Archive for May, 2010

UVA defies Mann fraud investigation

May 28, 2010

The University of Virginia has decided to protect hockey stick junk scientist Michael Mann from a fraud investigation by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Click here for the UVA court petition.

Click here for why Cuccinelli is doing the right thing.

Academics do not have the right to defraud the public. Universities ought not shield academics from rightful public scrutiny.

Avoiding the slick spots: Agency more adept at blowing hot air

May 27, 2010

By Steve Milloy
Washington Times, May 27, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a perplexing beast. While the agency remains hellbent on regulating colorless, odorless and likely harmless greenhouse gas emissions, it has been utterly incapable of living up to its name with respect to the Gulf oil spill.

Not only was the EPA caught entirely unprepared for the oil spill, but also last week it actually tried to interfere with BP’s efforts to use a chemical called Corexit to speed up dispersal of the oil. When the EPA told BP that it should use a less toxic chemical, BP rightly ignored the order because it’s the oil, not the dispersant (stupid) that is the real threat to the environment, and there is no better option than the detergentlike Corexit.

Though laboratory toxicity tests show that Corexit will kill 50 percent of the fish exposed to a concentration of 15 parts per million over a period of four days, what the EPA seems to have overlooked is that there are no fish still living in an oil slick in the first place. By the time the oil has dispersed, so too will have the Corexit, down to nontoxic levels. But in the EPA mindset, all chemicals are bad and to be avoided – even ones that help and are, practically speaking, harmless.

But that is not the extent of the EPA’s failure.

Millions of feet of boom are desperately needed to corral the expanding slick and protect coastlines. Only a small fraction of that boom has arrived in the Gulf region, and not even all of that has been deployed. Let’s not forget the initial failure to have fire boom available nearby, which could have corralled the oil so that it could be burned – a 1990s-era requirement developed by the Clinton administration but not implemented by the EPA.

None of this is to excuse BP, the rig owners, and the other federal agencies whose performances have been far from inspiring, but at least none of them is called the Environmental Protection Agency.

As real pollution spews forth uncontrollably in the Gulf, the clueless EPA is meanwhile busy scheming to skirt the law and regulate the non-pollution that emanates from the nation’s power plants and manufacturing facilities.

Although the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in 2007 that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, that law would require that EPA regulate all sources of greenhouse gases that emit more than 250 tons per year. As the average American emits about 20 tons per year, it’s easy to see how the law would require the EPA to regulate virtually every small business and apartment building.

So, to avoid the obvious political problem of having to microregulate virtually all of society, the EPA devised a scheme (called the “tailoring rule”) to limit regulation to facilities that emit 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year. This may sound like a reasonable approach, except that the EPA lacks the legal authority to change the Clean Air Act, which sets the threshold for regulation at 250 tons.

Barring successful legal challenge, the EPA is planning to regulate large greenhouse-gas emitters starting in 2011.

The only remaining roadblock to the agency plan is a resolution introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and 40 other Republican and Democratic senators to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Debate and vote on the resolution has been scheduled for June 10.

Despite its 41 co-sponsors, the Murkowski resolution is no cinch to get the 51 votes it needs to pass the Senate. Democratic moderates like Virginia’s Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, North Dakota’s Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown and Republicans like Maine’s Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have not yet publicly embraced the bill.

This is despite the fact that the EPA is showing precisely how unprepared and inept it is at dealing with a genuine environmental crisis. In contrast, the agency and its lawyers have been quite creative and adept at devising a scheme to create and regulate a non-crisis.

Passing the Murkowski resolution should be Congress’ first step in a longer process of re-evaluating what the EPA is all about.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

The standard for an environmental hazard: Litigators clean up while taxpayers are taken to the cleaners

May 27, 2010

By Steve Milloy
The Washington Times, May 27, 2010

The EPA has a history of impeding environmental protection, most notably with toxic-waste-site cleanup and nuclear waste storage.

In the wake of the 1978 Love Canal controversy, a lame-duck Congress and president enacted the Superfund law in December 1980 to provide for the cleanup of so-called toxic-waste sites. But the Superfund law was poorly designed. By the early 1990s, few sites had been cleaned up. Moreover, while it would take only about two years to actually clean up a site, it would take 10 years to progress to the point of implementation. An average cleanup cost $25 million. The Department of Energy was looking down the barrel of $300 billion worth of cleanups. More money was spent litigating cleanups than actually cleaning up.

