Blogs - Blogs
Monday, May 4, 2015

ICYMI: Washington Post: Our Toxic Status Quo Doesn't Protect Us

Washington Post: Our Toxic Status Quo Doesn’t Protect Us

By Ruth Marcus, May 1, 2015, Click here to read online

 

Today’s topic is toxic substances and the appalling gaps in the current law that is supposed to protect the public from dangerous chemicals.

For example, before a new chemical enters the market, the manufacturer must demonstrate its safety and the substance must win approval from federal regulators, right?

Not even close.

When it comes to new medications, the Food and Drug Administration conducts a rigorous review. Same for pesticides and the Environmental Protection Agency. But chemicals — even chemicals used in everyday household products — are presumed safe until proven otherwise. Companies don’t even have to test chemicals before using them in consumer products.

Not only that: The EPA, which is responsible for overseeing chemical safety, is all but toothless even when serious questions are raised about substances already in use. If you think this is hyperbole, consider the example of asbestos, classified as a “known human carcinogen.” It’s banned, right?

Nope.

In 1989, after studying the issue for 10 years and concluding that asbestos posed “an unreasonable risk to human health,” the EPA moved to prohibit most products that contain asbestos. Two years later, it was shot down by a federal appeals court, which concluded that the agency had overstepped its authority.

Since then, the EPA has not proposed regulating a single additional toxic substance. Not a single one, despite the emerging evidence that an alphabet soup of chemical substances — BPA in plastic baby bottles, PFCs in nonstick surfaces for pans, PBDEs in flame retardants for furniture — collect in the human body and are linked to health problems, particularly in children.

The fundamental difficulty, and the reason I’m writing about this topic today, is the ineffectiveness of a 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, that was supposed to regulate such materials. When the law was passed, some 60,000 chemicals were listed as being in use in household or industrial products. Since then, the EPA has only been able to require testing on just over 200; only five have been banned or even restricted.

When the toxic substances law was passed, the prevalent scientific thinking was that, unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides that are at risk of being ingested, chemical compounds are not intended to be biologically active and therefore not likely to cause harm. That has turned out to be dangerously incorrect.

“We now know that hundreds of chemicals have properties of concern to human health. And, moreover, we have evidence that we are being exposed to them in ways that we were not decades ago,” said Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Here’s the good news: An astonishing bipartisan coalition of senators, assembled by David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), is pushing an overhaul of the law, the culmination of a decade-long effort launched by the late senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved it last week by a vote of 15 to 5. When Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) agree on something beyond what to name a post office, that’s an achievement.

The confluence of interests that produced this progress stems from the ramped-up activity of state regulators in the absence of federal oversight, and the chemical industry’s preference for a federal rule rather than patchwork, and potentially more burdensome, state edicts.

But this impetus for action also reflects the biggest disagreement over the proposal — over the degree to which the federal law would preempt state regulation. This dispute has split the environmental movement and spurred the environment panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer(Calif.), not only to vote against the measure in committee but to threaten a filibuster on the floor.

The chemical industry would prefer to have a federal law that entirely preempts state regulation. The compromise worked out by Vitter and Udall would allow existing state protections against hazardous chemicals to remain in place; states would remain free to impose additional regulations unless and until the EPA decided to launch a review.

Not perfect but about as good as it is going to get with a Republican Congress that isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Meanwhile, as with the blowup of climate change legislation in 2009, congressional failure now could mean no action for years.

“The risks are substantial that we will likely lose the best opportunity we’ve had in a generation,” said the defense fund’s Denison. Then, he said, “we go back to a status quo that everybody agrees is a failure.”

And that would be truly appalling.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe in CNN

CNN: Obama should embrace nuclear energy

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 22, 2015

 

Click here to read online

 

If there was ever any doubt that the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan is an energy policy plan, not a carbon reduction plan, all you have to do is look at how they treat nuclear energy.

Nuclear is our largest source of carbon-free energy, generating over 60% of our carbon-free electricity. Surely President Barack Obama's climate plan, allegedly aimed at reducing the United States' overall carbon emissions, would revitalize the nuclear industry, lead to increased plant construction and help meet aggressive carbon reduction targets. Well, think again.

James Hansen, the former head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in 2013that "continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity's ability to avoid dangerous climate change."

Yet Wednesday, the White House will celebrate Earth Day and promote its work to fend off climate change, while strategically ignoring its largest tool to cut carbon emissions -- nuclear energy -- as well as the warning of one of the administration's favorite climate scientists.

