Tag Archives: Climate change

Forget the vampires. Let’s tackle the real monsters.

Public service announcements on Facebook and Wichita City Channel 7 urge Wichitans to take steps to stop “vampire” power waste. But before hectoring people to introduce inconvenience to their lives in order to save small amounts of electricity, the city should tackle the real monsters of its own creation.

Public service announcement crawler on Wichita's cable channel network, June 17, 2014.
Public service announcement crawler on Wichita’s cable channel network, June 17, 2014.
People are probably vaguely aware that many modern electrical and electronic devices consume electricity even when switched off. One source estimates that a cell phone charger consumes 0.26 watts of electrical power even when a phone is not plugged in. While in sleep mode, a flat panel computer display consumes 1.39 watts. A clock radio uses 2.01 watts. A microwave oven while not in use and with its door closed uses 3.08 watts. (These are average values.) A large Samsung smart television on standby uses 0.3 watts.

While appearing to be wasteful, this “vampire” power consumption often has a benefit. If you unplug your clock radio when you leave for work in the morning, you save a few dozen watts of power. But, you have to reset the clock when you want to use it again. If I unplug my Samsung smart television, I’ll probably have to reprogram it to my preferences. If I want save the power my microwave oven wastes, I’ll have to wrench my back lifting it out of the way so I can reach the outlet it plugs in to. That action, naturally, unleashes a cloud of dust bunnies to dirty my counters and floor.

Wichita city government Facebook page public service advice regarding "vampire" power waste.
Wichita city government Facebook page public service advice regarding “vampire” power waste.
Nonetheless, the City of Wichita uses its Facebook page and cable television network to urge its citizens take steps like these in order to save small amounts of electricity.

How much electricity do you suppose a city street light consumes? It depends on the type of light, but common street lights use from 100 to 200 watts. During the hours when the sun does not shine, we’re generally willing to pay for that in order to obtain the benefits of lighted streets and sidewalks.

But when street lights are burning in the middle of a day, they provide absolutely no value. Street lights turned on during the day provide none of the convenience of “vampire” power usage, such as not needing to reset your clocks and move your microwave oven every day.

Bench lights and street lights in downtown Wichita switched on in the middle of the day.
Bench lights and street lights in downtown Wichita switched on in the middle of the day.
So while the City of Wichita uses its television channel to hector citizens into adding inconvenience to their lives in order to save vanishingly small amounts of electricity, the city apparently has no misgivings about using large amounts of electricity to needlessly illuminate the noonday sky, week after week.

As I’ve shown, the city often has street lights turned on at noon on days with no clouds in the sky. (See here for examples.) Yesterday dozens of city street lights were turned on at 2:30 in the afternoon on a sunny day for many blocks in downtown Wichita. This is not an isolated mistake. It is a pattern. (Even if it is cloudy and raining, the street lights add no discernible illumination during daylight.)

There’s something else. Each of us can choose the balance between “vampire” power waste and inconvenience based on our own values. If we choose to use “vampire” power in order to add convenience to our lives, we have to pay for it.

Two street lights in downtown Wichita, June 20, 2014.
Two street lights in downtown Wichita, June 20, 2014.
But the Wichita city hall bureaucrats who burn street lights in the noonday sun week after week are spending your money, not theirs.

(Yes, city hall bureaucrats pay taxes to the city just like you and I, so their tax money is also wasted. But because the cost of this waste is spread over the entire city, the motivation for any one person to take steps to eliminate the waste is small. Especially if, like a city hall bureaucrat would, you’d have to actually work in order to achieve savings. But these same bureaucrats and politicians urge you to work harder in your home in order to save small amounts of “vampire” electricity.)

The wasteful expenditures on street lights I’ve been illustrating for several weeks are located in districts of the city represented by Janet Miller and Lavonta Williams. Both express concern for the environment and criticize the purported harm man has caused the earth by emitting greenhouse gases. Here’s an opportunity for them to act on their beliefs.

Misguided faith

Wind farm near Spearville, Kansas.
Wind farm near Spearville, Kansas.
A big “thank you” to Mike Smith for his rebuttal to an op-ed printed in today’s Wichita Eagle. In the commentary, which was signed by more than 60 members of the clergy from across the state, the writer states: “As people of faith, we believe it is our moral responsibility to care for all that has been entrusted to us.” I think the moral responsibility of people of faith is to refrain from telling lies. And while we’re at it, people of faith should stop using the coercive power of government to force others to conform to their prescriptions for life. God doesn’t do that, and neither should they.

Here’s what meteorologist Smith has to say:

Today’s Wichita Eagle has a terribly unfortunate editorial letter from the Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, an advocacy group on the subject of global warming. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, the quality of the science in the letter is dreadful. So, let’s compare the assertions to the science.

Continue reading at Misguided Faith.

Are you worried about global warming?

polar-bear-400To the extent that global temperatures are rising, and the extent that mankind is the cause, we should be concerned about global warming. Climate change I meant to say, please excuse me.

It’s no wonder that the term global warming has been replaced by climate change. As the following two charts show, the models that are in common use by climate scientists have predicted rising temperatures, but actual observations of temperatures have not conformed to predictions. Temperatures have been level in recent years.

Here’s a simplified chart of the temperatures predicted by climate scientists compared to actual temperatures. A more complicated version follows. Click on either chart for a larger version.

As you can see, actual temperatures have not risen as they should have, if only the Mother Earth would conform to the predictions of climate scientists. Despite this lack of predictive power, global warming alarmists (oops, I meant climate change alarmists) insist we should radically restructure our economy in order to accommodate the predictions of climate models that have been shown to be not very predictive — if we are concerned about accuracy.

Temperatures v Predictions 1976-2013

Temperatures v Predictions 1976-2013 b

WichitaLiberty.TV: Government planning, taxes, and carbon

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The City of Wichita held a workshop where the Community Investments Plan Steering Committee delivered a progress report to the city council. The document holds some facts that ought to make Wichitans think, and think hard. Then: What is the purpose of high tax rates on high income earners? Finally: Advances in producing oil and natural gas make for a more competitive and carbon-efficient economy. Episode 33, broadcast March 2, 2014. View below, or click here to view on YouTube.

American economy is more competitive and carbon-efficient, says economist

Stephen Moore. Credit: Willis Bretz/Heritage Foundation
Stephen Moore. Credit: Willis Bretz/Heritage Foundation

The oil and gas boom in America boosts our competitiveness in the world economy while at the same time reducing carbon emissions, says economist Stephen Moore.

Moore recently left the Wall Street Journal to accept a position at Heritage Foundation as chief economist. He presented to an audience at a conference titled “The Tax & Regulatory Impact on Industry, Jobs & The Economy, and Consumers” produced by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

A large portion of his presentation was on energy and its important role in the economy, and how radical environmentalists — the “green” movement — are harming our economy and people. An irony, he said, is that while President Barack Obama is in the “hip pocket” of radical environmentalists, he is presiding over the greatest oil and gas boom in American history. This boom is proceeding in spite of government, not because of it.

Moore emphasized the importance of energy costs to low-income people. Rising energy costs are like taxes on them, he said, while the wealthy can more easily absorb higher energy costs. “To be green is to be against capitalism, against progress, against poor people, against jobs.”

The boom in oil and gas production in America, made possible by horizontal drilling and fracking, is ahead of the rest of the world. While European countries have in the past embraced green energy technologies, these policies have failed, and the countries are retreating from them. Now, European countries want to use American drilling technologies, he said.

The lower electricity prices in America are a competitive advantage over Europe and China. German auto manufacturers are shutting plants in Europe and moving them to the United States, he said.

Of radical environmentalist groups. Moore said: “They don’t even care about global warming. If they really cared about global warming, they would be cheerleading fracking. Because fracking is making natural gas the new fuel for America. And guess what? Natural gas emits less carbon. It’s a great antidote to global warming.”

(According to the U.S. Energy information Administration, when generating electricity, coal emits from 2.08 to 2.18 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour electricity generated. Natural gas emits 1.22 pounds, or about 43 percent less carbon dioxide.)

Moore went on to tell the attendees that it is the United States that has reduced its carbon emissions the greatest amount in the last five years. He said this is remarkable in light of the fact that the U.S. didn’t sign the Kyoto Treaty, the U.S. didn’t implement cap-and-trade, and didn’t implement a carbon tax. “You would think these environmental groups would be applauding natural gas. Now these environmentalist groups have a new campaign called ‘beyond natural gas,'” he said.

Moore explained that at first, environmentalists said they could accept natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to solar power and wind. They were in favor of natural gas, he said, up until the time it became cheap and plentiful. Now, they are against gas. “My point is, the left and environmentalists are against any energy source that works.”

Over the past six years the U.S. has spent $100 billion promoting wind and solar power, but these two sources together account for just 2.2 percent of electricity generation. Even if the country were to quadruple the portion of electricity generated by these two renewable sources over the next 10 to 20 years, the nation would still need to get 90 percent of its electricity from other sources. Moore was doubtful that the country could quadruple the output from wind and solar.

Trends in carbon emissions

To further investigate the topics Moore raised, I gathered data from Global Carbon Atlas and prepared interactive visualizations using Tableau Public. You may access and use the visualizations by clicking here. Following are static excerpts from the visualizations. Click on each image for a larger version.

Click image for larger version.
Click image for larger version.

Looking at the amount of total carbon emissions, we see two important facts. First, after rising slowly, carbon emissions by the United States have declined in recent years. Second, carbon emissions by China are soaring. China surpassed the U.S. around 2005, and the gap between the two countries is increasing.

Click image for larger version.
Click image for larger version.

Note also that carbon emissions in India are rising. Emissions in most advanced economies are steady or falling. These trends are emphasized in the chart that shows carbon emissions for each country indexed from a common starting point. Emissions from China and India are rapidly rising, while emissions from countries with advanced economies have risen slowly or have declined.

Click image for larger version.
Click image for larger version.

A chart that shows the carbon emissions efficiency of countries, that is, the carbon emitted per unit of GDP, shows that in general, countries are becoming more efficient. Advanced economies such as the U.S., Japan, and Germany have an advantage in this metric. These countries emit about one-fourth as much carbon per unit GDP as does China.

Click image for larger version.
Click image for larger version.

The chart of carbon emissions per person in each country show that the United States leads in this measure. In 2011, the U.S. emitted about 17 tons of carbon dioxide per person. China was at 6.6, and India at 1.7. But, the trend in the U.S. is downward, that is, less carbon emitted per person. In China and India, the trend is up, and rising rapidly in China.

Southeast High School decision a test of beliefs

One aspect of the decision whether Wichita High School Southeast should be moved or renovated in place is this: What about the environment?

We haven’t heard much about this, however. But there are many in Wichita that advocate against urban sprawl. The proposal to move Southeast High from its present location to a proposed site on the fringes of Wichita: This defines urban sprawl.

There are also many in Wichita who support the sustainable communities initiative. A core tenet is that we’re spending too much on carbon-spewing transportation. The language is couched as “energy use and climate change,” but the clear meaning is that we’re burning too much gasoline and diesel fuel.

Which is, of course, what powers school buses and cars. It’s undeniable that moving Southeast High Schools will result in increased transportation by auto and bus, and fewer students commuting to school by foot.


Moving a school from a high-density urban location to a low-density suburban area: Isn’t this contrary to good urban planning? At least good urban planning as defined by the anti-sprawl, pro-sustainable communities crowd?

To be sure, the Southeast decision is up to the board members of USD 259, the Wichita public school district. Many of them subscribe to the “green” agenda.

Then, where are the members of the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Commission who voted for the sustainable communities initiative? The bureaucrats from the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University who are managing the process?

If these people really believe in their anti-sprawl, anti-fossil fuel, pro-sustainable communities agenda, they need to make themselves heard on this issue.

Government planning, itself, is dangerous

The very existence of a government plan is dangerous, as its construction creates powerful constituencies that have shaped it to fit their needs and are highly motivated to see it implemented.


In Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton defended the regional community planning initiative underway in south-central Kansas. (Tim Norton: Planning effort helps shape region’s future)

Much of the Commissioner’s article simply described the program and the need for it in vague generalities that are neither correct or incorrect, and which do little to advance understanding of what is really likely to happen.

But Norton did write something useful when he attempted to deflect the fact that this is a government plan, backed by the ability of government to compel compliance (or make it very expensive to avoid). He wrote: “This is not about any one governing body or level of government imposing or mandating what we should do. It is about what we decide collectively is best for our region and then choosing to make it happen.”

When the Sedgwick County Commission voted to participate in this HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant, some commissioners justified their votes in favor of the plan because “it’s only a plan.” If we develop a plan, and then we find we don’t like it, we can shelve it. Problem solved.

This meme of “it’s only a plan” that can be shelved is likely to be repeated. Watch for it.

Except: By shelving time, millions will have been invested in the plan. Reputations like Norton’s will depend on adopting the plan. Bureaucratic jobs will be at stake (See Sedgwick County considers a planning grant for an explanation of how planning helps make work for bureaucrats and academics.)

Besides boosting the interests of politicians and bureaucrats, the government planning process started in south-central Kansas will likely be captured by special interest groups that see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play again over the next years.

Once the planning process begins, special interests plot to benefit themselves at the expense of the general public. We saw this at work in the first project to emerge after the Wichita downtown planning process (Project Downtown), where public policy was shaped on the fly to meet the needs of politically-connected special interests, at detriment to the public.

Most importantly: The very existence of a government plan is dangerous, as the plan itself becomes a reason to proceed, contrary to reason and harm to liberty and economic freedom.

An example of how much reverence is given to government plans comes right from the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision Kelo v. New London, in which the Court decided that government could use the power of eminent domain to take one person’s property and transfer it to someone else for the purposes of economic development. In his opinion for the Court, Justice Stevens cited the plan: “The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community.” Here we see the importance of the plan and due reverence given to it.

