Friday, March 12, 2010

Listen / Read: Inhofe WSJ Op-Ed: What Real Spending Restraint Looks Like

The Wall Street Journal

What Real Spending Restraint Looks Like

Let's freeze the budget at 2008 levels.


March 12, 2010  

Listen/Read Interview with Ed Morrissey of Hot Air

Human Events: Inhofe Wants Spending Freeze, Opposes Earmark Ban

Link to Op-Ed

American families and state governments across the country are cutting spending and making hard decisions about their budgets. It is time the federal government did the same.

Unfortunately, Congress has long demonstrated an innate incompetence in restraining itself. And a proposal to curb spending that is being floated by many of my colleagues-a one year moratorium on earmarks, those special provisions members insert into bills to direct funds to their districts or states - will do no good.

An earmark moratorium won't save any money. Why? Because instead of reducing the federal budget, it will empower Obama administration bureaucrats to spend the funds members of Congress would have sent home through earmarks. Also, last year's earmarks accounted for 1.5% of discretionary spending. Where's the focus on the other 98.5%? Earmarks are nothing more than a distraction from the real spending and debt crisis facing our nation.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced a three-year freeze on discretionary spending for all nonsecurity-related agencies. On the surface, that seems like a good idea. But the president's plan would freeze spending at fiscal year 2010 levels, which are 20% higher than spending levels just two years ago. In addition, the $787 billion stimulus package Mr. Obama signed into law last year provided a substantial spending cushion to nearly every federal agency, making the spending freeze largely irrelevant.

I've introduced legislation called the Honest Expenditure Limitation Program (HELP) Act. Instead of locking in the president's 20% spending increase, my plan reduces nonsecurity discretionary spending over a five-year period. Once it reaches the 2008 spending level, my bill then freezes spending there for an additional five years.

Real fiscal restraint requires cutting budgets, not locking in an artificially high spending level and then allowing spending to explode again after three years as the president's proposal does.

The American people deserve honesty about their government's spending. Repeatedly, Congress has made mostly symbolic gestures toward fiscal responsibility, such as the Democrat's current pay-go process. In theory that requires Congress to pay for any new spending, but in practice it is easily evaded.

For this reason, my spending cap comes with teeth. Typically, the Senate can sidestep spending restraints with a 60-vote majority. But to exceed my spending caps my legislation would require a super majority of 67 votes in the Senate. Furthermore, if Congress passes a spending bill that exceeds my spending caps but fails to win a super majority vote in the Senate, the Office of Management and Budget would automatically impose an across-the-board spending cut of the excess amount at the end of the year.

Currently, that's how "mandatory" spending - money spent on entitlements such as Social Security - works. My plan does allow Congress to evade the sequestration cuts if authorized to do so with legislation that gets 67 votes in the Senate in addition to a majority of votes in the House.

Howling about earmarks provides convenient political cover for big spenders who vote for budget-busting bills. At the end of the day, railing against earmarks does nothing to curb federal spending.

Republicans are on the side of the vast majority of Americans who want to cut the deficit, reduce the cost of health care, and not be saddled with an expensive cap-and-trade environmental tax. Instead of earmark reform, our country needs an approach that will return nonsecurity discretionary spending to the level we saw prior to the massive expansion of government over the past few years.

Compared to Mr. Obama's spending freeze, my plan will save an additional $600 billion and deliver an overall savings of close to $1 trillion over a 10-year period. If we do nothing to curtail skyrocketing government spending, or merely freeze it at artificially elevated levels for a few years, the country will be mired in debt for decades to come.

Watch / Read: Inhofe Welcomes Growing Support from Governors, Grassroots to Stop EPAs Backdoor Energy Tax

At the American Farm Bureau's "Don't Cap our Future Rally," Wednesday, March 10, Sen. Inhofe welcomed growing support from farm groups, Democratic and Republican governors, and a host of small business and trade organizations to overturn EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases-which amounts to a job-killing, backdoor energy tax on the American people.

