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Vol. VIII, No. 15
Vol. VIII, No. 15
July 21, 2004
Attorneys General Sue Five Big Electric Utilities
The Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and the Corporation Counsel of New York City filed a complaint July 21 in federal district court in Manhattan that alleges that five leading electric power generators had created a “public nuisance” by emitting carbon dioxide and thereby contributing to global warming.
The taxpayer-financed lawyers are not seeking monetary damages but rather an abatement order requiring the utilities to reduce their emissions. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said at a press conference that their aim was to, “Save our planet from disastrous consequences that are building year by year and will be more costly to prevent and stop if we wait.” Mr. Blumenthal also told reporters to, “Think tobacco, without the money.”
The complaint alleges that the States are suffering and will suffer damage from global warming in the form of heat-related deaths, sea-level rise, injuries to water supplies, injuries to the Great Lakes, injuries to agriculture in Iowa and Wisconsin, injuries to ecosystems, forests, fisheries and wildlife, wildfires in California, economic damages, increased risk of abrupt climate change, and, “Injury to States’ Interests in Ecological Integrity.”
The companies targeted are American Electric Power Co., Southern Co., Xcel Energy Inc., Cinergy Corp., and the federal Tennessee Valley Authority. The complaint uses various statements and admissions by these companies that global warming is a problem that they want to do something about as proof that they manage and control the emission of carbon dioxide.
Only Xcel through its subsidiary Northern States Power of Wisconsin provides electricity to customers in any of the States that have filed suit. Perhaps recognizing that they are on tenuous legal ground with their federal complaint, the complaint also includes specific complaints for each state, making the litigation a complex matter.
Initial reaction to the lawsuit has not been favorable beyond radical environmental groups. Even some supporters of action to curb carbon dioxide emissions criticized the suit. Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told the New York Times (July 22) that she found the suit, “Slightly perverse…. Of course, we need a national program and of course, we need some legislation. The real question is, does this help you get there? It's not clear to me that this lawsuit will help.”
Initial response from newspapers was also unenthusiastic. The San Jose Mercury News (July 22) called the complaint “a cheap shot” and noted, “Generation by a public utility is about as regulated as an activity can be. Utilities are not only permitted to produce electricity, they're also obligated to. So any ill effects from an operation that has been approved from the local to the federal level can't be laid at the feet of the utilities alone.”
The Cincinnati Post (July 22) was equally unimpressed. It satirized Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch’s statement that, “It's imperative that we confront those responsible for unleashing an invader with the power to wreak unspeakable havoc on our climate and to damage, and destroy, our ecosystems” as follows: “Good golly. If fossil-fueled power plants are that much of a public nuisance, maybe we'd better shut them down right now. That might reduce Rhode Islanders to living off whatever fish they can catch with a net, but it would take care of that invader.”
Democratic Party Platform Drops Kyoto Ratification
As the Associated Press reported on July 3, the newly-published draft of the Democratic Party platform for the November elections has dropped its Gore-era reference to embracing the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2000, the platform contained this statement: “In 1997, we negotiated the historic Kyoto Protocols, an international treaty that will establish a strong, realistic, and effective framework to reduce greenhouse emissions in an environmentally strong and economically sound way. We are working to develop a broad international effort to take action to meet this threat. Al Gore and the Democratic Party believe we must now ratify those Protocols.”
The current draft contains no reference to ratifying Kyoto. Instead, it has these two mentions of climate change:
“We will reduce mercury emissions, smog and acid rain, and will address the challenge of climate change with the seriousness of purpose this great challenge demands. Rather than looking at American industries only as polluters, we will work with the private sector to create partnerships that make a profit and a cleaner world for us all;” and,
“We know that America's fight for a healthy environment cannot be waged within our borders alone. Environmental hazards from around the globe reach America through the oceans and the jet streams encircling our planet. And climate change is a major international challenge that requires global leadership from the United States, not abdication. We must restore American leadership on this issue as well as others such as hazardous waste emissions and depleted fisheries.”
The full platform can be read at http://www.democrats.org/platform/.
Illarionov Comments on Russian Position on Kyoto
In remarks delivered at a press conference marking the end of the extraordinary meeting on climate change science in Moscow (July 7-8, see Science section below), Russian economic adviser Andrei Illarionov had the following to say about his country’s stance on Kyoto:
“When we see one of the biggest, if not the biggest international adventures based on man-hating totalitarian ideology which, incidentally, manifests itself in totalitarian actions and concrete events, particularly academic discussions, and which tries to defend itself using disinformation and falsified facts. It's hard to think of any other word but "war" to describe this.
“To our great regret, this is a war, and this is a war against the whole world. But in this particular case, the first to happen to be on this path is our country. It's unpleasant to say but I am afraid it's undeclared war against Russia, against the entire country, against the left and the right, against the liberals and the conservatives, against business and the Federal Security Service, against the young and the old who live in Moscow or in provinces. This is a total war against our country, a war that uses all kinds of means.