Stevens followed up, giving even more weight to the plan: “To effectuate this plan, the City has invoked a state statute that specifically authorizes the use of eminent domain to promote economic development. Given the comprehensive character of the plan, the thorough deliberation that preceded its adoption, and the limited scope of our review, it is appropriate for us, as it was in Berman, to resolve the challenges of the individual owners, not on a piecemeal basis, but rather in light of the entire plan. Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment.”

To Stevens, the fact that the plan was comprehensive was a factor in favor of its upholding. The sustainable communities plan, likewise, is nothing but comprehensive, as described by county manager Bill Buchanan in a letter to commissioners: “[the plan will] consist of multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic prosperity, social equity, energy use and climate change, and public health and environmental impact.”

That pretty much covers it all. When you’re charged with promoting economic prosperity, defending earth against climate change, and promoting public health, there is no limit to the types of laws you might consider. This likely to be the argument to follow whatever emerges from Commissioner Norton’s planning process.

FrackNation to tell truth about fracking

Documentary filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have produced a feature film that will help America understand the truth about fracking.

Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — is a method of oil and gas production by injecting pressurized fluid into rock formations. Along with horizontal drilling, this technology has lead to a rise in the production of natural gas, leading to much lower prices for consumers, and to the possibility of U.S. exports.

FrackNation, the film that McAleer and McElhinney made, is set for premier on AXS TV on January 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm eastern.

I spoke to McAleer on the telephone last week. I asked is fracking really a big deal for America? He answered:”The word game changer is much overused, but this really is a game changer. It’s going to make America an energy producer. Natural gas is no longer tied to the price of oil. Anywhere there’s fracking in America, there’s no recession.”

“I’d almost go as far as to say fracking is maybe the reason President Obama was reelected. The reason he won Ohio because there’s a fracking boom going on there. People have money in their pockets. … If you live in a fracking area or near where there is going to be fracking you’re feeling good.”

So why are progressives and liberals opposed to fracking? “Fracking brings economic boom to rural America, and many people view rural America as a backdrop, as something to be used.”

The elitists don’t really like farmers, he said. But they will gladly use them to make a political point. The idea that they would become independent from their largess is their concern. He added that opposition to fracking is anti-fossil fuel, anti-progress, and anti-modernity, but above all it is anti-American.

Those opposed to fracking spread fear of environmental damage such as spilling the chemicals or polluting ground water. Is this fear real? McAleer said fracking has been going on since 1947. How long can you fear something that hasn’t happened, he asked.

On the new Matt Damon movie Promised Land, described by the New York Times as “an earnest attempt, sometimes effective, sometimes clumsy, to dramatize the central arguments about fracking and its impact,” I asked what’s wrong with that movie?

McAleer said “It’s not fair, I suppose, to fact check a work of fiction. Having said that, it is pretending to be in a real world situation. There are lots of allegations, lots of multimillion dollar lawsuits, but no scientific evidence. There’s no scientific evidence about what Matt Damon talks about in promised land. The biggest lie of all is that the fraudulent environmentalists — of which there are many — are somehow in the pay of oil and gas companies to smear environmentalists. That’s just ludicrous. Yes there are fraudulent environmentalists — many of them — but they work for the environmental movement, not for oil and gas.”

I mentioned an incident in an advertisement for the movie that shows a family receiving the results from testing their water. The tests showed that the water was clean and not dirty, like illustrated in a dirty brown milk jug. The reaction of the family was anger. McAleer explained that these people were suing the oil and gas companies. They demanded that the EPA come in and test their water, and the EPA said their water is safe. They watched their multimillion dollar lawsuit flushed down the drain, along with their celebrity status.

Your movie FrackNation that’s coming out in January: What will it tell Americans?

McAleer said the film will show there is absolutely no evidence that fracking has ever contaminated groundwater. But there is plenty of evidence that people have lied, exaggerated, and misrepresented fracking.

I asked about the famous example in the movie Gasland of a family being able to light their drinking water on fire, the implication being that this was possible due to methane gas leaking into their water supply, with fracking being the cause. McAller said that people have been able to like their water on fire for many years before fracking started. Native Americans called certain places “burning springs.” These are naturally occurring events. The director of Gasland knew that, but he told me he left it out because it wasn’t relevant. It’s unethical journalism.

Obama II, from New York Times

The New York Times lays out the agenda for the second term of President Barack Obama. It could be “invigorated,” the newspaper writes.

The Times editorialists write that now the president “can make real progress on issues neglected in the first.” I wonder: Why did he neglect these issues?

Then: Obama intends to “build on and improve the significant accomplishments of the last four years.” The problem is that these accomplishments are harmful to our country. They harm our economy, they extinguish liberty and freedom, they will lead to less prosperity for everyone.

Here’s what a second Obama term might attempt, according to the Times

“Address climate change with more vigor, going beyond auto-mileage standards and renewable-energy jobs to possibly advocating tougher carbon emissions standards.” I’d like to think that the Obama Administration learned from debacles like Solyndra, but there’s no evidence it has.

“Working with Republicans to fix the immigration system.” We’re long overdue for this, and I think I can support what the president is likely to propose. We’ll see.

“He also hinted that combating poverty might move higher on his priority list.” But Obama’s vision of fighting poverty is likely more of the same: direct payments, government job training, more spending on public schools, etc. None of this supports what is really needed: a vibrant economy.

“In coming months, after he persuades Congress to keep taxes from rising on the middle class, he should push to restore a fair estate tax and raise the low capital gains rate to the level of ordinary income.” A pro-growth policy, one that would create prosperity for everyone, would be to eliminate taxes on capital. Raising this tax means that there will be less investment in the United States as investors seek to find more attractive grounds for investment. This is so important. Ask yourself this: Who earns the higher wage — the man digging a ditch with a shovel, or the worker operating a power backhoe? The backhoe is capital. Someone had to defer current consumption in order to save to buy the backhoe. As taxes on capital rise, people have less incentive to save and invest.

The Times says Obama’s victory was decisive. At least they didn’t say it was a mandate, as some have said. We’ve suffered through a campaign, won by a man who showed that he would do anything to hold on to power.

We’ve heard President Obama tell Russia that he can be more “flexible” after the election. Some might interpret this — considering domestic policy — as meaning that Obama will govern more to the left, seeking to expand government spending even more than he did in his first term.

But there’s a possibility — small, I’m sad to reckon — that flexibility might mean that the president disregards the radical left and embraces principles of economic freedom and personal liberty. This is the way Barack Obama could rescue our economy and build a legacy that he and the country could be proud of.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday March 29, 2012

Sustainable development. Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau writes that next week the commission will vote on the issue of sustainable development, and whether Sedgwick County should participate in a planning process. Writes Ranzau: “Sedgwick County will be voting on this issue next Wednesday, April 4th, 2012. Those of you that have concerns about this need to speak up now. Please email and call the commissioners and encourage them to vote NO on this. If you are a property owner, business owner, home owner, builder, developer, farmer, or taxpayer you should strongly oppose this agenda. Now is the time to stop this. This is President Obama’s plan to use HUD, DOT, and EPA to implement Sustainable Development/Smart Growth/UN Agenda 21.” Ranzau has written on this issue. His paper is at Sustainable Development and U.N. Agenda 21: Economic Development or Economic Destruction? Contact information for commissioners may be found at Board of County Commissioners. As of this writing the agenda and explanatory material for the April 4th meeting is not available. When it is, it can be found at the same page.

Pachyderms to feature talk on sustainable development. On a related matter, this Friday (March 30rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on the topic “U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development.” DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Climate models. William Happer, professor of physics at Princeton, calls attention to the problems of modern climate science in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. He asks: “What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. … The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned.” While there has been warming over the past two centuries, Happer warns of linking this to the activity of mankind: “There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming — much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably — suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind.” While we need high-quality science regarding the earth’s climate, the current climate models are not providing that: “It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.” … The complete article in the Wall Street Journal (no subscription required) is Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again: The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with predictions. … Some will discount this article because Happer’s specialty is modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei — not climate science. But, we see the problems with modern climate science and its predictive abilities.

Shy regulators. The Obama administration is so out of touch with the public that it appears shy about publicity over its actions. The Hill reports: “The Obama administration announced landmark carbon emissions standards for new power plants Tuesday, but hardly shouted from the rooftops about them. The administration rolled out the proposal with relatively little fanfare, and President Obama — who was in South Korea at nuclear security summit — did not issue a statement about the regulation. In contrast, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules to control power plant mercury emissions in December, Obama praised them as major public health protections while touting White House efforts to ensure they don’t affect power grid reliability.” … More at White House, rather quietly, advances climate change agenda.

Just say no to taxes. Those who reject tax increases under all conditions are often described unflatteringly. The New York Times house conservative David Brooks has called them “fanatics” with “no sense of moral decency.” William Voegeli, writing in City Journal explains why we should not consider higher taxes as a solution to problems. “In rejecting tax hikes, Republicans aren’t trading in fanaticism. Rather, they’re confronting a governing failure — an abiding lack of candor about what our welfare state costs — that voters grasp but Democrats refuse to admit.” … The problem is soaring spending, growing faster than the economy: “What we can say is that over the last 40 years, government revenues have kept pace with economic growth while government spending has run steadily ahead of it. … Gross Domestic Product and federal revenues, both expressed in per-capita terms and adjusted for inflation, were about two and a half times as large at the end of the period as at the beginning. Federal expenditures were three times as large.” It is welfare-state expenditures that have grown the fastest, and by far. … Voegeli lays the problem at the feet of the Democrats: “For years, the Democratic Party’s raison d’être has been to establish, defend, and expand the welfare state. The Democrats could have told us all along — forthrightly, scrupulously, and unambiguously — that their project would cost a lot of money and that, should economic growth be insufficient to pay for it, big tax increases would be necessary. Had they done so, they would be in a strong position to argue that the terms of the deal they struck with yesterday’s voters oblige today’s Americans to pay higher taxes. But that’s not what they did.” … Much more to read at Not a Penny More: The case for antitax absolutism.

Occupy Koch Town protestors ignore facts

Below, Paul Soutar of Kansas Watchdog provides more evidence that the campaign against Wichita-based Koch Industries regarding their alleged involvement in the Keystone XL pipeline is not based on facts. Besides this article, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita has also written on this issue in The Democrats continue unjustified attacks on taxpayers and job creators.

Another inconvenient fact is that if the Canadian oil is not sold to the U.S., it will be sold to and consumed in China. If we are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change, it should be noted that it doesn’t matter where the greenhouse gases are produced. The effect is worldwide. But as we know, the radical environmental movement cares nothing for facts in their war on capitalism and human progress.

Facts Refute Environmentalist Claims About Keystone XL Pipeline

By Paul Soutar. Originally published at Kansas Watchdog.

Protesters are gathering on the Wichita State University campus this weekend for a Sierra Club-sponsored Occupy Koch Town protest against the Keystone XL oil pipeline and Koch Industries, Inc. Koch and its subsidiaries are involved in a wide array of manufacturing, trading and investments including petroleum refining and distribution.

Many Keystone XL opponents have focused on Koch, claiming its Flint Hills Resources Canada subsidiary’s status as an intervener in the regulatory approval process in Canada proves Koch is a party to the pipeline project. Keystone XL would carry petroleum from Canadian oil sands to the U.S. Gulf coast.

In a Jan. 25 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, California U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-District 30, demanded that the Koch brothers, Charles and David, or a representative of Koch Industries appear before the committee to explain their involvement in the pipeline.

Philip Ellender, president of Koch Cos. Public Sector, which encompasses legal, communication, community relations and government relations, responded to Waxman on a Koch Industries website:

Koch has consistently and repeatedly stated (including here, here, here, and here) that we have no financial interest whatsoever in the Keystone pipeline. In addition, this fact has been verified by TransCanada’s CEO here.

Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, owner and builder of the Keystone pipelines, addressed criticism of the pipeline and supposed collusion with the Koch brothers in a Nov. 1 conference call to discuss TransCanada’s earnings. “I can tell you that Koch (Industries Inc.) isn’t a shipper and I’ve never met the Koch brothers before.”A March 2010 document from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) approving the pipeline does not mention Koch or its subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources Canada, on any of its 168 pages.

The report does note that on June 16, 2009, TransCanada Corporation became the sole owner of the Keystone Pipeline System, acquiring ConocoPhillips’ interest in the pipeline.

A map of the existing Keystone and planned Keystone XL pipelines shows that Koch’s two refineries in the 48 contiguous states at Pine Bend, Minn., and Corpus Christi, Texas, are not on or near the pipeline routes. Koch also has a refinery in North Pole, Alaska.

Koch does have substantial interests in Canadian oil though, including the thick oil sands mined in Alberta. Those interests are precisely why Flint Hills Resources Canada requested intervener status in the pipeline approval process in 2009.

Flint Hills’ application to Canada’s National Energy Board for intervener status said, “Flint Hills Resources Canada LP is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters, coordinating supply for its refinery in Pine Bend, Minnesota. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the application.”

Critics have claimed that statement is a smoking gun proving Koch is a party to the pipeline or will benefit from its construction.

Greg Stringham, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) vice president of markets and oil sands, told KansasWatchdog, “Their intervention itself is not a trigger that says aha, they have a commercial interest or are a shipper on this pipeline.”

The US Legal, Inc. definitions website says an intervener is, “A party who does not have a substantial and direct interest but has clearly ascertainable interests and perspectives essential to a judicial determination and whose standing has been granted by the court for all or a portion of the proceedings.”

US Legal, Inc. provides free legal information, legal forms and help with finding an attorney for the stated purpose of breaking down barriers to legal information.

Stringham said anyone — business, organization or individual — can be an intervener in NEB regulatory proceedings as long as they can show some potential impact, good or bad, from the proposed action. “Then they make a decision whether they’re going to actively engage through evidence and cross examination or whether they’re just there for interest, to get materials and monitor the situation.”

