Energy & Environment

The power of Earth Day in America (Sen. John Kerry)

I'm strategizing and planning with the environmental community this morning, but wanted to emphasize something -- and I thought of it this morning listening to my morning radio.

If you've ever gotten caught up in the conventional wisdom of Washington that says no big change can happen, and politicians will always find the easy way out, please know that today is a reminder of how people power can turn that spin upside down overnight - and I know it because I was there and I saw it happen, and I saw it happen long before I had a vote in the Senate or an office in Washington, and it's why I still believe.

Forty years ago today, twenty million Americans -- fully one-tenth of our country's population at the time -- came together to express the wakeup call that was Earth Day 1970.


Go green, save the Winter Olympics

When it comes to the recent 2010 Winter Olympics, the United States and Canada have much to be proud of. Each ranked first in a medal category with Canada winning 14 gold medals and the U.S. securing 15 silver medals. This is an impressive but unsurprising performance for two of the top three economies in the Western Hemisphere. (Snowless Brazil won no medals.) Less impressive is that the U.S. and Canada are peak performers in the category of climate change causation. These two have done little to reduce their high scores in per capita emissions. Both rank in the world’s top 10 emitters at nearly 20 tons per person per year. Compare this with China’s 4 tons per person and India’s 1 ton per person.
For the U.S. and Canada, or any country, to continue participating in the Winter Olympics, they must commit to a greener performance — a reality brought into question by Vancouver’s lack of snow, which was a consequence of a changing climate. The reality is that while Olympic competitiveness is a priority for both nations, green competitiveness is not.


Off-coast drilling threatens Florida economy and jobs (Rep. Kathy Castor)

Drilling for oil off of Florida’s west coast beaches would be a serious threat to Florida’s economy and jobs. Our long-term economic health is dependent on clean beaches and clean water. I oppose any threat to jobs and Florida’s tourism and fishing industries.

In 2006, 8.3 million acres of Eastern Gulf were opened to additional offshore drilling under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. In exchange, an important buffer was adopted through 2022. This was a significant compromise, which was codified into law and remains in effect today.

Regardless of any announcement today, GOMESA and its protections for Florida’s economy and environmental health remain in full force.


The Big Question: Is Obama's offshore drilling plan good?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today. ...

Today's question:

Is President Barack Obama's offshore drilling plan a good policy?

John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, said:

Yes, and the President deserves credit for rolling out this policy. Expanding oil and natural gas exploration off the Atlantic, Alaskan and Gulf coasts is an important step toward greater energy security, and a needed job boost for our nation.
As we laid out in our economic modeling study, The Balancing Act, increased domestic sources are critical elements of the comprehensive approach we need – combined with investments in renewable fuels and new technologies to enhance more traditional sources – to ensure a secure supply of energy in order to meet the growing demand for the years ahead. Yesterday’s announcement is a critical first step in the process.
My members understand their role in this discussion, and they plan to remain engaged with the Administration and members of Congress to create more jobs and move our nation toward a more sustainable future.

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit Blogger, said:

I was initially enthused with this proposal, but the fine print seems to render it far less impressive than the initial hype suggested.  Offshore drilling, of course, won't solve all of our problems, but as even modest increases in the supply of oil tend to drive prices down, it would be very good for the economy.  Obama's plan, however, seems calculated to create a lot more buzz than drilling.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of, said:

Obama's offshore drilling plan is not only a good policy in and of itself, it is also -- refreshingly -- an astute political move. I'm not sure how to explain this, given the administration's record -- which is, by this time, a compendium of mis-steps, muddled opportunities, and missed chances -- except by positing that this is surely a mistake, which will soon be corrected.

Jerry Taylor, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, said:

Obama’s press conference at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday did indicate a welcome new direction for U.S. energy policy.  But in an absolutely perfect world, the government would not be in the business of allocating scarce resources—in this case, the offshore oil fields—to competing user groups. The market would play that role.

Hence, the best policy would be to divest this land via auction and allow environmentalists, recreationalists and preservationists to compete with oil and gas companies for the rights to those resources.

