The White House has issued a veto threat against legislation from the Republican-led House of Representatives that would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants. The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), is up for consideration on the House floor this week.
“H.R. 3826 would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants, and arbitrarily restrict the available technologies that could be considered for any new standards,” argued the White House statement. “Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules.”
The bill has 94 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats (John Barrow, William Enyart, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson, Nick Rahall, Terri Sewell, and Mike McIntyre).
Full text of statement:
In a blistering floor speech Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doubled down on his criticism of the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, who he described last week as “un-American.” Reid’s comments last week focused on the advertisements against the Affordable Care Act produced by the Kochs’ political group, Americans for Prosperity, which fact-checkers have described as “missing context,” “misleading,” and “loose with facts.”
“This discussion – this fight – isn’t just about health care or even about a few hundred million dollars in disingenuous ads,” Reid said today. “This is about two very wealthy individuals who intend to buy their very own Congress – a Congress beholden to their money and bound to enact their radical philosophy.”
Reid’s remarks touched upon climate change and environmental policy:
We may never know how much money the Koch brothers are spending to rig the system for themselves. But we do know their investments have already paid off. In November of 2010, the petroleum industry walked right through the door the Supreme Court had opened, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect a Republican majority to the House of Representatives. That Republican majority has effectively shut down any hope of passing legislation to limit the pollution that causes climate change. And that Republican majority is, in fact, working to gut the most important safeguards that keep cancer-causing toxins out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Without those safeguards, the Koch brothers would pass on the higher healthcare costs to middle class Americans while padding their own pocketbooks. . . .
Their extreme vision for America means giving giant corporations the unfettered right to dump toxins into our rivers and streams, on our mountains and in our valleys, and to give them even more tax breaks while they destroy our environment.
Americans for Prosperity has also recently launched a television ad attacking Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), falsely claiming that Begich supports a carbon tax.
Charles and David Koch control Koch Industries, a petrochemical, industrial, and financial conglomerate that is the second-largest private company in the United States. They have an estimated combined net worth of over $100 billion, making David Koch the richest man in New York City and Charles the richest man in Kansas. They are the third and fourth richest billionaires in the United States.
Transcript of Reid’s speech:
398 youth activists were arrested Sunday in front of the White House, after staging a “die-in” protest against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The protesters marched from the Georgetown University site of President Barack Obama’s 2013 climate speech to the street in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s house before arriving at the White House. Kerry is slated to make a decision on on whether the pipeline — which will unlock access to Canadian tar sands and have a carbon footprint equivalent to fifty new coal-fired power plants — is in the national interest. President Obama is responsible for the final determination.
“We are trying to escalate as much as we can,” Michael Greenberg, a Columbia University sophomore who helped organize Sunday’s protest, told the National Journal’s Ben Geman. “We are not playing softball with the president any more.”
“Young people are tired of watching a president who ran on the promise of ‘ending the tyranny of oil’ keep caving to the fossil fuel industry,” wrote Jamie Henn, Communications Director for 350 Action, at MSNBC.com
“An entire movement has thrown itself into in this Keystone fight, from local frontline groups to big national green organizations,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “But this weekend shows the power and bravery of some of the most crucial elements: young people, and activists who understand the centrality of environmental justice.”
On Thursday’s Squawk Box, CNBC pundit Joe Kernen claimed that climate science is “witchcraft” for the conclusion that rising atmospheric CO2 from industrial emissions is increasing the planetary greenhouse effect. Arguing with Andrew Ross Sorkin about the news that January 2014 was the fourth warmest in recorded history for the planet, Kernen made several factually incorrect claims.
Kernen said: “The other warmer months were like in the ‘90s. Why would there be a warmer month when CO2 was 30% less in the ‘90s?”
In fact, the other warmer Januaries were in the 2000s: ‘07, ‘02, ‘03, ‘14. Five of the 6 next warmest months were in the ‘00s: ‘10, ‘05, ‘98, ‘04, ‘09, ‘13. 1998 was a warm year because of a very strong El Nino, such that some of the vast amount of heat stored in the oceans was added to the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide was 10 percent less in the 1990s, not 30 percent less. The global CO2 average for 1990-1999 was 360 ppm, which is 9 percent less than the 2013 annual average of 396.5 ppm. CO2 levels were 26 perecent less than the present day in the 1880s, and the earth was 0.8 C (1.44 F) cooler then.
