Browner: Redder than Obama Knows

By Steve Milloy
January 15, 2009, FoxNews.com

Incoming White House energy-environment czar Carol Browner was recently discovered to be a commissioner in Socialist International. While that revelation has been ignored by the mainstream media and blithely dismissed by her supporters, you may soon be paying the cost of Browner’s political beliefs in your electricity bill.

Socialist International is precisely what it sounds like — a decidedly anti-capitalistic political cause. Founded in 1951, its organizing document rails against capitalism, asserting that it “has been incapable of satisfying the elementary needs of the world’s population … unable to function without devastating crises and mass unemployment … produced social insecurity and glaring contrasts between rich and poor … [and] resorted to imperialist expansion and colonial exploitation.…” Socialist International also asserts, “In some countries, powerful capitalist groups helped the barbarism of the past to raise its head again in the form of Fascism and Nazism.” So Socialist International at least partly blames Adolph Hitler on capitalism.

According to its own principles, Socialist International favors the nationalization of industry, is skeptical of the benefits of economic growth and wants to establish a more “equitable international economic order.” In true Marxist form, it asserts that, “The concentration of economic power in few private hands must be replaced by a different order in which each person is entitled — as citizen, consumer or wage-earner — to influence the direction and distribution of production, the shaping of the means of production, and the conditions of working life.”

There’s much more in Socialist International’s principles, but you get the idea.

So what does all this have to do with your electricity bill? In late-December, Carbon Control News reported that Browner was a “strong backer” of utility “decoupling,” which had emerged as a “key climate policy priority for Obama.”

What is utility decoupling? The profits of electric utility companies have traditionally depended on the amount of electricity sold; basically, the more power that is sold, the more profit that is earned. The productivity-profitability link is a logical and standard business principle that is easy to understand, easy to implement and that has worked for, well, millennia in myriad business ventures — but no more for electric utilities, if Browner has her way.

Browner wants to sever, or decouple, a utility’s profits from the amount of electricity it sells. More electricity means more coal and natural gas burning, which, according to green dogma, means more greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So Browner believes that less electricity production is, at least, a partial answer to climate change. But less electricity would mean less profitability for electric utilities, a powerful Washington lobby that Browner can ill afford to antagonize.

To date, the electric utility industry has aided and abetted the climate alarmist cause, if not by actually lobbying for global warming regulation, then at least by its willingness to entertain such regulation as public policy worthy of serious consideration. But since endangering utility profits would likely galvanize the industry once and for all against emissions regulation, the green dilemma boils down to figuring out a way to reduce electricity sales while guaranteeing utility profits. Enter decoupling.

How would decoupling actually function in practice? There are several different schemes for decoupling, but their tedious complexity precludes elaboration here. But the schemes all essentially amount to the same thing — sticking it to ratepayers and taxpayers. This should come as no surprise, when you stop to think about it.

Decoupling involves government guaranteeing electric utilities steady or steadily increasing profits for selling less electricity. That means implementing one of three basic scenarios: (1) consumers paying more for less electricity; (2) electricity prices remaining steady and taxpayers being called upon to subsidize the difference between the profits from actual electricity sales and the profits guaranteed by government; or (3) some combination of the two. There are no other possibilities.

Decoupling advocates assert that the consumers can avoid higher electric bills through “voluntary conservation measures” — that is, you can lower your bill by using less power. It’s a specious assertion since consumers will still pay higher rates for the electricity they use. Moreover, “voluntary conservation” is not necessarily without cost. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, insulation, weather stripping, solar panels and other electricity conservation efforts all can entail significant added costs that can take many years to pay for themselves.

Getting back to Browner, what could be more anti-capitalistic than to disassociate profits from sales? It’s often difficult enough to determine profits when they are tied to sales — ask any author or recording artist. Imagine the difficulty, arbitrariness and potential for gamesmanship, if not just plain fraud, involved with government-dictated profitability based on reducing productivity. In the case of electric utilities, already a most heavily regulated enterprise, even greater government regulation of the industry will be required, which, of course, is what a good socialist like Browner would want.

Perhaps what’s most troublesome about all this is the stealthiness. Less than a week after Browner was outed as a Socialist International muckety-muck, the group scrubbed its web site of her photo and evidence of her commission membership. And in the larger picture, it’s intellectually dishonest for advocates of socializing electric utilities to promote the euphemistic “decoupling” as if it were some novel solution rather than what it really is — a subversion of our capitalistic system.

You know, one might get the impression that there’s actually something wrong with, and embarrassing about, a key White House adviser advocating the undermining of a basic principle of our economic system.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Time for a Surgeon General-ectomy?

By Steven Milloy
January 08, 2009, FoxNews.com

President-elect Obama has reportedly chosen Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent and one of People magazine’s “sexiest men alive,” for the post of surgeon general. Those aren’t the only reasons that the surgeon general’s position ought to be abolished.

The original version of the surgeon general position was created in 1870 to administer what was then known as the Marine Hospital System (MHS), which cared for sick and injured merchant seaman. The MHS, including a uniformed “Commission Corps” of physicians, was converted in 1902 into the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service, and its mission was expanded to medical inspection and quarantine of arriving immigrants, such as those landing at Ellis Island in New York.

In 1912, the Service was renamed the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) as its mission was further expanded to conduct investigations into infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis, hookworm, malaria, and leprosy), sanitation, water supplies, and sewage disposal. Between 1930 and 1944, the Commission Corps officers were expanded to include engineers, dentists, research scientists, nurses, and other health care specialists.

But in 1968, the surgeon general position fell victim to President Lyndon Johnson’s reorganization of the then-Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW, or what is known today as the Department of Health and Human Services). The Office of Surgeon General that administered the PHS was scrapped, and responsibility for the PHS was assigned to the assistant secretary for health, who reported directly to the secretary of HEW. A position of “surgeon general” was then created to merely “advise” the assistant secretary on professional medical matters.

After almost two decades of more bureaucratic reshuffling — during which time the surgeon general was made a direct adviser of the secretary of HEW followed by the combining of the positions of surgeon general and assistant secretary for health in 1977 and their separation again in 1981 — the Office of the Surgeon General was re-established in 1987 with largely nominal responsibility for managing the PHS Commissioned Corps personnel.

The surgeon general doesn’t actually command all of the Commission Corps officers. Most of them work in other federal agencies — like the EPA, Coast Guard and Bureau of Prisons — and report directly to the various line managers in those agencies who may or may not be in the PHS.

Although C. Everett Koop attempted to revitalize the Corps in the late 1980s, the superfluous nature of the surgeon general position became glaringly obvious during the tenure of Jocelyn Elders, President Bill Clinton’s first surgeon general. Besides taking controversial positions on drug legalization and the distribution of contraceptives in schools, in early December 1994, Elders spoke in support of the teaching of masturbation. She was promptly fired by Clinton. The position of surgeon general remained vacant for three years, until Clinton nominated David Satcher.

