Supremes Asked to Rule on EPA Energy Authorities

wrecking_ball_destroyEPABackground from Reed Smith lawyers The fall of Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the strengthened EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The Affordable Clean Energy Rule

The EPA promulgated the ACE Rule in 2019 under the CAA, replacing the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP). Both rules sought to reduce GHG emissions from the power sector; but where the CPP implemented broader industry-wide mechanisms, the ACE Rule limited reduction efforts to the actual source power plants.

The 2015 CPP offered “beyond the fenceline” tools for states to reduce emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and participating in emissions credit-trading programs; however, in February 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the CPP pending litigation in the D.C. Circuit. During the stay and subsequent freeze of litigation, the Trump administration rescinded the CPP and promulgated the ACE Rule.

In promulgating the ACE Rule, the Trump EPA took an alternative view of the CAA than the Obama EPA and reasoned that the CAA expressly limited the EPA’s power to only “at the source” emissions reduction options, such as heat rate improvement technologies. As a result, the Trump administration removed all of the CPP’s “beyond the fenceline” options and limited emissions restrictions to those applied directly to power plants.

DC Circuit Court of Appeal Ruling January 19, 2021

Judges Millett and Pillard of the D.C. Circuit Court disagreed with the (Trump) EPA’s interpretation. In the majority opinion, the Court concluded that there is “no bases—grammatical, contextual, or otherwise—for the EPA’s assertion” that its authority was limited to “at the source” controls. In the end, the Court vacated the ACE Rule and remanded it back to the EPA just in time for the Biden administration to take over.  The Court’s decision appears to clear the way for the Biden administration to regulate GHG emissions from the power sector.

In his first week in office, President Biden has taken a number of actions to undo many of the Trump administration’s environmental policy decisions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. The new Biden EPA has also requested that the Department of Justice have all Trump-era litigation seeking judicial review of any EPA regulation promulgated between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021. Based on the Court’s show of support and the Biden Administration’s actions within the first week, we may see some of the Obama-era or similar regulation brought back to life in the coming months.

Petitions to Supreme Court April 29 and 30, 2021

The May Update at Columbia Climate Law Blog reports the latest development bringing the issue to Supreme Court attention:  States and Coal Company Sought Review of D.C. Circuit Decision Vacating Affordable Clean Energy Rule  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Two petitions for writ of certiorari were filed in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the D.C. Circuit’s January opinion vacating EPA’s repeal and replacement of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan regulations for controlling carbon emissions from existing power plants. The first petition was filed by West Virginia and 18 other states that had intervened to defend the repeal and replacement rule, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule. The states’ petition presented the question of whether Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act constitutionally authorizes EPA “to issue significant rules—including those capable of reshaping the nation’s electricity grids and unilaterally decarbonizing virtually any sector of the economy—without any limits on what the agency can require so long as it considers cost, nonair impacts, and energy requirements.” They argued that Congress had not clearly authorized EPA to exercise such “expansive” powers and that the D.C. Circuit majority opinion’s interpretation was foreclosed by the statute and violated separation of powers. The states argued that the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan while it was under review by the D.C. Circuit in 2016 signaled that the legal framework for the Clean Power Plan “hinges on important issues of federal that EPA then—and the court below now—got so wrong this Court was likely to grant review.” The states contended that further delay in the Court’s resolution of these “weighty issues” would have “serious and far-reaching costs.”

The second petition was filed by a coal mining company. The coal company’s petition presented the question of whether Section 111(d) “grants the EPA authority not only to impose standards based on technology and methods that can be applied at and achieved by that existing source, but also allows the agency to develop industry-wide systems like cap-and-trade regimes.” The company argued that the D.C. Circuit erred by “untethering” Section 111(d) standards from the existing source being regulated. Like the states, the company contended that Supreme Court had already recognized the critical importance of this question when it stayed the Clean Power Plan.

The company argued that debates regarding climate change and policies to address climate change “will not be resolved anytime soon” but that “what must be resolved as soon as possible is who has the authority to decide those issues on an industry-wide scale—Congress or the EPA.”

EPA’s response to the petitions is due June 3, 2021. West Virginia v. EPA, No. 20-1530 (U.S. Apr. 29, 2021); North American Coal Corp. v. EPA, No. 20-1531 (U.S. Apr. 30, 2021).

Comment:  The question of decision authority seems especially urgent since no one knows who is the actual decider for the Executive Branch.

 

Biden’s Bogus Climate Report

scc-working-group

The latest criticism comes from James Broughel writing at Real Clear Politics Biden’s Climate Report Is Based on Personal Values, Not Science. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Late last month, the Biden administration quietly released an update of the government’s “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimate, a metric used to value the benefits of global warming policies, especially regulations. The update hasn’t received much attention yet, but it will be important in justifying the administration’s climate agenda in the months ahead.

There are numerous shortcomings with the Biden team’s calculations. Some may be due to the report being rushed, but others reflect misunderstanding of economic principles, and, more simply, poor judgment.

Biden’s People Get the Units Wrong

First, numerous tables in the document released by the administration are mislabeled. The interagency working group that produced the update claims its primary estimate of the SCC is 51 dollars per ton. But the models the working group uses calculate the figure in terms of social welfare — not dollars. Thus, 51 is a measure of the amount that the current generation’s “welfare” is reduced by carbon pollution. Even assuming that number is credible (and measuring welfare is no easy task), the administration doesn’t get the units right.,

This is a big deal because the numbers in the new report shouldn’t be used in cost-benefit analysis unless further adjustments are made. Cost-benefit analysis is supposed to measure impacts in dollars, not the Biden administration’s social welfare units. So any analysis that tries to compare these numbers to financial costs will be nonsensical. These problems with units extend to estimates of the social cost of methane and of nitrous oxide, which also appear in last month’s report.

Misleading Social Discount Rate

There are other misleading parts of the document. For example, there is extensive discussion about the correct “social discount rate” to use in cost-benefit analysis. The social discount rate describes how much less a future benefit from a policy should count relative to a present benefit. For example, many economists generally assume a life saved in 100 years is far less valuable than a life saved today — which is, of course, controversial and has implications beyond economics.

The report makes a number of dubious claims about the social discount rate, but here are just a few worth highlighting.

First, Biden’s team argues that risk-free market interest rates have declined in recent years, and that this provides a basis for using a lower social discount rate. However, claims like this reflect a misunderstanding of the discounting concept.

The decision of how much to weight future health, wellbeing, and lives saved is an ethical choice. One cannot find the correct social discount rate by opening up the Wall Street Journal and turning to the page on interest rates. Ultimately, we need some philosophical compass to guide our choice. Yes, one could choose to base an ethical decision on market criteria, but one could just as easily choose an alternative paradigm, like introspection. Nor should this issue be conflated with the rate of return on capital, which is a separate issue that is sometimes confused with social discounting.

In fact, it would be just as legitimate to pick any plausible number out of a hat (you might laugh, but some approaches do draw a discount rate from a distribution of rates based on surveys of economists). Whatever method is chosen, the choice of the social discount rate is inevitably a value judgment.

Similarly, the report tries to justify lower discount rates in the future by pointing to “Ramsey discounting,” a method named after the early 20th century mathematician Frank Ramsey. Under this approach, analysts assume a benevolent dictator — a proxy for our whole generation’s social welfare — centrally plans the economy. Economists have concocted various mathematical schemes to estimate how the dictator discounts the future.

Again, because the choice is an ethical one, there is no particular reason to believe this Ramsey discounting approach is wrong. But there’s no reason to believe it’s right, either.

Personal Preferences, Not Science

The problem with the government’s report is that it presents these various approaches as somehow scientific. In fact, they conceal what is fundamentally a question about values and make it appear as though the answer can come from technical measurement.