Watch: Inhofe Attends "Don't Cap Our Future" Rally  

Inhofe Backs ‘Don't CAP our future' campaign

Letter from 20 Governors

Letter from Stakeholders

Senator Inhofe and Bob Stallman, President AFBF (behind)

"As I've said all along, EPA's endangerment finding is a backdoor energy tax on the American people that will destroy jobs, weaken our energy security, and put the economy into a state of stagnation," Sen. Inhofe said. "The Obama EPA should heed the message from Republicans and Democrats, from farmers and manufacturers, and from builders and unions: stop this tax and the regulatory nightmare it will create, and work with Congress to pass an all-of-the-above energy plan that means more jobs, more energy, and more security for America."

Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau President, praised Senator Inhofe for his work on defeating cap-and-trade, saying today, "I am pleased to introduce Senator Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe has led the charge in the Senate against cap-and-trade climate change legislation.  We are grateful to him for his crusading leadership on this issue, and I personally have appreciated testifying before the Environment and Public Works Committee, and his steady hand up there to give our side a little help." 


On February 15, 2010 at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's annual Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Okla.,  Senator Inhofe was presented with the American Farm Bureau Federation's highest award, the Golden Plow award.  Inhofe was nominated for the award by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau for his work on critical agriculture and Farm Bureau issues.   

Inhofe Welcomes Independent Investigation of IPCC

Sen. Inhofe released the following statement Wednesday, March 09, in response to the United Nations' announcement that an independent scientific organization will investigate the policies and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

The UN's action comes nearly three months after 27 GOP Senators, including Sen. Inhofe, called on Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to launch an independent investigation of the IPCC.  The UN's action also follows the Climategate' scandal and the disclosure of several flaws and intentionally misleading information found in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report-which provided a principal scientific basis for EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. 

Link to Republican Request for UN Investigation into Climategate

"I welcome today's call by the UN Secretary General for an independent investigation of the IPCC's review process and procedures," Inhofe said.  "Yet, this is only half the battle: if the investigation uncovers flaws in how the IPCC manages the process of compiling its scientific assessments, then those flaws necessarily will affect the quality and rigor of the science in those reports.  Therefore, a legitimate inquiry must look back and examine the science in the assessment reports, and not just the mistakes that have been uncovered thus far. 

"According to Phil Jones, former director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), 'there is some truth' to the charge that he failed to update and organize the raw data supporting the CRU temperature dataset, on which the IPCC relies in its reports to make temperature projections. Therefore, an independent, peer-reviewed examination of the CRU and other major temperature datasets must be part of this investigation.

"On December 8, I wrote a letter with 26 Republican Senators calling for an independent investigation of the IPCC and the science it produces.  We demanded an investigation along the lines of the Volcker inquiry of the UN's Oil for Food Program.  We stated, among other things, that the investigation ‘must be conducted without political interference or manipulation from individual countries, non-governmental organizations, those within the UN, those who have contributed to the IPCC, those being investigated, or any closely related associates.'  In addition, we said that ‘in the interest of transparency, it is imperative that the US Congress have full access to all the documents, as well as transcripts and interviews, from the investigation, and that they be released to the public.'  In order to be credible and transparent, the investigation must meet these basic criteria. 

"Finally, until this investigation is complete, Congress should consider budgetary measures to ensure that taxpayer dollars are funding science that meets the highest standards of integrity and objectivity.  This includes science produced by federal agencies as well as funding for the IPCC."  

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Federal, State and Local Partnerships to Accelerate Transportation Benefits

Yesterday, Senator Inhofe made the following opening statement at a hearing to examine Federal, State and Local Partnerships to Accelerate Transportation Benefits:

I believe in federal infrastructure spending and see it as one of the primary purposes of government. Given our enormous needs, however, it is difficult to imagine that the next highway bill could ever meet all of them if we follow the traditional way of paying for transportation.  According to the Administration, our backlog of deferred road and bridge maintenance is $600 billion and growing.  Clearly, we need to think about how we can do things differently.   Not only do we need to get the most for our federal highway dollar, but we also need to encourage state and local governments and the private sector to invest as much as possible in roads and bridges.  

SAFETEA was a 38 percent increase over TEA-21 and was one of the largest non-defense spending measures ever passed.  But as I've often said, it wasn't enough money to even maintain our existing roads and bridges-let alone improve them.  We can't expect to spend our way out of this crisis with federal dollars alone; we need a true public-private partnership if we are going to accomplish what needs to be done.