At the time of Satcher’s nomination, the Cato Institute’s Dr. Michael Gough and I observed in a Wall Street Journal column, “We have not had a surgeon general for three years. Has anyone noticed? Is anyone’s health at risk?”

The answer, of course, was that no one’s health was at risk and, in fact, the U.S. public health had never been better. Life expectancy was at an all-time high. Death rates from cancer, heart disease and AIDS were falling. This trend continues today, no thanks to whatever it is that the surgeon general does. And, by the way, what exactly has the current surgeon general been doing?

Judging by 23 of the 32 press releases issued from his office during 2008, Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson has spent a great deal of time traveling coast-to-coast promoting the “Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future” project, which “focuses on recognizing and showcasing those communities throughout the nation that are addressing childhood overweight and obesity prevention by helping kids stay active, encouraging healthy eating habits, and promoting healthy choices.”

So let’s look at a few examples of Surgeon General Galson in action:

In Harrisonburg, Pa., Galson presented, “… the Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Champion Award to the Girls Golf Program, a partnership between the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the United States Golf Association, James Madison University, and Mulligan’s Golf Center.” The media release continued: “This program is helping local girls and women stay physically active, gain self-confidence, and develop lasting friendships, while fostering an enjoyment for the game of golf.”

At Disney World, Galson honored the Walt Disney Company for removing trans fats from the foods on its menu and for making sure that the use of the Disney name and its characters is limited to kid-focused products that meet specific guidelines that limit calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar.”

In New Mexico, Galson honored a wellness center that “will help students stay fit and healthy using new tools such as exer-gaming and interactive stationary bicycles.”

So over the last 96 years, the Surgeon General has gone from working on genuine public health problems (infectious disease, clean water and sanitation) to advocating golf, Mickey Mouse-less food and beverage containers and video exercise games as public health measures.

It may very well be that Gupta’s celebrity — apparently his unique qualification to hold office — makes him the ideal nominee to continue the Office of Surgeon General’s downward trajectory into obscurity and oblivion. On the other hand, if Gupta were really serious about advising Americans on health matters, he would stay at CNN where he could reach more people on any given day than he could by traveling the country handing out dubious prizes that amount to little more than corporate public relations.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Let There Be Dark?

By Steven Milloy
December 31, 2008, FoxNews.com

Some astronomers seem to be willing to say and do just about anything just to get a better look at the heavens, including making city streets safer for criminals.

In a commentary in Nature magazine (Jan. 1) presaging the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, astronomer Malcolm Smith says that it’s time for cities to “turn off the lights” wo we can better see the Milky Way, conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health. Smith is part of the so-called Dark Skies Awareness project, an international coalition of astronomers and related institutions that wants to “find allies in a common cause to convince authorities and the public that a dark sky is a valuable resource for everyone.”

“A fifth of the world’s population cannot see the Milky Way,” is Smith’s headline argument. “This has a subtle cultural impact. Without a direct view of the stars, mankind is cut off from most of the Universe, deprived of any direct sense of its huge scale and our tiny place within it,” he asserts.

That fuzzy mix of cosmology, sociology and psychology would seem to be an odd argument coming from someone who holds himself out to be a scientist. Odder still is Smith’s subsequent statement that, “Our relationship with artificial light is complicated and changing. Humans innately fear the darkness and modern society relies on light as a security measure, even though there is no evidence that controlling light wastage increases crime levels.”

Moving past the term “controlling light wastage,” which seems to be little more than a euphemism for darker city streets, plenty of data link dim urban areas with higher crime rates. A 2004 study in the Journal of British Criminology, for example, studied 13 U.S. and British cities and concluded that improved street lighting, on average, was associated with a 20 percent decrease in crime. In contrast, I could find no data linking the inability to see the Milky Way with any sort of harm to anyone.

Smith next asserts that skyscraper lighting kills millions of migratory birds in North America. An “unnecessary annual slaughter,” he calls it. But his source for that factoid, the Fatal Light Awareness Program, doesn’t even place building lighting in its “Top 13” risks to birds. Glass windows are first (purportedly killing more than 900 million birds per year), followed by power lines (174 million), hunting (more than 100 million), house cats (100 million), cars and trucks (100 million), pesticides and cutting hay (67 million), communications towers (4 to 10 million), oil and gas drilling (1 to 2 million), land development (unknown), livestock water tanks (unknown), logging and mining (unknown), commercial fishing (unknown) and power line electrocution (more than 1,000).

It seems that if Smith were genuinely concerned about birds he would also be promoting windowless buildings, catless homes, hayless farms and other similar “awareness” projects. But there’s more to Smith’s argument for making urban areas more dangerous in the name of enabling urbanite contemplation of the Milky Way.

Smith suggests that city lights increase cancer risk by reducing the normal production of the hormone melatonin, “a suppressant of cell division in cancer tissues,” he asserts. But alleging a link between melatonin levels and cancer risk is speculation, not fact. To support this conjecture, Smith cites a 2007 article in the Journal of Pineal Research that vaguely concluded, “The increasing prevalence of exposure to light at night has significant social, ecological, behavioral and health consequences that are only now becoming apparent.”

Putting millennia of nighttime candle and torch illumination aside, we’ve been lighting street and indoor lights with gas since 1807 and with electricity since the 1880s. If night lighting was a genuine and significant problem, you’d think someone would have noticed by now. Moreover, improved and increased night lighting in developed countries over the last 200 years has coincided with more than a doubling of life expectancy, the most objective indicator of public health. As you can readily see from this map image of nighttime lighting around the planet, it’s the darkest populated areas that tend to be the least healthy and poorest.

Although Smith only briefly mentions energy conservation and energy-efficient lighting in his article, a visit to the Dark Skies Awareness project Web page reveals that the project is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund to promote global warming alarmism. The precise point of intersection for the two groups’ agendas is the upcoming “Earth Hour” on March 29, when they hope “tens of millions of people around the world will come together once again to make a bold statement about their concern about climate change by… turning off their lights for one hour.”

Dark Skies states that, “Earth Hour symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change. Here in the US, it sends a message that Americans care about this issue and stand with the rest of the world in seeking to find solutions to the escalating climate crisis.”

The term “escalating climate crisis,” however, can only justifiably be referring to global warming alarmism rather than manmade temperature increases. Average global temperature, after all, has trended downward over the last five years despite the ever-increasing output of manmade greenhouse gases.