Despite the fact that nuclear power is carbon-free, the Obama administration's energy policy plan is biased against it. This bias is created by how Environmental Protection Agency credits nuclear power in its models of both current emissions and plan implementation. EPA's modeling is divorced from reality.

First, EPA's "Base Case for the Proposed Clean Power Plan" purports to depict the current state of the industry as the future would unfold without the Clean Power Plan. This base case assumes no new nuclear construction and indicates the retirement of 96 of our 99 operating nuclear plants by 2050.

EPA's implementation modeling, "Option 1 -- State," shows exactly the same situation: no new construction and 96 retirements by 2050. In other words, EPA assumes that the nuclear industry is essentially phased out by 2050.

These assumptions are tremendously important because they determine how emission targets are set and what state actions will receive credit toward those targets. A group of University of Tennessee graduate students made this point to EPA at a public hearing last summer.

Using EPA's own data, the graduate students showed that EPA's energy policy plan creates incentives for states to shut down nuclear power plants and replace them with natural gas combined cycle plants. The students demonstrated that under this scenario, EPA's model shows emission reductions while real world emissions actually increase.

President Obama's EPA has shifted its position on nuclear energy and hidden that policy shift in a model.

For example, when EPA modeled the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008, the agency indicated 44 nuclear plants would need to be built by 2030 in order to achieve the carbon reductions mandated in the bill. EPA's modeling of the 2009 Waxman-Markey bill showed the need to build 275 new nuclear plants by 2050 to meet the carbon reduction targets in the legislation.

Where did this policy shift come from?

At a recent hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, told Congress that EPA looked at California's California Global Warming Solutions Act when developing its so-called Clean Power Plan and that EPA's plan adopts the same policy choices -- limited credit for either nuclear or hydropower -- both of which are carbon-free.

Thus, EPA is assuming legislative powers and is making policy choices that favor some forms of carbon-free energy over others.

Congress did not give EPA the authority to make these choices, so instead they have hidden them in the modeling.

For example, the same modeling that assumes the nuclear energy phaseout coincidentally shows robust development of renewables without any retirements between now and 2050. This is a very favorable assumption albeit unlikely considering wind turbines and solar panels are commonly believed to last only 20 to 30 years before needing replacement.

This anti-nuclear bias also is evident in Obama's recent executive order "Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade," which directs agencies to reduce their carbon emissions. Even though existing nuclear plants generate carbon-free electricity, the executive order does not allow agencies to take credit for emission reduction from nuclear energy unless it is energy from small modular reactors.

While I have long fought back on attempts for the federal government to tax carbon, I believe in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that provides our nation with energy security, and I have supported legislation that helps to clean the air. The administration says it shares these same interests, despite differing avenues to get there. The administration also believes in man-driven global warming, which should make nuclear energy its golden key.

But the Clean Power Plan and the President's recent executive order demonstrate that the Obama administration is neither serious about reducing carbon emissions nor pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

If you think this administration supports nuclear energy, think again.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe in Fox News

Fox News: Obama Exploits The Environment for His New Global Carbon Goals

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online

 

On Monday, the Obama administration formally pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent compared to 2005 levels. This pledge comes despite agreements with China that will allow the country to emit more CO2 in one month than the $479 billion regulation under the Clean Power Plan will reduce in the United States within one year.

 

The Obama administration will struggle to justify the lack of environmental progress achieved from such a deal, especially when American jobs become vulnerable to global competitors who can offer cheap and reliable energy. 

 

The 28 percent promise makes it clear that the administration is determined to use every tool it can identify, manipulate, or invent to advance its goal of overhauling our nation’s economy in the name of climate change.  This toolbox most notably includes a dangerous new use for an old instrument, the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. 

 

Initially signed into law on Jan 1, 1970, by President Richard Nixon, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of major federal actions on the quality of the human environment. This means that when issuing permits or other approvals, providing federal funding, or carrying out projects themselves, agencies must consider how their actions would impact the environment here in the United States and evaluate alternatives that would avoid those impacts. Unfortunately, NEPA also is a favorite of activists who try to halt projects by bringing lawsuits alleging that an agency failed to look at all possible consequences or all possible alternatives. 

 

While NEPA is a bedrock environmental statute that appropriately requires federal agencies to look at the consequences of federal actions, it is very definitely not an appropriate tool to set global climate change policy, as I noted in a letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) back in October 2009.

 

Instead of listening to concerns expressed by myself and others, the Council on Dec. 24, 2014 -- a day when few Americans were paying attention -- published a new draft guidance dictating how federal agencies are supposed to consider the alleged climate change impacts of federal actions.

