Saturday, January 31, 2009

California's 'Green Jobs' Experiment Isn't Going Well?

California's 'Green Jobs' Experiment Isn't Going Well, by Stephen Moore
WSJ, Jan 31, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was all smiles in 2006 when he signed into law the toughest anti-global-warming regulations of any state. Mr. Schwarzenegger and his green supporters boasted that the regulations would steer California into a prosperous era of green jobs, renewable energy, and technological leadership. Instead, since 2007 -- in anticipation of the new mandates -- California has led the nation in job losses.

The regulations created a cap-and-trade system, similar to proposed federal global-warming measures, by limiting the CO2 that utilities, trucking companies and other businesses can emit, and imposed steep new taxes on companies that exceed the caps. Since energy is an input in everything that's produced, this will raise the cost of production inside California's borders.

Now, as the Golden State prepares to implement this regulatory scheme, employers are howling. It's become clear to nearly everyone that the plan's backers have underestimated its negative impact and exaggerated the benefits. "We've been sold a false bill of goods," is how Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello, who has been the GOP's point man on environmental issues in the legislature, put it to me.

The environmental plan was built on the notion that imposing some $23 billion of new taxes and fees on households (through higher electricity bills) and employers will cost the economy nothing, while also reducing greenhouse gases. Almost no one believes that anymore except for the five members of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This is the state's air-quality regulator, which voted unanimously in December to stick with the cap-and-trade system despite the recession. CARB justified its go-ahead by issuing what almost all experts agree is a rigged study on the economic impact of the cap-and-trade system. The study concludes that the plan "will not only significantly reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions, but will also have a net positive effect on California's economic growth through 2020."

This finding elicited a chorus of hallelujahs from environmental groups. The state finally discovered a do-good policy that pays for itself. Californians can still scurry around in their cars, heat up their Jacuzzis, and help save the planet. But there was a problem. The CARB had commissioned five economists from around the country to critique this study. They panned it.

Harvard's Robert Stavins, chairman of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's economic advisory committee under Bill Clinton, told me that "None of us knew who the other reviewers were, but we all came up with almost the same conclusion. The report was severely flawed and systematically underestimated costs." Another reviewer, UCLA Prof. Matthew E. Kahn, a supporter of the new regulations, criticized the "free lunch" aspect of the report. "The net dollar costs of each of these regulations is likely to be much larger than is reported," he concluded. Mr. Stavins points out that if these regulations are a net boon for businesses and the economy, "why would you need to impose regulations like cap and trade?"

The Sacramento Bee, which has editorialized in support of the new regulations, was aghast at CARB's twisted science. We have to "be candid about the real costs of the transition," a cautionary editorial advised. "Energy prices will rise, and major capital investment will be needed in public transit and new transmission lines. Industries that are energy intensive will move elsewhere."

The green lobby has lectured us for years that global warming is all about the sanctity of science. Those who question the "scientific consensus" on catastrophic atmospheric changes are belittled as "deniers." Now, in assessing the costs, the greens readily cook the books and throw good science out the window. "To most of the most strident supporters of this legislation," says Mr. Niello, "the economic costs don't really matter anyway, because we are supposedly facing an environmental apocalypse."

Mr. Schwarzenegger fits into that camp. He recently declared: "I recommend very strongly that we move forward . . . . You will always have people saying this will lose jobs."

Meanwhile, the state is losing jobs, a lot of them. California's unemployment rate hit 9.3% in December, up from 4.9% in December 2006. There are now 1.5 million Californians out of work. The state has the fourth-highest housing foreclosure rate in the nation, has lost more businesses than any state in recent years, and is facing a $40 billion deficit. With cap and trade firmly in place, the economic situation is only likely to get worse.

Other states are plundering the Golden State's industries by convincing businesses to pick up stakes and move out before the cap-and-trade earthquake hits. Governors and Washington politicians who want to reduce their "carbon footprint," but are worried about the more immediate crises of cascading unemployment, unbalanced budgets, and the housing-market collapse, would be wise not to follow California's lead. Green policies have a tendency to push states into the red.

Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Conservative views on BHO's executive orders & unions

Obama pays his union dues, first installment. By Scott Johnson
PowerLine Blog, Jan 31, 2009

The New York Times reports that President Obama signed three executive orders pleasing to unions. The Times quotes Obama directly addressing the union officials at the White House ceremony: "Welcome back to the White House." The Times summarized the substance of the orders in one paragraph:

The orders Mr. Obama signed, which union officials say will undo Bush administration policies that tilted toward employers, make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage union activities. And when a federal contract changes hands, the new contractor will be required to offer jobs to workers who were employed by the earlier contractor.

And that's that, as far as the Times is concerned. It seems highly doubtful that Times reporter David Stout has bothered to read the orders or ask anyone what kind of sense they make. Interested readers will have to look elsewhere for addtional information.

The orders have been posted here by Carter Wood at the Manhattan Institute's site. Wood's Saturday morning update notes:

Judging by the metadata of one file, one of the regulations was written by the SEIU's legal counsel, or associate general counsel, Craig Becker -- although he may have gone to work for the Administration. (See this post.) Remember all those headlines from eight years ago along the lines of "White House lets business lobbyists write the law?"

What sense do these orders make? The Times frames the story as Obama taking a swipe at Bush, consistent with Obama presentation of them at the White House ceremony. Times reporter David Stout is discreetly silent about Obama's debt to organized labor. The orders are Obama's downpayment on the debt.

The orders are couched in terms of government economy. Unions are of course well known for their contribution to economic efficiency. Mickey Kaus actually took the trouble to track down the text of the order requiring a contractor to retain the old workers when a federal contract changes hands, to borrow the Times's formulation. Kaus quotes from the order:

The Federal Government's procurement interests in economy and efficiency are served when the successor contractor hires the predecessor's employees. A carryover work force reduces disruption to the delivery of services during the period of transition between contractors and provides the Federal Government the benefits of an experienced and trained work force that is familiar with the Federal Government's personnel, facilities, and requirements.

Kaus displays a bad attitude toward the order. You might say he doesn't take it at face value:

[W]hat if the contract got switched because the previous work force, you know, sucked? ... P.S.: For example, the Obama administration itself can be seen as having won a new contract to perform the same Federal services, at the same location, as the previous contractor, the Bush Administration. Did Obama keep all of Bush's employees in order to reduce "disruption" and enjoy "the benefits of an experienced and trained work force that is familiar with the Federal Governments ... facilities"? I don't think so! ...

Kaus aptly calls the orders "the labor payoff of the day." It's a point that seems to have escaped the Times.

Conservative views on Samantha Power, self-proclaimed "genocide chick"

Soft Power Comes to Washington, Part Two. By Paul Mirengoff
PowerLine blog, January 30, 2009 Posted by Paul at 11:35 PM

Samantha Power's substantive views on foreign policy, including her stridently anti-Israel positions and attitude, make her a poor choice for the senior foreign policy position President Obama has bestowed upon her. Yet there has always been reason to suspect that Obama shares many of these positions, including quite possibly her antipathy towards Israel. At a minimum, I think it's fair to say that Obama wants Power's views to be part of the discussion he hears. And as president, that's his prerogative.

But there's a second objection to Power that has nothing to do with her substantive views. Power's book tour of last March -- "The Book Tour From Hell" -- strongly suggests that she lacks the maturity, judiciousness, and seriousness to hold a senior position in the field of foreign affairs.

During the course of the tour, as I observed at the time, Power took on something of a "rock star" persona. As I also cautioned, it was difficult, at least initially, to tell whether (or to what extent) this was Power's doing. One could easily imagine that the British press was projecting this image on to Power, given her gender, physical appearance, and close relationship to the ultimate rock star, Barack Obama.

Before long, though, it became apparent that Power was, indeed, on a "rock star" trip. As I wrote:

She seemed to cultivate an "edgy" image, using the "f" word during interviews and making candid off-the-cuff negative assessments of Secretary Rice and Gordon Brown (never mind the comment about Hillary Clinton which arguably should have been kept off-the-record by the interviewer), along with vaguely offensive remarks such as "so much of [the discussion] is about: 'Is [Obama] going to be good for the Jews?'" Most telling of all, perhaps, was her self-proclaimed status as "the genocide chick."

The comment in which she expressed her disappointment with England's head of state [sic] -- "I am confused by what's happened to Gordon Brown. I thought he was impressive" -- by itself showed her to be loose cannon. And calling Hillary Clinton a "monster" was too much even for Obama at the time. If, as Obama concluded, Power was too much of an embarrassment to continue to play a role in the campaign, what sense does it make to give her a senior position in the government? Does Obama take campaigning more seriously than he takes governance? It speaks poorly of Obama that he values Power's views, and just as poorly that he deems her temperamentally suited for anything other than perhaps an informal advisor's role.

