Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Species may be listed as threatened based on climate change projections, court says

A court equates a prophecy with fact??  Back to the Middle Ages! This could open floodgates

Federal authorities may list a species as “threatened” based on climate models that show habitat loss in the coming decades, an appeals court decided Monday.

Oil company groups and Alaskan natives had challenged a decision by the federal government to list a sea ice seal subspecies as threatened and deserving of protection.

The groups maintained the subspecies’ population was currently healthy and the climate projections were speculative.

 A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The ruling would allow government protection of all sorts of wildlife likely to be affected by climate change in the decades ahead.

The panel decided unanimously that the National Marine Fisheries Services reasonably determined that loss of Arctic sea ice over shallow waters would “almost certainly” threaten the survival of a Pacific bearded seal subspecies by the end of the century.

“The service need not wait until a species’ habitat is destroyed to determine that habitat loss may facilitate extinction,” Judge Richard A. Paez, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.

The bearded seals congregate on ice floes over shallow waters, where they give birth to pups and nurse. The floes give the nursing mothers close access to food sources — organisms on the ocean floor — and enable the pubs to learn to dive, swim and hunt away from their predators, the court said.

Climate models show that the ice floes would disappear during breeding times, and mother seals would have to nurse their young on shore, where they would be vulnerable to predators such as polar bears and walruses.

A lack of ice floes in shallow waters also would force the seals to forage in the deeper ocean, which contains fewer of the organisms they depend on for survival, the government found.

One peer reviewer said the 80-year prediction was more likely than not to “greatly” underestimate the impact of climate change on the seals.

“All parties agree that there will be sea ice melt,” the court said. “The only uncertainty is the magnitude of warming, the speed with which warming will take place, and the severity of its effect.” Is that all?]

 Although climate projections for 2050 through 2100 may be volatile, they remain valuable in the government rule-making process, the court found.

The Endangered Species Act does not say a species can be listed “only if the underlying research is ironclad and absolute,” Paez wrote.

“It simply requires the agency to consider the best and most reliable scientific and commercial data and to identify the limits of that data when making a listing determination,” the court concluded.


Report: Justice Department told feds to “stand down” on Dakota Access Pipeline protests

A mystery may have been solved in terms of the ongoing protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Throughout these demonstrations and incidents of violence centered on the makeshift camps set up on federal land, we’ve been wondering why the federal response has been so muted. In fact, fairly early on I pointed out that there seemed to be something of a double standard between this confrontation and the showdown with the Oregon protesters last year. Given the amount of damage taking place and recorded incidents of violence, why weren’t federal agents moving in to keep more order and support local law enforcement?

A new revelation this week may provide the answer. According to at least one report, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch passed the word to “stand down” and not get too involved. (Daily Caller)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to meet with National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Executive Director Jonathan Thompson about the law enforcement issues facing communities in North Dakota as a result of protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the DOJ wants the ND U.S. Attorney to stay away from the situation.

Protesters trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline are threatening and intimidating nearby residents, commuters, and press as well as threatening the lives of law enforcement officers…

According to an email obtained by the Daily Caller, Thompson told NSA personnel, that DOJ refused to deploy federal resources in support of local Morton County, North Dakota Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in an effort to fend off what the NSA and local officials called, “unlawful protests, threats of community intimidation and interfering with lawful commerce.”

One source close to the situation told TheDC that “the DOJ told the US attorney to stand down on help. North Dakota’s attorney general is not engaged either. Sheriffs are in the middle of the storm with limited help.”
This is a disturbing turn in the story to say the least. It’s one thing to adopt a bit more of a hands off approach in general… providing things aren’t getting out of hand. It’s another matter entirely to refuse the requests of state and local officials for help when there’s legitimate violence taking place. In addition to the violent encounters referenced in the linked article, the protesters have already engaged in arson which destroyed millions of dollars of equipment which was lawfully situated and in use. Refusing such a request is just leaving the sheriffs and state police high and dry.

Another aspect of these protests is cleared up by The Daily Caller’s research as well. You’ll recall that we previously highlighted the dual nature of the protest camps. Some of those engaged in demonstrations are locals and members of the Native American tribes in the area. But a second group is composed of outsiders who were brought in to fight any and all fossil fuel activity. The DC points us to a record of arrests thus far from the Dickinson Press. Out of 123 arrests as of earlier this week, less than twenty of them were locals or members of the tribes. The other 106 were all imports from out of state.

