Archive for March 16th, 2009

Green irony: Recycling sags with economy

March 16, 2009

Trash has become worthless in China, crimping the recycling business, the New York Times reported on March 12.

The problem isn’t confined to China:

Environmentalists and recycling experts worry about the impact of the recycling slump. With Western curbside recycling programs becoming less profitable, local governments are being forced to re-examine their programs as they struggle to balance budgets. In some cases, that means that office printouts and soda cans, once exported, went to landfills.

“It used to be that recyclers would pay governments for these goods,” said Mr. Savage of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. “But now governments have to pay recyclers. What was once a revenue stream is now a cost to cities.”

So maybe the greens were a little hasty in condemning economic growth?

Greens, IBM work to make you thirsty

March 16, 2009

IBM is addressing water resources as part of its Smarter Planet/Think marketing campaign. In a campaign media release today, IBM VP Sharon Nunes said that,

“Without sufficient insight into near- and long-term factors affecting your water supply and usage — complex issues such as access, quality, cost and re-use — you increasingly run the risk of failure.”

A reasonable sentiment — until you get to the end of the media release which reads:

“Together with IBM, The Nature Conservancy is developing computer tools that will enable companies to gain a better understanding of the environmental and social consequences of their water use. By fostering sustainable water management practices, companies and municipalities will be able to make better decisions to the benefit of both local communities and nature.” — Brian Richterb, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Freshwater Team.

Translation: The greens are looking to IBM technology to help them reduce our access to water.

Steve Milloy’s new book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, discusses how the greens are working to make us thirsty.

Canada loosens green chains on stimulus

March 16, 2009

Reuters reported today,

Canada’s federal government has given itself the power to decide whether infrastructure projects aimed at stimulating the economy are subject to environmental assessment, a top minister said on Monday.

The move is aimed at streamlining approvals for C$12 billion ($9.4 billion) of public spending being planned to kick-start the country’s flagging economy, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said.

Word of the Conservative government’s policy, which also involves delegating some assessment decisions to the provinces, had already angered environmental groups. It comes into force immediately.

Just last month Prime Minister Stephen Harper told CNBC free market champion and Green Hell endorser Larry Kudlow that economic realities trump green policies.

Go Canada!

Will green hurt state/local govt. retirees?

March 16, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reported today that,

Many state and city governments reeling from financial woes are about to get whacked again, this time by an unforeseen increase in their pension bill thanks to market declines.

In an effort to stave off tax increases, New Jersey lawmakers on Monday will consider a bill that would allow municipalities to defer payment of half their annual pension bill, due April 1, for one year. Those towns, counties and schools that opt to defer would face a higher pension bill for years to come.

Market hits are bad enough, but did you know that not only were many state pension funds already underfunded before the financial crisis, but many state pension fund administrators are working to make things worse by lobbying for global warming regulation.

For more on this story check out our report, Pensions in Peril: Are State Officials Risking Public Employee Retirement Benefits by Playing Global Warming Politics?

Take action:

1. Read Pensions in Peril; and

2. If you are a current or retired public employee who is a beneficiary of a state or local pension fund system, contact your state and local representatives and request that the system administrators explain why they are either lobbying for or not lobbying against global warming regulation.

Is FutureFuel misleading investors on biofuels?

March 16, 2009

Touting its products to investors, biofuels manufacturer FutureFuel Corp. states in its annual Form 10-K report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that,

Biodiesel is a sustainable, renewable transportation fuel with a growing market in the United States and internationally. See . As an
alternative to petrodiesel and other petroleum-based fuels, biodiesel has several advantages, including:

  • extending domestic diesel fuel supplies;
  • reducing dependence on foreign crude oil supplies;
  • expanding markets for domestic and international agricultural products;
  • reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other gases that are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency [Emphasis added] (see, e.g., ); and
  • being usable by existing diesel engines while extending their useful lives (see, e.g., ).

But with respect to biodiesel reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s quite possible that the claim is more fantasy than fact. You may remember this New York Times headline from February 2008:

Biofuels make greenhouse gases worse, scientists say

At the very least, there is controversy about the greenhouse gas footprint of biofuels, including FutureFuel’s biodiesel.

The federal securities laws are based on two pillars — a requirement of full and fair disclosure of material facts and a prohibition on fraudulent activity. FutureFuel’s unqualified touting of biodiesel seems to lack a basis in reality and would seem to be the very sort of thing that the federal securities law prohibit.

Or does the act of pleading green entitle one to a “Get Out of the Truth Free” card?

China: Growth trumps green

March 16, 2009

Bloomberg reported today that,

China may be letting “green” goals fall by the wayside as it trims spending on energy and emission – reduction projects in a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) economic stimulus plan, two environmental groups said.

The decision to cut environmental funding by 40 percent in the economic-aid package is “worrying,” officials of Friends of Nature and Greenpeace China said in interviews, calling on the government to clarify its objectives.

The Greens say that China should be more like the U.S. where,

… President Barack Obama has pledged to spend $150 billion over 10 years to combat climate change and create “green” jobs.

