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Will the Wall Street bailout be the beginning of the New (Green) Deal?
Environmental activists are trying to figure out ways to advance
their global-warming-regulation agenda by exploiting the current
financial crisis, including the Wall Street bailout bill to be voted on
by the House.
The good news for them is that they may not need to succeed, since
someone with a very Green agenda will be in charge of implementing the
bill should it become law.
As reported by Carbon Control News (Sep. 24), "Environmentalists and
some Democrats are seizing upon the financial sector crisis to call for
major federal investments in energy efficiency and improvements in the
electricity grid as a way to address climate change and spur a lagging
Michael Moynihan, former Clinton administration economic adviser and
director of the Green Project for the New Democrat Network, has called
for a national infrastructure bank to fund clean energy projects.
Following up on this idea, two house Democrats introduced a bill last week to establish a "Clean Energy Investment Bank."
Although Moynihan claims this would be an improvement over the
current earmark system, the bank seems to be little more than a
permanent Green earmark.
The activist group Friends of the Earth (FoE) is lobbying for the
Treasury Department to conduct global-warming impact reviews under the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) — the federal law requiring
federal agencies to conduct environmental-impact studies of their
Through its citizen-lawsuit provisions, the Greens often use NEPA to
block energy, highway and logging projects that involve federal
agencies and lands.
FoE claims that as the Treasury Department becomes a significant
shareholder in financial institutions that it bails out, it would be
obligated to carry out environmental impact studies since, to some
extent, the activities of those financial institutions would also be
activities of the Treasury Department.
"Subjecting entities that receive financial backing from taxpayers
to NEPA could provide a hook for environmentalists to force greater
scrutiny of actions by those entities that increase greenhouse gas
emissions, including the underwriting of fossil fuel projects,"
reported Carbon Control News (Sep. 26)
Anti-nuclear Greens are trying to use the recent bankruptcy of
Lehman Brothers to block the construction of the first nuclear reactor
built in the U.S. in 30 years.
This column previously reported 
on how the Greens are trying to stop Maryland from permitting the
construction of a third reactor at Constellation Energy's Calvert
Cliffs power plant by arguing that emission-less nuclear power actually
worsens global warming.
Lehman's bankruptcy raised concerns about the financial health of
Constellation, leading to a buy-out offer from the Warren Buffet-led
Mid-American Energy Holdings Company.
The Greens called for the project to be halted "in light of the
nation's worsening financial crisis and serious concerns about the
stability of the company building the project," according to Carbon
Control News (Sep. 26).
Monday's rejection of the Wall Street bailout bill by the House has
opened the door for the alternative-energy industry to again try to
renew the tax credits about to expire for wind power projects such as the Pickens Plan .
The Senate bill passed Wednesday night extends the much-lobbied-for tax credit.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called on Congress to "Green the Bailout" (Sep. 28).
Friedman quoted a green-collar jobs proponent who said, "You can't
base a national economy on credit cards. But you can base it on solar
panels, wind turbines, smart biofuels and a massive program to
weatherize every building and home in America."
Finally, even if none of these provisions make it into the bailout
bill, the Greens will likely be able to count on Treasury Secretary
Hank Paulson to implement their agenda for them.
The former head of Goldman Sachs — who simultaneously headed up the Nature Conservancy  and recently told Fortune magazine that action on global warming  is crucial to the U.S. — is no stranger to using "other people's money" to implement the Green agenda on land secured by distressed debt .
Paulson could use bailout money to purchase debt securities that are
secured by property either coveted by Greens or targeted for energy or
natural resource development projects that the Greens oppose.
Once the U.S. Government owns the securities (and, thereby, the
property) an omnipotent Paulson could essentially take the land out of
circulation by "preserving" it as public land.
He could even claim — through the economic device of "contingent
valuation" — that the acquired land has more value as pristine public
land than as, say, an energy or logging project.
Contingent valuation uses opinion surveys to value intangible assets
for which there is no market, such as scenic views and crystal-clear
Respondents are asked hypothetical questions like, "How much would
you pay to preserve a seashore view from oil drilling?" or "How much is
it worth to keep a forest pristine and un-logged?"
Though the whole process is pretend — the respondents know they
won't actually spend any of their own money for this preservation — the
government uses the method to establish monetary values of preserved
It doesn't take too much imagination to see how contingent valuation
could be used to gin up phony bailout profits through land preservation.
Paulson has already said that he would bequeath the bulk of his
fortune — in the neighborhood of $500 to $800 million — to Green causes.
Imagine what he would be willing to do with your money.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com  andDemandDebate.com . He is a junk science expert , and advocate of free enterprise  and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.