Friday, January 22, 2010

Inhofe Congratulates Oklahoma Companies on Fortune 100 Best List

Today, Senator Jim Inhofe congratulated the Oklahoma based companies included in Fortune's Annual list of the 100 Best Companies To Work For. The companies include Oklahoma City based companies Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, and American Fidelity Assurance, and Tulsa based company QuikTrip.
"I am extremely proud of these Oklahoma companies for recognizing the importance of their most valuable resources - their people," Inhofe said. "Amidst this recession, companies across the country are being forced to make layoffs and budget cuts leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed.  Therefore, companies such as these are beacons of hope for turning our economy around.  Liberals in Washington tend to think that the best way out of a recession is to grow government, but as these companies demonstrate, empowering growth in the private sector is best for the creation of jobs."

"I am pleased that solid companies like QuikTrip, on Fortune's list for eight years in a row, and Oklahoma energy producers Devon and Chesapeake, on the list for the third straight year, are providing strong employment opportunities for those in our state and around the nation.  These are model companies.  In addition, Devon and Chesapeake are providing energy security for the country through their oil and natural gas exploration.  By helping to increase our nation's energy independence, these companies and their employees are contributing to a safer, more secure future."

Why is Reid Blaming Republicans for Delay in Highway Bill?

We found these comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in E&E News Thursday, January 21 extremely puzzling:

"Chairman [Barbara] Boxer [D-Calif.] is trying to get a highway bill. We can't get that past Republicans. Talk about jobs creation. For every billion dollars we spend, it creates 50,000 high paying jobs."

Fact: Senator Inhofe and Republicans on the Senate EPW Committee support passing a highway bill as soon as possible. We expect that if asked again, Senator Reid would likely have a different answer. If not, he should be sure to check in with Senator Boxer to see about this so-called Republican opposition.

Further, as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator Inhofe has been extremely upset with Congressional inaction on highway issues. For months, Senator Inhofe has been working to ensure States get the necessary money to proceed with highway projects while Congress gets to work on a long term reauthorization of the highway bill.


Lost Highway Funds Result of Washington Inaction 

Inhofe Outraged Congress Fails to Act To Protect 17,000 American Jobs

Inhofe Warns Thousands of Oklahoma Jobs at Stake 

Tulsa World Editorial: What the ...?: Congress scuttles road funding

Senator Reid should also be reminded of the bi-partisan letter sent by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Chris J. Dodd (D-CT), Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) asking Reid to file cloture on 6-month extension back in November, stating,

"On a bipartisan basis, we have decided to move forward with a 6-month extension.  Unfortunately, a small number of Senators continue to object and will not allow an extension to be considered by the Senate without a cloture vote. We urge you to file cloture on the motion to proceed on the 6-month extension and dedicate the time necessary to complete this important legislation, so we can put Americans back to work and keep our economy moving."      

Unfortunately, the Majority leader decided against calling up the bill, and therefore state highway projects continue to suffer. While blaming Republicans has become a bit of a habit for the Majority leader, we suggest next time he take a look at the facts.

What the Brown Election Means For Cap and Tax

After Republican Scott Brown's defeat of Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley earlier this week, The Oklahoman asked Sen. Inhofe what this meant for the Senate. Inhofe replied that "climate change legislation was likely dead even before Brown's victory." He added, "The nails were all in the coffin. There might have been loose ones, but they're all solid now."

Read more stories below on the significance of Scott Brown's victory and what it means for prospects of cap and tax in the Senate this year:

ChristianScienceMonitor: Cap-and-trade for carbon emissions? Gone. - Obama's ambitious proposal for cap-and-trade carbon-emission regulation, meant to combat global climate change, now is not going anywhere this year. Cap-and-trade always faced a steep uphill climb. It would constitute as big a change in national policy as healthcare reform, maybe bigger. But lawmakers were never going to get around to considering it until after the healthcare fight was over. Retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) of North Dakota indicated Tuesday that the Senate is not likely to take up cap-and-trade at all in 2010. "In the aftermath of a very, very heavy lift on healthcare, it's unlikely that the Senate will turn to a very complicated and controversial subject of cap-and-trade," Senator Dorgan told reporters.

