in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela; and the Third World generally has had little or no experience with these great human goods.

So what can it mean for the President to share the "values and attitudes" of most of the world? We have already seen what this means in practice as Obama negotiates without preconditions with despots likes Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jung-Il; has appeased the Russians by abandoning missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic; asserts moral equivalence between Israeli settlements and Palestinian massacres; is trying to impose a Chavez clone as President of Honduras; and has even ended the close partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom.

I fear that many Americans’ reluctance to take seriously Obama’s "transformation" rhetoric has blunted the alarming significance of these developments. Remember that Presidential candidate Obama deplored the fact that Americans use more energy than the rest of the world, leaving out of consideration that Americans produce much more than other peoples do.

Somehow it is unjust, according to Obama, that Americans have a higher standard of living than most other nations. Obama is also troubled that some Americans make more money than others. He famously told Joe the Plumber that those who make more than a quarter of a million dollars should "spread the wealth around."

Obama does not seem to understand that when some people succeed in their businesses, they are making jobs for others, not to mention that America is an upwardly mobile society in which those who make relatively small incomes in time work their way up to higher levels. More, he has difficulty distinguishing between disparate incomes in countries that encourage free competition and those which repress it. Class distinctions are not permanent in America as they are in our largely undemocratic world.

For Obama, I believe, just as the lower incomes of some Americans justify a claim on those in higher income brackets, so does the lower standing of most of the world have a claim on the United States.

Given the "values and aspirations" of most the world, it has no difficulty with international income redistribution. It seeks to transfer our wealth to other nations that lack our productivity and, more important, our freedom. Obama obliges by imposing unsustainable social welfare spending on our people, abandoning proven oil production for costly "soft" energy, and refusing to develop nuclear energy.

Whether Obama or not succeeds in "transforming" America from a prosperous nation into a succor (pun intended) for the rest of the world, he is laying the groundwork by catering to the world’s "values and aspirations." Be prepared to be fleeced.

Udall still slippery on energy

Sen. Mark Udall, D-CO, is reported to be twisting arms for Senate votes on the economically ruinous cap-and-trade scheme already passed in the U.S. House. Hollywood leftie Henry Waxman’s is one of the names on the House bill, and few could name a Member of Congress who deserves more “credit” for laws burdening the U.S. economy and restricting the individual rights of U.S. citizens. Leftist Members of Congress like Udall are exempt from mainstream media criticism for conflicts of interest. However, Udall has one here in spades. His wife, Maggie Fox, is CEO and president of something called Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by Al Gore with money from his global warming horror movie. Typical of Big Enviro’s big bucks “charitable” [i.e., organized under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code] organizations, the Gore/Fox alliance has a companion lobbying organization, the Climate Protection Action Fund. Fox is CEO and president of that as well.

Gore is reported already to have amassed a huge fortune in a market for trading carbon credits, and that’s before any law has been enacted limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the purported reason for any such limits — the claims that the climate is warming and that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from human activities is the cause — has been reduced to pseudoscience making mischief comparable to eugenics.

Just for the sake of changing the course of the argument, however, why not inquire of Udall and others in the global warming camp as to what sources of, say, electricity they propose as alternatives? “Renewables” like solar and wind is the stock answer. After decades of subsidies, and now laws mandating their use, these sources remain well under one percent of national electric output, and they obviously cannot run 24-7 even when they work.

The correct answer, of course, is nuclear. Udall has whispered that word somewhat approvingly. However, deep skepticism is warranted since most of Udall’s energy talk comes out of the Big Enviro side of his mouth. Despite its unequalled, half-century record for safety, Udall always raises that “issue” and can be expected to hide behind it when the chips are down and Big Enviro says, “No way, Mark.”

Click here for my op-ed on this subject in The Denver Post on July 27, and click here for the senator’s limp response. It’s time, as they say, to get down to brass tacks, so here’s an open letter:

Dear Sen. Udall: Many friends and I were happy to read your letter-to-the-editor in The Denver Post on July 29, responding to my op-ed published two days earlier. I had been attempting communication with your office for nearly eight weeks before I received two e-mails, slightly different but with substantially the same “boilerplate” I referred to in the op-ed.

It should surprise no one that you have supported WIPP. It commenced operations about two months after you took your seat in the U.S. House and now holds thousands of tons of TRU waste from your congressional district (Rocky Flats). My reference to Udall family complicity in delaying WIPP and adding huge sums to its cost was about events going back more than a decade before you were in Congress and needs no further elaboration here.

However, I’m reminded of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. I find at this website that your father was a sponsor. That was 27 years ago. My understandings are that, under this legislation, utilities (read, ratepayers) have now remitted about $30 billion to the federal fund it created; about $10 billion of that has been spent, largely or entirely on the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada; not an ounce of spent fuel has left temporary storage; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now intends that the Yucca Mountain project be deep-sixed.

I reminded readers of my op-ed, “Preserving the myth that radioactive waste cannot be safely disposed has been a major goal of organized ‘environmentalists’ for decades.” A Denver Post article on Aug. 25 quotes you on Yucca Mountain, “a dead project.” Have you just rolled over and died for Sen. Reid?

