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Monday, January 31, 2011

John Cook: Monckton Myths - a one-stop-shop for Monckton misinformation

Monckton Myths - a one-stop-shop for Monckton misinformation

Posted on 1 February 2011 by John Cook, Skeptical Science

Monckton Myths (200 x 70 pixels)To loosely paraphrase an old saying, a piece of misinformation can travel halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. This is the conundrum facing climate scientists as they attempt to communicate the realities of climate change, amidst the noise and fury of the internet. The problem is global warming skepticism is a renewable resource. When you take the time to closely follow online discussions, blog posts and op-eds, you find the same skeptic arguments appear repeatedly, well after they've been thoroughly debunked in peer-reviewed research.
Christopher Monckton is a prolific climate skeptic. Perusing all the articles published by Moncktonand the arguments he uses, Monckton appears to be zealous about recycling skeptic arguments. The same ideas appear over and over again. Recycling is usually good for the environment but sadly not in this case.
Of particular interest are the arguments Monckton uses most often. There are several sitting atop the pile which  presumably are Monckton's killer blows. A close examination of these favourite arguments reveals much about how Monckton presents the science to the public.
Monckton's most popular argument is that climate sensitivity, a measure of how much the earth warms from rising CO2, is low. As our planet warms from increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, Monckton suggests negative feedbacks suppress the warming. This is supposedly our Get Out Of Jail Free Card - we can pollute as much as we like and nature will take care of things. To back up this claim, Monckton cites the work of Richard Lindzen who uses satellite measurements of outgoing radiation as evidence for negative feedback.
However, Monckton only presents half of the story. A number of subsequent papers have examined Lindzen's work and found fatal flaws in his analysis. As well as a questionable choice of end-point dates in his data, Lindzen looks only at the tropics. A number of other analyses using similar satellite observations spanning the entire globe find positive feedback that enhances global warming.
On top of this, many studies using a range of different observations find that the overall climate feedback amplifies global warming. Climate sensitivity has to be high to explain the dramatic climate changes we see in the past. To argue low climate sensitivity based on one study presents only half the story. In fact, not even that. It gives you barely a fraction of the full body of evidence.
Monckton's other favourite argument is that sea levels are not going to rise much in the future, citing the words of Nils Mörner who claims it's physically impossible for sea level to rise much above its present rate. Again, this gives you only a fraction of the full picture. The expectation of future sea level rise is based on many different observations. Recent research into glacier dynamics in Greenland and Antarctica yield a prediction of 80 cm to 2 metres sea level rise by 2100. Another recent study takes a different approach, matching past sea level rise to past temperature change to yield a prediction of 75-190 cm sea level rise by the end of this century.
Meanwhile, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing ice at a faster rate every year. Two decades ago, the Greenland ice sheet was in approximate mass balance - as much ice was growing in the middle as was being shed at the edges. One decade ago, the ice sheet was losing ice at a rate of 100 billion tonnes per year. Currently, it's losing ice at a rate of over 200 billion tonnes per year. Greenland's glaciers are sliding faster down into the ocean.
A clearer picture of our future can be found in the past. Around 120,000 years ago, global temperatures were about 1-2 degrees warmer than now. At that time, sea levels were over 6 metres higher than current levels. Many lines of evidence indicate we're facing significant sea level rise this century.
In Unsound Advice, Monckton describes "one of the shabbiest tricks of the climate-extremist movement" is to give only one half of the story. Misleading the public by giving only half the story is indeed shabby behaviour. Giving them barely a fraction of the story is even worse.
For this reason, at Skeptical Science we've developed a resource Monckton Myths. We've compiled a database of Monckton's articles and the skeptic arguments he uses. As Monckton publishes new articles with the same recycled arguments, let us know and we'll add it to the database. While misinformation may burst out of the blocks quickly, by the time it's circled the world to start all over again, perhaps this time it will find the full facts dressed up and ready for action.
Monckton Myths (468 x 60 pixels)  

Monckton Myths

Christopher Monckton is a British consultant, policy adviser, writer, columnist, and hereditary peer. While not formally trained in science, Monckton is one of the most cited and widely published climate skeptics, having even been invited to testify to the U.S. Senate and Congress on several occasions.
A perusal of his articles reveals Monckton appears to be zealous about recycling skeptic arguments. The same ideas appear over and over again.
For a comprehensive rebuttal of many of Christopher Monckton's arguments, check out this presentation by Professor John Abraham.
Monckton's ArticlesArgumentsBlog PostsExternal LinksSearchButtons

Articles by Christopher Monckton

Click on any article to view arguments used by Monckton plus what the science says.