One of the most frequently discussed ways to leverage non-federal investment is through public-private partnerships, or PPPs.  With PPPs, state or local governments enter into an agreement to transfer risks to the private sector and raise private capital.  This is a way to unleash an enormous amount of private money, especially from pension funds.  Investors are attracted to PPPs because they offer stability over long periods -often 75 or 95 years. I must point out that although these long-term concession agreements can work, as evidenced by the Indiana Toll road, there are many different applications for PPPs that we are just beginning to understand.  We can no longer overlook this financing source to help address our infrastructure funding shortfall.

In addition to the private sector playing an active role in a project, there are ways the federal government can lower borrowing costs.  These include capitalizing state infrastructure banks, increasing opportunities for bonding, and federal loan programs, such as those made possible by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ("TIFIA") program.  To date, all of these have been initiated at the state or local level. 

I am interested in hearing from our witnesses today on how changing the structure of the federal program can encourage more transportation investment at the state and local level.

I look forward to the testimony.

Policy Beat: What the Supreme Court Said About Massachusetts vs. EPA

It was the spark that caused the fire: In 1999, 19 organizations, led by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), petitioned EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from mobile sources under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act.  The so-called ICTA petition was denied in 2003 by the Bush EPA (via the Fabricant memo), and the inevitable litigation parade ensued.  Several states and environmental groups joined ICTA, and Massachusetts became the lead plaintiff.  The case went to the DC Circuit, and in a 2 to 1 decision, the court in Massachusetts v. EPA upheld EPA's decision.  A writ of certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court, and the court agreed to hear the case.  In a 5 to 4 decision, the court sided with Massachusetts, and the rest was history.

But what, exactly, is that history?  What, exactly, did the majority rule?  This question is especially relevant today, as EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases, finalized last December, will extend the tentacles of government regulation into every sector of the economy (thankfully, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has filed a Congressional Review Act petition to overturn that finding).  Obama Administration officials have mischaracterized the Mass v. EPA decision-they contend they had no choice, that the Supreme Court forced their hand to find endangerment.  For example, in a February 22 letter to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote that "the United States Supreme Court held three years ago that greenhouse gases are air pollution and are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act." [Emphasis added] Here we respectfully disagree with the Administrator for the following reasons.

The Court did not say greenhouse gases are "subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act."  To the contrary, the Court wrote, "Under the clear terms of the Clean Air Act, EPA can avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do."  The Court further stated, "If the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so."  Finally, the Court concluded, "We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand EPA must make an endangerment finding, or whether policy concerns can inform EPA's actions in the event that it makes such a finding.  We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute." [Emphasis added]

In other words, EPA was not forced by the Supreme Court to make an endangerment finding, and it said nothing about greenhouse gases being "subject to regulation."  Of course, EPA will counter, as it did in the Technical Support Document underlying the endangerment finding, that the science is clear, that the science is settled, and, a fortiori, the IPCC says so.  Therefore, endangerment there must be. 

Yet, the science is anything but clear.  The University of Alabama's Dr. John Christy, an IPCC reviewer and the world's foremost expert on satellite temperature data, wrote in his comments on the endangerment finding that, "EPA has accepted an alarmist set of assumptions as ‘facts' when the truth is that our ignorance about the climate system is still enormous."  Christy further noted, "The EPA has relied almost exclusively on consensus documents (e.g. IPCC and CCSP) as the origin of their ‘facts'."  He argued that "these reports are not always ‘factual' but written (a) to give the impression of certainty where large uncertainty is the reality or (b) to actually suppress results which run counter to the more alarming conclusions."

Christy's comments are just the tip of the iceberg.  With Climategate, the implosion of IPCC's credibility, and a growing scandal concerning the world's main temperature data sets, the notion that greenhouse gases "endanger" public health and welfare is hard to justify.  And the notion that the Supreme Court mandated that finding is simply false.

