Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The EPA Snake Pit

By Alan Caruba

Under President Obama, three women have been the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, her acolyte Lisa Jackson, and up for the post is Gina McCarthy. Browner and Jackson went out of their way to conceal their internal communications from Congress and McCarthy lied to the committee considering her nomination.

How bad is the EPA? The Society of Environmental Journalists, on the occasion of the April 11 hearing on McCarthy’s nomination, released a statement that said, “The Obama administration has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification on a host of environmental, health and public lands issues.” The SEJ accused the EPA of being “one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press.”

Apparently, the primary consideration for the job of EPA Director is an intense desire to destroy the use of hydrocarbons, oil, coal and natural gas, for transportation and all other forms of energy on which our economy depends. Obama, when campaigning in 2008, made it clear he wanted end the use of coal to generate electricity. At the time, fifty percent of all electricity was produced by coal and now that figure is in decline as coal-fired plants are being forced to close thanks to EPA regulations.

If Ms. McCarthy has her way, the cost of driving cars and trucks will go up in the name of protecting the health of Americans. As Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, recently noted, “Since 1970, America’s cars have eliminated 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes.” Joel Schwartz, co-author of “Air Quality in America”, points out, “Today’s cars are essentially zero-emission vehicles, compared to 1970 models.” The EPA’s latest attack on drivers is the implementation of “Tier 3 rules” intended to reduce sulfur levels to achieve zero air quality or health benefits.

Suffice to say that the air and water in America is clean, very clean. Whatever health hazards existed in the 1970s no longer exist. Like all bureaucracies, the EPA now exists to expand its budget and its control over our lives. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that Obama’s EPA’s twenty “major” regulations—those that cost $100 million or more annually—could cost the U.S. more than $36 billion per year. Obama’s EPA has generated 1,920 new regulations.

Don’t think of the EPA as a government agency. It is a weapon of economic destruction.

This has not gone unnoticed. A recent Wall Street Journal opinion by John Barrasso, a Republican Senator from Wyoming, noted that “During President Obama’s first term, EPA policies discouraged energy exploration, buried job creators under red tape, and deliberately hid information from the public.”

“Many EPA regulations,” said Sen. Barrasso, “chased microscopic benefits at maximum cost,” noting for example that “The EPA has proposed dropping the acceptable amount of ozone in the air from the 75 parts per billion allowed today to 60 or 70 parts per billion. The agency concedes that the rule would have a minimal effect on American’s health, but says it would cost as much as $90 billion a year. A study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation estimated it would eliminate up to 7.3 million jobs in a wide variety of industries, including refining.”

The other sector in the EPA’s bull’s eye is agriculture. Not content with laying siege to auto manufacturers, oil refineries, coal-fired plants, and all other energy users that might generate carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, Barrasso noted that the EPA “has gathered personal information about tens of thousands of livestock farmers and the locations of their operations” which it then shared with environmental groups.

Writing in The Daily Caller, Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist and currently the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, characterized the EPA as “a miasma populated by the most radical, disaffected and anti-industry discards from other agencies,” adding that there was “entrenched institutional paranoia and an oppositional world view.” 

“Unscientific policies and regulatory grandiosity and excess,” wrote Dr. Miller, “are not EPA’s only failings; neglecting to weigh costs and benefits is shockingly common, noting that “The EPA’s repeated failures should not come as a surprise because the agency has long been a haven for scientifically insupportable policies perpetrated by anti-technology ideologues.”

Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, pointed out Gina McCarthy, the nominee to direct the EPA, “has a history of misleading Congress and the public about her agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. “At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October 2011, McCarthy denied motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards are “related to” fuel economy standards. In doing so,” said Lewis, “she denied plain facts she must know to be true. She did so under oath.”

“The EPA has no statutory authority to regulate fuel economy. More importantly, the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations ‘related to’ fuel economy.”

