Friday, September 28, 2007

SENATE JOINS HOUSE IN OVERWHELMINGLY PASSING WRDA, DESPITE BUSH VETO THREAT

September 24, 2007

On Monday, Senator Inhofe stated that today’s overwhelming bi-partisan vote in the Senate in favor of the conference report for the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA) (H.R. 1495) “sends a clear message to the President: don’t veto this critically important infrastructure bill.” The Senate passage today by a vote of 81-12 follows House approval in August by a vote of 381-40. As the ranking member and former chairman of the Committee, Senator Inhofe has made passage of the WRDA bill a top priority. With Senate and House passage of the Conference Report, the bill now goes to the President for his consideration.

“Today’s overwhelming bi-partisan vote in favor of the WRDA bill in the Senate, and previously in the House, sends a clear message to the President: don’t veto this critically important infrastructure bill,” Senator Inhofe said. “The WRDA bill, which is actually WRDA 2002, 2004, 2006 and now 2007 all rolled into one, is long overdue. I commend the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to complete work on this important bill that authorizes and modifies numerous critical projects in the areas of navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction and environmental restoration in a reasonable and responsible manner.

“As the most fiscally conservative member of the United States Senate, as ranked by the American Conservative Union, I have long argued that the two most important functions of the federal government are to provide for the national defense and to develop and improve public infrastructure.  That means I am not shy about voting for increased authorization and spending on national defense needs or public infrastructure.  Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 was one wake up call as to the tragic consequences of ignoring or shortchanging our nation’s infrastructure needs.  The bridge collapse in Minneapolis last month is another example of why we cannot take our aging infrastructure for granted.  Investments in infrastructure prior to any disasters can actually save us money.  For instance, during this summer’s flooding events in the Oklahoma-Texas-Arkansas region, Corps of Engineers projects prevented an estimated $5.4 billion in damages. We must be willing to spend sufficient taxpayer dollars to properly maintain, repair and replace our critical infrastructure. 

“At the same time, we certainly must spend limited taxpayer dollars wisely.  The way to ensure wise use of taxpayer dollars is to follow the full authorization-appropriations process.  The issue here is not about the WRDA bill, it’s about the authorization process.  Authorization is the best tool we have for keeping discipline over the annual appropriations process.  Without regularly enacted WRDA bills, the Appropriations Committee faces enormous pressure to use the annual spending bills to authorize and fund projects that haven’t gone through a full Congressional review.  The authorization committees, such as the Environment and Public Works Committee, should provide the first Congressional review, and that is what we have done with the WRDA bill before the Senate today.  Most Members would be quick to tell you that we certainly did not include every project request we received.  We reviewed each request and made a determination as to whether it merited authorization.  This bill allows certain projects to get in line for funding; it does not actually fund any projects.  Every day that goes by without enacting a WRDA bill is another day we allow unnecessary pressure to build on the appropriators to short-circuit the authorization-then-appropriations process.”

INHOFE FLOOR STATEMENT ON THE WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2007

September 24, 2007

Mr. President, I rise today to express my strong support for the conference report to accompany H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. 

This WRDA bill authorizes and modifies numerous critical projects in the areas of navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction and environmental restoration.  The bill also includes many important policy provisions for the Army Corps of Engineers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the current process.

As many Members and their constituents are well aware, this is actually WRDA 2002, 2004, 2006 and now 2007 all rolled into one.  This bill should have been enacted in 2002, but unfortunately, we couldn’t even get a bill through Committee here in the Senate.  We tried again the next Congress, but couldn’t complete action on it in 2004, either.  Last Congress, we got all the way to a conference with the House and made significant progress towards a final bill, but simply ran out of time.  This year, however, we were able to build on last year’s progress and bring a conference report back to both chambers.  On August 1st, the House of Representatives resoundingly approved the conference report, and I hope the Senate will do the same today.

Mr. President, we have received word that President Bush intends to veto this bill because in the Administration’s view, it is too big.  I was very disappointed to hear that.  It is an unfortunate fact of life that when infrastructure bills are debated, we first have to battle back the charge that all we are doing is authorizing or funding unneeded projects.  Let’s look at the facts.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers 2005 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure, none of the nation’s primary infrastructure, such as roads, airports, drinking water facilities, and wastewater managements systems, get above a C and most receive a D.  We are quickly approaching a crisis that if ignored will not only dramatically stunt continued economic growth, but will put people’s lives at risk. 

As the most fiscally conservative member of the United States Senate, as ranked by the American Conservative Union, I have long argued that the two most important functions of the federal government are to provide for the national defense and to develop and improve public infrastructure.  That means I am not shy about voting for increased authorization and spending on national defense needs or public infrastructure.  Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 was one wake up call as to the tragic consequences of ignoring or shortchanging our nation’s infrastructure needs.  The bridge collapse in Minneapolis last month is another example of why we cannot take our aging infrastructure for granted.  Investments in infrastructure prior to any disasters can actually save us money.  For instance, during this summer’s flooding events in the Oklahoma-Texas-Arkansas region, Corps of Engineers projects prevented an estimated $5.4 billion in damages. We must be willing to spend sufficient taxpayer dollars to properly maintain, repair and replace our critical infrastructure. 