Perhaps most concerning is that the administration is already violating its own principles of social justice. In a memo signed by President Biden on his first day in office, he identified promoting the interests of future generations as a top priority, which is a noble goal, to be sure.

But the SCC is calculated using a version of the Ramsey model. In it, the present generation functions as the dictator whose welfare is measured, while the welfare of future generations counts for basically nothing. Present citizens may display some empathy for future generations — for example, the administration’s climate policy is probably motivated by their concern for the future — but the analysis doesn’t consider the welfare of future generations in a direct way.

The new social cost of carbon report comes across like an attempt by experts to ram through a political agenda, while trying to pass off their efforts as scientific. But the public should not be fooled. What’s behind the updated numbers is the administration’s personal values, for better or worse, not science.

Background from Previous Post Biden’s Arbitrary Social Cost of Carbon: What You Need to Know

The news on Friday was Biden signing another order, this one restoring the so-called “Social Cost of Carbon” to Obama’s $51 a ton, along with threats to raise it up to $125 a ton.  The whole notion is an exercise in imagination for the sake of adding regulatory costs to everything involving energy,  that is to everything.  A background post below describes the history of how this ruse started and the manipulations and arbitrary assumptions to gin up a number high enough to hobble the economy.

Background from 2018 post: US House Votes Down Social Cost of Carbon

The House GOP on Friday took a step forward in reining in the Obama administration’s method of assessing the cost of carbon dioxide pollution when developing regulations.

The House voted 212-201, along party lines, to include a rider blocking the use of the climate change cost metric to an energy and water spending bill.

The amendment offered by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert bars any and all funds from being used under the bill to “prepare, propose, or promulgate any regulation that relies on the Social Carbon analysis” devised under the Obama administration on how to value the cost of carbon. (Source Washington Examiner, here)

To clarify: the amendment in question defunds any regulation or guidance from the federal government concerning the social costs of carbon.

Background: 
The Obama administration created and increased its estimates of the “Social Cost of Carbon,” invented by Michael Greenstone, who commented on the EPA Proposed Repeal of CO2 emissions regulations.  A Washington Post article, October 11, 2017, included this:

“My read is that the political decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan was made and then they did whatever was necessary to make the numbers work,” added Michael Greenstone, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who worked on climate policy during the Obama years.

Activists are frightened about the Clean Power Plan under serious attack along three lines:
1. No federal law governs CO2 emissions.
2. EPA regulates sites, not the Energy Sector.
3. CPP costs are huge, while benefits are marginal.

Complete discussion at CPP has Three Fatal Flaws.

Read below how Greenstone and a colleague did exactly what he now complains about.

Social Cost of Carbon: Origins and Prospects

The Obama administration has been fighting climate change with a rogue wave of regulations whose legality comes from a very small base: The Social Cost of Carbon.

The purpose of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimates presented here is to allow agencies to incorporate the social benefits of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into cost-benefit analyses of regulatory actions that impact cumulative global emissions. The SCC is an estimate of the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions in a given year. It is intended to include (but is not limited to) changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services due to climate change. From the Technical Support Document: -Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis -Under Executive Order 12866

A recent Bloomberg article informs on how the SCC notion was invented, its importance and how it might change under the Trump administration.
How Climate Rules Might Fade Away; Obama used an arcane number to craft his regulations. Trump could use it to undo them. (here). Excerpts below with my bolds.

In February 2009, a month after Barack Obama took office, two academics sat across from each other in the White House mess hall. Over a club sandwich, Michael Greenstone, a White House economist, and Cass Sunstein, Obama’s top regulatory officer, decided that the executive branch needed to figure out how to estimate the economic damage from climate change. With the recession in full swing, they were rightly skeptical about the chances that Congress would pass a nationwide cap-and-trade bill. Greenstone and Sunstein knew they needed a Plan B: a way to regulate carbon emissions without going through Congress.

Over the next year, a team of economists, scientists, and lawyers from across the federal government convened to come up with a dollar amount for the economic cost of carbon emissions. Whatever value they hit upon would be used to determine the scope of regulations aimed at reducing the damage from climate change. The bigger the estimate, the more costly the rules meant to address it could be. After a year of modeling different scenarios, the team came up with a central estimate of $21 per metric ton, which is to say that by their calculations, every ton of carbon emitted into the atmosphere imposed $21 of economic cost. It has since been raised to around $40 a ton.

Trump can’t undo the SCC by fiat. There is established case law requiring the government to account for the impact of carbon, and if he just repealed it, environmentalists would almost certainly sue.

There are other ways for Trump to undercut the SCC. By tweaking some of the assumptions and calculations that are baked into its model, the Trump administration could pretty much render it irrelevant, or even skew it to the point that carbon emissions come out as a benefit instead of a cost.

The SCC models rely on a “discount rate” to state the harm from global warming in today’s dollars. The higher the discount rate, the lower the estimate of harm. That’s because the costs incurred by burning carbon lie mostly in the distant future, while the benefits (heat, electricity, etc.) are enjoyed today. A high discount rate shrinks the estimates of future costs but doesn’t affect present-day benefits. The team put together by Greenstone and Sunstein used a discount rate of 3 percent to come up with its central estimate of $21 a ton for damage inflicted by carbon. But changing that discount just slightly produces big swings in the overall cost of carbon, turning a number that’s pushing broad changes in everything from appliances to coal leasing decisions into one that would have little or no impact on policy.

According to a 2013 government update on the SCC, by applying a discount rate of 5 percent, the cost of carbon in 2020 comes out to $12 a ton; using a 2.5 percent rate, it’s $65. A 7 percent discount rate, which has been used by the EPA for other regulatory analysis, could actually lead to a negative carbon cost, which would seem to imply that carbon emissions are beneficial. “Once you start to dig into how the numbers are constructed, I cannot fathom how anyone could think it has any basis in reality,” says Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the American Energy Alliance and a member of the Trump transition team focusing on the Energy Department.

David Kreutzer, a senior research fellow in energy economics and climate change at Heritage and a member of Trump’s EPA transition team, laid out one of the primary arguments against the SCC. “Believe it or not, these models look out to the year 2300. That’s like effectively asking, ‘If you turn your light switch on today, how much damage will that do in 2300?’ That’s way beyond when any macroeconomic model can be trusted.”

Another issue for those who question the Obama administration’s SCC: It estimates the global costs and benefits of carbon emissions, rather than just focusing on the impact to the U.S. Critics argue that this pushes the cost of carbon much higher and that the calculation should instead be limited to the U.S.; that would lower the cost by more than 70 percent, says the CEI’s Mario Lewis.

Still, by narrowing the calculation to the U.S., Trump could certainly produce a lower cost of carbon. Asked in an e-mail whether the new administration would raise the discount rate or narrow the scope of the SCC to the U.S., one person shaping Trump energy and environmental policy replied, “What prevents us from doing both?”

See Also:

Six Reasons to Rescind Social Cost of Carbon

SBC: Social Benefits of Carbon

drain-the-swamp

Biden’s Arbitrary Social Cost of Carbon: What You Need to Know

The news on Friday was Biden signing another order, this one restoring the so-called “Social Cost of Carbon” to Obama’s $51 a ton, along with threats to raise it up to $125 a ton.  The whole notion is an exercise in imagination for the sake of adding regulatory costs to everything involving energy,  that is to everything.  A background post below describes the history of how this ruse started and the manipulations and arbitrary assumptions to gin up a number high enough to hobble the economy.

Background from 2018 post: US House Votes Down Social Cost of Carbon

The House GOP on Friday took a step forward in reining in the Obama administration’s method of assessing the cost of carbon dioxide pollution when developing regulations.

