Does federal law empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate every non-moving source of carbon dioxide in America? The Supreme Court will decide that question in early 2014.
The Supreme Court decided Massachusetts v. EPA in 2007, a lawsuit brought by the Bay State (with the support of Gov. Mitt Romney) to force the Bush EPA to make a finding as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers the environment. The Court surprised many legal experts when it held in a 5-4 decision, led by the liberal wing of the Court, that states have standing under Article III of the Constitution to sue the federal government over questions of federal law, despite the fact that it was disputed (1) whether global warming is even happening at all, (2) if so, whether it is caused by human activity generating GHGs (greenhouse gases) like carbon dioxide, and further (3) that is undisputed that only 20 percent of GHGs come from the United States, so no Supreme Court order could effectively remedy this problem even if it exists.
After Barack Obama became president in 2009, the EPA issued an official finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that harms the environment, notwithstanding the fact that (1) all animals exhale carbon dioxide, (2) that it is necessary for plants to live, and (3) that every form of fire and combustion generates carbon emissions.
EPA went on to invoke the Clean Air Act, passed by Congress in 1970, as authorizing it to regulate these carbon emissions. Various lawsuits were filed, challenging the unprecedentedly broad scope of these new EPA rules.
On Oct. 15, the Supreme Court granted review in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, limiting the Court’s review in this first modern case exploring this subject to determining whether the EPA’s permitting scheme for new cars legally authorizes the EPA to also regulate all stationary sources of GHGs. If so, then the federal EPA in Washington, DC can regulate not just your local power plant, but also your home stove, fireplace, campfire, and furnace.
Arguments are likely to be scheduled around February, with a decision before July 2014.
Now here’s a fine mess, as Laurel and Hardy used to say. One of the biggest electric vehicle charging companies, Arizona-based ECOtality (a Nissan Leaf partner), went bankrupt, stranding about 13,000 commercial and residential stations. We all have a stake in this, because American tax dollars supported these installations through the so-called EV Project.
In the early rounds, only one bidder emerged, an unknown company called Tellus Power, which proposed acquiring ECOtality's assets for just $3 million. Consider that the federal grants totaled almost $115 million (of which almost $100 million was spent) and you begin to see the issue here. There are clear parallels to what happened to the U.S. investment in Fisker Automotive, which went bankrupt after spending $192 million of a $529 million loan (the feds then seized $21 million in assets).
But just as I was writing this, the Florida-based Car Charging Group said that it had won the prize, price unspecified. "We believe this will solidify our position as the leader in the electric vehicle charging industry," said Michael Farkas, the CEO. CCG has been aggressively expansionist, and owns pay-to-charge stations in such places as the parking garages of New York City. He's right; this makes the company a big player.
One of the issues with ECOtality's bankruptcy was making sure its network remains active, so users can swipe cards and get billed for the electricity. The worst possible outcome would have been to have ECOtality’s 3,300 public chargers (the rest are residential) inoperable because nobody could turn on their billing and operating systems. Nissan was so concerned about the network that it lent ECOtality $1.25 million to get through the auction, spokesman Brian Brockman confirmed.
Come to think of it, if those home units didn’t work, that would have been horrible, too. If you see parallels to the big and still-evolving government shutdown, you’re paying attention. It’s not quite veterans unable to get into war memorials, but it’s along the same lines.
There's another budget crisis in Washington, and it's unfolding
inside the Democratic party. The Democratic National Committee remains
so deeply in the hole from spending in the last election that it is
struggling to pay its own vendors.
It is a highly unusual state of affairs for a national party --
especially one that can deploy the President as its fundraiser-in-chief
-- and it speaks to the quiet but serious organizational problems the
party has yet to address since the last election, obscured in part by
the much messier spectacle of GOP infighting.
The Democrats' numbers speak for themselves: Through August, 10
months after helping President Obama secure a second term, the DNC owed
its various creditors a total of $18.1 million, compared to the $12.5
million cash cushion the Republican National Committee is holding.
Several executives at firms that contract to provide services to the
party -- speaking anonymously to avoid antagonizing what remains an
important if troubled client -- describe an organization playing for
time as they raise alarms about past-due bills falling further behind.
And senior strategists close to the DNC say they worry the organization
appears to have no road map back to solvency. "They really thought they
could get this money raised by the summer," one said, "but the fact is,
from talking to people over there, they have no real plan for how to
DNC national press secretary Michael Czin says the committee is
working with vendors on a case-by-case basis to pay down their tabs. And
filings show the organization over the last five months has made $4.5
million in payments to the Amalgamated Bank and appears to be hewing to a
$1 million-per-month installment schedule now.
"While we work to retire
our debt, we're not taking our foot off the pedal and are making the
investments that will help ensure that Democrats are successful in 2014,
2016, and beyond," Czin said. He pointed to ongoing work by the DNC's
National Finance Committee, which met over the weekend in Colorado to
discuss fundraising strategy.
Sources close to the DNC say officials there have quietly laid the
blame in part on the White House. It's no secret that DNC Chair Debbie
Wasserman Schultz, who also represents an area around Miami in the U.S.
House, lacks strong relationships inside the administration. But it's
not even clear who at the White House should be minding the problem
these days, following the exodus of President Obama's top political
By the DNC's count, the President has headlined 15 DNC fundraisers
this year. In an indication Obama is stepping up his commitment, two of
those took place last week alone -- the first tacked onto his trip to
New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and the second
later in the week at The Jefferson, a posh hotel a half-mile north of
the White House on 16th Street. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
On Friday Sept. 27th the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivers its latest verdict on the state of man-made global warming. Though the details are a secret, one thing is clear: the version of events you will see and hear in much of the media, especially from partis pris organisations like the BBC, will be the opposite of what the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report actually says.
Already we have had a taste of the nonsense to come: a pre-announcement to the effect that “climate scientists” are now “95 per cent certain” that humans are to blame for climate change; an evidence-free declaration by the economist who wrote the discredited Stern Report that the computer models cited by the IPCC “substantially underestimate” the scale of the problem; a statement by the panel’s chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, that “the scientific evidence of… climate change has strengthened year after year”.
As an exercise in bravura spin, these claims are up there with Churchill’s attempts to reinvent the British Expeditionary Force’s humiliating retreat from Dunkirk as a victory. In truth, though, the new report offers scant consolation to those many alarmists whose careers depend on talking up the threat. It says not that they are winning the war to persuade the world of the case for catastrophic anthropogenic climate change – but that the battle is all but lost.
At the heart of the problem lie the computer models which, for 25 years, have formed the basis for the IPCC’s scaremongering: they predicted runaway global warming, when the real rise in temperatures has been much more modest. So modest, indeed, that it has fallen outside the lowest parameters of the IPCC’s prediction range. The computer models, in short, are bunk.