Policy Brief: Clean Water and the Supreme Court

Note: EPW Policy Beat presents a new series called "EPW Policy Brief," a weekly communication that will provide fact-based background and analysis on key policy issues.  Policy Brief will go beyond the 24-hour news cycle and report substantively on the issues in a manner that doesn't upset the time-information continuum.  We want to offer policy practitioners enough detail to enlighten and inform, while refraining from reporting the dross that can easily overwhelm and drive the time-constrained staffer to disinterest and distraction.   

Summary:  In Policy Brief #1, we respond to a recent story in the New York Times on federal clean water policy in the aftermath of two key Supreme Court decisions.  We explain the Supreme Court's rulings in SWANCC and Rapanos, as well as another critical Clean Water Act (CWA) case, Riverside Bayview Homes, Inc.  In our view, the Court properly delineated the reach of the federal government's control over water bodies in these cases.  Further, we believe S. 787, "The Clean Water Restoration Act," advocated by some as the "solution" to clarify the Court rulings, is the wrong approach.  By removing the word "navigable" from the CWA, S. 787 overturns the longstanding federal-state balance of regulatory authority established by the CWA, giving EPA and the federal government sweeping authority to regulate water bodies at the expense of states.

Issue: On February 28, 2010, the New York Times published an article titled "Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling EPA."  According to the Times, "Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators."

Background:  Activists quoted in the article contend that the Supreme Court's decisions in two Clean Water Act cases, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC) and Rapanos et al. v. United States (Rapanos), remove EPA's ability to regulate waterways.  Without federal control, they argue, there is no backstop authority-leaving water bodies vulnerable to dangerous pollution.  This argument reflects a flawed understanding of the CWA. 

The CWA gives states primary authority to regulate water bodies.  In Section 1, Title 101, the Act states that, "it is the policy of Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation, and enhancement) of land and water resources." [Emphasis added]  Waters that fall outside of the reach of EPA are waters of the state and are covered by state protections.   

Supreme Court

United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes Inc.: Issued prior to SWANCC and Rapanos, Riverside established an important clean water legal predicate.  The case involved a housing developer who owned land adjacent to a lake.  He placed fill materials on the property without obtaining a CWA permit.  The Supreme Court ruled against the developer and unanimously upheld the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' rulemaking to include "wetlands adjacent to navigable waters or interstate waters and their tributaries" within the definition of "waters of the United States," and thus federal control.

Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. Army Corps of Engineers: After Riverside, the Court issued its decision in SWANCC to further clarify and demarcate federal authority over water.  In this case, the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), consortium of suburban Chicago municipalities, selected an abandoned sand and gravel pit as a solid waste disposal site, which included excavation trenches with standing water.  Those trenches were wholly within the state of Illinois and not connected to other waters. The decision to use the abandoned site involved filling in some of the trenches.  SWANCC contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if a landfill permit was required under §404(a) of the CWA.  Section 404 (a) authorizes the Corps to issue permits allowing the discharge of dredged or fill material into "navigable waters."  

The Corps decided that a 404 permit was required, reasoning that the so-called "Migratory Bird Rule," applied to the SWANCC site.  Since 1986, the Corps had used the "Migratory Bird Rule" to assert §404(a) jurisdiction over any body of water where a migratory bird could land.  The Supreme Court correctly held that the "Migratory Bird Rule" exceeded the Corps' authority under §404(a).  The Supreme Court distinguished the wetlands in Riverside with the isolated ponds in SWANCC.  In Riverside, the "significant nexus between the wetlands and ‘navigable waters'" was grounds for federal regulation, while in SWANCC, the ponds were not adjacent to open water, putting them under state control.

Rapanos v. United States: The Rapanos case shifted the burden of proof from the permitee to EPA over whether water can be claimed as a "water of the United States" and therefore subject to federal regulation.  Rapanos involved a land owner who backfilled wetlands with "sometimes-saturated soil conditions" 11 to 20 miles away from the nearest navigable waters.  Again, the Court distinguished the wetlands in Rapanos from those in Riverside, as well as the ponds in SWANCC, concluding that, "Wetlands with only an intermittent, physically remote hydrologic connection to ‘waters of the United States' do not implicate the boundary-drawing problem of Riverside, and thus lack the necessary connection to covered waters that we described as a ‘significant nexus' in SWANCC."  

