Saturday, September 19, 2009
- Obama Admin: The Twitternomics of CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh is "flat out wrong"
- Reid pledges to move cap-and-trade bill "as quickly as we can"
- A message from Van Jones: What you can do
- Energy and Global Warming News for September 17: White House plays down talk of climate delay to 2010; India ready to issue non-binding emissions cut; Duke Energy CEO says "I actually can see a future where coal is not in the equation in 2050."
- Worst headline of the week — "Vilsack: Climate change could help rural economies"
Posted: 18 Sep 2009 07:38 AM PDT
When we last left CBS's Declan McCullagh, he was promoting another fossil-fuel-funded, falsehood-filled CEI attack on clean energy reform. I've been at Elizabethtown College talking to their terrific faculty and students, so I haven't been able to respond in detail to all of the nonsense he has been peddling, but Wonk Room's Brad Johnson has another great post that I will reprint here.
Yesterday, libertarian blogger Declan McCullagh, a senior correspondent for CBSNews..com, made the incendiary claim that the Obama administration was suppressing Treasury Department documents detailing the true cost of limiting greenhouse gases. After CBS published the story, "Obama Admin: Cap And Trade Could Cost Families $1,761 A Year," Republicans claimed this was a startling admission, since it has officially estimated an average household cost in 2020 of $80 to $175. It turns out, however, that the $1,761 figure was constructed by McCullagh himself, not the administration, using a new form of economic analysis, Twitternomics:
Here's one more math formula: McCullagh Twitternomics ≠ Obama Administration Analysis. Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan Krueger responded simply that the CBS "reporting" was "flat out wrong":
In a follow-up piece, McCullagh quotes the response from Treasury, but somehow failed to include the lines where his reporting was called for being "flat out wrong" and using "misrepresentations of the facts."
McCullagh is on the fringes of the right-wing Koch-Exxon pollution machine, writing for the Cato Institute (founded by David Koch and funded by ExxonMobil) and Reason Magazine (part of the Reason Foundation, funded by David Koch and ExxonMobil). Koch Industries' revenue last year was estimated by Forbes to be $98 billion — in McCullagh's Twitternomics, a tax on American families of $863. ExxonMobil's record 2008 revenue was $442.85 billion — a McCullagh tax of $3,902.
McCullagh's anti-government libertarianism sometimes reaches absurdities, as when he argued in 2004 that "Keynesian economists who believe in activist government intervention in the economy" were "fooled by the Soviet Union." Further, McCullagh — who exaggerated his position at CBS — is an old hand at ascribing outlandish headlines to liberals that he actually made up himself.. His real claim to fame is for establishing the false meme in 1999 that Al Gore made an "improvident boast" about inventing the Internet.
But none of this should come as a surprise, as McCullagh's CBS blog is titled, appropriately, "Taking Liberties."
Posted: 18 Sep 2009 07:05 AM PDT
Even more important, I'm told, the climate science realists in the Cabinet had a come-to-jeepers* meeting this week with the political team, and the word went out from the White House that the climate bill is still a top priority of the administration, with a strong desire to see the Senate act this year. That said, I thought the White House's commitment to the issue was fairly obvious from the big recent news: Obama to speak at U.N. special session on global warming; Todd Stern testifies "Nothing the U.S. can do is more important for the international negotiation process than passing robust, comprehensive clean energy legislation as soon as possible…. President Obama and the Secretary of State, along with our entire Administration, are committed to action on this issue."
Here's more from Reid himself on the timing — and some relatively positive words for a surprising Senate source:
Those are certainly more positive words than we've heard from Lincoln to date (see "Much ado about not much: New Ag Chairwoman may not change Senate dynamic on climate bill push").
*[I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, so I have to be more careful what I say -- and I dictate all of my blog posts using Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. In place of her saying "Oh, Jesus" -- and no, that wasn't me she was imitating -- we've taught her to now mostly say "Oh jeepers, Batman"!]
Posted: 17 Sep 2009 12:39 PM PDT
The agenda of the people who smeared Van Jones is a matter of public record — see Fox News blurts out its agenda: "Now that Jones has resigned, we need to follow through…. First, stop cap-and-trade, which could send these groups trillions," and then put "the whole corrupt 'green jobs' concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream."
Now Van Jones has written a message to his friends and supporters laying out his agenda — a call to action, really:
Energy and Global Warming News for September 17: White House plays down talk of climate delay to 2010; India ready to issue non-binding emissions cut; Duke Energy CEO says "I actually can see a future where coal is not in the equation in 2050."
Posted: 17 Sep 2009 12:03 PM PDT
Posted: 17 Sep 2009 11:57 AM PDT
No, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did NOT say global warming would be good for rural communities.