It is not at all inconceivable to me that those opposed to drilling, whatever their reasons, might well out-bid extraction industries for rights to some of these fields. Unfortunately, there seems to be limited political support for privatization, so President Obama’s initiative is probably better than the status quo.

We need to remember, however, that if governments could intelligently allocate scarce resources across the economy without recourse to market information or institutions, then the North Korean economy would work swimmingly.

John F. McManus,
president of The John Birch Society, said:

President Obama sought and gained many headlines with the announcement of his new plan for limited offshore drilling.  But, as Competitive Enterprise Institute's Myron Ebell points out, the President had already taken "ten steps back on domestic oil production" before this latest "one small step forward."
Ebell explains that, in 2008, President Bush revoked previous bans on development in huge offshore areas where energy resources are known to exist. This welcome move has been suspended by the Obama administration.  The new plan offered by Obama does not affect work in areas where his actions have already barred drilling.
Our nation now imports more than 60 percent of the oil we consume.  America's neck is in a noose and the way out of it is to take advantage of oil deposits available in areas that are still locked up - ANWR being a prime example of a resource sitting idle waiting to be tapped. The president's announcement avoided opening up ANWR.
The noose is tightening and Mr. Obama's headline grabbing announcement and its supposed change in policy will not loosen it.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's Energy Program, said:

Yesterday’s announcement by the White House that it would seek an end to the moratorium on oil & gas development off the eastern and gulf coasts of the U.S. has nothing to do with serving as a bargaining chip for stalled Senate climate negotiations, but rather is intended to blunt expected GOP campaign attacks that Obama the socialist environmentalist has caused gasoline prices to rise $1 per gallon since taking office. I see Obama’s move more about controlling the tone of the upcoming mid-term elections than about cutting a climate deal. So here’s my prediction: this drilling announcement marks the death of a climate deal for this congress.

Obama’s political move to open up our coasts to more drilling is wrong because opening offshore areas to drilling hurts efforts at a climate deal * not helps. On March 23, 10 coastal  senators wrote a letter to the ad hoc Senate climate crew of Kerry-Lieberman-Graham warning that they “cannot support legislation that will . . . put our coasts at greater peril.” They note the environmental concerns that offshore drilling presents, but also highlight the unfair proposal of allowing coastal states to keep a sizable portion of the royalties rather than share that revenue with all states and taxpayers.

Additionally, opening up “access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030." That’s because the US isn’t Saudi Arabia: we sit on only 1.6 percent of the world’s oil reserves, while the Saudis have 20 percent. Dumping our little pond of oil into the giant sea of global reserves can’t make a significant dent on our imports or impact prices.

And lastly, Obama's proposal fails to hold oil companies accountable for fleecing taxpayers on existing drilling leases. The GAO estimates the loss to the U.S. Treasury of more than $50 billion over the life of these royalty-free leases * a huge subsidy for Big Oil. And investigations have found serious problems in the management of the entire royalty program. I debated Steven Colbert about this.

As recently as August 25, 2009 - when President Obama submitted his Mid-Session Review budget to Congress * he recognized this fleecing of the taxpayer by Big Oil and proposed a “Levy tax on certain offshore oil and gas production” as a back-door way to capture some revenue from these no-royalty leases, raising $6 billion over a decade.

But in Obama’s budget submitted in February, the Administration has now dropped this offshore tax on Big Oil.

Obama puts a lot at risk with this offshore drilling plan and gets little reward. What a disappointment.

Damon N. Spiegel, entrepreneur and writer, said:
Good policy, good plan or marketing strategy?  The timing couldn't come at a better time. Start to enroll the many people and big energy companies that were so against the Healthcare Bill.  The idea and concept is certainly the right thing to do.  After all, the less dependent we can be on the Middle Eastern terrorist supporting nations for oil the better we will be as a nation.  It is time for us to explore alternatives to importing energy and to start looking at the resources our nation can provide.  On top of this, the Administration should be investing even more time developing Alternative Energy that will protect our ecosystem for the years to come

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

We know that there is almost certainly very little recoverable oil in the area being opened up to drilling. The energy information agency estimates that the oil available in these areas is too little to have a noticeable impact on prices. Maybe this is good politics but it clearly is bad energy and environmental policy.

