Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Orwellian EPA

by Alan Caruba

Every time I conclude that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot get crazier, they demonstrate they are not only crazy, but a continued threat to the health, national security, and the right of Americans to be free of incessant governmental intrusion into their lives and choices.

Mind you, they get lots of help from environmental organizations and the latest example was a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity asking the EPA to ban lead shot and bullets under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

There is, of course, no doubt that if you take a bullet to the brainpan, it is very likely to be lethal, but under the TSCA, it is not considered or defined as toxic.

Citing the TSCA as to when the EPA can regulate “chemical substances”, the National Rifle Association, in a letter to the EPA administration noted that “Congress explicitly excluded from this definition ‘any article the sale of which is subject to the tax imposed by section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986’” or as we call them, bullets!

Not being a lawyer, but being a longtime gun owner, my question to the EPA is this: How CRAZY do you have to be to even consider banning the manufacture, sale, and use of AMMUNITION?

By 2005, three out of ten Americans were gun owners. Since the election of Barack Obama, there has been a noticeable increase in gun sales. Among gun owners, some are hunters, some are into sport shooting, and some are homeowners or apartment dwellers who want the kind of protection a gun provides while waiting for the police to show up. There are lots of perfectly legitimate reasons to own a gun and the last time I checked the Second Amendment said you could.

In its letter to the EPA, the NRA pointed out that “This appears to be the first time since TSCA’s inception in 1976 that anyone has suggested that EPA may regulate projectiles used in firearms under the Act”, adding that it was manifestly clear that it was “congressional intent that TSCA not be a vehicle to implement gun control.”

The good news is that the EPA abandoned any further action regarding this perfectly insane effort to backdoor an effort to thwart our Second Amendment rights.

The EPA has already determined how much water can be used in your toilet bowl and wants to control how much water you use to shower. It has been instrumental in getting the incandescent light bulb banned from future sales and use. And it wants to legally define puddles after a rainstorm as navigable waters that boats and ships can sail upon.

Perhaps, however, you did not heard that the EPA is considering cracking down on DUST? Specifically farm dust.

On July 23, a number of farm state senators sent a letter to the EPA to indicate just how stupid and detrimental any additional regulation of dust would be. They called the proposal “the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history.” Suffice it to say that livestock kick up dust, the use of combines to harvest crops on a dry day kicks up dust, or just driving a truck down a gravel road will kick up dust.

The EPA is about one thing and one thing only, CONTROL. Toward that end they are perfectly happy to put their snout into any aspect of life in America to see if they can extend their authority. No one is arguing that America should not have clean air and clean water, but the extent to which the EPA has taken its original mandates is galactic and Orwellian.

The EPA is the very definition of BIG GOVERNMENT run amok. I am still looking for the word “environment” in the U.S. Constitution.


Circuitous attempts to smear skeptical scientists

by Russell Cook

Note: Russell Cook, author of the recently published article "Silencing Global Warming Critics" specializes in exposing the kneejerk Leftist lies about skeptics being "in the pay" of some boogeyman or other. He traces a lot of the lies to book author Ross Gelbspan but cannot find where Gelbspan got his "information". Below he answers some critics of his work

One particular comment from an AGW believer following my article brings home the entire reason why I stopped focusing exclusively on finding science reports, papers and assessments that contradict the IPCC, to instead focus on accusations that skeptic scientists are 'corrupted by big oil, coal, tobacco, etc. Commenter "Derecho64" wondered why my comments were stuck on "Ross Gelbspan" (the anti-skeptic book author who is largely credited with 'exposing the corruption of skeptics'), and asked for my opinion of the recent James Hoggan / Richard Littlemore "Climate Cover-Up" book that supposedly proves skeptic scientists are corrupt.

"Derecho64" apparently was oblivious to the fact that Hoggan / Littlemore had to take an oddly circuitous route in their book to cite Ross Gelbspan for their source of the infamous 1991 "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact" coal industry internal PR memo that is the subject of my 7/6 American Thinker article which CCF reproduces here. Hoggan / Littlemore cite Naomi Oreskes' famous 2007 PowerPoint presentation as the source. (PDF file transcript here)

Oreskes' PPT cited pages 51-52 of Gelbspan's 2004 "Boiling Point" book for the source, in which Gelbspan cites his own 1997 "The Heat is On" book as the source. But of course, in his first book, he never said where he got the "reposition" memo, an inconvenient truth I pointed out in my 7/6 article.

The primary reason I ever got into this 'accusations against skeptics' angle was the result of an inadvertent prompting from Society of Environmental Journalists board member Robert McClure. That's the individual I mention in my 12/29 American Thinker piece " The lack of climate skeptics on PBS's 'Newshour' ", which CCF has here.

