Sunday, January 15, 2006


A Congressman successfully stymies an arrogant Federal agency that was trying to remove a valuable stand of trees from private ownership. How did he do it? Just by releasing information that the agency would otherwise have withheld. The Feds could not stand the light of day on their trumped-up case. Corruption needs secrecy

Rep. Richard Pombo said Monday that his effort to scuttle a federal investigation of a Houston millionaire was meant to counteract environmentalists and officials in President Bill Clinton's administration who were trying to obtain thousands of acres of redwood trees the man's company owned. In a conference call with reporters, Pombo R-Tracy, said the attempt by federal regulators to procure land owned by Charles Hurwitz was orchestrated by environmental groups bent on denying Hurwitz his private property rights.

Pombo acknowledged publicizing documents related to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. investigation into a failed savings and loan association of which Hurwitz owned 24.9 percent. In a report inserted into the Congressional Record June 14, 2001, Pombo accused the FDIC and the Office of Thrift Supervision of being conspirators in a scheme to obtain thousands of acres of redwoods in Headwaters Forest in exchange for debt Hurwitz owed from the association's collapse. "This is a classic property rights case where you had the government coming in and trying to take away someone's property," Pombo said Monday. "That's what I'm about; that's what motivated me to run for Congress in the first place."

Hurwitz acquired Pacific Lumber in a hostile takeover in 1986, according to Pombo's report. Pacific Lumber owned about 6,000 acres of redwood trees in northern California's Headwaters Forest. Calling it a "story of political corruption," Pombo said a cabal of environmentalists, members of Congress and officials in the Clinton administration conspired to pursue baseless charges against Hurwitz in an attempt to extort his land. "There's no question it was a to-hell-with-them decision that was made," Pombo said, referring to his 14-page report that was criticized in 2002 by an FDIC spokesman as "a seamy abuse of the legislative process."

The FDIC claims documents that were released in Pombo's report - as well as a previous, 110-page filing from Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin - contained sensitive, privileged information that effectively sunk its chances of recovering $300 million from Hurwitz for his alleged role in the collapse of the United Savings Association of Texas, which cost taxpayers $1.6 billion......

Pombo and Doolittle subpoenaed the FDIC documents while they were part of a House Committee on Resources task force created in 2000 to probe the alleged debt-for-nature scheme.....

A Resources Committee spokesman, Brian Kennedy, cited a 2005 opinion from U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes that accused the FDIC of corruption and ruled in Hurwitz's favor as evidence that Pombo was in the right. "The only investigation that was going on was one by bureaucrats, activists and politicians trying to find a way to extort this man's land," Kennedy said. "And that's what the court concluded, and that's what the task force concluded."

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Martin Ferguson is an influential figure in the (Leftist) Australian Labor Party (ALP)

Is the greenhouse effect real? The answer to this question will profoundly influence the course of global energy policy throughout the 21st century. As one of the world's biggest exporters of coal, uranium and natural gas, the stakes are high for Australia. Even if there were no greenhouse effect, there are other imperatives for the world to get a lot smarter about energy consumption.

Unprecedented world economic growth is creating unprecedented global energy demand, rising energy prices and faster depletion of non-renewable energy resources. These are genuine threats to our future economic wellbeing. Maybe worse, the unequal distribution of energy resources across the world is a real threat to future geopolitical stability. International initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate have the potential to ease both these tensions. But although greenhouse gas reduction targets may be necessary, any frank review must conclude that the world's greenhouse emissions are not going down in the short term: they are simply being shifted from one country to another.

After all, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters are not bound by Kyoto. The US, as the world's biggest emitter, has refused to ratify the agreement. China and India, the second and fourth biggest emitters, are not required to reduce their emissions. And while we are often reminded by the Greens that Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions, let's not forget there are good reasons for that. Australia's relatively high energy intensity has to be considered in the context of the country's size and its relatively low population density, its climate, its heavy reliance on coal for power generation, and the presence of energy-intensive industries such as aluminium which form the backbone of the nation's wealth-generation capacity.