One could understand if the Department of Justice was reluctant to go in and start busting heads among the tribe members. Not only do they have legitimate claims to the land and their heritage, but the optics would be horrible. But that’s not who is causing the problems here for the most part. Loretta Lynch could send in the cavalry to drag out the anti-energy, green warriors who are burning the place down with no such complications. Unfortunately, those interlopers are very big with the Democratic base and there’s an election coming up, so I suppose the local cops are on their own.


Exxon Mobil Fights the Abusive Behavior of Democrat Attorney General’s Climate Inquisition

Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting back against New York’s Democrat attorney general who is demanding decades’ worth of documents about the company’s position on global warming and climate change.

On Oct. 17, Exxon asked a federal judge in Texas, Ed Kinkeade, to stop the abusive behavior of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by tossing out the subpoena that Schneiderman served on Exxon as part of a investigation of the company for supposedly lying to the public about catastrophic, man-induced climate change.

This is part of the effort of state attorneys general like Schneiderman to criminalize scientific dissent and punish heretics who question the validity of this unproven theory.

Exxon had already filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop a similar investigation being waged by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, also a Democrat. Exxon’s Oct. 17 motion asked the same federal court to allow it to amend its original complaint to add Schneiderman to its lawsuit.

Schneiderman’s subpoena demanded the production of essentially every document in the company’s possession concerning global warming or climate change for the last 40 years, including not just its internal research but any interactions with any other entities such as universities, researchers, and scientists that Schneiderman calls “aggressive climate deniers.”

Schneiderman has accused conservative groups—including The Heritage Foundation—of being part of a “dark money empire” that is supposedly directing a disinformation campaign on climate change and Exxon.

As Exxon points out in its brief, it is politics that is behind what the New York attorney general is doing, not enforcement of the law.

The brief summarizes in great detail the political motivations driving not only Schneiderman and Healey, but all of the other state attorneys general who held a press conference in March pledging themselves to use whatever means necessary to “deal with the problem of climate change” and force energy companies to support the preferred public policy on climate change of their coalition, which calls itself the Green 20.

That includes their secret, closed-door meetings and coordination with climate activists who made it explicit that their goal was to use law enforcement tools to “delegitimize” Exxon.

What is abundantly clear is that Schneiderman, Healey, and the other attorneys general who are part of the Green 20 are abusing their authority and power as governmental prosecutors to engage in a political witch hunt.

The true purpose of these investigations, according to Exxon, is to “suppress speech with which the Green 20 disagrees” on climate change. And the public statements made by Schneiderman and Healey make it clear that their “improper bias” disqualifies them from serving as the disinterested prosecutors required under the Constitution.

Interestingly, Exxon points out that the original fishing expedition engaged in by Schneiderman over its “historic climate change research” has changed. Less than a month ago, Schneiderman’s official press spokesman said that the attorney general was changing the focus of his investigation to Exxon’s estimation of its oil and gas reserves for the purposes of claiming that the company has engaged in “massive securities fraud.”

The attorney general is apparently now asserting that Exxon has overstated its reserves because he believes that “future global efforts to address climate change” will force the company “to leave enormous amounts of oil reserves in the ground.”

But, as Exxon points out, that theory conflicts not only with standard accounting procedures, but also with the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC prohibits energy companies from considering the impact of future regulations when estimating oil reserves. As Exxon says in its brief, “to the contrary, they require Exxon Mobil to calculate its proved reserves in light of ‘existing economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations.’”

In other words, the SEC “requires Exxon Mobil to ignore Attorney General Schneiderman’s assumptions about future regulations when estimating reserves.”  The fact that the Massachusetts attorney general has now adopted the same mistaken legal theory “speaks volumes about the pretextual nature of the litigation.”

According to Exxon, the “true objectives are clear: to fish indiscriminately through Exxon Mobil’s records with the hope of finding some violation of some law that one of them might be empowered to enforce, or otherwise to harass Exxon Mobil into endorsing the Green 20’s policy views regarding how the United States should respond to climate change.”

