Part 1: NASA’s Gavin Schmidt explains how “Pearce includes a statement about me that is patently untrue.”
Many people said to be jumping the shark — “the point in a television program’s history where the plot spins off into absurd storylines” — were not serious to begin with. Fred Pearce was, however, having written a climate book as far back as 1989, Turning Up the Heat: Our perilous future in the global greenhouse.
Last year, however, RealClimate eviscerated Pearce’s 12-part series about the stolen CRU emails, identifying myriad “errors and misrepresentations.” Now Pearce has thoroughly misrepresented the views of one RealClimate writter, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, and repeated a variety of anti-science myths, in a truly dreadful piece in New Scientist.
Serious climate scientists would not knowingly attended a meeting with Goddard, let alone many of the others. These folks aren’t interested in a serious debate, let alone a ‘peace deal’. They just desperately want the credibility of the mainstream media so they can continue their campaign of anti-science disinformation and anti-scientist smears.
And that brings us to the “made-up quote” that blatantly misrepresents Schmidt — whom Pearce did not even interview for this piece. This quote should be retracted as soon as possible (along with most of the rest of the piece):
This weekend, his climate hawkish science adviser, John Holdren, was not so reticent. Today, in a Penn State speech on energy efficiency, Obama reemerged as a ‘climate eyas’, an unfledged young climate hawk, with these remarks: Read more
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the newest member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, claimed today that the coal industry doesn’t receive any government subsidies, unlike every other form of energy. The former governor of coal-state West Virginia, who famously fired a rifle at clean energy legislation in a campaign ad, argued that the Obama administration has “villainized” coal. In a hearing on energy markets, Manchin went on to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency — which has issued regulations to limit the catastrophic impact of mountaintop removal mining and the existential threat of global warming pollution — for putting up “roadblocks” on the “greatest source” of energy in the nation:
What I don’t understand is the subsidies. The subsidies of energy, whether it be to oil, gas, wind, solar, biofuels, ethanol. The only energy source — which is the greatest source that we have so far as we’re dependent on — is coal. It doesn’t get a penny of subsidies. But it’s been villainized by this administration and so many people and it’s the one we depend on the most. It gives back more than it takes. I can’t figure it out.
We’re trying to use it in so many different forms, in super-critical heating, and things of this sort. We’re running into roadblocks with the EPA from every turn that we go. We’re trying to use it in conjunction with our natural gas productions, and trying to look at the changing the fleet to compressed natural gas, I think that’s very doable. Do you all have a comment on why that one source of energy which is the most dependent upon in this nation has no types of subsidies but the others demand so subsidies?
In reality, the coal industry is heavily subsidized by the federal and state governments, enjoying explicit subsidies of billions of dollars a year, plus the indirect subsidy of free pollution that costs the United States 10,000 lives a year, destroys the land and water of mining communities, and destabilizes our climate. In September 2009, the Environmental Law Institute identified coal industry “subsidies of around $17 billion between 2002 and 2008″:
Credit for Production of Nonconventional Fuels ($14,097)- IRC Section 45K. This provision provides a tax credit for the production of certain fuels. Qualifying fuels include: oil from shale, tar sands; gas from geopressurized brine, Devonian shale, coal seams, tight formations, biomass, and coal-based synthetic fuels. This credit has historically primarily benefited coal producers.
Characterizing Coal Royalty Payments as Capital Gains ($986) – IRC Section 631(c). Income from the sale of coal under royalty contract may be treated as a capital gain rather than ordinary income for qualifying individuals.
Exclusion of Benefit Payments to Disabled Miners ($438) – 30 U.S.C. 922(c). Disability payments out of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund are not treated as income to the recipients.
Other-Fuel Excess of Percentage over Cost Depletion ($323)- IRC Section 613. Taxpayers may deduct 10 percent of gross income from coal production.
Credit for Clean Coal Investment ($186)- IRC Sections 48A and 48B. Available for 20 percent of the basis of integrated gasification combined cycle property and 15 percent of the basis for other advanced coal-based generation technologies.
