Friday, February 22, 2008
I love this ad -- and notice, they are making this thing in EUROPE because of the carbon market there -- I've also seen information about this engine being sold to India, Bangladesh . . . etc.
Go Cow Power!!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Why have we not heard ONE PEEP from the "environmentalists" about the devastating potential of massive oil spills, toxic pollution, wildlife displacement and land degradation that oil extraction, refinement and distribution can lead to. Of course, you hear about all these ills from them when linked to the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) but do you EVER hear reports or scientific studies about the CUMULATIVE environmental impact that oil has on the world and the fate of the peoples near it?
Not only that -- but do you ever hear about the DEVASTATING cost in terms of terrorism promotion, human rights atrocities, religious persecution and overall dictator promotion -- that the oil industry empowers?
The environmental purist would say -- these problems affect people, not the environment, so that's not our scope of concern. But the pragmatic, WHOLE person obviously realizes that the more poverty, oppression and outright persecution that goes on in the world, the less likely that the environment will rank even a 23rd thought from most of the people in the world.
If you want to stop global deforestation -- you can make as strong of a case for helping to eliminate poverty in developing countries as you can for the need to cut back on domestic biofuel production -- MORE of a case. If you want to help the environment, you have to help the people in these countries be ABLE to care about their environment.
So - if biofuels have to have a land use penalty, then oil should take on a terrorism penalty -- it should account for all the misery and terrorism promotion that is furthered by its extraction, sale and distribution -- and it should definitely be a lifecycle analysis!
We are talking about an either/or situation here. If you oppose biofuels, THEN YOU SUPPORT OIL.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The Wall Street Journal (Environmental Capital Blog), Keith Johnson
Like a Federer-Nadal rally, the biofuels debate never ends. The latest volley comes from longtime ethanol researcher Michael Wang, who slams last week’s Science magazine study saying biofuels could be twice as dirty as fossil fuels.
In a letter to Sciencexpress, which published the original article, Dr. Wang, of the Argonne National Laboratory, and Dept. of Energy colleague Zia Haq take issue with the Science study, which sought to explore how using more land for growing biofuels could end up spewing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Far from making global warming worse, Wang and Haq argue that biofuels can provide a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels:
On the basis of our own analyses, production of corn-based ethanol in the United States so far results in moderate GHG emissions reductions. There has also been no indication that U.S. corn ethanol production has so far caused indirect land use changes in other countries…
Several other academics also took aim this week at the Science study’s conclusions. Wang and Haq take issue with loads of technical aspects of the Science study, lead-authored by Timothy Searchinger. They say the study used outdated models, misguided estimates of U.S. ethanol production, erroneous crop yield estimates, and faulty scenarios for future deforestation.
While scientific assessment of land use change issues is urgently needed in order to design policies that prevent unintended consequences from biofuel production, conclusions regarding the GHG emissions effects of biofuels based on speculative, limited land use change modeling may misguide biofuel policy development.
So does that mean the recent U.S. biofuel mandate is a good idea after all?
Saturday, February 16, 2008
One of the widely read blogs/websites in the DC Beltway (on enviro issues at least) is Gristmill.org
So, I checked out their blog and was not surprised to find yet another chapter in the increasingly coordinated attack on John McCain.
What really disturbed me about this post was that it was all about comparing McCain to Democrats who are all "far better" on the climate change issue -- this blind partisan idiocy drives me crazy. Its not politically hard for a liberal Democrat to support climate change -- ITS HARD FOR THEM TO SUPPORT A COMPROMISE BILL. Yet, the left has now started attacking even McCain's courage to engage in environmental issues because as the blog post notes, its only courage when you compare it to the other Republicans.
NEWS FLASH -- when Democrats had the Presidency AND the Congress -- they DID NOT pass massive pro-environmental legislation. This is not the neat, partisan issue that enviros want it to be.
All this got me thinking about why enviros want it to remain in their political domain. Think about it. When you are not fully engaged in an issue, you don't know all the acronyms, scientific advances and weaknesses -- let alone what the possible solutions might really be. Think of any environmental problem -- climate change, water or air pollution -- now think of what most enviro groups want to do to solve it? Radical, extremely costly, and unlikely actions seem to be their preferred choice. In any other issue, we understand that you can't go from 0 to 100 overnight -- but because so many Republicans and Independents have not been engaged in the environmental issue, it has been left to the far left to define it -- AND THEY HAVE.
The more diversity you have in an issue, the better the solutions/outcome are likely to be. So, I see the empty radical enviro promises of "solar power only" to fight climate change as actually a symptom of the weakness of the larger movement. Only when people from all walks of American political life get engaged in the issue will there be solutions that are even-handed, practical . . . and actually implemented!!
To read the Grist blog post that inspired this response, click here. I'm including my comment to the post just below.
The Hard Bigotry of Environmentalists
I'm just so sick of having the liberal left pat themselves on the back for being so purely green -- meanwhile taking actions that guarantee that real, important steps forward are BLOCKED because a few Republicans might get some credit for working on an environmental issue.
The universal slogan of the far left enviro groups should be: "Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good -- for our own good."