What he said was that taking action on global warming would be good for rural communities, as the rest of The Journal Record's article makes clear:
Vilsack knows that the climate change from unrestricted greenhouse gases emissions would be a disaster for farmers (see "A Stormy Forecast for U.S. Agriculture"). Oklahoma would do worse than most, probably becoming a permanent dust bowl in the second half of the century. Vilsack has testified that the economic benefits of climate bill for farmers 'easily trump' the costs.
The story isn't bad, but the headline is dreadful — and that's a problem because many people don't ever get past the headline. The headline could have been "Vilsack: Action on climate change could help rural economies" or "Vilsack: Fighting climate change could help rural economies."
The paper's "About Us" section asserts:
Not quite there, folks.
|You are subscribed to email updates from Climate Progress |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
More Government Health Care Means A Smaller US Military
Wall Street Journal
Oh yes. We sell him soooooooooo short, and soon,
it will be to late for us to repair the damage our blindness
and cynicism is delivering.
have put into things these last 10 months (talking and typing are
hard work!) Obama has let things slip. HOLD HIM FOR ME!!!
Obama Administration Pushes Climate Talks Into 2010
New York Times
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
- "The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
- Reid aide walks back Senate Majority Leader's comment on climate bill timing
- Are Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue's Ties to Union Pacific Railroading the Companies that Support Climate Policy?
- Bumble Bee, Dell, DuPont, FPL, Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Nike, PG&E and Xanterra urge the Senate to pass a bill this year that will cut GHG emissions and "jumpstart a clean energy economy": "A rapidly changing climate is reshaping the American landscape and poses a long-term threat to our nation's economy and to our children's future."
- E&E: Reid says cap-and-trade bill MAY wait till 2010
- Inhofe flip-flops, admits the climate bill is "Alive and Well" — thanks to grassroots clean energy push
- White House rolls out details of fuel economy, emissions standard — The biggest step the U.S.. government has ever taken to cut CO2
Posted: 16 Sep 2009 06:41 AM PDT
Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International, has another piece I'm reposting, "The Parallel Universes of Climate Change. Where do you live?" You may remember Gilding from Tom Friedman's Ponzi scheme column (see here).
Some days my head hurts, as I shift between what feels like two parallel universes in the climate change debate. First I have these conversations with world-class scientists who calmly lay out the scientific view of the various risks posed by climate change and their relative scale and likelihoods. They tell me the science says it is almost certain the impacts will be serious and destabilising for our society and our economy. The science also describes a lower level of risk – which they find hard to quantify but generally say between 10% and 50% – that the impacts of climate change will be catastrophic, perhaps even civilisation threatening. This could include widespread famine, war and economic collapse. Not certain, but a reasonable possibility.
It is very clear when you listen to these scientists and read their peer-reviewed reports that, on any calm and rational analysis, we should be preparing for a carbon reduction war. Yes, a war – with all that implies about focus, effort and sacrifice. The threat posed is, after all, a "clear and present danger" and the response should be strong, global and immediate. This should be a 'whatever it takes' moment.
Then I shift into the parallel universe.
I spend time in corporate boardrooms and listen to the analysis of business executives who explain how we mustn't damage the economy by "over-reacting". They explain their concern about protecting jobs and economic growth, how we must not jeopardise "our" (insert India, China, South Africa, USA, Australia etc) national competitiveness by acting "early" because, after all, without a global solution what difference will our actions make anyway? When I engage with policy makers, even those supportive of climate action, I get only a marginally stronger response.
Of course, each of these arguments has its narrow appeal. There's always a bit of truth and rationality, and that's why people use them. But the collective consequence of these arguments is the real story here – the story that historians will tell. We have had the risk thoroughly analysed and explained to us and we are choosing, with endlessly shifting reasons for prevarication and delay, not to act commensurate to the level of risk.
I wonder what it was like in the lead up to WWII, the last time we had a serious and clear global threat. When Hitler invaded Poland, did Winston Churchill order an economic modelling exercise to understand the implications of spending over a quarter of GDP on the war effort? When Pearl Harbour was bombed, did US industry argue we shouldn't over-react, that America shouldn't respond until there was a global agreement to act so as to avoid a disproportionate share of the cost?
No, fortunately for us, that wasn't their response. In fact, just four days after Pearl Harbour was bombed, the auto industry was ordered to cease all civilian production in order to focus on the war effort. Such actions soon spread across the economy. I imagine US political leaders thoughts were something like this: "Well damn the objectors, this is a threat to our freedom and to our way of life. In fact, this is such a profound threat we will throw everything we have at it and make it work, even though we don't know whether we will succeed nor the costs of trying."