At the same time, we certainly must spend limited taxpayer dollars wisely.  The way to ensure wise use of taxpayer dollars is to follow the full authorization-appropriations process.  The issue here is not about the WRDA bill, it’s about the authorization process.  Authorization is the best tool we have for keeping discipline over the annual appropriations process.  Without regularly enacted WRDA bills, the Appropriations Committee faces enormous pressure to use the annual spending bills to authorize and fund projects that haven’t gone through a full Congressional review.  The authorization committees, such as the Environment and Public Works Committee, should provide the first Congressional review, and that is what we have done with the WRDA bill before the Senate today.  Most Members would be quick to tell you that we certainly did not include every project request we received.  We reviewed each request and made a determination as to whether it merited authorization.  This bill allows certain projects to get in line for funding; it does not actually fund any projects.  Every day that goes by without enacting a WRDA bill is another day we allow unnecessary pressure to build on the appropriators to short-circuit the authorization-then-appropriations process.

Instead of simply arguing over whether or not the estimated total authorization level of this bill is too high, I’d like to take a minute to highlight some of the items in the bill that contribute to a higher number.  First, approximately 40 percent of the cost of this bill can be accounted for in just four locations – Louisiana, the Everglades, the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway System and California. 

The conference report before us authorizes several billion dollars worth of flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction and coastal restoration activities for southern Louisiana.  I am pleased that we were able to reach agreement on these provisions designed to help Louisiana recover from the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and provide additional protection from future storms.   The conference report addresses several immediate needs and also establishes a process for moving future projects forward in an efficient and expeditious manner.  I would note that we would not have been able to get as much done as we did without the able help and cooperation of Senator Vitter, who has done an admirable job of representing his State as a member of the EPW Committee and as a WRDA conferee.

This conference report also authorizes approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars of Federal investment for three components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.  As many Members know, when this plan was authorized back in 2000, I was the lone “No” vote here in the Senate.  One of the main reasons I voted against it was because I did not believe we had a proper report; we did not have a good enough idea of what we were going to do to justify authorizing a then $8 billion plan.  Since then, however, we have received Chief’s Reports for three components of the plan.  These Chief’s Reports give us the details we need on these components to know that it is appropriate to authorize at this time.  Therefore, I was willing to support inclusion of these three components in this bill.

We also are authorizing $3.9 billion for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway System -- $2.2 billion for desperately needed navigation improvements and $1.7 billion for an environmental restoration program to address damages incurred as a result of previous navigation and flood control activities along these rivers.  This authorization is the next step in permitting modernization of the Depression-era Mississippi River locks built for paddle wheel boats.  It is a long overdue investment in jobs, trade competitiveness, and environmental protection.  Sixty percent of all grain exports moves through these obsolete locks.  Given the congestion on our nation’s highways, we need to be developing and maintaining alternative ways to move freight.  Since a single medium-sized barge tow carries the same freight as 870 trucks, the cost, pollution, and fuel efficiency benefits should be obvious to all.

This conference report also authorizes a critical $444 million flood damage reduction project at Folsom Dam in California.  This project will help provide much needed protection for the Sacramento region.  Sacramento currently is the major metropolitan area with the most limited level of flood protection in the nation.  Providing adequate flood protection in this area will not only benefit the people and businesses of Sacramento, but it will also help protect the drinking water supply for two-thirds of the population of the entire State.

The bill contains additional authorizations and modifications of projects that, while smaller in size, are just as vital to the continued safety and prosperity of the affected local and regional communities.  Is this a perfect bill?  No, of course not, but it certainly goes a long ways towards addressing our nation’s water resources needs in a reasonable and responsible manner.

Finally, I would like to comment on the Corps Reform provisions.   While I do not necessarily agree with each provision, I do believe we have been able to reach a reasonable and workable compromise.   The language contained in the conference report improves on the language in the House and Senate passed bills.  I know there are some who will complain that these provisions do not go far enough.  There are others who will complain that these provisions go too far and will unnecessarily hamstring the Corps of Engineers and further delay future infrastructure improvements.  To me, that means the Conference Committee has probably done a pretty good job of putting in place a process that ensures the technical and scientific validity of Corps projects while also allowing us to find solutions to our water resources needs and problems in a less time-consuming and burdensome manner.

Before I yield the floor, I’d like to take just a minute to thank my colleagues with whom I have worked for so long to get this bill done.  When I was Chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Boxer was quite involved and helpful, and I was very pleased this year when, as the new Chairman, she made completing a WRDA bill a high priority of hers as well.  Senators Baucus and Isakson, as leaders of the subcommittee, have been invaluable in helping to find solutions whenever we started to get bogged down in negotiations.  Our friends in the House, especially Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Oberstar and Ranking Member Mica and Ms. Johnson and Mr. Baker of the subcommittee, also worked diligently and cooperatively with us throughout this entire process.

I also want to acknowledge the hard work of all the staff involved.  In my office, Andrew Wheeler, Ruth Van Mark, Angie Giancarlo and Let Mon Lee; with Senator Isakson, Mike Quiello; in Senator Boxer’s office, Ken Kopocis, Jeff Rosato and Tyler Rushforth; with Senator Baucus, Jo-Ellen Darcy and Paul Wilkins; on the House side, John Anderson and Geoff Bowman for the Republicans and Ryan Seiger, Ted Illston and Beth Goldstein for the Democrats.  I also want to note the long and tireless work of a few people in the Senate and House Legislative Counsels offices – on the Senate side, Heather Arpin has been wonderful throughout this entire process; on the House side, David Mendelsohn, Curt Haensel and Rosemary Gallagher were invaluable during conference.