Kernen has regularly questioned the science of man-made global warming and pilloried scientists and activists as the “eco-taliban.”
Now we hear all the time about global warming. Actually, we have had flat-line temperatures globally for the last 8 years. Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.
In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution.
Broun is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He has received 146,050 from the energy sector including $87,550 in lifetime political contributions from the oil and gas industry, of which $33,500 is from Koch Industries and $31,750 from Georgia Power.
In response to mild action taken recently by the Obama administration to respond to the ongoing climate crisis, prominent climate deniers have lashed out. Their language is reminiscent of last year’s billboard campaign by the Heartland Institute comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber and terrorists and Chris Monckton calling young climate activists “Hitler Youth.”In the Washington Post op-ed pages edited by Fred Hiatt, long-time climate science denier Charles Krauthammer repeated the refrain that climate science is a “religion” and then accuses President Obama and other climate realists of “whoring.”
Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads. If you whore after other gods, the Bible tells us, “the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (Deuteronomy 11).
Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.
But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon-belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”
On his personal blog, Dr. Roy W. Spencer claimed that the use of the term “climate denier” is a Holocaust reference and calls climate scientists “global warming Nazis.”
I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.
The pseudo-scientific ramblings by their leaders have falsely warned of mass starvation, ecological collapse, agricultural collapse, overpopulation…all so that the masses would support their radical policies. Policies that would not voluntarily be supported by a majority of freedom-loving people.
“Like the Nazis, they advocate the supreme authority of the state (fascism),” Spencer continued, “which in turn supports their scientific research to support their cause (in the 1930s, it was superiority of the white race).”
When challenged, Spencer doubled down. “A couple people in comments have questioned my use of ‘Nazi’, which might be considered over the top. Considering the fact that these people are supporting policies that will kill far more people than the Nazis ever did — all in the name of what they consider to be a righteous cause — I think it is very appropriate. Again, I didn’t start the name-calling.”
Spencer is a Heartland Institute “expert”.
Update: Although the San Francisco Chronicle’s Debra Saunders’ tweet-based column misrepresents Hill Heat’s relationship to the Forecast the Facts #DontPublishLies campaign, her column does offer a reasonable interpretation of Krauthammer’s “whoring” commentary, in which the users of fossil fuels are whores after false gods who are being punished by drought, and President Obama is the defender of climate science and planet Earth.
Former climate hawk Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday ridiculed Secretary of State John Kerry for treating climate change as a serious foreign policy issue and national security threat, as he once did himself.Appearing on Phoenix radio station KFYI’s The Mike Broomhead Show, McCain said:
Why should he talk about climate change when we’ve got 130,000 people in Syria killed, and, as I predicted on this show many times, when the Geneva thing is a fiasco, and the US-Iran talks are obviously a joke, and the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations haven’t even begun? John Kerry and the president, they could be hitting the trifecta here, gross failure in all three. So he has to go over to Asia and talk about climate change and say it’s the most important issue? Hello? On what planet does he reside?
“Kerry is obviously butterflying around the world,” McCain added, “saying all kinds of things.”
As Nicholas Stern, the U.S. Department of Defense, and many others have pointed out, rapidly accelerating global climate change is a “threat multiplier,” a destabilizing force that increases the risk of armed conflict over degraded resources and forced mass migrations. We are already seeing this in action, experts point out. For example, the polluted climate helped precipitate the ongoing Syrian conflict. Climate change poses “real security concerns” to the Middle East, the International Institute of Sustainable Development cautioned in 2009.
Ten years ago, McCain was criticizing John Kerry for not talking enough about the threat of global warming.
In 2004, McCain described the threat of global warming as “very, very serious” and challenged John Kerry to talk about the issue on the campaign trail.
McCain continued for years, until his failed run for the presidency in 2008 led him towards climate denial, to speak with passion about the importance of taking action on the climate crisis. In 2006, McCain called climate inaction “a crime to our children and grandchildren.” In 2007, McCain claimed he would make climate change a “top agenda” because “it’s such a threat to our planet and our future and our children.” In a 2007 GOP presidential debate, McCain said that he would establish “a national security requirement that we reduce and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil — and we stop the contamination of our atmosphere, which is climate change, which is real and is taking place.”