 

Under this new guidance, projects carried out by federal agencies, projects carried out by states or the private sector that need federal permits or approvals, and projects carried out by states or the private sector that use federal funding are assumed to have a significant impact on climate change.

 

Climate change is global. The impact of projects on the environment is local. The new requirement to assume global climate impacts is a dramatic change in the way that the Administration intends to apply NEPA -- an interpretation that we are certain is not supported by the law but that we are equally certain will bring about more NEPA lawsuits.

 

As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I, along with a number of other Republican Senators -- John Boozman of Arkansas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Dan Sullivan of Alaska – sent a letter to Christy Goldfuss, managing director of CEQ, urging her and the administration to withdraw this draft proposal.

 

Our overarching concern is the way the draft guidance sets up federal agencies to fail. 

 

It works this way: NEPA requires analysis only of the impacts of a project on the environment that occur within the boundaries of the United States, that have a reasonably close causal relationship to a project, that are reasonably foreseeable, and over which an agency has regulatory authority or control. 

 

Rather than respecting these limits on NEPA analysis, the draft guidance would require agencies to speculate about greenhouse gas emissions from actions that take place both before and after a project is carried out, and assume that these emissions “have a huge impact” on global climate change. 

 

Under the new interpretation of NEPA government agencies would then be required to evaluate alternatives that would avoid or mitigate these alleged impacts. 

 

This will result in endless analyses of coal, oil, gas, and other leasing proposals on federal and tribal land; federal activities on the Outer Continental Shelf; timber management and grazing on federal lands; and even highway projects. It will completely paralyze agency actions.

 

And, as a result, it will have very grave effects on the economic activities of the entire nation.

 

The draft guidance would adversely affect all Americans by reducing our ability to grow the economy and create jobs while having no impact on the quality of the environment—and least of all on global carbon emissions, where China and other countries will make our impact immediately meaningless. 

 

If the administration refuses to withdraw this harmful guidance, I fully expect it to be struck down by courts as yet another example of regulatory overreach in the name of global climate change. 

 

But before that happens, it will provide another tool for activists to use to stop important projects, adding to the economic confusion, fear, and pain of uncertainty that such sudden, drastic and unfounded interpretations of law always bring.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican, has served Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate since 1994.

 


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe in USA Today
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in USA Today: The real climate embarrassment
By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online 
 
The greatest embarrassment in the debate of human-driven climate change is that the administration — along with congressional Democrats and radical environmentalists — has found it easier to attack the messengers than the content of their message.
 
Alarmists have been critical of anyone with opposing views but have failed to be forthcoming with the data and science behind their hysteria. Despite inconclusive data, the administration continues to rely upon one-sided information to justify costly regulations.
 
In the event that scientists express some uncertainty of man-driven climate change, alarmists are quick to target dissenters, imposing a chilling effect on scientific inquiry.
 
In February, congressional Democrats did just that, targeting 100 universities, private companies, trade groups and non-profit organizations about their climate research funding, while failing to consider the principles of sound science.
 
Climate science should be weighed primarily on its merits — when the work can be reproduced and independent experts have a fair chance to validate the findings, regardless of funding sources. Instead, Democrats tried to silence legitimate, intellectual and scientific inquiry.
 
Beyond the concerns with the science and alarmists' attempt to dismiss opposing viewpoints, EPA has been secretive — if not downright reticent — with many of its plans to regulate climate change.
 
EPA has politicized rules in apparent avoidance of public debate and criticism; it has failed to hold forums in states that will bear the brunt of new rules; and it has gone above and beyond to operate behind closed doors with its social cost of carbon estimates.
 
Who is the real embarrassment here?
 
The debate on man-driven climate change is not over. Alarmists are distracting Americans from the pain the Obama administration's regulations will inflict on our economy while failing to make a significant impact on climate change.
 
Let's not forget the words of MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen, who said carbon regulation is a bureaucrat's dream because "if you control carbon, you control life."
 
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe with Okla. Attorney General Scott Pruitt in Tulsa World

Tulsa World: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt: Senate Bill 676 protects Oklahoma businesses, families from EPA’s overreach

By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe and Okla. Attorney General Scott Pruitt, April 1, 2015, Click here to read online

 

As two of the most ardent critics of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, we are pleased Oklahoma is taking a leading role at the state and federal level in challenging the administration’s attempt to use EPA regulations to set forth a national energy plan. For years, state environmental regulators worked to improve the state’s air quality and protect the health of local citizens. Despite long-standing success, the Obama administration is attempting to commandeer the role of state environmental regulators, taking it a step further to dictate what type of power can be used to power Oklahoman’s homes and businesses.