Hal Lewis,
professor at UC Santa Barbara, said:
Yes, and it should be extended. We need the oil to support our existing economy, while we search for alternatives to support our future economy. Energy is precisely coupled to economic success and our standard of living. We should also facilitate the building of nuclear plants, since they are the only existing realistic non-polluting source of electrical energy (we've already almost fully exploited our hydroelectric resources, the only other one). But Obama's so-called energy policy is inconsistent and fully politicized, for reasons that don't belong in a response to this question.

Karen Harbert,
president and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said:

Is President Barack Obama's offshore drilling plan a good policy?

Pursuing a balanced energy policy that includes offshore drilling is good policy, but it appears that President Obama’s plan will not actually do much of it. While it is encouraging to hear the President recognize the important role America’s vast oil and natural gas reserves can play in our energy future, I just wish that his plan did more to accomplish that goal.
The Administration’s new Five Year Plan on oil and gas leasing opens up significant offshore areas for study, not for actual exploration. For both our energy security and our economy, we need more than that. In fact, the plan proposed for the next two years actually reduces the areas that originally were to be opened for exploration. We now have a proposed plan that falls far short of what our nation needs and actually regresses by placing billions of barrels of oil and gas under lock and key.
However, Congress can play an important role shaping a more effective energy policy. For starters, Congress should act to unlock portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico that were listed as being potential areas of exploration. In addition, Congress should enact revenue sharing for states to encourage more offshore exploration and help address the budget crisis that exists in many states’ budgets. That would be a stimulus package that the taxpayer wouldn’t have to shoulder.
So while I am pleased to see the President acknowledge an important role for oil and gas, I am disappointed that his offshore plan is woefully short on the actual exploration that is needed to unlock these resources and the jobs and revenue that would result.


Introducing the Ten Million Solar Roofs Act (Sen. Bernard Sanders)

This country spends, in a typical year, $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries.  While this is no doubt good news for the Saudi royal family, one of the richest in the world, it is bad news for the average American.

The vast majority of the American people understand that now is the time to move to energy independence so that we are no longer subject to the greed of OPEC or Wall Street speculators, or need to fight “wars for oil” in the Middle East.  Americans also know that if we are serious about addressing environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the imperative to create millions of good-paying jobs, we must move aggressively to energy efficiency and such sustainable technologies as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.  

Thomas Edison, one of history’s greatest inventors said; “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”  He was right then, in 1931, and he remains right today. The American people agree.  Today, 92 percent of all Americans want our country to develop solar energy resources, and 77 percent believe the federal government should make solar power development a national priority.


Working toward energy independence (Rep. Paul Broun)

Today, President Obama will announce the building of two new nuclear reactors at a Southern Company plant in Georgia.  This is a step in the right direction towards achieving energy independence in the United States, but there is much more work to be done.

Increasing nuclear power is just the first step in a comprehensive, all-of-the-above plan for energy independence.  Rather than additional regulations, we need additional refineries, clean coal and nuclear power plants, as well as ethanol, biodiesel, wind and solar investments. Expanding our energy portfolio and undertaking responsible conservation efforts are both important parts of a comprehensive American energy policy that lowers costs for consumers and businesses.
Currently, only a fifth of U.S. electricity is generated by nuclear power while other nations, such as France, rely on nuclear energy for more than three-quarters of their power. Nuclear reactors produce reliable, emissions-free energy, and the Administration and Congress must include it in an all-of-the-above energy plan.


ITS report a wake-up call

A new report released on Wednesday unveiled some alarming information about how the United States is lagging behind other world leaders in the use of new technologies to address traffic congestion, CO2 emissions, traffic crashes, and other major challenges.