FinancialTimes: US cap-and-trade bill looks even further away - Most of the commentariat are so far focusing on what it means for the healthcare bill, but the election is not much better for the chances of climate change legislation, either. Support in the Senate for a House cap-and-trade was already rather dicey. A Senate bill, supported by Republican Lindsey Graham and independent Joe Lieberman, doesn't necessarily look much more secure as criticism of cap-and-trade grows, and some have suggested a climate bill needn't put a price on carbon at all, but could merely create more renewable energy (which would be quite a blow to emissions reductions efforts, as we pointed out at the previous link).

Dallas Morning News: Is climate change legislation still a priority for Team Obama? - But the clock is running out on the legislative year, and the economy remains the biggest issue during an election year when many incumbents are nervous about their reelection chances. There probably isn't enough time to pass a climate change bill through both chambers, even if lawmakers could find a way to surmount the obvious political hurdles to such a bill. At a briefing this morning with reporters from The Dallas Morning Newsand other outlets, White House senior advisor David Axelrod didn't list climate change as a top priority for 2010. (The list basically consisted of finding ways to create jobs and passing a major financial regulation bill.)

E&ENews: "I just want to make sure if in fact ... the Earth is heating up, that we have accurate information, and it's unbiased by scientists with no agenda," - During his campaign, Brown questioned the science linking man-made emissions to global warming."It's interesting. I think the globe is always heating and cooling," Brown told a voter in Harvard, according to the Boston Globe. "It's a natural way of ebb and flow. The thing that concerns me lately is some of the information I've heard about potential tampering with some of the information." "I just want to make sure if in fact ... the Earth is heating up, that we have accurate information, and it's unbiased by scientists with no agenda," Brown added.

BBC: "So there will either be no bill or one that is watered down." -  Perhaps the most important globally are moves on climate change. The Senate has yet to pass a bill to establish a "cap and trade" scheme to cut greenhouse emissions. The House passed its version last year. The Democrats were already struggling to get legislation through the Senate and the loss of a seat makes this all the harder. In addition, some Democrats from traditional manufacturing states are increasingly reluctant to vote for legislation seen as threatening US jobs. So there will either be no bill or one that is watered down. That may then provoke a backlash from other big polluting countries that are considering their own emissions cuts.

THE HILL: Brown's Senate win could hinder climate bill push - Republican Scott Brown's stunning win in the Massachusetts Senate race Tuesday does not bode well for Democratic plans to enact climate change legislation in 2010. At the very least, Brown adds another vote against a cap-and-trade bill - a plan the state senator attacked during his successful campaign against state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) for the seat held by the late Ted Kennedy. But more broadly, the rare election of a Republican senator in Massachusetts, which comes amid high unemployment, could fuel Democratic reluctance to take up climate legislation that opponents call harmful to the economy.

Politico: "A cap-and-trade bill has a shot in the Senate - as long as the cap-and- trade part is removed." If Democrats dump that toxic measure and pursue a more modest climate and energy bill, they've actually got a shot at getting something done - and getting a few Republican votes to push them past 60...And moderate Democrats are pushing Senate leadership to drop the cap-and- trade provision in favor of an energy-only bill, which could include renewable fuels standard tax incentives for alternative energy Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), has also shown willingness to work on climate issues with the lead Democrat on the topic, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). "It is my assessment that we likely will not do a climate change bill this year, but we will do energy," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said Tuesday. "I think it is more likely for us to turn to something that is bipartisan and will address the country's energy interest and begin to address specific policies on climate change." They'll have to work without the rookie Brown, who has expressed skepticism that climate change is being caused by humans. He's also backed away from his previous support for a cap-and-trade system.

Reuters UK: Political turmoil shakes U.S. climate bill -  WASHINGTON, Jan 19 - A U.S. climate change bill, already facing a difficult fight in the Senate, is facing new political problems that could sink "cap and trade" this year.A leading Senate Democrat on Tuesday said he does not think the Senate can pass a bill in 2010. A special election on Tuesday for a Massachusetts Senate seat could spell deeper problems for the long-delayed legislation. Republican state Senator Scott Brown is aiming to defeat Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley to fill the seat formerly held by Edward Kennedy, who died last August.

In the News . . . State Journal: Coal Can Use Oklahoma Senators Help

The State Journal 

Coal Can Use Oklahoma Senator's Help

By: Dan Page - Editor and Publisher 

January 21, 2010

Link to Article 

The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee criticized how the U.S. EPA handles coal mining permits.