Mr. President, I will close by reiterating my strong support for this conference report to accompany H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.  I urge my colleagues to vote to pass this critically important infrastructure authorization bill.  

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...OKLAHOMAN EDITORIAL: ILL-TIMED VETO MIGHT BACKFIRE ON BUSH

September 26, 2007

In its editorial on Wednesday, Water Works: Ill-Timed Veto Might Backfire On Bush, the Oklahoman agrees with Senator Inhofe that the president should re-consider his veto-threat of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that received overwhelming bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate. The editorial states:

 
“We understand both sides of the argument. The White House says there's too much spending being authorized and that a number of projects are outside the purview of the federal government. White House officials contend ‘fiscal irresponsibility’ should be addressed when it surfaces. But the administration's ability to fend off ill-conceived spending later on will be weakened if the president's veto — premature in Inhofe's opinion — is overwhelmingly overridden. There's no question the water bill contains money for important projects. As Casteel reports, Inhofe got $30 million included to complete relocation of Tar Creek-area residents, as well as a provision that would save Edmond $10 million in its Arcadia Lake dispute with the Corps of Engineers.The real issue is keeping worthy projects on track while weeding out those of questionable merit, an effort Inhofe believes will be hampered by an early, unsuccessful veto. We think he's right.”
 
On Monday, September 24, 2007, the United States Senate passed the conference report for the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA) (H.R. 1495) by a vote of 81-12. The vote in the Senate follows House approval in August by a vote of 381-40. As the ranking member and former chairman of the Committee, Senator Inhofe has made passage of the WRDA bill a top priority. With Senate and House passage of the Conference Report, the bill now goes to the President for his consideration.
 
Watch (YOU TUBE) Senator Inhofe’s Senate Floor speech in favor of passage of WRDA
Read Senator Inhofe’s Press Release and Floor Statement
 
 
THE OKLAHOMAN EDITORIAL

WATER WORKS: ILL-TIMED VETO MIGHT BACKFIRE ON BUSH

 

Timing is everything. It's one of the immutable laws of politics and helps explain some of Sen. Jim Inhofe's current frustration with the White House.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been a prime mover behind a $23 billion water projects bill that would bring $140 million to Oklahoma. In a rare outbreak of consensus this week, the bill passed the Senate 81-12 — yet is threatened with a presidential veto because it contains too many items the Bush administration considers unnecessary.

Inhofe doesn't disagree but wonders why the White House is picking a fight now — one it probably will lose, given vote margins in the Senate and House — before Congress actually starts appropriating funds. The bill is authorizing legislation; without a corresponding appropriation, Inhofe notes, the bill is mostly symbolic. He told The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel that President Bush, who went his first 5 years in office without vetoing anything, should save veto threats for actual spending bills.

We understand both sides of the argument. The White House says there's too much spending being authorized and that a number of projects are outside the purview of the federal government. White House officials contend "fiscal irresponsibility” should be addressed when it surfaces.

But the administration's ability to fend off ill-conceived spending later on will be weakened if the president's veto — premature in Inhofe's opinion — is overwhelmingly overridden.

There's no question the water bill contains money for important projects. As Casteel reports, Inhofe got $30 million included to complete relocation of Tar Creek-area residents, as well as a provision that would save Edmond $10 million in its Arcadia Lake dispute with the Corps of Engineers.

The real issue is keeping worthy projects on track while weeding out those of questionable merit, an effort Inhofe believes will be hampered by an early, unsuccessful veto. We think he's right.  

INHOFE HAILS NRG ANNOUNCEMENT OF FILING OF FIRST NUCLEAR REACTOR LICENSE IN 30 YEARS

September 25, 2007

On Tuesday, Senator Inhofe welcomed the news of NRG's filing of the first nuclear reactor license application in nearly 30 years with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for two new reactors at a plant in Texas. NRG's application is the first to be reviewed under NRC's new combined construction and operating license process. Senator Inhofe, as chairman of the EPW Committee, helped ensure passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05) which included a suite of new reactor incentives. Senator Inhofe joined several of his Senate colleagues at a news conference Tuesday morning recognizing the importance of this first filing.  

         
                 Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Domenici at At the Press Conference

“Today’s announcement by NRG of their filing of the first nuclear reactor license application in 30 years is a significant leap forward for our nation’s energy needs,” Senator Inhofe said. “A strong, robust nuclear industry must continue to play a growing part of our nation’s energy future, both for the sake of national security and environmental progress. Nuclear energy is clean, reliable, cost-effective, and most important, increases our domestic energy supply.”  

“One of the most significant factors contributing to this announcement today is the NRC’s transformation over the last 10 years. In 1997, the NRC was an inefficient, subjective, and unpredictable agency that had run amuck without oversight for a dozen years. When I began chairing the Nuclear Safety Subcommittee of EPW, I was determined to conduct rigorous oversight and reform the agency.  When utilities first applied to extend the licenses for new plants, the time estimate for NRC review was 4 years.  After my subcommittee examined the issue, the NRC implemented ‘lessons learned’ and decreased the review time to 2 years.  After 10 years of consistent oversight, the NRC is now a more safety-focused, objective, and efficient regulator capable of executing it’s responsibilities in a timely fashion.  