Special Rules for Mining Reclamation Reserves ($159) – IRC Section 468. This deduction is available for early payments into reserve trusts, with eligibility determined by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and the Solid Waste Management Act. The amounts attributable to mines rather than solid-waste facilities are conservatively assumed to be one-half of the total.
84-month Amortization Period for Coal Pollution Control ($102) – IRC Section 169(d)(5). Extends the amortization period used in calculating the deduction from the generally applicable 60-month period available for other types of pollution control facilities.
Expensing Advanced Mine Safety Equipment ($32) – IRC Section 179E. The costs of qualifying mine safety equipment may be expensed rather than recovered through depreciation.
Black Lung Disability Trust Fund ($1,035)- As industry excise tax payments did not sufficiently cover early benefits payments, the BLDTF was given “indefinite authority to borrow” from the U.S. General Fund, and bailed out for $6.498 billion, 13 percent of which is relevant to the 2002-2008 period.
Financial support for the World Bank and other international financial institutions that finance fossil fuel use and extraction. Since 1994, these institutions have provided $137 billion in direct and indirect financial support for new coal-fired power plants.
U.S. Treasury Department’s backing of tax-exempt bonds and federally subsidized taxable Build America Bonds for use in the electric sector. $81 billion in tax-exempt debt was issued between 2002 and 2006 for electric power, most for coal plants.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service provision of loans, loan guarantees, and lien accommodations to public power companies that are investing in new or existing coal plants.
Tax credits, loans, and loan guarantees through the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2009, DOE issued $5.9 billion in loan guarantees for advanced coal projects.
Furthermore, cash-strapped state governments give millions of dollars in subsidies to coal, including $115 million from Kentucky, and $26 million from Virginia. In 2008, then-Gov. Manchin himself offered Appalachian Fuel $200 million in subsidies for a liquid coal plant.
Meanwhile, the health and environmental costs of mining and burning coal are staggering. “What’s been the healthcare cost of 47 tons per year of mercury from burning coal,” the Sierra Club asks, “that put 300,000 fetuses at risk for neurological damage each year?”
The coal industry was responsible for 2,237 megatons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse pollution in 2008, 38 percent of the United States footprint. The cost of this “market externality” is between $60 and $600 billion every year, given expert estimates for the cost to human civilization of manmade climate change.
Manchin is correct that coal “doesn’t get a penny of subsidies” — the industry gets trillions of pennies, borrowed against our children’s future.
Let’s just state for the record that if you are inane enough to base your decisions on Al Gore’s personal life in any respect whatsoever — let alone so inane that you actually tell a reporter this — then you have lost your credibility forever.
In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama emphasized his commitment to transforming America’s energy policy, with initiatives to move our nation away from killer fossil fuels. Although he called for doubling “clean” electricity in the United States, he argued only that this was important to keep America competitive and “win the future.” Climate hawks were dismayed that the president did not even make passing mention of global warming — either the dark future of a superheated planet or the present turmoil of catastrophic weather, fueled by coal and oil pollution. Nor did he defend the thousands of scientists whose work has come under attack by nearly the entire Republican Party. Today, Obama briefly recognized the reality of climate change as he announced an initiative to cut energy waste in our homes and buildings:
Right here at Penn State, a university whose motto is “Making Life Better,” you’ve answered the call. Today you’re preparing to lead the way on a hub that will make America home to the most energy-efficient buildings in the world. Now, that may not sound too sexy, “energy-efficient buildings.” But listen. Our homes and our businesses consume 40 percent of the energy we use. Think about that. Everybody focuses on cars and gas prices, and that’s understandable. But our homes and our businesses use 40 percent of the energy. They contribute to 40 percent of the carbon pollution that we produce and that is contributing to climate change. It costs us billions of dollars in energy bills. They waste huge amounts of energy.
