Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irony: Green laws may derail California's high-speed rail

"What we're talking about," President Obama once said, "is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination."

This was Obama's vision for high-speed rail in his stimulus package, toward which he devoted $8 billion. If it sounded too good to be true, it's because it was. Multiple studies and the experiences of other nations suggest that high-speed rail is a fiscal black hole. Its ridership and utility are almost always overestimated when projects are undertaken. High-speed rail lines are typically finished at costs well beyond projections, then require massive annual operating subsidies in perpetuity just to keep running.

Some Republican governors, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio, wisely canceled Obama's high-speed rail projects in their own states. They did so at the risk of appearing petty, because it meant turning down hundreds of millions or even billions in federal money. But California Gov. Jerry Brown has persisted, even though the price tag for his state's rail project has gradually risen from $33 billion to $100 billion. And in order to guarantee the project goes forward despite public skepticism, Brown proposed to exempt the project from environmental injunctions. Without this exemption, it will probably be impossible to start construction by the Dec. 31, 2012, deadline stipulated by the federal stimulus law. Obama's Transportation Department reaffirmed this time limit last year when it admitted it had "no administrative authority to change this deadline."

But the environmentalists' pressure finally got to Brown. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that he is backing down on the exemption. This all but guarantees that the project is dead. Federal courts routinely issue injunctions to stop projects before they ever begin, and the city of Chowchilla has already filed a lawsuit charging that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to conduct a proper Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Protection Act. Studies show that the average time to complete the NEPA process is 6.1 years.

Even if Chowchilla voluntarily dismisses its suit, there is no shortage of other challenges ready to go to court. Farmers have already sued to stop the project in state court, claiming that the Rail Authority's plan violates the wording of the state ballot measure that created it. If they lose, there is nothing stopping them, or other farmers, or an environmentalist group, or anyone else from later pursuing a NEPA or CEQA claim. It may never get that far, because the state legislature has only until July 1 to approve the funds necessary to begin this fool's errand.

Despite a lack of evidence that high-speed rail will reduce traffic congestion or bring any noticeable environmental benefits, this and other rail projects have been billed as "green." It will be poetic justice if the very laws established by the green lobby help to derail it and put an end to Obama's vision of high-speed rail.


Global warming is now old hat -- even to the Greenies

Now it's "social justice" = giving money to people who didn't earn it

The Rio+20 gathering, officially the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, turned sour. The Guardian reports that one thousand NGOs (Non-Government organizations), institutions and individuals are upset with the official Rio+20 communiqué “The Future We Want.” To show their resolve, the NGOs signed a petition “The Future We Don’t Want.” [1]

Lord Christopher Monckton said “It’s all about extending the power and reach of the global-government wannabes.” “Of course, there are real environmental problems,” he added, “but they should be addressed at the local and national level — and by the free market — not by out-of-control planetary bureaucrats seeking to create a world socialist government.” [2]

The Rio Agenda

The Rio agenda involved a lot of unrelated things. The official website [3] called it “Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in defense of the commons.” The Brazilian Civil Society’s Facilitator Committee stated “The global civil society, organizations, collectives and social movements will occupy the landfill to propose a new way of living on the planet, in solidarity against the commodification of nature and in defense of the commons.” [3]

The same site [3] lists the key actors: “Three key actors will be present at Rio:

Governments and heads of state gathered in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (commonly called the “Earth Summit”).

Non-Governmental Organisations of the UN system, grouped in 9 socio-professional groups within an informal Stakeholder Forum: women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, local authorities, NGOs, workers and unions, businesses and industries, scientific and technological communities, farmers and peasants (the groups have their own 2 (or more) Organising Partners (OP).

Citizens and organisations of civil society, i.e. social movements, multiple networks and thematic or socio-professional organisations, among them migrants, religious and spiritual leaders, social leaders, artists, journalists, urban planners, fishermen, lawyers, elected politicians and parliamentarians, the military, unions, educators and teachers, municipalities and cities… to name a few. They will form a “Peoples Summit” that will not be a parallel summit nor a counter summit, but rather a fundamental actor for Rio+20.”

