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Category — Kerry-Boxer climate bill

Countering Sen. Kerry’s Catastrophic Climate Claims (Part 2)

Editor note: On November 10, 2009, Mr. Green testifedbefore the Senate Committee on Finance about global warming. During the course of his testimony, an obviously agitated Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) challenged Ken on different aspects of the climate debate. His responses are printed here. [Part I of this series ran yesterday.]

1. Peer-Reviewed Publishing Revisited

Kerry seemed to think it somehow damning that I do not choose to publish in the peer-reviewed climate literature. First—as I pointed out when I introduced myself—while I am an environmental scientist by training, I have chosen to work on policy analysis, which I believe is as important as, or more important than, the science.

However, I would challenge his very premise, which is that peer review is a meaningful indicator of trustworthiness. Plenty of research suggests that peer review is deeply flawed, biased in favor of both extreme and “positive” claims, resistant to nonconfirmation studies, and highly incestuous, because review committees regularly screen out divergent viewpoints and consist of peers who coauthor work with each other. While most research on problems with peer review involves medical literature, there is every reason to believe the same problems plague climate research.

As Drummond Rennie, M.D., deputy editor (West) of the Journal of the American Medical Association writes, “There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print.” Peer review determines where rather than whether a paper should be published, Rennie says. However, from time to time, “shoddy science” ends up even in the most prestigious journals.

Examining peer review in the context of genetically modified food, Robert Horton, editor of the medical Journal Lancet has observed that “the mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability—not the validity—of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”

For additional information on the limitations of peer review, I point you to the following papers: [Read more →]

December 24, 2009   4 Comments

James Hansen on Cap-and-Trade & Copenhagen

“The fraudulence of the Copenhagen approach – ‘goals’ for emission reductions, ‘offsets’ that render even iron-clad goals almost meaningless, an ineffectual ‘cap-and-trade’ mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics-as-usual.”

- James Hansen, “Never-Give-Up Fighting Spirit,” November 30, 2009

There is a civil war on the Left against cap-and-trade as the centerpiece of a U.S. climate bill. Among the leading critics is NASA scientist and Al Gore mentor James Hansen, who reiterated his opposition in Sunday’s The Observer with Copenhagen’s climate summit in mind:

“Cap and trade with offsets … is astoundingly ineffective. Global emissions rose rapidly in response to Kyoto, as expected, because fossil fuels remained the cheapest energy.

Cap and trade is an inefficient compromise, paying off numerous special interests. It must be replaced with an honest approach, raising the price of carbon emissions and leaving the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground.”

Hansen also stated earlier this month:

“Cap-and-trade is a hidden regressive tax, benefiting the select few who have managed to get themselves written into the 2000-page bill…. Think revolving door between the government and Wall Street.  Think revolving door between Congress and lobbyists.”

Hansen’s earlier criticisms of HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey climate bill), apply to the current Senate companion, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009 (Kerry-Boxer climate bill).

Hansen’s bottom line on Waxman-Markey was as follows:

“The truth is, the climate course set by Waxman-Markey is a disaster course. It is an exceedingly inefficient way to get a small reduction of emissions. It is less than worthless….”

-James Hansen, “Strategies to Address Global Warming,” July 13, 2009.

During debate on the original version of HR 2454, Hansen complained:

“Governments are retreating to feckless ‘cap-and-trade,’ a minor tweak to business-as-usual….

“Why is this cap-and-trade temple of doom worshipped?  The 648-page cap-and-trade monstrosity that is being foisted on the U.S. Congress provides the answer.  Not a single Congressperson has read it.  They don’t need to – they just need to add more paragraphs to support their own special interests.  By the way, the Congress people do not write most of those paragraphs—they are ‘suggested’ by people in alligator shoes.”

And Hansen spanked harder on the final version: [Read more →]

November 30, 2009   13 Comments

Kerry-Boxer: Its Bite is Worse than its Bark

Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold the first of three hearings on S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” also known as Kerry-Boxer, after its co-sponsors Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Kerry-Boxer is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), also known as Waxman-Markey, after its co-sponsors Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA).