If Smith’s article is what passes for scientific thinking among the Dark Skies crowd, perhaps they ought to consider renaming the group the Dark Ages Advocacy project.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

New York's Soda Tax Scam

By Steven Milloy
December 24, 2008, FoxNews.com

New York Governor David Paterson has proposed to levy an 18 percent tax on non-diet soft drinks under the guise of combating obesity. Government doesn’t get much more cynical than this.

After alleging that “almost one in four New Yorkers under age 18 are obese,” Paterson’s budget proposal for 2009-2010 asserts that, “Significant price increases should discourage individuals, especially children and teenagers, from consumption and help fight obesity which results in higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.” So the purpose of the tax, according to proposal, is to discourage people from drinking non-diet soft drinks.

The proposal then estimates that the tax will raise $404 million during 2009-2010 and — get this — $539 million during 2010-2011. Since tax revenues from non-diet soft drink sales are budgeted to increase rather than decrease — as one might expect from the alleged purpose of the tax — Paterson actually seems to be counting on the tax not working. Combating obesity is not grounds for the tax; it is, instead, camouflage for it — and not very good camouflage at that.

In his Dec. 18 New York Times paean to the tax, columnist Nicholas Kristof ominously intoned that, “The average American consumes about 35 gallons of non-diet soda each year and gets more added sugar from soda than from desserts.”

But that 35 gallons works out to about a can of non-diet soda (containing about 140 calories) per day. Is a can of non-diet soda per day something to worry about? If common sense is not enough to answer that question, then consider the food recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In its dietary guidelines for Americans — a.k.a. the “Food Pyramid” — the USDA recommends the servings that should be consumed daily from different food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk and oils. The USDA makes these recommendations for different levels of individual daily calorie consumption, starting at a 1,000-calorie-per-day diet and going up to a 3,200 calorie-per-day diet.

In addition to fruits, vegetables, grains and the other food groups, the USDA also includes a category labeled, “Discretionary calorie allowance,” which constitutes the calories left over for each diet level after consuming the recommended amounts from the other food groups. Someone who should consume 1,000 calories per day and who ate the recommended portions of fruits, grains, meats, milk and oils would only have consumed 835 calories. That person would have 165 calories left over for discretionary eating — more than enough room for a 140-calorie can of non-diet soda. At the high-end of daily calorie consumption, someone who is on a 3,200-calorie-per-day diet would have a discretionary calorie allowance of 648 calories — more than 4.5 cans of non-diet soda.

The bottom line is that, all calories being equal, a can of non-diet soda per day — that is, Kristof’s ominous 35 gallons per year — is well with the guidelines of the USDA’s Food Pyramid for most people and so cannot be viewed as a persuasive factoid in support of Paterson’s proposed tax.

Kristof is also way off base in his effort to liken non-diet soft drinks to tobacco. “These days,” Kristof asserts, “sugary drinks are to American health roughly what tobacco was a generation ago.” Kristof then quotes long-time food nanny Barry Popkin, who says, “Soft drinks are linked to diabetes and obesity in the way that tobacco is to lung cancer.”

As this column has pointed out before, there simply is no scientific basis for concluding that non-diet drinks cause obesity or diabetes. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 2002 that, “There is no clear and consistent association between increased intake of added sugars and [body weight].” And this remains true today.

An August 2008 review of research on soft drinks and weight gain by Emily Wolff (Boston University School of Medicine) and Michael Dansinger (Tufts University) concluded, “Sugar-sweetened soft drink intake has increased dramatically during the past few decades, yet the magnitude of the weight gain and adverse health effects by soft drinks are poorly understood due to a paucity of clinical trial data… which would be necessary to demonstrate a causal link between sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and weight gain.” The translation is that despite decades of research — including at least five clinical trials — into the health effects of soft drinks, scientists still can’t identify any specific harm with any certainty.

Public health scolds unfortunately often try to blacken and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them by likening them to the tobacco industry. But to the extent there is any deceit-in-the-name-of-money being practiced in the case of non-diet drinks, that charge is more appropriately laid at the feet of the New York Governor and his supporters in the media and public health industry. If this group was sincere about its concern for obese children, it would do something other than just exploiting them as a means of raising money for the state.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

EPA Goes Man-Hunting

By Steven Milloy
December 18, 2008, FoxNews.com

It’s little wonder why the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list doesn’t include anyone accused of breaking federal environmental laws. It’s hard to argue that a father-son team accused of illegally importing Alfa Romeo sports cars that don’t meet U.S. tailpipe emissions standards is the criminal equivalent of the likes of Usama bin Laden or the other hardened sociopaths for whom the FBI warns the public to remain on the lookout.

But the Environmental Protection Agency has now cured its apparent case of outlaw-envy with the launch of its own “Wanted” list last week. Hoping to “track down environmental fugitives,” the agency wants to “increase the number of ‘eyes’ looking for environmental fugitives.”

In addition to the Alfa Romeo Gang believed to be hiding out in Italy (so remain alert on your next visit to Tuscany), the EPA wants us to keep an eye out for Mauro Valenzuela, an airplane mechanic criminally charged for improperly loading oxygen canisters thought to have caused the tragic 1996 crash of ValuJet flight 592.

But converting the crash into an environmental crime seems a stretch. The EPA apparently views the canister loading as “illegal transportation of hazardous material.” In any event, Valenzuela’s boss and co-worker were eventually acquitted of the same criminal counts. The only reason Valenzuela also wasn’t acquitted was because he panicked and fled to parts unknown before trial. He is, in effect, a fugitive from his own innocence — but he is wanted by the EPA nonetheless.

The rest of the EPA’s fugitives appear to be mostly hapless immigrants now believed to be “hiding” oversees in places like Syria, Mexico, India, Greece, Poland and China. They’re wanted for a variety of alleged infractions, including smuggling banned refrigerants, discharging waste into sewers, lying to the Coast Guard about a ship’s waste oil management system, transporting hazardous waste without a manifest, and creating false official documents.

While the EPA’s fugitives certainly appear to be a motley lot who may have broken a variety of environmental regulations, often unwittingly, one can’t help but wonder whether the EPA’s Wanted list is not only over-the-top, but where the agency is headed.

We, of course, don’t want people breaking environmental laws, however technical or trivial, but there’s hardly a moral equivalence between a food delivery man who, in a panic, drained 32 gallons of gasoline into a storm sewer and Islamic terrorists who have declared war on America.

The list’s creation seems a furtherance of the Greens’ larger campaign to plant the idea within the public’s mind that all environmental “transgressions” fall along a criminal continuum.

Unlike the FBI’s Wanted list, which spotlights a number of truly dangerous characters accused of causing actual harm to real people — murder, kidnapping, rape, child molestation, armed robbery and the like — the EPA’s fugitives are wanted for violations that seem to have caused little, if any, harm to anyone or the environment.