This action to add the New York attorney general to the Texas lawsuit was the result of an order issued by Kinkeade on Oct. 13 that should fill both Schneiderman and Healey with foreboding.

Normally, a federal lawsuit filed to try to stop a state lawsuit would be dismissed under the Younger abstention rule. The Supreme Court held in Younger v. Harris in 1971 that there is a strong federal policy against federal court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.  However, one of the exceptions to that rule is a state proceeding filed in bad faith.

Kinkeade stated that Healey’s actions “causes the court concern” and presents the question of whether she is pursuing this claim “with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover.”

If the allegations about Healey are true, then her actions “may constitute bad faith” that “would preclude Younger abstention.” As a result, he ordered discovery by both parties “to aid the court in deciding” whether Healey committed bad faith or whether this lawsuit should be dismissed.

What is abundantly clear is that Schneiderman, Healey, and the other attorneys general who are part of the Green 20 are abusing their authority and power as governmental prosecutors to engage in a political witch hunt that violates basic constitutional rights of due process and most importantly, the First Amendment.

Their intention is to chill speech and silence anyone who disagrees with them about a disputed scientific theory and public policy issue that is the subject of great debate.

That is how government prosecutors operate in the Third World and in banana republics—not the United States of America.


Once Overwhelming Support For German ‘Energiewende’ Fades, Study Finds

It used to be that the German Energiewende (transition to renewable energies) once enjoyed overwhelming support among the population. However, a recent national survey conducted by Germany’s University of Stuttgart, in cooperation with the University of Münster and two Fraunhofer institutes, shows a nation that has become split over the bold project.

Only 29% of those surveyed now see themselves as supporters of the Energiewende.

A total of 2009 persons were surveyed by telephone on a variety of aspects concerning perception of the Energiewende, e.g. wind parks in the countryside, in coastal areas and offshore, solar energy and grid revamping. Scientists at the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Risiko- und Innovationsforschung (Center for Interdisciplenary Risks and Innovation Research) at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS), the University of Münster and two Fraunhofer institutes for System and Innovation Research (ISI) and for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) reached the following results:

29 percent of the German population are classified as supporters of the Energiewende. Another 29 percent are ambivalent with regards to the Energiewende and the related technologies, and thus are viewed as being undecided, while 27 percent can be classified as critics of the Energiewende.

This is a far cry from overwhelming support and shows growing disenchantment with the transformation. What should be worrisome is that the big brunt of the costs have yet to hit.

Already 29 percent of those surveyed said that they are no longer willing to accept to pay more for electricity in order contribute to the success of the Energiewende, the survey found. Less than half, 47 percent, of German citizens say they are willing to pay 50 euros per year more for helping the Energiewende to succeed. That figure, the study notes,  is only under the condition that the total costs of the Energiewende get shared fairly between industry and the citizenry, and among the citizenry itself.

Trust in the main players of the Energiewende (large energy companies and utilities) and fairness are the most important factors in realizing acceptance. Refusal to pay or non-acceptance are not irrational defensive reactions, the study finds, but rather are based on sound reasons.


Green activist ban on Australian government agenda

Malcolm Turnbull has flagged a fresh attempt at passing laws to prevent environmentalists using the courts to block major projects, before his week-long visit to Queensland.

Labor and the Greens blocked a previous attempt by the Abbott government to prevent people with political agendas from using the courts to disrupt and delay projects such as coal mines.

The prime minister told reporters in Sydney, on the eve of a Brisbane cabinet meeting, he appreciated the value of a "robust democracy".

"People are entitled to bring their cases before the court, but there is no doubt there has been very systematic, very well funded campaigns against major projects," Mr Turnbull said.

"It's right to express concern about that."

He said the government would test whether the new Senate - which has nine Greens and 11 minor party members on the crossbench - has the "appetite" to reconsider the Abbott government bill.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said such laws were important, especially given the increasing role of foreign interests in lobbying against resources projects.

But he said the federal government should go further and reassess taxpayer subsidies for "green activist" groups.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he was concerned environmental activism and poor management by the Queensland Labor government were holding back major projects.

"I certainly don't take this place for granted, Malcolm doesn't take it for granted and we want to make sure we drag other people along with us on this path of making Queensland a stronger place," he told reporters in Brisbane.

The Greens want a ban on fracking and all coal seam gas and shale development.



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