Oklahoma produced 1.4 million tons of coal in 2008 -- less than 1 percent of the total that West Virginia produced that same year. But Sen. James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, has become a good friend of West Virginia coal.

Inhofe is ranking member of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, which issued a report last week criticizing how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has handled coal mining permits in Appalachia since President Barack Obama took office early last year. The Senate committee oversees the EPA and other agencies that regulate mining.

Inhofe's committee focused on Arch Coal's Mingo Logan Spruce No. 1 Mine and relied heavily on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for information about mining in the state.

The report said DEP chief Randy Huffman reported that EPA failed to make its decision in a transparent manner, moved forward without input or consultation from state officials and presented no new information or analysis to justify its change in position.

"This approach is both odd and troubling, considering that the Spruce permit was issued in 2007 after a 10-year process, which culminated in a detailed environmental impact statement," the Senate minority staff report said.

"The permit ultimately reduced the overall mine acreage by 835 acres and reduced permanent impacts to stream channels by over 15,000 feet. Moreover, EPA either ignored or dismissed the fact that the project would bring jobs and economic growth to the Appalachian region."

The report said the Spruce mine was projected to provide 253 mining jobs and 298 indirect jobs; coal from the mine would generate electricity for 74,500 homes for each year the mine is working.

Matt Hite, counsel for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Inhofe has been a consistently strong advocate for strengthening the nation's energy profile, and the Oklahoma senator sees Appalachian coal as an important element in the U.S. energy mix.

Hite said Inhofe quickly became aware that the new leadership in Washington and in the EPA had launched a war on coal on multiple fronts -- how it is mined, how it is burned and how utilities deal with coal ash.

Hite said the EPA has held up 190 mining permits for ongoing review. Companies that have made substantial investments in coal development are unable to move ahead with their projects. The Jan. 14 committee report raises questions about the propriety of the EPA's actions.

The most egregious bureaucratic assault, Hite said, was the EPA's decision to pull the plug on the Spruce permit. It was a decision that understandably has created uncertainty for mining companies at a time when the nation could realize greater energy independence.

Inhofe and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released a Congressional Research Service report in October that said the United States' "combined recoverable natural gas, oil and coal endowment is the largest on Earth."

Hite said Inhofe wants to see Americans have the freedom to develop all of the nation's energy resources. And the Oklahoma senator made his views clear about the way the government regulates energy production after he and Murkowski released the findings on energy.

"Whether through decree or purposeful inaction, government policies that unnecessarily restrict or prevent our ability to responsibly produce these domestic resources are threatening, and could eventually undermine, our nation's economic and national security," Inhofe said.

"We should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that advances new energy technologies but also prioritizes developing the resources we have today."

I'm sure many in the anti-coal camp will see the Republican Inhofe's comments as political rhetoric. That's unfortunate. This topic is too important for that oversimplified assessment.

The Oklahoma senator, whose state does not depend on coal, clearly believes this nation should respect the laws that allow companies to invest in developing energy that powers this nation. Many here in West Virginia will agree with the senator from the Sooner State.

In the News . . . LA Times: Climate change camp experiencing a cooling-off period

The Los Angeles Times

Climate change camp experiencing a cooling-off period

January 21, 2010

By: Meghan Daum

Link to Column

Climate change just isn't what it used to be. Case in point: The number of otherwise intelligent people who are saying that all the cold weather (in the East) and rain (here at home) are causing them to lose faith in the gospel of global warming.

To their way of thinking, it's fine and good to be bellyaching about rising sea levels when it's 100 degrees outside. It's easy to remember to carry around your reusable tote bag when drought begets parched hillsides, which beget wildfires, which beget air that smells like rotisserie chicken minus the chicken.

But guess what? It's been pouring all week. In Florida, the oranges are perishing under frost. The temperature bottomed out at minus 52 in North Dakota earlier this month, and Beijing recently had its biggest snowfall since 1951.

Remember back in 2006 and 2007? Everyone was talking about "An Inconvenient Truth," parading those eco-bags around and coveting hybrid cars. Laurie David, who'd previously been known chiefly as the wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, was suddenly a quasi-famous person, palling around with Sheryl Crow and ranting about CO2 emissions on the Huffington Post. In fact, back then, it seemed like the entire world was buddies with Sheryl Crow and blogging on the HuffPo.