Market interest

Like Koch, Stringham said CAPP is an intervener in the pipeline approval process, because the pipeline will have a direct impact on the Canadian oil market. Stringham said:

The fact that it’s an intervention for interest does not mean that there is a financial ownership or shipping interest. It’s really to make sure that they understand what’s going on in the process and that they have some connection to the project that can be either positive and beneficiary or potentially negative to them. That’s why I believe Koch has intervened in this process.

The Canadian pipeline company Enbridge, Inc.; Marathon Oil Corp. and Britain’s oil giant BP are also among the 29 interveners in the pipeline application. So is the environmental activist organization Sierra Club.

Keystone XL would compete with the Enbridge pipeline that carries the thick bitumen oil from Hardisty, Alberta, for delivery to Koch’s Pine Bend, Minn., refinery. If supplies prove insufficient for both pipelines, Stringham said, Koch could be at a competitive disadvantage since it is not a shipper on the Keystone pipelines.

The National Energy Board’s approval document noted:

Keystone XL shippers have indicated that they are seeking competitive alternatives, and by providing access to a new market, Keystone XL would be expanding shipper choice. The Board places considerable weight on the fact that Keystone XL shippers have made a market decision to enter into long-term shipping arrangements negotiated through a transparent competitive process. New pipelines connecting producing regions with consuming regions change market dynamics in ways that cannot easily be predicted.

Political motivation

On Feb.10, 2011 Reuters published an Inside Climate News article that started the Koch-Keystone explosion. The third paragraph put a political spin on the Koch claims.

What’s been left out of the ferocious debate over the pipeline, however, is the prospect that if President Obama allows a permit for the Keystone XL to be granted, he would be handing a big victory and great financial opportunity to Charles and David Koch, his bitterest political enemies and among the most powerful opponents of his clean economy agenda.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olsen, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, highlighted the political dimension of attacks on the Kochs and recent attempts to compel their testimony before Congress.

When Joseph McCarthy engaged in comparable bullying, oppression and slander from his powerful position in the Senate, he was censured by his colleagues and died in disgrace. “McCarthyism,” defined by Webster’s as the “use of unfair investigative and accusatory methods to suppress opposition,” will forever be synonymous with un-Americanism.

In this country, we regard the use of official power to oppress or intimidate private citizens as a despicable abuse of authority and entirely alien to our system of a government of laws. The architects of our Constitution meticulously erected a system of separated powers, and checks and balances, precisely in order to inhibit the exercise of tyrannical power by governmental officials.

Market and environmental realities

Canada produces about 2.7 million barrels of oil per day with about 1.6 million going to the United States. “About a million of that comes from the oil sands,” Stringham said. “All of that moves through the existing pipeline systems.”

Two Kansas refineries, the Holly Frontier refinery in El Dorado and National Cooperative Refinery Association’s facility in McPherson, refine Canadian oil, including from oil sands, delivered over existing pipelines.

With or without the Keystone XL, oil from Canada’s oil sands will continue to go to markets, according to Stringham. “We have been investigating a number of alternatives. Keystone XL clearly is the most direct route to get to the gulf coast and that’s why the market really spoke up and said this is what we want,” he said.

In a 2010 op-ed in the National Journal, Charles T. Drevna, president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, presciently said, “Canada’s leaders have made clear that if the U.S. won’t buy their oil, they won’t abandon development of their oil sands. Instead, they have said they will ship Canadian oil across the Pacific to China and other Asian nations. That will result in America having to import more oil from other countries. Sending Canadian oil to Asia would actually increase global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2010 study by Barr Engineering.”

The Barr study, Low Carbon Fuel Standard “Crude Shuffle” Greenhouse Gas Impacts Analysis (pdf), concluded that transporting oil to Asia for refining would mean not just a lost opportunity for the U.S., but increased greenhouse gas emissions because of transportation by ship instead of by pipeline and less stringent refinery emission standards.

TransCanada has said it will continue to seek approval of the Keystone XL and work is proceeding on alternatives to Keystone XL, Stringham said. “There are other pipeline routes being investigated by Enbridge and BP and a number of others as well to move this oil,” he said.

He said Canada’s oil market is looking at diverse opportunities beyond the United States. “We are looking to the West Coast, which could move it on to tankers. We looked at Asia, it is one of the options, but once it gets to the West Coast, it can also move to the California market,” he said.

Stringham said a proposal for Enbridge to build a pipeline carrying oil to the West Coast has more than 4,000 interveners.

Occupy Koch Town promotional materials say they’ll also protest against the Kansas Policy Institute. KPI helped launch KansasWatchdog.org in 2009 but is no longer affiliated with this site.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on wind energy

Recently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wrote an editorial praising the benefits of wind power. (Gov. Sam Brownback: Wind offers clean path to growth, September 11, 2011 Wichita Eagle) Brownback has also been supportive of another form of renewable energy, ethanol.

But not everyone agrees with the governor’s rosy assessment of wind power. Paul Chesser of American Tradition Institute offers a rebuttal of Brownback’s article, which first appeared in a Bloomberg publication.

Chesser writes: “Apparently Gov. Brownback has overlooked the horrid results of efforts in recent years to spur the economy and employment with government renewable energy ‘stimulation’ from taxpayer dollars. … The lessons of failure with government mandates in pursuit of a renewable energy economy are not hard to find.”

Chesser goes on to describe ATI’s study which illustrates the negative economic consequences of renewsable energy standards, which Brownback has supported. The study is The Effects of Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard Legislation on the U.S. Economy.

Following is Chesser’s response to Governor Brownback.

Kansas Gov., Former Sen. Brownback Incorrect on Promise, Economics of Renewable Energy

By Paul Chesser

American Tradition Institute today called attention to the many fallacies in a column written by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and published yesterday in the Bloomberg Government newsletter (subscription required), in which the former U.S. Senator touted the “long-term benefits” and “job creation” ability of renewable energy, predominantly with wind power.

Apparently Gov. Brownback has overlooked the horrid results of efforts in recent years to spur the economy and employment with government renewable energy “stimulation” from taxpayer dollars. He wrote for Bloomberg, “Experience has taught us that investments in the renewable energy economy is creating jobs across all employment sectors, including construction, engineering, operations, technology and professional services, in both rural and urban communities.”

“Unlike most of his fellow Republicans, it sounds like the governor continues to support President Obama’s failed initiatives to create ‘Green jobs’ in a hopeless attempt to save the U.S. economy,” said Paul Chesser, executive director of American Tradition Institute.

Continue reading at ATI Release: Kansas Gov., Former Sen. Brownback Incorrect on Promise, Economics of Renewable Energy.

KDHE, Sunflower Electric, Earthjustice, Center for Climate Strategies: different peas in the same pod

Evidence that a business seeking regulatory approval of its project enjoyed an apparently close relationship with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment should not be surprising.

Reporting in the Kansas City Star leads with “Hundreds of emails document that officials of a Kansas power plant enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Kansas regulators who issued them a building permit in December.” (Kansas agency, utility worked closely on permit for plant)

A press release from Earthjustice, the legal advocacy arm of the Sierra Club, proclaimed “A new report reveals Sunflower Electric (Sunflower) enjoyed a cozy relationship with Kansas regulators during the permitting process for the highly controversial coal-fired power plant Sunflower seeks to build in Holcomb.”

This incident — the details are not important for understanding the broad lesson — may be looked on as an example of regulatory capture. As defined in Wikipedia, “regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.”

In more detail, the Wikipedia article explains: “For public choice theorists, regulatory capture occurs because groups or individuals with a high-stakes interest in the outcome of policy or regulatory decisions can be expected to focus their resources and energies in attempting to gain the policy outcomes they prefer, while members of the public, each with only a tiny individual stake in the outcome, will ignore it altogether. Regulatory capture refers to when this imbalance of focused resources devoted to a particular policy outcome is successful at ‘capturing’ influence with the staff or commission members of the regulatory agency, so that the preferred policy outcomes of the special interest are implemented.”

Regulatory capture — or at least the heavy-handed attempt by special interest groups to influence public policy to fit their interests — is a non-partisan sport. We shouldn’t be surprised to see this form of government failure taking place at all times, no matter which party or politicians are in power.

As an example on point, the same type of activity happened during the administration of former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius regarding the same electric plant that is the focus of controversy today. Her regulator, former KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby, denied the permit for the plant based on its carbon dioxide emissions, the first time that had been done in the United States.

Radical environmentalists rejoiced. Sebelius was invited to speak at an Earthjustice conference held in Denver in June, 2008. Here are a portion of her written remarks, as supplied to me at that time by her press office, thanking Earthjustice for all it had done in Kansas to help Sebelius and mold her regulatory regime:

When Big Coal pumped their money and politics into Kansas, EarthJustice was there to fight back:

  • Provided litigation and public support
  • Helped shape the media messaging and outreach
  • Rallied supporters and engaged the public to get involved

It was a victory for all of us and I appreciate their help.

About that time Sebelius established the Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group, or KEEP. The activities of this group were managed — at no cost to the state — by the Center for Climate Strategies, a group that expressly advocates for energy policies and regulations based on an extremist view of climate science.

The invasion of Kansas — at least the Sebelius administration — by Earthjustice and Center for Climate Studies proves the point: Regulatory capture is a non-partisan opportunity.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday June 24, 2011

RightOnline may not follow Netroots. The Netroots Nation conference, tired of having the free market-based RightOnline follow them each year, has maneuvered to block RightOnline from following them to Providence next year. Will it work? More at Netroots Nation Strives To Keep Right Online Away From Next Year’s Convention.

Ann McElhinney. Speaking at last week’s free market-based RightOnline conference in Minneapolis, filmmaker Ann McElhinney addressed the general session and spoke against CINOs: Conservatives In Name Only, which she defined as anyone who thinks we should subsidize industry, anyone who believes that humans control the weather, anyone who thinks we should not explore and exploit ANWR, anyone who thinks we should not be drilling for oil off our coasts, anyone who thinks it’s okay to terrorize schoolchildren that the world is about to end, anyone who is talking nonsense about fracking, anyone who is against exploiting the oil sands in Alberta — bringing oil from a country that doesn’t believe in stoning women, and anyone who believes we can power our incredible dream with wind or the sunshine. … She criticized those feminists who talk about solar panels and windmills, saying that across Africa and India there are women who “devote a lifetime to washing clothes … a complete waste of time when you could have a washing machine.” She said it is a human rights abuse to deprive a woman of a washing machine. … Video is at Ann McElhinney at 2011 RightOnline.

Presidential candidate white papers. Club For Growth is an organization that works to “promote public policies that encourage a high growth economy,” believing — as do I — that “prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom.” To advance this end, it has created a “white paper” for most of the declared Republican presidential candidates, and it’s working on papers for the rest. The papers draw on a variety of sources for data, and seem to be balanced — and tough, too. They’re available by clicking on Club For Growth’s Presidential White Papers: How do the candidates rate as pro-growth economic conservatives.

Budget briefing book, volume one. Bankrupting America, “an educational project that explores the policies hindering economic opportunity and growth in America,” has released the first volume of its budget briefing book. It’s full of useful information: fact and figures, how much is spent on what, what does “debt ceiling” mean, what is the Ryan budget plan, etc. Volume one is available at Budget Briefing Book: Volume One, with further volumes to come. (sign up for an email notification, if you want.) I found the book easiest to read in full-screen mode.

Pompeo events. This Sunday (June 26) U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Wichita Republican serving his first term, will hold a public forum at Tri-City Senior Center, 6100 N. Hydraulic in Park City. This event starts at 2:00 pm, and based on my past experience, will last one hour and maybe a little more. … On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Representative Pompeo and Mrs. Pompeo, along with staff, will host an open house at his congressional district office in Wichita from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The address is 7701 E. Kellogg, Suite 510. It’s the tall office building near the southwest corner of Kellogg and Rock Road.

Kansas tax competitive position slipped in 2011. Kansas Reporter: “Kansas current tax policies dropped one gauge of the state’s economic competiveness two spots this year, to 27th place among the nation’s 50 states, according to a new survey to be formally unveiled this week in Topeka. The latest reading marks the third time since the annual survey began four years ago, that Kansas has slipped in the rankings, which are compiled by researchers Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams for the Rich States Poor States rankings on behalf of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a group of 2,000 state legislators that generally advocates for free-market legislative approaches. Kansas’ economic competitiveness, as measured by a blend of 15 indicators of higher or lower tax burdens, was rated 25th best in the nation last year, down from 24 in 2009, but higher than 29th, which the researchers calculated the first year the three compiled their list.” … Jonathan Williams, one of the authors of Rich States, Poor States: The ALEC-Laffer Economic Competitiveness Index made a presentation in Wichita today. A report is forthcoming.

Redistricting in Kansas. Chapman Rackaway: “This week one of the most contentious processes in politics began in Kansas: redrawing the lines of our U.S. House, State House, State Senate, and State Board of Education districts. After each census, every state must redraw its legislative boundaries to ensure a roughly equal population.” It’s an important process. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal says redistricting is when politicians get to choose their voters. Rackaway believes it will be a struggle in Kansas: “The only certainty is that redistricting will be as contentious a fight in the 2012 legislative session as the budget has been for the last few years. Every constituent group will have a chance to be angered, because the process is a twisty one with numerous stops. The legislature is responsible for drawing and passing redistricting plans, and the Governor has the opportunity to veto.” Concluding, he writes: “Redistricting isn’t the most exciting thing to follow for most people, but the elections they influence are. The research clearly tells us that the best way to ensure safe or competitive legislative districts is to design them that way.” The full article is Insight Kansas: Drawing a Line.