“The main prize in this war for those who have started it and who are waging is the ratification by Russian authorities of the Kyoto Protocol. There is only one conclusion to be made from what we have seen, heard, and researched: Russia has no material reasons to ratify this document. Moreover, such a ratification would mean only one thing: complete capitulation to the dangerous and harmful ideology and practice that are being imposed upon us with the help of international diplomacy.
“This is not a simple war. Like any war, it cannot be easy and simple. Regrettably, like any war, it has its losses and victims, and we must understand that. The main thing is that we have now obvious evidence that we have got over the past two days, although we had some hints before that time, and it was the approach to Russia practiced by some people attending the seminar, an approach to Russia as a kind of banana republic, an approach to a country that is not a colony yet but about to become it as soon as it ratifies the document. At least we now know how people in colony feel towards other people who are trying to make them a colony.
“And maybe the last touch. During the discussion of the economic impact of the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and of when Russia will achieve the 1990-emission level, one of the representatives of this official British team of scientists and government officials said quite bluntly: Russia cannot expect an increase in the population; on the contrary, the population will decrease. And as long as you reduce your population, you can meet the Kyoto Protocol requirements.”
Dr. Illarionov also clarified President Putin’s statement on Kyoto, telling a reporter, “I will permit myself to remind you of the words said by President Putin. President Putin has never said that he supported the Kyoto Protocol. President Putin said on May 24, 2004 that he supported the Kyoto process.”
Three Democrat Senate Candidates Support ANWR Drilling
Democratic Party candidates for open Senate seats in Alaska, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have said they would push fellow Democrats to support opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling if they win in November.
In Alaska’s Senate race, former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) has attacked incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for not doing enough to secure ANWR exploration.
In Oklahoma, Rep. Brad Carson (D) hopes to replace incumbent Sen. Don Nickles (R) who is retiring in January. Carson recently stated, “Having Democrats willing to stand up for strong energy policy will make a difference.” He added, “We have to take the partisanship out of the issue. While there are no guarantees, our voices are really important if ANWR is going to happen.”
In Louisiana, Rep. Chris John (D) — a pro-ANWR drilling candidate — has won the support of retiring Sen. John Breaux (D). The state ranks in the top five nationwide in production of both oil and natural gas, and the industry contributes billions of dollars to the state's economy each year (Greenwire, July 9, 2004).
European Industry Waking Up to Costs of Kyoto
In a press conference on July 8, the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) called for a review of the European Union’s climate change strategy “until 2012 and beyond.” According to the industry federation, the EU's “unilateral” implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will widen the gap between American and European economic growth and undermine the competitiveness of European industry.
Fabrizion d'Adda, the chairman of UNICE's industrial affairs committee, predicts the EU’s emissions trading scheme costs consumers between 85 million and 2.3 billion euro due to increases in the price of electricity.
The federation also pointed out the conflict between the demands of the Kyoto Protocol and the EU’s adoption of the “Lisbon Agenda.” Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 2000, the EU Heads of States and Governments agreed to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.” The energy suppression required by global warming alarmism has contributed to this goal looking harder and harder to meet.
EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom criticized UNICE’s remarks. She said that it was easy to criticize Kyoto and not come up with concrete and viable alternatives. She further said that European industry should see the protocol as an opportunity and not as a threat
(www.euractiv.com, July 13; Expatica, July 15).
Schleede Examines Costs and Benefits of Wind Power
In a paper delivered to about 650 member-owners of Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. at their annual meeting in St. Louis, respected retired energy consultant Glenn Schleede examined some of the arguments routinely made in favor of wind power. Schleede summarizes:
“The paper places the past (1950-2000) and prospective (2010-2025) contribution of wind energy in the context of overall US energy consumption and US electricity generation. The paper demonstrates that the contribution of wind has been and will be tiny — despite the massive subsidies and mandates being provided, unwisely, by federal and state governments.
“The paper notes that the wind industry, US Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE's National Renewable Energy ‘Laboratory’ (NREL) – using our tax dollars – has been highly successful in misleading the media, public, Congress, and other federal and state regulators and legislators about the costs and benefits of wind energy. The advocates have grossly overstated the benefits of wind energy, and greatly underestimated the environmental, ecological, economic, scenic and property value costs of wind energy.
“The false and misleading claims by the advocates have led to government policies, programs and regulations that are detrimental to the interests of consumers and taxpayers.
“The paper also admits that it is difficult, given the success of the advocates' propaganda, to reverse bad federal and state wind energy policies, programs and regulations. However, it notes that emerging citizen-led efforts around the world (e.g., US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand) are beginning to be effective in bringing the TRUTH about wind energy to the attention of the media, public and government officials.”