Deborah Phelan: Egypt's Next Crisis: Climate Change & Justice -- "We are Egypt!"

Egypt's Next Crisis: Climate Change & Justice

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While the world watches in awe as the people of Egypt in all their stereoscopic splendor relentlessly reinvent the concept of Revolution, perhaps our immersion in this struggle will sensitize and energize us finally to stare down and take up arms against the reality of climate change. For as tens of thousands of us resonate with the new knowledge that "We are all Egypt," this reawakening of our core interconnectedness must be the catalyst to catapult us to action and awareness of the impact our lifestyles are having on the most vulnerable countries in the world.
You see, Egypt, once it has completed this stage in its struggle for independence and self governance, will need our assistance and care and unyielding commitment as it faces its next seemingly insurmountable hurdle: its extreme vulnerability to the ravages of climate change.
For while today the streets alongside the Mediterranean city of Alexandria throb with the life and passion of protesters - children, students, mothers and fathers, friends - and soldiers and looters and frustrated shopkeepers, the horrific truth is that this ancient city, within a few short years, will be underwater if the sea rises by just one meter!
Unless we act. Now. As one.
From 220 miles above Earth, one of the Expedition 25 crew members on the International Space Station took this night time photo featuring the bright lights of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. The Nile River and its delta stand out clearly as well. On the horizon, the airglow of the atmosphere is seen across the Mediterranean. The Sinai Peninsula, at right, is outlined with lights highlighting the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba. NASA
When Egyptian farmer Mohssen el-Kafrawi invested money borrowed from a relative to cultivate a 4-acre plot in the recently created 6th of October governorate with tomatoes, he had no idea a few years later rising temperature would wipe out his business.  
"This time I did whatever it took me in the past to produce good tomatoes," el-Kafrawi, 50, said. "But none of the measures I took was good for anything. True, the weather was warmer this year, but could this destroy the plants?" he asked in an interview with The Egyptian Gazette.
A 50-year-old farmer, el-Kafrawi says his four acres traditionally produced 20 tons of tomatoes annually. In 2010, his yield dropped to 12 tons.
"I spent tens of thousands of pounds to cultivate the land with tomatoes," he said. "But I am getting nothing in the end."
Egypt IS Boiling
Mohamed Eissa, the Chairman of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, said Egypt's 2010 summer was the hottest in years.
"This trend will rise in the future, which will have its effects on the geological formation of agricultural lands," he added.
Always one of the world's most water-scarce regions,the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have developed over 3000 years  a wide range of strategies and solutions to survive. Now, even the climate-sensitive agriculture they depend on is inadequate to adapt to rising temperatures, drought and floods.  
A recent IPCC report assesses that most of the MENA region will experience drastic increases in temperature, reduced precipitation, and accordingly significantly more intense and recurrent droughts. By 2050, water stress, will severely deplete existing groundwater resources, causing dramatic fluctuations in rainfed agriculture.
A temperature increase of 1-3 degrees could expose 6–25 million people to coastal flooding, urban dwellers to heat island effect," and ground ozone formations. Public health will be impacted by decreased availability and quality of water, as well as heat waves and poor air quality.
The rise in temperature is expected to be so extreme that current crops will not be able to withstand the heat.

A one-metre sea-level rise would submerge Alexandria.
While low-lying coastal areas --  Tunisia, Qatar, Libya, UAE, Kuwait -- will be impacted socially, economically, and ecologically by rising sea levels (0.1-0.3 meters by the year 2050, and from about 0.1-0.9 meters by 2100) Egypt is expected to be most significantly impacted. 
By 2017, Egypt's water needs may surpass its resources as rising sea levels inundate much of the county's most fertile Delta region, currently home to 60% of Egypt's 80 million people.
"Many of the towns and urban areas in the north of the Delta will suffer from the rise in the level of the Mediterranean with effect from 2020, and about 15% of Delta land is [currently] under threat from the rising sea level and the seepage [of salt water] into ground water," Environment Minister George Maged told a parliamentary committee in 2009.
Soil salinity will threaten coastal food security due to the intrusion of salt water and the contamination of ground water resources.
A 2007 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that by 2050 Egypt will experience a decrease in national production of many of its major crops (–11% for rice to –28% for soybeans).
"Egypt does not have any specific plans to deal with the effects of climate change and global warming on its water resources and its share of the Nile River," said Mosaad Qutb, the Director of the Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate at the ARC.
"Farmers need agricultural planning and consultation to confront these changes successfully," he added in a conference in Cairo last April.