The point of this exercise is demonstrate that the EPA is the very definition of a “rogue agency” for which neither laws, nor science, are of any consequence as it pursues policies that do incalculable harm at a time when the nation is deep in debt and in need of economic growth, not regulatory strangulation.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day's Big Lie


By Alan Caruba

Monday, April 22, is Earth Day. Begun in 1970, it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. It is the global platform for the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing the Earth to warm and the basis of the environmental movement’s ceaseless efforts to reduce the use of energy for any reason.

Carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has been increasing, but the Earth has been cooling due to reduced solar radiation. CO2 has virtually no relationship to the climate except to show up well after a significant change has occurred.

On April 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that the International Energy Agency had announced that, despite spending “more than $2 trillion in investment into renewable-energy projects…the world had made almost no progress over the past 20 years in reducing the carbon content of its energy supplies.” It has never needed reduction. How many hospitals, schools, bridges, and other useful things that could have been built instead?

According to Wikipedia: “Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is present in all known life forms, and in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.] This abundance, together with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life.” (Emphasis added)

Not one single piece of vegetation can exist without CO2. Without vegetation all animals and all humans would die. The Earth would look like Mars. One of the pillars of environmentalism is that humans are the greatest threat to the existence of the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth. The essence of Earth Day is that you are the enemy, primarily for your use of energy (coal, oil, and natural gas).

A global propaganda campaign will glorify Earth Day and its message is that you must change your life to accommodate the lies that sustain the environmental movement and permit government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency to strangle the economic life of the nation.

On Earth day there will be thousands of events to promote its anti-energy, anti-technology, and anti-humanity message.

There are thousands, of environmental organizations. Here, for example, are some Earth Day recommendations from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 # Wash clothing in cold water. According to the NRDC, “this saves a great deal of money as the bulk of the energy tied to clothes washing is used to heat water.”

 # Cut clothes dryer energy by 20 to 40 percent. “It is more efficient to spin water out of clothing than bake it out in the dryer.”

 # Select the ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ picture setting on your TV.

 An environmental group called the Food Tank recommends the following:

 # “Get in touch with agriculture. “This time of year, many people are starting to plan vacations.” Forget Disney Land; instead choose a “farm-stay” in which participants spend a few days or weeks living with a host family…helping around the farm in exchange for free food and lodging.”

 # “Buy food with less packaging.” This ignores the fact that modern packaging ensures the safety of the foods you purchase. Even ancient civilizations either burned refuse or created landfills.

 # Do-it-Yourself projects such as “turning old t-shirts into produce bags to save plastic, starting seeds in eggshells…”

Behind the many Earth Day suggestions is the environmentalists’ insistence on a general return to an era when household tasks were undertaken without machines that used electricity, before the ubiquitous benefits of plastic, and less cars were on the roads. In the 1940s my late mother had to wash clothes by hand and hang them in the back yard or basement to dry. Food was kept cool in an ice box before the invention of refrigerators. This is Earth Day’s idea of saving the Earth.

Everyone wants clean air and clean water. We have it. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of the 1970s have achieved their goals. Substituting “clean energy” such as solar and wind power has proven to be expensive and impractical as neither of these produce sufficient energy (about 3% at present) to power America. Taxpayers have lost billions in the government loans made to solar and wind power companies while traditional sources of power contribute billions to the economy.

The Earth is not endangered, nor should it be worshipped as a pagan religion.

Behind environmentalism is panoply of schemes intended to enrich those who advocate “global warming” and/or “climate change.” Governments around the world are abandoning “clean energy” programs and returning to traditional and abundant forms of energy.

The “science” behind climate change and the claim of a “consensus” among the world’s scientists is a lie. Computer models have been rigged to produce “warming” data while the planet has been in a natural cooling cycle for the last seventeen years!

On Earth Day, you will be assailed by these and countless other claims, but you will do yourself and the Earth a big favor if you ignore them.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Relentless Liars: The Great Green Edifice is Crumbling

By Alan Caruba

The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club emailed to invite me to attend a “conversation on climate change in a post-Sandy New Jersey” intended to focus on the “impacts of fossil fuel pollution” later this month. “We need to take action to address and prevent the future impacts of climate change. Hurricane Sandy was the latest storm in an increasing trend of more extreme and severe weather.”