That is why it is a significant achievement of the Asia-Pacific Partnership's first meeting that the aluminium industry in the member countries reached an agreement on working together to reduce emissions. This is essential to overcome the problem of simply shifting emissions from one country to another and at the same time shifting Australian manufacturing jobs and prosperity offshore, to countries with lower environmental standards.

It is extraordinary that the Greens could place the economic security and jobs of their constituents at risk and at the same time advocate a worse greenhouse outcome by displacing Australian industry to countries with lower standards.

It's time to abandon the political correctness espoused by the green movement. Let's be real: without getting business on board we cannot achieve anything. The environmentalists are simply attacking the coal industry for the sake of it. Labor supports our aluminium and coal industries in their endeavours to develop lower emissions technologies. They are our big export earners, creating jobs and wealth for this country, and without economic prosperity no government can pay for the social and environmental welfare measures so vigorously demanded by the Greens.

The ALP knows full well that the key to a better Australia is jobs and economic prosperity and opportunity for all. To protect our economic future, we have to be part of the solution to the environmental impact of economic growth in our region, dominated by China and India. It is here that the Asia-Pacific Partnership really comes into its own. It offers Australia not only an opportunity for economic growth, but also allows us to be part of the solution to the environmental consequences of what is happening in our region, one of the most rapid economic expansions in world history.

Most rich countries have relied on coal, oil and gas to fuel their development. It's unreasonable and unrealistic to seek to deny emerging countries such as China and India the opportunity to expand their economies as rich countries have done. In the foreseeable future, they can do it only by relying heavily on fossil fuels and increasing their greenhouse gas emissions. Which is why cleaner technologies for the use of these fuels are the way forward. Those who hope to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave power need to come to terms with the reality that renewable energies, while they have an important and growing role to play, can't provide affordable and continuous base load energy.

Abandoning traditional base load power in favour of renewables would result in an indefinite global economic depression, condemning hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people to starvation.

Uranium is the other option for base load energy. Again, with nine out of 10 of the world's most polluted cities, no one can seriously deny China the right to pursue nuclear power as part of its energy mix, subject to the strictest non-proliferation safeguards. Similarly, no one can seriously suggest it is against the best interests of geopolitical stability for uranium to be supplied by responsible countries such as Australia, which take nuclear non-proliferation requirements seriously, and have a strict chain of custody procedures for uranium sales as well as bilateral agreements to deal with the safe and peaceful use of uranium and disposal of its waste products.

The failure of the UN conference last year to strengthen the non-proliferation treaty highlights the danger we face in driving the nuclear cycle underground and removing control of the nuclear materials trade from responsible nations.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership has a vital role to play in facilitating the development and use of clean technology, particularly in the fastest growing and biggest energy-using economies in the developing world that are not covered by Kyoto-style emissions targets. But it has to prove its value with concrete outcomes. Australia is pivotal in the partnership as a major supplier of clean energy resources to partnership countries and as a potential supplier of clean energy technologies. We can play a valuable part in achieving global security in both geopolitical and climate terms while securing our own economic future. But we must be part of the solution to the greenhouse challenge instead of just being part of the problem.



The "polluting trees" discovery has really highlighted the ignorance that underlies the "Kyoto" process and other ideas like it

Sceptics of the Kyoto protocol will seize on the [polluting trees] findings as evidence of the need for caution before instituting counter-measures. Environmentalists, sensing a backlash from the research, are already insisting that the findings are preliminary and should not detract from scientists' consensus view that global warming is a genuine threat.

There is no longer any serious debate about the reality of global warming. Some may still quibble about its causes, but the focus is on what nations should do to ameliorate the effects of climate change. And this is precisely what makes the new research so disturbing. For how could so basic a source of global warming have gone undetected until now?