Clean Water Restoration Act:  Activists have decried these Supreme Court cases, arguing that they remove federal jurisdiction over water bodies.  Their "solution" is S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA).  The central provision of S. 787 strikes the word "navigable" from the CWA and replacing it with "waters of the United States."  By striking the term "navigable waters" wherever it appears, replacing it instead with "waters of the United States," S. 787 fundamentally changes the underlying premise of the Clean Water Act and how it has been interpreted since 1972. The term "navigable" is rooted in Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution.  Removing this term not only gives blanket authority over all water to the federal government, it erases any distinction between federal and state jurisdiction over waters.

If the intention behind S. 787 is to, as the Act states, "return regulators' authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions," then, in effect, every place where a water could provide a habitat for a migratory bird would require a §404(a) permit from the Corps.  Moreover, the waters that would be covered under this new definition include "all interstate and intrastate waters, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, and  natural ponds, all tributaries of any of the above waters, and all impoundments of the foregoing." 

The CWRA would also, for the first time in 37 years of federal water law, establish the predicate for extending federal regulatory authority over ground water.  While the bill purports to exclude ground water from federal jurisdiction, it nonetheless states that "water is transported through interconnected hydrological cycles" and that "pollution...of any part of an aquatic system may affect...other parts of the aquatic system."  This language could easily be interpreted by regulators to establish a nexus between above-ground activities and their impacts on aquifers, springs, and wells.  (During a markup on S. 787 in the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, committee Democrats voted against an amendment to clarify that groundwater would not be included within the ambit of the act.) 

In fact, the "interconnected hydrological cycle" language in S. 787 is so expansive that it could extend CWA jurisdiction to air pollution, based on the fact that rain falls through the air with the potential to absorb pollutants.   

Again, if the intention of S. 787 is to restore the pre-SWANCC and Rapanos playing field and provide regulators further clarity on the lines of federal jurisdiction, then why remove the term "navigable," and replace it with "waters of the United States," a term that is vague and unduly expansive?  Because of this change in S. 787, the Congressional Budget Office is unable to determine how many water bodies are covered and warns that "the number of activities that would require a permit is uncertain."

It is clear that S. 787 would extend far beyond those waters subject to federal control before the SWANCC and Rapanos and open the door to a nearly-limitless federal power grab over water and property.

Conclusion: We all want clean, safe, water.  However, placing the responsibility of keeping water clean is not solely the job of federal agencies in Washington.  The federal government can set national water quality standards and should provide assistance in meeting clean water goals.  States can and should establish additional water quality standards and requirements for waters that fall within their states.  Simply put, states have a better understanding of how to protect and maintain the waters within their borders.  The bottom line is that the federal-state balance in the Clean Water Act works.  So we should continue to promote strong federal-state partnerships as the best means of "restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters."

Inhofe Hearing Statement: Business Perspectives on Reforming U.S. Chemical Safety Laws

On Tuesday, March 09, Sen. Inhofe released the following statement at a hearing for Business Perspectives on Reforming U.S. Chemical Safety Laws:

Chairman Lautenberg, I am very pleased to see you here today and am glad to know you are feeling well.  

As we consider legislation aimed at modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Congress must avoid creating new burdens that hurt consumers and the economy.  This principle is especially important today, as the economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains near 10 percent.  So, thank you for having this hearing, mister chairman. It is critical that we listen to private sector concerns and consider ideas from the business community.  I'd like to request that the written statement of the American Chemical Council be entered into the record.

TSCA regulates thousands of basic chemicals and compounds-chemicals that are the foundation of our way of life, and on which our economy, health and welfare depend.  I believe that TSCA is a fundamentally sound statute.  But, it is 30 years old and the science of chemical risk assessment has evolved.   As you've heard me say before, I am open to the idea of modernizing the Act. 

The chemical industry has set out principles for reform.  And, in previous hearings, I also laid out principles.  Let me say this again: in order for me to accept changes to TSCA, the revisions must be based on risk assessment using the best available science; must include cost-benefit considerations; must protect proprietary information; and must prioritize reviews for existing chemicals.          

