Friday, May 04, 2018

In Climate Lawsuit, Boulder’s Hoping Exxon’s Deep Pockets Will Pay For Its Left-Wing Agenda

Boulder’s lead attorney David Bookbinder, no stranger to climate lawsuits.

It remains to be seen if Exxon will fight the latest climate change lawsuit against it in the same way it is attacking the first round, by scrubbing municipal documents for evidence of hypocrisy by the public officials filing them.

According to a conservative group following the case, mounting such a defense might be overkill. The lawsuit filed by Boulder, Colo., and two Colorado counties is so frivolous, Exxon could end up seeking reimbursement for the costs of defending itself, according to Mountain States Legal Foundation.

William Perry Pendley, president of MSLF, says he isn’t surprised that politicians in Boulder are going through Exxon’s deep pockets “to pay for their costly, radical, left-wing boondoggles.”

“But taxpayers who think at least they will not have to pay for this pricey misadventure and might even get some tax relief if it is successful should think again,” Pendley said.

“This lawsuit could not be more frivolous and if the judges do what other judges have done, legal sanctions and hefty fines will be imposed.”

To defend itself from the California lawsuit, Exxon is seeking to depose government officials and a private lawyer in Texas court over whether their allegations of impending climate change-caused doom are contradicted by bond offerings that make no mention of it.

Asked if Boulder ever disclosed climate change-related threats to its property in any bond offerings, the City declined to comment.

It’s unclear whether the bond argument is a possible defense for Exxon in Colorado, and the company did not return a request for comment.

As for Boulder, which filed its lawsuit with Boulder and San Miguel counties, its most recent official statement does not include references to climate change.

The official statement on acquisitions of land does not contain the terms “climate change,” “weather” or “global warming.”

Pendley said there is no science to support the lawsuit. Judges in the California lawsuits have yet to rule on motions to dismiss filed by the energy industry.

“Causation between the alleged inactions of the companies and the imagined harms is missing in its entirety and the demand that whimsical injuries be redressed (‘Help us pay to paint our streets white,’ one imagines) is laughable,” Pendley said.

Addressing the bond topic last week was David Bookbinder of the Niskanen Center, which is one of two nonprofits representing Boulder on a pro bono basis. A third firm is taking as much as a 20% contingency fee, according to Boulder County’s website.

Bookbinder was a speaker at an American Enterprise Institute discussion of California climate litigation the same day his lawsuit was being filed in a Colorado state court. He used an expletive to describe Exxon’s strategy and said that he was “ashamed” of the law firm representing the company.

“If we needed more evidence that no one thinks this was improper or fraudulent or disingenuous, my former adversaries in the plaintiffs’ securities bar – those people are extremely aggressive. The time lapse between bad news coming out and lawsuits filed by what was called the ‘strike bar’ could be measured in, you know, one day, 48 hours, 72 hours, maybe four days – 96 hours,” Bookbinder said.

“There have been no lawsuits filed against any of these cities for their bond disclosures. That should tell you something as well.”

In 2017, the counties of Marin, Santa Cruz and San Mateo and the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach filed suit against dozens of energy companies, including Exxon and 17 other Texas-based businesses, over climate change. The company has previously been targeted by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York.

“It is reasonable to infer that the municipalities brought these lawsuits, not because of a bona fide belief in any tortious conduct by the defendants or actual damage to their jurisdictions, but instead to coerce ExxonMobil and others operating in the Texas energy sector to adopt policies aligned with those favored by local politicians in California,” attorneys for the company wrote.

In doing so, they must have lied to potential investors in their respective bond offerings, the company claims.

Statements made to potential investors contradict allegations made by the municipalities when they sued the energy industry, the filing says.

For example, San Mateo County’s complaint says it is “particularly vulnerable to sea level rise” and that there is a 93% chance the county experiences a “devastating” flood before 2050. However, bond offerings in 2014 and 2016 noted that the county “is unable to predict whether a sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur.”

Bookbinder noted that the offerings came with a statement regarding a final paper from the California Climate Change Center that said property in San Francisco Bay is vulnerable to impacts associated with sea-level rise.

But the cities did not present an opinion on the accuracy of those claims, which was noted by Devin Watkins, an attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who attended the event.

The CEI has called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the matter.


The Great Population Hoax Turns 50

This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most destructive books of the last century, The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich.

The 1968 doomsday bestseller generated hysteria over the future of the world and the Earth’s waning ability to sustain human life, as Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich offered a series of alarming predictions that turned out to be spectacularly wrong, creating the enduring myth of unsustainable population growth.

Ehrlich prophesied that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s (and that 65 million of them would be Americans), that already-overpopulated India was doomed, and that most probably “England will not exist in the year 2000.”

In conclusion, Ehrlich warned that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come,” meaning “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

If these musings had been received for what they actually were—the wacky theories of a crackpot academic—all would have been well. But The Population Bomb sold some 3 million copies and influenced an entire generation.