I was not surprised to see this post and many of the comments attack John McCain -- NOW that he's got the GOP nomination wrapped up. But please don't fool yourselves into believing that it has anything at all to do with actually getting climate change legislation passed or helping protect the planet. You see to do that, there is a necessary thing called COMPROMISE and BI-PARTISANSHIP -- and of course, anyone who engages in those dastardly things is automatically in league with polluters.
What doesn't get talked about NEARLY enough is how all the hyper-partisanship of the radical enviro groups (not all of enviros -- but many) destroys actual steps forward on environmental policy. Sure, you could say (as they do) that these "steps" are not perfect, and therefore, they prefer to just wait -- pumping up the issue in the media -- and, by the way FUNDRAISING LIKE CRAZY OFF OF IT, until there is so much overwhelming support that they get their "perfect bill".
Of course, if ANY of these people ever watched the PBS kids cartoon about how a bill becomes a law, they would know that purist, perfect policy DOESN'T PASS . . . because we have a system DESIGNED to be slow, thought out and requiring of COMPROMISE.
John McCain took a big step forward on the climate change issue for relatively little political gain and large political risk. If you are handing out "grades" for politicians and their "greenness" how about asking how many liberal Democrats ever did the same thing and told the leftist enviro groups that a compromise was needed to move the issue forward. It would be a short list indeed.
Sara Hessenflow Harper www.ecopragmatism.blogspot.com
Friday, February 15, 2008
What's really interesting -- is that they are willing to bet at all. Since climate change is the "most important issue of all time" to these people, they should be focused on getting started NOW.
If, as they say they believe, the bill needs to be tightened or tweaked -- they can do that after it passes MUCH easier and faster than waiting for the perfect bill to gain enough political support to pass (which just doesn't happen in Washington). We are talking about a bill that sets out action until 2050 - DOES ANYONE REALLY BELIEVE THERE AREN'T GOING TO BE CHANGES AS WE GO??
Its not like the Lieberman-Warner bill has just emerged -- these enviro groups said PLENTY of positive things about it when it first came out -- all sorts of praise for Warner getting "engaged" in the issue. But now, with real political momentum growing behind the bill -- its as if the closer the Lieberman-Warner bill gets to passing, the further away the environmentalist groups are going. Hence, I return to my assertion that these groups do not really want to pass a bill on climate change -- they want to raise money off the issue a little longer.
The interesting thing to watch will be whether all the other "green groups" follow suit -- or whether some of them have the political courage to remain in support of the best bill out there to get us started dealing with climate change in a market-friendly way.
What is SOOO disturbing for people like me who really care about this issue, is that the Lieberman-Warner bill is a DAMN good start -- and it strikes a balance between reducing emissions and not crashing the economy -- something that will HAVE to be done in order to pass ANY bill EVER.
For agriculture -- the stakes are high here as well -- because one of the "tweaks" that groups like the Sierra Club would make in creating the perfect climate bill -- would be to eliminate the ag offset market completely. If you are afraid of higher energy costs in the Lieberman-Warner bill (which are completely overblown) just WAIT for the bill that gets the support of the lefty enviros -- THAT is the scenario people should be opposing.
Environment & Energy Daily
CLIMATE: Sierra Club chief questions emissions bill compromises (02/15/2008)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&ENews PM senior reporter
The Sierra Club's executive director wants environmentalists to oppose any weakening of a major piece of global warming legislation given the prospects of a more friendly Congress and White House less than a year from now.
"We are being urged to compromise -- to put a system in place quickly, even if it is the wrong system," Carl Pope wrote in a guest essay published yesterday on the online environmental magazine Grist.
"Given that we only have one chance to get this right before it's too late, our top priority must be to make sure that we do not settle prematurely and sign a weak bill into law in the name of doing something about global warming," Pope added. "With momentum for strong action and a friendlier Congress and White House building every day, it's no coincidence that some wish to settle their accounts now."
Pope leads the country's largest "grass roots" environmental group, with 1.3 million members. He has spoken out forcefully several times over the last year on the Democrat-led campaign to enact climate legislation.
But his latest set of remarks offer the most comprehensive assessment of what it would take for Congress to win the Sierra Club's support. The essay also comes as Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain stands on the verge of winning his party's presidential nomination, all but guaranteeing the next president will support a stronger U.S. climate policy compared with President Bush.
Pope's essay outlined four key criteria that signal the Sierra Club wants to see changes to the fastest-moving vehicle on Capitol Hill, a bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) expected on the Senate floor this spring.
Congress should ratchet up the bill's emission limits to 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 for the entire U.S. economy. It also should auction off all of the emission credits needed for compliance with the new U.S. cap-and-trade system. If any credits go out for free, Pope said they "must be limited in size and restricted to a short transition period."
As written, the Lieberman-Warner bill seeks to limit emissions to roughly the same limits as Pope suggests. But the bill would cover about 85 percent of the country's greenhouse-gas sources, leaving out commercial and residential buildings. The bill includes both an auction and free allowances, but not on the scale sought by the Sierra Club.
Opposing coal, nuclear power
The Sierra Club also wants to channel auction revenue away from the development of new coal or nuclear power plants. Instead, it suggests that the funds go toward renewable energy research, to help offset energy costs for low-income consumers and to give in-transition assistance to workers and regions affected by the new climate policy. [Sara's note: WHAT!! So they want to take down the bill that actually PROVIDES rebates to people affected by higher energy costs . . . generated from the auctions they so hate -- and instead, put more money into RESEARCH . . . yeah, that's had a GREAT track record of bringing down costs by itself.]