It’s too bad, however, that you can’t say the same thing about the EPA’s Enforcement Division.

In September 1988, the EPA had John Pozsgai indicted for removing more than 5,000 old tires from his property and spreading dirt where the tires had been. Although Pozsgai’s land was bordered by two major highways, a tire dealership and an automobile salvage yard, the EPA considered his land a federally protected “wetland” because of a drainage ditch running along the edge of his property. Though the ditch was mostly dry, it flooded during heavy rain, and the EPA considered it a stream. When Pozsgai filled the ditch without a permit, EPA undercover agents secretly filmed the dump trucks that delivered the topsoil. Though his actions didn’t create any pollution, endanger any species or water quality, Pozsgai was sentenced to three years in prison and fined more than $200,000.

In 1997, nearly two dozen federal agents, armed with semiautomatic pistols, showed up at James Knott’s wire-mesh manufacturing plant in Massachusetts. Knott was indicted on two counts of violating the Clean Water Act for allegedly pumping acidic water into the town sewer system. The EPA publicly condemned Knott and warned that his conviction could result in up to six years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. The case was subsequently dropped when it was discovered that the EPA had omitted vital information from the search warrant information indicating that Knott wasn’t violating the law.

What is the future of eco-crime? A man in the U.K. was fined $215 for leaving the lid of his trash can ajar by more than three inches. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed last July to deputize garbage men to fine people as much as $1,000 for mixing trash with recyclables. Garbage cops, however, pale in comparison to the call earlier this year by NASA’s global warming alarmist, James Hansen, to put the CEOs of oil and coal companies on trial for “high crimes against humanity and nature” — a sentiment first broached in 2006 by a blogger for Grist magazine who called for a “climate Nuremburg” for those who have questioned the need for global warming regulation. Is this really the direction in which we want to go?

It could just be that the real threat to society comes not from a couple of guys selling a few European sports cars that don’t meet stringent U.S. tailpipe standards, but those who use the environment as an excuse to commit crime like, say, the elusive Earth Liberation Front (ELF) terrorists whose arson and vandalism targets have included homes, university buildings, a ski lodge, SUVs, SUV dealerships and more. What’s the EPA doing about ELF?

If the EPA needs a Wanted list, how about making it a “Help Wanted” list in search of Enforcement Division employees with some perspective?

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Pickens Hops Aboard the Public Health Bandwagon

By Steven Milloy
December 11, 2008, FoxNews.com

Has public health replaced patriotism as the new “last refuge of scoundrels”?

T. Boone Pickens’ self-enrichment plan to switch America into natural gas-powered cars and wind power was initially advertised as a means to wean America off foreign oil. When the plan was announced last July, oil had spiked to $147 per barrel, and Pickens’ TV ads blamed our oil “addiction” for a $700 billion annual “wealth transfer” to foreigners.

But what a difference five months makes.

Oil prices have since plummeted to below $50 per barrel, vaporizing any price advantage of natural gas over conventional gasoline. Frozen credit markets have blocked Pickens from the private financing needed to build wind farms. His own financial resources have suffered as many investors pulled out of Pickens’ hedge fund, BP Capital, after losses of as much as 60 percent.

But Pickens seems to have a “Plan B”: he’s re-casting wind power as a public health crusade, apparently hoping to obtain taxpayer financing from the Obama administration.

Toward that goal, the American Lung Association (ALA) endorsed the Pickens Plan this week. Chairman Steve Nolan claimed that “millions of Americans are consistently exposed to pollution levels that are scientifically proven to be harmful. [The ALA] applauds Mr. Pickens’ goal … because cleaner energy will make our air healthier to breathe.”

The ALA media release said that “Cars, trucks, heavy equipment, factories, power plants and other sources burn coal and oil and bombard the air with smog, soot, carcinogens, toxic chemicals and metals. Breathing dirty air causes hospitalizations, asthma attacks, heart attacks and lung cancer, as well as shortening the lives of tens of thousands of people in this country every year….”

Added Pickens: “The ALA tells me that well over 125 million people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution.”

Also chiming in was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who, invoking the specter of childhood asthma, said, “Stopping the pollution that chokes out children’s lungs… will ensure a… healthier future for New York City.”

While a thorough debunking of the myth that current U.S. air quality levels are associated with health problems is beyond the scope of this column, we can examine Bloomberg’s indictment of New York’s air quality as a cause of asthma.

The city’s air quality has been cast as a health threat since at least the Great Depression. A 1931 report by the NYC health commissioner hypothesized that air pollution “played a large role in the production of asthma.” But this assertion was never proven true.

An October 1962 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined hospitalizations for asthma during a November 1953 spike in NYC air pollution. No increase in hospital visits was identified. After a November 1966 “air pollution emergency,” the New York Times editorialized that the city had “good fortune in escaping serious harm to the health of its residents.”

Amid a July 1970 spike in air pollution, the New York Times reported that, “There is no evidence yet to show that this week’s foul air in New York City has led to increased deaths or sickness, according to the city Health Department.” The Times also noted that, “while suspicions [that air pollution aggravates emphysema, bronchitis and arteriosclerosis] continue, there still is no direct scientific evidence that air pollution can initiate disease of the lungs or other organs in an otherwise healthy person.”

The Times’ report was published six weeks after the federal Clean Air Act of 1970 was enacted — since which time U.S. air pollution levels have dropped dramatically, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet the ALA, Pickens and Bloomberg apparently would have us believe that current air quality is “choking children.” This claim is not supported by Bloomberg’s own Department of Health and Hygiene, which acknowledges that it doesn’t know what causes or triggers asthma.

While the ALA is correct that many people live in areas that, for one reason or another, don’t meet strict federal air quality standards 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, it’s important to remember that these standards are designed as attainable regulatory goals, not scientifically based health standards. There is no evidence that typical violations of air quality standards endanger the public health whatsoever.

The ALA’s interest in air pollution may, of course, be more related to its own financial health than the public health. When the ALA began in 1904, tuberculosis was its concern. Later, smoking became its focus. But the ALA’s success on those fronts has left a mission void which, as this column reported in 2001, is being partly filled with environmental activism for which it has received financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

So far, Pickens has not made a donation to the ALA and was not asked to do so, an organization spokesman told me. My call to Pickens’ media person was not returned.

Pickens said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last July that his plan could be implemented through private — as opposed to taxpayer — investment. But in a Reuters interview this week, he said, “‘Where’s the money?’ is the question. I don’t know how we’ll do it. I’m anxious to see what Obama comes up with. There’s no money to finance a wind project now.”

Pickens-the-billionaire apparently hopes to pick the taxpayer’s wallet through Obama’s promised public works stimulus package, which includes both green and infrastructure jobs. Pickens’ scheme would cover both bases, and he’s probably figuring that further coloring it as a public health measure can only help.