Pompous Prat Alert! Viscount Monckton: Dangerously Dishonest Climate "Expert" at Large

Pompous Prat Alert! Viscount Monckton on Tour

Dangerously Dishonest Climate "Expert" at Large in Canada

by Richard Littlemore,, October 4, 2009
Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is gamboling his way across Canada, acting like a character recently escaped from a Monty Python skit and inflaming the passions of climate change deniers and their favourite newspaper editors (at theNational Post and the Calgary Herald). 
Monckton is being urged on and abetted by the Friends of Science, an oily front group, long derided for  trying to conceal its connections to the Calgary oil and gas community. Right wing think tanks the Fraser Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy are also sponsoring the tour. (Although the Fraser Institute has been a recipient of Exxon Mobil funding in the past, neither organization is acknowledging who is paying Monckton to suggest that we all have "the courage to do nothing" about climate change.)
There are two problems with Monckton. First, he claims to be a science expert, regardless that his paper-thin educational background lies in the Classics and his single academic credit is a diploma in journalism (no sin, but surely not a climatology PhD). The second problem is that despite his track record for apparently intentional inaccuracies, people continue to take him seriously.
What of that track record?
Monckton has been caught out on several occasions indulging in deliberate manipulationof scientific data to understate the effects of climate science. But his petty prevarications are more entertaining.
For example:
Monckton is, of course, entitled to wander around the world saying outragious things - whether they are true or not. It is his right to encourage the ill-informed to stand in front of oncoming buses, on the loose theory that they might survive a likely collision or that any ultimate injuries were inevitable in any case.
The Fraser Institute is also within its rights to sponsor a fall assault on reason, also paying Monckton's soulmate, the dotty former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, to argue that climate science is, mysteriously, no longer valid. But they shouldn't be able to do so without admitting who is paying the bill. If a doctor told a bus crash victim that their broken leg was caused by osteoporosis and not by the accident, you'd be skeptical. But if you found out that the doctor was being paid by the bus driver's insurance company, you would be outraged - justifiably.
We know, in this instance, that we can't trust what Monckton says anyway. Wouldn't it be nice, though, to know who is paying him to spin these yarns.

Social pariahs, threat to democracy, national security, job growth, the Kochs hold hubristic gathering in Palm Springs -- 800-1000 protesters show up

January 31, 2011
This is a ThinkProgress cross-post.

This weekend, David and Charles Koch, the co-owners of the $100 billion Koch Industriespollution conglomeratehosted their annual meeting in Palm Springs to coordinate strategy and raise funds for the conservative movement.  Brad Johnson has the story.

For decades, the Kochs have quietly led a political agenda to concentrate America’s wealth and power among the richest few in the name of “liberty,” at the expense of the health and opportunity of the middle class.

At an event organized by Common Cause to “Uncloak the Kochs,” Center for American Progress senior fellow Van Jones described the threat that concentration of economic power poses to American liberty, democracy, and justice:

I hear a lot of talk now about liberty. There is a movement in our country that has grown up, the Tea Party movement, that has raised the question of liberty, and I say, “Thank goodness.” I’m glad that someone’s raised the question of liberty. There’s nothing more precious to an African American than liberty and justice for all. I’m glad to hear that somebody’s concerned about liberty.
But I think that what we have to be clear about is liberty always has two threats, there’s always two threats to liberty. One is the excessive concentration of political power — excessive concentration of political authority — the totalitarian threat to liberty. And that is a threat to watch out for. But there is another threat. And it is in our country a graver threat. And it is the threat that comes from excessive concentrations of economic power. Excessive concentrations of economic power in our country pose as big a threat, and frankly a greater threat than any concentration of political power. What we have to remember is that our republic is founded not just on the question of liberty, but also on democracy and justice. 
And it is when the predatory, monopolistic dimension of the economic system starts to gain momentum, then the question of justice and democracy has to come forward too. Not just liberty and property rights, but justice and human rights, and democracy, and the people’s rights to be free from economic tyranny and economic domination. We will not live on a national plantation run by the Koch brothers. We’re not going to do that. We refuse to do that.
Watch it:
Sharing Jones’ concern, former Sen. Russ Feingold said recently that “this entire society is being dominated by corporate power in a way that may exceed what happened in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century. The incredible power these institutions now have over the average person is just overwhelming.”

According to UC Santa Cruz professor G. William Domhoff, “the average income of the top 400″ richest Americans — many of whom are attending the Koch’s secret event — “tripled during the Clinton Administration and doubled during the first seven years of the Bush Administration.” The richest 0.01 percent of the United States — now receive 6% of all U.S. income.