The good news is we can change all that. Making our buildings more energy-efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution, and create jobs right here in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Reflecting many of the idea’s in the Center for American Progress’s Rebuilding America proposal, the president’s goal of increasing building energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 is tied to new tax incentives for commercial building retrofits, expanded loan guarantees, a new competitive grant program for states and municipalities, and new training program and extension service for businesses in energy efficient building technology.
With his strong clean-energy jobs push, President Obama is addressing the crises facing this nation. Steering America to fight climate pollution is his great unmet challenge. He missed the opportunity to teach Americans about the true nature of the severity of the climate crisis in his first two years in office, even as Nashville, Fargo, Russia, Pakistan, Australia, and the rest of the world were pummeled by the hottest, wettest climate on record. He must do more than mention “carbon pollution” in passing before a friendly, collegiate audience, but it’s a start.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm
President Obama’s unveiling today of an array of ambitious and achievable energy efficiency savings incentives and targets for our nation’s commercial-building owners could not be better timed. This new administration program, announced in the president’s speech today at Penn State University will result in thousands of new jobs for construction workers hard hit by the Great Recession and housing market travails, $40 billion a year in energy savings for U.S. commercial-building owners, and substantially less greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere to warm our planet.
Bracken Hendrick has the story in this CAP cross-post.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for the nation to rapidly deploy electric cars and trucks to get the United States off oil dependence. The president has now been joined by one of America’s top Republican businessmen, FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith. In a Fortune column, Smith described how the “670 aircraft and 70,000 motorized vehicles” of his company deliver 7 million packages a day — “nearly every single one of which is fueled by oil.” This dependence “comes at a significant cost” Smith said, putting the U.S. military at risk and “requiring us to accommodate governments that share neither our values nor our goals.” Oil spikes bring about recessions, and “petroleum was responsible for 43% of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2009,” Smith, a supporter of George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, explained. However, Smith agreed with the president that America can power away from petroleum:
We cannot continue down this path. There is, however, a solution that may become economically attractive sooner than most think: cars and trucks powered by electricity. Electricity is generated by a diverse, domestic, stable, fundamentally scalable portfolio of fuels that is almost entirely free of oil.
A member of the Electrification Coalition, Smith called on Congress to enact the bipartisan Electric Vehicle Deployment Act which stalled last year in the Senate. Nuclear energy supporter Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and coal-friendly Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) have been the top champions.
“I am not someone who tends to advocate increased government involvement in the private sector,” Smith concluded. “But there is no free market for oil. This is not a market issue — it is a national security issue.”
By Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:26 am
At a Washington DC press conference, U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials blasted President Obama’s call for a clean energy future. Brad Johnson has the story.
Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said a national clean-energy standard is “ridiculously premature,” even though 25 states have renewable and alternative energy standards, the first established in 1983. The Institute’s president, former Bush official Karen Harbert, said that the United States should instead allow “increased access to land for oil and gas drilling both onshore and offshore,” drilling a deeper hole with fossil fuel dependence.
This opposition to clean-energy job creation on behalf of big oil is nothing new for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Throughout the 2000s, the Chamber led the opposition to action on climate change, promoting global warming denial. Its history of defending pollution at the expense of the health of the American public and American jobs, however, goes deeper:
The recent upheaval in Egypt led to a spike in oil prices due to fears about Middle Eastern oil production and transportation. In response to this recent price hike, Big Oil and its congressional allies predictably amplified their demand to “drill, baby, drill.”
This short-sighted reflexive slogan will not save families money at the pump nor make America more secure. When, knee-jerk responses become policy, we place a higher burden on working families, sustain dangerous or unstable regimes, and risk disasters””like the BP blow out””which threaten public health and the livelihoods of thousands. There are other real solutions that reduce consumption and would make both a short- and long-term difference in prices while reducing oil use, saving families money, and enhancing our national security.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 3, 2011 at 9:39 am
In December, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) outsourced his job to business lobbyists when he sent letters to over 150 trade associations and companies, asking them to outline which Obama administration regulations he should target as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He sent the letters to a wide array of fossil fuel producers, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, telecommunications companies, and other interests. Think Progress has the story in this cross-post.
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