The House voted 212-201, along party lines, to include a rider blocking the use of the climate change cost metric to an energy and water spending bill.

The amendment offered by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert bars any and all funds from being used under the bill to “prepare, propose, or promulgate any regulation that relies on the Social Carbon analysis” devised under the Obama administration on how to value the cost of carbon. (Source Washington Examiner, here)

To clarify: the amendment in question defunds any regulation or guidance from the federal government concerning the social costs of carbon.

Background: 
The Obama administration created and increased its estimates of the “Social Cost of Carbon,” invented by Michael Greenstone, who commented on the EPA Proposed Repeal of CO2 emissions regulations.  A Washington Post article, October 11, 2017, included this:

“My read is that the political decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan was made and then they did whatever was necessary to make the numbers work,” added Michael Greenstone, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who worked on climate policy during the Obama years.

Activists are frightened about the Clean Power Plan under serious attack along three lines:
1. No federal law governs CO2 emissions.
2. EPA regulates sites, not the Energy Sector.
3. CPP costs are huge, while benefits are marginal.

Complete discussion at CPP has Three Fatal Flaws.

Read below how Greenstone and a colleague did exactly what he now complains about.

Social Cost of Carbon: Origins and Prospects

The Obama administration has been fighting climate change with a rogue wave of regulations whose legality comes from a very small base: The Social Cost of Carbon.

The purpose of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimates presented here is to allow agencies to incorporate the social benefits of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into cost-benefit analyses of regulatory actions that impact cumulative global emissions. The SCC is an estimate of the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions in a given year. It is intended to include (but is not limited to) changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services due to climate change. From the Technical Support Document: -Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis -Under Executive Order 12866

A recent Bloomberg article informs on how the SCC notion was invented, its importance and how it might change under the Trump administration.
How Climate Rules Might Fade Away; Obama used an arcane number to craft his regulations. Trump could use it to undo them. (here). Excerpts below with my bolds.

scc-working-group

In February 2009, a month after Barack Obama took office, two academics sat across from each other in the White House mess hall. Over a club sandwich, Michael Greenstone, a White House economist, and Cass Sunstein, Obama’s top regulatory officer, decided that the executive branch needed to figure out how to estimate the economic damage from climate change. With the recession in full swing, they were rightly skeptical about the chances that Congress would pass a nationwide cap-and-trade bill. Greenstone and Sunstein knew they needed a Plan B: a way to regulate carbon emissions without going through Congress.

Over the next year, a team of economists, scientists, and lawyers from across the federal government convened to come up with a dollar amount for the economic cost of carbon emissions. Whatever value they hit upon would be used to determine the scope of regulations aimed at reducing the damage from climate change. The bigger the estimate, the more costly the rules meant to address it could be. After a year of modeling different scenarios, the team came up with a central estimate of $21 per metric ton, which is to say that by their calculations, every ton of carbon emitted into the atmosphere imposed $21 of economic cost. It has since been raised to around $40 a ton.

Trump can’t undo the SCC by fiat. There is established case law requiring the government to account for the impact of carbon, and if he just repealed it, environmentalists would almost certainly sue.

There are other ways for Trump to undercut the SCC. By tweaking some of the assumptions and calculations that are baked into its model, the Trump administration could pretty much render it irrelevant, or even skew it to the point that carbon emissions come out as a benefit instead of a cost.

The SCC models rely on a “discount rate” to state the harm from global warming in today’s dollars. The higher the discount rate, the lower the estimate of harm. That’s because the costs incurred by burning carbon lie mostly in the distant future, while the benefits (heat, electricity, etc.) are enjoyed today. A high discount rate shrinks the estimates of future costs but doesn’t affect present-day benefits. The team put together by Greenstone and Sunstein used a discount rate of 3 percent to come up with its central estimate of $21 a ton for damage inflicted by carbon. But changing that discount just slightly produces big swings in the overall cost of carbon, turning a number that’s pushing broad changes in everything from appliances to coal leasing decisions into one that would have little or no impact on policy.

According to a 2013 government update on the SCC, by applying a discount rate of 5 percent, the cost of carbon in 2020 comes out to $12 a ton; using a 2.5 percent rate, it’s $65. A 7 percent discount rate, which has been used by the EPA for other regulatory analysis, could actually lead to a negative carbon cost, which would seem to imply that carbon emissions are beneficial. “Once you start to dig into how the numbers are constructed, I cannot fathom how anyone could think it has any basis in reality,” says Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the American Energy Alliance and a member of the Trump transition team focusing on the Energy Department.

David Kreutzer, a senior research fellow in energy economics and climate change at Heritage and a member of Trump’s EPA transition team, laid out one of the primary arguments against the SCC. “Believe it or not, these models look out to the year 2300. That’s like effectively asking, ‘If you turn your light switch on today, how much damage will that do in 2300?’ That’s way beyond when any macroeconomic model can be trusted.”

Another issue for those who question the Obama administration’s SCC: It estimates the global costs and benefits of carbon emissions, rather than just focusing on the impact to the U.S. Critics argue that this pushes the cost of carbon much higher and that the calculation should instead be limited to the U.S.; that would lower the cost by more than 70 percent, says the CEI’s Mario Lewis.

Still, by narrowing the calculation to the U.S., Trump could certainly produce a lower cost of carbon. Asked in an e-mail whether the new administration would raise the discount rate or narrow the scope of the SCC to the U.S., one person shaping Trump energy and environmental policy replied, “What prevents us from doing both?”

See Also:

Six Reasons to Rescind Social Cost of Carbon

SBC: Social Benefits of Carbon

drain-the-swamp

Biden’s Bizarre Climate Charade

David Krayden explains in his Human Events article Joe Biden Thinks He’s Tackling Climate Change, but He’s Really Sacking the U.S. Economy.  Excerpt in italics with my bolds and images.

The Paris Accords and cancelling Keystone is just the beginning of life under the new climate regime.

President Biden’s vision is to “lead a clean energy revolution” that will free the United States from the “pollution” of carbon dioxide by 2035 and have “net-zero emissions” by 2050.

Of course, the President himself will likely not be around to see if the United States achieves either target, even if his insane plan survives successive administration. Instead, he sits in his chair like a languorous old man assiduously reading his speaking notes from his desk, looking like he is under house arrest. Still, he is governing—or at least, appearing to do so—by executive order, and the sheer mass of those dictates is not just staggering but terrifying.

The new President had barely warmed his Oval Office seat when he announced that the U.S. would return to the Paris climate accord—a job-destroying bit of global authoritarianism that is not worth the diplomatic paper it is printed on, let alone the lavish parties staged while it was being negotiated. Then, he quickly produced an executive order to cancel the XL pipeline. With the flash of another one of those pens that Biden runs through on a daily basis, he canceled 10,000 jobs in the U.S., along with another 3,000 in Canada. And this in the midst of a pandemic that even Biden has called our “dark winter!” Even uber-environmentalist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports the XL pipeline, and promptly said so.

Has President Biden discovered the miracle fuel that is going to make petroleum obsolescent and put the oil industry out of business—even before his administration decides to do it for them? Is that what he was up to during all those months when he cowered in his basement instead of campaigning for the presidency? Clearly, the Biden administration has not thought this through beyond the talking points.

Whether the President chooses to acknowledge it or not, oil will continue to be the principal source of energy for American consumers for quite some time to come—at least until perpetual motion is discovered. That oil that the XL pipeline was supposed to transport from America’s closest ally—Canada—will now have to be brought in by rail, a potentially more dangerous and far less environmentally friendly method than a pipeline.

Fossil fuels remain the overwhelming source of all of America’s energy needs: petroleum and natural gas account for 69% of energy usage, coal 11%, and nuclear power 8%. Renewable energy accounts for 11%, and that includes the wood you burn in the fireplace or woodstove every winter. Solar and wind power account for only a fraction of that 11%.