But air quality is not and never has been the public health culprit that some would like to make it out to be. That Pickens feels he needs to position his plan as a public health measure only further underscores its bankruptcy as public policy.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The Wrong Scary Toy Story

By Steve Milloy
December 08, 2008, FoxNews.com

One in three toys was found to have “significant levels of toxic chemicals, including lead, flame retardants and arsenic,” according to a new report from the anti-chemical industry. But don’t let the report’s political agenda distract you from very real toy safety issues.

In what is pitched as its second annual “consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys,” the Michigan-based Ecology Center reported that, among the 1,500 toys that it tested: 20 percent contained lead, with 3.5 percent exceeding the current recall threshold for lead-based paint; 2.9 percent contained bromine at levels greater than 1,000 parts per million (ppm), indicating the use of brominated flame-retardants; 18.9 percent contained detectable levels of arsenic, with 1.4 percent containing greater than 100 ppm; 2.4 percent contained detectable levels of cadmium; 4.2 percent contained detectable levels of mercury, with 1 percent containing levels greater than 100 ppm; and 27 percent of toys were made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

All these chemicals and ppm-levels may sound scary, but what’s the reality?

First, it’s important to keep in mind that there are no reports of any children being harmed by toys containing brominated flame retardants, arsenic, cadmium, mercury or PVC. Brominated flame retardants, in fact, help keep children safe by slowing the burn rate in case of a fire.

That no documented harm has been caused by these chemicals in toys comes as little surprise since, as the basic principle of toxicology goes, “it is the dose that makes the poison.” All substances even air, water, sugar and salt, are “toxic” at sufficiently high exposures. All of us come into contact with potentially toxic substances every day in our air, water, food, clothes, jewelry, and personal care products, for example, but not at levels that cause harm. The Ecology Center made no effort to explore whether and to what extent children are actually exposed to the chemicals detected — much less did it establish that any such exposure is harmful.

The Ecology Center aims to scare parents merely based on the mere detection of these chemicals in toys, which is nothing less than classic junk science. But what’s more interesting — and revealing about the Ecology Center’s motives in fomenting the toy scare — is that it entirely missed warning parents about a very real and deadly threat posed by some of the toys it tested.

Of the top ten lead-containing toys, six were jewelry (necklaces, charm bracelets and a pin) containing from 0.2 percent to about 41 percent lead, according to the Ecology Center. If you then go to the group’s web page to find out why you should be scared about lead in toys, you first, and foremost, get the old environmentalist myths about how there is no safe exposure to lead and that lead causes lower IQ scores and other development problems. While the Ecology Center does mention some real health effects of lead poisoning, including muscle weakness, anemia, and kidney damage, it omitted the big one, death, and then fails to mention a real death that parents might find instructive.

In February 2006, a 4-year old Minnesota boy was taken to the hospital because of vomiting. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and released. Two days later, he returned and was admitted to the hospital. Ten hours later he was placed on a mechanical ventilator. The next day, blood work revealed that the boy had an extraordinarily high blood lead level of 180 micrograms per deciliter, and studies indicated that his brain was receiving no blood flow. He was removed from life support and died.

An autopsy retrieved from his stomach a heart-shaped charmed imprinted with “Reebok.” His mother recognized the object as a charm that came with a pair of shoes belonging to another child whose home her son had visited, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was not aware that her son had ingested it, since he had no history of ingesting non-food substances. When tested, the charm was found to consist of 99.1 percent lead. Reebok voluntarily recalled the charms shortly thereafter and instructed parents to “immediately take the charm bracelets away from children and dispose of the entire bracelet.”

Did the Ecology Center spotlight this incident and its outcome on its lead information page? No — even though its “most dangerous” lead-containing toy is a Disney-brand Hannah Montana necklace with heart-shaped charms that are 40 percent lead. Study leader Jeff Gearhart told me that he had heard of the Minnesota poisoning case, but couldn’t explain why mention of it was omitted.

Blinded by its anti-chemical agenda — Gearhart told me that he was glad to see that companies were responding to the unwelcome spotlight of his research by reformulating their toys — the Ecology Center apparently can’t see the true dangers in the forest because it’s focused on the politically incorrect “chemical” trees. If a public interest group, which is what the Ecology Center holds itself out to be, is really concerned about toy safety, how about alerting parents to real and specific dangers — like swallowing small lead trinkets? But that’s not all.

In 2007, there were 232,900 toy-related injuries among all ages, including 18 toy-related deaths among children under age 15, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Riding toys, including non-motorized scooters, and small toy balls were associated with most of the deaths. Most of the 232,900 injuries were lacerations, contusions and abrasions, most frequently to the face and head. Notably, there were no reports of injuries from chemicals in toys.

The Ecology Center seems to be worried about toy safety only to the extent that it helps the anti-chemical political agenda. But there are plenty of genuine toy safety concerns for consumers to consider. They ought not to be distracted from those realities by trumped-up, bogus scares.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Green-on-Green Violence

By Steve Milloy
December 04, 2008, FoxNews.com

The activist group Environmental Defense got a taste of what it used to dish out this week when its Washington, D.C., offices were invaded by another green group, the Global Justice Ecology Project.

The Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) essentially accused Environmental Defense (ED) of collaborating with the enemy — big businesses that want cap-and-trade global warming legislation. Noting that her father was one of ED’s founders, GJEP head Rachel Smolker said she was now “ashamed” of ED because it advocated cap-and-trade. Smolker said that the European version of cap-and-trade, the Kyoto Protocol, had “utterly failed” to reduce emissions and served “only to provide huge profits for the world’s most polluting industries.”

“Instead of protecting the environment, ED now seems primarily concerned with protecting corporate bottom lines. I can hear my father rolling over in his grave,” Smolker said.

The GJEP activists who took over ED’s offices rearranged the furniture to illustrate how cap-and-trade is “like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” and sported signs that read “Keep the cap, ditch the trade” and “Carbon trading is an environmental offense.”

While this column’s position is that global warming alarmism is the ultimate in junk science and that the proposed solutions to this non-problem amount to economic and social suicide, for those who believe in the need for global warming regulation, the GJEP activists do indeed have a point — cap-and-trade is a charade.

If you subscribe to climate alarmism, you can view cap-and-trade only as too little, too late. Last August, the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, R.K. Pachauri, told the Voice of America that the clock is running out on the amount of time left to reverse global warming. “I would say about six or seven years. We need to think about change rather quickly because unless we do that, then the impacts of climate change are going to get more and more serious,” he said.

Assuming for the sake of argument that manmade greenhouse gases are the climatic culprit that the U.N. and CO2-phobes make them out to be, how much progress toward Pachauri’s goal of reversing global warming will cap-and-trade have made in seven years? None.