In order to comply with the proposed rule, Oklahoma, for instance, would be required to cut power plant emissions of carbon dioxide by 35 percent. With coal and natural gas making up 90 percent of Oklahoma’s electricity supply, EPA knows there are only so many ways Oklahoma can achieve its arbitrary goals. EPA’s plan threatens energy affordability and reliability for consumers and businesses by forcing states into shuttering coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel-generated electricity.

The EPA doesn’t have the authority under the Clean Air Act to impose this rule. Under the act, states are to submit a plan for emissions reductions, and EPA retains the authority to enforce those plans. State governments are then left with two options: submit no plan or submit a plan that would surrender sovereign powers of a state over its electricity markets to federal bureaucrats.

At the federal level, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held two hearings in the 114th Congress with witnesses from EPA as well as state regulators. The committee will continue to hold these oversight hearings to highlight the problems with the Obama administration’s plan while Congress works toward effective legislative solutions to limit and roll back EPA’s proposals.

At the state level, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is leading a bipartisan group of states in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to issue the unlawful rule. Our goal in challenging the EPA is to protect the role granted to state policy makers under the Clean Air Act to make decisions on what type of fuel can be used to generate electricity.

The Obama administration refuses to acknowledge questions about this proposed rule and despite the threat of a legal challenge, EPA continues moving forward with finalizing the rule.

We are encouraged Oklahoma policy makers are lending their voices to the chorus of those who oppose the Obama administration’s overreach. Gov. Mary Fallin and other governors sent a letter to the president expressing concern about the rule’s failure to strike a balance in the partnership between the states and the federal government. The Oklahoma Legislature also is considering a proactive approach to protect our state from federal environmental mandates that are outside the scope of the Clean Air Act.

Senate Bill 676 authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, would allow for legislative oversight of carbon dioxide emissions plans submitted to EPA to ensure the plan in fact complies with the Clean Air Act. This common-sense bill will ensure any decisions about Oklahoma’s energy future will ultimately be held in the hands of our elected officials, not federal bureaucrats.

No state should comply with this rule if it will mean surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their electric generation needs. We will continue to fight for these issues in the U.S. Senate and in the federal courts.

We applaud Sen. Treat and his colleagues in the Oklahoma state Senate for passing SB 676. We encourage members of the Oklahoma House to join us in supporting this common-sense bill that will protect families and business and ensure Oklahoma maintains access to affordable and reliable power.


Jim Inhofe, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator. Scott Pruitt, a Republican, is the Oklahoma attorney general.

###


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ICYMI: Washington Examiner: Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda

Washington Examiner: Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda

 

Click here to read the article

 

Inhofe Takes Aim at Obama's Environmental Agenda

By: John Siciliano

 

Sen. Jim Inhofe is pursuing a robust agenda that includes shredding the Environmental Protection Agency's cost estimates for new air quality rules, while going after a White House metric at the heart of the president's climate agenda.

The Oklahoma Republican, who is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been a staunch critic of the EPA and the Obama administration's environmental policy. He has championed campaigns to undercut environmental regulations that he sees as costly and unwarranted, including EPA plans to regulate greenhouse gases that are blamed by most scientists for causing manmade climate change.

At a March 11 hearing, Inhofe took aim at EPA's latest regulations to limit carbon dioxide from the nation's existing power plants. He called the rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, an affront to states' rights that would raise the cost of energy and damage power grid reliability.

He also said he was not convinced that EPA's estimates of the rule's benefits were accurate, noting that agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said as much at a separate hearing on the agency's budget earlier in the month.

In a statement he issued March 4 after the budget hearing, Inhofe said he took key revelations from McCarthy's testimony, including the hefty price tag of implementing the climate rules.

"Since the Clean Power Plan may reduce the rise of global temperatures by only .018 [degrees] Celsius by 2100, we learned from McCarthy that the real benefit of the rule is to send a 'signal' to other countries that America is serious about climate change," Inhofe said.

"This so-called 'signal' carries a hefty price tag of $479 billion in compliance costs and a double-digit increase in electricity costs over the next decade that will significantly impact every American," he said.

Inhofe and a group of his GOP colleagues also are pressing the White House for greater transparency in how it develops a key metric it has used to justify a variety of environmental rules based on the cost of damages that would result from manmade climate change.