Japan, South Korea and Singapore were ranked as the top three nations in the effective deployment of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), according to the report – Explaining International IT Leadership: Intelligent Transportation Systems - issued by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

These nations and others in Europe and Asia that rank ahead of the U.S. in deploying ITS technologies all shared one common thread – their governments have all made a strong commitment to addressing their national transportation problems by using 21st Century technologies.


Surveys show Americans are against cap-and-trade

Most policymakers agree that we need an energy policy that creates sustainable economic growth, benefits all Americans and protects the environment. If that’s truly the case, they should go back to the drawing board to find alternatives to the burdensome, big-government energy policies currently popular in Washington.

Proposals known as “cap-and-trade,” intended to combat global warming and revamp America’s energy policy, are deeply unpopular with both the voting public and the entrepreneurs who create most of the nation’s new jobs.

Recent polls that my organization released are clear: An overwhelming majority of small business owners oppose cap-and-trade legislation that has passed the House of Representatives. More than 70 percent of the business owners we surveyed think that the legislation will raise energy costs, and similarly large majorities don’t buy supporters’ claim that it will create new jobs or improve economic growth. And virtually none said that regulating greenhouse gas emissions should rank as a top national priority.


The Big Question: Will Obama get a climate deal in Copenhagen?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer some insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

After President Barack Obama's speech, will global leaders sign on to a workable climate change deal?

Ronald Walters, professor of Politics at the University of Maryland, said:

The real stimulus for an agreement on climate change is not President Obama's speech, but the nature of the negotiations with China and the developing countries.  The latter have a righteous cause in their demand for sufficient economic resources to comply with whatever agreement is reached, but they must agree to monitoring and other elements as a quid pro quo from the US and other developed countries.  With the added recalcitrance of China, this looks very much like the health care legislative conflict with conservative pols on one side and progressives on the other -- and it is possible to make the same bet that the progressives (the developing countries) will eventually fold and accept some kind of a deal.  The basic question is when such a deal will materialize and it doesn't look at this point like it will emerge from Copenhagen.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog Contributor, said:

I think not. This could be an historic occasion, but one of global theater rather than climate change. The meeting of President Obama and China's Prime Minister is key here to the rising century and the question is, 'Who will lead and who will follow?' The rest is chorus.

Richard S. Lindzen, atmospheric physicist and professor at MIT, said:

I'm pretty sure that they will sign something. Workable? I doubt it. Mischievous? Certainly.

Peter Navarro, professor of Economics and Public Policy at U.C. Irvine, said:

The “Copenhagen Discord” will end with more platitudes than workable policy because of why most marriages end — irreconcilable differences. It’s a vicious dilemma because by the time that the effects of climate change are bad enough to move politics and policy and the science is clear enough, it will likely be too late to effect change.

What we need here is a total rethink of the problem. The leading “solution” — cap-and-trade — is just plain stupid because it does more to breed carbon speculation than reduce emissions. The simplest way for the U.S. to protect itself without unilateral disarmament is to impose a carbon tax and apply it to imports as well. This would bring China right into the game because China emits far more carbon emissions to produce a unit of most manufactured goods than does the U.S. Such a carbon tax would also help our oil import dependence problem.

Hal Lewis, professor at UC Santa Barbara, said:

Since the word "workable" is in the question, the answer is no, but that word is in the eye of the beholder. I find it appalling that Obama, a supposedly intelligent man, allows himself to be suckered by his Science Advisor, and has apparently never heard that most of the so-called science behind the global warming frenzy is fraudulent. I'll bet that no one has told Obama of ClimateGate.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, said:

One can only hope that there is something big going on behind the scenes at Copenhagen because what is visible to the public is very far from a serious agreement. The talk of $100 billion to developing countries is nice, but everyone knows that this is almost nothing. That is money spent out over the course of a decade (i.e., $10 billion a year) and it will take a variety of forms other than pure aid. This is just a small fraction of what is actually needed in terms of the flow of capital to developing countries.