There isn’t “an increasing trend of more extreme weather” unless you include the current cooling cycle that has been in effect for the last 17 years, causing longer, more intense winters around the world. I doubt that the Greens can do anything about the Sun which has been in a natural cycle of reduced radiation.

As for hurricanes like Sandy, meteorologists will confirm that on average the U.S. can expect two major storm systems, categories 3 to 5, every three years. In all categories, the average is about five hurricanes that make landfall every three years. So, there is no increasing trend of more extreme weather. There is just the weather.

As far as the Sierra Club and comparable multi-million dollar environmental organizations are concerned, when they say that want to “prevent future impacts of climate change” they are either delusional, thinking that anything can be done to prevent hurricanes, blizzards, and other aspects of the weather or they are talking about imposing a carbon tax on the emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. Congress has already rejected that.

And it’s not just the Sierra Club. The same day their invitation arrived, Friends of the Earth emailed to say “The Pacific Northwest is currently engulfed in a struggle over the dirty future of coal and coal exports in the U.S. If the biggest coal companies in the world have their way, we could have 140 million tons of coal barreling through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon each year. That’s up to 60 trains per day in some of our neighborhoods and more than 1,000 ships a year through our sensitive waterways!” Can you say fear-mongering? Lies about coal? And a total ignorance of the value to the economy of its use and export?

The Greens regard anything that would provide energy for any reason to anyone as the enemy.

That is why “a panel of experts will discuss fossil fuel projects in our state, their impacts, and ways to reduce that pollution.” Fuel is not pollution. Fuel is what we use to heat or cool our homes, drive our vehicles, provide electricity, and conduct the business of the nation. The air and water in New Jersey is so clean we actually invite people to live here, start businesses here, and to visit as tourists to enjoy it.

“Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from dirty fuel sources is critical to protecting New Jersey” said the invitation. Carbon dioxide levels have actually been rising. More lies. As James Taylor, the Managing Editor of Environmental & Climate News, noted in March, “New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise but global temperatures are not following suit. The new data undercut assertions that atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing a global warming crisis.”

Since carbon dioxide is vital to the growth of all vegetation, from your flower garden to the abundance of crops that feed us and all livestock, reducing it is a very bad idea.

Need it be said that the local chapter is also gearing up to oppose a new natural gas pipeline for the state? Think jobs. Think lower energy costs. Now extrapolate that to the Keystone XL pipeline and to other expanded sources of energy and the benefit to the nation’s economy.

The old guard of the environmental movement is passing from the scene and the entire edifice of the global warming hoax is crumbling. Jim Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) since 1981 has announced his retirement. It was Hansen who told a congressional committee in 1988 that the Earth was heating up. That was the same year that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nation Environmental Program.

Larry Bell, a columnist for Forbes magazine, recently urged the U.S. to cease funding the IPCC along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “While the amount we give to the UNFCC and IPCC may seem like a tiny pittance in the realm of government spending largess, it’s important to realize that (the) true costs of that folly amount to countless billions in disastrous policy and regulatory impact.” Together they have received a total average of $10.25 million annually, set to increase in the FY 13 budget request to $13 million. They are a total waste of money, representing the greatest hoax of the modern era and the redistribution of our wealth.

Environmental organizations are all about controlling our lives. In March, a peer-reviewed paper by the American Institute of Biological Sciences titled “Social Norms and Global Environmental Challenges” was published in their annual journal BioScience. “Substantial numbers of people will have to alter their existing behaviors to address this new class of global environmental problems.”

Too many governments around the world, our own and particularly those in Europe, have passed all manner of laws and invested billions in “green energy” projects, only to discover they are a huge waste and that ordinary people have other ideas regarding the technologies that actually do enhance and improve their lives.

Greens are relentless liars and their lies appear daily in our print and broadcast media. Reality, though, is impacting their efforts. Facts are stubborn things.

