April 29, 2016The U. S. State Department replied this week to the 18th April letter to Secretary John Kerry from 28 Senators that pointed out that Palestine was recognized as a full member of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as of 17th March and therefore the United States must stop all funding of the UNFCCC as required by laws enacted in 1994 and 1990. State’s snotty response to the Senators can be summarized thus: Go pound sand.
Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield wrote to Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.):
“It is our view that neither the restriction referenced in your letter, section 410 of Public Law 103-236, nor the restriction contained in section 414 of Public Law 101-246, have been triggered by the Palestinians’ purported accession to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC is a treaty, and the Palestinians’ purported accession to it...
April 22, 2016
Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Paris Climate Treaty on behalf of the United States along with representatives from 174 other countries at a gala, high-level ceremony at United Nations headquarters in New York City on 22nd April, a day which the UN General Assembly officially designated in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day. It is also of course Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presided over short speeches by a number of heads of state and prime ministers, including Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Brazil’s Dina Rousseff, France’s Francois Hollande, and Canada’s Justin...
April 8, 2016
The attorney general of the U. S. Virgin Islands, Claude E. Walker, has subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute for a stunningly wide array of documents from 1997 to 2007 related to our policy work on climate change. The subpoena is part of the investigation of Exxon Mobil initiated by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. AG Walker and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are co-operating with the NY AG.
Last week, I wrote about the press conference held by Schneiderman, Walker, Healey, four other state attorneys general, and former Vice President Al Gore to discuss their coalition of “AGs United for Clean Power” and noted that Schneiderman had said that the investigation of Exxon Mobil would eventually be broadened to include other fossil energy companies “and...
April 1, 2016
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore, and attorneys general from Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, and the U. S. Virgin Islands held a press conference in New York City on 30th March to announce “an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combatting climate change.” Schneiderman also spoke about his ongoing investigation of Exxon Mobil for fraudulently concealing from investors and the public the harmful effects of their products on the global climate.
Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker announced that they have also launched...
February 26, 2016
The opening briefs (here and here) for the petitioners in West Virginia et al v. EPA—the lawsuit challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants—were submitted to the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on 19th February. The list of petitioners and their lawyers is pretty impressive. The two briefs requested by the court each total no more than 42,000 words.
A number of amicus curiae briefs have been filed plus one intervenor brief. I haven’t read them all, but one that I have that is definitely worth looking at is the ...
February 25, 2016
The Supreme Court will soon decide whether it will hear an appeal to overturn the latest outrageous power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The case, American Farm Bureau v. EPA, deserves much more attention than it has received. At first glance, it appears the issues at stake are merely regional and are only of concern to farmers in the region.
But in fact, if the Supreme Court allows the EPA to implement its new Clean Water Act rule to regulate runoff pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, then it can use the ruling as a precedent for creating similar rules that impose strict new land-use controls affecting housing and many industries, as well as agriculture, in watersheds throughout the country.
The EPA in 2010 proposed a new comprehensive blueprint to regulate water pollution from...
February 19, 2016
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on 13th February has quickly ended jubilation among opponents of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants over the Supreme Court’s stay of the rule on 9th February. Most legal observers who have made public comments, but certainly not all, expect the three-judge panel on the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold all or most of the rule. On the other hand, the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision to stay the rule raised hopes that there were five votes to overturn the rule on appeal.
Justice Scalia’s death upends that calculation. There are now only four Justices who thought that the rule was sufficiently unlikely to survive in court to issue an unprecedented stay. If the circuit court upholds the rule, then a 4 to 4 vote in the Supreme Court would not overturn the lower court. Of course, President Barack Obama...
February 19, 2016
Todd Stern, the U. S. State Department’s special envoy for climate change negotiations, said in London on 18th February, that if the next President repudiates the Paris Climate Treaty the international “blowback” would be much stronger than the negative reaction after President George W. Bush announced in 2001 that he would not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification.
The BBC quoted Stern: “There was a lot of blowback that the US got generally diplomatically across the range of diplomatic concerns and I have no doubt that it would be very significant if the US were to do that with regard to Paris, probably much, much more significant than what happened before.”
Stern made the remarks to reporters as part of a three-day “reassurance tour” to Brussels, London, and Paris intended to...
February 5, 2016
The Senate spent part of the week considering amendments to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S. 2012, but then got hung up on Democratic demands that the bill should include $600 million to help Flint, Michigan to deal with its water supply problems. Two cloture votes to limit debate and move to a vote on final passage were defeated by votes of 46 to 50 and 43 to 54 (with 60 votes needed to invoke cloture).
Negotiations will continue over the weekend, so it’s too early to say that the bill sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources...
President Obama Will Propose $10 a Barrel Tax on Oil To Pay For $32 Billion Green Transit Slush FundFebruary 5, 2016
The White House has begun to release details of President Barack Obama’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2017. Most interesting so far is the announcement that the President will propose a new $10 fee on each barrel of oil. With oil selling at roughly $30 a barrel, this would amount to a one-third increase in the cost of oil.
The projected $32 billion a year in new revenue would be used to fund “green” transit: $20 billion for mass transit, including high-speed rail and magnetic levitation; $10 billion for streamlining local and state transit planning, a Climate Smart Fund to give bonuses to States that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and three new grant programs for “livable” cities, climate-resilient infrastructure,...