They would have said: "We will have to do this because if we don't, our children will curse our lack of courage and our selfishness. If we act we may fail. But if we don't act, we won't be able to live with ourselves for not trying."
In our present day to day lives, when the weather is a bit warmer than normal but often rather pleasant, and our economy is showing signs of improving, it is hard for most of us to think like this. The business leaders I talk to about this topic are not bad people.. Nor are the policy makers grappling with the complexities of transforming an economy and the uncertainty of the outcomes. They are normal people with children and friends – they go to church, they volunteer in their communities and they care about the world. (OK, there are a few exceptions, but not many!)
But they still fall for the easy way out, the path of denial and avoidance. Not because they're bad people, but because they're not thinking clearly and courageously.
My message on this topic is clear and direct. We are at a crucial moment in human history. 2009 is to climate change what 1939 was to WWII. Poland has been invaded – the Arctic is melting, the bushfires are burning, the droughts are strengthening and the floods are sweeping away communities. There is only one question you have to ask yourself: "what will I tell my children?"
So now, imagine yourself in 2030. The world is teetering on the edge of geopolitical and economic chaos (this is not a certainty, but it is certainly a reasonable risk). You are talking to your children (add 20 years to their current age) and explaining what it was like in 2009 – what the scientific consensus was and how you personally responded, then and there, when the reality became clear. What did you do in 2009 and why?
In 2030, the parallel universes will have closed and there will only be one left. It will be called reality and you and your children will be living in it. Imagine the conversation. Do it now, then decide what to do.
Posted: 16 Sep 2009 06:12 AM PDT
Again, it's probably 50-50 at this point with the bill is voted on this year.
The story also has news on the progress Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) are making putting together their draft bill:
And conservatives remain, well, conservatives:
Hmm, other than creating 1.7 million clean energy jobs and not ruining the health and well-being of the next 50 generations — what benefit is there, really? (see "Waxman-Markey clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill creates $1.5 trillion in benefits")
Posted: 16 Sep 2009 04:54 AM PDT
When we last left the Chamber it had admitted that calling for the 'Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century' on climate science was dumb, but it was still aping the deniers. But even before that, many wondered, Why is the Chamber of Commerce a right-wing echo chamber when much of its Board supports a strong clean energy and climate bill? Pete Altman, NRDC's Climate Campaign Director, has an explanation in this piece first published on NRDC's Switchboard blog.
Why is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on such a different page from its major members when it comes to climate change legislation?
Last spring we raised the question of who the US Chamber of Commerce is really representing when it comes to the issue of climate change. It seemed curious that although 19 of the companies' on the Chambers' board were on record supporting climate legislation while only four (including three coal companies) were against it, the US Chamber staff continued to take a hard-line position on the issue. And as I've previously discussed, the US Chamber announced in June 2009 that it would spend $100 million fighting proposals it opposes, including on climate policy.
Now, a new question has arisen, prompted by this 2006 item about the 25th anniversary of a railroad line built by Union Pacific railroad to carry coal from southern Wyoming to the rest of the U.S.
What is the connection between Union Pacific Railroad (ticker symbol UNP), dirty coal and the US Chamber? The dots connecting them draw what has the appearance of a conflict of interest between Tom Donohue's role as President of the US Chamber of Commerce and his role as an 11-year member of the Union Pacific Railroad's Board of Directors.
Starting with Mr. Donohue: US Chamber President Tom Donohue has been on the board of directors at Union Pacific since 1998. As a Union Pacific board member, Donohue has been well cared for.
In addition, Union Pacific has been good to the US Chamber:
Ok, but it is common for people in Donohue's position to be on various boards and such. So what? Well, I don't know what the US Chamber's policy on conflict of interest says, but if it doesn't cover this situation, it needs fixing.
Union Pacific has a vested interest in making sure it can continue to haul lots of coal.
Clearly, Union Pacific is worried about what climate legislation would do to its business, and decided to oppose the climate bill that the US House passed in June.
It's easy to understand Union Pacific's interest in maintaining its lucrative coal traffic. Union Pacific and BNSF, another giant railroad (and ACCCE member!) have invested hundreds of millions over the last 25 years in a joint rail line capable of moving the coal.
It's a big deal to these companies – they even issued a press release celebrating the 200,000th rail car of coal being shipped out of the Basin, an event memorialized in this group picture – which happens to show that the coal being shipped in the 200,000th train came from a coal mine owned by Peabody Energy (another ACCCE member! and one of the four US Chamber board members that opposes climate policy.)
