Climate & Energy

Belief vs. knowledge

WSJ launches Luddite attack on climate scientists and Al Gore

The bar for Wall Street Journal editorials, in the journalistic equivalent of limbo dancing, keeps dropping. In a piece titled "The Science of Gore's Nobel" (subs. req'd), Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of the WSJ editorial board manages to slander the media, Al Gore, the Nobel Committee, and all climate scientists -- without offering any facts to back up the attacks: The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn't for "science" ... Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis. Why would the media blur the Nobel Peace Prize with a science prize when Gore isn't a scientist? They wouldn't, of course, but this imagined media blunder allows Jenkins -- a journalist -- to make climate change the subject of his piece.

House passes landmark energy bill; Senate up next

Today, by a 235-181 vote mostly along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy bill that represents a decisive break with decades of energy policy focused on fossil fuels. The bill, shepherded through the House via the tenacious arm-twisting and ass-kicking of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would: raise auto fuel-economy standards for the first time in over 30 years, to 35 miles per gallon by 2020; establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandating that utilities produce 15 percent of their energy from renewables by 2020; establish a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that would call for 36 billion …

The 15 minute House vote on the Energy Bill …

… just started. Update shortly. UPDATE: It passed! The bill now goes to the Senate. Reid says he’ll hold a cloture vote on Saturday. The big question is whether Reid can get the bill through with the RPS and the tax provisions intact. It would be quite a feat if he did. UPDATE 2: Here is the final roll call: FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 1140 H R 6 YEA-AND-NAY 6-Dec-2007 3:31 PM QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Senate Amendments with Amendments BILL TITLE: Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act Yeas Nays PRES NV Democratic 221 7 …

At least 215 climate scientists sign declaration urging action on climate change

In a notable first, some 215 of the world’s top climate scientists from over 25 countries have signed a declaration directed at the leaders attending the United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, urging strong action against climate change. In a relatively toned-down document, the scientists said in their own way that climate change really, truly is an amazingly huge problem, so policymakers of the world, it’s time to do something about it already! “The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due …

Supreme preemption

Medical device case could impact global warming debate

In last week's negotiations over the energy bill, one of the most significant victories for proponents of getting serious about global warming came when Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood up to yet another attempt to short-circuit efforts by over a dozen states to demand cleaner cars. The issue on which Pelosi convinced Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and other auto industry allies to back down, known in legal circles as "preemption," has emerged as a lightning rod in global warming politics. The focus on preemption has only intensified in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling this April in Mass v. EPA, recent developments in the states, and the current confused state of Supreme Court preemption law. Things could get better or worse depending how the Court disposes of a case that was argued on Tuesday. On its face, Riegel v. Medtronic, about liability for faulty medical devices, doesn't have anything to do with global warming. It could, however, be a turning point in preemption doctrine, and thus have a significant long-range impact on the global warming/federalism/politics mix. The Legal and Political Landscape My boss, Doug Kendall, noted the dynamic at stake back in May, in a Knight Ridder op-ed assessing the potential impact of Mass v. EPA:

The good and the bad

Why cap-and-trade is preferable to a carbon tax

The Washington Post ran an interesting op-ed in its Think Tank Town section last week, arguing for a carbon tax. The nut graph: The only effective way to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slow global climate change is to make it more expensive to emit carbon dioxide. Unless businesses and consumers pay a price for carbon dioxide, neither will make the investments in technology and changes in energy use needed to dramatically reduce emissions. Rock on, Think Tankers. But that's just the start of the goodness. The authors -- two researchers from RAND Corporation -- also put forth a nifty idea about how to cushion the economic impacts of new taxes:

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