For those worried about the economic impacts of these bills, I bring unwelcome news: their bite is worse than their bark. Escalator clauses common to both bills, ignored in most previous analyses, are the setup for dramatic increases in regulatory stringency well beyond the bills’ explicit emission reduction targets. Similarly, “findings” presenting the “scientific” rationale for cap-and-trade are not mere rhetorical fluff but precedents for litigation targeting emission sources considerably smaller than those explicitly identified as “covered entities.”

The Economic Debate So Far

Much of the economic debate on Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Lieberman has been about the likely impacts of the specific emission-reduction targets proposed in these bills. The Heritage Foundation, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and American Council on Capital Formation/National Association of Manufacturers project substantial GPD and job losses. In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congressional Budget Office project much smaller costs.

EPA says Waxman-Markey would cost the average household only $140 annually. CBO puts the figure at about $175. Citing these estimates, proponents say cap-and-trade is cheap, costing only a postage stamp per person per day.

Heritage Foundation scholar Dr. David Kreutzer points out that EPA improperly used a technique called “discounting” to make the costs of cap-and-trade seem tiny: $140 is what a household would have to invest today, with compound interest, to pay the costs of Waxman-Markey in 2050. But according to EPA’s own numbers, in 2050 the cost to a family of four would be $2,700.

Kreutzer and his colleagues also note that the CBO analysis does not estimate the GDP loss from higher energy prices, only the cost of the energy ration coupons, 85% of which are to be distributed free-of-charge in the initial years of the program.

A Breakthrough Institute analysis suggests that Waxman-Markey may cost pennies on the dollar because the bill’s “offset” provisions could allow “covered entities” to increase their emissions at business-as-usual rates through 2030. An offset is a credit earned for investments in projects — either in developing countries or in U.S. economic sectors outside the cap, such as agriculture and forestry — that reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions. The bill allows capped sources to utilize up to 2 billion tons’ worth of domestic and international offset credits each year in lieu of reducing their own emissions. If the offsets option is “fully utilized,” says Breakthrough, “Emissions in sectors of the economy supposedly ‘capped’ by ACESA could continue to grow at BAU rates until as late as 2037.”

This assessment is not a realistic projection of what is likely to happen. [Read more →]

October 27, 2009   5 Comments

Sen. Lindsey Graham's Me-Too Kyotoism (will he snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?)

Last weekend, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times titled, “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation).”

Kerry and Graham want to pass a Senate companion bill to H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), also known as Waxman-Markey, for its chief sponsors, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). Waxman-Markey narrowly passed in the House by a vote of 219 to 212. Only eight Republicans — under 5% of those voting – supported the bill.

Republican Opportunity

The overtly partisan character of Waxman-Markey is one of the reasons some observers conclude that Congress will not pass a cap-and-trade bill this year. Cap-and-trade “works” by raising consumer energy prices, and Democrats are loathe to increase household utility bills and pain at the pump unless they can snooker Republicans into giving them bipartisan cover.

Republicans can pry Blue Dogs apart from their more “progressive” brethren and protect the economy from Kyotoism by simply refusing to jump on the cap-and-trade bandwagon.

Republicans, however, are continually tempted to “Me-Too” it, because breaking a legislative stalemate can win ephemeral plaudits from Democrat colleagues and the liberal media.

Case in Point #1: When President George H.W. Bush accepted the Rostenkowski plan to balance the budget by raising taxes, his stock soared in Washington, D.C. But by agreeing to raise taxes, Mr. “Read-my-lips: No New Taxes!” betrayed the people who elected him and pushed the economy into a recession. That sealed his fate as a one-term president.

Case in Point #2: Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona made a national name for himself, first, by co-sponsoring the McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform” law, and, later, by co-sponsoring the McCain-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill.

These actions — especially McCain-Feingold, which would have revived the power of major broadcasting corporations and newspapers to act as information gatekeepers during federal elections — made McCain the establishment media’s favorite Republican in Congress. But these high-profile acts of Me-Tooism did not win McCain the White House. Many voters wondered: Why elect an imitation Democrat when we can have the real thing? [Read more →]

October 15, 2009   4 Comments