Monday, April 08, 2019

Judge blocks offshore drilling

By Craig Rucker

Good grief! Yet another bold initiative by the President to strengthen American energy security is thwarted by a liberal judge legislating from the bench.

This happened last Friday when U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason (an Obama appointee) slapped down President Trump’s move to open up the Chukchi Sea in the Artic, as well as other places in the Atlantic, for oil and gas drilling.

The Greens, naturally, were ecstatic:

“President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him,” Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said.  “The judge’s ruling today re-affirms that we are a nation of laws and shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution at the expense of our oceans, wildlife, and climate.”

Lawlessness? Really? This from Green groups which have never had a qualm blocking roads to stop logging trucks, trespassing on private grounds to drop banners from corporate office buildings, or sometimes engaging in acts of “eco-terrorism” to prove a point? Give me a break.

It was Obama who issued a ban on Arctic and Atlantic drilling under the authority of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). He did this via “executive order.”

What the green gaggle led by Earth Justice argued before the court was that the OCSLA only allows Presidents to withdraw areas from offshore oil leasing and development, it does not grant Presidents (especially a President like Trump) the authority to reinstate that development – now or at any point in the future. Only Congress, they say, can do that.

The judge dutifully swallowed their reasoning hook, line and sinker.

Fortunately the Trump administration is appealing this decision. We wish them Godspeed. The judge’s ruling flies in the face of reason – especially when it is commonplace that executive orders issued by one President are easily rescinded whenever a new resident of the Oval office takes charge. That is the way it has been done in the past, and the way it should continue in the future.

What the Greens are obviously trying to do is to place executive actions concerning the Arctic, and even their grander ones, like the Paris Accord, beyond the reach of any future president. The Paris accord, for example, allows a country to petition to withdraw, which Trump did – but that takes several years to be approved by the UN. This way the Greens have an opportunity to gather their forces and try and elect another president, more to their liking – one that will get back onboard with the program. It’s a sham.

The Left is trying to lock in their extremist policies and forever prevent the electorate from rolling them back. In this, they must not prevail. America’s regulatory process must never be run like the “Hotel California,” a place where “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”


Judge tosses kids’ lawsuit against Trump climate policies

Rejecting a claim by Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council and attorneys representing two Pennsylvania school boys that people have a constitutionally guaranteed due process right to a “life-sustaining climate,” a federal Judge has dismissed a bizarre legal case challenging the Trump administration’s climate policies.

In his Fen. 19 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond said the plaintiffs lacked standing. And in dismissing the case, Clean Air Council v. United States, Judge Diamond granted the request by President Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and other administration officials.

The case dates to November 2017 when the two boys, aged 7 and 11 at the time, attributed their respective ailments, severe allergies and asthma, to Trump administration policies rolling back Obama-era climate initiatives. Judge Diamond showed little patience with plaintiffs willing to clog up an already overburdened court system with an issue that was best dealt with outside the judicial sphere.

“A Policy Debate Best Left to the Political Process”

“Plaintiffs’ disagreement with the defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process,” Diamond wrote. “Because I have neither the authority nor the inclination to assume control of the Executive Branch, I will grant defendants’ motion.” Diamond scoffed at what he interpreted as a request by the plaintiffs that he “supervise any action that the President and his appointees take that might touch on ‘the environment.’”

Judge Diamond was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004.

Joseph Otis Minott, the Clean Air Council’s executive director and chief counsel, was defiant in defeat, claiming in a statement that Trump administration policies “are increasing U.S. contribution to climate change … and violating our constitutional rights.

Diamond Rebukes Judge in Controversial Oregon Ruling

As reported by Environment & Climate News (March 25), Judge Diamond did more than just dismiss Minott’s claims in the Pennsylvania case. He took the extraordinary step of rebuking U.S. District Court of Oregon Judge Ann Aiken for her ruling in Juliana v. United States, which involved 21 children suing the federal government over climate change. When Aiken ordered the lawsuit to trial in 2016, she said “the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” As pointed out by Climate Liability News (Feb. 20), Aiken’s ruling that the young plaintiffs had a Constitutional right to a livable climate was the first such ruling by a U.S. judge.