Ideas have practical consequences, and Dr. Ehrlich did not leave his followers guessing as to what they ought to be.

In the course of his illustrious career, Ehrlich has defended mass sterilization, sex-selective abortion, and infanticide. In his call for radical population control, Ehrlich has said he would prefer “voluntary methods” but if people were unwilling to cooperate, he was ready to endorse “various forms of coercion.”

To allow women to have as many children as they want, Ehrlich said, is like letting people “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”

Those who had the coercive power to put Ehrlich’s theories into practice bear witness to just how horrifying they were.

To reduce its population, China instituting a draconian one-child policy, which has now left the country (through sex-selective abortions) with a horrific gender imbalance, with yearly births of some 120 boys born for every 100 girls. As a result, “30 million more men than women will reach adulthood and enter China’s mating market by 2020.”

Many nations—including the United States—began attaching population control measures to aid packages to third-world countries, meaning that the amount of aid received became conditioned by the state’s ability to coercively reduce its own population.

The tragic fact is that as a credentialed scientist—a biologist lecturing at Stanford University—Ehrlich’s proclamation of the end times as well as the means to confront them struck many as the plausible theory of an “expert.”

As Bill McGurn argues in the Wall Street Journal Monday, in his day, Dr. Ehrlich’s “assertion about the limited ‘carrying capacity’ of the Earth was settled science. Never mind that it is rooted in an absurdity: that when a calf is born a country’s wealth rises, but when a baby is born it goes down.”

A few brave souls resisted the urge to jump on the population explosion bandwagon, urging calm and rationality. One was economist Julian L. Simon, who later noted that “whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”

In 1981, Simon published The Ultimate Resource, underscoring man’s ability to adapt to new circumstances and overcome obstacles through ingenuity and creativity. It is the human mind, rather than coal, trees, or iron, that is the ultimate resource—one that suffers no risk of depletion.

Another population expert, Fred Pearce, has more recently noted that birthrates are now below long-term replacement levels nearly everywhere, a trend he examined in his 2010 book, The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future.

The baffling mystery is how Ehrlich—despite his utterly failed forecasts—can continue to be hailed today as a serious scientist with something important to say to the world.

In early 2017, the Vatican invited Dr. Ehrlich to speak at an academic conference titled ‘Biological Extinction,” sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The conference addressed issues of biodiversity, “great extinctions” of history, population and demographics, and Ehrlich was invited to speak on “Causes and Pathways of Biodiversity Losses: Consumption Preferences, Population Numbers, Technology, Ecosystem Productivity.”

The enduring power of alarmist theories such as Ehrlich’s, which somehow survive being exposed as utterly false, should give people pause before embracing similar theories and their practical corollaries, even when based on “settled science.”

In a 2015 article, The New York Times observed that “worrying about an overcrowded planet has fallen off the international agenda” and has now been replaced “by climate change and related concerns.”

While perhaps failing to observe the irony of its own reporting, the Times juxtaposed the thoroughly discredited population explosion theories of the 1970s with the (equally alarmist) global warming predictions of our day.

As scientists themselves are beginning to recognize, doomsday theories—including those surrounding global warming—must learn to factor in the astounding resilience of human intelligence and the ability of human beings to rebound


California Leads Coalition of States Suing EPA over Vehicle-Emissions Standards

A coalition of 18 states sued the Trump administration Tuesday over EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rollback of Obama-era vehicle-emissions standards.

The states, which are led by California and together comprise roughly 40 percent of America’s auto market, claim that Pruitt acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when he pledged in April to modify Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards in light of new information.

“This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution,” California governor Jerry Brown said in a statement announcing the suit.

California and the other states party to the suit allege that Pruitt decided to toss the existing regulations, which were implemented in 2011, absent any new information and despite the fact that automakers are on track to hit existing emissions targets. In defending the proposed revisions to the Obama-era standards, the EPA has cited falling fuel prices, which increase demand for larger cars and SUVs and make it more difficult for automakers to hit average fuel-economy targets.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, also challenges the Trump administration’s attempts to curb states’ autonomy in setting their own emissions standards — a significant issue considering California’s outsize share of the auto market in particular. California, which represents roughly 12 percent of all U.S. auto sales, had received a series of federal waivers that allow it and twelve other states involved in the suit to implement emissions standards that are stricter than the EPA’s. The administration has moved to revoke those waivers.

Automakers and industry groups, some of which have argued that existing fuel-emission targets are unrealistic and lead to higher prices, are now concerned that the nascent legal battle could lead to a divided market as certain states require more stringent emissions standards than others.


Review paper finds clouds act as a negative feedback to cool the climate

A new review from SPPI and CO2 Science surveys the scientific literature on clouds and determines clouds act as a negative feedback to cool the climate, opposite of the erroneous assumptions in climate models that clouds act as a positive feedback to cause warming.