First, NASA’s CO2-phobe-in-chief, James Hansen, says that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels need to be stabilized at about 350 parts per million (ppm) to avert harmful climate change. But atmospheric CO2 levels are already at 380 ppm and growing. So the CO2 horse has already left the climate barn.

Next, the schedule of emissions reductions in the Lieberman-Warner climate bill — the legislation that died in the Senate last June because it was too onerous — would only have reduced annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by about 11 percent by the seventh year of its implementation. Since the Lieberman-Warner scheme covered only 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, in the first place, the actual reduction in annual emissions after seven years would have been less than 8 percent from current levels. As the U.S. would still be emitting more than 6 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere annually, it’s pretty obvious that a measly 8 percent reduction would not “reverse” global warming, as Pachauri says needs to happen.

Finally, as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, it’s called “global warming” not “America warming.” China is either close to passing, or has already passed, the U.S. as the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter. As it builds a new coal-fired power plant every week, China is increasing its emissions by as much as 10 percent per year. China, then, will increase its emissions more in one year than the U.S. would cut in seven years. Now that’s a carbon offset — one that renders any U.S. cap-and-trade efforts as futile as King Canute trying to command the tides.

The Global Justice Ecology Project is entirely correct that cap-and-trade is a system that will “rake in profits” for Environmental Defense’s big business buddies. ED’s cohorts in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership lobbying effort expect that taxpayers will award them more than $1 trillion in free carbon credits over the first 10 years of a cap-and-trade scheme. After all, USCAP members like Alcoa, Dow Chemical, Dupont, and General Electric are not lobbying for global warming regulation just so they can operate under an even more onerous regulatory regime. Cap-and-trade is the latest in corporate rent-seeking — getting paid for being regulated.

Hardcore Greens like the GJEP are understandably upset at supposed allies “sleeping with the enemy.” But large activist groups like Environmental Defense went mainstream long ago and are now more like the big businesses they used to scorn rather than the than grassroots groups they started out as. In contrast to GJEP’s hand-scrawled 2006 tax return showing revenues of a mere $103,349, ED’s neatly typed out 2006 tax return showed revenues of $83,827,034.

Environmentalism has become an industry of sorts. According to a recent Forbes report, the 11 largest environmental groups have combined annual revenues of about $1.8 billion and own billions of dollars of assets. By selling out, Big Green has cashed in.

It will be interesting to see whether the hardscrabble green groups that seem to really believe in a coming climate apocalypse will succeed in pressuring the limousine Greens to return to the fold, or whether the haves will make the have-nots an offer they can’t refuse.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Obama's Bad Green Deal

By Steven Milloy
November 26, 2008, FoxNews.com

President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to combat unemployment by creating 2.5 million public works jobs could only be loved by someone ignoring the economic and political realities of public works, alternative energy and the Greens.

“Rebuilding roads and bridges, wind farms and solar panels, fuel efficient cars and alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead” is what Obama said he intends to accomplish.

It’s true that road building can contribute to economic growth, but not like Obama seems to think. The road building boom of the 1950s and 1960s did boost U.S. economic growth, according to Federal Reserve economist John Fernald. But this was because mass expansion of the interstate road system facilitated growth-producing economic activity. While necessary for keeping traffic moving safely and smoothly, simply re-building roads and bridges doesn’t spur commerce and, so, isn’t a strategy for economic growth.

While appropriate expenditures on new roads can produce high economic returns, according to a 2002 study published by George Mason University transportation experts in Public Works Management Policy, this isn’t what Obama is proposing. His reticence on new construction is likely due to his indebtedness to the Greens, who oppose new roads. The Natural Resources Defense Council testified before Congress last June, for example, that “footprints,” or new and existing road construction, should be “minimized.”

Moreover, capital spending on infrastructure doesn’t seem to work fast enough in economic hard times. The U.S. has only “limited experience with capital spending as a countercyclical device” and “the results have been largely negative,” according to the George Mason study. Capital expenditures on infrastructure take four to six quarters to implement because of the necessary planning, contract bidding and construction phasing.

The public works programs of the Great Depression, the historical event with which our current economic crisis is being compared, failed to stimulate the economy. As described in Jim Powell’s book, FDR’s Folly, the Civilian Conservation Corps spent $2 billion between 1933 and 1939 working in wilderness areas and parks planting trees, controlling tree diseases, and building paths, picnic areas and firefighting infrastructure.

Not only did the Public Works Administration only build roads, bridges, schools, dams and naval ships, it tended to employ architects, engineers and skilled workers rather than the unskilled people who needed work. Newspaper columnist Walter Lippman concluded that the PWA was “worse than a failure” when it came to jobs creation and economic stimulus.

Other New Deal infrastructure public works programs, including the Federal Emergency Relief Act, Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration, “do not appear to have had the strong effect on productivity” in the areas where the money was spent, concluded National Bureau of Economic Research economists in 2001.

Then there are the Greens, who tend to oppose any sort of construction, even for so-called renewable energy projects. Prominent Greens such as Maryland Gov. Marvin O’Malley and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have opposed wind farms as eyesores. Canadian Greens oppose a wind farm in British Columbia because it allegedly will “wipe out” migratory birds. A wind farm proposed for the Georgia coast cannot proceed without a multiyear study of its impacts on whale calving grounds. Green activists currently oppose dozens of applications for solar farms across more than 518,000 acres of public lands in the Southern California desert because of alleged concerns for tortoises, squirrels and other wildlife.

What about the fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy to which Obama referred? A Washington Post headline this week said it all, “Hybrid vehicles are popular, but making them profitable is a challenge.” Batteries that add $8,000 to sticker prices and $7,500 tax credits that about one-half of Americans can’t take advantage of because they don’t earn enough money didn’t make economic sense when gas cost $4; they make much less sense with $2 gas. Hybrid and plug-in cars may use less fuel, but they are light years away from economic efficiency. If the cars aren’t cost-effective — which is the only reason to buy them — they won’t be flying off the assembly line and won’t be creating jobs in the flagging U.S. car industry.

One great green alternative energy hope is cellulosic ethanol, which uses biomass (like switchgrass) rather than food (like corn) as a feedstock. But there are no commercially viable cellulosic ethanol plants because the technology is expensive. The Department of Energy is spending $385 million to build six plants over the next four years in hopes of producing 130 million gallons of ethanol per year. The purpose is to show that the plants can be run profitably once their construction costs are covered by taxpayers.

But not only will these test plants be too small and not be built in time to provide economic stimulus, the long-term feasibility of cellulosic ethanol itself is questionable. Americans consume about 140 billion gallons of gasoline annually. Will the Greens — who oppose the 149 gasoline refineries now operating — really permit the construction of hundreds of cellulosic ethanol refineries that make greenhouse gas-producing fuels? And what about the environmental impacts of the plants themselves?