In a March 9 letter to Howard Shelanski, the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the senators pressed for a greater public viewing of what they consider hidden calculations used to justify "onerous" regulations.

The calculations, known as the social cost of carbon, are methodologies for weighing the cost savings to society from eliminating carbon dioxide, which scientists say is a key cause of global warming.

The social cost of carbon was developed through an federal interagency working group led by the White House. Until recently, it has not been subject to public scrutiny.

Many groups have criticized the administration for not making its methodology public and for not being transparent enough when it updates the metric.

"Congress and the American people deserve greater transparency and government accountability regarding the social cost of carbon," the senators' letter reads, referring to the cost tool as a "theoretical measure of climate change damages the administration uses to justify onerous regulations."

Congress had lobbied the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs intensely in recent years to get the White House to allow public comments to be taken on the social cost of carbon. They finally got their wish near the end of 2013. However, it has been more than a year since the comment period closed, "and they have not responded to the comments or provided any public information on the status of the [social cost of carbon]," the letter states.

The letter has a long list of questions for the regulatory affairs office. It primarily wants to know when congressional staff will be allowed to view the social cost of carbon methodology, how comments are being incorporated into the calculations, and how the interagency working group functions in evaluating changes to the carbon cost metric. The letter requests that the office respond no later than March 30.

Inhofe also is targeting the EPA's proposed rule for ratcheting down ozone emissions, according to another letter sent March 10 to McCarthy.

The new ozone regulations have raised concerns from industry groups and states over the cost and the fact that many regions of the country will not be able to comply.

The senator says the rules would cost an estimated $2.2 trillion in compliance costs from 2011 and 2040, while reducing the nation's gross domestic product by $270 billion annually by putting in place the most stringent air quality standards to date.

Inhofe does not believe EPA's cost estimates are accurate and wants the agency to answer specific questions regarding the agency's Regulatory Impact Analysis.

The proposed ozone regulations would reduce the current air quality threshold from 75 parts per billion to 65 ppb, or even lower to 60 ppb. Industry officials say the standard is unachievable and would lead to vast swaths of the nation becoming non-attainment zones that would restrict permitting for expanding or adding industrial emitters such as factories, refineries and other manufacturing facilities.

"EPA's recently proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone is likely to be the costliest rule the agency has ever proposed," the letter reads.

EPA's November 2014 draft analysis estimates that the cost of lowering the standard could range between $3.9 billion to nearly $39 billion in 2025. "While these numbers are high, there are significant reasons to believe that the draft RIA may underestimate the likely true cost to the American public due to a number of questionable assumptions included in the analysis," the letter reads.

Inhofe is calling for McCarthy for have greater transparency in examining the extent of the rule's impact.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will take up the ozone rule at a March 17 hearing. The full committee hearing is entitled a "Reality Check" on the "Impact and Achievability of EPA's Proposed Ozone Standards."

 


Friday, March 6, 2015

ICYMI: Richard Lindzen in WSJ on The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

Richard Lindzen in WSJ on The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by MIT professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences, Richard Lindzen. The piece – The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics – discusses recent letters sent by congressional Democrats that sought to censor scientists, like Lindzen, who’s research opposes the mainstream media’s climate alarmism.

Last week, the Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) led all EPW Republicans in taking a stand for academic freedom. The chairman expressed concern that the Democrats are trying to impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry, saying that “At the end of the day, those disagreeing with certain scientific findings should judge them based on whether or not they are sound and transparent.”

 

Full Article:

The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics

Richard S. Lindzen

Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.

Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.

As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98—which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions—have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.

There are also claims that extreme weather—hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it—may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.

 

World leaders proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.

Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.

Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.

The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeacenoted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.

 

The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals— David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr. , Steven Hayward and me—about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.

In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.

 

Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.

Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense—and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) andBarbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.

 

The American Meteorological Society responded with appropriate indignation at the singling out of scientists for their scientific positions, as did many individual scientists. On Monday, apparently reacting to criticism, Mr. Grijalva conceded to the National Journal that his requests for communications between the seven of us and our outside funders was “overreach.”

 

Where all this will lead is still hard to tell. At least Mr. Grijalva’s letters should help clarify for many the essentially political nature of the alarms over the climate, and the damage it is doing to science, the environment and the well-being of the world’s poorest.

Mr. Lindzen is professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at MIT and a distinguished senior fellow of the Cato Institute.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Discusses the Threat of Global Warming vs. Terrorism

 

Sen. Inhofe Discusses the Threat of Global Warming vs. Terrorism 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today addressed on the Senate floor the Obama Administration’s claims that global warming is a greater threat to Americans than terrorism.   