Understanding how clouds respond to anthropogenic-induced perturbations of our planet's atmosphere is of paramount importance in determining the impact of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content on global climate; for as Charlson et al. (2001) have noted, "man-made aerosols have a strong influence on cloud albedo, with a global mean forcing estimated to be of the same order (but opposite in sign) as that of greenhouse gases."

Thus, this summary presents a brief review of a number of scientific papers that address this crucial issue.

There are a number of ways in which the activities of humanity are believed to influence earth's climate; and many of these phenomena tend to cool the globe, primarily by enhancing its albedo or reflectance of incoming solar radiation.

Results of several empirical studies led Charlson et al. to conclude that the anthropogenic impetus for cooling "may be even larger than anticipated."

It would appear the surface temperature record on which the world's climate alarmists so long relied, i.e., the infamous hockey stick" reconstruction, was either bogus or that the warming, if real, was due to something quite different from anthropogenic forcing.

In light of these many observations, therefore, it would appear that there is a plethora of natural and anthropogenic-induced negative feedbacks to purported global warming that are more than capable of maintaining the climate of the globe within a temperature range conducive to the continued well-being of all forms of life currently found upon the face of the earth ... and in the sea, and in the soil, and in the air.


Australia: Warmists joining Liberal Party branches in an attempt to unseat climate realist Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott’s political future could be under threat from a group of activists who have been organising environmentally conscious voters to join Liberal party branches on Sydney’s north shore – a move that could unseat the former prime minister.

Billing themselves as “the counterweight” to the pro-coal power Monash Forum, the North Shore Environmental Stewards have held at least two recruitment functions at which attendees were urged to tap into their networks of environmentally conscious people to join the Liberal party branches in Abbott’s seat of Warringah and on the lower north shore.

The NSES has a Facebook page that says the group “supports clean energy and a healthy environment, and believes in traditional Liberal party values of environmental stewardship”.

But some participants believe its objectives appeared to be aimed at candidate change.

“I was asked to participate in an initiative to have a representative in Canberra who acknowledges climate change,” said one person who attended the meeting in Seaforth on 25 March.

Exactly who is involved in the group remains a matter of conjecture.

Certainly, Liberals have attended. Several high-profile figures in the moderate faction of the Liberal party, including the powerbroker Michael Photios and his wife, Kristina, attended the lunchtime gathering of the NSES at Seaforth in March.

Also attending were the New South Wales MP for North Shore, Felicity Wilson, and David Begg, a longtime Liberal party member who ran against Abbott for preselection in the 1990s.

Photios addressed the meeting and, according to one attendee, put the case that the Liberals were the party that would tackle climate change – and that they should join. He highlighted his own record of defending the environment when in state parliament. .

“At the meeting I soon realised that the NSES was ... seeking to recruit people concerned about the lack of action on climate change to join the Liberal party in order to block the preselection of Tony Abbott to stand in Warringah at the next federal election,” the attendee claimed.

One invitation for the Mosman meeting said: “We have a real opportunity be a force for good in the party, a voice for the environment right here in the electorate of the Monash Forum’s figurehead – Tony Abbott. Come and learn about how we can shift the politics here in Warringah at our info session this Sunday!”

Photios told Guardian Australia he had attended the Seaforth meeting because his wife, a passionate environmentalist, had been asked to speak. She ultimately didn’t speak but Photios did and was the main speaker at the event. He said there was “zero involvement” of the Liberal party or the moderate faction in the formation of the NSES.

A year ago, the Photios couple formed a spinoff from Photios’s lobbying firm, Premier State, to represent clean energy companies. The firm, Clean Energy Strategies, describes itself as “a boutique corporate advisory firm specialising in energy”.

Until a few years ago Photios held several senior positions in the state executive of the NSW Liberal party and was head of the moderate faction, known as the Group, which has been locked in a long-running power struggle with the right. Abbott is one of the leading members of the right faction.

As prime minister, Abbott pushed through rule changes in the Liberal party to ban registered lobbyists from holding party positions.

Several members of NSES are also members of the activist group GetUp. A GetUp spokeswoman said the NSES “was definitely not a GetUp project but the environmental justice team knows of it ... and think they’re great”.

The official organiser of NSES, Rob Grant, told Guardian Australia the group was no more than “a group of like-minded people on the north shore who want to see action on climate change, and who believe in driving change from inside the tent”.

Senior figures in the moderates scoffed at the idea that Abbott was in any danger of losing his northern beaches seat in a preselection. They said he had a firm grip on the numbers and that to take part in a preselection members must have joined at least six months earlier.

There is no firm date for federal preselections but they are likely to take place by the end of the year or earlier, if an early election is called.

But figures closer to the machinations in Warringah warned the seat could be vulnerable to an attack by Young Liberals, whom they described as marauding across NSW.

This is because the geographic rules that require members to join their local federal branch do not apply for members under the age of 30. Young Liberals can therefore vote in preselections outside where they live.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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