Cap and Trade and Alternative Energy: The real danger in Obama’s policies

Commentary, Environment, Frontier Centre

Charles Dickens noted, “I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don’t trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance, any day of the week, if there is anything to be got by it.” The stimulus package is a classic example of dishonesty staring down honesty.

It ignores and exacerbates the underlying financial problems as the stock market reaction indicates. It will create few private sector jobs, but government departments will grow greatly in numbers and power and that will require more and continuing funding. If you want to see how much government grows under such liberal policies look at the growth in United Kingdom bureaucracies under Gordon Brown when he was in charge of treasury and then as Prime Minister.

Perhaps the largest growth with Obama’s stimulus package will be in implementing and controlling the energy plans within the package. This will also be the most lasting and damaging legacy. It will increase the total cost of living and of doing business while making US businesses less competitive in world trade. It will set back the growth of new sources of energy by many years. Look at those who have tried the ‘green’ approach. The UK energy needs are in serious problems and closer to home California is suffering from green energy plans and involvements with Enron and alternative energies. The Canadian Province of Ontario energy needs were mismanaged by Maurice Strong and badly influenced by environmentalist David Suzuki.

Dishonesty is also evident because they have moved the goalposts again. First it was carbon credits, then it was carbon tax and now it is cap and trade. They are all the same idea falsely presented as methods of reducing CO2. In fact, they don’t reduce it at all but they do give government control and put more money in government hands. They are an environmental form of sin tax like those on tobacco and alcohol. The new name eliminates reference to CO2 (carbon) and taxes. A Cap, determined by the government, will limit the amount of CO2 you can produce. Details were expanded in Obama’s first budget proposal. He estimates a return of $625 billion from the cap and trade. It allows him to punish certain industries, as Obama indicated he would with the coal industry. The word Trade incorrectly implies some sort of business like approach. It is really an unnecessary transfer of wealth, just as carbon credits were in the Kyoto Protocol. As House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican said, “We’ve got real concerns about his plan on cap and trade,” “Let’s just be honest and call it a carbon tax that will increase taxes on all Americans who drive a car, who have a job, who turn on a light switch, pure and simple.”

Dishonesty is also evident in the energy plans proposed in the Stimulus Package and the $15 billion to fund renewable energy in the Budget. It is part of the commitment to promote ‘green energy’.

Massive funding to promote ‘green energy’ ignores the science and demonstrates lack of understanding climate and renewable energy

Massive funding to promote ‘green energy’ ignores the science and demonstrates lack of understanding climate and renewable energy. It is a purely political approach. Those involved in it fit George Bernard Shaw’s comment, “He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything – that clearly points to a political career.” It is applicable to Obama. It is too late for Al Gore, he has already put it into practice and the same applies to former Senator Timothy Wirth. Their lack of knowledge about climate and environment has not stopped them presenting themselves as experts and pushing wrong policies and plans. Their formal education indicates no training in climate science or any related area, but they are the architects chosen to implement Obama’s naïve and dangerous vision.

They have recently joined with T. Boone Pickens in a troika to plan the most unnecessary and destructive energy policy hidden within Obama’s stimulus package. Mr. Pickens made money in the oil market, but knows little or nothing about climate and climate change. But none of what Obama, Gore and Wirth are proposing is about science or climate change it is about politics.

A week before Gore received the Nobel Prize for his climate change campaign a UK court ruled on his central vehicle the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” The judge ruled:

“It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political. Its theme is not merely the fact that there is global warming, and that there is a powerful case that such global warming is caused by man, but that urgent, and if necessary expensive and inconvenient, steps must be taken to counter it, many of which are spelt out.”

The court wrote that litigant, Paul Downes, identified the agenda.

Paul Downes, using persuasive force almost equivalent to that of Mr. Gore, has established his case that the views in the film are political by submitting that Mr. Gore promotes an apocalyptic vision, which would be used to influence a vast array of political policies, which he illustrates in paragraph 30 of his skeleton argument:

1.Fiscal policy and the way that a whole variety of activities are taxed, including fuel consumption, travel and manufacturing …

2.Investment policy and the way that governments encourage directly and indirectly various forms of activity.

3.Energy policy and the fuels (in particular nuclear) employed for the future.

4.Foreign policy and the relationship held with nations that consume and/or produce carbon-based fuels.

Former Senator Wirth is frighteningly blunt, but maybe that is a good thing. “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing – in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

The difficulty is the theory of global warming is wrong and it is wrong thing for the economy and environment.

T. Boone Pickens introduced his energy proposal last year primarily to achieve energy independence from foreign oil. A major part was development of wind power from a grid primarily running down the centre of the continent. I wrote about the limitations of wind power and his proposal here.

He made the comment that, “A fool with a plan is better than a genius with no plan, and we look like fools without a plan,”

Unfortunately, the comment is not correct when it is the wrong plan. It is worse when it addresses a non-existent problem and will cause more problems at great expense. It is hard to believe Pickens is not aware of the political agenda of Gore and Wirth. His self-sufficiency from foreign oil is commendable, but if the price is a massive increase in government control and taxes to pay for it then he may be a fool, but with a very bad plan.

The three men came together at a meeting under the Chair of Mr. Wirth organized by The Center for American Progress to develop The National Clean Energy Project. This evolved from a 2008 “National Clean Energy Summit” sponsored by Senator Harry Reid. There they decided the serious limit to renewable “green” energy was access to a transmission grid. The usual people were in attendance including Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton.

It is commendable that business people and environmental groups participated. It is an outrage that only one scientist, Stephen Chu, Secretary of Energy who is not qualified in climate science was there. Of course, it is necessary to guarantee Gore’s claim that the science is settled. It isn’t; yet the entire Obama energy strategy is built around the false assumption that CO2 is causing warming and climate change. It provides the platform for Gore’s claim that, “If we resolve ourselves, we will create a clean energy revolution that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, strengthen our economy, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and oil and save our planet.”

Alternate energies look attractive but they all have serious limitations. We have seen the limitations of biofuels and the negative impact on world food supplies.

Wind and solar energy both need full back up systems to cover periods when these natural energies are not available. Concern about the grid system is created by the need to offset these limitations. All forms of energy are put into the grid with the idea that if one is not there is still sufficient from other sources to supplement. This ignores such problems as the limits of the distance you can transmit electricity (500 miles even if you convert to DC power); the need for full-scale backup when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine; the limits on the amount of variable power you can inject without overloading the grid.

The actual viability of these systems is almost impossible to determine because government subsidies come in so many different forms that a meaningful cost benefit is gone. Even with the subsidies the alternate energies offer a very small potential to the total energy need. Collectively they can only replace a fraction of the need. There are much better ways of producing reliable energy to meet growing needs and reduce independence on imported oil.

So they look you “in the countenance” and tell you patriotism and environment are the reasons for their policy. No! What is “to be got by it” is political and economic power and control. Of course, they also appear likely to make money. We know Gore has already made a great deal of money from carbon credits so he will make more from Cap and Trade. Pickens will make money?

It’s not clear of Wirth’s potential but he was very much involved with the machinations of Ken Lay and Enron.

Perhaps the ultimate dishonesty is that CO2 (carbon) is not a problem, is not causing global warming, is not a pollutant, so none of the policies are environmentally necessary.

Clean coal, natural gas and nuclear power make independence from foreign oil equally unnecessary.