The Agenda Shift

The agenda shift from the original Eco-92 gathering in Rio (1992), i.e. “global warming” to “climate change” to “environmental justice” to “social justice” happened slowly, but it was a long-term goal by its ideologists all along. By now it’s all about “social justice” with “collectives” that will tell you what you want or should do. The former buzz words ‘environment’ and ‘climate change’ have disappeared too. While “biodiversity” is still a valid buzz word, the fact that habitat loss is its major enemy is not mentioned, or understood.

Moreover, with the previously touted “Global Warming” scare, supposedly due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rapidly being exposed as the greatest scientific hoax since “Piltdown Man” certainly does not help its cause either. However, the new deity, “social justice” also comes with its own set of conundrums.

Social Justice

Social justice is in the eye of the beholder. It will have entirely different meanings for a well-to-do metropolitan-type city dweller compared to a subsistence farmer in the middle of anywhere. For the former, reliable on-demand electric power, 24/7, is an accustomed and vital necessity. For the subsistence farmer, having ANY power, other than his own, is progress already.

Not surprisingly then, what was previously seen as “green”, such as renewable energy from hydro-electric power plants (all of which need water-level-raising dams) are no longer all that “green.” The Rio+20 summit had a variety of protests against new hydro-electric power dams [4].

In the end, it all boils down to a simple question: What would you rather have, the subsistence lifestyle of the peasant farmer or the conveniences of the modern city dweller? The answer is obvious from a simple fact:

The majority of the 45,000 activists attending Rio+20 had not gone there by dug-out canoe!


Big carbon credit rackets in Britain

A UK court has wound up a company it says misled private investors by comparing near worthless carbon credits to gold, the latest in a string of firms found to market poor quality offsets to the general public in a practice that financial regulators say has grown exponentially in the past 18 months.

At the High Court in London on Wednesday, the UK government was successful in its request to liquidate Tullett Brown, a firm it said made 1.6 million pounds by misleading customers into buying unregulated credits at almost four times what it paid for them.

Last month, another probe by the Insolvency Service prompted the High Court to shut down a web of companies that it says made 6.5 million pounds by mis-selling land and carbon credits and were linked by the name Manor Rose.

The business practice often involves cold-calling and misleading private investors into thinking they were buying U.N. carbon credits that can be used by governments and companies to meet legally-binding emission reduction targets.

In fact, the credits offered were not regulated by the U.N. and were unlikely to meet future price projections for U.N. credits that the sellers portrayed in glossy marketing brochures from banks such as Barclays.

No-one from Tullett Brown was willing to comment on the record, but a former employee denied portraying the credits as U.N.-issued units, but did admit some employees had no experience whatsoever in financial markets.

“It’s an unregulated market, so many people trading are themselves unregulated,” he said on condition of anonymity.


Despite lacking many powers to stop the firms from marketing voluntary credits, the UK Financial Services Authority is concerned about the rise in the practice.

“We suspect that many of the firms and individuals who were previously selling land are now selling carbon credits. The figures appear to support this,” said Jonathan Phelan, an official with the Financial Services Authority.

Having received no reports about firms selling carbon credits in 2010, 78 firms were brought to the FSA’s attention in 2011 and a further 38 in the first six months of the year, he said.

The Insolvency Service, which investigated Tullett Brown, said it couldn’t provide a figure on how much mis-selling of carbon units had cost investors, but it did say that 78 rogue companies that raked in over 28 million pounds from the public through selling different assets have been shut down in the past three years.

However, the full extent of losses is likely to be much bigger because many victims fail to report that they have been tricked.

“Many are high-earning retired professionals and don’t want to contact the authorities because they feel embarrassed,” said Joe Peacock of the Insolvency Service, who led the investigation into Tullett Brown.


U.S. Court Judges Confess to Bias in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Case

Three federal judges admit to being biased in favor of a government agency when granting a landmark decision in favor of caps and taxes on “greenhouse gas” emissions. Court rules Earth’s atmosphere does act like a greenhouse after all.