Finally, let’s keep in mind that, for most of us, energy is an expense that we like to minimize. How does forcing consumers to buy expensive “green” energy contribute to economic recovery and growth?

If Obama wants to solve the economic crisis when he’s president, he’s going to have to promote policies that encourage real economic growth, rather than regurgitating green talking points that are a recipe for making a bad situation worse.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Detroit Needs Drilling, Not Bailouts

By Steve Milloy
November 20, 2008, FoxNews.com

Looking for the root of the impending car industry debacle? Look no further than the failure of the Big Three and the United Auto Workers to challenge the Green attack on cheap gasoline.

Since the 1980s, the golden goose of the U.S. auto industry has been SUV and light truck sales. Those vehicles were so popular and so profitable that the Big Three could afford to meet UAW demands for high wages and generous benefits. The golden goose even enabled the Big Three to afford the infamous UAW Jobs Bank where thousands of laid-off auto workers were kept on the payroll for years, costing the automakers billions of dollars.

But for decades, the Big Three and the UAW overlooked the linchpin of all these “good times” — the cheap gasoline that fueled SUV sales. For some strange reason, neither the companies nor the UAW had the foresight or courage to challenge the Green chokehold on our gasoline supply.

While the Greens blocked oil drilling offshore and on public lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Three and the UAW looked the other way. When the Greens worked to block the expansion of gasoline refineries through both direct opposition to plant expansion and through stringent EPA regulation that made refinery expansion expensive and unprofitable, the car industry snoozed. Only Ford CEO Wiliam Clay Ford Jr. was active on the Green issue — but not in a helpful way. He advocated higher gas taxes to incentivize the public away from buying SUVs.

It wasn’t until September 2008 that the CEO of General Motors finally got around to calling for increased offshore oil drilling — almost 20 years after the offshore drilling moratorium began. The UAW has yet to make the connection between cheap gas and its members’ jobs.

But let’s not give GM too much credit yet. In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this week, entitled “There’s a belief that GM is not doing enough,” GM boasts that, “We have aggressively addressed our North American manufacturing footprint, shifting our production from trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossover vehicles.” What?

Amazingly, as gas prices plummet to levels not seen since early 2005 and SUV and light truck sales start to rebound, GM is “aggressively” shifting out of the hugely profitable vehicles that the public loves into less-profitable eco-boxes that are loved only by the Greens. Moreover, foreign carmakers can make better ecoboxes and sell them for less money, since they aren’t burdened by the UAW legacy costs that add about $2,000 to the cost of a car. Smaller cars were losers for Detroit in the 1970s and 1980s, and little has changed.

GM has also let the Greens goad it into betting much on the production of the electric car known as the Chevy Volt. “The future is electrifying,” is GM’s marketing pitch for the Volt. Touting the car as an “Extended-Range Electric Vehicle that is redefining the automotive world,” GM says that the Volt “is designed to move more than 75 percent of America’s daily commuters without a single drop of gas.

That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles a day, Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions.” Should you decide to drive more than 40 miles, then the Volt has a “gasoline-powered, range-extending engine that drives a generator to provide electric power when you drive beyond the 40-mile battery range.”

But as Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins pointed out last week, “We’re talking about a headache of a car that will have to be recharged for six hours to give 40 miles of gasoline-free driving.” If you use the car as intended, that is, never going beyond 40 miles between charges and so never using the gasoline engine. Even then, you’ll have to periodically drain the tank, since gasoline goes bad after a couple of months. And then you’ll have to make a special effort to dispose of the old fuel in an environmentally safe manner, just as for used motor oil.

The alleged advantage of the Volt is that, while it’s running on its battery, it produces no emissions. But it can hardly be assumed that consumers will flock to the Volt for that dubious reason.

Detracting from this alleged benefit is the fact that India’s Tata Motors is preparing to sell its $2,500 Nano car as low-cost transportation in developing nations. The millions of carbon dioxide-emitting Nanos to be sold in the developing world will more than offset whatever emissions are avoided by the many fewer Volts sold in the U.S. Moreover, there is the overriding reality that both China and India, the fastest growing emitters of carbon dioxide, have vowed not to cut their emissions. So the Volt’s alleged emissions benefit is quite illusory in the context of global warming.

Although the Big Three and the UAW didn’t set out to kill their golden goose, they didn’t do anything to protect it, either. It’s not too late for them to figure out that cheap gasoline is their friend and the Greens are the enemy. The future may be electrifying one day, but for today, the Big Three and UAW need, “Drill, baby, drill” and the equally important “Refine, baby, refine.”

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Greens Pave Way to Republican Comeback

By Steven Milloy
November 13, 2008, FoxNews.com

If congressional Republicans — or what’s left of them — are looking for the path out of the political wilderness following last week’s electoral drubbing, there’s a shortcut to victory in 2010 being paved for them by the Greens.

Last weekend on Fox News Sunday, Barack Obama’s transition chief, John Podesta, said the Obama administration would act quickly to reverse a recent Bush administration move opening up public lands in Utah to oil and gas drilling. Podesta said that it was a “mistake” for the Bush administration to allow drilling “in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah…”

So, GOP, the battle lines are drawn. Since declining oil and gas prices are likely only temporary, we remain in an energy crisis. The problem could be solved by increasing domestic oil and gas production, but the Obama administration apparently aims to stand four-square against this.

The time has passed for Republicans to fret about being painted by the Greens as “pillagers of the Earth” for supporting drilling in allegedly fragile environments. Let’s get real. While such demagoguery is a standard Green tactic to block the development of natural resources, the notion of a “fragile” environment is a canard.

We routinely alter local environments. Any time you stick a shovel in the ground, you’ve permanently altered the environment. But in a rational world, mere environmental change is not the same as environmental destruction — and if we are going to pretend that it is, then we’re going to have a hard time justifying any development whatsoever.

Moreover, modern oil and gas drillers aim to minimize their environmental impact, out of self-interest if nothing else. The potential legal and reputational liabilities are too great if they don’t. Last spring, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) even commended three oil and gas drillers (BP America, Devon Energy and Questar) for reducing their footprint on public lands.

Of course, local environments will be disrupted to some limited extent by drilling, but most probably to a much lesser extent than most other sorts of development, whether they be new or expanding suburban communities, roads, farming or a green energy projects — like wind farms, solar panel fields, and cellulosic ethanol plants.

Consider, for example, how much “fragile” environment would be disturbed by T. Boone Pickens’ plan to build the largest wind farm in the world on 400,000 acres in the Texas panhandle. While the Greens say they support Pickens’ effort, in what way is the Texas panhandle less fragile than the Utah desert?