In his own blog last October, where McClure and I had an entertaining back-and-forth about skeptic scientists, McClure assured me "The first person to document widespread payments by industry to “skeptic” scientists, as far as I know, was journalist Ross Gelbspan in his book, circa 1997, “The Heat is On.” But it’s been documented since then, too." Dr S Fred Singer joined in the comment section there immediately afterward.

My questions to McClure about others 'documenting' the alleged corruption went unanswered. And that was the kicker - if he had those 'others' memorized or could look those up among his notes as a simple matter of educating me, why did he not do that?

It wasn't many days after that incident that I stumbled across the "reposition global warming" phrase in a web forum where I had seen it before, but had dismissed it as simply a preposterous accusation. That, and McClure's claim about Gelbspan and 'others', prompted me to look for answers on my own.

I didn't find nice easy answers, I kept finding book authors and article writers citing Gelbspan as their source for the "reposition" phrase. I began to wonder why this all kept spiraling back down to Gelbspan. Then I started finding book authors citing the phrase whose books predated Gelbspan's. All of this prompted more questions than answers, and more searches through name associations, which only provided more questions and more bizarre paths to follow.

This all isn't simply an issue about the science anymore, it spreads to all the unanswered questions about the way skeptics were and are being characterized deliberately or accidentally by the mainstream media and the internet, who collectively never seemed to have checked the veracity of the accusations. Would AGW have died of natural causes long ago, if it weren't for all these highly questionable efforts to make sure the public got only a particular impression of skeptic scientists, and only saw one side of the issue?

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Is windpower safer?

We know it is expensive and unreliable. But a new study from the Heritage Foundation also shows that wind power could be more dangerous to worker safety than traditional energy sources.

The tragic explosions in Massey’s Upper Big Branch coal mine and the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig have very appropriately focused attention on workplace hazards. But it would be a mistake to presume that switching away from fossil fuels to renewable energy would reduce fatalities, David Kreutzer, a senior policy analyst in energy economics and climate change explains.

It is important to understand that the current low number of total deaths in the wind-power industry is largely a result of the very low amount of power generated by wind, Kreutzer points out in his study. To properly project the potential consequences of switching to wind from coal, it is necessary to calculate the mortality rate per megawatt-hour.

“On a million-megawatt-hour basis, the wind-energy industry has averaged 0.0220 deaths compared with 0.0147 for coal over the years 2003-2008,” the study says. “Even adding coal’s share of fatalities in the power-generation industry, which brings the rate up to 0.0164, still leaves wind power with a 34 percent higher mortality rate. For the record, the workplace fatality rate for wind also exceeds that for oil and gas on an equivalent-energy basis.”

The 20 percent renewable energy standard included as part of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill would require swapping about 800 million megawatt-hours of coal generated with current with 800 million megawatt-hours of wind power, Kreutzer notes. The end result here gives good reason for pause.

“Using the recent mortality rates as a guide, we would expect there to be 4-5 more workplace fatalities per year than if there were no wind power at all,” he wrote. “Even this comparison ignores the fatalities we could expect from the additional power lines needed for so much remote wind power.”

Kreutzer’s study calls attention to an unexplored dimension of the energy debate. The Obama Administration’s pursuit of so-called renewable energy could have unexpected and highly damaging consequences over time.


Hot it was not... Britain has coldest August for 17 years

It should have been the height of summer, but was notable only for its low temperatures. The UK has just endured its coldest August for 17 years, which was marked, say forecasters, by a complete absence of 'hot days'.

The month also saw the lowest single-day August temperature for 23 years, with it falling to 55f (12.8c) in Edgbaston, Birmingham, last Thursday. And several 'notably' cold nights were recorded last week.

An exceptionally cloudy period in the South East of England put something of a dampener on the holiday period as heavy rain fell across large swathes of the country.
weather graphic

The prolonged poor weather has been blamed on a band of low pressure being pushed across the country by the jet stream - the fast-flowing air currents in the upper atmosphere that move weather systems across the northern hemisphere - which was further north during the extended sunny spells of June and July.

It meant that by the end of August there had not been a single day when the mercury rose above 81f ( 27c), forecasters said. England and Wales enjoyed just 148 hours of sunshine last month - 25 per cent less than average - and 5cm more rain than usual.

Weather consultant Philip Eden, of MeteoGroup, said average temperatures for the month had been at their lowest since 1993. But he added that the soaring temperatures enjoyed in previous years had raised people' s expectations. He said: 'This is more a reflection of the warmth of recent Augusts rather than anything exceptional.

'During the last 100 years, 30 Augusts were cooler, 63 were warmer, and seven had the same overall mean temperature.'