So clearly, with all his activist policy around climate change, President Biden has America on track for a return trip to the Middle Ages.

And like they did in the Middle Ages, the President expects Americans to have blind faith in the climate change priests who will be integral to his administration. If you don’t think the climate change movement is a religion or at least a passable cult, just listen to how its adherents talk about environmental policy. When Democrats were trying to convince us that the California wildfires were somehow the result of climate change, and not just bad forestry management, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sounding more like a pagan devotee than the good Catholic she claims to be, exploded: “Mother earth is angry, she is telling us. Whether she’s telling us with hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, fires in the West, whatever it is, the climate crisis is real.”

So if climate change is the culprit for every Act of God, will President Biden’s plan for Americans to live in caves and shut off the heat actually work? Not without China’s cooperation, where 29% of greenhouse gasses are emitted. Without addressing that reality, we’ll continue to spend untold trillions, lose the energy independence that we gained under former President Donald Trump, and sit in the dark, while China continues to play by its own rules—just as it has throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

What is so undemocratic about President Biden’s climate change plan is that it has been served up as an executive order, without debate, and without Congressional approval. What is so ominous about it is not its specificity—which sounds relatively harmless—but its vagueness and political potential. It’s a veritable environmental Enabling Act that can be used to justify any economic dictate, any security violation, or any foreign policy entanglement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) publicity advised Biden to “call a climate emergency … He can do many, many things under the emergency powers… that he could do without legislation.”

Even the President’s promise to replace the federal government’s gas-operating vehicles with electrical-powered versions is contained in another executive order to “buy American.”

The Biden administration is lying about the economic opportunities embedded in green energy, and its decision to “tackle” climate change is a blatant attempt to appease the left-wing Democrats who see Biden as their puppet. In the process, as he is doing with so many of these executive orders,

President Biden is destroying the American economy and naively trusting that brutal dictatorships like China will surrender before a bourgeois fetish like a greenhouse gas reduction target.

So much will be lost for nothing except America’s further prostration to China.

Biden’s Hostile Takeover Triggers Poison Pills

Poison Pill is a defensive mechanism technique prevalent in the corporate world to thwart a hostile takeover. It is a strategy used by the Target Company to avoid the hostile takeovers completely or at least slow down the acquiring process.(Source: financemanagement.com)

Rupert Darwall explains the traps and pitfalls in the way of the Biden agenda in his Epoch Times article Fettering Biden’s Administrative State.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Trump-era rules will constrain the new president’s activism

The administrative state will get a new lease on life under President Joe Biden, but America’s administrative state is far more constrained than that of many other countries. Britain, for example, wrote its net-zero climate target into law after only a 90-minute debate in the House of Commons, without any examination of what the cost might be. Arguably the European Union is an administrative state, where the unelected European Commission proposes legislation, enforces it, and even levies billion-euro fines on companies without so much as a court hearing.

By contrast, executive-agency rulemaking in the United States is more circumscribed. Agencies must show cause, respect precedent, and demonstrate that their rulemaking is properly grounded in the relevant statute and in a factual record sufficiently compelling to refute any suggestion that their action was “arbitrary or capricious.” They should expect controversial rules to be able to withstand challenges in the courts.

In 2016, the Supreme Court stayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan promulgated by the Obama administration to decarbonize the electrical grid. On the last full day of the Trump administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated the Obama plan’s successor, the Affordable Clean Energy plan, in a 2-1 opinion. The majority ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act had been too narrow; the dissenting judge—a Trump appointee—opined that both plans relied erroneously on the wrong provision of the Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. These rulings illustrate just how difficult the EPA will find crafting a new rule to fulfill Biden’s promise to decarbonize the grid by 2035.[See post: Latest Court Ruling re EPA and CO2]

The new administration is constrained not only by the courts but also by the late-term rulemaking of its predecessor. It could use the 1996 Congressional Review Act to nullify recently finalized federal regulations with a simple majority vote in each house of Congress. But Republicans can inflict a political price. Last October, the Department of Labor finalized a financial factors rule. It requires managers of corporate pension plans to justify incorporation of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors solely on the grounds of boosting risk-adjusted investment returns by reference to generally accepted investment theories.

Wall Street hated it when the rule was first proposed, but all it does is operationalize the requirement of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 that plan managers perform their duties for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to plan beneficiaries and defraying reasonable plan expenses. In reality, opponents of the rule oppose the exclusivity hardwired into ERISA that pension savings be invested with “eye single” to the interests of plan beneficiaries. A vote to nullify the rule would be a vote in favor of socializing retirees’ savings and deploy them for wider societal ends. For Republicans, it would be a debate worth having.

Similarly, congressional Republicans can gain politically by taking a stand opposing nullification of the EPA’s Jan. 3, 2021 transparency-in-science rule. This rule broadens and strengthens the agency’s 2018 transparency rule and aims to ensure that regulatory decisions are taken on the basis of robust, verifiable scientific studies. Polling shows that voters are more motivated to support environmental regulations when presented as protecting public health. This creates a market for studies linking pollution to public-health harms, however flimsy they might be. Environmental regulations mandating national standards on ozone and PM2.5 targeting fossil-fuel combustion are often based on epidemiological studies drawing on undisclosed data that can’t be re-analyzed to check for errors and sensitivity to assumptions.

A justification often made for this anti-scientific practice is safeguarding patient anonymity in such studies, lsomething for which the new rule provides. Covering up is never a good look, however, and the spectacle of the self-proclaimed party of science arguing for secret science and against transparency would demonstrate how deeply politicized the science used to justify environmental regulation has become.

The Trump administration left the best till last. With just one week to go, on Jan. 13, the Federal Register published an EPA regulation that quickly became known as the banana peel rule. Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act states that the EPA Administrator shall include a category of sources that “causes, or contributes significantly” to pollution anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. The new rule defines the level deemed “significant.” At the rule’s chosen level of 3 percent of U.S. stationary-source greenhouse-gas emissions, the only category deemed significant is electrical power generation—a category that accounts for 43 percent of such emissions.

Should the Biden administration ditch the 3 percent threshold and use the Clean Air Act to enmesh more sectors in greenhouse-gas targets, it will be compelled to develop an objective rationale for doing so. This is far from straightforward, hence the “banana peel” epithet. As the Trump rule notes, greenhouse gases “do not have the local, near-term ramifications found with other pollutants;” their impact is based on “cumulative global loading.” Directly or by inference, significance must therefore be linked to global emissions (U.S. power station emissions account for 3.6 percent of global emissions) and how effectively they are regulated at a global level. It would be irrational to regulate domestic emissions if there were little prospect of global emissions falling, too.

As the Obama administration realized after the collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, when China—along with India, South Africa, and Brazil—vetoed a global climate treaty, Beijing holds the key to a credible global greenhouse-gas regime. The 2014 U.S.-China climate accord negotiated by Presidents Obama and Xi paved the way for the Paris Agreement on climate the following year. Xi’s statement at the U.N. last September that China would aim for “carbon neutrality” before 2060 is widely seen as a climate gamechanger.

Writing in a January 2021 Foreign Policy essay, Ted Nordhaus and Seaver Wang argue that China’s climate diplomacy is part of a bigger geopolitical play—Beijing’s desire to “counterbalance rising Western concerns about China’s belligerent posture in the South China Sea, its saber-rattling toward Taiwan, its human-rights crackdown in Hong Kong, its genocidal assault on the Uyghur minority in northwestern China, and much more.” It would be naïve not to recognize the geostrategic and political trade-offs in elevating China as climate savior. In a break with the routine formulation of climate change as existential threat trumping all else, Nordhaus and Wang warn that “a world that succeeds in addressing climate change will not necessarily be a more equitable, inclusive, or humane one.”