(Arch Coal and Western Fuels Association (both ACCCE members!) didn't make the picture I guess, even though they also have coal mines in the same region and rely on Union Pacific to move their coal. In fact, every one of Arch Coal's western mines rely on Union Pacific trains.)
So to review: The President of the US Chamber of Commerce, who is resisting calls from his own board members to stop fighting against federal climate policy, is being richly compensated by Union Pacific, a company which — along with some of its key businesses partners — is vigorously fighting against federal climate policy..
This isn't actually the first time that Mr. Donohue's potential conflicts of interest have come up. In 2005, the New York Times reported on concerns about Mr. Donohue's roles on corporate boards, though at the time climate policy was not one of the issues mentioned.
So, it would seem fair for some of the companies on the Chamber board that want to move forward – Johnson & Johnson, Nike, PNM Resources, Dow, and recent ACCCE abandoners Duke and Alcoa – to wonder whether they are getting railroaded. And it would seem fair to ask Tom Donohue to explain how he's going to address this apparent conflict of interest.
Bumble Bee, Dell, DuPont, FPL, Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Nike, PG&E and Xanterra urge the Senate to pass a bill this year that will cut GHG emissions and "jumpstart a clean energy economy": "A rapidly changing climate is reshaping the American landscape and poses a long-term threat to our nation's economy and to our children's future."
Posted: 16 Sep 2009 04:52 AM PDT
So begins an open letter to the Senate last week from a dozen leading businesses. These companies speak from their own experience reducing emissions while increasing profits:
Posted: 15 Sep 2009 04:29 PM PDT
I'd say right now it's about 50-50 we get a vote this year, and as readers know, I don't think it matters terribly much. There's gonna be a Senate vote on a climate bill — that is clear from Obama's decision to speak at U.N. special session on global warming (and Todd Stern's testimony). Even Inhofe knows that. We get one bit at this man apple, so the key is to work hard and pick the best time to pass the damn thing.
That said, I'd say the ideal time for a vote might be the first week in December, right before the international conference at Copenhagen. That's when maximum attention and pressure can be brought to bear on this historical vote. But I do expect Copenhagen to 1) not have a final deal but 2) to move the negotiations forward, so having the debate and vote in January can also work.
I do think this vindicates my original recommendation back in January that "Obama needs to pass in 2009 the mother of all energy bills" and then pass a climate bill in early 2010. But now I think it is much too late to split the bills, as much as some members might like that. Nor does it appear that is Reid's preference:
The House has passed a climate bill with shrinking emissions caps, and that's what the Senate needs to do in order for there to be a global deal and have a serious chance of averting catastrophe.
Posted: 15 Sep 2009 11:58 AM PDT
Right after the House passed the climate and clean energy bill, uber-denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) told Tulsa World that, from a Senate perspective, "It's dead in the water."
In a CleanSkies op-ed Monday titled, "Sen. Inhofe: GOP Beware: Though Now Stalled, Cap-and-Trade is Alive and Well," admits, the climate bill "is very much alive." But what is most amazing about this op-ed is the unintentionally revealing explanation Inhofe offers for the revival of the bill's chances:
Inhofe uses the term "outside the Beltway" as if that's a bad thing. Only to a guy like Inhofe, who kowtows to DC's Big Oil lobbyists, are people "outside the Beltway" some sort of foreign entity whose actions are to be criticized and attacked.
Yes, despite the massive disinformation campaign from Inhofe's polluter buddies, grassroots organizations and the American public want action on the climate and clean energy bill, as every major recent poll shows:
What has caused Inhofe to flip flop, to feel he needs to go on the attack for legislation he claimed was headed to the morgue?
No, not repackaging — this was always pushed as a climate and clean energy jobs bill. And it is not just the "green groups" pushing the key messages (see "Clean Energy Works launches: New grassroots effort unites faith, labor, veterans, environmental, sportsmen, business, youth, farm, and community groups to fight for for clean air, clean water, clean energy job bill"). But the grassroots have gotten organized — and that is always scary to someone who is trying to block what the American public wants.
And you can skip the rest of the op-ed. It is Inhofian disinformation, which I'd call par for the course, except that most of his falsehoods are double bogeys
Posted: 15 Sep 2009 11:38 AM PDT
Back in May, the Obama administration announced it would move forward on national standards for new vehicle fuel economy and tailpipe greenhouse gas emission (see here):
Today the Administration rolled out the final details. The AP reports:
Greenwire (via the NYT) notes, "The carbon dioxide limit under the plan — which will apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles — would reach an average of 250 grams per mile per vehicle in 2016."
Kudos to team Obama.
UPDATE: Dan Becker has issued a statement:
|You are subscribed to email updates from Climate Progress |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|