We spent 2006 suspicious that Hurricane Katrina was a manifestation of global warming. In 2007, it was California wildfires. Then Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report concluded that humans were almost certainly responsible for rising temperatures. To top it off, Laurie David filed for divorce and made the pages of People. Those were the days!

Maybe the financial crisis has diverted our attention from the melting Arctic ice cap. Maybe Sarah Palin effectively redirected all liberal indignation straight in her direction. Maybe there were just too many eco-related marital conflicts. (A trend story in the New York Times recently reported that therapists are seeing an increase in couples who clash in their approaches to recycling and organic gardening. Did we learn nothing from the calamitous breakup of the Davids?)

Or maybe the conditions now are just too conducive to climate change skepticism. Not that anyone who's ever gazed out at a blizzard and thought, "This is global warming?" deserves to be labeled a denier. We all know (we do, don't we?) that weather is not the same as climate. It's not that we don't want to save the planet anymore; it's just that it somehow doesn't seem quite as urgent.

Results from a Gallup Poll released last March showed that 41% of Americans think global warming is exaggerated -- an increase from 2006 and the highest since Gallup began asking about it in 1997. Meanwhile, the December climate change summit in Copenhagen was done few favors by the Climategate scandal -- the incident in which a number of e-mails were made public that suggested climate scientists were cherry-picking data and tampering with peer review procedures in an effort to downplay anything that might serve as ammunition for global warming skeptics.

Maybe we shouldn't be too quick to mythologize the verdure of years past, or to castigate ourselves for taking a few extra minutes in the shower or for not wanting a Prius the way a little girl wants a pony. Consider this about good old 2006: It was a scorcher. It was febrile. It was partly sunny with a chance of Hades.

Moreover, it came on the heels of something even hotter: 2005. That year is tied with 1998 as the hottest ever. In fact, NASA reports that the first seven years of the decade were among the warmest on record for average global surface temperature. Remember how on July 22, 2006, the thermometer hit 112 degrees in downtown L.A.? Remember going to see "An Inconvenient Truth" several times not necessarily because it was so compelling but because the theater was air-conditioned?

This year's weather may be less convenient for the global warming cause, but it doesn't change the facts -- the climate is changing. Here's the rub, though: In order for a cause to resonate, people need simple, clear evidence. They need tangibles. And what could be more tangible than opening your door and being hit by a blast of fiery air?

Science, alas, is complicated and weather has always been as predictable as, well . . . the weather. Maybe that's why, if we're really interested in the truth -- about global warming or anything else -- it helps to get beyond what's outside our own doors and windows.

Just not this week. It's nasty out there.

Glaciergate: U.N. apologizes for botched climate prediction

"Five glaring errors were discovered in one paragraph of the world's most authoritative report on global warming"

Inhofe EPW News Round-Up

USA Today : U.N. apologizes for botched climate prediction - United Nations climate panel chiefs apologized Wednesday for a botched projection of all Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035. In an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change statement, group chairman Rajendra Pachauri and other officials acknowledged "poorly substantiated rates of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly."

AP: Riddled with Errors  WASHINGTON - Five glaring errors were discovered in one paragraph of the world's most authoritative report on global warming, forcing the Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists who wrote it to apologize and promise to be more careful. The errors are in a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-affiliated body. All the mistakes appear in a subsection that suggests glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away by the year 2035 - hundreds of years earlier than the data actually indicates. The year 2350 apparently was transposed as 2035.

TIME: Himalayan Melting: How a Climate Panel Got It Wrong  - The mistake is a black eye for the IPCC and for the climate science community as a whole. Climate scientists are still dealing with the Climategate controversy, which involved hacked e-mails from a major British climatology center that cast doubt on the solidity of evidence for global warming.  It's still not clear exactly how the error made it into the IPCC's assessment, though climate scientists point out that the total document was thousands of pages long and that the Himalaya claim wasn't included in the summary of the report, which was boiled down for policymakers and received the most attention from reviewers. "Honest mistakes do happen," admits Benjamin Santer, a climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "The bulk of the science is clear and compelling and rests on multiple lines of evidence," not just one case.