I have high expectations that the perspectives we hear today will focus on sound science, risk-based decision making and prioritization of review.  Let it be known, however, that I do not want to hear suggestions that create artificial advantages favoring one sector over another-in other words, please do not give us ideas that create an uneven playing field among companies or products, or cause economic harm to consumers.

I look forward to hearing from the witnesses on their productive and constructive ideas for reforming TSCA.  Welcome to the Committee.

In the News . . . Meltdown - Little Interest - Lost the Messaging War- Talk Radio to Blame

In Denial: The Meltdown of the Climate Campaign - This central pillar of the climate campaign is unlikely to survive much longer, and each repetition of the "science-is-settled" mantra inflicts more damage on the credibility of the climate science community. The scientist at the center of the Climategate scandal at East Anglia University, Phil ("hide the decline") Jones dealt the science-is-settled narrative a huge blow with his candid admission in a BBC interview that his surface temperature data are in such disarray they probably cannot be verified or replicated, that the medieval warm period may have been as warm as today, and that he agrees that there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 15 years-all three points that climate campaigners have been bitterly contesting. And Jones specifically disavowed the "science-is-settled" slogan.


Jackson says EPA is losing a public relations war over climate regulations  - Amid a pitched battle over her agency's planned climate regulations, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said environmental regulators are losing a public relations war to industry lobbyists. "The people in my line of work have not done the best job in communicating our side of the debate. We've lost the messaging war," Jackson said yesterday at the National Press Club. The statement comes as Jackson faces bipartisan efforts in both chambers of Congress to either curtail or eliminate her agency's authority to tackle climate change. Industry groups and several states have also lined up legal challenges to EPA's ruling that greenhouse gases should be regulated pollutants. Jackson said that alarmists are reviving a frequently debunked argument that EPA regulations 


Graham: Draft May Not Happen Before Easter  - When asked if the trio, which also includes Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., would have a draft bill or outline by Easter break, which goes for two weeks beginning March 29, Graham replied: "Sooner rather than later. I don't know if we can get it done that soon. But hopefully by the end of the month." If a draft isn't announced by the break, then it could be delayed until mid-April. The possible delay may be a sign that garnering support for a comprehensive bill that includes a cap on emissions is growing more difficult as more senators weigh in on the process. When reporters today asked Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, whether she could support a sector-by-sector cap on emissions -- something that is reportedly included in the trio's draft -- Collins was noncommittal: "Their approach seems to be a moving target... I'm not sure what they're going to finally settle on."


Boston Globe: Kerry Blames Global Warming Failures on Talk Radio  - The political fallout may be even more telling. Environmental policy specialists say the controversies, along with the struggling economy, could hurt Kerry’s effort to pass climate legislation. Kerry said recently that he is closing in on a bipartisan bill. He vowed to push forward, noting the issue is as much about jobs and national security as about the environment. “What we have to do is go on the offensive,’’ Kerry said. The science “has been maligned and misinterpreted, and we need to fight back . . . people [need to] stop being moved by these talk show [hosts] and start looking for the facts’’ themselves. 


Wash Post: Review of U.N. panel's report on climate change won't reexamine errors - "This is only half the battle," Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of Congress's most determined opponents of legislation to cap greenhouse gases, said in a statement. "A legitimate inquiry must look back and examine the science in the assessment reports, and not just the mistakes that have been uncovered thus far."  Also Wednesday, University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke Jr., a past critic of the U.N. panel, said that a reexamination of the earlier report might restore some credibility to climate science.  "There's some closure needed on these issues that have been basically battled out in the media," Pielke said. In recent months, scientists have questioned several items in the report. In one case, the panel said incorrectly that Himalayan glaciers were expected to melt by 2035. Critics also said the panel relied improperly on data from advocacy groups, not peer-reviewed science. Rejecting GOP Call, Senator Punts EPA Oversight Until IG Nominee Installed - Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), chair of the Senate environment committee's oversight panel, is rejecting calls from Republicans to conduct oversight of EPA and instead appears to be punting oversight to the Obama administration, suggesting that senators have the agency's Inspector General (IG) nominee -- once he is confirmed -- conduct a broad investigation to inform the panel's work.  In response to criticisms in a report from Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) that Whitehouse has ignored his multiple requests for oversight subcommittee hearings on EPA scientific integrity, climate science and other issues, Whitehouse sent a March 9 letter saying he agrees with Barrasso that the panel was formed in part to "help restore scientific integrity at the EPA, to strengthen environmental protections, and to make the regulatory process more transparent."