The price system. A short video explains how prices work in free markets and how important is the information conveyed by prices. This is part one; I’m looking forward to part two. This video is from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, and many other informative videos are available.

Even quicker. Cantor Pulls Out of Biden-Led Budget, says Wall Street Journal: “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday said he was pulling out of the bipartisan budget talks headed by Vice President Joe Biden for now because the group has reached an impasse over taxes that only President Obama and Speaker John Boehner could resolve.” … Rasmussen: 51% now recognize most federal spending goes to defense, Medicare and Social Security. Knowledge is the first step. … CommonSense with Paul Jacob: “Taxpayers fund about half of all medical industry transactions, and governments regulate that as well as a huge chunk of the rest. No wonder medicine is in chaos.” … Michael Petrilli in EducationNext: “As if the teachers unions need another reason to hate charter schools, here’s one: The finding, from a new Fordham Institute report, that when given a chance to opt out of state pension systems, many charter schools take it. Furthermore, a fair number of these charters replace traditional pensions with nothing at all.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday June 13, 2011

Wichita City Council. This week the Wichita City Council considers these items: The council will deliberate a contract in the amount of $50,000 with the Kansas World Trade Center for economic development services. KWTC’s mission is to “promote and facilitate international trade through education, communication and research.” … The council will be asked to approve cultural funding allocations approved by the Cultural Funding Committee. The source of these funds is the city’s dedicated property tax for the arts, which is estimated to bring in $3,165,897 next year. The best thing the council could do for citizens is to forgo this funding, reduce taxes, and let citizens choose how to allocate their funds based on their own preferences. Instead, we have a committee deciding which arts Wichitans should be taxed to pay for. … The council will be asked to approve spending $194,849 on a contract with a firm to produce the Wichita bicycle master plan. … Another contract to be considered spends $87,253 to produce a transit community outreach and input study. … As always, the agenda packet is available at Wichita city council agendas.

Arts jobs lost already? The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman is already bemoaning the lost arts jobs, writing this about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback: “He alone bears the responsibility for five lost jobs today as the Kansas Arts Commission’s funding runs out.” A few of the comments left to the article got the economics right, reminding Holman that these jobs at the Kansas Arts Commission are government jobs, not arts jobs. This is a distinction that is often overlooked by our state’s largest newspaper.

American politics, viewed from down under. James Paterson, an Australian, writes about the inability of left-wing media to understand a conservative grassroots political movement: “Ever since the rise of the Tea Party in the United States and the community revolt against the Gillard Government’s carbon tax, progressive journalists and commentators have struggled to grapple with the idea of a grassroots political movement that isn’t left wing. More used to anti-war moratoriums and union-led protests for equal pay or refugee rights, many left-leaning journalists appear to be on a mission to uncover the ‘real’ cause of public dissent from their favoured big-government agenda, particularly regarding climate change.” Paterson notes how the media has latched on to Charles and David Koch as the driving force behind this political movement. But, he writes: “But political movements can’t just be conjured up at the behest of billionaire businessmen, media moguls or talk-show hosts. And they certainly can’t be directed exclusively by them to serve their commercial interests. If that were the case, what took them so long? Why did the Koch brothers — who were involved in libertarian activism as early as the 1970s — not ‘create’ the Tea Party to tackle US President Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, decades ago?” A good question, I might add. Concluding: “As much as it might disappoint some commentators, most conservative philanthropists are simply passionate about the philosophy of individual liberty and personal freedom, just as others are committed to human rights or finding a cure for cancer. Surprisingly, even ordinary people can subscribe to these beliefs, and they don’t need to be told by a reclusive billionaire or wacky media personality how to think.”

California parent trigger attacked. California has a new and innovative school reform law called the “parent trigger.” If a majority of the parents for a school sign a petition calling for the trigger to be invoked, the school must undergo one of several reform measures, such as, as described in Locking the Parent Trigger: “close the school and let the students enroll in a higher-performing campus nearby; convert the school to an independent charter; fire half the teaching staff and replace the administration; extend school hours and revise the curriculum under a federally recommended turnaround plan; or adopt an ‘alternative governance’ model, which could include anything from establishing a school-site council to handing over the school to the local district superintendent.” The City Journal article tells of an effort by the state’s anti-choice education establishment to interfere with and overturn the law.

Medical board’s powers. Many are not aware of the role of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, which was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This board is charged with holding down the costs of medical care under ObamaCare. In his column Government by the ‘experts’ George Will describes some of this board’s extreme powers, such as the board’s proposals becoming law unless Congress takes action to oppose, and that action requires three-fifths majority vote. He quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: “I anticipate that Congress will find delegation of its lawmaking powers much more attractive in the future. … I foresee all manner of ‘expert’ bodies, insulated from the political process, to which Congress will delegate various portions of its lawmaking responsibility. How tempting to create an expert Medical Commission … to dispose of such thorny, ‘no-win’ political issues as the withholding of life-support systems in federally funded hospitals.” … This topic of Congress brushing aside its responsibility to make tough decisions came up in my recent interview with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita, in which I reported: “Pompeo said that over the last 25 or 30 years Congress has been unwilling to create ‘substantive markers’ in legislation. Instead, it creates vague laws and funds administrative agencies to implement them. These agencies are less accountable than elected officials, and Congress has handed over much authority to them.”

Chief Justice to speak in Wichita. This Friday (June 17th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice, speaking on the topic “The State of the Kansas Courts.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1 there will be no meeting due to the Independence Day holiday. On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

More ‘Economics in One Lesson.’ Tonight (June 13) Americans For Prosperity Foundation is sponsoring a continuation of the DVD presentation of videos based on Henry Hazlitt’s classic work Economics in One Lesson. The event is Monday (June 13) at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. For more information on this event contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Climate change resource launched. The Heartland Institute has launched an online resource dedicated to providing information about climate change and related topics. Titled ClimateWiki, Heartland writes that the website “covers an immensely complicated subject with hard scientific facts, not the scare-mongering and politicization found at Wikipedia, other ‘alarmist’ climate research sites and the mainstream media.” … Heartland will host the International Conference on Climate Change later this month.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday May 23, 2011

Wichita City council. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles only consent agenda items. The council will also hold a workshop. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature. Today’s Wichita Eagle spotlights one item where the city is proposing to hire an outside firm to inspect the roof of the airport for damage from last September’s storm. Some, including Council Member Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) wonder why the city can’t do the inspection with it’s own engineering staff and resources. … Of further note is that the city proposes to use general obligation bonds to borrow the funds to pay for this inspection. This is similar to last December, when the city decided to also use bonds to borrow money to pay for an analysis of nine aging fire stations and what repairs and upgrades they might require. While borrowing to pay for long-term capital projects is fine, this is borrowing for thinking about long-term projects. … The workshop will cover Century II parking meters, something involving the North Industrial Corridor, and a presentation on next year’s budget. The detailed agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 24, 2011. No similar information is available for the workshop topics. … Next week is the fifth Tuesday of a month and the day after a holiday, so there’s two reasons to explain why there won’t be a city council meeting next week.

Sedgwick County Commission. In its Wednesday meeting, the Sedgwick County Commission will consider approval of the county’s portion of the Hawker Beechcraft deal. In order to persuade Hawker to stay in Kansas rather than move to Louisiana, the State of Kansas offered $40 million in various form of incentive and subsidy, and it was proposed at the time that the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County each add $2.5 million. Last week the Wichita City Council approved its share, which can only be described as corporate welfare. It was widely reported that Hawker had received an offer, said by some to be worth as much as $400 million, to move to Louisiana. But that offer was not a valid threat of Hawker leaving Kansas, as in a December 2010 television news report, Louisiana’s governor said “they couldn’t guarantee the number of jobs that would have been required for them to come here.” … The meeting agenda is at Sedgwick County Commission, May 25, 2011.

Kobach on voter reform in Wall Street Journal. Today’s Wall Street Journal opinion section carries a piece by Kris W. Kobach, who is Kansas Secretary of State. The title is The Case for Voter ID: You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without ID. Why should voting be different? In it, Kobach writes Kansas is the only state with all of these elements of voter ID reform: “(1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters.” In support of the need for these reforms, Kobach provides evidence of the prevalence of election fraud. He also cites evidence that there is already widespread possession of the documents necessary to vote: “According to the 2010 census, there are 2,126,179 Kansans of voting age. According to the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,156,446 Kansans already have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID. In other words, there are more photo IDs in circulation than there are eligible voters. The notion that there are hundreds of thousands of voters in Kansas (or any other state) without photo IDs is a myth.” … Some critics of these reforms fear that they will suppress voter turnout, and primarily that of Democratic Party voters. Kobach counters: “If election security laws really were part of a Republican scheme to suppress Democratic votes, one would expect Democrats to fight such laws, tooth and nail. That didn’t happen in Kansas, where two-thirds of the Democrats in the House and three-fourths of the Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Elections Act. They did so because they realize that fair elections protect every voter and every party equally. No candidate, Republican or Democrat, wants to emerge from an election with voters suspecting that he didn’t really win. Election security measures like the one in my state give confidence to voters and candidates alike that the system is fair.” … The bill is HB 2067, and is the easiest way to understand it is by reading the supplemental note.

Tiahrt, former Congressman, to address Pachyderms. This week the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Todd Tiahrt, Former Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas, speaking on the topic “Outsourcing Our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us.” I suspect the prolonged decision process of selecting where the build the Air Force refueling tanker will be a topic. After the Pentagon awarded to contract to AirBus in 2008, which Boeing protested, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The Pentagon’s job is to defend the country, which means letting contracts that best serve American soldiers and taxpayers, not certain companies. Defense Department rules explicitly state that jobs cannot be a factor in procurement and that companies from certain countries, including France, must be treated as if they are U.S. firms in contract bids. Such competition ensures that taxpayers get the best value for their money and soldiers get the best technology.” More on this decision is here. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Wichita speaker lineup set. The schedule of speakers for the Wichita Pachyderm Club for the next several weeks is set, and as usual, it looks to be an interesting set of programs. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers are: On June 3, Nola Tedesco Foulston, District Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas, speaking on “An office overview and current events at the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas District Attorney’s office.” On June 10, John Allison, Superintendent of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on “An update from USD 259.” On June 17, The Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice on “The State of the Kansas Courts.” On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1, Jay M. Price, Director of the Public History Program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Classes of Values in Kansas History.” On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

Blue Ribbon Commission coming to Wichita. “Local residents will have an opportunity to voice concerns and offer suggestions on how to improve the state’s court systems during two public meetings next week in Wichita. A panel from the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC), which was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to review the state’s court systems, will listen to public comments during the meetings at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2011 at Century II, in Room 101, in Wichita. The BRC will examine ways to assure proper access to justice, the number of court locations, services provided in each location, hours of operation, the use of technology, possible cost reductions, and flexibility in the use of court personnel and other resources, and any other topic that may lead to the more efficient operation of our courts.” For more information, see the Blue Ribbon Commission Website.

School choice cast as civil rights issue. Star Parker, after citing the case of a homeless mother who falsified an address so her child could get into a good school: “Public school reality today for black kids is one that overwhelmingly keeps them incarcerated in failing, dangerous schools. It’s evidence of the indomitable human spirit that, despite horrible circumstances, many poor unmarried black mothers understand the importance of getting their child educated and will do whatever it takes to get their kid into a decent school. … But let’s not forget the bigger picture that the NAACP has consistently opposed school choice and voucher initiatives and has been a stalwart defender of the public school system that traps these kids and prohibits the freedom and flexibility that these mothers seek. … Generally, black establishment politicians and organizations such as the NAACP have defended government public schools and education status quo and sadly have hurt their own communities. Nothing contributes more to the growing income gaps in the country than disparities in education, and the impact continues to grow.” … A common choice of allowing widespread school choice is that poor and uneducated parents aren’t capable of making wise selections of schools for their children.

Medicare reform necessary. Wall Street Journal in Republicans and Mediscare: Paul Ryan’s GOP critics are ObamaCare’s best friends: “With ObamaCare, Democrats offered their vision for Medicare cost control: A 15-member unelected board with vast powers to set prices for doctors, hospitals and other providers, and to regulate how they should be organized and what government will pay for. The liberal conceit is that their technocratic wizardry will make health care more rational, but this is faith-based government. The liberal fallback is political rationing of care, which is why Mr. Obama made it so difficult for Congress to change that 15-member board’s decisions. Republicans have staunchly opposed this agenda, but until Mr. Ryan’s budget they hadn’t answered the White House with a competing idea. Mr. Ryan’s proposal is the most important free-market reform in years because it expands the policy options for rethinking the entitlement state.” The unelected board referred to is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. With its mission to reduce spending, some have aid this board is the feared “death panel.”

Science, public agencies, and politics. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick J. Michaels explains the reality of cap-and-trade proposals in this ten minute video. If the Waxman-Markey bill was implemented, world temperature would be reduced by 0.04 degrees. That compares to a forecast increase of 1.584 degrees. If implemented worldwide by the Kyoto nations, the reduction would be 0.08 degrees worldwide. … Michaels says the growth in emissions by China eclipses anything we in America can do. … Michaels echos Dwight Esienhower’s warning that “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.” He goes on to explain some of the dangers of “public choice science.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday May 3, 2011

Why not school choice in Kansas? WhyNotKansas.com is a website that holds information about the benefits of giving families the freedom of school choice. The site is new this week, and is a project of Kansas Policy Institute and Foundation for Educational Choice. Innovation in school choice programs is common in many states. Kansas, however, still grants the education bureaucracy a monopoly on the use of public dollars in education.