Although there were many problematical aspects of the Superfund law, the EPA’s control over cleanups was the greatest obstacle to the program’s goals. “How clean is clean?” was the famous rhetorical question of the time. In the early years of Superfund, the EPA doggedly maintained that sites had to be cleaned up virtually to something near Garden of Eden status – an obviously silly goal for a dump or an industrial facility. It wasn’t good enough just to seal off the facilities and prevent public exposure to substances at the site. Such standards added unnecessary millions to the cost of every cleanup. Because private parties had to pay, they fought the EPA every step of the way.

Sites began getting cleaned up faster and more cheaply during the Clinton administration after cleanup standards became more reasonable in a practical effort to get the program moving. No longer was the groundwater at sites being pumped and treated until it was good enough to be bottled. No longer was soil treated to the point where a hypothetical child could eat spoonfuls of soil from the site’s most contaminated or “hot” spot.

Another example of EPA impeding environmental protection is the now-abandoned project to store spent nuclear fuel at the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada. Although the Yucca Mountain site was in a remote part of the Nevada desert and the spent fuel would have been stored in sealed casks one mile underground, the EPA set standards that virtually guaranteed the facility would never open.

The EPA decided that the Department of Energy (DOE) would have to be able to guarantee that there would be no significant exposures to the public from radiation for a period of 1 million years – about 200 times longer than recorded history. The DOE was being forced by the EPA to figure out how it might communicate with and warn future civilizations that might not understand English-language warnings about the spent nuclear fuel stored beneath the mountain.

DOE, of course, could never hope to meet the EPA’s standards. Despite 25 years of engineering and $30 billion in costs, Yucca Mountain was a dead man walking when the Obama administration defunded it early in 2009. Because of the lack of a long-term storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, nuclear power plants are forced to continue storing spent fuel in on-site storage pools – facilities that are running out of space.

Cap-and-pain sinks Dems

May 21, 2010

By Steve Milloy
The Daily Caller, May 21, 2010

Sometime before June 7, the so-called Murkowski resolution to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases will be voted on in the Senate. Democrats up for re-election this fall may want to think twice about a knee-jerk “no” vote.

Finalized last December but not yet implemented, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases would be even worse economically than cap-and-trade, which is already bad enough. (How bad is cap-and-trade? So bad that massive Democrat congressional majorities can’t pass it.)

EPA greenhouse gas regulation would empower the agency to control energy use (and, hence, the economy) without any of the potential ameliorative effects from the trade part of cap-and-trade or the dividend part of Cantwell-Collins’ cap-and-dividend. EPA regulation would just be cap-and-pain.

Some quick-learning Democratic senators, like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln, and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson have already figured out the politics of EPA cap-and-pain. They joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski when the resolution was introduced in January.

But senators like Colorado’s Michael Bennett, Nevada’s Harry Reid, and North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan are still dithering hoping that Murkowski will either not bring her resolution to the floor for a vote or that it will be overtaken by a separate effort by West Virginia’s Jay Rockfeller that would delay EPA regulation for two years.

But Sen. Murkowski seems undeterred in what could be the only Senate vote this year on climate.

Given the ornery mood of the electorate — ask Utah’s Bob Bennett or Indiana’s Evan Bayh — it should be a no-brainer for Senate Democrats to vote for Murkowski. After all, it’s really a free vote for them since even if a similar bill passed the House, President Obama would surely veto it and the EPA would not be curbed. At least they could claim they tried to do the right thing.

Yet Senate Democrats seem willing to go on record as supporting EPA control and destruction of the economy. How they expect this will help them other than with their extreme leftie supporters (who are not numerous enough to get them elected to anything) is anyone’s guess.

The original idea behind EPA regulation was to force businesses to capitulate and swallow cap-and-trade. But that hasn’t happened. The Climategate scandal has given new life to lawsuits challenging EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Businesses — even some that are for cap-and-trade — oppose cap-and-pain and are ready to fight.

The vote on the Murkowski resolution will be close. Should it fall a vote or two short, you can bet on that vote being a major issue this fall in Senate races. Should the EPA actually try to regulate greenhouse gases starting in 2011, you can bet that the 2012 election will take an even greater toll on the Democrat Party.
There is no political upside to permitting EPA to implement cap-and-pain. Clear thinking Senate Democrats will figure that out sooner rather than too-later.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).