“This application is the first of many.  I expect the NRC to manage this new challenge while maintaining the high level of safety of the existing fleet.  I will be watching closely to ensure that it does.”

NUCLEAR POWER USE MUST BE EXPANDED (THE HILL, OP/ED BY SENATOR INHOFE)

The Hill

 

Nuclear Power Use Must Be Expanded

By Sen. James Inhofe

September 27, 2007 

Link to Op-Ed

A strong, robust nuclear industry must continue to play a growing part of our nation’s energy future, both for the sake of national security and environmental progress. Nuclear energy is clean, reliable, cost-effective, and most important, increases our domestic energy supply. Expansion of nuclear energy in the United States requires confidence in our government. The American public must be able to trust that the government will protect public health, provide nuclear waste solutions and provide confidence to potential investors.

Confidence in the NRC

First, the public must be absolutely confident that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is committed to, and capable of, protecting public health, safety and the environment. Utilities must also have confidence in the NRC; confidence that, when given all the necessary documents, the NRC can issue licensing decisions in a timely fashion. The confidence that the public and the utilities have in the NRC is a direct result of consistent and rigorous oversight conducted under my leadership. Ten years ago, the NRC was an inefficient, subjective and unpredictable agency. I pursued regulatory reforms to transform the agency into a safety-focused, objective, and efficient regulator. It is my hope that the upcoming license applications will prove that the NRC is now worthy of that trust.

Confidence in a nuclear waste solution

Critics of nuclear energy often claim we shouldn’t build new plants because we haven’t solved the waste problem.  Those voices are often the same ones attempting to block development of that very solution: Yucca Mountain . The question is not whether we can manage spent nuclear fuel, but how we choose to do it, and when we’ll get it done. Right now, spent fuel is safely stored in spent fuel pools and dry casks at our nation’s nuclear plants, and this can be done safely for several decades. In the end, our country will need a repository that will safely contain the remaining nuclear byproducts and support for Yucca Mountain has always been bipartisan. Our generation has a legal obligation to build Yucca Mountain ; we’ve collected the money to pay for it, and we are 20 years overdue in getting it done.

But, once again, this project is faced with election year politics and the pursuit of Nevada ’s five electoral votes.  Presidential candidates will loudly proclaim their opposition to Yucca Mountain when in Nevada, but will they repeat that claim in New Hampshire , home to 398 tons of spent fuel destined for Yucca? In South Carolina , home to 6,887 tons? In New York , home to 3,561 tons? Or in Illinois , home to 7,372 tons? When it comes time to ask hard questions about the project, what will presidential candidates say? Should we scrap 25 years of research and our $8 billion investment in favor of looking for a new site? Which state would be home to that new site? We owe it to future generations to meet our responsibility to develop the safest repository we can at Yucca Mountain . The public should be confident that their support for new nuclear energy won’t create additional spent fuel that will be held hostage indefinitely due to politics.

Confidence in the economics

In order for utilities to develop new nuclear plants, they must have access to adequate financing at a reasonable cost. Before Wall Street will provide that financing, there must be confidence that the project will be successful, that the business risks are manageable and new plants can meet schedule commitments to begin delivering power. The NRC and the utilities must work together to minimize licensing and construction delays, but implementation of the loan guarantees provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is necessary to manage the business uncertainties associated with the first several plants. Once a handful of plants have been successfully built, Wall Street will have the confidence necessary to be more forthcoming with financing.

The good news is that we are already well on our way to ensuring nuclear energy has a beneficial and growing role to play in meeting our nation’s energy needs.  I’m confident that the industry, as a whole, is more disciplined and operates more safely than ever before. I believe that the NRC has the tools it needs to meet its workload challenges.  I am confident that we can build a safe repository at Yucca Mountain . I am confident that this industry, once it has revitalized, will financially sustain itself. And, finally, I am confident our country is committed to working to provide future generations with a legacy of clean, safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy. 

INHOFE OPENING STATEMENT: HEARING ON GREEN JOBS CREATED BY GLOBAL WARMING INITIATIVES

September 25, 2007

Madame Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. I would like to welcome all of our witnesses, but especially that of Dick Armey, who is not only a man of great substance, but great learning. And I would note with regret that Paul Renfrow of OG&E will not be joining us due to the passing of OG&E’s CEO, Steve Moore. Steve was a good and decent man and the people of my State will miss him.

We have held numerous hearings in this Committee on the issue of climate change, but few of any substance. In contrast, a hearing on the job impacts of carbon mandates on the U.S. economy is an important one. I will be blunt: like several of our witnesses today, I believe carbon mandates are job destroyers.

Our witnesses will testify today on how devastating carbon mandates would be to the economy, costing up to $10,800 a year for a family of four. These are staggering numbers. And the burdens will not be shared equally. Some will win, but many more will lose – and some people will lose everything as their jobs are shipped overseas.