Investor's Business Daily: The IPCC's Abominable Snowmen  -  A U.N. warning that Himalayan glaciers were melting fast and may be gone by 2035 was not backed up by science, U.N. climate experts admitted. The scientists who said that Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035 have admitted the claim has as much credibility as sightings of the mythical Yeti. It's their fraudulent claims that are melting away. We hesitate to call it Glacier-gate, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N. body tasked with scaring us to death about global warming, has admitted that the claim in its 2007 report about the Himalayan glaciers disappearing was not based on any scientific study or research. It was instead based on one scientist's speculation in a telephone interview with a reporter.

FoxNews: Claims Melting Away   - The world's most famous climate change expert is in the midst of a massive controversy, as the leading environmental science institute he heads scrambled to explain data it promulgated for a U.N. report. One of the key elements in the growing scandal is the revelation that IPCC based some of its public proclamations on non-peer reviewed reports."The data, all the data, needs to come to light," says Dr. Jane M. Orient, president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and an outspoken skeptic on climate change. 

The Economist: Off-base camp  -  The idea that the Himalaya could lose its glaciers by 2035-glaciers which feed rivers across South and East Asia-is a dramatic and apocalyptic one. After the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said such an outcome was very likely in the assessment of the state of climate science that it made in 2007, onlookers (including this newspaper) repeated the claim with alarm. In fact, there is no reason to believe it to be true. This is good news (within limits) for Indian farmers-and bad news for the IPCC.

Bloomberg:  UN Study Erred on Glacier Size, Melting Rate, Scientists Say  - A single paragraph in the United Nations' most comprehensive report on climate change contains three factual errors, scientists said.  The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said in the 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than elsewhere when they are not, overestimated the area covered by the Asian ice masses by a factor of 15 and said they may shrink four-fifths by 2035 rather than 2350, four researchers said in a letter to the journal Science. "These errors could have been avoided had the norms of scientific publication, including peer review and concentration upon peer-reviewed work, been respected," the researchers based in the U.S., Canada and Austria wrote.

E & E News - Climate science panel apologizes for Himalayan error - Jeffrey Kargel, an adjunct professor at Arizona State University who helped expose the IPCC's errors, said the botched projections were "extremely embarrassing and damaging." "The damage was that IPCC had, or I think still has, such a stellar reputation that people view it as an authority -- as indeed they should -- and so they see a bullet that says Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 and they take that as a fact," he said. Kargel is one of four scientists who addressed the issue in a letter that will be published in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal Science. "These errors could have been avoided had the norms of scientific publication including peer review and concentration upon peer-reviewed work, been respected," write the researchers.

WSJ: Claim on Glaciers Under Fire  -  "The IPCC report said Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than anywhere else in the world and that's not correct," said J. Graham Cogley, a professor of geography at Trent University in Ontario. Dr. Cogley is a glaciologist who contributed to another part of the 2007 IPCC report and is one of the first people to track down some of the inconsistencies in the section on Himalayan glaciers. He added that the 2035 date was also likely wrong. "There's a failure to review this data adequately by qualified experts," Prof. Cogley said.

The Australian - UN's IPCC says sorry for glacier error -  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said yesterday the prediction in its landmark 2007 report was "poorly substantiated" and resulted from a lapse in standards. "In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly," the panel said. "The chair, vice-chair and co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of IPCC procedures in this instance." The stunning admission is certain to embolden critics of the panel, which is already under fire over a separate scandal last year involving stolen emails that mentioned suppressing data to freeze out climate change sceptics.

Sydney Morning Herald:  Claims on glaciers not backed up - CLAIMS that Himalayan glaciers could melt entirely by 2035 were poorly researched and should have faced greater scrutiny before appearing in the United Nations benchmark study on climate change, the world's top climate officials have conceded. After a week of criticism over the validity of the 2035 claim, the UN's top climate group - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - conceded the estimate was not backed by the standards of evidence the group required.

Montreal Gazette: UN panel 'regrets' exaggeration - The UN panel of climate scientists expressed regret yesterday for exaggerating how quickly Himalayan glaciers are melting in a report that wrongly projected that they could all vanish by 2035. Leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance," they said in a statement about the flaw in a paragraph of a 938-page scientific report