On his last full day as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo declared China’s persecution of the Uyghurs a crime against humanity. His successor agrees. During his confirmation hearing, Tony Blinken said that he supported Pompeo’s genocide finding, and that China poses “the most significant challenge” of any nation-state to the United States. China is playing for higher stakes than the climate. This reality confronts the new administration with its greatest dilemma: “saving the planet” requires appeasing Beijing. How the dilemma is resolved could well come to define Joe Biden’s presidency.

Biden’s Unique Commemorative Coin

Update January 20: A unique commemorative coin for the new leader of the free world

Background from previous post Biden’s Damaging Climate Plans

President-elect Joe Biden looks to have the US rejoin the Paris Accords. AP

Bjorn Lomborg explains in his NY Post article Joe Biden’s climate-change plans will burn billions, won’t bring change we actually need.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and some images added.

Joe Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement soon after being inaugurated as president of the United States. Climate change, according to Biden, is “an existential threat” to the nation, and to combat it, he proposes to spend $500 billion each year on climate policies — the equivalent of $1,500 per person.

Let’s get real. Climate is a man-made problem. But Biden’s climate alarmism is almost entirely wrong. Asking people to spend $1,500 every year is unsustainable when surveys show a majority is unwilling to spend even $24 per year on climate. And policies like Paris will fix little at a high cost. Biden is right to highlight the problem, but he needs a smarter way forward.

The climate alarm is poorly founded.

Take hurricanes. Last year, you undoubtedly heard that climate change made hurricanes “record-setting.” Actually, 2020 was above average in the North Atlantic partly because of the natural La Niña phenomenon, and only record-setting in that satellites could spot more storms.

When measured by total hurricane-damage potential, the 2020 North Atlantic was not even in the top 10. And almost everywhere else on the planet, hurricanes were far below average. Globally, 2020 ranked as one of the weakest hurricane years in the 40-year satellite record.

We think 2020 was big on hurricanes because we read carefully curated stories about where and when they hit, but we don’t see stories about the many more places where they don’t hit.

The UN Climate Panel, the gold standard of climate science, tells us that the total impact of climate change in the 2070s will be equivalent to an average income reduction of 0.2 to 2 percent. Which means that humans as a whole will be only a fraction less prosperous in a much richer world than they would be without climate change.

Rejoining the Paris agreement will solve very little at a high cost. By the UN’s estimates, if all ­nations live up to all their promises, they will reduce global temperature by less than 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

And Paris is costly, because it forces economies to use less or more expensive energy. Across many studies, the drag to the economies is estimated at between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in lost GDP every year after 2030.

Yes, green spending will predictably increase green jobs. But because subsidies will be paid by higher taxes on the rest of the economy, an equal number of jobs will disappear elsewhere.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson excitedly talks about 5 million new green jobs, while his advisers now warn him that 10 million other jobs could be at risk.

For Americans, President Barack Obama’s Paris promises carried a price tag of nearly $200 billion a year. But Biden has vowed to go much further, with a promise of net-zero by 2050. There is only one nation that has done an independent cost estimate of net-zero, namely New Zealand. The Kiwis found the average best-case cost is 16 percent of GDP, or a US cost of more than $5 trillion a year by mid-century.

These figures are unsustainable. Moreover, the US and other developed countries can achieve very little on their own. Imagine if Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries stopped all their emissions today and never bounced back. This would be utterly devastating economically yet would reduce global warming by the end of the century by less than 0.8 degrees.

That’s because three-quarters of this century’s emissions will come from the rest of the world, especially China, India, Africa and Latin America. Developing nations are unlikely to accept slower economic growth to address a 2 percent problem 50 years from now.

There is a smarter way: investing a lot more in green-energy ­research and development. As Bill Gates says, “We’re short about two dozen great innovations” to fix climate. If we could innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels, everyone would switch, eventually fixing climate change.

The policies would be cheaper and much more likely to be implemented. Fortunately, R&D is one of Biden’s promises, and he will have a much easier time with Congress if he makes it his focus.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. His new book is “False Alarm.”

Joe Biden’s climate agenda is all about creating a crisis — not actually fixing one

Biden’s Damaging Climate Plans

President-elect Joe Biden looks to have the US rejoin the Paris Accords. AP

Update January 20: A unique commemorative coin for the new leader of the free world

Bjorn Lomborg explains in his NY Post article Joe Biden’s climate-change plans will burn billions, won’t bring change we actually need.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and some images added.

Joe Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement soon after being inaugurated as president of the United States. Climate change, according to Biden, is “an existential threat” to the nation, and to combat it, he proposes to spend $500 billion each year on climate policies — the equivalent of $1,500 per person.

Let’s get real. Climate is a man-made problem. But Biden’s climate alarmism is almost entirely wrong. Asking people to spend $1,500 every year is unsustainable when surveys show a majority is unwilling to spend even $24 per year on climate. And policies like Paris will fix little at a high cost. Biden is right to highlight the problem, but he needs a smarter way forward.

The climate alarm is poorly founded.

Take hurricanes. Last year, you undoubtedly heard that climate change made hurricanes “record-setting.” Actually, 2020 was above average in the North Atlantic partly because of the natural La Niña phenomenon, and only record-setting in that satellites could spot more storms.

When measured by total hurricane-damage potential, the 2020 North Atlantic was not even in the top 10. And almost everywhere else on the planet, hurricanes were far below average. Globally, 2020 ranked as one of the weakest hurricane years in the 40-year satellite record.

We think 2020 was big on hurricanes because we read carefully curated stories about where and when they hit, but we don’t see stories about the many more places where they don’t hit.

The UN Climate Panel, the gold standard of climate science, tells us that the total impact of climate change in the 2070s will be equivalent to an average income reduction of 0.2 to 2 percent. Which means that humans as a whole will be only a fraction less prosperous in a much richer world than they would be without climate change.

Rejoining the Paris agreement will solve very little at a high cost. By the UN’s estimates, if all ­nations live up to all their promises, they will reduce global temperature by less than 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

And Paris is costly, because it forces economies to use less or more expensive energy. Across many studies, the drag to the economies is estimated at between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in lost GDP every year after 2030.

Yes, green spending will predictably increase green jobs. But because subsidies will be paid by higher taxes on the rest of the economy, an equal number of jobs will disappear elsewhere.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson excitedly talks about 5 million new green jobs, while his advisers now warn him that 10 million other jobs could be at risk.

For Americans, President Barack Obama’s Paris promises carried a price tag of nearly $200 billion a year. But Biden has vowed to go much further, with a promise of net-zero by 2050. There is only one nation that has done an independent cost estimate of net-zero, namely New Zealand. The Kiwis found the average best-case cost is 16 percent of GDP, or a US cost of more than $5 trillion a year by mid-century.

These figures are unsustainable. Moreover, the US and other developed countries can achieve very little on their own. Imagine if Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries stopped all their emissions today and never bounced back. This would be utterly devastating economically yet would reduce global warming by the end of the century by less than 0.8 degrees.

That’s because three-quarters of this century’s emissions will come from the rest of the world, especially China, India, Africa and Latin America. Developing nations are unlikely to accept slower economic growth to address a 2 percent problem 50 years from now.

There is a smarter way: investing a lot more in green-energy ­research and development. As Bill Gates says, “We’re short about two dozen great innovations” to fix climate. If we could innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels, everyone would switch, eventually fixing climate change.

The policies would be cheaper and much more likely to be implemented. Fortunately, R&D is one of Biden’s promises, and he will have a much easier time with Congress if he makes it his focus.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. His new book is “False Alarm.”