Pointing out that Aiken’s ruling is at odds with previous court decisions, Diamond wrote that “the Julianna Court certainly contravened or ignored longstanding precedent.” He added that guaranteeing a stable climate would be “apparently without limit.”

Diamond also took issue with the notion that the judiciary has a role in climate policy and criticized Aiken’s public trust claims in Juliana, saying it was an incorrect expansion of that doctrine beyond the traditional concept governing navigable waters.

“Plaintiffs seek to create an entirely new doctrine – investing the Federal Government with an affirmative duty to protect all land and resources within the United States,” Diamond wrote. “The Julianna Court alone has recognized this new doctrine. Again, the Court’s reasoning is less than persuasive.”

“Noble Lie on Steroids”

Christopher Horner, an attorney and senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is pleased that Judge Diamond singled out Judge Aiken’s Oregon ruling.

“The federal court in Pennsylvania threw the suit out and in the process was fairly direct in criticizing the Oregon judge’s activism in supporting the demand for a climate plan ‘without apparent limit,’” which if you know anything about the issue is the most alarming aspect – not even the most extreme treaties purport a detectable impact on climate even if you accept their fairly well-debunked assumptions,” Horner told Environment & Climate News. “Such a ruling would offer the ruling class a bottomless well of authority usurpation of liberty and suffering in the name of something it actually would not affect. It is the Noble Lie on steroids, possibly the most Noble Lie ever perpetrated.”

“Even if you accept arguendo the alarmists’ model assumptions, the U.S. disappearing would make no difference, with our sacrifice swamped by increases in the developing world,” he added. “Take into account their alarmist scenarios are proved wrong, and this is just a political prescription, not anything to do with climate. Climate is an excuse to abandon our democratic process of separation of powers, and not a very good one.”

In both the Pennsylvania and Oregon cases, children were recruited as plaintiffs to serve the agenda of climate alarmists. Seeing this for the exploitation that it clearly is, Judge Diamond took the trouble to lambaste Judge Aiken’s judicial recklessness in allowing the political ploy to serve as the basis of a far-reaching court decision.


2020 climate madness looms

The year 2020 is shaping up to be one of madness when it comes to the climate change debate. Several huge milestones are in the cards and these cards are on the table.

One is the US Presidential election, where the entire world wants to see if President Trump can pull off another skeptical miracle (or curse, depending on who you ask). The official date for the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is the day after the election, so that too may hang in the balance.

In UN-world there are two monster milestones in 2020. By far the biggest is that the mythical $100 billion a year is supposed to start flowing from America and the rest of the supposedly guilty developed countries, to the developing countries, who claim to be suffering increasingly bad weather because of our prosperity.

In addition, under the Paris Agreement pretty much all of the countries in the world are supposed to raise the level of ambition in their national climate action plans. Note that for the developing countries these action plans are contingent on getting the $100 billion a year, thus there is a close connection.

So if Trump wins and the big bucks don’t show the whole house of green cards just might collapse. This is going to make for a very tense (and loud) year on the climate change front.

Things are already heating up here in 2019. Topping the list is the truly extreme Green New Deal proposal. Most of the Democrat presidential candidates have endorsed the GND, which guarantees it will be a major nomination issue. If a Green New Dealer gets the nomination it will also be a huge election issue, maybe even the deciding one.

The Republican Senate artlessly failed to debate the explosive GND, while the wily Democrat House has silently buried it under eleven different Committees. But while Congress may never vote on the GND, it is not about to go away, quite the opposite. The Presidential race guarantees it a large life, at least until the Democrat National Convention.

While so far avoiding the GND, the Democrats running the U.S. House have promised to introduce a never ending series of separate and distinct climate activist bills. The goal of this piecework strategy is to make climate change a big 2020 election issue, no matter who their candidate is.