Former NASA Supervisor says Hansen ‘Embarrassed NASA’ & ‘Was Never Muzzled’

James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic
Says Hansen ‘Embarrassed NASA’ & ‘Was Never Muzzled’
House, Environment & Public Works Committee, Minority blog, Jan 27, 2009

Washington DC: NASA warming scientist James Hansen, one of former Vice President Al Gore’s closest allies in the promotion of man-made global warming fears, is being publicly rebuked by his former supervisor at NASA.

Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fears soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming climate claims and said Hansen was “was never muzzled.” Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of anthropogenic global warming fears. [See: U.S. Senate Minority Report Update: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims & See Prominent Scientist Fired By Gore Says Warming Alarm ‘Mistaken’ & Gore laments global warming efforts: 'I've failed badly' - Washington Post – November 11, 2008]

“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I was, in effect, Hansen's supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation,” Theon, the former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA Headquarters and former Chief of the Atmospheric Dynamics & Radiation Branch explained. [Note: Here are the results a Google Scholar search on Theon. - Theon's complete written correspondence to EPW reprinted at the end of this report. ]

“Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA's official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress,” Theon wrote. [Note: NASA scientist James Hansen who runs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has created worldwide media frenzy with his dire climate warnings, his call for trials against those who dissent against man-made global warming fear, and his claims that he was allegedly muzzled by the Bush administration despite doing 1,400 on-the-job media interviews - See: Don’t Panic Over Predictions of Climate Doom - Get the Facts on James Hansen & UK Guardian: NASA scientist calls for putting oil firm chiefs on trial for 'high crimes against humanity' for spreading doubt about man-made global warming – June 23, 2008 & NYT's Revkin chides Hansen for promoting sea level claims that are at upper boundary of what is 'even physically possible' (Note: Headline re: Revkin and Hansen corrected)]

Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,” he added.

“As Chief of several of NASA Headquarters’ programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research,” Theon wrote of his career. “This required a thorough understanding of the state of the science. I have kept up with climate science since retiring by reading books and journal articles,” Theon added. (LINK) Theon also co-authored the book Advances in Remote Sensing Retrieval Methods.

Hansen 'is a political activist who spreads fear'

Award-winning NASA Astronaut and Physicist Walter Cunningham of NASA’s Apollo 7 also recently chastised Hansen. “Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him,” Cunningham wrote in an essay in the July/August 2008 issue of Launch Magazine. “NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it is becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science,” Cunningham wrote.

[Note: Theon joins many current and former NASA scientists in dissenting from man-made climate fears. A small sampling includes: Aerospace engineer and physicist Dr. Michael Griffin, the former top administrator of NASA, Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology and is formerly of NASA, Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut, Award-Winning NASA Astronaut/Geologist and Moonwalker Jack Schmitt, Chemist and Nuclear Engineer Robert DeFayette was formerly with NASA’s Plum Brook Reactor, Hungarian Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Ames Research Center, Climatologist Dr. John Christy, Climatologist Dr. Roy W. Spencer, Atmospheric Scientist Ross Hays of NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility]

Gore faces a much different scientific climate in 2009 than the one he faced in 2006 when his film An Inconvenient Truth was released. According to satellite data, the Earth has cooled since Gore’s film was released, Antarctic sea ice extent has grown to record levels, sea level rise has slowed, ocean temperatures have failed to warm, and more and more scientists have publicly declared their dissent from man-made climate fears as peer-reviewed studies continue to man-made counter warming fears. [See: Peer-Reviewed Study challenges 'notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming' & New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears ]

“Vice President Gore's and the other promoters of man-made climate fears' endless claims that the 'debate is over' appear to be ignoring scientific reality,” Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee.

A U.S. Senate Minority Report released in December 2008 details over 650 international scientists who are dissenting from man-made global warming fears promoted by the UN. Many of the scientists profiled are former UN IPCC scientists and former believers in man-made climate change that have reversed their views in recent years. The report continues to grow almost daily. We have just received a request from an Italian scientist, and a Czech scientist to join the 650 dissenting scientists report. A chemist from the U.S. Naval Academy is about to be added, and more Japanese scientists are dissenting. Finally, many more meteorologists will be added and another former UN IPCC scientist is about to be included. These scientists are openly rebelling against the climate orthodoxy promoted by Gore and the UN IPCC.