Joe Biden’s climate agenda is all about creating a crisis — not actually fixing one

 

California: World Leading Climate Hypocrite Updated Dec. 23, 2020

Update following below Dec. 23, 2020 Has Progressive Californication Peaked?

California’s Climate Extremism
Joel Kotkin reports from the Golden State. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The pursuit of environmental purity in the Golden State does nothing to reverse global warming—but it’s costing the poor and middle class dearly.

Environmental extremism increasingly dominates California. The state is making a concerted attack on energy companies in the courts; a bill is pending in the legislature to fine waiters $1,000—or jail them—if they offer people plastic straws; and UCLA issued a report describing pets as a climate threat. The state has taken upon itself the mission of limiting the flatulence of cows and other farm animals. As the self-described capital of the anti-Trump resistance, California presents itself as the herald of a green, more socially and racially just society. That view has been utterly devastated by a new report from Chapman University, in which coauthors David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez demonstrate that California’s draconian anti-climate-change regime has exacerbated economic, geographic, and racial inequality. And to make things worse, California’s efforts to save the planet have actually done little more than divert greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) to other states and countries.

Jerry Brown’s return to Sacramento in 2011 brought back to power one of the first American politicians to embrace the “limits of growth.” Brown has long worried about resource depletion (including such debunked notions as “peak oil”), taken a Malthusian approach to population growth, and opposed middle-class suburban development. Like many climate-change activists, he has limitless confidence in the possibility for engineering a green socially just society through “the coercive power of the state,” but little faith that humans can find ways to address the challenge of climate change. If Brown’s “era of limits” message in the 1970s failed to catch on with the state’s voters, who promptly elected two Republican governors in his wake, he has found in climate change a more effective rallying cry, albeit one that often teeters at the edge of hysteria. Few politicians can outdo Brown for alarmism; recently, he predicted that climate change will cause 3 to 4 billion deaths, leading eventually to human extinction. To save the planet, he openly endorses a campaign to brainwash the masses.

The result: relentless ratcheting-up of climate-change policies. In 2016, the state committed to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In response, the California Air Resource Board (CARB), tasked with making the rules required to achieve the state’s legislated goals, took the opportunity to set policies for an (unlegislated) target of an 80 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

Brown and his supporters often tout their policies as in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, note Friedman and Hernandez, but California’s reductions under the agreement require it to make cutbacks double those pledged by Germany and other stalwart climate-committed countries, many of which have actually increased their emissions in recent years, despite their Paris pledges.

Governor Brown has preened in Paris, at the Vatican, in China, in newspapers, and on national television. But few have considered how his policies have worked out in practice. California is unlikely to achieve even its modest 2020 goals; nor is it cutting emissions faster than other states lacking such dramatic legislative mandates. Since 2007, when the Golden State’s “landmark” global-warming legislation was passed, California has accounted for barely 5 percent of the nation’s GHG reductions. The combined total reductions achieved over the past decade by Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Indiana are about 5 times greater than California’s. Even Texas, that bogeyman of fossil-fuel excess, has been reducing its per-capita emissions more rapidly.

In fact, virtually nothing that California does will have an impact on global climate. California per-capita emissions have always been relatively low, due to the mild climate along the coast, which reduces the need for much energy consumption on heating and cooling. In 2010, the state accounted for less than 1 percent of global GHG emissions; the disproportionately large reductions sought by state activists and bureaucrats would have no discernible effect on global emissions under the Paris Agreement. “If California ceased to exist in 2030,” Friedman and Hernandez note, “global GHG emissions would be still be 99.54 percent of the Paris Agreement total.”

Many of California’s “green” policies may make matters worse. California, for example, does not encourage biomass energy use, though the state’s vast forested areas—some 33 million acres— could provide renewable energy and reduce the excessive emissions from wildfires caused by years of forest mismanagement. Similarly, California greens have been adamant in shutting down nuclear power plants, which continue to reduce emissions in France, and they refuse to count hydro-electricity as renewable energy. As a result, California now imports roughly one-third of its electricity from other states, the highest percentage of any state, up from 25 percent in 2010. This is part of what Hernandez and Friedman show to be California’s increasing propensity to export energy production and GHG emissions, while maintaining the fiction that the state has reduced its total carbon output.

Overall, California tends to send its “dirty work”—whether for making goods or in the form of fossil fuels—elsewhere. Unwanted middle- and working-class people, driven out by the high cost of California’s green policies, leave, taking their carbon footprints to other places, many of which have much higher per-capita emission rates. Net migration to other, less temperate states and countries has been large enough to offset the annual emissions cuts within the state. Similarly, the state’s regulatory policies make it difficult for industrial firms to expand or even to remain in California. Green-signaling firms like Apple produce most of their tangible products abroad, mainly in high-GHG emitting China, while other companies, like Facebook and Google, tend to place energy-intensive data centers in other, higher GHG emission states. The study estimates that GHG emissions just from California’s international imports in 2015, and not even counting imports from the rest of the U.S., amounted to about 35 percent of the state’s total emissions.

California’s green regulators predict that the implementation of ever-stricter rules related to climate will have a “small” impact on the economy. They point to strong economic and job growth in recent years as evidence that strict regulations are no barrier to prosperity. Though the state’s economic growth is slowing, and now approaches the national average, a superficial look at aggregate performance makes a seemingly plausible case for even the most draconian legislation. California, as the headquarters for three of the nation’s five largest companies by market capitalization—Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook— has enjoyed healthy GDP growth since 2010. But in past recoveries, the state’s job and income growth was widely distributed by region and economic class; since 2007, growth has been uniquely concentrated in one region—the San Francisco Bay Area, where employment has grown by nearly 17 percent, almost three times that of the rest of the state, with growth rates tumbling compared with past decades.

Some of these inequities are tied directly to policies associated with climate change. High electricity prices, and the war on carbon emissions generally, have undermined the state’s blue-collar sectors, traditionally concentrated in Los Angeles and the interior counties. These sectors have all lost jobs since 2007. Manufacturing employment, highly sensitive to energy-related and other regulations, has declined by 160,000 jobs since 2007. California has benefited far less from the national industrial resurgence, particularly this past year. Manufacturing jobs—along with those in construction and logistics, also hurt by high energy prices—have long been key to upward mobility for non-college-educated Californians.

As climate-change policies have become more stringent, California has witnessed an unprecedented level of bifurcation between a growing cadre of high-income earners and a vast, rapidly expanding poor population. Meantime, the state’s percentage of middle-income earners— people making between $75,000 and $125,000—has fallen well below the national average. This decline of the middle class even occurs in the Bay Area, notes a recent report from the California Budget and Policy Center, where in 1989 the middle class accounted for 56 percent of all households in Silicon Valley, but by 2013, only 45.7 percent. Lower-income residents accounted for 30.3 percent of Silicon Valley’s households in 1989, and that number grew to 34.8 percent in 2013.

Perhaps the most egregious impact on middle and working-class residents can be seen in housing, where environmental regulations, often tied directly to climate policies, have discouraged construction, particularly in the suburbs and exurbs. The state’s determination to undo the primarily suburban, single-family development model in order to “save the planet” has succeeded both in raising prices well beyond national norms and creating a shortfall of some 3 million homes.

As shown in a recent UC Berkeley study, even if fully realized, the state’s proposals to force denser housing would only reach about 1 percent of its 2030 emissions goals. Brown and his acolytes ignore the often-unpredictable consequences of their actions, insisting that density will reduce carbon emissions while improving affordability and boosting transit use. Yet, as Los Angeles has densified under its last two mayors, transit ridership has continued to drop, in part, notes a another UC Berkeley report, because incentives for real-estate speculation have driven the area’s predominantly poor transit riders further from trains and buses, forcing many to purchase cars.