On the UN side the Secretary General Antonio Guterres is hosting a special September meeting of national governments, specifically designed to elicit increased ambitions in their new 2020 climate action plans. It is billed as the “plans not speeches” meeting.

Unlike the usual UN talkathon, in this case the proposals to speak are apparently being screened for punch. The Secretary General’s invitation is reported as including this unusually tough talk:

“This summit will be action-oriented. The deliverables and initiatives that will be showcased need to be implementable, scalable and replicable and have the potential to get us in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.”

In a parallel article in Britain’s ever-green Guardian newspaper, Guterres says: “I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020.” Ominously, there is also a special track on the “mobilization of youth“.

At this point it is far from clear that any major country is prepared to up their ambition, which might make the meeting a bust. The US is certainly out, even though the meeting is at UN HQ in New York. A lot of the green majors are facing the rapid emergence of skeptical conservative opposition parties, so they are running scared. Germany is a good example. Some, like Brazil, have even been taken over by skeptics, in Trump-like fashion.

So all things considered, 2020 may be the year of the climate crescendo. The volume is certainly picking up here in 2019. Why not, given that in some ways the world order is on the line. It is certainly about time we had a serious debate over climate change policy.

Let the big fight begin.


New York Yankees Align with Paris Climate Agreement, Sign UN Sports for Climate Action Framework

The New York Yankees baseball organization has aligned itself with the Paris Agreement by signing on to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, the pinstripes from New York became the first major North American sports team to sign on to the Framework that was launched by UN Climate Change and the sports sector at COP24 on Dec. 11, 2018 “to gather sports organizations, teams, athletes, and fans in a concerted effort to raise awareness and action to meet the goals of the Paris [Climate Change] Agreement.”

The goal of the Framework is to “drive emission reductions of sports operations and tap the popularity and passion of sport to engage millions of fans in the effort.”

March 21, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the UNFCC, and UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa had the following to say about the Yankees joining the cause:

“I applaud the New York Yankees, this legendary club with its legions of passionate fans, for taking this important step, signing on to the Sports for Climate Action Framework. We need leading organizations like the Yankees to stand up for ambitious action on climate change for the good of the planet and present and future generations.”

The Yankees join International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the French Tennis Federation-Roland Garros, Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, Rugby League World Cup 2021, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, UEFA, World Surf League, Formula E and other signatories sin committing to support the following principles laid out by the UNFCCC: “Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility; Reduce overall climate impact; Educate for climate action; Promote sustainable and responsible consumption; [and] Advocate for climate action through communication.”



Senate energy committee approves Trump’s pick to lead interior

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to move David Bernhardt’s nomination to lead the Interior Department in front of the full Senate Thursday morning.

The committee approved Bernhardt’s nomination in a 14 to 6 vote despite concerns by some Democrats. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine joined the committee’s Republicans to advance Bernhardt’s nomination.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon called for the committee to delay Bernhardt’s vote Wednesday over allegations that Bernhardt, currently the acting Interior secretary, interfered with an environmental assessment of proposed changes to federal and state water policy. The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing the allegations.

The Interior Department’s chief ethics official Scott de la Vega has cleared Bernhardt of any misconduct related to the environmental assessment. Bernhardt testified in front of the committee March 28 that he delayed publishing the report to put it through a legal review.

Allegations of misconduct and conflicts of interest have hounded Bernhardt’s nomination process.

“I think it’s very clear you have well-funded groups that are working hard, working energetically against his nomination,” GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the committee, said ahead of the vote, according to Reuters.

The Western Values Project, a group campaigning against Bernhardt’s nomination, called the committee vote to advance the “conflict-ridden” Bernhardt nomination a “mistake.”

“It’s no surprise that a group of Senators who owe so much to special interest lobbyists would support this choice for Interior Secretary,” Western Values Project Director Chris Saeger said in a statement. “For the last two years, conflict-ridden David Bernhardt has tipped the scales in favor of former clients, likely violating his ethics pledge and responsibilities to the American people.”



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