Greens are far less interested in the environment than they are in imposing restrictions on the use of energy and the general welfare of humanity. It is pure fascism and always was.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Am I a Dangerous Extremist? Are You?

By Alan Caruba

If you should suddenly cease to find my commentaries, I will either have passed away or have been detained by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Defense Department and taken to an undisclosed location for the crime of having been an “extremist” and a danger to the nation.

In April 2009, the Washington Times published an article reporting that “The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in ‘rightwing extremist activity’, saying that the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president, and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.”

Among those targeted by DHS were “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” Well, that’s only a few tens of millions of Americans. Little wonder why, on April 5th, we learned that a U.S. Army Reserve presentation regarding “extremist threats within the U.S. military included Catholics and evangelicals!

These two groups represent half of all Americans and some forty percent of active duty military personnel are evangelical Christians. The Catholics and evangelicals were lumped in with “white supremacist groups, street gangs, and religious sects.”

If our current leaders consider Christians a greater threat than Muslims, then they are idiots with a very dangerous agenda.
The April 2009 nine-page DHS report was titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” It defined extremism “as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”

The last time I read the U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment said that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The people—that’s you and me.

In pre-Revolution America, a bunch of people rebelling against British taxes got together and threw a great wealth of imported tea into Boston Bay. About ten other groups in other states did the same thing. Extremists! Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Extremists! A few disgruntled war veterans! Extremists!

All across America today, states are passing laws to protect gun owners while others are tightening limitations on abortion. Are all those state legislators extremists, too?

Like a lot of Americans, I have begun to have serious fears about the Department of Homeland Security, particularly since neither the DHS, nor any other government agency is permitted to use words like Islamist, Jihadist, or Muslim when describing groups and individuals dedicated to attacking Americans. The murders at Fort Hood by an Islamic extremist, U.S. Major Nidal Hasan, are still officially described as “workplace violence” and those who survived the attack have been denied Purple Hearts. Apparently no one among his fellow officers noticed when he showed up in the PX wearing Arab-style clothing. 

You can visit the DHS website and read “Countering Violent Extremism” which says that “Groups and individuals inspired by a range of religious, political, or other ideological beliefs have promoted and used violence against the homeland.” Most have been Muslims. I am still trying to find examples of attacks on the homeland by Republicans, veterans, evangelicals, or for that matter the pitiful remnants of the Ku Klux Klan.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano had to issue an apology for the April 2009 slur against veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to which they were deployed. She said. “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs.” Thank goodness they were not monitoring meetings of the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion. Or maybe they are.

Perhaps every meeting of the various Tea Party groups around the nation are monitored for their distinct disagreement with current government policies. They got their start protesting Obamacare. Many of their members oppose any effort to restrict their right to own and bear arms under the Second Amendment. Others oppose abortion. I’m guessing they would be among the first to be swept up as “extremists” and detained somewhere. And I am a regular contributor to a Tea Party Nation website!

In the wake of 9/11 Americans in general and the government in particular were scared to death of the prospect of more violent attacks on the nation. The Department of Homeland Security was cobbled together from a number of agencies to better coordinate information and a response. It’s worth keeping in mind that the enemy then and the enemy now is still al Qaeda. Our concerns then were such that we deployed our military to Afghanistan and Iraq to deter the spread of the Islamist ideology. These days many nations cooperate to identify al Qaeda leaders and dispatch them.

Al Qaeda in America doesn’t hold Wednesday night get-togethers, but I am fairly confident that our law enforcement authorities are doing their best to keep an eye on its recruitment efforts as they seek to stop further attacks.

What worries me is that the DHS definition of who they suspect of being “extremists” is so broad and so vague that there probably isn’t anyone who does not fall under suspicion.

There’s something paranoid and dangerous in the way they interpret their mission. There’s something scary about an agency that buys a billion bullets and equips itself like a small army. We already have an army and we have a vast law enforcement community nationwide who, frankly, I trust far more.

So the question is, are you an extremist? And for exercising my First Amendment rights of free speech, the publication—press—of my views, my religion, and may even join others “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”, am I an extremist, too?