Economics in one lesson this Monday. On Monday (May 9), four videos based on Henry Hazlitt’s classic work Economics in One Lesson will be shown in Wichita. The four topics included in Monday’s presentation will be The Curse of Machinery, Disbanding Troops & Bureaucrats, Who’s “Protected” by Tariffs?, and “Parity” Prices. The event is Monday (May 9) at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. For more information on this event contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Sowell on government intervention. Must government intervene to fix the economy? Politicians face tremendous pressure to be seen as active, writes Thomas Sowell: “It is not politically possible for either the Federal Reserve or the Obama administration to leave the economy alone and let it recover on its own. Both are under pressure to ‘do something.’ If one thing doesn’t work, then they have to try something else. And if that doesn’t work, they have to come up with yet another gimmick. … The idea that the federal government has to step in whenever there is a downturn in the economy is an economic dogma that ignores much of the history of the United States. During the first hundred years of the United States, there was no Federal Reserve. During the first one hundred and fifty years, the federal government did not engage in massive intervention when the economy turned down. No economic downturn in all those years ever lasted as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when both the Federal Reserve and the administrations of Hoover and of FDR intervened. The myth that has come down to us says that the government had to intervene when there was mass unemployment in the 1930s. But the hard data show that there was no mass unemployment until after the federal government intervened. Yet, once having intervened, it was politically impossible to stop and let the economy recover on its own. That was the fundamental problem then — and now.”

Salina’s first TIF district. The Salina Journal looks at issues surrounding that city’s first TIF district. Of note: “TIF districts are prevalent in other cities and states. For instance, Manhattan uses TIF districts so much that it no longer considers it an incentive, [Dennis Lauver, president and CEO of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce] said.”

Charles on energy and stuff. “We are making it cool to use less stuff,” says Charles, Prince of Wales, KG KT GCB OM AK QSO CD SOM PC AdC(P) FRS. Irish documentary film makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer have a new short film that looks at the activities of England’s Prince Charles as compared to what he wants the rest of us to do. Write the documentariasts: “Prince Charles is the latest to be exposed as an eco-Hypocrite in our short film series. The Prince is coming to the US this week to speak at Georgetown University about ‘sustainability’ so we decided to see just how he lives up to his own standards. We’ve made a short film that exposes just how hypocritical the Prince is as he lives a fabulous, luxury life whilst lecturing the rest of us that we have to live with less. Prince Charles — Hypocrite exposes the double standard that is at the center of so much environmentalism. … He is coming to the US to lecture on sustainability and tells people they must live with less in order to save the planet but tells us we must end our ‘age of convenience.’ He wants to make our lives more inconvenient to save the planet from alleged climate change but the Prince refuses to make any changes in his own life.”

Government and entrepreneurship. From an essay by Dane Stangler titled Entrepreneurship and Government, contained in Back on the Road to Serfdom: The Resurgence of Statism, edited by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: “The third way in which the state can intrude on entrepreneurship is through distorted incentives: either with misguided regulations or unintended consequences, the government could end up creating the wrong incentives for entrepreneurs. Will Baumol discussed such institutional incentives in a famous article in which he argued. ‘How the entrepreneur acts at a given time and place depends heavily on the rules of the game — the reward structure in the economy — that happen to prevail.’ Problems arise when these rules of the game encourage ‘unproductive’ entrepreneurial behavior. The principal example of such unproductive behavior is rent seeking, which occurs when companies pursue a bigger slick of economic activity by means other than market competition — that is, when they graduate to seeking favors from Washington rather than seeking a competitive edge by means of innovation. A company’s entreaties to government for protective action often indicate a returns curve that has already turned negative.” … While the article mentions “favors from Washington,” we can easily substitute state capitols, city halls, or county courthouses. For example, Wichita’s economic development policy is firmly rooted in the belief that the city can direct entrepreneurial activity with no wrong incentives or ill consequences. Listening to the recent summit of aviation industry leaders with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, it is apparent that this industry thrives on, and will continue to expect, large doses of incentives and special treatment and favor from government. But is the aviation industry best for the future of Wichita? While government leaders across Kansas pledge not to lose most important industry, we know it can happen (see Detroit). We have to be careful to make sure that our government policies don’t hasten this loss.

Study looks at spending, strategy in cap and trade debate

While those who advocate cap and trade legislation charge that conservatives, particularly Charles and David Koch, have outspent them, a study finds the opposite.

According to American University Professor Matthew Nisbet, in 2009 environmental groups spent $394 million on climate change and energy policy efforts such as promoting cap and trade. Opposition groups spent $259 million. Information like this helps place the reports of conservative spending, including that of Charles and David Koch, in perspective. Without this, we’re left with the one-sided reports from Greenpeace and the New Yorker magazine, in which numbers are mentioned without — or with little — context.

Nesbit’s report is Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate.

The report also looks at expenditures on lobbying. In this area, it’s less clear how much was spent lobbying for or against cap and trade legislation, as companies and organizations report their total spending on all lobbying activity, not the amount spent on specific bills. In this light, Nisbet reports that “environmental groups were able to forge a network of organizations that spent a combined $229 million on lobbying across all issues. In comparison, the network of prominent opponents of cap and trade legislation spent $272 million lobbying across all issues.”

Spending on elections is mixed. Considering contributions to members of Congress, proponents of cap and trade legislation outspent opponents. But in independent expenditures, the situation is reversed. But on Proposition 23 in California, environmental groups spent the most.

In conclusion to its chapter on spending, the report states: “… propelled by a wealthy donor base and key alliances with corporations and other organizations, the environmental movement appears to have closed the financial gap with its opponents among conservative groups and industry associations. Indeed, the effort to pass cap and trade legislation may have been the best-financed political cause in American history. The effort also demonstrates not only the vast revenue base and organizational capacity of the environmental movement, but also the movement’s enhanced ability to coordinate activities among its constituent members and to build partnerships.”

Climate Change Advocacy: Revenues, Spending, and Activities

By Matthew Nisbit

After the failure of the Senate cap and trade bill in August 2010, many commentators blamed the bill’s demise on the massive spending by fossil fuel companies, industry associations and their conservative allies. Others, however, noted that environmental groups—joined by dozens of leading companies and organizations—had devoted record amounts of financial resources in an effort to pass the bill. As an unnamed Obama administration official said about environmental groups, “They spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.”

To better understand the influence of spending in the cap and trade debate, in this chapter I review the nature, composition and funding sources of the U.S. environmental movement and compare these factors to the opposing coalition of conservative think tanks and industry associations. Then, analyzing data compiled from tax returns, annual reports, and other sources, I systematically compare the revenue and forms of spending by both sides in the debate.

Though most environmental groups are limited in how much money they can devote to direct lobbying, in the debate over cap and trade, they were able to spend heavily on efforts to educate the public and policymakers on the need for a mandatory emissions cap, hiring the country’s top political consultants. They also invested in partnerships with corporations and other organizations in a strategy aimed at counter-balancing the amount spent on lobbying by opposing industry associations and companies.

As the analysis indicates, the environmental movement has made sizable gains in closing the spending gap with their conservative and industry opponents. Indeed, the effort to pass cap and trade legislation may have been the best-financed political cause in American history. The effort also demonstrates not only the vast revenue base and organizational capacity of the environmental movement, but also the movement’s enhanced ability to coordinate activities among its constituent members and to build alliances.

Continue reading from Chapter 1 of Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate

Who benefits, loses from regulation?

A Powerline post discusses the Upton-Imhofe bill, which would bar the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. The article quotes Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as stating this bill benefits “big polluters like Koch Industries.”

But who really benefits from the regulation of greenhouse gases? First, large companies do. They are better able to absorb the costs of regulation than their smaller competitors. This is why we often see big business promoting increased regulation. It places their smaller competitors at a disadvantage. As Koch Industries is a large company, it is in a position to benefit from the proposed regulations relative to their smaller competitors. But, the company does not support the regulations.

Who will lose from increased regulation of greenhouse gases? Ultimately consumers will, but business is harmed, too. The cost of regulation causes a loss of income, which leads to less of the product (energy) being produced, and a corresponding rise in price. As energy becomes more expensive, it is low-income people that are hurt the most.

Aside from these market effects, the Powerline piece explains an entire industry that has developed to benefit from government subsidy of green energy sources and producers:

But there are, in fact, some companies that would benefit from the imposition of CO2 regulations on power plants, refineries and so on. Those companies are the ones that peddle inefficient forms of energy that cannot compete with fossil fuels absent government subsidies. Those subsidies come in two forms. The government can give money and tax breaks to inefficient energy producers like solar and wind, and it has indeed done that. However, those subsidies are relatively transparent and controversial. The second way in which government can help producers of inefficient energy is, therefore, actually better: it can make energy produced with fossil fuels more expensive by imposing needless regulations. And that is exactly what “green” — i.e., inefficient — energy producers lobby for.

And who are the green energy subsidy-seekers that benefit from increased regulation? Powerline identifies one: Thomas Steyer, a west coast hedge fund manager with investments in green energy companies. He has a personal financial motive, as Powerline describes: “As an investor who has placed a big bet on non-fossil energy, he has an obvious personal interest in the government imposing regulations that make his competitors — producers of fossil fuel energy — more expensive. In fact, without such government action, the ‘green’ projects in which he has invested are likely worthless.”

It should not be surprising that Steyer makes large campaign contributions to Democrats and is a board member of Center for American Progress, a left-wing think tank closely associated with the Obama Administration.

A case study in liberal hypocrisy

By John H. Hinderaker

On Monday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began its consideration of the Upton-Imhofe bill, which would bar the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Upton-Imhofe is critical to any effort to restore our economy, so the Democrats are against it. Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman went on a hysterical rant against the legislation:

This is dangerous legislation. Climate change is real; it is caused by pollution; and it is a serious threat to our health and welfare. We need to confront these realities, not put our head in the sand like an ostrich.

We have written about this issue many times. Climate change is “real” only in the sense that the climate is always changing. That has been true for millions of years. Climate change is not caused by pollution; history proves that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not control worldwide temperatures. Nor is global warming a serious threat to our health and welfare. Humanity has consistently thrived during warmer periods and suffered during colder ones. The Dark Ages were dark largely because they were cold.

Waxman continued:

Yet instead of promoting a clean energy future, we are pursuing this partisan bill that benefits no one except big polluters like Koch Industries.

I suppose Waxman thought he was punching his liberal ticket by mouthing the Democratic Party talking point du jour. Evidently he didn’t get the memo, and hadn’t heard that the Left has backed off on its daily attacks on Koch because those attacks were so over-the-top and so factually deficient that they made laughingstocks of the lefties who asserted them.

Continue reading at Powerline.

More left-liberal environmental hypocrisy

This time it’s Robert Redford caught in a few “do as I say, not as I do” moments. He opposes environmentally-friendly development near a vineyard he owns, as reported in the New York Times: “Robert Redford, the actor and environmental superhero, is a vocal supporter of renewable power and sustainable growth — but it seems that doesn’t include a proposal for an ecofriendly housing development in his corner of the Napa Valley.”

But if you have $1,975,000 he’ll sell you a lot for a luxury vacation home.

He campaigns against the use of oil — while at the same time being paid by United Airlines to create advertisements encouraging flying.

Filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer have put together a short film that illustrates. View it below or in glorious high-definition at Robert Redford Hypocrite.

Wind power: a wise investment for Wichita and Kansas?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Bryce explains the terrible economics now facing the wind power energy, with emphasis on T. Boone Pickens, who has made a big splash with his plans to invest in wind power. A few takeaways:

  • Pickens’ $2 billion investment in buying wind turbines has left him with “a slew of turbines he can’t use.”
  • U.S. government subsidies amount to $6.44 per million BTUs generated by wind, but natural gas costs just $4 now. These low prices may be around for years, with gas market futures contracts below $6 through 2017.
  • Even with the subsidy, gas can’t compete with wind. Wind power installations are down 72 percent in 2010 as compared to 2009. That trend is expected to continue.
  • “Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reported that property tax breaks for wind projects in the Lone Star State cost nearly $1.6 million per job.”
  • Because Canada has renewable energy mandates, Pickens hopes to sell his turbines there.

With the economics of wind power looking so grim and with $2 billion of turbines sitting around looking for a buyer, we have to question the wisdom of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer recruiting wind power companies to come to Wichita.

Incoming Kansas governor Sam Brownback is a supporter of renewable energy standards. These standards require utility companies to produce a certain level of power from renewable sources, which in Kansas is primarily wind. When Kansas electric generator Westar announced plans to increase its wind energy portfolio, Brownback said “Kansas wind is an important resource for our state that will provide clean energy for our residents and businesses and contribute to our economic growth. I applaud Westar Energy’s leadership in wind energy.”

A Wind Power Boonedoggle

T. Boone Pickens badly misjudged the supply and price of natural gas.
By Robert Bryce

After 30 months, countless TV appearances, and $80 million spent on an extravagant PR campaign, T. Boone Pickens has finally admitted the obvious: The wind energy business isn’t a very good one.

The Dallas-based entrepreneur, who has relentlessly promoted his “Pickens Plan” since July 4, 2008, announced earlier this month that he’s abandoning the wind business to focus on natural gas.

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) or at Bryce’s site (free)

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday December 2, 2010

Kansas lags in charter schools. It won’t be a surprise to regular readers of this site, but Kansas is way behind most states in taking advantage of charter schools. This is a school reform measure that, while not perfect and doesn’t succeed in all cases, provides a way to increase opportunity for often the most disadvantaged students. It also increases opportunity for those students who don’t directly use them. Paul Soutar takes a look at how Kansas earns such a poor evaluation regarding charter schools in his article Weak Charter School Law Works Against Taxpayers’ Interests.

Bureaucrats Gone Wild in Cancun. Global warming alarmists are meeting, and Americans for Prosperity is there to keep an eye on them. AFP says: “The United Nations Climate Change Conference is meeting in Cancun, Mexico from November 29 — December 10, 2010 where bureaucrats will work to transfer wealth and technology from developed to developing nations by raising the cost of traditional energy. But before these international bureaucrats get to ‘work’, they decided to throw a lavish party for themselves.” A news headline spotlighted in a video produced by AFP reads “Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in the developed world. The video is here: Bureaucrats Gone Wild in Cancun. AFP is taking its Hot Air Tour there. There are two ways to view this event: online, or by attending a watch party. There’s one in Wichita Thursday evening. Click on Hot Air Tour: Live from Cancun for more information and to register.