In fact, evidence pointing to huge holes in the science of atmospheric methane has been circulating for years. In 1998, Nature carried a study showing global increases in methane were mysteriously levelling off. Now it seems that deforestation - that bete noire of the environmentalist movement - may have helped combat the rise of this greenhouse gas. While no one is suggesting chopping down the world's trees to save the planet, the new research highlights the astonishing complexity of environmental science. Measures to combat climate change that once seemed simple common sense are turning out to be anything but.

Everyone knows fossil fuel power stations are hefty producers of CO2 and need urgently to be replaced. Yet they are now also recognised as hefty producers of aerosols - tiny particles in the atmosphere that play a key role in reflecting the sun's heat back into space. The scientific consensus was that this is a minor benefit of fossil fuel burning. But last month Nature published new research showing aerosols may be twice as effective at keeping the earth cool as was thought. Suddenly, wholesale closure of power stations no longer seems such a good idea.

Even so, it surely makes sense to use renewable sources of energy whenever possible. Well, up to a point: new research suggests hydroelectric schemes can be worse than useless in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A study by the National Institute for Research in the Amazon in the current issue of the journal Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change shows that the vast lakes used to feed hydroelectric turbines are a rich source of rotting vegetation - and thus methane. One such scheme in Brazil is now believed to have emitted more than three times as much greenhouse gas as would have been produced by generating electricity by burning oil.

Climate scientists would have us believe there is no doubt about the basics of global warming and the time for action is now. The recent spate of large revisions of the facts tells a different story. Yet politicians are still being pressed to do the impossible: modify the huge, chaotic system that is the earth's climate in ways guaranteed to be beneficial for all.

We should count ourselves lucky that, for once, politicians do not share such delusions of omniscience.

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An editorial from Brisbane's "Courier Mail" of 13 January 2006

The Asia-Pacific Partnership's inaugural ministerial meeting in Sydney should not become the latest target or weapon in the tit-for-tat politicking dominating debate about climate change and global warming.

Too often the protagonists line up information, untested theory, supposition and rumour as ammunition for what looks to most people more like a theological contest than a rational discussion about science and our response to the challenges posed by meteorological variations in recent years.

It is clear there is climate change - last year was Australia's hottest on record - and there is too much carbon-based emission in the world.

Most countries have agreed to a mandatory reduction regimen which can at best be half-successful without the participation of big emitters including the US, and the whole-hearted and meaningful involvement of developing nations such as China and India.

This is where the Asia-Pacific group can play a role. The US-led group is looking for voluntary, outcomes-based practical responses, which accept the reality of medium-term dependence on coal and oil fossil fuel sources and look to technology for answers to minimising the harmful impact of using these resources.

The CSIRO cannot foresee any alternative, renewable energy source becoming commercially viable for at least a decade, although the organisation rightly presses the case for developing such strategies in order to reduce dependence on carbon-rich fuels. In looking at alternatives we should not dismiss any options, including the possibility of nuclear energy which is proving to be a clean source of power which is relatively safe.

To drive this process, Prime Minister John Howard pledged $100 million for a clean energy fund which will assist developing nations in the production of cleaner fossil fuels and the generation of renewable energies.

Backing Mr Howard's call for clean technologies is a Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics report which claims these strategies could cut greenhouse emissions by one-fifth more than would otherwise be the case over the next 45 years.

This appears modest against the Kyoto treaty demand for emission reductions of 60 per cent or more by 2050. But, as Mr Howard said yesterday, there are no quick fixes. While we accept climate change is here, the jury is still out on causes, consequences and action needed.

This was underscored by new scientific data suggesting that planting forests might do more harm than good in neutralising carbon emissions. And whereas a decade ago global warming could turn Brisbane into a dustbowl, these days it is warned that its climate will become more like that of Cairns. This imprecision makes it sensible to take the politicking out of the debate. We all know that something is happening to the climate and that we should work together to seek and implement solutions. To that end, the six nations - and their business representatives - meeting in Sydney have done good work.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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