Friday, April 22, 2005

Today is Lenin's birthday -- a.k.a. "EARTH DAY"

I put up a useful summary to mark the day yesterday.


The fact is, oil is still relatively inexpensive. By one measure tracked by Dow Jones, we are still far from matching an April 1980 spike in US oil prices. The $39.50 per barrel price that month exceeds $90 in today's dollars. We remain a long way from that, with oil easing below the $50 mark in trading Monday.

That's not to say that energy costs aren't hitting families and corporations in the pocketbook. Even as oil prices have softened in recent days, there's been new concern about energy dampening economic growth. But a broader view - looking at oil over a longer period and against other goods and services - puts the impact in a less dire perspective. "Gas is actually cheap right now," says Timothy McMahon, editor of "Up until a year ago, oil was at a historic low, and they were giving this stuff away. And so to go from $20 a barrel to $50 a barrel looks like a big increase in a small period of time. But if it were spread out over those 25 years, nobody would say a thing."

Even with the rising costs, economists say, energy still makes up a small percentage of a family's budget, about 4 percent. That's half what it was in the early 1980s.

Jeff Stepanik, for instance, says gas prices over $2 a gallon have not had any impact on his family's budget (or lack thereof). He is still tinkering around with motorcycles and his wife is still happily hitting the mall. "We don't live any differently than we did before," says the Houston account manager. "It's not like we're going without a meal because of gas prices." But he is considering a life with routinely higher gas prices - as witnessed by his family's most recent purchase.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Stepanik sold his wife's "gas-guzzling" Ford Expedition and bought a hybrid Nissan. "This vehicle made more financial sense, because we are not going to stop driving," he says. He estimates that gas prices would have to exceed $10 a gallon before he considers changing his driving patterns.

That's not an uncommon attitude in the United States. Even during the oil embargo of the 1970s, it took a while before consumers began buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or moving closer to where they worked.....

Michael Solomon, consumer behavior expert at Auburn University in Alabama, calls the frenzy over rising gas prices "a tempest in a teapot," considering the amount of money people spend on small indulgences. "The same people who are complaining about gas prices don't blink when they pay $3.50 for a latte," he says. "That's different somehow."

More here


Friday, the D.C. circuit court of appeals hears oral arguments in Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plaintiffs, who include the attorneys general (AGs) of 12 states, are suing the EPA for rejecting an October 1999 petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and several other environmental groups to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. In effect, plaintiffs demand that EPA impose the Kyoto Protocol - a non-ratified treaty - on U.S. automakers. They hope via litigation not only to substitute their will for that of the people's elected representatives, but also to price and regulate millions of Americans out of the market for large, safe, high-performance vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is the inescapable combustion byproduct of gasoline and other carbon-based fuels. Larger, heavier vehicles use more fuel per mile driven, and consequently emit more grams of CO2 per mile. If plaintiffs prevail, EPA will have to require automakers to downsize and/or restrict production of SUVs, large passenger cars, and other high-CO2-emitting vehicles - the very vehicles that are Detroit's biggest sellers. So at a minimum, a victory for plaintiffs will restrict consumer choice and further erode the competitiveness of U.S. automakers.

Even more damaging is the precedent that the plaintiffs hope to set. If the court compels the EPA to classify CO2 as a regulated pollutant, it will unleash a torrent of copycat lawsuits. Future suits will demand that the EPA both curb CO2 emissions from other sectors and continually tighten the controls. Even though President Bush, significant congressional majorities, and most voters oppose the Kyoto treaty, the flood of litigation would establish a national energy-rationing system indistinguishable from Kyoto.

The good news is that plaintiffs are going to lose, because CO2 regulation is patently illegal under both the CAA and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

To see why plaintiffs' suit is without merit, it suffices to ask two simple questions: Why was the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which seeks to cap CO2 emissions from all U.S. economic sectors, arguably the most controversial piece of legislation to come to a vote in the 108th Congress? And why is the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which would require more stringent CO2 emission reductions, arguably the most controversial treaty to be debated by U.S. policymakers in the past nine years?

The answer is that both Kyoto and McCain-Lieberman would fundamentally alter U.S. law and regulatory policy on the production and use of energy. The federal government has never regulated CO2 emissions - that is hardly surprising. Carbon dioxide is the intended combustion byproduct of the carbonaceous fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas - that supply roughly 85 percent of all the energy Americans use. The power to restrict CO2 emissions is literally the power to cripple U.S. productivity, competitiveness, and growth.

The Senate preemptively rejected Kyoto as too costly and unfair to the United States when, in July 1997, it passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution by a 95-0 vote. The Senate similarly rejected McCain-Lieberman by 55-43 on October 30, 2003. Yet the AGs and their allies claim that EPA has a mandatory duty to regulate CO2. Their lawsuit implies that Kyoto and McCain-Lieberman, in substance if not detail, are already the law of the land - a preposterous opinion. What the plaintiffs are really trying to do is usurp Congress's lawmaking power. They are attempting, through not-very-clever legalisms, to install an energy-rationing regime that Congress never approved.

More -- much more -- here


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.

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