Undaunted, California plans to impose even stricter regulations, including the mandatory installation of solar panels on new houses, which could raise prices by roughly $20,000 per home. This is only the latest in a series of actions that undermines the aspirations of people who still seek “the California dream;” since 2007, California homeownership rates have dropped far more than the national average. By 2016, the overall homeownership rate in the state was just under 54 percent, compared with 64 percent in the rest of the country.

The groups most affected by these policies, ironically, are those on whom the ruling progressives rely for electoral majorities. Millennials have seen a more rapid decline in homeownership rates compared with their cohort elsewhere. But the biggest declines have been among historically disadvantaged minorities—Latinos and African-Americans. Latino homeownership rates in California are well below the national average. In 2016, only 31 percent of African-Americans in the Bay Area owned homes, well below the already low rate of 41 percent black homeownership in the rest of nation. Worse yet, the state takes no account of the impact of these policies on poorer Californians. Overall poverty rates in California declined in the decade before 2007, but the state’s poverty numbers have risen during the current boom. Today, 8 million Californians live in poverty, including 2 million children, by far the most of any state. The state’s largest city, Los Angeles, is also now by some measurements America’s poorest big city.

To allay concerns about housing affordability, the state has allocated about $300 million from its cap-and-trade funds for housing, a meager amount given that the cost of building affordable housing in urban areas can exceed $700,000 per unit. These benefits are dwarfed by those that wealthy Californians enjoy for the purchase of electric cars and home solar: Tesla car buyers with average incomes of $320,000 per year got more than $300 million in federal and state subsidies by early 2015 alone. By contrast, in early 2018, state electricity prices were 58 percent higher, and gasoline over 90 cents per gallon higher, than the national average, disproportionately hurting ethnic minorities, the working class, and the poor. Based on cost-of-living estimation tools from the Census Bureau, 28 percent of African-Americans in the state live in poverty, compared with 22 percent nationally. Fully one-third of Latinos, now the state’s largest ethnic group, live in poverty, compared with 21 percent outside the state.

In a normal political environment, such disparities would spark debate, not only among conservatives, but also traditional Democrats. Some, like failed independent candidate and longtime environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, have expressed the view that California’s policies have made it not “the most progressive state” but “the most racist one.” Recently, some 200 veteran civil rights leaders sued CARB, on the basis that state policies are skewed against the poor and minorities. So far, their voices have been largely ignored. The state’s prospective next governor, Gavin Newsom, seems eager to embrace and expand Brown’s policies, and few in the legislature seem likely to challenge them. The Republicans, for now, look incapable of mounting a challenge.

This leaves California on a perilous path toward greater class and racial divides, increasing poverty, and ever-more strenuous regulation. Other ways to reduce greenhouse gases—such as planting trees, more efficient transportation, and making suburbs more sustainable—should be on the table. The Hernandez-Friedman report could be a first step toward addressing these issues, but however it happens, a return to rationality is needed in the Golden State.

Joel Kotkin serves as Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (COU).

Update Dec. 23, 2020 Has Progressive Californication Peaked?

Joel Kotkin has updated the California story as 2020 ends in his article Peak Progressive? at the American Mind. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

With adjustment for cost of living, California now has the highest overall poverty rate in the United States according to the Census Bureau. Los Angeles, by far the state’s largest metropolitan area, has among the highest poverty rates for the largest U.S. metros. In parts of Los Angeles, the growing homeless encampments have spawned medieval diseases such as typhus. There are even indications of a comeback for bubonic plague, the signature scourge of the Middle Ages.

Hispanics and African Americans, who constitute 45% of the state’s population, do far worse here than elsewhere. Based on cost-of-living estimation tools from the Census Bureau, 28% of African Americans in the state live in poverty, compared with 22% nationally. Fully one third of Hispanics, the state’s largest ethnic group, are below the poverty line, compared with 21% outside the state. Over two thirds of noncitizen Latinos, including the undocumented, live at or below the poverty line.

The pandemic has widened this divide. The state’s unemployment rates now surpass the national average, making them worse even than in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. L.A. County has lost over 1 million jobs to the pandemic and suffers an unemployment rate higher than any of the major California urban counties. Today in Los Angeles, violent crime is spiking, and less than half of residents now hold jobs. Since the pandemic, the state’s largest metro, Los Angeles–Orange County, has suffered the second most job losses in the U.S. Two others, the Bay Area and the Inland Empire, rank in the top ten.

Now the state seems poised to lose much of its tech economy, which has been the one force keeping it afloat.

Yet it is ever more clear to ever more Californians that our state is becoming exactly the vast gated community Newsom warns about. As Ali Modarres showed in “The Demographic Transformation of California” (2003), the “shared prosperity” of the Pat Brown years were based on a broad-based economy spanning the gamut from agriculture and oil to aerospace and finance, software, and basic manufacturing. In contrast, the Newsom progressive model is built largely around one industry—high tech—which provides increasingly little opportunity for most Californians, and now shows disturbing signs of moving elsewhere.

Current progressive policies are chasing key companies out of the state—including, just within the last week, tech giants Tesla, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and Oracle, all of which are heading to Texas. But the real problem lies in the state’s fading appeal to outsiders. It is losing domestic migrants and, increasingly, losing appeal to immigrants as well. California retains many of its great assets—a huge concentration of technical talent, a robust grassroots economy, unmatched physical beauty, and a remarkably pleasant climate—but these are being increasingly squandered. The question now is whether Californians will challenge the status quo.

More Evidence of California Climate Fumbles:

How Climatism Destroyed California

Climate activists versus affordable housing

California Cop Out

California’s Year: Veering Left from Left Lane

 

 

On Stopping Biden’s Deadly Energy Policies

Clarice Feldman writes at Climate Change Dispatch How Biden’s Deadly Plan For American Energy Can Be Stopped.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

It’s perfectly understandable for anyone concerned about energy production in the U.S. to be uneasy that Joe Biden appears to be winning this year’s contest for the White House.

Whether he makes it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. remains in doubt, but what is not in doubt is that, should that happen, he would have no substantial mandate.

The climate change part of the platform–like much of his party’s platform–seems to have little purchase other than the coastal bien pensants and the left-wing corporatists dreaming of yet another boondoggle financed by the taxpayers on the same pie-in-the-sky swindle as was Solyndra and California’s train to nowhere.

Of course, my ability to read the future is limited, but let me explain why I think much of what Biden has promised the far Left of his party to secure the nomination and their support, is unlikely to take shape.

At the moment the election in six states is still either still being counted, being challenged in court, or subject to a recount. Excluding those states, President Trump leads Biden 232 to 227 in the Electoral Vote totals. (270 electoral votes of 538 are needed to win the electoral college vote in January).

It is impossible in this fast-changing circumstance to keep track of all the litigation challenges in the various state-run elections. So far this compendium by OSU seems the most accurate.

I’ve seen some of the complaints filed or about to be in Michigan and Pennsylvania and they include numerous credible affidavits documenting substantial illegality. [See The Trapdoor US Election]

If the Supreme Court meant it when they said this twenty years ago in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 105 (2000), I have to believe that the counts in both those states simply do not meet the constitutional standard in Gore.

It must be remembered that “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 555 (1964).

If these recounts and challenges are not resolved by the December 14 cut-off date, the House of Representatives can choose the interim president and the Senate the interim vice president until the results are certified by the states.

In the House, the vote is by state and the Republicans hold the majority there, as they do in the Senate. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the state legislatures, they may under the constitution select their own slate of electors.

Republicans hold the majority in the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, the three states with the most electoral votes among the still disputed contests.