As a strong supporter of nuclear energy, it is gratifying that we could expect more nuclear plants to come online, and the thousands of good jobs the building of new reactors will create. But more jobs will be lost elsewhere than are created. I would like to submit for the record the testimony of Dr. Gabriel Calzada of Madrid. He tells the story of North American Stainless Steel, a subsidiary of Acerinox, the world’s second-largest stainless steel producer. Kyoto Protocol’s emissions trading system is wrecking Spain’s competitiveness and adding to the bottom line costs of production in that country, so the company announced in 2005 that it would expand operations in Carroll County, Kentucky, creating an additional 175 jobs. CEO Victoriano Muñoz explained the decision by saying “I would not like to find myself buying quotas from France or Germany.”

Government projections all show that mandates will worsen the economy. Of course, the hardest burdens will be borne by the poor and working class, as a Congressional Budget Office analysis showed earlier this year. Their energy costs – already five times higher than wealthier Americans as a percentage of their monthly budget – will mushroom.

It is no coincidence, Madame Chairman, that the average American can expect to live 25 years longer than less than a century ago. And the real standard of living has increased 6-fold. These leaps were driven by the rapid growth that was unleashed in the 20th Century. I am concerned that, instead of continuing our amazing success story, we will write a very different story for future generations. That instead of continuing to prosper, we will write laws that become the engine of the nation’s decline.  I urge my colleagues to safeguard the future prosperity of the nation and reject symbolic climate gestures that threaten that prosperity.

Thank you.

EPW BLOG: SCIENTISTS COUNTER COMPUTER MODEL SEA LEVEL RISE FEARS

September 25, 2007

Posted By Marc Morano – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 3:33 PM ET

Today’s Environment & Public Works Committee hearing entitled, "An Examination of the Impacts of Global Warming on the Chesapeake Bay," scrutinized computer model predictions of sea level rise fears. (LINK)

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of EPW dismissed the entire focus of the hearing. “This hearing should not have been about the impact of global warming on the Bay but rather I would propose that this hearing should have been on the Bay’s health, the pollution sources, the local economy and the water quality,” Senator Inhofe said.

Senator Inhofe detailed the latest peer-reviewed science that counters global warming led sea level rise fears.

“Greenland has cooled since the 1940’s. According to multiple peer-reviewed studies, current temperatures in Greenland have not even reached the temperatures from the 1930s and 1940s.  It is important to note that 80% of man-made CO2 came after these high temperatures were reached in Greenland. We have seen global average temperatures flat line since 1998 and the Southern Hemisphere cool in recent years,” he explained. (LINK)

Dennis T. Avery, of the Hudson Institute, testified that the recent warming cycle is tied to natural climate factors.

“The natural climate cycle is apparently driven by the sun, and the warmings are unstoppable,” Avery said. Avery co-authored the 2006 book “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years" with atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer.

“Previous Bay warmings include the Medieval Warming (950–1300), the Roman Warming (200 BC–600 AD), and at least two earlier Holocene Warmings since the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, that were regarded by paleontologists as warmer than today by several degrees Celcius,” Avery added. (LINK)

Today's hearing on sea level rise concerns follows an Associated Press article on September 22 which claimed a significant global sea level rise was inevitable due to mankind’s emissions. But unproven computer model predictions of sea level rise are being countered by scientists worldwide.

Below is a report from the Inhofe EPW Press Blog released on September 24, 2007.

Scientists Counter AP Article Promoting Computer Model Climate Fears

By Inhofe EPW Press Blog

September 24, 2007

Nearly two dozen prominent scientists from around the world have denounced a recent Associated Press article promoting sea level fears in the year 2100 and beyond based on unproven computer models predictions. The AP article also has been accused of mischaracterizing the views of a leading skeptic of man-made global warming fears. The scientists are dismissing the AP article, entitled “Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History” (LINK) as a “scare tactic,” “sheer speculation,” and “hype of the worst order.” (H/T: Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters.org - LINK)

Dr. Richard S. Courtney, a climate and atmospheric science consultant and a UN IPCC expert reviewer ridiculed the AP article.

“Rarely have I read such a collection of unsubstantiated and scare-mongering twaddle. Not only do real studies show no increase to rate of sea level change, the [AP] article gives reasons for concern that are nonsense,” Courtney told Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.

UN IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr Vincent Gray, of New Zealand slammed the article as well:

“This [AP article] is a typical scare story based on no evidence or facts, but only on the ‘opinions’ and ‘beliefs’ of ‘experts’, all of whom have a financial interest in the promotion of their computer models,” Gray wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

Swedish Professor Wibjorn Karlen of the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Stockholm University:                             

“Another of these hysterical views of our climate,” Karlen wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog regarding the AP article. "Newspapers should think about the damage they are doing to many persons, particularly young kids, by spreading the exaggerated views of a human impact on climate,” Karlen explained.

The September 22, 2007 Associated Press article promoting future computer generated climate fears, appears just days before a high profile UN climate summit in New York City this week.  The AP’s Seth Borenstein has a history of promoting unverifiable climate fears of the future (See: “AP Incorrectly claims scientists praise Gore’s movie” from June 2006 – LINK )

This AP report comes at a time when the peer-reviewed science is continuing to debunk the foundation of man-made climate change fears. (See "New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears" (LINK)

Alabama State Climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, stated that the AP mischaracterized his views on sea level in the article promoting climate fears a hundred years from now.