In a nod to industry demands, the Lieberman-Warner bill leaves open the prospect that auction revenue can go toward nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration from coal plants. Industry groups, in fact, want to see even more explicit language on both items.
Pope likened the current dilemma over a compromise on climate legislation to the 1970 debate over the Clean Air Act.
Then, electric utilities successfully pleaded with lawmakers to grandfather the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants from having to install state-of-the-art pollution controls. That agreement led to a lengthy legal fight that still continues to this day over the law's New Source Review permit and enforcement program.
"This time if we get it wrong, we can't argue we didn't see it coming," Pope said of industry calls for free emission allowances.
Environmental groups have offered Congress a wide set of opinions on what to do with global warming legislation during this election year.
Friends of the Earth is running print and television ads urging lawmakers to "Fix or Ditch" the Lieberman-Warner bill. By contrast, Environmental Defense earlier this week testified before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of moving the Lieberman-Warner bill this year with only minor modifications.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Below is a terrific critique from some of the folks at the Argonne National Lab -- the people who created the model that Searchinger used in his study. I've highlighted some of the key parts. Now the question is -- will the media ask these same questions and give the critique the same air time that the hyped up "study" was given? And another burning question to ponder -- WILL THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS TAKE NOTE and agree that a study is only as good as the data used to generate it. Garbage In, Garbage Out!
Nothing angers me more than short-sighted environmentalists who line up ARM IN ARM with the oil industry to tear down biofuels -- the one transportation fuel we have now that COULD be sustainable if done right.
Response to February 7, 2008 Sciencexpress Article
Michael Wang of Argonne's Transportation Technology R&D Center and Zia Haq of the Department of Energy's Office of Biomass respond to the article by Searchinger et al. in the February 7, 2008, Sciencexpress, "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases through Emissions from Land Use Change"
Letter to Science
Center for Transportation Research
Office of Biomass Program
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The article by Searchinger et al. in Sciencexpress ("Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases through Emissions from Land Use Change," February 7, 2008) provides a timely discussion of fuel ethanol's effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when taking into account GHG emissions from potential land use changes induced by ethanol production.
Land use change issues associated with biofuels were explored in life-cycle analyses beginning in early 1990s (Delucchi 1991). In general, the land use changes that occur as a result of biofuel production can be separated into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct land use changes involve direct displacement of land for farming of the feedstocks needed for biofuel production. Indirect land use changes are those made to accommodate farming of food commodities in other places in order to maintain the global food supply and demand balance.
Searchinger et al. used the GREET model developed by one of us at Argonne National Laboratory in their study (see Wang 1999). They correctly stated that the GREET model includes GHG emissions from direct land use changes associated with corn ethanol production; the emissions estimates in GREET are based on land use changes modeled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1999 for an annual production of 4 billion gallons of corn ethanol in the United States by 2010. Needless to say, the ethanol production level simulated by USDA in 1999 has been far exceeded by actual ethanol production — about 6 billion gallons in 2007 (Renewable Fuels Association 2008). Thus, the resultant GHG emissions from land use changes provided in the current GREET version need to be updated. Argonne, and several other organizations, recently began to address both direct and indirect land use changes associated with future, much-expanded
Many critical factors determine GHG emission outcomes of land use changes. First, we need to clearly define a baseline for global food supply and demand and cropland availability without the
Searchinger et al. modeled a case in which
Corn yield per acre is a key factor in determining the total amount of land needed for a given level of corn ethanol production. It is worth noting that
Searchinger et al. also assumed that distillers' grains and solubles (DGS) from corn ethanol plants would displace corn on a pound-for-pound basis. The one-to-one displacement ratio between DGS and corn fails to recognize that the protein content of DGS is much higher than that of corn (28% vs. 9%). The actual displacement value of DGS is estimated to be at least 23% higher than that assumed by Searchinger et al. (Klopfenstein et al. 2008).
Searchinger et al. estimated that
Searchinger et al. had to decide what land use changes would be needed in Brazil, the United States, China, and India to meet their simulated requirement for 10.8 million hectares of new crop land. With no data or modeling, Searchinger et al. used the historical land use changes that occurred in the 1990s in individual countries to predict future land use changes in those countries (2015 and beyond). This assumption is seriously flawed by predicting deforestation in the Amazon and conversion of grassland into crop land in
In estimating the GHG emissions payback period for corn ethanol, Searchinger et al. relied on the 20% reduction in GHG emissions that is provided in the GREET model for the current ethanol industry. Future corn ethanol plants could improve their energy efficiency by avoiding DGS drying (in some ethanol plants) or switching to energy sources other than natural gas or coal, either of which would result in greater GHG emissions reductions for corn ethanol (Wang et al. 2007). Searchinger et al. failed to address this potential for increased efficiency in ethanol production. [Note - this is part of what EDF was exploring with the policy of certifying low carbon and ultra low carbon forms of ethanol]
In one of the sensitivity cases, Searchinger et al. examined cellulosic ethanol production from switchgrass grown on land converted from corn farms. Cellulosic biomass feedstocks for ethanol production could come from a variety of sources. Oak Ridge National Laboratory completed an extensive assessment of biomass feedstock availability for biofuel production (Perlack et al. 2005). With no conversion of crop land in the
On the basis of our own analyses, production of corn-based ethanol in the
The Searchinger et al. study demonstrated that indirect land use changes are much more difficult to model than direct land use changes. To do so adequately, researchers must use general equilibrium models that take into account the supply and demand of agricultural commodities, land use patterns, and land availability (all at the global scale), among many other factors. Efforts have only recently begun to address both direct and indirect land use changes (see Birur et al. 2007). At this time, it is not clear what land use changes could occur globally as a result of
Birur, D.K., T.W. Hertel, and W.E. Tyner, 2007, The Biofuel Boom: The Implications for the World Food Markets, presented at the Food Economy Conference,
Delucchi, M.A., 1991, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from the Use of Transportation Fuels and Electricity, ANL/ESD/TM-22, Volume 1, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., Nov.