Australian independent conservative rubbishes climate change experts

Dismissing economists as not expert about climate change is perfectly reasonable. Bob Katter comes from a National Party background so is basically very conservative. Given the "hung" nature of Australia's present parliament, Katter's vote will be crucial throughout the life of the parliament concerned

"Independent MP Bob Katter, who says he is a "hair's breadth" away from making a decision on who to support to form government, has dismissed as "lightweight" the positions held by internationally-recognised climate change experts Sir Nicholas Stern and Ross Garnaut.

While his fellow independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, held briefings yesterday with the climate experts, Mr Katter pointedly refused the invitation. "I think their (Garnaut and Stern) positions are fairly lightweight," Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter said while he was close to making up his own mind, he would wait until Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott determined their positions before revealing his hand. "I'm not likely to be making a decision outside of the decision of my colleagues," Mr Katter, the member for the Queensland seat of Kennedy, told ABC Radio.

With the best will in the world there should be a decision by the trio of independents by the end of the week or early next, Mr Katter said.

Numerous conversations with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey have filled Mr Katter's week.

Mr Katter said he wanted to keep Australia's agricultural industry alive. While the average Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development subsidy tariff level was 49 per cent, for Australian agriculturalists it was six per cent and falling, he said. "Do you really think that you're going to have any agriculture in this country in light of that competitive advantage that they enjoy?"


Australia: Shockwave sent through mining heartland after formal Green/Left alliance

Traditional voters for the Left may now have to reconsider their allegiances

LABOR'S alliance with the Greens has sent a shockwave through Australia's mining heartland. From the coalfields of the NSW Illawarra to Queensland's Bowen Basin, the pact has sparked fears among workers and bosses that the industry will come under attack through the introduction of an emissions trading scheme and possible changes to Labor's mining tax.

Senior mining executives warned that the Labor-Greens alliance had the potential to reignite the advertising war with the government because of perceptions in the industry that the Greens' policies were anti-mining.

Queensland miner Ross Robinson has a warning for Labor: "Go too green and give up any hope of winning back the Queensland seats lost at the election." A 30-year veteran of the industry, the machine operator says it is the new taxes - the carbon "tax" and the resources rent tax - that have his colleagues talking, despite their political leanings.

"It's quite often talked about," he said. "A big majority of the miners are dead against it. Labor lost Dawson and Flynn and they're both mining areas - it says a lot."

Down in the Illawarra, on the NSW south coast, coalminers Rod Boeck and Wilf O'Donnell need no reminding of the importance of the mining sector to the nation's economy, let alone the livelihood of thousands of local workers. "Mining is the backbone of the Illawarra region," Mr O'Donnell said."It provides three jobs off the mine site for every one job on the mine site." The men work at the NRE No 1 Colliery, which is owned and operated by Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Limited.

The Illawarra is rusted-on, blue-collar Labor territory, where coal mines are in easy reach of the export hub of Port Kembla.

In the two local federal seats of Cunningham and Throsby, the ALP MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones hold commanding leads, with more than 60 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote. And the prospect of a Gillard government siding with the Greens - the very party that could sink the mining sector with its push for an increased mining tax and a high price on carbon - is unlikely to be easily digested.

The mining industry is nervous about the Greens having influence over policymaking, given the party wants to stop any expansion of the coal industry, phase out coal power in favour of renewables, shut down uranium mining and reintroduce the RSPT.

Mr Robinson, a conservative voter from Blackwater, 840km northwest of Brisbane, said Labor would inevitably want taxes that would hurt the industry. "To get the Greens' support on passing legislation one way or another, they're going to be wanting concessions (from Labor) leaning towards their idealistic policies," he said.

Mr Robinson said a carbon tax would hurt the resources industry and move companies, and jobs, offshore. "I think that will be quite detrimental to the mining industry, if not in the immediate future, then further down the line," he said. "I don't think it's good for anybody. "I can't see any good coming of it. They're taxing everything, even the water - now they're taxing the air. It's not going to make any difference."

Mining is a key industry in the north Queensland region, where 8 per cent of workers in the surrounding electorate of Flynn and more than 5 per cent of workers in the neighbouring seat of Dawson are directly employed in the resources sector.

Both electorates fell to the Coalition at the August 21 election, among seven electorates won from Labor across Queensland, plus two seats held by the Liberal National Party despite having become notionally Labor.

In the mining-dominated town of nearby Nebo, Les Carlton runs a workshop that services machinery for the surrounding mines. He said an environment tax was a good idea in theory but the money generated would be spirited away with no accountability. "It will be another tax that has to be paid and no one will see any benefit," Mr Carlton said. "Everyday Joe Blow is not going to find out where that money goes. "I'm not saying it won't work (but) there needs to be accountability so that people can see that the money is being used."



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