Obama federal employee pay freeze — or not. President Barack Obama has been praised for instituting a pay freeze for federal employees. But the freeze may not be all it seems to be. Vincent Vernuccio of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reports: “President Obama’s proposal of a pay freeze for federal employees is a small step towards curbing government spending. However, a closer look shows there is less to it than meets the eye. In fact, many federal employees will still see their salaries increased. While Obama’s plan would stop the annual across-the-board cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all federal workers, it will not stop workers from getting raises altogether. The freeze will not affect pay raises for job classification upgrades. As an official at the Office of Management and Budget told Federal News Radio, ’employees will still be eligible for step increases.'” The full analysis is at the Daily Caller in Federal workers will still receive raises despite pay freeze.

The moral case against spreading the wealth. From The Moral Case Against Spreading the Wealth by Leslie Carbone: “After two years, the results of President Obama’s wealth-spreading policies have confirmed centuries of economics, political philosophy, and common sense: Forced wealth redistribution doesn’t make things good for everybody; it makes things worse, both fiscally and morally.” Carbone explains the two reasons: Government-mandated wealth distribution does create prosperity, and it’s not a legitimate function of government. On the type of behavior we’d like to see in people, she writes: “Wealth redistribution discourages the virtuous behavior that creates wealth: hard work, saving, investment, personal responsibility.” After explaining other problems that progressive taxation — wealth redistribution — causes, she sounds a note of optimism: “Through Tea Parties and popular protests, millions of Peters and Pauls, and Joe the Plumbers are rejecting what F.A. Hayek so aptly called the fatal conceit of paternalistic government. Decades of federal expansion have demonstrated what history, economics, philosophy, and common sense have told us all along: People, working through the market, are the engines of prosperity, both moral and financial — but only if we get government out of their way.” Leslie Carbone is the author of Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform. That book expands on the ideas presented in this article.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 30, 2010

AFP to host climate conference event. This week the United Nations Climate Change Conference meets in Cancun, and Americans for Prosperity is taking its Hot Air Tour there. There are two ways to view this event: online, or by attending a watch party. There’s one in Wichita Thursday evening. Click on Hot Air Tour: Live from Cancun for more information and to register.

Christmas organ concert tomorrow. On Wednesday December first, Wichita State University Organ Professor Lynne Davis will present the First Annual Christmas Organ Concert. This event is part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. Tomorrow’s program includes voice with Paul Smith, theater organ with Jim Riggs, and Christmas carols. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes, although this special performance is scheduled to last 45 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University.

Free exchange of ideas and gunfire at universities. Today’s Wichita Eagle carries a letter by a university teacher opposing the carrying of concealed guns on college campuses. One point the teacher makes is “And, ultimately, I don’t believe that universities can continue to foster the free exchange of ideas once they have been reconstituted as free-fire zones.” This idea, that concealed carry results in “free-fire” hasn’t been noticed, at least in Kansas. A Wichita Eagle article from last year, when the Kansas concealed carry law had been in effect for three years, reports no problems with the law. Firefights have not erupted in our streets as the result of the concealed carry law.

Charter school praised, then denied. The Center for Education Reform reports on how difficult it can be to start a charter school in some states: “You’d think that 1,600 pages of meticulously crafted curriculum, staffing, school philosophy and financial planning would at least give a prospective charter school a fighting chance. Not in Frederick County, MD. Being well prepared — not to mention a more than worthy option for local parents — just means that the education establishment will sharpen their swords even more to see that you are not approved to enter ‘their space.’ Last night, the Frederick County School Board unanimously voted to block the creation of the Frederick Classical Charter School, a school that would have offered kids there a real alternative and a classically based education. Though opposition heaped praise on the proposal, they did so as they cemented their arguments against it. And they did it just because — because they felt threatened, because they were working in their own best interest, and because they could. Maryland’s charter law is so weak (it has earned a ‘D’ in CER’s latest rankings — stay tuned) that only an overhaul will level the playing field for future options in areas outside Baltimore and more enlightened districts such as Prince George’s County.” More coverage is at Give charter a chance. Maryland, with a “D” grade for its charter school law, is better off than Kansas, which received an “F” from the same organization. It’s why few in Kansas try to start charter schools. The struggle in Kansas has even been reported on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, and in response a letter writer described the charter school laws in Kansas as “pseudo charter laws that still give local districts the power to block new schools.”

Solution to Kansas school funding. Wichita’s Brent Davis offers commentary on his blog about Kansas school spending and its advocates: “School funding advocates like superintendent Morton of Newton are clearly biased since they directly benefit from increased taxation for schools and yet there is no direct correlation in any available data of economic growth trending with educational expenditure.” Davis is in the education industry, so his opinion should be given consideration. The full article is on his blog at The Solution to Kansas’ Ed Funding Paradox.

Kansas school landscape. In an Insight Kansas editorial as presented at State of the State Kansas, Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje lays out the landscape of Kansas school finance and the surrounding politics. “In sum, the education article [of the Kansas Constitution] and related court action have moved duly elected state lawmakers — the governor and the legislature — to the sidelines in governing and financing public schools. Any agenda for educational reform will be subject to the liking of the state’s educational establishment and state court judges. Most state and local board members, school superintendents, public school teachers, and the statewide associations representing these interests, not to mention school finance litigators, prefer it this way.” He also — correctly in my opinion — forecasts a dim future for meaningful school reform in Kansas: “Evidence suggests this alliance will be slow to move on reform initiatives shaping the future of public schools, such as charter schools, merit pay, student assessment, and revision of school finance, among other issues.” … While incoming governor Sam Brownback has a plan for education reform in Kansas, it seems mostly focused on revising the school finance formula and a host of minor issues. Important reforms like charters schools and teacher merit pay seem to be missing from consideration at this time.

Tiahrt hearts committeeman position. According to the Kansas City Star’s prime buzz blog, outgoing Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt wants to swap positions with incoming Congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been a Kansas Republican national committeeman. According to the post: “Tiahrt said his chief motive for seeking the office is to ensure that Kansas Tea Partiers have a say. ‘I just want to make sure that when it comes to new ideas, the Republican Party doesn’t become the party of old, stodgy ideas, and that we are very receptive to this new movement and the ideas they bring.'”

Global warming alarmism: the money motive

The motives of global warming alarmists, who insist that mankind must ratchet back economic progress in order to save the earth’s climate: Are these motives pure and scientific, or are there other forces in play?

Many have suspected that the global warming battle is more a war against capitalism than anything else. Now new information is revealed that reinforces these suspicions. As Investor’s Business Daily tells it: “Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change (say that twice), told the Neue Zurcher Zeitung last week: ‘The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.’ After all, redistributing global wealth is no small matter.”

The Climate Cash Cow

Investor’s Business Daily

Hoaxes: A high-ranking member of the U.N.’s Panel on Climate Change admits the group’s primary goal is the redistribution of wealth and not environmental protection or saving the Earth.

Money, they say, is the root of all evil. It’s also the motivating force behind what is left of the climate change movement after the devastating Climate-gate and IPCC scandals that saw the deliberate manipulation of scientific data to spur the world into taking draconian regulatory action.

Left for dead, global warm-mongers are busy planning their next move, which should occur at a climate conference in relatively balmy Cancun at month’s end. Certainly it should provide a more appropriate venue for discussing global warming than the site of the last failed climate conference — chilly Copenhagen.

Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change (say that twice), told the Neue Zurcher Zeitung last week: “The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.” After all, redistributing global wealth is no small matter.

Edenhofer let the environmental cat out of the bag when he said “climate policy is redistributing the world’s wealth” and that “it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization.”

Continue reading at Investor’s Business Daily.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 17, 2010

Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate — another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices — and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than some other Senate Democrats — and some Republicans such as Senate President Steve Morris, for that matter. Lee’s replacement will be selected by the Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen in that senate district.

Saving is good. A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle holds this observation: “Rich people don’t spend money in hard times. Give them a tax break, and they will stash it away. That’s why they are rich.” This letter contains a misconception that news media mistakenly repeats over and over: that consumer spending is good and saving is bad. What happens to savings — the “stash it away” the letter writer refers to? Few people stuff cash in the mattress or in a safe. Instead, they do several things with they money they decide not to spend on immediate consumption, which is the definition of savings. If put it in a bank, the bank lends it to others who will spend it. If used to pay down debt, that frees up funds for others to spend. If used to buy stocks and bonds, that provides funds for business to invest. Importantly, these funds usually go into increasing the nation’s stock of capital. This capital spending is especially desirable, as it supports current economic activity — that is, the people and companies that work today to produce capital goods — but it sets up the country to produce even more wealth in the future.

Voters express pessimism. Consistent with other recent Rasmussen polls, voters are not optimistic that Congress will be able to accomplish very much in the next two years. See Voters Hold Little Hope for What New Congress Is Likely To Achieve.

KDOT seeks public comment on public involvement policy. This seems almost like circular reasoning, but the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks public comment on a document titled “Sharing the Future — Public Involvement in the Kansas Transportation System.” The document — all 113 pages — may be found on this page. Comments should be directed to Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Involvement, 700 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, 66603-3754, (785) 296-3526, fax (785) 368-6664, or maggiet@ksdot.org.

Texas stimulus spending — not. Texas Watchdog takes a look at federal stimulus spending in Texas and finds some disturbing results. An example: “A closer look at spending by each agency shows wild differences in the amount of money spent and the number of jobs created. At least eight agencies have reported spending $500,000 or more for every job claimed. In the case of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, its $883,993 per job is an estimate because more than a year after it was awarded nearly $8 million for a statewide library broadband upgrade project, nothing has been spent and none of its projected nine employees have been hired.”

Who stole Election Day? A candidate for Maine governor wonders whether the rise of advance voting — “convenience voting,” he calls it — is good for the country. Besides meeting a voter who expressed regret in having already voted for his opponent, Eliot Cutler writes this of convenience voting: “At a time when sea changes are roiling our democracy, political parties are in decline, and public confidence in the political system is plummeting, convenience voting is having all the wrong effects. In Maine, at least, it appears to be discouraging voter engagement, providing life support to withering political parties, and undermining one of our most enduring and important institutions.” More in the Wall Street Journal at Who Stole Election Day? Too many voters are making decisions when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven’t taken place.

Adapt, don’t overreact to climate change. Bjorn Lomborg — The Skeptical Environmentalist — of the Copenhagen Consensus Center argues in the pages of the Washington Post that mankind has shown that it can adapt to climate change. This record, he argues, means we should not panic about climate change. We can afford a long-term perspective: “… when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change, we’ve compiled a pretty impressive track record. While this doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore climate change, it provides a powerful reason not to panic about it either.” He cites the example of the Netherlands: “Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Concluding, he writes: “[adaption] will enable us to get by while we figure out the best way to address the root causes of man-made climate change. This may not seem like much, but at a time when fears of a supposedly imminent apocalypse threaten to swamp rational debate about climate policy, it’s worth noting that coping with climate change is something we know how to do. ”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 21, 2010

Honest journalist too much for NPR. Juan Williams has been fired by National Public Radio. His offense: He spoke in a not-politically-correct way about Muslims. On Monday’s O’Reilly Factor Williams said: “But when I get on a plane — I got to tell you — if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” According to Williams, NPR said this is a bigoted remark that “crossed the line.” Across all forms of media, this is sure to be a big issue. Williams is an accomplished journalist and reporter who has written many books on civil rights in America. He has been critical of established black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Williams will appear on The O’Reilly Factor tonight, with the Fox News promotion teasing “Is he the first victim of George Soros’s new war on Fox News?”

Star recommends retaining judges. The Kansas City Star recommends retaining all judges on the ballot in Kansas. The newspaper evidently didn’t take into account or give much weight to the admonishment of Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss over an ethics issue. The Star supports the elitest system of judicial selection in Kansas, where lawyers have much more input than do ordinary citizens.

How the right wing echo chamber works. Here’s another instance of left-wing journalists and bloggers claiming to have discovered something that sits in plain sight. Allegations of existence of an “echo chamber” sound sensational and sinister. The left has these, too, as documented in Politico. If you’ve followed some of the attacks on Koch Industries this year, you’re aware that there is a network of websites and blogs that cut-and-paste the same material for wide distribution. This left-wing echo chamber exists in the mainstream media too, when publications like the Wichita Eagle relies on ThinkProgress and the New York Times editorial page for evidence criticizing Jerry Moran on climate change. Who are these sources the Eagle relies on? ThinkProgress is a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of convicted inside trader George Soros. And the New York Times editorial page is, well the New York Times editorial page — enough said.

You — not me — should sacrifice. Another global warming alarmist revealed as a hypocrite. “A Youtube film, released by Irish documentary film makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, has revealed the shocking hypocrisy of James Cameron, the director of Avatar. The film shows that Cameron, who has publicly stated that ‘we are all going to have to live with less,’ has continued a lifestyle of extravagant consumption. Cameron, yesterday, announced he was donating $1m to oppose California’s Prop 23. Prop 23 will suspend Global Warming legislation and is being bitterly opposed by environmentalists. Supporters of Prop 23 say that if it is defeated California will lose jobs because of an increase in energy prices.” The video is just over two minutes long and may be viewed by clicking on James Cameron — Hypocrite.

Most expect local tax increases. Rasmussen: “A sizable majority of Americans say their states are now having major budget problems, and they think spending cuts, not higher taxes, are the solution. But most expect their taxes to be raised in the next year anyway.” More at Most Expect State or Local Tax Hikes In the Next Year.