Your claims of concern about anthropogenic global warming are not credible without a great deal more support for expanded nuclear power than this from your l-t-e: “I am more than open to expanding our use of nuclear power and recently said so on the floor of the Senate.” Frankly, sir, that’s not even a starter. The aforementioned Denver Post article about the bipartisan photo-op you and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., held in front of trees killed years ago by pine beetles has a terrific headline, “Udall, McCain united in call for nuclear power,” but I hope you’ll excuse my skepticism after experiencing a decade or more of safety-shrouded doublespeak on the subject by Bill Richardson.

Perhaps as a red herring, your letter raised cost as an issue unfavorable to nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are delivering electricity cheaper than any other source today. Your “cleaner sources,” solar and wind, are the choices that have failed for decades on account of cost whenever they aren’t underwritten by direct government subsidies and/or laws like Colorado’s essentially mandatingtheir use without regard to cost. Uncertainty associated with the licensing process, and “leadership” such as you are getting from Sen. Reid, are the primary reasons I’d suggest for any reluctance by utility company boards and executives to build nuclear power plants we need.

Lastly, about global warming. People chasing money mostly from government grants and agency appropriations have now spent many tens of billions on “proving” that global warming continues, is a very bad thing, and is largely the result of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activities. Others who simply observe the world around us shake our heads in disbelief, wondering what planet you and these researchers live on. The climate is cooling, not warming, and the researchers among the crowd laughably claiming consensus about warming can’t make their expensive, complicated – and might I also suggest falsified in some cases? – models jibe with real world measurements.

I believe global warming is to the late 20th and early 21st centuries what the pseudoscience eugenics was to the early 20th. For a cogent discussion of eugenics and the historic mischief of politicized science, look here.

Isn’t it well past time for you to level with the people you represent and tell them the truth? I wouldn’t suggest that’s a decision that can be reached and implemented easily. You have been prominent among global warming alarmists for a long time. Further, I acknowledge the awkwardness of, uh, breakfast table talk and all if this were juxtaposed against your wife’s prominent position in the propaganda end of Al Gore’s carbon-cap-and-trade crusade.

But wouldn’t a mind change now be better than having most of one’s constituents look back in a couple of years, wondering what kind of fool would defy what was so obvious and vote to accelerate his country’s economic tailspin? You got elected to lead us toward sound public policy. In my experience, that’s occasionally neither easy nor comfortable. Honesty, however, sure makes for better sleeping.

I look forward to receiving a reply that addresses directly what is said in this letter. Respectfully, John Dendahl

Own a house? Beware climate bill

If you will ever consider buying or selling a house, you need to beware of the Democrats' "cap and trade" bill that recently passed the House of Representatives. It could dramatically lower the value of your property and/or make it very difficult for you to sell it without very expensive and time-consuming upgrades. (Story linked here, with full text below.) They call it a national "retrofit" policy. If it becomes law, you will not be permitted to sell your property until it meets federal energy standards that Congress has not seen fit to define.

In this bill Congress asserts enormous additional (and unconstitutional) power for the federal government, but delegates the practical details to the environmental zealots and other bureaucrats in the EPA and in state governments. Thus nobody in particular can be held accountable for requiring building retrofits that could bankrupt many homeowners and businesses.

Congress is unleashing regulatory pit bulls on unsuspecting citizens while preserving its own ability to deny any wrongdoing. Politicians do know how to cover their posteriors while doing great damage.

If you have ever sold a house, you know how much stress is involved, especially in a weak housing market such as we already have. This bill is all we need to destroy the market and force us to visit Congress with torches and pitchforks.

If the Senate also passes this abomination, President Obama will sign it. But you still have a little time left to influence the Senate vote. I suggest you get to it pronto.

And be sure to remember this insanity in November, 2010.

CNSNews.com Democrats’ Cap-and-Trade Bill Creates ‘Retrofit’ Policy for Homes and Businesses Wednesday, July 01, 2009 By Matt Cover

(CNSNews.com) – The 1,400-page cap-and-trade legislation pushed through by House Democrats contains a new federal policy that residential, commercial, and government buildings be retrofitted to increase energy efficiency, leaving it up to the states to figure out exactly how to do that.

This means that homeowners, for example, could be required to retrofit their homes to meet federal "green" guidelines in order to sell their homes, if the cap-and-trade bill becomes law.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, directs the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement a national policy for residential and commercial buildings. The purpose of such a strategy – known as the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) – would be to "facilitate" the retrofitting of existing buildings nationwide.

"The Administrator shall develop and implement, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, standards for a national energy and environmental building retrofit policy for single-family and multi-family residences," the bill reads.

It continues: "The purpose of the REEP program is to facilitate the retrofitting of existing buildings across the United States."

The bill leaves the definition of a retrofit and the details of the REEP program up to the EPA. However, states are responsible for ensuring that the government’s plans are carried out, whatever the final details may entail.