Given the uncertain outcomes, at this time it is preposterous to call Biden “president-elect.”

Nevertheless, there certainly is a reason for concern in the Democratic platform Biden ran on.

The platform reads like a prose version of the Russian film “Battleship Potemkin” substituting only the film’s motif of all forces of the population joining hands in revolution with everyone joining hands to keep the climate from changing. (It misses only scenes of fracking and gas rigs shooting at wounded veterans and orphans.)

Among the specifics are these:

  • A pledge to achieve “zero-net greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.”
  • Eliminating “carbon pollution from power plants through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency.
  • “Dramatically” expanding solar and wind energy deployment.”

The program specifics are even more sophomoric and fanciful, involving retrofitting buildings, setting even higher emissions standards for cars and trucks, including 500,000 school buses, and more in a program “to ensure racial and socioeconomic equity in federal climate, energy, and infrastructure programs.”

(My guess is this was written somewhere else besides California which the document says should again be allowed to set its own vehicle emission standards. I say that because rolling blackouts related to a similar set of juvenile energy policies in that state’s programs would seem to put something of a leash on these overweening goals.)

Biden also has pledged to kill the Keystone pipeline. On that score, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney indicates confidence he can change Biden’s mind, and perhaps he would be successful — pledges from Biden do seem to have a short life span.

He promised during the debates that he would not claim victory until all the state contests were certified. He already has done so when we are far from that point.

He’s also promised to crack down on “climate cheats” whoever they are; push the world on climate change, and invest $1.7 trillion to reduce global warming. At the same time, his team is advocating further coronavirus lockdowns and payouts to those unemployed because of them.

Now I could be wrong. He could have a secret invention to generate trillions of new dollars and is keeping it a secret along with a never-revealed way to fuel this economy without fossil fuels, but I’m suspicious of the ability to fund these grandiose plans or carry the platform’s promises out.

Even if he were crazy enough to try it, he will do so without a great deal of support. At the moment, the Democrats are hanging on to an even thinner majority in the House, having lost a number of seats they expected to win, and jeopardized more who in these weird times are labeled “moderates”.

The party is splintered and recriminations against the left are legion. It seems increasingly likely that the Blue Wave the media promised didn’t materialize and in fact, a Red Wave washed a lot of the Democrats out to sea.

There will be at least 50 Republican senators in the Senate with the likely prospect of two more once the Georgia runoffs are complete in January.

Without a majority in the Senate, Biden can’t revoke the industry-friendly fuel tax; he can’t restore or expand the federal tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles, he can’t repeal the Halliburton provision permitting fracking in the Safe Drinking Water Act, he can’t amend the renewable fuel standard post-2022, he can’t alter the Jones Act, and he can’t change the carbon price, etc.

Some have suggested he can achieve these goals simply through executive orders, and there are a few things he can achieve via this route, beginning with an area in which he has the freest hand — rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Some of the others, more troublesome to be sure, are regulatory actions like blocking oil and gas drilling on federal lands, allowing California to set independent standards for auto emissions and fuel economy, restricting access to low-cost capital for the fossil fuel industry, and setting fuel economy standards.

For these, judicial and public resistance are greater checks on his authority.

Chief Justice Roberts has displayed a penchant for fine-tooth-combing executive orders and rejecting them. The public — reeling from the devastation of the lockdowns, pleased with lower gas prices and anticipating a continued v-shaped recovery — are likely to find Biden’s extremism unwanted and make their opposition known.

Biden may squeak out an election victory. If so, it will have been a Pyrrhic one.

See also US Conflicted over Green Energy

 

 

How Climatism Destroyed California

Ben Pile writes at Spiked The problem in California is poverty, not climate change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The heatwaves and the fires are natural – the electricity blackouts are not.

Events leading up to today’s power cuts follow a bizarre history. The fact that advanced economies need a continuous supply of power is well understood. Yet for three decades, the political agenda, dominated by self-proclaimed ‘progressives’, has put lofty green idealism before security of supply and before the consumer’s interest in reasonable prices. Even if the heatwaves experienced by California were caused by climate change, are their direct effects worse than the loss of electricity supply?

California’s green and tech billionaires, and its business and political elites, certainly seem to think so. But they are largely protected from reality by vast wealth, private security, gated estates, and battery banks. The high cost of property in the state of California means that, despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, and with the sixth highest per capita income in the US, it is the worst US state for poverty. According to the US Census Bureau, around 18 per cent of Californians, some seven million people, lived in poverty between 2016 and 2018 – more than five per cent above the US average.

As well as being the greenest (and most poverty-stricken) state, California can also boast that it is the No1 state for homelessness.

According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, there are more than 151,000 homeless people in California – a rise of 28,000 since 2010. That figure is shocking enough, but it masks the reality of many thousands more moving in and out of homelessness. The same agency reports that more than a quarter of a million schoolchildren experienced homelessness over the 2017/18 school year.

It is degenerate politics, not climate change, that presses hardest on the millions of Californians who live in poverty, and the many millions more who live just above the poverty line. The problems of this degenerate politics are visible, on the street, chronic and desperate, whereas climate change, if it is a problem at all, is only detectable through questionable statistical techniques. Yet California’s charismatic governors, since Arnold Schwarzenegger, have made their mark on the global stage as environmental champions.

At the 2017 COP23 UNFCCC conference in Bonn, Germany, then governor Jerry Brown shared a platform with the green billionaire and former New York mayor, Mike Bloomberg, to announce ‘America’s Pledge on Climate’ – a commitment of states and cities to combat climate change – despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement earlier that year.

But why not a pledge on homelessness? Why not a pledge to address the problem of property prices? Why not a pledge to tackle poverty? Why not a pledge to secure a supply of energy? The only conceivable answer is that environmentalism is a form of politics that is entirely disinterested in the lives of ordinary people, despite progressive politicians’ claims that environmental and social issues are linked. Clearly they are not in the slightest bit linked.

California was the experiment, and now it is the proof: environmentalism is worse for ‘social justice’ than any degree of climate change is.

What about the wildfires? Aren’t they proof of climate change? It is a constant motif of green histrionics that more warming means more fires. But as has been pointed out before on spiked and elsewhere, places like California have long suffered from huge fires; fire is a part of many types of forests’ natural lifecycle.

What California’s rolling blackouts and its uncontrolled fires tell us is that green politics is completely divorced from any kind of reality. Environmentalism is the indulgent fantasy of remote political elites and their self-serving business backers. If California doesn’t prove this, what would?

Footnote: Bjorn Lomborg tried in 2015 to reason with Arnie Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Wrong On Climate Change Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

But that makes it even more important that those of us talking about global warming and its policy responses are responsible about statistics and data. It’s not good enough to swagger around saying, “I think I’m right and I’m going to ignore the haters.” Schwarzenegger loses me when he declares, “every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths?”

It’s emotive, but it’s wrong to say that 19,000 people are killed by fossil fuels every day. About 11,000 of these people are killed by burning renewable energy – wood and cow dung mainly – inside their own homes. The actual number of people killed by fossil fuels each day is about 3,900.

This matters for two reasons. First, it is disingenuous to link the world’s biggest environmental problem of air pollution to climate. It is a question of poverty (most indoor air pollution) and lack of technology (scrubbing pollution from smokestacks and catalytic converters) – not about global warming and CO₂. Second, costs and benefits matter.[vi] Tackling indoor air pollution turns out to be very cheap and effective, whereas tackling outdoor air pollution is more expensive and less effective. Your favorite policy of cutting CO₂ is of course even more costly and has a tiny effect even in a hundred years.

Lomborg failed to change Schwarzenegger’s mind since Arnie was so enamored of being a global environmental star as a sequel to his Hollywood movie celebrity.