Fargione, J., J. Hill, D. Tilman, S. Polasky, and P. Hawthorne, 2008, "Land Cleaning and Biofuel Carbon Debt," Sciencexpress, available at www.sciencexpress.org, Feb. 7.
Klopfenstein, T. J., G.E. Erickson, and V.R. Bremer, 2008, "Use of Distillers' By-Products in the Beef Cattle Feeding Industry," forthcoming in Journal of Animal Science.
Korves, R., 2007, The Potential Role of Corn Ethanol in Meeting the Energy Needs of the United States in 2016–2030, prepared for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Pro-Exporter Network, Dec.
Perlack, R.D., L.L. Wright, A. Turhollow, R.L. Graham, B. Stokes, and D.C. Urbach, 2005, Biomass as Feedstock for Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: the Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply, prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ORNL/TM-2005/66, Oak Ridge National Laboratory,
RFA (Renewable Fuels Association), 2008, Industry Statistics, available at http://www. ethanolrfa.org/industry/statistics/, accessed Feb. 13, 2008.
Searchinger, T., R. Heimlich, R.A. Houghton, F. Dong, A. Elobeid, J. Fabiosa, S. Tokgoz, D. Hayes, and T.H. Yu, 2008, "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases through Emissions from Land Use Change," Sciencexpress, available at www.sciencexpress.org, Feb. 7.
Wang, M., 1999, GREET 1.5 – Transportation Fuel-Cycle Model, Volume 1: Methodology, Development, Use, and Results, ANL/ESD-39, Volume 1, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory,
Wang, M, M. Wu, and H. Hong, 2007, "Life-Cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts of Different Corn Ethanol Plant Types," Environmental Research Letter, 2: 024001 (13 pages).
For More Information
Contact Michael Wang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Take a look at the latest crazy ramblings of Venezuela's Chavez -- just one of the many delightful dictators who own the oil we need. And yet, who do environmentalists take aim at? THE DOMESTIC BIOFUELS INDUSTRY.
C'mon!I'll say it again -- there is a way to line up environmental benefits with energy security . . . and we will only get there when the pragmatic, common sense voices are empowered and make themselves heard in DC.
Chavez Threatens US Oil Cutoff
2/10/08 Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.
"If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said. "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."
Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government.
A British court has issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $12 billion in assets.
"I speak to the U.S. empire, because that's the master: continue and you will see that we won't sent one drop of oil to the empire of the United States," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello, President."
"The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us," Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil company of acting in concert with Washington.
Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez's warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government's nationalization drive in courts internationally.
"If the economic war continues against Venezuela, the price of oil is going to reach $200 (a barrel) and Venezuela will join the economic war," Chavez said. "And more than one country is willing to accompany us in the economic war."
The National 25x'25 Steering Committee has issued a response to widespread media coverage of studies published by Science magazine last week. While the studies address the potential for increased climate change brought on by the improper use of sensitive lands for the purposes of producing biofuel feedstocks, the 25x'25 response notes that the coverage fails to recognize the significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that can be realized from second generation biofuels and feedstocks. The response, a formal statement being distributed to all 25x'25 partners and to the 25x'25 media list, says there are major shortcomings in the mainstream media coverage of the studies, and cites important points that need to be considered in subsequent discussions of this important and complex issue: Contact: Ernie Shea, 25x'25 Project Coordinator, email@example.com.
The National 25x'25 Steering Committee has issued a response to widespread media coverage of studies published by Science magazine last week. While the studies address the potential for increased climate change brought on by the improper use of sensitive lands for the purposes of producing biofuel feedstocks, the 25x'25 response notes that the coverage fails to recognize the significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that can be realized from second generation biofuels and feedstocks. The response, a formal statement being distributed to all 25x'25 partners and to the 25x'25 media list, says there are major shortcomings in the mainstream media coverage of the studies, and cites important points that need to be considered in subsequent discussions of this important and complex issue:
Contact: Ernie Shea, 25x'25 Project Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read my full outrage on this topic -- click here to see the original post.