Texas vs. California. “In Texas, the payroll count is back to prerecession levels. California is nearly 1.5 million jobs in the hole. Why such a difference? Chalk it up to taxes, regulation and attitude, says Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).” Summary at NCPA: A Trenchant Tale of Two States .

Email spam spreads to Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the first person to receive something like this, but the well-known Nigerian fraudulent schemes that for many years have used regular email have now spread to Facebook messages. Today I was notified by “barrister James Mawulom a solicitor at law” that a man with my same surname had died in Africa, and I am due to receive a lot of money.

New York Times’ criticism of Koch Industries

The anti-human agenda of the New York Times is on full display in its criticism of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries regarding a contribution to the campaign against the AB32 ballot measure in California.

To the Times, the question of man-made global warming and its purported harm is fully settled. Anyone who questions this is labeled a crank — or worse.

Slowly but surely, the contradictions of the global warming alarmists are being revealed. Writing in the Washington Times, Richard Rahn points out the conflict of interest inherent in many of the global warming alarmists:

It is also true that more environmental scientists say that global warming is a problem than not. But if you omit from your sample all of those environmental scientists who are on a government tab — salary or research grant — and those relatively few environmental scientists who are on the tab of an oil company or some other vested private industry, you are likely to have a much smaller ratio between those who agree versus those who disagree about global warming. If you are a professor at a state university and write a research paper showing that global warming is not a problem, how long do you think your government funding will remain?

In the case of the New York Times, a crusade against energy fits right in with its hatred of capitalism and the freedom that inexpensive energy gives to millions of Americans with modest incomes. If you’re the typical Times reader, you don’t have to worry much about the cost of energy. But for most Americans, the cost of energy is very important.

Inexpensive energy — which the Times opposes — is essential to our standard of living and its continued advancement. As economist George Reisman has written, we need to consider “the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming.” This is a balance that global warming alarmists don’t consider. Or if they do, they come out against human progress in favor of something else.

The types of carbon emission controls and reductions advocated by the Times would lead to — in Reisman’s words again — “the end of further economic progress and the onset of economic retrogression.” Summing up, he writes: “Global warming is not a threat. But environmentalism’s response to it is.”

This is why we should be thankful that Charles and David Koch have been active in the global warming debate. Koch Industries‘ position on this issue is given on their website KochFacts.com:

A free society and the scientific method require an open, honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. Because it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy, we have tried to help highlight the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed.

Kansas coal plant public hearings

This week the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will hold public hearings on the expansion of the coal-fired steam electricity generating unit at Holcomb. This plant became controversial when KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby denied a permit on the basis of the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions. That was the first time a permit had been denied for that reason.

While former Governor Kathleen Sebelius opposed the plant, one of the first things new Governor Mark Parkinson did last year was to negotiate a permit for a smaller plant than had been originally requested.

According to a KDHE news release, here is the schedule for hearings:

Overland Park: Monday, August 2 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at Blue Valley Northwest High School, 135th and Switzer, Overland Park

Salina: Wednesday, August 4 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at Highway Patrol Training Center Auditorium, 2025 East Iron, Salina.

Garden City: Thursday, August 5 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at 801 Campus Drive, Garden City

Written comments may be submitted before August 15 by email to sunflowercomments@kdheks.gov, or in writing to: KDHE Bureau of Air, Attn.: Sunflower Comments, 1000 S.W. Jackson, Suite 310, Topeka, KS 66612-1366 or presented at the hearing.

The Climategate Whitewash Continues

Last year’s disclosure of email correspondence between climate scientists was a wake-up call to the world. The emails showed leading climate scientists exhibiting “professional misconduct, data manipulation and jiggering of both the scientific literature and climatic data.”

Since then, there have been several reviews of this episode, each finding there was no untoward behavior by the scientists. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Patrick J. Michaels takes a look at these reviews and finds that their purported independence is not as advertised.

The Climategate Whitewash Continues

Global warming alarmists claim vindication after last year’s data manipulation scandal. Don’t believe the ‘independent’ reviews.

Last November there was a world-wide outcry when a trove of emails were released suggesting some of the world’s leading climate scientists engaged in professional misconduct, data manipulation and jiggering of both the scientific literature and climatic data to paint what scientist Keith Briffa called “a nice, tidy story” of climate history. The scandal became known as Climategate.

Now a supposedly independent review of the evidence says, in effect, “nothing to see here.” Last week “The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review,” commissioned and paid for by the University of East Anglia, exonerated the University of East Anglia. The review committee was chaired by Sir Muir Russell, former vice chancellor at the University of Glasgow.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

Global warming to be topic at Wichita presentation

This Friday (June 11) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Mike Smith, C.C.M. of WeatherData Services, Inc. as its guest presenter. His topic will be “An Atmospheric Scientist Looks at Global Warming.” I have seen this presentation, and it is very informative and should not be missed.

This special presentation will end at 1:15 pm instead of the usual 1:00 pm ending time.

All are welcome to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.

The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). You may park in the garage (enter west side of Broadway between Douglas and First Streets) and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. The Petroleum Club will stamp your parking ticket and the fee will be only $1.00. Or, there is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.

Greenpeace climate change extremists are hot on the trail

Climate change — its reality (or not) and man’s response to it — is an important topic and deserves serious discussion. The actions of one of the most prominent and vocal groups promoting a radical global warming agenda, however, aren’t fostering greater understanding of the issue, much less an informed debate.

Last month’s attack on Koch Industries by Greenpeace used misleading information and exaggerated claims of uncovering purportedly “secret” information to advance its agenda.

As people become aware of the shaky foundation of the climate science promoted by groups like Greenpeace, we can expect more attacks like this recent report. Groups that promote an extremist view of climate science as does Greenpeace need to deflect attention from the facts. Personal attacks are one way to accomplish this.

Another example of this deflection using personal attacks, and one that does nothing to advance debate or discussion, came from Greenpeace yesterday. Greenpeace has labeled Charles and David Koch “climate criminals,” and has produced a video of an “investigator” sniffing around New York City trying to find David Koch. While productions like this can be amusing or funny — although this attempt fails in both regards — it does succeed in deflecting attention from the really important issues and facts.

Deflecting attention is one thing. Presenting false information is another matter, and far more serious. The video ends with an enactment of a crime scene of a dead polar bear, implying that man-made global warming is killing polar bears. The reality is just the opposite.

If Greenpeace was interested in facts rather than scoring quick and easy points through character assassination, it might note that Koch Industries has a good, and improving, environmental record. The Koch and the Environment page tells of Koch Industries’ commitment to the environment, and lists awards the company has received.

There are examples of specific, industry-leading improvements, too. At Flint Hills Resources, a Koch company engaged in oil refining and chemicals, refinery emissions have been reduced in recent years. The company ranks in the best ten companies in the industry, with emissions 85 percent less than that of companies in the bottom ten.

Facts like these don’t fit Greenpeace’s agenda, so we’re not likely to see them reported.

Greenpeace report on Koch Industries criticized

Last week’s report on Koch Industries by Greenpeace has sparked a bit of critical discussion beyond the usual news coverage.

At Reason.com, the underwhelming nature of the report’s revelations is noted: “The Greenpeace noise machine managed to persuade the Guardian to publish a ‘shocking’ article detailing the amazing fact that donors tend to support groups that advocate points of view with which they generally agree.”

The article also notes the tremendous amount of money given to causes purported to support environmental issues: “In 1999, individuals, companies and foundations gave an average of $9.6 million a day to environmental groups.”

To place that number in context, Greenpeace is creating an issue over Koch donations of $25 million given over three years.

A Scientific American article contains a statement from Cato Institute (an organization that receives Koch funding) founder and President Edward Crane that shows how Greenpeace is deflecting attention from the real issue:

“I’m concerned that Greenpeace appears to be more interested in our funding sources than in the accuracy of the research that is being funded,” he added. “Climategate (not to mention peer-reviewed publications) would vindicate that accuracy.”

Curiously, that article finds it necessary to use apologetic quotation marks when mentioning the term “free market,” as though this concept is something readers of that publication may not have been exposed to, or may not believe exists.

In the article Greenpeace Report : Koch brothers and Exxon deserve medals at Mens News Daily, we see that we ought to be offering thanks: “If Charles and David Koch and ExxonMobil are playing even a fraction of the part in public education as Greenpeace claims, then we owe them our thanks.”

In Global Warming: Who’s funding the fight?, Environmental Policy Examiner notes the Koch’s long-time support for free markets and institutions that support economic freedom: “The Greenpeace story doesn’t mention how long Koch (and Exxon, for that matter) have been funding organizations like this. That’s because their funding predates any controversy about global warming.”

In a later article on the same site, author Thomas Fuller looks at an example of the exaggerated claims made in the Greenpeace report:

Greenpeace calls the Manhattan Institute a “climate denialist” organization because they hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years. So they are sliming Koch Industries for providing some funding to the Manhattan Institute, whose “climate crime” is hosting Bjorn Lomborg. They say Lomborg “challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.” …

Greenpeace appears to have lost its collective mind. Lomborg is not a denialist. He understands climate change and anthropogenic contributions to it. He supports actions to alleviate it. He just doesn’t agree with Greenpeace on specific policies. His real sin, in the eyes of Greenpeace, is that he wants us to remember the other problems facing this planet, such as poverty and disease. But it is absolutely straight jacket insane to call him a “denialist.”

Greenpeace attack on Koch Industries exaggerates, misleads

This week’s release of a report by the extremist environmental group Greenpeace on Wichita-based Koch Industries contains claims that exaggerate the nature of the information contained in the report. These over-hyped “findings” are used to advance Greenpeace’s global warming alarmist agenda, but should give us cause to examine Greenpeace and its agenda.

The title of the report — “Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” is the first exhibit. The peculiar use of the term “climate denial” — used in the report’s title and repeated many times in the report — makes it look as though the organizations named in the report deny the existence of climate itself, which is, of course, nonsense. Even the term “climate science denial,” which is also used, is misleading. We’ve seen in recent years the shaky foundation on which modern climate science rests — at least the science cited by environmental extremists and global warming alarmists like Greenpeace.

The accusatory language used in the report and its accompanying promotional materials — “secretly funding,” “quietly funneled,” “expose the connections,” — is misleading in two ways. First, it accuses Koch Industries and Koch Family Foundations of attempting to hide connections to the organizations named in the report. But these connections are not hidden. Instead, they are widely known.

For example, David Koch’s biography on the Koch Industries website notes that he serves on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, and that he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The role of Charles Koch in the founding of the Cato Institute is widely known as a matter of history and is mentioned in documents on Cato’s website.

Second — and here’s where Greenpeace really exaggerates — the information the Greenpeace report characterizes as “uncovered” can be found by reading IRS form 990 documents. These are freely available at several locations such as Guidestar. They show how charitable foundations spend money, including contributions made to the organizations named in the Greenpeace report.

It’s not just the Greenpeace report itself that is way over-the-top in its sensationalism. Personal attacks are used too, as when a Greenpeace blog writes about the Kochs: “They are the dons of a massive climate crime family.” This type of demonization doesn’t help advance debate.

Then there’s the report’s accusation that a conservative “echo chamber” exists to spread misinformation about climate change — as though such things don’t exist among left-wing organizations like Greenpeace itself.

We must first recognize that the claims made in the Greenpeace report about climate science are far from settled, and that many scientists disagree with Greenpeace’s views. Many would say the report itself is full of misinformation about the state of climate science. For example, Greenpeace claims that the “ClimateGate” emails from last November casts no doubt on the scientific consensus regarding climate change.

As to charges of an echo chamber, the accompanying material to the report encourages the very type of “echoing” that the report denounces. It suggests a hashtag (a method of categorizing or tagging communications) to use on Twitter, for example. And it encourages linking the word “Koch” to the report: “Put up as many links as you can, everywhere and anywhere you can put up links. Help us make sure that when someone Googles ‘Koch,’ the top search result will be our report.”

This blatant push by Greenpeace to create the appearance of interest in the report is ironic when we realize the report accuses groups like Americans for Prosperity of “Astroturfing” — the alleged effort to create a false impression of grass roots interest in an issue or cause.

We have to wonder what Greenpeace is trying to accomplish with this report. The exaggerated claims of uncovering previously “hidden” information, the insistence that only Greenpeace’s radical global warming agenda is correct and everyone else is wrong, the character assassination of Charles and David Koch — all this should lead us to seriously question the credibility of Greenpeace.

Update: Greenpeace report on Koch Industries criticized.

Greenpeace report aims to stifle debate on climate science

Wichita’s Koch Industries has come under attack from an environmental extremist organization for its support of open debate and dialog about the science of climate change.

A report issued by Greenpeace uses inflammatory language and a one-sided view of the facts surrounding climate change in order to attack those it disagrees with. This comes at a time when scientists and the public are becoming increasingly skeptical of the claims of extremist organizations like Greenpeace — and with good reason, too.

Revelations such as the emails from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, for example, have peeled back the veneer and revealed extremists who have more than the pure pursuit of science as their agenda. This Greenpeace report is another example.

As an example of the way the report presents facts in an attempt to make its case, here is the report’s criticism of one public policy foundation that received Koch funding: “… [it] has hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years. Lomborg is a prominent media spokesperson who challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.”

To thinking people who value open discussion of issues — rather than wholesale and uncritical acceptance of environmental extremism — providing a forum for Lomborg (author of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming) is a good thing to have done. We need institutions such as Americans for Prosperity, The Cato Institute, and The Heritage Foundation to provide balance to mainstream media that has bought in — emphatically and largely uncritically — to global warming alarmism.

There are those who have broken free from groups like Greenpeace, and the remarks of one give us insight into the true nature of these groups. Patrick Moore, who at one time was President of Greenpeace Foundation in Canada, has said this on the environmental extremists’ need to continually invent disasters: “At the beginning, the environmental movement had reason to say that the end of the world is nigh, but most of the really serious problems have been dealt with. Now it’s almost as though the environmental movement has to invent doom and gloom scenarios.”