It’s too early to know how things will turn out, but investor Marc Faber told Bloomberg that China is the world’s best-performing stock market this year.

Obama not a Malthusian?

March 16, 2009

In remarks on global warming legislation to the Business Roundtable last week, President Obama said that,

… And I’m not somebody who — I’ve never bought into these Malthusian — woe — Chicken Little, the earth is falling — I tend to be pretty optimistic. I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t pretty optimistic. But I think this is — the science is overwhelming. This is a real problem. It will have severe economic consequences, as well as political and national security and environmental consequences.

Yet as pointed out in this fact sheet from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, President Obama’s lead science advisor, John Holdren, is nothing short of the reincarnation of Thomas Malthus, a pioneer in chicken little-ing about overpopulation. CEI notes that,

… Holdren has advocated governmentfunded sterilization programs and the “de-development” of industrialized economies to ward off “ecocide.” And he has complained that “people are the bane of a rational energy policy,” by which he meant that his energy-rationing schemes to prevent “climate disruption” are politically unpopular.

Early in his career, Holdren warned of “ecocide,” an “ecocastrophe” caused by expanding populations and growing economies that exceed the “finite ability of this planet to support people.” Holdren became a vocal proponent of population control.

  • In 1969, he wrote about the necessity “to convince society and its leaders that there is no alternative but the cessation of our irresponsible, all-demanding, and all-consuming population growth.”
  • Two years later, Holdren claimed that “population control, the redirection of technology, the transition from open to closed resource cycles, the equitable distribution of opportunity, and the ingredients of prosperity must all be accomplished if there is to be a future worth living.”

Steve Milloy discusses how the greens want to ration people in his new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.

Take action:

Keep a shovel handy when listening to President Obama.

Dems pressure Obama against 100% auction

March 16, 2009

Last week in an address to the Business Roundtable (a trade association for CEOs), President Obama seemed to back away (See transcript, below) from his recent budget proposal to auction 100% of the permits in a cap-and-trade system.

Carbon Control News reported this morning that Senate budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) stated that a 100% auction system is not politically doable, a sentiment also held by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Text of President Obama’s Remarks on Cap-and-Trade to the Business Roundtable (March 12, 2009)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me start by saying this. I said during the campaign we were looking at a hundred percent auction. We are not going to be able to move this in an effective way without partnership with the business community. But we just — we can’t get it done. And for businesses like yours that are committed to the concept and the idea, we’re going to work to make sure that it works for you.

Now, the experience of a cap and trade system thus far is that if you’re giving away carbon permits for free, then basically you’re not really pricing the thing and it doesn’t work, or people can game the system in so many ways that it’s not creating the incentive structures that we’re looking for. The flip side is, you’re right, if it’s so onerous that people can’t meet it, then it defeats the purpose — and politically we can’t get it done anyway.

So we’re going to have to find a structure that arrives at that right balance. We want to create a price structure. Keep in mind that the reason that I’m interested in a cap and trade approach is precisely because I think the market makes decisions about these technologies better than we do. You know, for those who are concerned about some heavy-handed command and control regulations coming down the pike, cap and trade is designed to say, you know what, here’s a target, here’s a price, you guys go figure it out and if you can make money on it, all the better.

So that’s the — that’s our goal. That’s what we want. And how that pricing mechanism works most effectively to actually influence incentives, but also be sufficiently realistic that industries are thriving as opposed to groaning under the weight of it, I think is going to be the trick. I’m confident that we can do it. We’ve done it before.

I mean, keep in mind that when — I’m trying to remember, this was back in the ’70s or early ’80s — I’m getting old enough now where I can’t remember — but, you know, the issue of acid rain was around. Everybody thought all your trees were going to be dying; you couldn’t make any paper. And we put in an auction system and a trading mechanism and, lo and behold, American ingenuity and American entrepreneurship and inventiveness created options that ended up being much cheaper than anybody had imagined — much cheaper than anybody had imagined.

Now, in the meantime, I just — I was talking to some members of Congress just yesterday, you know, who were concerned about this, because I’m sure they’re hearing from industries and, you know, what does this mean economically, et cetera. I just want to point out, you know, anybody who has been to Las Vegas recently and looked at Lake Mead; or who is familiar with what’s happening in agriculture in California right now; or go down to Atlanta, which may not have any water soon, because of what’s happening in terms of changing weather patterns; or talk to Kevin Rudd in Australia — that’s going to cost us money too. It’s just not — it’s not priced.

And I’m not somebody who — I’ve never bought into these Malthusian — woe — Chicken Little, the earth is falling — I tend to be pretty optimistic. I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t pretty optimistic. But I think this is — the science is overwhelming. This is a real problem. It will have severe economic consequences, as well as political and national security and environmental consequences.

And I’m confident that if we do it smart, if we’re talking to you guys, if we’re talking to industries, if our projections don’t end up being wildly unrealistic, then I think we can handle this problem.