The basic point to remember is that if you want to inspire an outcome in another country -- the best chance of achieving that is creating a market incentive for them to respond to. Backtracking on our ethanol production and use will not stop China from continuing their expanding demand and production of ethanol and biofuels in general -- they are already #3 in the world in ethanol production. No -- if you want to stop deforestation because of all the precious carbon those rainforests are holding -- THEN BLOODY WELL RECOGNIZE IT IS A PRECIOUS COMMODITY AND PAY THEM FOR IT!! If the lefty enviro groups were really interested in solving a problem, rather than punishing polluters, they would take some of their cash resources and pay developing countries to keep their rainforests intact. Some groups do help with this -- but not the radical left -- they would much rather force those countries to do their bidding by denying them market choices rather than creating more positive ones.
The story below illustrates the idea of an international carbon market and how it could help send the market signal to developing countries that their rainforests just might be worth more than the crops they could grow on that land -- so, no need for world government dictatorial edicts -- these countries will WANT to preserve carbon once it is treated as the valuable commodity that it is.
Why not put your energy and money into creating this market rather than attacking the ethanol market. Ask yourself -- who wins by continuing to polarize the ENTIRE middle of the country by trashing the biofuel they are so rightly proud of??
Americans should refuse the very limited and manipulative thinking from the radical enviros that says you have to either want your country to get off of oil OR care about the environment and the planet. They can be the same thing!!!!
Environment & Energy Daily
Global warming panel to study int'l deforestation (02/11/2008)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Daily senior reporter
The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming turns its attention this week to deforestation's role in causing climate change.
The panel's Thursday hearing will consider options for protecting tropical rainforests, including those in Indonesia, Brazil and Costa Rica. A proposal under debate in the Senate would tie auction revenue from a cap-and-trade system to funding for developing countries.
Another idea approved through United Nations' global warming negotiations would set up a system that allows developing countries to receive payment in an international carbon market to stop cutting down trees.
Last December's U.N. conference in Bali concluded with diplomats agreeing to study deforestation and work through a series of important technical details on measuring emission reductions. The U.N. agreement aims to ensure there is no leakage as loggers move to other forests outside the program.
Andrew Mitchell, director of the London-based Global Canopy Programme, called the U.N. agreement "a watershed moment."
The World Bank has also launched a $300 million pilot program to help about 20 countries protect their forest. And the Norwegian government has pledged about $2.5 billion over five years for the cause.
Rainforest nations started their efforts several years ago to be included in a new U.N. climate agreement but couldn't get much traction. That changed last year as the scientific evidence mounted about the threats of climate change, and experts were able to show the developing countries could play a big role in reducing emissions by slowing and stopping their deforestation rates.
"We went from being totally in isolation to now being an active part of the discussions," Papua New Guinea climate delegate Kevin Conrad said at the conclusion of the U.N. conference. "That's excellent. But now the hard work begins."
Schedule: The hearing is on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. Room TBA.
Industry is starting to come to the conclusion (rightfully so in my view) that this type of action from the left shows just what they might be facing if they wait to pass a climate bill in the next administration when these groups may have more sway over Congress and possibly the President. Take a look at an excerpt from the blog of OpenCongress -- a website that tracks whats going on at Capitol Hill:
To read the full article on this, click here for OpenCongress
But just as the blog and non-profit driven opposition to Lieberman-Warner is starting to be considered an actual threat, the energy industry is increasingly throwing its powerful support behind it. Ryan Grim of the Politico quotes a top House aide saying that there is “'consensus among leadership that there is a good chance' a climate change bill will pass in 2008, partly because industry — worried about getting a tougher bill in 2009 — is getting behind it." And Tom Athanasiou of Foreign Policy in Focus quotes an anonymous congressional staffer saying that "Lieberman-Warner is increasingly looking like 'the best deal that American business will ever get.'”
A couple of weeks ago, representatives of the coal, gas and oil industry met for a conference and agreed to support the Lieberman-Warner bill because, as David Parker, president and CEO of the American Gas Association, said, "future legislation could be even harder on the industry." A link to a full video of the conference has been posted in the bill's comment section on OpenCongress.
Friday, February 8, 2008
It doesn't take a genius to see what's going on here -- its been going on for decades in Washington and is reason #1 why most Republican offices have NO incentive to ever work cooperatively with most environmental groups on environmental issues.
I remember well when I worked for a very conservative U.S. Senator trying to work with some of these groups to find a compromise on environmental issues. Some of my fellow Republican staffers who had been around longer than I put it like this:
Enviro groups will NEVER stick with a Republican even if he/she does what they want on the environment. Whatever a Republican does will NEVER be good enough --
and these groups will ALWAYS support a Republican's opponent because they
are ideologically liberal. So - the only thing that comes from working with these
groups is that you anger your home constituency and get treated worse by the
enviro groups for even venturing a toe into their "green" turf than if you always
voted against them every time.
Its sad to say, but I have seen this bear out more times than I can count -- and here is just another case in point. Just look at the green "pile on" in the story below for Sen. McCain missing a vote on the STIMULUS PACKAGE -- not an environmental bill. Saying things like "this erodes all the goodwill he generated with environmentalists." And talking about how all the leadership he has done on the climate change issue is now worthless because "he wasn't there when he was needed" -- again, on a vote for the STIMULUS PACKAGE!!