In 2008, McCain said the “facts of global warming demand our urgent attention, especially in Washington” and that “global warming presents a test of foresight, of political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next. “
CNN personality Newt Gingrich lambasted John “Kerrey” in a series of tweets on Monday for the Secretary of State’s recent remarks on climate change. Secretary Kerry said that global warming is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
Gingrich’s position on global warming has repeatedly flipped. In a 2007 appearance with then-Senator Kerry, Gingrich said action on carbon pollution should be taken “urgently.” This week, he called for Kerry’s resignation for making similar comments in a series of misspelled tweets.
“The most direct reaction to kerrey’s global warming speech is to ask if he is completely out of touch with reality.”
“If kerrey believes his global warming speech it is a terrifying prospect for American policy. He is making policy in a fantasy world”
“Does kerrey really believe global warming more dangerous than north Korean and iranian nukes? More than Russian and Chinese nukes? Really? ?”
“Every American who cares about national security must.demand Kerrey’s resignation.A delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety”
Gingrich’s criticism of Kerry could be caught in the crossfire of previous Gingrich remarks, as he has argued that climate change is a serious threat in previous years. In 1989, Gingrich co-sponsored legislation saying “global warming imperils human health and well-being” and represents “a major threat to political stability, international security, and economic prosperity.” In 2007, Gingrich said “mandatory carbon caps” is “something I would strongly support.”
Most notably, Gingrich stood on stage with Kerry in 2007, saying that the country should “urgently” take “most effective possible steps to reduce carbon-loading of the atmosphere,” calling himself a “green conservative.”
Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 16th, Secretary of State John Kerry described manmade global warming as a “weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
Kerry’s vision of the threat of climate change should mean a death knell for federal approval of fossil-fuel projects such as the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline and coal export terminals. He said that “governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil.” Although fossil fuels are “currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term,” Kerry went on, governments “have to factor in the cost of survival.”
Some other key quotes:
The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth. And that is unacceptable under any circumstances – but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge.
There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.
Coal and oil are currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term. But I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. You cannot simply factor in the immediate costs of energy needs. You have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And they have to factor in the cost of survival.
Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.
And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.
Kerry’s speech reflects remarks made by President Obama as a campaigner in 2007 and to students in Turkey in 2009. Kerry has a long history of urgency on the climate crisis, including repeated efforts to pass non-partisan climate legislation in the U.S. Senate.
A key hurdle for the controversial Keystone XL transnational tar-sands pipeline will be removed by the Obama administration this week, the nation’s top oil lobbyist predicts.
American Petroleum Institute (API) president and CEO Jack Gerard, citing “sources within the administration,” told reporters that the State Department will issue its final environmental impact statement in favor of TransCanada’s pipeline “as early as Thursday,” two days after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason writes:
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group and a big Keystone backer, said it expects the State Department’s report to come out as early as Thursday.
“It’s our expectation it will be released next week,” the group’s chief executive, Jack Gerard, said last week during an interview, citing sources within the administration.
“We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment,” Gerard said.
The draft State Department supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) was written by ERM Group, an oil-industry consultant with membership in API and business ties to TransCanada. That draft statement found that “impacts could potentially be substantial,” including impacts to wetlands, streams, and endangered species; and that spills could threaten groundwater and surface water. However, the report also concluded that “there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route assuming” TransCanada follows all laws and recommended procedures.
The “no significant impacts to most resources” language has been mistakenly reported as “no significant impact on the environment.”
The draft SEIS assessed the greenhouse pollution impact of the tar-sands pipeline by measuring it against a business-as-usual scenario, a common practice that is however incompatible with President Obama and the State Department’s commitments to international climate targets. The pipeline’s carbon footprint alone — not taking into account the economic and political realities of how Keystone XL approval would unlock further tar-sands development — is in fact quite significant. The lifetime footprint is at least six gigatons of carbon-dioxide equivalent, the same as 40 coal-fired power plants.
“We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren,” Kerry said in his first speech as Secretary of State. “So let’s commit ourselves to doing the smart thing and the right thing and truly commit to tackling this challenge.”
“Today scientists tell us—the best we have, the best minds we have, the John Holdrens, the Jim Hansens, and everybody else tell us-we have a 10-year window here to try get this right and even that before catastrophic climate change takes hold,” Kerry said in 2009. “Now ladies and gentlemen, this is our memo. And the question is whether or not we’re going to act on this in time.”
A finding of “no significant impact on the environment” by Kerry would call into question his seriousness on climate policy when he had the power to act.