Click here to view video 

As Prepared for Delivery:

There has been a lot of recent news coverage on the climate. Early this year the perpetual headline was that 2014 had been the warmest year on record. But now the script has flipped. Some outlets are referring to the recent cold temperatures as the “Siberian Express” while others are printing pictures of a frozen Niagara Falls and 4,700 square miles of ice that formed on the Great Lakes in one night.

Let’s talk more about the “warmest year” claim.

On January 16th, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), concluded that 2014 was the warmest year in modern record – which starts in 1880.   NASA relied on readings from over 3,000 measuring stations worldwide and only found an increase of just two hundredths of a degree over the previous record.

An important point left out of the NASA press release was the margin of error, which on average is 0.1 degree Celsius, several times greater than the amount of warming. This discrepancy was questioned at a press conference and NASA’s GISS Director back-tracked the ‘warmest year’ headline, saying there was only a 38% chance 2014 was the warmest year on record.

Another recent report, issued by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project using data from more than 30,000 temperature stations, concluded IF 2014 was the warmest year on record it was by less than 0.01 degrees Celsius. Again, below the margin of error ultimately making it impossible to conclude 2014 was the warmest year.

Additional climate experts, including University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, have stated that the “warmest year of record” statement is only as relevant as when the “record” actually began. Others state that “record-setting” conclusions issued in January require the use of incomplete data because “the preponderance of the data arrives much later from underdeveloped and developing nations, they are from rural areas, and the revised estimate of global air temperature decreases.”

The media was quick to ditch the warmest year on record claim, however, as cold weather has left most of the country experiencing record low temperatures.

Today’s Washington Post highlighted all the long-standing records that were broken in the Northeast and Midwest. According to the National Weather Service, 67 record lows were broken on Monday and Tuesday.

Whether news cycles or climate cycles, variations of hot and cold are nothing new. 

Recent climate change discussions like to focus on climate trends post-1880 but the reality is that climate change has been occurring since the beginning of time.

[Medieval Warm Period Chart] In the past 2000 years, there was the Medieval Warm Period followed immediately by the Little Ice Age.

These two climate events are widely recognized in scientific literature.

In June 2006, the National Academy of Science released its study, “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2000 Years” which acknowledged that there were “relatively warm conditions centered around AD 1000 (identified by some as the ‘Medieval Warm Period’) and a relatively cold period (or ‘Little Ice Age’) centered around 1700.

[Time Magazine Chart] In 1974, Time Magazine published an article entitled “Another Ice Age?” that cited droughts in Africa, flooding  in Pakistan and Japan, a potentially small wheat harvest in Canada, unusually dry spells in Britain, and extremely cold winters in the American West as evidence of a looming Ice Age.

In 1975, Newsweek published an article titled “The Cooling World,” arguing that global temperatures were falling and terrible consequences for food production were on the horizon.  One proposed solution for the perceived crisis involved “melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot.”

In more recent years, we have seen climate shifts as well, including a 17-year hiatus in global temperature increase which was covered in both the Economist and Nature.

This highlights that the climate is changing and always has been. In fact, our recent vote during the Keystone XL Pipeline debate showed that 97 of my Democrat and Republican colleagues agree.

Despite a long list of unsubstantiated global warming claims, climate activists and environmental groups will cling to any extreme-weather related headline to support their case for global warming and to instill the fear of global warming in the American people. 

President Obama is using a similar tactic in order to scare Americans into supporting his extreme climate change agenda. In a recent interview, President Obama agreed that the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change.  His press secretary, Josh Earnest, later reiterated that President Obama believes climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism.

According to the President, the biggest challenge we face IS NOT the spread of Muslim extremists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen or Nigeria.

It is not Russia aggression against NATO and the US as well as its invasion of Georgia and the Ukraine.

It is not the expansion of Iranian influence and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East, or its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and a system to deliver it.

It is not North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapon stockpile and improving their delivery systems to include the January 23 launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile called the KN-11.

It is not the continued capture and killing of reporters, missionaries, businessmen, Christians, and other non-Muslims, in what has clearly been a religious confrontation being pursued by Islamic extremists.

The President’s position that global warming is our biggest problem is underscored by the fact that he won’t even publicly state that the 21 Egyptians executed by ISIL were Coptic Christians.  And he goes out of his way to downplay the actions and dangers of ISIS, even though the group continues to terrorize the world.

Just this past weekend, ISIS abducted over 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, from villages in eastern Syria.