Is it fair to criticize the Senator for missing the vote -- because it contained some tax incentives for clean energy? Sure. But once again, the green extreme team of Friends of the Earth, this time joined by Sierra Club and Environment America (which is just a spin off of another radical enviro group) have gone beyond what is fair and using this as the opportunity they would have created anyway to back away from and then bash Sen. McCain for daring to try to work with them to solve what they describe as the biggest environmental threat of all time.
I'm just so sick of this -- which is a major reason I started this blog. This kind of partisan hackery needs to be called for what it is -- and not disguised any longer as true concern for the environment. I don't care if they want to dedicate their lives to making sure that only liberal people are elected -- fine. But then call yourselves what you are -- a liberal action network, not one that is protecting the environment -- unless of course you define protecting the environment as destroying any chance to pass pro-environmental legislation. To do that, requires a MAJORITY of votes -- which means . . . say it with me . . . you need some REPUBLICANS.
When you tar and feather the guy who has done the most recently on the biggest environmental issue of the day -- what message are you sending about your desire to work for change? About your commitment to bi-partisanship? About your commitment to SOLUTIONS?? You are saying you don't care about the environment enough to set politics aside for the environment.
I'm glad to have found that there are environmental groups out there who do stay out of the politics and are genuinely willing to do the hard work of building up people and issues into a long-lasting coalition that brings change. Again, groups like The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation are providing an incredibly important service to the environment and their members by being positively engaged. But too often their approach is not the norm in the green community -- and it will never become the norm as long as no one explains how detrimental the partisan enviro groups really are to the whole cause.
CAMPAIGN 2008: McCain's failure to vote on stimulus draws enviro groups' fire (02/07/2008)Alex Kaplun, Greenwire reporter
Sen. John McCain's decision to skip last night's vote on the Democrats' stimulus plan is drawing fire from environmentalists, who -- until now -- have refrained from criticizing the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.
Although the Arizona senator has a mixed reputation among environmentalists, many see him as a Republican willing to side with Democrats on key energy votes. But leaders of several major advocacy groups said today that McCain's refusal to vote on the stimulus package -- which included extensions of tax credits for renewable energy projects -- might have squandered his goodwill with environmentalists.
"When his presence was needed most, he didn't show up," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth Action. "That is not straight talk. It is not being a friend of the environment."
The stimulus package failed to pick up the 60 votes needed last night in a 58-41 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote to a 'no' at the last minute in order to reserve the right to bring the bill back later.
Reid said this morning he would continue talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about moving ahead on stimulus legislation, although he conceded that there might not be a vote until tomorrow or early next week. "We don't have a way forward yet," he said, "and we're going to see if we can continue working to see if we can have a way forward."
McCain was the only lawmaker who was not present for last night's vote. Both Democratic presidential candidates -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois -- voted in favor of the legislation.
The stimulus vote created a potentially difficult political situation for McCain.
On the one hand, the package contained not only energy incentives but also aid for seniors and disabled veterans -- issues that likely would play well for McCain on the campaign trail.
But the legislation was opposed by both President Bush and the Senate Republican leaders, and political strategists say that one of McCain's biggest challenges will be gaining the support of his party's conservative base. Winning that support might be more complicated with a vote against conservative interests on a highly visible bill.
McCain was in Washington yesterday, but he failed to appear on the floor for the vote. A McCain spokeswoman said he would have voted against the legislation. "Even if he were here, his vote would not have affected the outcome," spokeswoman Melissa Shuffield said.
The stimulus vote came one day after Super Tuesday primaries in which McCain won several big states and appeared to be pulling away from his rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Environmentalists argued that McCain's failure to vote undermines many promises he made in the days leading up to Super Tuesday -- particularly his vows to address global warming and reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
"All eyes were on John McCain yesterday, when you lose narrowly by one vote, you don't show up, it's critical," said Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist with the Sierra Club. "He's been heard all around the country talking about supporting clean energy and dealing with climate change, but when the rubber hits the road, he wasn't there."
This was the second time in recent months that McCain failed to cast what could have been a deciding vote on a major piece of energy legislation.
In mid-December, Senate Democrats failed to defeat, in a 59-40 vote, a GOP filibuster on the sweeping energy bill that contained tax provisions to boost investments for alternative energy technology. McCain was the only senator to not vote on the legislation; he was campaigning in Iowa that day.
Most major environmental groups have yet to endorse a candidate for president and it remains unclear exactly when they would do so. Group leaders say they expect McCain's recent lack of votes to become an issue in the general election as he tries to sway voters by using his position on energy issues.
"I think people will weigh his stated concern about global warming ... with him not being there," said Anna Aurilio, head of the Washington office for the group Environment America.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Oil -- yes, oil -- the LEAST sustainable, MOST carbon-intense transportation fuel possible -- they prefer it. Again -- do we see some alliances with the oil industry here? Maybe environmentalists need oil to keep doing what they are doing?
See the news blurb below from National Public Radio -- talking about the latest assault on the only potentially sustainable, low carbon fuel we have right now -- brought to you by those who claim to be defenders of the environment.
This is one of the KEY examples of a lack of pragmatism in the existing environmental groups today -- and yet another reason why a new coalition must emerge -- one based on solving problems rather than demonizing possible solutions to environmental problems.
Does ethanol have potential environmental problems -- sure. Do those problems outweigh what it has to offer NO NO NO!!!
The gist of the new attack on ethanol's climate credibility is that an expanded ethanol market will drive international farmers to burn down the rainforest to grow more corn -- and as a result, more GHG emissions will occur than without the higher ethanol demand.
There are so many crazy things about this study, I don't know where to begin.
- Show me the system that allows us to control what other countries will do on anything! If Brazil is going to cut down its rainforest because the U.S. expands its ethanol use/demand -- WHAT'S TO SAY THEY WON'T DO THIS REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE DO??
- Show me that this study actually factored in expected gains in yield that are predicted in the future based on biotechnology and new seed traits that are in development
- Why is this study assuming that corn ethanol will be the only form of ethanol when one of the main drivers for ethanol, the Renewable Fuels Standard, focuses most of the demand increase on cellulosic ethanol -- coming from ag residue or switchgrass
Of course, that would be a lot of work and would require actually focusing on the solution to a problem.
Study: Corn Fuels Hurt Climate More Than Gasoline
All Things Considered, February 7, 2008 · Here's some shocking news for the ethanol fuels industry — and the climate. A new study finds that the climate would be much better off if we burned gasoline instead of corn-based ethanol. The report in Science shows that the biofuels industry is fueling substantial deforestation, particularly in the tropics. And when you take that into account, the industry is actually driving a big increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Federal law requires new biofuels plants to prove that they are good for the climate — taking into account land-use changes. If this study holds up, it could but the brakes on crop-based biofuels in the United States.
As a criticism, this is worth discussing -- so lets look at what the bill actually calls for (a refreshing change from the Exxon-FOE-Greenpeace mantra on this issue).
One man’s “giveaway to polluters” is another man’s “transition assistance.” The Lieberman-Warner bill (S.2191) devotes 8% of the cumulative value of allowances from enactment though 2050 to transition assistance (“giveaways to polluters”). The remaining 92% goes to state governments, energy consumers, wildlife adaptation, farmers and foresters, etc. The attached chart (also posted here: http://lieberman.senate.gov/documents/acsaemission.pdf) shows three snapshots of the allocation system over time (2012, 2022, and 2031).
By 2031, polluters are not receiving any free allowances. The economic modeling shows that if you do not provide regulated entities with a substantial amount of free allowances in the early years of the program, before the advanced energy technologies have had a chance to deploy widely, then the program will be substantially more expensive for energy consumers and others.
Another good perspective can be found from a blog comment left by Anthony Kriendler of Environmental Defense (below). You can Click Here to see the whole string of discussion.
As passed by committee, the bill only allocates 49 percent of allowances to regulated entities, and we get to full auction by 2031. There are a lot of good arguments for increasing the rate at which CSA moves to 100 percent auction, and there are a lot of good arguments for why that might not be achievable politically. In the end though, without a cap on emissions, there are no allocations to make, no auctions to have, and no greenhouse gas reductions. And that's what we're all working for here: reducing emissions. -- Environmental Defense
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Almost as a prod for me to get back to this topic, many of the traditional "environmentalist" groups are now backing away from their earlier support of the Lieberman-Warner bill (or some never supported it as being too practical to begin with). Take a look at an excerpt from today's E&E Daily:
Greenpeace joined Friends of the Earth in demanding improvements to a climate bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) that could hit the Senate floor by the end of spring.
Let's be clear on what's going on here -- these are groups who have led the charge saying climate change is the worst problem facing the planet since . . . EVER, and they are now backing away from the bill that has the support of the GREENEST Senator in the body, Sen. Boxer, because SHE IS BEING TOO EASY ON POLLUTERS?? Give me a break!!!
How, you might ask, do these groups have the nerve to say this? Its quite simple really -- they don't care about passing a bill on climate change, they want to drag the issue out until the next administration (which they assume will be a Democrat) using it as a political football and fundraising vehicle in chief.
It is this type of hyper-partisan thinking that has turned off so many Americans from engaging in environmental policy -- which of course, has the added benefit of making the radical enviro groups have more weight than they should because fewer interests are engaged in learning about and shaping environmental policy.
It is these groups, unfortunately, who scream the loudest -- but people should know that they are not the only environmental voices out there. What's more -- people should see this as the golden opportunity that it is to embrace pragmatic solutions and present them to the public in a unified fashion. Industry is increasingly getting into the green game -- seeing profit where there used to be only expense -- and don't think that doesn't drive some of these groups absolutely crazy -- because to them profit is ALWAYS at the expense of the environment.
I'm so sick of the radical enviros (I say that to distinguish between the more moderate groups like The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense and National Wildlife Federation) defining environmental problems through a liberal political lens -- and NEVER accepting the fact that change happens incrementally and in a transformative way. Ultimately, they are not really trying to bring change -- they would rather just be "right" on their little purist policy islands.
You know who this kind of crap helps? POLLUTERS! Isn't that just priceless? I'd love to see an ad campaign with Exxon, Greenpeace and FOE -- because they are all on the same side of the issue -- just for different reasons of course.
Please read below the full article in today's E&E Daily for many examples of what I'm talking about.
