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  • REACH and the Perils of Precaution

    December 13, 2006
    Today, the European Parliament voted a final time on the new regulation of Europe's chemical industry. With this vote the proposal is almost certain to become law when the European Council of Ministers votes next week. Called REACH—which stands for registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals—this legislation is based on the precautionary principle, and it represents the most substantial application of this principle ever. The principle essentially allows regulators to limit the freedom to sell technologies simply because a technology might have adverse impacts. Regulators need not demonstrate any actual harm before taking existing products off the market or to preventing introduction of new ones. They can just do it. Imagine a world in which all laws are based on perceived potential for harm. In this world you could be put in jail because you ...
  • Sarbox-Style Regulation: Don't Do It

    December 12, 2006
    New York's increased competition from other world financial centers, such as London and Hong Kong, due to the increased regulatory burden imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley in the United States is becoming a real problem for the Big Apple. Now The Wall Street Journal's John Fund and the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman provide two telling quotes that sharply underscore Wall Street's difficulties. Writes Fund:
    "Last year, of the 25 largest initial public offerings in the world, only one took place in America. This year, Hong Kong is likely to end up as the No. 1 market for stock offerings world-wide... "Henry Tang, Hong Kong's financial secretary, couldn't be more blunt on the good fortune Sarbanes-Oxley has brought his...
  • Affordable air travel? How dare you!

    December 12, 2006
    The UK government, which this week doubled air passenger duty to about $20 a flight in a sop to global warming alarmism, wants to go further and impose extra costs on airlines.  So far, British airlines like the flag carrier, British Airways, its rival, Virgin, and the budget champion, Easyjet, had acquiesced, making green-sounding noises about corporate responsibility and so on.  No longer:
    Carriers thought to include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have walked away from talks on a proposed carbon-offsetting scheme being put together by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)...
    Airline executives are thought to have been concerned that the Government was trying to create a scheme that would treat all businesses in...
  • More on the Rockefeller-Snowe letter – Rockefeller attacked in home state; he responds

    December 12, 2006
    The Daily Mail (Charleston, WV) on December 5 carried a strong editorial castigating its junior senator, Jay Rockefeller, for his joint letter to ExxonMobil. The editorial defended open debate about “tough questions” and used some tough language about the senators' letter:
    This is arrogant and intolerant speech. It is out of line, especially from a member of the U.S. Senate.
    Global warming and health care are complex policy issues. Before the nation commits Americans to spending trillions to fix either, they want to be sure policymakers have correctly diagnosed the problems and are suggesting the right solutions.The best answers to tough questions emerge from open debate, and all Americans are entitled to take part in it.
    Now, for the first...
  • It's official -- Vietnam to join WTO

    December 12, 2006
    It's now official — Vietnam notified the World Trade Organization December 12 that it had ratified its WTO membership agreement and will be joining as the 150th member on January 11. With its accession to the WTO, Vietnam takes on extensive commitments to open its markets in goods and services. On December 9, 2006, the U.S. Senate passed legislation providing for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Vietnam. In commenting on the vote, Susan Schwab, the U.S. Trade Representative, said in a statement:
    With this strong bipartisan vote, U.S. exporters and service providers will gain significant new...
  • Eco-censorship continued

    December 12, 2006
    Two interesting posts on Roger Pielke Jr's excellent and open-minded Prometheus blog today speak to the subject of my recent New Atlantis essay, "Eco-censorship."  In the first, a Chancellor of a Canadian university is chided for giving "poorly-considered credence to widely discredited extremist opinions such as these."  What discredited extremist opinions?  These:
    And in science there's almost never black and white. We don't know what next week's weather going to be. To say in 50 or 100 years, the temperature is going to do this, is a bit of a stretch for me.
    ...
  • Rocky-Snowe Road Winds On

    December 12, 2006
    As the controversy over the letter by Senators Rockefeller and Snowe chiding ExxonMobil for its funding of global warming skeptics, The Wall Street Journal, which criticized the letter as an effort to silence critics, weighs in again. This past weekend, on "The Wall Street Journal Editorial Report," editorial board members Paul Gigot, Bret Stephens, and Kimberley Strassel pursued the issue further. Strassel noted the inherent imbalance that government officials enjoy over private actors, while Stephens pointed out how unusual it was for the Senators to single out a specific group -- in this case CEI.
    Gigot: Two United States senators have been caught trying to bully...
  • Take That, Liberal Media!

    December 11, 2006
    In what may be the political understatement of all time, Tom DeLay explains the thinking behind his new blog, in part, with the phrase "not all good ideas come from Washington, D.C." Way to think outside the box, Tom. He goes on to write about how excited he is about the potential of the blogosphere, and that he is "look[ing] forward to working in collaboration, not competition, with all those who already use blogs as a way to fight against - and present an alternative - to the liberal media bias." The liberal media is, even now, doubtless sweating through its socks. Just to help disambiguate things, I'm not the same Richard Morrison who ran against DeLay in Texas' 22nd congressional district in 2004. That...
  • Stern Lectures

    December 11, 2006
    Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the wildly hyped and widely disparaged Stern Review on the economics of climate change, is leaving Her Majesty's Treasury:
    With embarrassing timing, Sir Nicholas Stern's departure was announced a day after the Chancellor confounded expectations of a big shift towards a new environmental agenda in his Pre-Budget Report. Mr Brown's move to raise taxes on flights and motorists' fuel were seen as minimum concessions to calls for tougher environmental action and disappointed green campaigners. One well-placed government source told The Times that Mr Brown had to be persuaded within the Treasury even to take the steps he did, such was his lack of enthusiasm for green taxes. Sir Nicholas, 60, one of the Chancellor's most senior officials as Second...
  • So what's stopping them?

    December 11, 2006
    The incoming leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are keen to use global warming as a stick to beat the Administration with - here's an example. So what's stopping them from bringing forward the Kyoto Protocol for ratification? The treaty was indeed signed by President Clinton - as even the New York Times has to admit. There is no constitutional requirement for the President formally to transmit a signed treaty to the Senate. Two thirds of the Senate simply has to "concur" and the Treaty is ratified. if the Senators are so concerned about White House obstructionism, why don't they just perform this end-around...

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