“[My] discussion [with the AP reporter Seth Borenstein] was primarily about the storm surges which come from hurricanes - that's the real vulnerability. The sea level is rising around 1 inch per decade, but sea level is like any other climate parameter - its either rising or falling all the time.  To me, 16 inches per century is not a significant problem to deal with. But since storm surges of 15 to 30 feet occur in 6 hours, any preventive strategy, like an extra 3 feet of elevation, would be helpful,” Christy wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press blog.

“Thinking that legislation can change sea level is hubris.  I did a calculation on what 1000 new nuclear power plants operating by 2020 would do for the IPCC best guess in the year 2100.  The answer is 1.4 cm – about half an inch (if you accept the IPCC projection A1B for the base case.) Also, there doesn't seem to be any acceleration of the slow trend,” Christy explained.

Borenstein's AP article stated: “Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting. In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.”

Borenstein, who only quotes six scientists in the article, of which only one can be labeled a climate skeptic, uses the generic phrase “several leading scientists say."  [EPW Blog Note: This blog report alone quotes nearly two dozen climate experts countering the AP’s “report” on sea level]

Borenstein’s article also claims alarming sea levels “will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.”

“Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways of rich politicians—the Bushes' Kennebunkport and John Edwards' place on the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break,” Borenstein’s AP article continued.

But prominent scientists are speaking out and denouncing the article a mere hours after its publication.  

Here is a sampling of scientists’ reaction to the AP story:

State of Florida Climatologist Dr. Jim O'Brien of Florida State University countered the AP article.

“The best measurements of sea level rise are from satellite instrument called altimeters. Currently they measure 14 inches in 100 years. Everyone agrees that there is no acceleration. Even the UN IPCC quotes this,” O’Brien wrote to EPW on September 23.  O’Brien is also the director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies.

“If you increase the rate of rise by four times, it will take 146 years to rise to five feet. Sea level rise is the ‘scare tactic’ for these guys,” O’Brien added.

Climate researcher Dr Vincent Gray, of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports going back to 1990:

The IPCC never makes ‘predictions’, only ‘projections’; what might happen, or be 'likely" if you believe the assumptions in the model. No computer model has ever been shown to be capable of successful prediction,” Gray wrote to the Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.

“Actual data on sea levels are unreliable. Long term figures are based on tide-gauge measurements near port cities prone to subsidence and damage of equipment from severe weather. Many recent and more reliable measurements show little recent change. Satellite measurements have shown a recent rise which may be temporary,” Gray added.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, a retired Senior Research Scientist and Coordinator for national international marine geological research at the Geological Survey of Finland:

“Even the worst case scenario is half of that quoted by Associated Press. This is a hype of the worst order. This whole scare builds on GCM's which we know mimic Earth processes very simplistically and are thus most unreliable,” Winterhalter told Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.

“I, as a marine geologist, am abhorred. I just looked at the USGS (US Geological Survey) site and am astonished that none of the references or fact sheets seem to refer to IPCC Fourth Assessment Report released this spring,” Winterhalter added.

Dr. Richard S. Courtney, a climate and atmospheric science consultant and a UN IPCC expert reviewer:

“Global sea level has been rising for the 10,000 years since the last ice age, and no significant change to the rate of sea level rise has been observed recently,” Courtney wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog on September 23.

"A continuing rise of ~2 mm/year for the next 100 years would raise sea level by ~0.2 m as it did during the twentieth century.  And it is hard to see any justification for Andrew Weaver's claim (as quoted by AP) that ‘We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it, unless Weaver is talking about the next 500 years,” Courtney wrote.

“Simply, there is no reason to suppose that sea level rise will be more of a problem in this century than it was in the last century or each of the previous ten centuries,” he concluded.

Geophysicist Dr. David Deming of University of Oklahoma.

“Projections of sea-level rise are based on projections of future warming, fifty or a hundred years hence.  And these projections are based on speculative computer models that have numerous uncertainties,” Deming wrote in a September 23, e-mail to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“These models cannot even be tested; their validity is completely unknown. In short, predictions of future sea-level rise are nothing but sheer speculation,” Deming added.
   
Swedish Professor Wibjorn Karlen of the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Stockholm University:                             

“I have used the NASA temperature data for a study of several major areas. As far as I can see the IPCC “Global Temperature” is wrong. Temperature is fluctuating but it is still most places cooler than in the 1930s and 1940s," Karlen wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog regarding the AP article.

“The latest estimates of sea level rise are 1.31 mm/year. With this water level increase it will take about 800 years before the water level has increased by 1 m if not conditions change before that (very likely). Society will looks very different at that time,” he added.                    

Emmy Nominated Meteorologist Art Horn says AP loves ‘a scary story’

“Fearless forecasts from people who likely have never made real time, real world predictions. We who have worked in the real world of everyday weather forecasting for decades understand what it's like to be burned, even when you felt the forecast was a lock. I'm of the belief that most if not all of these predictions come from people who don't know much about the nature of prediction,” Horn wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog the day after the AP article was published.

“Working with computer models that don't even start with a climate remotely similar to the real world can't give you results that are in any way close to useful. But the AP and all news organizations love a scary story. I know, I worked as a TV meteorologist for 25 years. If it will generate a buzz they will run with it,” Horn explained.