In a shock landmark ruling (June 26, 2012) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit throws out a key pro-industry petition challenging restrictions on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called “greenhouse gases.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the decision a “strong validation” of the approach the agency has taken. In contrast, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) reacted angrily,“The Obama administration is attempting to regulate greenhouse gases in the absence of legislation.”

The 81-page decision affirms that on the science of man-made global warming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the one and only arbiter when a case goes to trial. Completely taking the EPA’s word on the science, the court was satisfied that “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare.”As such, say the judges, the EPA is not contravening the Clean Air Act by radically limiting industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

Judges Admit Bias In Favor of EPA Alarmism

Despite the gravity of the case, all three judges involved admit to their utter “bias” in favor of the federal agency on the science. The court panel admits, “we give an extreme degree of deference to the agency when it is evaluating scientific data within its technical expertise.” Crassly, the court further decided that Earth’s atmosphere does act “like a greenhouse” to the consternation of scientists not on the government payroll.

To add salt to the wound, The DC Circuit Court of Appeals actually cited a YouTube cartoon video in its effort to assist EPA break the law with respect to greenhouse gas regulation (H/T:

The findings have also caught skeptics of man-made global warming off guard at a time when they were still rejoicing at the collapse the Rio+20 Climate Summit last week. If the petitioners had known from the outset that this would be the approach of the judges then they could have saved themselves the time and huge expense.

As such, this breathtaking ruling is set to trigger a backlash among all those opposed to the creeping rise in crippling new environmental regulations. This is because all U.S. courts will be required to recognize the EPA has ultimate “technical expertise” in such matters. As such President Obama has succeeded in bypassing Congress in getting his rubber stamp for more climate taxes and more junk science on the public dole.

The EPA now has the legal green light to pursue those related environmental policies of President Obama. Obama, up for re-election later this year, already failed to drive carbon dioxide (CO2) limiting legislation through Congress earlier in his presidency. Now he has succeeded by other means via the EPA regulations that had previously determined CO2 is a “pollutant” via the Clean Air Act.


Anti-Israel journalist Gwynne Dyer compares climate skeptics to Nazis

With all the usual charm of the Green/Left. Dyer's expertise is in military history. Perhaps he should bone up on some physics too. He might even learn the melting point of ice and how far away the polar glaciers are from that

There was no law against genocide in the early 1940s; it only became an internationally recognised crime after the worst genocide of modern history had actually happened. Similarly, there is no law against ”ecocide” now. That will only come to pass when the damage to the environment has become so extreme that large numbers of people are dying from it even in rich and powerful countries.

They are already dying from the effects of environmental destruction in some poor countries, but that makes no difference because they are powerless. By the time it starts to hurt large numbers of people in powerful countries, 20 or 30 years from now, most of the politicians who conspired to smother any substantial progress at the Rio+20 Earth Summit will be safely beyond the reach of any law. But eventually there will be a law.


Al Gore: Heat Kills

From his blog:

You know what’s more dangerous than heat? The cold:

More than 2,500 people in England and Wales are likely to perish from cold in the week leading up to Christmas, experts said today.

The forecast from the Faculty of Public Health and Met Office comes amid renewed concern over the plight of the poor and vulnerable during cold snaps.

Each winter, a larger proportion of Britons die because of unseasonable cold weather than in either Finland or Russia.

An estimated 40,000 more people die between December and March in the UK than would be expected from death rates during other times of the year.

More than half the deaths are due to heart attacks, strokes and circulatory problems and a third from lung disease. When the temperature suddenly plummets, as it has this weekend, the danger is even more acute.

Professor Sian Griffiths, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which sets and maintains professional standards in public health, said: “A high proportion of preventable illness and deaths in the UK is caused by people living in damp and cold housing.

“If we see much more of the cold weather of recent days, it is likely that as many as 50,000 people will die unnecessarily over this winter. This is a tragedy in terms of human life and also creates a huge – and preventable – strain on the NHS.

Hmm: 50,000 vs. 700. Maybe we need more global warming . . .



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