USA Today: Questions about research slow climate change efforts  - The e-mails showed some of the scientists sharing doubts about just how fast the Earth's temperature is rising, questioning the work of other researchers and refusing to share data with the public. Critics, including Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., have seized on the e-mails as proof that Mann and his colleagues deliberately exaggerated the scientific case behind global warming. In a rare extended interview, Mann acknowledges "minor" errors but says he has been bewildered by the criticism — including a deluge of correspondence sent to his Pennsylvania State University office that, he says, occasionally has turned ugly. 

WSJ: US Governors Ask Congress to Stop EPA Rules  - The letter emboldened Republicans already at odds with the EPA. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R, Okla.) said in a statement that the EPA should "stop this tax and the regulatory nightmare it will create, and work with Congress to pass an all-of-the-above energy plan that means more jobs, more energy, and more security for America."  The EPA’s  biggest champions in Congress have so far remained silent. A spokesman for Reid declined to comment. A spokesman for Pelosi didn't respond to a request for comment. The EPA is acting after a 2007 Supreme Court decision found that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act and ordered the agency to determine whether to regulate the gas. The Obama administration's EPA last year found that greenhouse gases endanger the public, providing a basis for the rules it already has begun rolling out.


Gallup: Americans' Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop - Multiple indicators show less concern, more feelings that global warming is exaggerated. PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual update on Americans' attitudes toward the a public that over the last two years has become less worried about the threat of global warming, less convinced that its effects are already happening, and more likely to believe that scientists themselves are uncertain about its occurrence. In response to one key question, 48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.

 WV 59 News Report Outlines Impact of EPA Attack on Coal  - The EPA's holdup of mining permits has put 5,600 jobs in jeopardy in West Virginia alone. The minority staff of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plans to issue a report this week that shows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's holdup of mining permits in Appalachia jeopardizes more than 5,600 jobs in West Virginia alone. More than that, Senate staffers believe their research shows the EPA has launched a war on coal that is far broader than restricting mountaintop mining. The EPA's response to the 404 permitting process also is prohibiting the development of smaller surface mines, deep mines and related coal operations, staff members said.

 Young people don't seem to be especially hot about climate change - Contrary to popular belief, young people are not more politically engaged on the issue of climate change than older Americans, according to a new climate poll conducted by researchers at American, Yale and George Mason universities. The researchers found "adults under the age of 35 are significantly less likely than their elders to say that they had thought about global warming before today, with nearly a quarter (22 percent) of under-35s saying they had never thought about the issue previously. Only 38 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 say that they had previously thought about global warming either 'a lot' (10 percent) or 'some' (28 percent), compared to 51 percent of those 35-59 and 44 percent of those 60 and older.

 E&E: Western Democrats ask Obama to block EPA regs  - A coalition of five Western House Democrats yesterday asked President Obama to block U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities.Reps. Ciro Rodriguez and Gene Green of Texas, Jim Costa and Joe Baca of California and Harry Teague of New Mexico asked the administration in a letter yesterday to "halt its current plan to regulate greenhouse gases at stationary sources and leave it to Congress to develop national climate change policy." EPA is planning later this month to finalize its first greenhouse gas standards for automobiles, which would trigger permitting requirements for stationary sources of the heat-trapping gases.

 WSJ: Comprehensive 2010 Climate Bill Highly Unlikely, Murkowski Says - Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday she thinks it unlikely the Senate will pass a comprehensive climate bill this year. Ms. Murkowski, who has previously supported an economy-wide cap on emissions, is a moderate within the GOP that the White House is courting for support on a climate bill this year. "With where we are with a crowded legislative calendar, I think it is highly unlikely that we're going to see consensus on a climate bill this year," the senator said at a natural-gas event here.  