Of course if we leave the loon tune land of the Washington media and go to real-world economics, it is possible to devise policies whereby developing countries can both grow and reduce in emissions. Before the financial industry became so politically powerful economists used to say that capital should flow from rich countries to poor countries as a normal process.

The bubble-driven growth of the last two decades has reversed this policy. However, if we did go back to traditional economics, we would be setting up structures that would facilitate the flow of capital from the United States to developing countries to finance their adoption of clean technologies. This flow would be a mix of loans and aid. (Yes, we do have to pay people for wrecking their environment. For the folks who have problems with this concept, we can turn their lawns into waste dumps.)

Anyhow, this process can both generate jobs in the U.S. and foster growth in the developing world. But, we have to be prepared to push for biggest changes than appear to be on the table. If what we get is what is on the table, then the best contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be to agree to stop having meetings like those at Copenhagen.

Dick Morris, Pundits Blog contributor, said

China will not accept adequAte verification measures bit Obama will cave in and sign anyway. But the deal will fall apart in congress

Alan I. Abramowitz, professor of Political Science at Emory University, said:

They'll sign a deal of some sort. Whether it's workable or not remains to be seen.

William Happer, physicist and professor at Princeton University, said:

The best response would be to do nothing at Copenhagen and to go home to tend to real problems.

As Climategate has made abundantly clear, the alarm about climate change has no scientific basis. Instead it has been deliberately created to further many agendas, from religious belief, to support for research and bureaucratic empires, to massive trading profits.   Many scientists like me have known for a long time that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is not an emergency. EPA notwithstanding, CO2 is not a pollutant but is essential for plant growth. Over the geological history of the earth, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have averaged three or four times higher than present levels, and life flourished abundantly. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is probably a good thing, and many agronomists estimate that about 15% of current crop yields can be attributed to the higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere now.

Increasingly accurate data, especially from satellites, show that CO2 has a much smaller effect on temperature than is claimed on the basis of elaborate computer models.  As measured by satellites, the earth’s temperature has not changed in ten years, and it has probably decreased slightly. The oceans, too, have not warmed. All of the computer models predicted a significant temperature increases. If this were normal science, for example, the results of the clinical trial of a new drug, the gross divergence between prediction and observation would be enough to reject the hypothesis that CO2 will cause dangerous warming.   But those who stand to profit at Copenhagen are doing their best to keep the stampede going.  If not stopped, this will take the world over an economic cliff with no benefit, and probably damage, to the environment.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of, said:

Forget Obama's speech, it was Hugo Chavez's orationi that brought the assembled climate-change faithful to their feet. As one Australian newspaper reports:

"When he said the process in Copenhagen was 'not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn’t that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship…down with imperial dictatorships' he got a rousing round of applause.

"When he said there was a 'silent and terrible ghost in the room' and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

"But then he wound up to his grand conclusion – 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - 'our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.' He won a standing ovation."

The "developing" countries want a "deal" whereby they don't have to do anything, and the West must shut down its industries, go "green," and kowtow to the likes of the little Marxist caudillo.

The outcome is easy to predict: no deal.

John Feehery, Pundits Blog contributor, said

I have no idea, but I do know that either way, the politics are bad for Obama. If he does get a deal, working class americans are going to wonder why the president is cutting deals that will increase their taxes, increase their energy bills and cost american jobs. If he doesn't get a deal, he once again has failed to get what he wants from the international community.

John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:

The president's speech in Copenhagen was actually overshadowed by comments given by Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe. Predicting in Copenhagen that "nothing binding will come out" of the conference, Inhofe said he had traveled to the Danish capital to assure the representatives of the 192 other nations that "the United States is not going to pass cap-and-trade," the measure sought by radical environmentalists in and out of the U.S. Congress. If the U.S. is not going to cave in to the demands of Al Gore and his worldwide group of followers, the speech by the president was meaningless. It is meaningless, of course, only if the U.S. Constitution is honored. As for a "workable climate deal" being agreed to by the global leaders, who knows what they will attempt? Perhaps they will also try to mandate that water shall henceforth flow uphill.