According to the President, our biggest threat is not the continued threats made by extremists against the United States and its citizens.

It is not the successful attacks carried out in the United States in places such as New York, Boston, and Fort Hood or potential attacks of lone-wolves or sleeper cells against soft targets like the Mall of America, which is the most recent subject of an ISIL threat.

Yet, even as these atrocities are taking place, President Obama is telling the world that climate change is a greater threat to our nation than terrorism.

This is just another illustration that this President and his administration is detached from the realities we are facing today and into the future.

His repeated failure to understand the real threat to our national security and inability to develop a coherent national security strategy has put this nation at level of risk unknown for decades.

His failure of leadership and gutting of our military have weakened our ability to influence and respond to crisis, creating power vacuums across the. 

This all comes at a tremendous cost to our national security.

The President has accused the media of “overstating” the problem, heightening the fears of the population.  As he downplays the threats, we see photos of young children standing in a military like formations, being brainwashed into ISIS/ISIL extremism.

We shouldn’t be surprised of this.  It is the natural outgrowth of the President’s failed leadership.  In 2012 and 2013, Obama spoke of helping Libya and Yemen fight terrorism. 

Yet even as he addressed this nation, both countries spiraled toward chaos; creating terrorist safe havens. 

Just days after his speech, Yemen’s Prime Minister and his cabinet resigned amidst a coup by the Iranian backed Houthi rebels.

The administration aided instability in Afghanistan by releasing some of the most senior leaders of the Taliban – “Taliban Dream Team” – from Guantanamo Bay.     Mullar Omar, the Taliban’s leader, called the releases a “great victory”

This action allowed these men to rejoin the fight against our service men and women. 

The President quickly withdrew from Iraq, leaving a vacuum for ISIS to fill, which is now requiring our military to return.

The President wants to repeat our errors with a speedy withdraw from Afghanistan despite the advice of his commanders on the ground and request by Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani to "re-examine" our withdrawal plan.

He has de-Reaganized Europe by drastically cutting our forces, acquiescing to Russian influence by cutting our ballistic missile defense site in Poland and radar the Czech Republic, and by failing to provide assistance apart from MREs and blankets to the Ukraine as it was invaded by Russia

The President detailed in his State of the Union that “We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small -- by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine's democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies”

Yet, under the President’s failed leadership we have seen two cease-fire failures, thousands of civilians displaced and approximately 5,000 killed.

America’s assistance is vital to denying Putin’s attempts to destabilize the region, yet it has been unreliable and embarrassingly slow under the Obama administration.

The administration is overwhelmed by world events and blind to the fact that terrorists are at war with America and our way of life.

We now live in a world where our Allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us.

When will the President and the administration take the steps required to minimize the risk to Americans and our Allies by providing this country with a National Security Strategy.

One that addresses today’s global security environment, grows back our military and its readiness and deals with our enemies from a position of strength, not weakness and appeasement.

These are the biggest threats facing our nation today.  It is deidedly not global warming.  The threat of war, terrorism, and extremism have plagued the earth for centuries.  And the United States is not immune.  We must take all threats seriously and take every responsible action to secure our freedom.  Threats to our national security are always the most serious threats we face.  Issues like global warming, or global cooling 40 years ago, are simply not what we need to be worrying about in the same breath as our national security. 

 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Affirms Federal Role in Transportation

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe Affirms Federal Role in Transportation

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing on transportation reauthorization, Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) questioned witnesses on the need for federal involvement in maintaining and modernizing the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Witnesses responded to the Chairman’s questions, sounding the alarm that devolution is not realistic and that instead a healthy partnership between the federal government and the states is the best solution to improving the infrastructure network. 

 

Click here to watch the video

 

Chairman Inhofe: I’ve been very frustrated over how we’ve paid for a multi-year reauthorization and some of my colleagues have talked about supporting a program of shifting the federal programs back to the states by cutting the federal user fees, some of them by 15 cents, some of them by whatever other amounts and then letting the states pick up the tab. Now, if such a thing were to become a reality, Idaho would have to raise its state gas tax by 25 cents, West Virginia by 32 cents, Utah (your state Mr. Braceras) by 19 cents and Montana by 44 cents. When you talk about devolution as several have suggested, I’m probably the right one to talk about this and my colleagues don’t know this, but 25 years ago, Connie Mack from Florida and Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma were the fathers of devolution. We thought “oh that’s so much fun on the stump to talk about how we’ll go back to Oklahoma – why make an unnecessary trip for our dollars to OK to Washington and back” until we realized that it didn’t work. But you know that interstate commerce doesn’t stop at states boundaries no state is an island. And you know, I’ve read extensively on Eisenhower – I’ve always been a great admirer of his – my other committee is Armed Services Committee, and he used to say “it’s just as much about national defense as it is interstate commerce. Interstate connectivity and national defense access are equally important.”