Roll Call: Kerry Sparks Fight on Climate  - In an already challenging election year for the majority, Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) rush to pass a climate change bill has many Democrats scratching their heads and charging that their 2004 presidential nominee could further imperil vulnerable Members this fall.  Climate change had been considered all but dead this year, and Senate Democrats have little appetite to take up the controversial issue after the beating that they have endured over their as-yet-unfinished health care reform efforts.  “The United States Senate is not going to transition from doing health care to a [global warming] bill,” one Democratic Senator said. “It’s not going to happen.”


The Hill: Cautious Obama joins climate fray - President Barack Obama stepped gingerly into the Capitol Hill climate-change fight Tuesday, but an all-out White House push does not appear to be in the offing this year as other legislative priorities and the sagging economy command the president’s political capital. Obama hosted a bipartisan White House meeting Tuesday afternoon with roughly 15 senators and several Cabinet officials to discuss Senate efforts to craft a compromise climate change and energy bill. Attendees included the Senate trio taking the lead in that chamber — John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — as well as Republicans including Judd Gregg (N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Richard Lugar (Ind.).

 Bloomberg: Lieberman Says Climate - Change Proposal Will Be Ready This Month - Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, is working with Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to craft compromise legislation after proposals for a broad emissions-trading program drew criticism from both political parties. “We’re still negotiating with a lot of people,” Lieberman told reporters. “The aim is to put a draft out,” by March 26. The three lawmakers are part of a bipartisan group of senators meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House later today to discuss energy and climate proposals .“The president is saying that, with all the other things going on around here, including health-care reform, energy independence and climate legislation are a priority item for him,” Lieberman said.  

Reuters: We don’t use that term anymore  - Like a savvy Madison Avenue advertising team, senators pushing climate-control legislation have decided to scrap the name "cap and trade" and rebrand their product as "pollution reduction targets." A clunky and difficult term to define for laymen and some politicians, "cap and trade" had become dirty words on Capitol Hill in recent months. Republicans called the plan nothing more than "cap and tax" and one influential senator took great pains last week to declare cap and trade "dead." Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent trying to draft a bipartisan bill, said, "We don't use that term anymore." Instead Lieberman said, laughing: "We will have pollution reduction targets." But Lieberman did say it was still possible utilities may be subject to a cap and trade system. Senator Thomas Carper, who chairs a clean air panel in the Senate, told Reuters on Tuesday that cap and trade for utilities was the way to go.

E&E: Republicans showed little interest  - Heading into the meeting, several of the Republicans showed little interest in tackling such a sweeping proposal. Lugar, for example, said he is drafting legislation that would fold together ideas on energy efficiency, a nationwide clean energy standard that promotes nuclear power and "clean coal" technologies, and a stronger plan for automobile fuel efficiency standards. "We're trying to put together a number of ideas that would conserve energy," Lugar said. "And most importantly, save money either for businesses or building renovations or homeowners or car owners." Lugar said he likely would not support the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman approach that would put a price on carbon emissions. "

USA Today: Al Gore's climate groups unite as he sees "massive" opposition - Two groups aimed at fighting global warming are uniting as their founder, former Vice President Al Gore, sees massive opposition. "There has been a very large, organized campaign to try to convince people that it [global warming] is not real, to try to convince people that they shouldn't worry about it," Gore said during an interview on the Norwegian talk show "Skavlan" to promote his newest book "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis."  Gore said: In my country, the oil and coal companies spent $500 million last year just on television advertising just on these questions. There are now five anti-climate lobbyists on Capitol Hill in Washington for every member of the House and Senate. So it's been a very massive, organized campaign. 

Business Week:  Obama’s Trade Goal Fights His Clean-Energy Plan  - President Barack Obama’s goals of boosting U.S. exports and combating climate change are colliding as the U.S. Export-Import Bank expands financing for oil, gas, mining and power-plant projects. Bank-supported ventures approved in the year ended Sept. 30 will emit an estimated 17.9 million metric tons of carbon annually, more than triple the previous year and the most since the lender started releasing data in 2001, according to its annual reports. Among companies aided were General Electric Co. and Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil business. “Ex-Im is on a fossil-fuel binge,” said Doug Norlen, policy director at PacificEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group in San Francisco.