Moore shows that he totally understands the harm of radical environmental groups like Greenpeace: “The environmental movement has evolved into the strongest force there is for preventing development in the developing countries. I think it’s legitimate for me to call them anti-human.”

This reveals the true anti-human, anti-progress agenda of environmental extremist groups like Greenpeace. They deny the tremendous progress and benefit to humans that industrialization — propelled by capitalism wherever it is allowed to thrive — has produced. They don’t want to let the debate and discussion proceed.

Koch Industries has provided this response to the Greenpeace report:

In a consistent, principled effort for more than 50 years — long before climate change was a key policy issue — Koch companies and Koch foundations have worked to advance economic freedom and market-based policy solutions to challenges faced by society. These efforts are about creating more opportunity and prosperity for all, as it’s a historical fact that economic freedom best fosters innovation, environmental protection and improved quality of life in a society.

The Greenpeace report mischaracterizes these efforts and distorts the environmental record of our companies. Koch companies have long supported science-based inquiry and dialogue about climate change and proposed responses to it. Koch companies have put tremendous effort into discovering and adopting innovative practices that reduce energy use and emissions in the manufacture and distribution of our products.

We believe the political response to climate issues should be based on sound science. Both a free society and the scientific method require an open and honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. We have tried to help bring out the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed to deal with climate, as it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for January 25, 2010.

Kansas Republicans and Democrats agree Massachusetts upset could benefit Kansans

(Kansas Liberty) “Republican Senatorial candidate Scott Brown made history last night when he defeated Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in the election for Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts seat. Kansas Republicans are lining up to proclaim how this victory could signal a change in the tide for the Democratic Party and for the Democrats health care plans.”

Rally members frustrated by mainstream media coverage

(Kansas Liberty) “Last Friday, approximately 400 liberty-minded Kansans flocked to the Statehouse to support a Senate Concurrent Resolution that claims state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The resolution serves notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates, provides that certain federal legislation should be prohibited or repealed, and it directs distribution of the resolution to Congress and the President. … According to legislators and organization members who were present at the rally, the grassroots support for the amendment was substantial, but many of the mainstream media outlets painted a watered down picture of the outpouring of support. Several reports also focused in on the sole opponent who testified during the hearing, an educator at Wichita Collegiate School, which is a private K-12 school.”

New coalition plotting to lobby legislators for tax increases

(Kansas Liberty) “Roughly a dozen tax-increase advocacy groups have banned together to form the Kansans for Quality Communities Coalition. According to its mission statement the organization’s key goal is to ‘ensure the prosperity of Kansas communities through the responsible investment of taxpayer dollars.’ To achieve this goal the group is heavily lobbying for tax increases, an action already sanctioned by Democratic leaders, including Gov. Mark Parkinson.”

AG Six requests Kansas Supreme Court to refrain from reopening Montoy case

(Kansas Liberty) “Attorney General Steve Six has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to deny the Schools for Fair Funding coalition’s request to reopen the Montoy v. State of Kansas lawsuit. “The Court in 2006 issued its mandate directing the district court to dismiss the case, and on the stipulation of all parties, the district court did so,’ Six said in a statement issued to the Kansas Supreme Court yesterday. ‘This case is over.’ Six referred to the request as ‘unprecedented’ and said that it ‘achieves no efficiencies, and is merely an attempt to circumvent the procedures for initiating new cases.'”

Kansas Senator Chris Steiniger on County Consolidation and His New Campaign

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Senator Chris Steiniger (D) talks about county consolidation and his recent announcement to run for Secretary of State.”

Legislators Speak at Energy Conference in Wichita

(State of the State KS) “House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) and Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn (R) spoke at an energy panel hosted by City of Wichita’s Dale Goter.” Full video of the conference is at Wichita Energy Conference Legislative Panel .

ProPublica predicts insolvency for Kansas’ unemployment insurance fund

(Kansas Watchdog) “Propublica, a national independent non-profit investigative journalism organization, on Wednesday reported that two dozen states have unemployment funds in the red, with nine more to be in the red within six months.”

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance won’t affect Kansas much

(Kansas Watchdog) “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that businesses and unions may spend freely on political campaigns, but this ruling only affects federal races in Kansas. ‘It won’t affect us at all’ was the response from Carol Williams, the executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. Williams said that 24 states had corporate and union contribution bans but Kansas did not.”

Wichita Chamber Will Lobby Against Income Tax

(Kansas Watchdog) “The Wichita Business Journal reported in today’s edition that the Wichita Chamber of Commerce is beginning what will likely be a multi-year effort to repeal the personal and business income taxes in Kansas.”

Furlough idea for legislators is dropped

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Furloughs for the Kansas Legislature are off the table until late in the legislative session, at the earliest, state Senate President Stephen Morris said.”

More budget cuts would hurt Kansas for years, tax backers say

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas school children, the state’s elderly and its most fragile citizens simply cannot afford any more state budget cuts, proponents of a proposed one-percent sales tax increase told a Kansas House tax policy committee Thursday.”

School’s reserves total at least $1.4 billion

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – In the fight over school funding, both sides agree that school districts in Kansas are sitting on at least $1.4 billion in cash reserves. The battle over whether that money is available to spend played out during two competing presentations Thursday morning in front of the House Appropriations Committee.”

Kansans speculate on future of federal health reform

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The shockwaves emanating from Republican Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday are being felt beyond the Bay state and Washington, D.C. They’re registering in state capitals across the country, including Topeka.”

Senate GOP leaders say some tax increases will be necessary

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – Senate leaders today said a combination of tax increases and spending cuts would be the best way to balance the state budget. Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he thought a plan to close sales tax exemptions and increase the tobacco tax could win legislative approval as lawmakers try to close a projected $400 million budget gap. Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, said balancing the budget solely with more spending cuts would be ‘catastrophic.'”

Global Warming: Hoax or Reality?

Wichita geophysicist Dennis Hedke will appear at two forums at Johnson County Community College on February 3 that will explore the topic of climate change. The documentary film Not Evil Just Wrong — the antidote to Al Gore and global warming extremism — will be shown, too. My review of this film is at ‘Not Evil Just Wrong’ a powerful refutation of Al Gore, environmental extremism. Following is a press release announcing the event.

From 12 noon to 2:30 pm on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 , a forum will be conducted in the Craig Community Auditorium (GEB 233) regarding the controversial issue of Global Warming/Climate Change and the impact the outcome of this debate could have on future energy policy, legislation and costs. The same forum will be repeated again from 6:30 to 9:00 pm in GEB 233. The featured speaker will be Dennis Hedke who is a Partner in the firm Hedke-Saenger Geoscience, Ltd., based in Wichita, KS. He is engaged in consulting assignments both nationally and internationally. He has long been involved in research related to the earth’s climate, and the efficient delivery of energy. His research encompasses a broad range of issues across the geopolitical spectrum. Following his introductory comments, there will be a viewing of the documentary “Not Evil, Just Wrong” which addresses the numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations contained in Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. One of the Producers of the documentary, Ann McElhinney, will be available as part of a panel to take questions after the viewing. Mr. Hedke, radio talk show host Chris Stigall and members of an environmental group with an opposing point of view will also be on the panel.   For questions, contact Jerry Magliano at 913-530-1761.

‘The Audacity of Hypocricy’ in Wichita

The Great American Forum hosts another event: “Come hear our panelists discuss the failed policies of the first year of the Obama Administration, and common-sense solutions to fixing our country! The topics will be: Homeland Security & Defense (Ben Sauceda), Cap & Trade (Rick Macias), Healthcare (Kenya Cox), and Economics (Brandon Rudkin). There will be a question and answer period.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at Rhatigan Student Center Room 215 at Wichita State University.

Wall Street Journal guide to climate change

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is one of the most valuable resources for information on economics and politics. A while back the Journal launched The WSJ Guide to ObamaCare. Now there’s a guide to Journal editorials and op-eds on climate change available at The Wall Street Journal Guide to Climate Change.

Here are a few samples:

Writing about the hacked emails, Rigging a Climate ‘Consensus’ states: “The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.”

In The Climate Change Climate Change: “Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation. If you haven’t heard of this politician, it’s because he’s a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country’s carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming”

In Don’t Count on ‘Countless’ Green Jobs: “If the green-jobs claim sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There’s an unavoidable problem with renewable-energy technologies: From an economic standpoint, they’re big losers. Renewables simply cannot produce the large volumes of useful, reliable energy that our economy needs at attractive prices, which is exactly why government subsidizes them.”

In An Inconvenient Democracy: “With cap and trade blown apart in the Senate, the White House has chosen to impose taxes and regulation across the entire economy under clean-air laws that were written decades ago and were never meant to apply to carbon. With this doomsday machine activated, Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish what persuasion and debate among his own party manifestly cannot. This reckless ‘endangerment finding’ is a political ultimatum: The many Democrats wary of levelling huge new costs on their constituents must surrender, or else the EPA’s carbon police will inflict even worse consequences.”

Climate change information site launched by Wichita geophysicist

Wichita Geophysicist Dennis Hedke has compiled a great deal of useful information that he uses in making presentations on the science, economics, and politics of climate change and global warming alarmism.

Now he’s compiled his material and made it available on his new website HeadOnIssues.org.

Hedke says in the site’s introductory message to readers: “Most, if not virtually all of the data presented comes from very high quality outside sources. I have simply accessed it and in some cases ‘interpreted’ it, though much of it is self-explanatory. … And, yes this is a ‘poltical’ website. There has never been a time like the present to be involved in the political process, and I hope you will take the time and effort to become engaged, avoiding apathy.”

Don’t forfeit Kansas’ economic future to the United Nations

By Phil Kerpen and Derrick Sontag

The global warming debate is at a crossroads. With a skeptical American public already rising up against a cap-and-trade scheme that would send energy prices through the roof, a whistleblower at the influential Climate Research Unit revealing that the temperature data used to make the case for global warming was badly manipulated, predictions of yet another cold winter, and the fact it has been nearly a decade since global temperatures stopped rising.

India and China have suggested they might agree to increase their emissions at a slightly slower rate, but that’s it, and would still put the U.S. at a huge competitive disadvantage. Developing countries in the Third World are willing to get on board, but only if they get staggering wealth transfers from U.S. taxpayers.

In the face of all this, President Obama is expected to stop by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — on the way home from picking up his Noble Peace Prize in Norway — to commit the United States to a path of emissions reductions that will, in his own words, cause energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket,” as if nothing had changed at all and global warming remained the world’s most pressing problem.

The world is starting to come to grips with the limits of the American president’s rhetoric, but Obama has yet to face this reality. During his goodwill tour of Asia last month, Obama stood with Chinese President Hu Jintao and promised to “rally the world” toward a binding global agreement on global warming — a Kyoto II — in Copenhagen.

Obama followed up his Chinese appearance by announcing he would attend the conference in person. He plans to tell the world America is “politically committed” to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Those happen to be the reduction levels in the cap-and-trade bill passed by the House, but surely the president knows from his brief stint in Congress that he can’t commit the country to doing such a thing without a vote in the Senate.

The more the American people learn about cap-and-trade — and what it will mean for their jobs, communities and family budgets — the less they like it. Here in Kansas, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers, it would mean the price of gasoline would increase 24 percent, electricity by 64 percent, and natural gas by 77 percent. We would stand to lose twenty-nine thousand Kansas jobs by 2030.

Obama, it seems, is more interested in pleasing adoring crowds in Europe than blocking a policy that would slam Kansans with huge costs. But these huge price impacts create problems abroad, too. Australia’s Senate rejected cap-and-trade last week. China and India can accept some efficiency measures, but certainly cannot risk disrupting economic growth. It looks increasingly clear that the most likely result from Copenhagen will be a lot of sweeping rhetoric about progress, a commitment to meet again next year in Mexico City, and no agreement of any substance.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t lessen the anger for the American people because the Obama administration is doing more than making promises abroad. They are actually taking active steps to circumvent the Senate and implement policies that outsource our economic future the United Nations. Under the direction of White House Climate Czar Carol Browner, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to unleash on onslaught of greenhouse gas regulations through a twisted interpretation of the 1970 Clean Air Act, leaning on the United Nations climate reports that depend, in turn, on the now-discredited temperature data from the Climate Research Unit.

Americans for Prosperity will be there in Copenhagen to tell the real story of what is at stake: our country’s economic future, and whether this administration will get away with outsourcing it to bureaucrats at the United Nations and so-called scientists who are willing to obfuscate and manipulate. We can’t afford to lose this fight.

Phil Kerpen is director of policy and Derrick Sontag is Kansas state director for Americans for Prosperity, a national grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility and accountability. On the web at www.AmericansforProsperity.org.

Copenhagen to Wichita, lunch provided

A message from Americans For Prosperity:

As part AFP’s ongoing Hot Air Tour, we will be hosting a viewing party in Wichita at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and in Overland Park at the Doubletree Hotel of our Simulcast live from Copenhagen on the same day the President is there to make sure that the truth is told.

AFP President Tim Phillips and Director of Policy Phil Kerpen will be in Copenhagen hosting an event with Lord Monckton ( click here to join the 3.5 million people who have seen his video detailing how our nation could be threatened by international climate agreements) and other European free-market leaders who will detail the hypocrisy of this U.N. conference and explain how cap-and-trade has killed jobs and raised energy prices in their nations.

All this will be Simulcast live to AFP – Kansas’s own Hot Air Tour event at noon December 9th. Space is limited so RSVP today! Lunch will be provided.

Wichita Details:
Where: Hyatt Regency Wichita, 400 West Waterman, Wichita
Time: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (lunch will be provided)
When: December 9, 2009
Click here to register for the Event