Last spring, the BLM placed a moratorium on solar power projects to be built on public lands, pending environmental impact studies. The necessary transmission lines and water use might disturb the native vegetation and wildlife, says the BLM. But the solar power industry screamed bloody murder and the moratorium was soon rescinded.

Given that the Greens oppose oil and gas drilling everywhere, the rest of us — especially congressional Republicans — must adopt the solar industry tactic of outspoken outrage if we want to end the Green-induced energy crisis. There is at least one congressional Republican who understands the Greens’ no-drilling-anywhere game — Arizona’s John Shadegg.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in September, Shadegg spotlighted the Greens’ “dead-ender” mentality on drilling with respect to leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil (a two-year supply) and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (a three-plus-year supply).

Not only have groups like the Sierra Club and EarthJustice challenged the legality of all 748 government-issued leases in the Chukchi, they’ve challenged the legality of the entire outer continental shelf leasing program itself. Shadegg wrote that the Greens’ “incessant legal and administrative challenges make true the Democrat claim that oil from newly opened [public lands] will not reach the market for years.”

Last week, Shadegg trounced his Democratic opponent, garnering almost 80 percent of the vote. His success stands in stark contrast to Green-friendly Republicans who were defeated, including New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu and North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Then there’s Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who may very well lose in a recount against comedian Al Franken. Let’s not forget that John McCain’s embrace of global warming alarmism garnered him no visible Green support while simultaneously alienating many Republican voters.

Earth to Republicans: the Greens don’t and never will support you. That should come as no surprise since they’re all about left-wing politics — not the environment, which they use only as a battering ram/shield for their political agenda. Kowtowing to the Greens is a fool’s errand, if not political suicide. In contrast, most Americans want and need energy security and independence. They would vociferously support you in that endeavor.

The Greens plan to make an all-out push for their agenda in 2009, knowing that 2010 is an election year in which politicians, even Democrats, get cautious and avoid radical legislation. Since anything could happen in 2010 — including the election of a Republican-controlled Congress — the Greens have no choice but to grab what they can, while they can.

All that stands between America and energy policy disaster in 2009 is the Republican minority in Congress. Averting that disaster and championing domestic production is the path to victory in 2010. If the Republican leadership needs help in getting its arms around the problem, a visit to Rep. Shadegg’s office would be a good start.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The First Green President

By Steven Milloy
November 06, 2008, FoxNews.com

President-elect Barack Obama could be the nation’s first green president — whether he likes it or not. The Greens’ early investment in Obama’s political soul has matured, and they’re already angling for — and even demanding — payback.

Though the financial crunch should place economy-harming global warming legislation on the back burner, the Natural Resources Defense Council is pushing for it within the first 100 days of the new Congress, supposedly as a means of easing the credit crisis and financing renewable energy projects, according to a report in the November 3 issue of Carbon Control News.

Under the NRDC proposal, credits covering as many as six billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be issued in the program’s first year. The credits would be guaranteed a minimum value of $15 per ton by Obama’s Treasury Department, magically converting all that hot air into a $90 billion asset. The guarantee would allow the credits to be used as collateral for loans to green energy projects.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a key Obama supporter and rumored Secretary of Energy candidate, lobbied on behalf of the green energy industry the morning after the election. Responding to a question from a CNBC interviewer about the merits of “undivided government,” Rendell said, “[Undivided government] is going to allow us to act quickly. We need… to send a message to the renewable energy economy, to the [20 to 25] companies in Pennsylvania and… in New Jersey who are hanging in the balance and, if that tax credit is not renewed or made permanent, they’re done in the next three to four months. This government is going to be able to move in the first weeks of the new Congress.”

Then there’s wannabe green-energy billionaire and Obama supporter Al Gore. Not only did Gore’s climate campaign group place full-page ads in national newspapers on Nov. 5 asking “NOW WHAT?,” in a same-day Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gore argued for carbon-free electricity within 10 years and electrification of the automobile fleet. Both are areas in which Gore has significant financial interests through his UK-based investment firm, Generation Investment Management, and his U.S.-based venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins.

The Greens are more to Obama than just one of many constituencies. He credits the early endorsement of his candidacy by the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters (LCV) in February 2004 for his rise from the Illinois State Senate to the U.S. Senate. “I had no money, had no organization, it was unlikely that the Democrats would nominate a skinny guy from the Southside with a funny name like Barack Obama,” he told the National Journal’s CongressDaily publication.

Momentum began to shift his way “when we got the support of the League of Conservation Voters,” he said. “Not only did they provide us financial support, not only was [LCV head] Deb Callahan’s gorgeous face on television saying I was a pretty good guy — and that sold some tickets right there — more importantly the League, along with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, signaled to those who are considered swing voters in the state of Illinois, Republicans and independents who may sometimes veer toward that side of the aisle.” Obama was the first non-incumbent member of Congress to be included on the LCV’s list of “environmental champions.”

The LCV said it made an early decision to invest heavily in Obama’s race, “largely because of his support for environmental issues during his tenure in the state Senate.”

“Early on, we recognized Barack’s leadership on these issues, and made a substantial investment in helping him win the Democratic primary,” Callahan said. Not surprisingly both the LCV and Sierra Club endorsed Obama in 2008. The Obama web site emphasized that “The League of Conservation Voters has given Barack Obama the highest lifetime rating of anyone currently running for president.”

When a reporter asked Sierra Club head Carl Pope whether expectations for Obama have been set too high, Pope responded: “We are not electing the archbishop of Canterbury or a saint. We’re electing an American politician. Is he susceptible to pressure? He damn well should be.…We’re not going to go away when he’s elected. We and other forces that are supporting him are going to stay organized. And as he told the environmental community when he met with us, we’re going to have to keep his feet to the fire.”

It’s little wonder, then, that the Sierra Club program director for global warming told the media after this week’s election that a federal renewable energy mandate — that is, compulsory use of expensive and unreliable, but Green-supported, wind and solar power — “is almost a certainty.”

Obama has selected (or perhaps had thrust upon him) former Gore staffer and Clinton administration EPA head Carol Browner to advise on the environmental aspects of the transition. Browner was perhaps the most ruthlessly green EPA administrator ever. In 1997, she issued the most expensive EPA air pollution regulations ever — even over the objections of Gore. Now that’s green.

Finally, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Hollywood) is moving to oust closet global warming skeptic Rep. John Dingell (D-General Motors) from the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, so that Waxman can play a lead role in climate and other green legislation.

Exit polling indicates that Obama triumphed over John McCain because of the economic crisis. Though he wasn’t elected to be the first green president, the Greens are set to call in their chits and, if necessary, to force that mantle on him.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.