Kerry-Lieberman’s Great American Rip-off

May 13, 2010

By Steve Milloy
The Daily Caller, May 13, 2010

There are only three things you need to know about the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill that was released Wednesday—it will accomplish nothing for the environment; it will cost a lot of money and it will financially enrich and politically empower a host of scoundrels.

Regardless of what you think about manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, it is undeniable that the emissions reductions contemplated by Kerry-Lieberman don’t amount to a hill of beans. The goal of Kerry-Lieberman, like the goal of the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, is to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.

But rather than such paltry emissions cuts, let’s say that starting next year, we just shut down America—zero emissions—and kept it shut down for the next 100 years. What difference would that make atmosphere-wise?

Roughly speaking, U.S. energy use (at 2005 levels) adds to atmospheric CO2 at a rate of about 1 part per million every three years. So after 100 years, U.S. energy use would add about 33 ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere. Is that a lot?

Well, atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 35 ppm since 1995 without producing any global warming at all—that’s according to IPCC contributor and Captain Climategate himself, the University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones. Moreover, physicists agree that every molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere has less global warming potential than the molecule that preceded it. So the next 35 ppm of atmospheric CO2 will have less impact than the preceding 35ppm, which had no discernible effect.

None of this is a secret, the EPA did this analysis for itself in 2007.

Back to Kerry-Lieberman, it carbon emissions reduction provisions would obviously be nowhere near as severe as the shuting-down-America-for-100-years-scenario.

So what will Kerry-Lieberman cost us to accomplish nothing?

Based on the Waxman-Markey bill, which Kerry-Lieberman is modeled after, the Brookings Institution (hardly a hotbed of climate skeptics or Chicago-school economic thought) estimated that between 2012 and 2050, mandatory CO2 emission reductions would make energy cost $9 trillion more—this works out to a cost of about $3,100 per year for a family of four.

This of course doesn’t take into account the inflationary aspects of making energy cost more—after all, all goods and services are produced with energy and energy that costs more will necessary inflate the cost of everything. Americans will have a hard time paying these costs given all the jobs that will flee overseas to places like China, India and Mexico where carbon caps won’t exist, and energy and labor prices will be lower.

But surely someone will benefit from Kerry-Lieberman, right? That $9 trillion, after all, must go somewhere.

Sales of permits to emit CO2 will fill federal coffers with more money for politicians to hand out to special interest groups. Many CO2 emission permits will be handed out for free to special interests who will be able to turn around and sell them in the market for guaranteed profits. Wall Street will get to profit from the trading—just assume that every time you switch on a light a bell will ring at Goldman Sachs notifying it of yet more profits from nonproductive financial shenanigans. Al Gore’s venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins has invested more than a billion dollars in dozens of companies that are Kerry-Lieberman dependent. Talk about Gore-porate greed.

Kerry Lieberman contains a host of mandates and programs for energy efficiency, so-called green technologies and other corporate welfare programs. Companies like GE would profit from electric utilities being forced to buy expensive “renewable” technologies and from consumers being forced to buy more expensive appliances.

Worse than the transfer of wealth from the hard-working to the hardly-working, is the transfer of power from Americans over their own lives and businesses to governmental goons and busy-bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency—the most rogue federal agency of all —would be responsible for administering Kerry-Lieberman. While EPA control over the economy and the power to enforce that control would be immensely expanded, American business and individuals would have essentially the same ability as now to defend themselves against the EPA—pretty much none.

Although Kerry-Lieberman is a loser of a bill for the vast majority of America, we will have our hands full fighting its financial and political beneficiaries. Even if the bill fails to pass before the election, there is talk on Capitol Hill of procedural shenanigans by which a lameduck Congress could pass it regardless of what Americans have to say in November.

Rise up America, while you still can.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).

Read more:

Kerry-Lieberman Bill (Full Text)

May 12, 2010

Here’s the Kerry-Lieberman bill… almost 1,000 pages.

The People v. The Hockey Stick Felony?

May 12, 2010

My column in today’s Washington Times is dedicated to those skeptics and libertarians who, confused about Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation of Michael Mann, are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Tree Ring Circus
By Steve Milloy
May 12, 2010, Washington Times

Are academic scientists some special sub-species of humans who are beyond suspicion and above the law? That is the question now being played out in a drama between Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli and the dead-end defenders of global warming’s poster junk scientist, Michael Mann.

Cucinelli is under assault by global warming alarmist brigades and the American Civil Liberties Union for launching an investigation into whether any fraud against taxpayers occurred with respect to Mann’s hiring by the University of Virginia and his receipt of government grants. Cuccinelli recently sent UVA a civil investigative demand (CID) requesting e-mails and other documents pertaining to Mann.

Cuccinelli’s rationale is simple to understand: Mann’s claim-to-fame — the infamous “hockey stick” graph — is so bogus that one cannot help but wonder whether it is intentional fraud.

Developed in the late-1990s while Mann was at the University of Massachusetts, his hockey stick graph purports to show that average global temperature was fairly stable over the past millennium and up until the 20 the century, when it spiked up impliedly because of human activity. The hockey stick was latched onto by the alarmist community, incorporated into government and United Nations assessments of climate science and held out to the public (particularly by Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth”) as proof that humans were destroying the planet.

But by the mid-2000s the hockey stick graph began to be revealed for what it was — pure bunk.

Critics of the hockey stick graph first became suspicious because it failed to show two well-known periods of dramatic swings in global temperature — the so-called Medieval Optimum and the Little Ice Age. Mann’s indignant refusal to share his data and methods with critics only added fuel to the fire. Eventually, it was discovered that the computer model that produced the hockey stick would produce a hockey stick graph regardless of what data was input. But it gets worse.

Mann apparently created the hockey stick by cherry-picking data he liked and deleting data he didn’t like. While the vast majority of the hockey stick is based on temperature data extrapolated from tree rings going back hundreds of years, the tip of the blade (representing the late 20th century) was temperature data taken from thermometers. Past the obvious apples-and-oranges problem, as it turns out, Mann appended the thermometer data to the hockey stick at a point at which the tree ring data actually shows cooling. This cooling trend data was then deleted. This is what is referred to by the now-famous Climate-gate phrase “Mike’s Nature trick to … hide the decline.”

Mann’s defenders characterize this deletion of data as an elegant statistical technique. There is, however, nothing sophisticated, much less innocent about it. Contrary to Mann’s defenders, the hockey stick has never been vindicated by anyone. If nothing else, proof of its discredit lies in the fact that no one, not even the ethically challenged United Nations, relies on it anymore as evidence of manmade global warming.

Mann’s name-making hockey stick work occurred while he was at the University of Massachusetts, after which he was hired by the taxpayer-funded UVA. Did UVA hire Mann under the illusion that his hockey stick was a legitimate scientific achievement? Did Mann receive taxpayer-funded grants based on what amounts to scientific misconduct? These are legitimate inquiries — but not to everyone.

Left-wing academics, global warming alarmists, and the ACLU object to Cucinelli’s probe. They cast aspersions such as “witch hunt,” McCarthyism,” and “abuse of office.” In their less hysteric moments, they claim Cuccinelli threatens academic freedom. This is all so much rot.

Some scientists have actually been known to commit scientific misconduct tantamount to fraud. A Tulane researcher was found guilty of misconduct by the federal Office of Scientific Integrity in the late 1990s for fabricating data about pesticides being dangerous hormonal system disrupters. Don’t forget the South Korean researcher that was indicted for claiming false advances in stem cell research. Only political correctness saved a University of Pittsburgh researcher from conviction during the 1990s of manipulating data allegedly linking lead-based paint with lower IQs.

Believe it or not, scientists are just like the rest of the population — a mixture of good and bad. Mann’s hockey stick is such bad science that it compels the question, “Why?” Would UVA have hired Mann and would government grants have been awarded to him had the truth about the hockey stick been known by university and state decision-makers at the time? Were they intentionally deceived?

As the Climategate scandal has revealed, the climate alarmist mob is, at the very least, devious and unethical. It has conspired to silence its critics and to dispense with the normal give-and-take of the scientific process — all the while trumpeting the junkiest of science in trying to frighten the public and politicians into keeping the grant money flowing.

Have some of the climate mob’s members acted criminally as well? No one knows at this point. But through his hockey stick shenanigans, Mann has certainly provided Cuccinelli with “probable cause” to consider the possibility. A thorough investigation by someone not in cahoots with the climate mob is the only way to answer legitimate questions related to the expenditure of taxpayer money.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).

Leak of the day! Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill

May 11, 2010

Most of the world will learn tomorrow about the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill.

But you can check out the bill summary and section-by-section analysis today!

Who loves ya baby?