“Making predictions about how much sea level will rise helps to insure the money train will continue. There will be people in seats of power that will continue to feed money to universities, research facilities and people like [NASA’s] James Hansen.

Greenpeace co-founder ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore noted the AP article was way off base from even the UN IPCC predictions.

“The IPCC predicts 18 - 59 cm, i.e. their high end is about half predicted in the AP story, and the AP story warns of a possible three meters,” Moore told Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“The sea was 400 feet (130 meters) lower than today at the peak of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago. This is an average of 72 cm/100 years. Most of this occurred between 18,000 and 6,000 years ago so there were periods when the sea rose more that 1 meter per 100 years,” Moore concluded.

Former Harvard physicist Dr. Lubos Motl:

“There's no good reason to expect more than 3 millimeters per year in average. It's been really 1.5 mm in the last 50 years, and 2 mm per year in 1900-1950. The rate has actually slowed down according to some papers,” Motl wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“Any model that predicts significant acceleration [of sea level] with growing CO2 is falsified or nearly falsified by the observed data. It's crazy to think that this slow gradual rise is anything that would justify any actions besides the houses that have to be either moved or protected on the centennial scale,” he added.

“Any calculation that wants to indicate that the effects of sea level rise are a significant portion of the life or the economy is simply a miscalculation,” he concluded.

Chemist and agronomist Paavo Siitam:

“Despite some doom and gloom predictions, excluding waves washing onto shores by relatively rarely occurring tsunamis and storm-surges, low-lying areas on the face of our planet have NOT yet been submerged by rising oceans... so probably low-lying areas along shorelines of Canada and the USA will be SAFE into foreseeable and even distant futures,” Siitam wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“By the way, I'd be happy to buy prized oceanfront properties at bargain prices, anywhere in the world, when unwarranted, panic selling begins. The dire predictions will not come true this century,” he added.
 
IPCC 2007 Expert Reviewer Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a Ph.D meteorologist:

“I cannot help but conclude that this is one more example of scare-mongering by some very reputed scientists in the atmosphere/ocean science. I am disappointed to find that none of these scientists seem to want to refer to the excellent work of Prof Morner of Stockholm University who was the President of the INQUA commission for Maldive Islands SLR and who has discounted & dismissed the Maldive Islands 'disappearing' in ONE hundred years or even earlier according to some scare-mongerers!” Khandekar wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“Besides Prof Morner's excellent studies, the scientists named in the news story seem to have ignored another well-documented study by Simon Holgate , an oceanographer in UK, whose paper in GRL( Geophysical Research Letters, 2007) has analyzed nine long sea-level records from 1903-2003 and the study finds that the SLR from 1953-2003 was about 1.5 mm/yr while the SLR from 1903-1953 was about 2 mm/yr, so there is NO ESCALATING sea level rise at present,” Khandekar explained.

“If the earth's climate enters into a mini ice age by 2035-2040 as several solar scientists are suggesting now, we may NOT even see half the sea level rise as quoted above,” he added.

Atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer:

“The key to Borenstein’s story is the first very word: 'Ultimately.'  Yes -- with sea level continuing to rise at the rate of about seven inches per century (as it has in past centuries), Florida will be flooded in a few 1000 years,” Singer, co-author of “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years,” wrote.

Singer added sea levels will rise “unless a new ice age begins sooner -- lowering sea level -- as ocean water turns into continental ice sheets.”

Dr. Art Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine:

“Long term temperature data suggest that the current - entirely natural and not man made - temperature rise of about 0.5 degrees C per century could continue for another 200 years. Therefore, the best data available leads to an extrapolated value of about 1 foot of rise during the next two centuries,” Robinson explained to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
 
”There is no scientific basis upon which to guess that the rise will be less or will be more than this value. Such a long extrapolation over two centuries is likely to be significantly in error - but it is the only extrapolation that can be made with current data. There may be no sea level rise at all. No one knows,” he added. 

Accuweather chief meteorologist Joe Bastardi, who specializes in long-range forecasts, slammed the AP article for being offering up "a series of anything can happen and probably will statements."

“As someone who competes in the private sector and gets fired if my forecasts are not supply enough merit to be right enough for clients to benefit, I would welcome the kind of padding one has in making such outrageous long range forecasts that no one still alive will be able to verify,” Bastardi explained.

Internationally known forecasting pioneer Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania and his colleague Kesten Green Monash University in Australia:

“Dire consequences have been predicted to arise from warming of the Earth in coming decades of the 21st Century. Enormous sea level rises is one of the more dramatic forecasts. According to the AP’s Borenstein, such sea-level forecasts were experts' judgments on what will happen,” Armstrong and Green wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

“As shown in our analysis experts' forecasts have no validity in situations characterized by high complexity, high uncertainty, and poor feedback. To date we are unaware of any forecasts of sea levels that adhere to proper (scientific) forecasting methodology and our quick search on Google Scholar came up short,” Armstrong and Green explained.

“Media outlets should be clear when they are reporting on scientific work and when they are reporting on the opinions held by some scientists. Without scientific support for their forecasting methods, the concerns of scientists should not be used as a basis for public policy,” they concluded.

The Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in the UK, an advisor to the Science and Pulblic Policy Institute, who has authored numerous climate science analyses (LINK): 

“Given the absence of credible evidence for extreme sea-level rise over the coming century in the peer-reviewed literature, the IPCC has been compelled to reduce its sea-level estimates. The mean centennial sea-level rise over then 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age has been 4 feet per century; in the 20th century sea level rose less than 8 inches; and the IPCC's current central estimate is that in the coming century sea level will rise by just 43 cm (1 ft 5 in),” Monckton wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.

Canadian Geologist Albert F. Jacobs, co-founder of the group Friends of Science:

“Basic to the IPCC case for sea level rise and for the alarmists’ hype is the hypothesis that increasing levels of carbon dioxide will cause increasing amounts of global warming. It should be stressed that this assumption of truth is no more than a hypothesis, which is increasingly being attacked and on which any meaningful discussion has been thwarted by the IPCC’s political masters,” Jacobs wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.  

“As far as CO2 is concerned, basic physics has always been clear about the limitations of higher concentrations of gas to absorb equivalent amounts of heat radiation. ‘Doubling of CO2’ does none of the things the IPCC’s computer says it does. And that’s all separate from the fact that water vapour is a much greater ‘greenhouse’ driver than carbon dioxide in any case," Jacobs added.

Canadian economist Dr. Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph in Ontario (who was key in debunking the infamous “Hockey Stick”) pointed out that real estate values would be plummeting on the coastlines if the AP article was accurate.

“If what they're saying is true, we will see the effect on land values long before we see the effect on sea levels. They are saying that it is certain that all sea-level waterfront property around the US will be worthless in 50-100 years. Since the market is very efficient at discounting future certainties into present values, US beachfront property ought to be losing at least 20 percent of its remaining value every decade from now on,” McKitrick wrote to Inhofe EPW Press Blog.
 
”It might be worth asking some real estate agents, especially in places like Hollywood and the Hamptons, where there seems to be such a consciousness of global warming, if beachfront owners are beginning to dump their properties at a discount. Because, of course, if some people have inside information that this land is really going to be worthless soon, they'll be the first ones to cash out and move to higher ground,” he concluded.

As EPW previously reported in a comprehensive report debunking fears of Greenland melting and a scary sea level rise, many prominent scientists dismiss computer model fears. (LINK)

Ivy League geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack of the University of Pennsylvania, explains that sea level is only rising up 1.8 millimeters per year (0.07 inches) -- less than the thickness of one nickel.

"Sea level is rising," Giegengack said, but it's been rising ever since warming set in 18,000 years ago, he explained according to a February 2007 article in Philadelphia Magazine.  “So if for some reason this warming process that melts ice is cutting loose and accelerating, sea level doesn’t know it. And sea level, we think, is the best indicator of global warming," he said. (LINK)  Giegengack also noted that the history of the last one billion years on the planet reveals "only about 5% of that time has been characterized by conditions on Earth that were so cold that the poles could support masses of permanent ice." (LINK)

Prominent scientist Professor Nils-Axel Morner, declared "the rapid rise in sea levels predicted by computer models simply cannot happen."  Morner, a leading world authority on sea levels and coastal erosion who headed the Department of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics at Stockholm University, noted on August 6, 2007: "When we were coming out of the last ice age, huge ice sheets were melting rapidly and the sea level rose at an average of one meter per century. If the Greenland ice sheet stated to melt at the same rate - which is unlikely - sea level would rise by less than 100 mm - 4 inches per century." Morner, who was president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution from 1999 to 2003, has published a new booklet entitled "The Greatest Lie Ever Told," to refute claims of catastrophic sea level rise. (LINK)

# # #


Related Links:

New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears

Global Warming "Consensus" Continues To Melt Away (Op-Ed By Senator Inhofe, Power Magazine) 

Cutting Emissions May Cost U.S. Economy Up to $1.8 Trillion

Senators Propose $4500 Climate Tax on American Families

Newsweek Editor Calls Mag's Global Warming 'Deniers' Article 'Highly Contrived'

Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism

Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt

EPA to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic  

Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics

Senator Inhofe declares climate momentum shifting away from Gore (The Politico op ed)

Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate

Global Warming on Mars & Cosmic Ray Research Are Shattering Media Driven "Consensus’

Global Warming: The Momentum has Shifted to Climate Skeptics

Prominent French Scientist Reverses Belief in Global Warming - Now a Skeptic

Top Israeli Astrophysicist Recants His Belief in Manmade Global Warming - Now Says Sun Biggest Factor in Warming

Warming On Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Neptune's Moon & Earth Linked to Increased Solar Activity, Scientists Say

Panel of Broadcast Meteorologists Reject Man-Made Global Warming Fears- Claim 95% of Weathermen Skeptical

MIT Climate Scientist Calls Fears of Global Warming 'Silly' - Equates Concerns to ‘Little Kids’ Attempting to "Scare Each Other"

Weather Channel TV Host Goes 'Political'- Stars in Global Warming Film Accusing U.S. Government of ‘Criminal Neglect’

Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics

ABC-TV Meteorologist: I Don't Know A Single Weatherman Who Believes 'Man-Made Global Warming Hype'

The Weather Channel Climate Expert Refuses to Retract Call for Decertification for Global Warming Skeptics

Senator Inhofe Announces Public Release Of "Skeptic’s Guide To Debunking Global Warming"

# # #