The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. Reports from the conference found that Skeptical scientists overwhelmed the meeting, with '2/3 of presenters and question-askers hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' ( See full reports here & here ] In addition, a 2008 canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is “settled.” A November 25, 2008, article in Politico noted that a “growing accumulation” of science is challenging warming fears, and added that the “science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.” More evidence that the global warming fear machine is breaking down. Russian scientists “rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming”. An American Physical Society editor conceded that a “considerable presence” of scientific skeptics exists. An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”. India Issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC “be called to account and cease its deceptive practices.”

The scientists and peer-reviewed studies countering climate claims are the key reason that the U.S. public has grown ever more skeptical of man-made climate doom predictions. [See: Global warming ranks dead last, 20 out of 20 in new Pew survey. Pew Survey: & Survey finds majority of U.S. Voters - '51% — now believe that humans are not the predominant cause of climate change' - January 20, 2009 - Rasmussen Reports ]

The chorus of skeptical scientific voices grow louder in 2008 as a steady stream of peer-reviewed studies, analyses, real world data and inconvenient developments challenged the UN’s and former Vice President Al Gore's claims that the "science is settled" and there is a "consensus."

On a range of issues, 2008 proved to be challenging for the promoters of man-made climate fears. Promoters of anthropogenic warming fears endured the following: Global temperatures failing to warm; Peer-reviewed studies predicting a continued lack of warming; a failed attempt to revive the discredited “Hockey Stick”; inconvenient developments and studies regarding rising CO2; the Spotless Sun; Clouds; Antarctica; the Arctic; Greenland’s ice; Mount Kilimanjaro; Global sea ice; Causes of Hurricanes; Extreme Storms; Extinctions; Floods; Droughts; Ocean Acidification; Polar Bears; Extreme weather deaths; Frogs; lack of atmospheric dust; Malaria; the failure of oceans to warm and rise as predicted.

You can check Theon’s complete written correspondence to EPW here.

BHO: weekly address

Moving forward
White House blog, Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 4:45 am

In the weekly address, President Barack Obama addressed the latest economic news and urged the passing of an America Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

He also announced that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is preparing a new strategy for reviving our financial system -- which will not only ensure that CEOs aren't abusing taxpayer dollars, but also get credit flowing and lower mortgage costs.

Watch the address and read the full text below.

Address to the nation

This morning I'd like to talk about some good news and some bad news as we confront our economic crisis.

The bad news is well known to Americans across our country as we continue to struggle through unprecedented economic turmoil. Yesterday we learned that our economy shrank by nearly 4 percent from October through December. That decline was the largest in over a quarter century, and it underscores the seriousness of the economic crisis that my administration found when we took office.

Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Make no mistake, these are not just numbers. Behind every statistic there's a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can't afford care. Students can't keep pace with tuition. And workers don't know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.

The good news is that we are moving forward with a sense of urgency equal to the challenge. This week the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next few years. It puts a tax cut into the pockets of working families, and places a down payment on America's future by investing in energy independence and education, affordable health care, and American infrastructure.

Now this recovery plan moves to the Senate. I will continue working with both parties so that the strongest possible bill gets to my desk. With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and partisan posturing in Washington. It's time to move in a new direction.

Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months. But they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action, and our economy continues to slide. That's why I am calling on the Senate to pass this plan, so that we can put people back to work and begin the long, hard work of lifting our economy out of this crisis. No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy. So just as we jumpstart job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing, and families can stay in their homes.

Last year Congress passed a plan to rescue the financial system. While the package helped avoid a financial collapse, many are frustrated by the results -- and rightfully so. Too often taxpayer dollars have been spent without transparency or accountability. Banks have been extended a hand, but homeowners, students, and small businesses that need loans have been left to fend on their own.

And adding to this outrage, we learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008. While I'm committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street.

Soon my Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system that gets credit flowing to businesses and families. We'll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs. We'll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery. And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability -- so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.

Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis. But the strength of the American people compels us to come together. The road ahead will be long, but I promise you that every day that I go to work in the Oval Office I carry with me your stories, and my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams. You are calling for action. Now is the time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities.