The next environmental battlegrounds

Green agenda threatens our economic future

This article originally appeared in The Washington Times online on November 8, 2012, and in the print edition on November 9, 2012.

When American voters reelected President Obama, they also returned his EPA, Interior and Energy Departments, and wide-ranging agenda for “fundamentally transforming” our nation.

This will mean not only cementing Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, higher taxes, and rampant spending. It will also bring more disputes over energy and environmental regulations, the vanguard of Mr. Obama’s determined campaign to eliminate hydrocarbons that power our economy and embrace more “green” energy. The conflict will be fought primarily on six battlegrounds.

Carbon taxes. Hurricane Sandy presented another pretext for regulating and taxing hydrocarbons. No respectable climatologist or meteorologist believes atmospheric carbon dioxide conjured up the destructive storm, but climate alarmism has always been about political science, not real science.

Rep. Jim McDermott’s Managed Carbon Price Act imputes a cost for CO2 emissions and compels energy producers and users to buy carbon permits. The President is considering a direct carbon tax that he says will raise billions of dollars annually and reduce deficits. Both ought to be DOA in the House. Another round of probably pointless UN-sponsored discussions on climate treaties, emission reductions and carbon taxes will take place late this month in Doha, Qatar.

The real threat is Environmental Protection Agency regulations limiting CO2 from power plants and other sources by executive fiat.

With China, India and other developing countries massively increasing their greenhouse gas emissions, none of these proposals would reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. They would, however, put government in charge of our entire economy, sharply increase energy prices for every business and household, kill millions of jobs, ensure that net tax revenues never materialize, and hurt poor families most.

War on hydrocarbons. America has abundant hydrocarbons, onshore and offshore, including centuries’ of natural gas for heating, petrochemicals, electricity generation and vehicles. But with little to hold their pre-election anti-energy instincts in check, the White House, EPA and Interior may still oppose the Keystone pipeline, further delay onshore and offshore drilling, and unleash a blitzkrieg of new rules on hydraulic fracturing and coal-fired power plants.

That would stifle job creation, revenue generation and economic growth, while leaving the nation dependent on despotic regimes and costly renewable energy schemes.

Renewable energy preferences. Antipathy toward oil, gas and coal is matched by the pincer move of mandates, fuel standards and subsidies for wind, solar and biofuel power. The first pitched battle will decide whether the “production tax credit” for wind-based electricity will be extended again.

Others will be fought over corn for food versus cars; growing opposition to bird-killing industrial wind facilities and habitat-smothering solar projects; the impact of pricey renewable energy on families, hospitals, factories, businesses and jobs; and corrupt corporate cronyism among politicians and the heavily subsidized campaign contributors they keep in business.

Unequal treatment under law. Mandates and subsidies are not enough to keep industrial wind facilities solvent. They also require exemptions from endangered species, migratory bird, environmental review and other laws.

Even the most speculative environmental impacts can scuttle oil, gas, coal and uranium proposals – and oil companies are routinely assessed major fines if ducks die in uncovered waste pits. However, wind operators incur no penalties for killing thousands of eagles, hawks, whooping cranes, bats and other rare and vital flying creatures every year. Citizens, companies, courts and legislators are expressing growing intolerance for separate regulatory regimes and unequal treatment under law.

Agenda science. Science, sound risk assessment and honest cost-benefit analyses have been replaced by conjecture, exaggeration, and agenda-driven politicized science at too many federal agencies. EPA is the worst offender, but the Interior, Energy and even Defense Departments are also culprits.

Risks from climate change, mercury, soot and industrial chemicals are routinely inflated, as are the purported benefits of exorbitantly expensive regulations. Meanwhile, the rules’ impacts on energy prices, business profits and competitiveness, jobs, and thus overall human health and welfare are ignored.

With total federal regulatory compliance costs now estimated at $1.75 trillion and 8.8 billion hours annually, this issue could become a legislative and regulatory Battle of Kursk.

Subsidized pressure and propaganda. Billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies continue to flow each year to bureaucratic zealots, environmentalist pressure groups, universities and other organizations – to fund junk science, strained justifications for indefensible rules, more pressure to regulate for increasingly diminished returns, and outright propaganda.

Federal and state legislators need to hold investigative hearings, demand accountability, cut bloated agency budgets that enable such expenditures, and question why tax-exempt activist groups should receive taxpayer money funneled through government agencies.

America can continue paying billions in subsidies annually to prop up “green” technologies and agenda-driven science. Or we can generate tens of billions a year in royalties and taxes, create millions of jobs, and rejuvenate our economy through hydrocarbons, nuclear power and commonsense regulations.

Will President Obama, Democrats and Executive Branch agencies be receptive to bipartisan approaches – to institutionalizing all-of-the-above (and below) energy decisions that make scientific, economic, environmental and technological sense? Or will they be even more entrenched, knowing the White House can act via executive decree, if Congress does nothing?

The answer will determine whether the United States becomes an economic powerhouse once again – or an enormous Greece, blessed with more oil, gas and coal than almost any other nation on earth, but refusing to develop its resources.

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About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

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  • Johnpd

    This website speaks the truth, as far as I can determine.
    You speak eminent commonsense, & don’t get a single response.
    What is the point of your existence?
    You have to make an impact on the public consciousness & the public conscience.
    Good luck,
    sincerely,
    JD.

    • Paul Lake

      CFACT is making an effort. It is no surprise to recognize that this site speaks mainly to people who are in general agreement. The climate alarmists see, but do not credit, information which contradicts their opinions, as we all tend to do, when we see arguments opposed to our opinions, a phenomenon psychologists call Confirmation Bias. One must persist, and also continue to strive to objectively evaluate the evidence supporting or opposing our opinions.

      • Watts Up With That blog also carries intelligent scientific rebuttals to the global warming fanatics’ posturing.

        But it may be a losing battle in the forseeable future

        For sadly, America has rejected a good leader, kept a bad leader.
        How sad.
        How dumb.
        How dangerous.
        We’re in big trouble.
        Pray for our dear land.

        .

  • jameshrust

    We need to spread this message throughout the groups of people dedicated to sensible policies from Washington. This would be conservative organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party. They should be encouraged to continually moniter Congress and their local state governments to let their views be known that a sensible energy policy is the only way for a prosperous America

  • “Military leaders like to say that their aircraft, ships and personnel can’t tell the difference
    between petroleum and biofuel. But their budgets can.
    Proponents say that the biofuels industry is at a crucial juncture and needs the right mix of policy, action and financial support to cross the bridge to commercialization.
    But if any leg of that support goes weak, the military may have to wait even
    longer for green fuel to reach competitive prices.

    To be sure, the costs have been coming down. The Navy is paying $12 million for 450,000 gallons of biofuel to power a carrier strike group off the coast of Hawaii this year. That $26.6-per-gallon purchase is nowhere near the $2.50 the service pays for
    each gallon of petroleum. (It has been stated that it would be about $16 per
    gallon if it were mixed with standard jet fuel.) But it can be considered a
    good deal when compared to what the Navy paid biofuels supplier Solazyme Inc.
    under a previous contract.

    The service in 2009 spent $8.5 million for 20,000 gallons of algae-based fuel. That works out to $425 per gallon. In the fall of that year, the Defense Logistics Agency paid
    Montana’s Sustainable Oils $2.7 million for 40,000 gallons of fuel from the
    camelina plant. That’s about $67.50 per gallon.”

    http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2012/June/Pages/BiofuelsIndustryatCrossroadsasMilitaryWaitsforLowerPrices.aspx
    The ones that are “brain dead” are those that do not push for LNG being used in
    transportation vehicles such as is done in other parts of the world to include
    18 wheeler trucks instead of being squandered to replace coal in generating
    electricity that removes 99% of the particulates from the stack emissions. Obama and his advisers will keep trying to shut down fracking and other methods to produce more resources for the nation, Unimaginable.

  • J.P. Katigbak

    The intellectual battle against the satanic worldview brought about by the ideological and philosophical doctrines of environmentalism, democratic republicanism, etc. could not go further effectively without a meaningful dialogue on how to understand reality while on the ground.

    It would be unimaginable not to take action on political, economic and social issues that affect various societies and economies around the world. As of right now, I am concerned that political correctness remains a stumbling block towards better long-term political and economic stability, sound science, the recognition of good traditional values and customs, a meaningful recognition of traditional institutions (including the institution of monarchy), environmental protection and many more.

    Hopefully, there can be no turning back in opposing such a shameful worldview which could end turning a blind eye on political correctness that still adversely affects various societies and economies around the world. Got that?

    Thanks very much, and I hope there would have meaningful discussions regarding the need to vigorously confront the reality and challenge the rather awfully satanic worldview that leads to an ideological burden left behind by activist ideologues on various societies and economies across the globe.

    Thanks again very much. – J.P.K.