Schleede will deliver a talk based on his paper at a Cooler Heads Coalition briefing on July 23 in Room 628 of the Senate’s Dirksen Building beginning at noon. A copy of the paper is available at the Cooler Heads Coalition’s web site at http://www.globalwarming.org/article. php?uid=714.
Extraordinary Scenes at Russian Conference
The British scientific establishment reacted so badly to dissenting voices at a Moscow conference on climate change science that they disrupted the event. The two-day seminar, entitled “Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol,” had been organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences and was chaired by distinguished climatologist Yuri Izrael, a Vice-Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
On being informed that the program would include contributions from scientists who question the effects of global warming, such as Richard S. Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nils-Axel Morner of Stockholm University, and Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute, the British delegation, led by Sir David King, objected to their inclusion. They first delayed the conference, then asked British foreign secretary Jack Straw to exert political pressure in an effort to get the program changed. When this failed, there were reports that the conference was disrupted on at least four occasions (one reporter asked why security guards did not intervene). In the end, Sir David, who is on record as judging global warming a worse threat than terrorism, walked out.
Peter Cox of the U.K.'s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research attempted to justify the British actions by telling Science magazine (July 16), “We knew that we would not get to the scientific issues if we went down every rabbit hole of skepticism.”
During the conference, Paul Reiter used a simple experiment to demonstrate the low relevance of climate to the spread of malaria. He said, “When I asked whether any of the Russian Academicians at the symposium had had malaria, nearly all raised their hands. Several had contracted the disease in Siberia!”
The French newspaper Le Figaro in reporting the controversy (July 16) commented, “The clash was more than a minor diplomatic incident because it revealed a form of intellectual bullying that is beginning to dominate the scientific community on the question of climate change.”
Two New Papers Cast Further Doubt on Surface Temperature Record
Two new papers from lead author David Douglass of the University of Rochester appearing in Geophysical Research Letters (July 9) cast major doubts on the validity of climate models and the surface temperature record.
In the first, the researchers compared computer results from three commonly cited “state of the art” models with results from four independent observational data sets to test the theory that greenhouse gases will cause the surface temperature to rise, with the warming effect increasing with altitude. The researchers found a striking disparity – the models show temperature trends increasing with altitude, but the data show the reverse. Douglass said, “The disparity between the models and the observations has been mostly about the magnitude of what happens at the surface, because that is where we live. However when you go a few miles up now even the sign is wrong.”
In the second paper, the researchers used historic meteorological data to construct temperature values for the earth (divided into grid cells) at a height of 2 meters. The results agree with the satellite data that show very slight warming rather than with the surface record that shows considerable warming. S. Fred Singer, a co-author of both papers and emeritus professor at the University of Virginia, said of the results, “If the global climate is not warming, why all the fuss? The whole issue of CO2 pollution becomes moot.”
Study Rejects Anthropogenic Origin of Mercury
A recent study published in Hydrology and Earth System Science has found that high mercury levels in the environment may not be the result of coal-fired power plants. The paper by E.C. Krug and D. Winstanley of the Illinois State Water Survey, “Comparison of mercury in atmospheric deposition and in Illinois and USA soils,” comes after the recent emergence of an environmentalist offensive calling for increased regulation of mercury (Hg) emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Krug and Winstanley tested the hypothesis that mercury in Illinois and USA soils is the result of human activities by comparing the rates of atmospheric mercury deposition with soil and Earth crust mercury content. They discovered that, contrary to popular belief, environmentally significant amounts of natural mercury are generally found in soils and “quantities of Hg in USA soils are too great to be attributed to anthropogenic atmospheric Hg deposition.”
The effort to impose federal regulations to reduce coal-fired power plant mercury emissions is based on the unsubstantiated theory of a direct correlation between power plant locations and high mercury levels. Krug and Winstanley’s paper discredits the environmentalists’ claim that amounts of mercury in the environment were naturally low before anthropogenic Hg environmental deposition. Their paper has attracted little major media attention, but was covered in an article by David Wojick appearing in Electricity Daily (www.electricity-online.com, July 14).
Global Warming Creates Biodiversity Boom
A recent study published by the Yale Journal of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies claims a rise in global temperatures is causing a northward shift of vegetation and mammals. The study involved eight U.S. parks, and how a supposed rise in temperatures could entice the movement of species to and from these parks.
The study predicts that the parks they studied stand to gain 92% more mammals through immigration within the next century, and 20% of the mammals to relocate outside of the parks. Oswald Schmitz, professor of population and community ecology, cautions, “…the species that were in the parks, especially in the northern parks, aren’t leaving those parks and going even farther north. So this migration crowds species much more” (www.vaildaily.com, July 21).
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Americans for Tax Reform
American Legislative Exchange Council
American Policy Center
Association of Concerned Taxpayers
Center for Security Policy
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Defenders of Property Rights
Fraser Institute, Canada
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
60 Plus Association
Small Business Survival Committee