"States shall maintain responsibility for meeting the standards and requirements of the REEP program," the bill says.

Insanity of higher CAFE standards

Here we are again, faced with another cramdown policy by the misguided but ever hard-charging President Obama . This time it’s raising fuel-economy standards. Instead of waiting until 2020 to increase the standards, now the President is saying 2016. I think he really wants all the car companies to go out of business. Now before you criticize me by saying I’m not a friend of the environment, let me say that I am a conservationist but at the same time I’m not in the business of making decisions rooted in untruth. Let’s take a look at what previous fuel standards have accomplished. Since 1975 we have had fuel efficiency standards, but they have done little to help reduce carbon emissions. In his book Spin Free Economics, Narmin Behravesh demonstrates the inefficiency of these standards. Here is an excerpt from his book:

    “To begin with, they (fuel efficiency standards) don’t necessarily reduce total fuel consumption. In fact, more fuel efficient cars can, perversely, encourage more driving. Similarly, while the mpg per ton of cars has improved about 20 percent in the United States in the last two decades, average car weight has risen ( heavier vans and SUBs now account for half of all light-vehicle sales, compared with 20 percent in the 1980’s), so the mpg per vehicle has actually fallen about 10 percent.”

Wait a minute here; is Behravesh saying that fuel efficiency has decreased? That is exactly what he is saying. Is not the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? So if the goal is to decrease carbon emissions would it not make sense to do something different instead of the same thing over and over?

I’m not writing to propose an alternative to the fuel standards, but to show the ineptness of the government’s policy. But perhaps a solution to not only this problem but many others would be that of a consumption tax. Talk about fairness, this eliminates the IRS and you only pay for what you use. But I digress. The point is, insanity is not good policy.

Earth Day then & now

(Denver Post, Apr. 19) “The trouble with the eco-crusader is that his false guilt and his false fears feed endlessly upon each other.” With Earth Day coming up on Wednesday, I remembered this line from an old presidential speech. Can you guess who said it? “From the emotional remorse that we have sinned terribly against nature,” it continues, “there is but a short step to the emotional dread that nature will visit terrible retribution upon us. The eco-crusader becomes, as a result, deaf to reason and science, blind to perspective and priorities, incapable of effective action.” That’s telling’em, Mr. President. Or it would have been, if Richard Nixon hadn’t let staffers talk him out of giving the Eco-Crusader speech in September 1971.

Fired up by attacks on the “disaster lobby” by Look magazine publisher Thomas Shepard, and uneasy about his own role in establishing the Environmental Protection Agency after the first Earth Day in 1970, Nixon directed me and other speechwriters to produce a warning against ecological extremism that he could deliver as a major address.

Our draft died on his desk amid concerns about political backlash. I kept the file as a historical curiosity – the presidential bombshell that wasn’t. Today, four decades into the age of true-believing green religion, Nixon’s undelivered speech reads prophetically.

So does Shepard’s diagnosis that the environmental doomsayers “are basically opposed to the free enterprise system and will do anything to bolster their case for additional government controls.” So does the denunciation by Prof. Peter Drucker, another source we consulted at the time, of the green fallacy “that one can somehow deprive human action of risk.” The battle lines have changed little in 38 years.

I wish now that President Nixon, a gambler in foreign policy, had risked this piece of domestic truth-telling. One politically incorrect speech from the White House couldn’t have halted the tides of earth-worshipping guilt and fear that still engulf us. But it would have been a start. With braver leadership, sooner, America’s voices for environmental common sense might have been less outnumbered today.

Two of those lonely voices were in Colorado last week. Terry Anderson, head of the Montana-based Property & Environment Research Center, and Christopher Horner, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, brought a coolly factual message to deflate some of the new-energy hype and carbon-phobia that Bill Ritter trades on and Obama wants to emulate.

Anderson literally wrote the book on free-market environmentalism – a 1991 volume by that title. He told the Independence Institute about PERC’s research on such inconvenient truths as the wildly oversold benefits of green jobs and the grim toll that cap-and-trade legislation to mitigate CO2 will take on our standard of living.

Horner’s current book is “Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.” He told the Centennial Institute, where I work, that a recessionary economy and ten straight years of global cooling make this the worst time for a burdensome new carbon tax that “would not detectably impact climate anyway.”

If the eco-crusaders were serious about cleaner energy, says Horner, they would support nuclear power. They aren’t, so they don’t. And again, we find the battle lines unchanged; the nuclear debate also pervades my 1971 White House file. No, their aim is control, as Thomas Shepard warned. “For a new enemy to unite us, the threat of global warming fits the bill,” gloated the anti-growth Club of Rome in 1991.

Cheerleading mainstream journalists have decided the likes of Horner and Anderson “are not news,” as one bluntly told me – so you heard little about their visit to Ritterville. The governor letting eco-crusading foundations pay his climate czar’s salary has caused no stir either. We're supposed to believe a staffer beholden to ideologues at the Hewlett and Energy foundations gives Ritter objective advice? What sheep we are.