Mr. Braceras, do you agree with me? What do you think?

The Honorable Carlos M. Braceras, P.E. Secretary Treasurer, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Executive Director, Utah Department of Transportation: Mr. Chairman I would say the answer of whether or not to devolve the federal program is if you believe there is not federal purpose in transportation. I believe that there is a strong purpose in our nation’s transportation system for having a strong federal role. Companies such as Advanced Pierre Food Services produce their products but they depend on a vibrant, well-functioning, safe transportation system in every state of this county. For our country to continue to be successful as well as an economic leader we need a strong federal role in the transportation system.

Chairman Inhofe: one follow-up question on that. What if a state went through this concept and a state decided that they were not going to increase their taxes, your state of Utah for example. What would happen to the national system?

Carlos Braceras: We depend on the federal program to maintain and operate our transportation system. We have a strong state system, our federal program constitutes just under 25% of our program but the federal program is what we maintain and preserve the state’s transportation system on so you would see roads continue to deteriorate, you would see bridges continue to deteriorate. So that federal role is critical.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ICYMI: Sen. Inhofe in The Hill: Planning for Long Term Key to Economic Health
ICYMI: THE HILL: Planning for long term key to economic health
By EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, February 24, 2015, Click here to read online
 

Thanks to the vision of President Dwight Eisenhower, the United States has been a global leader in transportation, which, in turn, has given us a world-class military and provided a stage for every American to access economic opportunity. But lately, our infrastructure has failed to keep up, largely due to funding uncertainty with the Highway Trust Fund and a lack of long-term authorization bills. While the United States struggles to maintain the existing conditions of our transportation system, our global competitors are greatly outpacing us in their infrastructure investments.


American businesses rely on an efficient and reliable transportation network. More than 250 million vehicles traverse the highway system each year, and businesses require a reliable transportation network to operate efficiently. But every day, nearly 20,000 miles of the nation's highway system slow below posted speed limits or experience stop-and-go conditions. This type of congestion has a quantifiable, negative impact on America's businesses and our global competitiveness.


Each year, the nation's transportation system moves nearly 18 billion tons of goods, valued at nearly $17 trillion. Given the connected nature of the supply chain, congestion in one part of the country has ripple effects throughout the rest of the network.


Unfortunately, congestion is becoming more and more of a problem for American businesses. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates our nation's roads a "D" and our bridges a "C+," yet our nation's investment in this foundational transportation network is not keeping up with our needs.


As we are all aware, the federal highway program is operating on a short-term extension that expires at the end of May. With this deadline soon approaching, my staff has been working with Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) staff on a long-term bill that will give our partners the certainty they need to plan and construct important transportation projects. Our states, industries and economy need long-term authorizations that ensure funding and allow for the planning of big, long-term projects of regional and national importance. The conservative position is to prevent short-term extensions. As history showed us after nine extensions between the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012, we lose a dramatic amount of the Highway Trust Fund's resources, when we fail to achieve longer-term funding bills.


Today, we sit at a crossroads. We could take the responsible course and pass a long-term reauthorization of MAP-21, or we could kick the can down the road and find short-term patches that continue the uncertainty facing our partners. I believe we can do better.


Our infrastructure investments are a partnership between the federal government and the states. This duty is outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which charges Congress with the responsibility to tend to the nation's commerce between the states and to establish arteries to facilitate such commerce.


This is why on Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its second hearing in the 114th Congress on the need for a long-term transportation reauthorization, where members and witnesses will explore the link between a world-class transportation system and economic productivity. Our witnesses will offer a perspective from not only state leaders, but also hometown business leaders that depend on our roads and bridges to move goods, create jobs and contribute to our nation's economy. The committee will also look at the importance of the federal government partnering with and empowering states to help meet their infrastructure goals.


As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am committed to doing the right thing and keeping Congress's end of the bargain to pass a fiscally responsible, long-term transportation bill. As we continue to explore and debate this legislation, let us remember the words of James Madison, written in No. 42 of the Federalist Papers, "Nothing which tends to facilitate the intercourse between the states can be deemed unworthy of the public care."


Inhofe is Oklahoma's senior senator, serving since 1994. He is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

 


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