The writing's on the wall -- since Sen. McCain looks like he is going to be the Republican nominee -- many enviro groups are gearing up to oppose him regardless of the fact that he was the leading breakthrough Republican on the issue they claim is of most importance to the planet. Its too bad that politics trumps the environment -- from groups who claim to have that as their only interest.
So - what are we going to do about this folks?? I have some ideas -- I'd like to hear yours -- then we can brainstorm next time.
CLIMATE: Enviro groups search for one voice in Lieberman-Warner debate (02/06/2008)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Daily senior reporter
Environmental groups remain at odds over whether Senate Democrats should push for compromise global warming legislation in 2008.
On Monday, Greenpeace joined Friends of the Earth in demanding improvements to a climate bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) that could hit the Senate floor by the end of spring.
Other green groups say they feel the same way. But most are taking a less aggressive public stance as the bill's lead sponsors embark on the painstaking struggle to find 60 votes in favor of a first-ever U.S. cap on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer stands in the middle of the debate.
The California Democrat is trying to keep together a fragile coalition that voted in December to move the bill out of the EPW Committee. But she also must win over at least a dozen other senators who haven't traditionally favored strict government mandates.
As Boxer and her allies make their pitch, Friends of the Earth piped up last week with a Web and print ad campaign calling for Democrats working on the Lieberman-Warner bill to either "Fix It or Ditch It."
The group asked why Democrats would try to move a climate plan that is weaker than proposals from the party's own presidential candidates, especially when Lieberman and Warner both endorse Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's bid for the White House.
Boxer responded in an interview last week that she was "focused like a laser beam on getting the strongest bill through the Senate." And she questioned whether Friends of the Earth's strategy took into account the complexity of moving climate legislation through Congress while also notching White House support.
"They're sort of the defeatist group out there," Boxer said. "They've been defeatists from day one. And it's unfortunate. They're isolated among the environmental groups" (E&E Daily, Jan. 31).
Greenpeace steps in
Fanned by several left-leaning blogs, Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director John Passacantando came to Friends of the Earth's defense in a letter sent Monday to Boxer.
"I write to express my profound disappointment in your reaction to Friends of the Earth's 'Fix It or Ditch It' campaign," Passacantando wrote. "I was surprised to read your reaction because in my mind, their 'Fix It or Ditch It' campaign represents the principles I thought you stood for."
At the start of 2007, Boxer cosponsored an aggressive climate plan with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that pressed for deep emission cuts of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. But to the chagrin of many on the left, Boxer worked over the year to help craft the Lieberman-Warner compromise plan that included less stringent mid-century targets.
Boxer responded to Passacantando yesterday with a letter of her own in support of the Lieberman-Warner bill, which she said included tougher short-term emission targets in 2020 compared with the Sanders-Boxer bill. Also, Boxer maintained the legislation pending before the Senate would make tens of billions of dollars in "unprecedented investment" in wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.
"We share a commitment to protecting the planet," Boxer wrote to Greenpeace. "We both understand that time is of the essence in the fight against global warming. I believe that we have an opportunity with the Lieberman-Warner bill to make enormous progress toward our shared goals. It is time to bring the global warming debate to the floor of the U.S. Senate."
Greenpeace climate campaigner Chris Miller said yesterday that Friends of the Earth was not isolated, citing student activists and author Bill McKibben's "Step it Up" campaign that led to two nationwide public protests in support of much stronger U.S. global warming legislation.
Miller also argued that Boxer and the Democrats shouldn't compromise now considering lawmakers will likely only have one shot at adopting near-term climate legislation. "They've got to get it right," he said. "The way they handle every other issue is to get it done and say they got it done, and then it goes away for a long time."
Environmental Defense earlier this week signaled it would stand behind Boxer's effort to get a bill through Congress along the lines of the Lieberman-Warner plan.
Mark MacLeod, director of the special projects division at Environmental Defense, sent Senate offices an e-mail pleading with them to coordinate on a letter or ad campaign in support of Boxer, the Senate EPW Committee and the Lieberman-Warner legislation.
"There are growing calls in the liberal blogosphere for opposition to the bill and a general push against passing any climate bill in this Congress," MacLeod wrote. "This position has NOT yet solidified but will become orthodoxy if we do not present a counterview from respected pro-environment voices."
It's nothing new to see environmental groups fight over strategy. But it's far from clear what effect the current feud will have on this year's debate.
Officials at the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council declined comment yesterday when asked about the latest chapter in the internal environmental group feud.
Rafe Pomerance, a former Clinton administration climate negotiator who now runs the advocacy group Clean Air-Cool Planet, said environmental groups shouldn't be so sure they'll get a better climate law in 2009 -- even if a Democrat wins the White House.
"The environmentalists have got a problem," he said "They've got themselves locked into positions where it's difficult to move. ... They've got very high expectations."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of the key swing votes in the Senate climate debate, said the environmentalists' concerns are just one of many subplots in the debate.
"I don't know if it will cause it to self-implode," she said. "It's a dynamic that's part of the mix right now."
Boxer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hope to bring the Lieberman-Warner bill up before the end of May. Once there, they're sure to face a filibuster threat from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the EPW Committee.
In an interview yesterday, Inhofe predicted victory once Reid sees he doesn't have the 60 votes needed to limit the debate. "I'm not sure he's going to want to bring something up that is going to consume six weeks," Inhofe said.