Top on the Koch agenda is the elimination of the estate tax for billionaires, the end to an open Internet, and the prevention of limits on their toxic pollution. Spending millions of dollars a year — a tiny percent of their pollution-based wealth — the Koch brothers and their ideological allies intend to manipulate American democracy to protect their private economic interests. Their selfish pursuit puts everyone else’s liberties at terrible risk, threatening the “four essential human freedoms” articulated by President Frank Delano Roosevelt: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, from want, and freedom from fear.

– Brad Johnson, in a TP cross-post.

Related posts:

Richard Black, BBC: Arctic canary looking sicker than ever

Arctic canary looking sicker than ever

Richard Black | environmental correspondent, BBC News, January 28, 2011

Greenland coast

If the Arctic really is the "canary in the coal mine" for climate change impacts, as it's often been labelled, then it's a canary about which we know a little more following a spate of scientific papers coming out over the last week or so.

And looking at what they say, as well as readings from instruments monitoring the canary's heath, the signs of sickness appear to be stronger and more certain than before.

There are several distinct symptoms that need monitoring here: sea-ice area and volume, air temperature and wind, water temperature and currents, and the state of the Greenland icecap.

Graph of Arctic ice area
Arctic sea ice area is heading for a record winter low this season
Along with all this is the constant effort to interpret new data and see whether long-term beliefs about how Arctic weather works still hold true, or whether - as with the El Nino Southern Oscillation, for example - the sustained rise in global temperatures may change mechanisms people thought they understood.

Greenland is especially important globally because of the potential of icecap melting to raise sea levels around the world.

Andy Shepherd's research team shed a bit of light on how higher temperatures might affect ice loss with a paper in Nature this week showing that paradoxically, inland glaciers flow slower at higher temperatures.
Essentially, there's so much meltwater that it runs away in channels under the ice, and doesn't lubricate the glacier's flow against the rock so well.

However, what it means in real terms isn't clear, as several other mechanisms are in play that could work in the opposite direction (see Wednesday's news story for a bit more on this).

Disappearance of ice from any part of the world will have an impact on albedo - the reflectance of solar energy back into space.

But because there's so much of it there, the Arctic ice on land and at sea is especially important.

The steady shrinking of both has clearly led to a change in albedo and so, presumably, to amplification of temperature rise.

In Nature Geoscience recently, Mark Flanner from the University of Michigan and colleagues calculated what the shrinking ice cover means for radiative forcing - the impact on temperatures.

Climate Central has a good account of the paper, with commentary.
Boy on sled
"Upside-down weather" brought snow at lower latitudes while parts of the Arctic stayed warm

But one figure alone is enough to give pause for thought: over the course of the satellite record, the net heating from this loss of albedo - the extra absorption of solar heat by the Earth - has increased by 10-20% - a huge change in just over 30 years.

Ice is affected by higher temperatures in the air above and in the sea below.

Warm water moves northward in the Atlantic Ocean by dint of the North Atlantic Drift, more colloquially known as the Gulf Stream.

Whether the warmth affects the Arctic - and if so, whether its impact is changing - is a question that a team led by Robert Spielhagen from the University of Mainz in Germany addresses in this week's Science.

Using a marine sediment record from Svalbard, they deduce that the temperature of Atlantic water entering the Arctic Ocean is higher than it's been for 2,000 years.

The average temperature since 1850 is 2C higher than the average before - and comfortably higher than during the Mediaeval Warm Period, for example.

To quote a comment from the Nature News write-up that surely won't arouse any ire...
"It's yet another hockey stick."
The paper itself is behind a paywall (like the others quoted here, frustratingly), but its final sentence reads:
"...Warming of the Atlantic water layer, unprecedented in the past 2,000 years, is most likely another key element in the transition toward a future ice-free Arctic Ocean."
And what of that transition itself?

At a briefing mid-week on the coming season's work by the Catlin Arctic Survey, Simon Boxall, who designed one of the projects they'll be carrying out this year, cautioned reporters (and I guess by extension everyone else) not to place too much importance on annual statistics.

Some iconic ones do stand out in the annals of climate change history: 1998 with its strong El Nino spike, 2003 with its European heatwave, 2007 with its startling Arctic melt, and they make news.

His point was that although summer melt records haven't been set since 2007, what we have had are four summers in succession where the ice has shrunk back further than at any other time since 1979.

The winter maxima are showing a similar trend. And the latest plot from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that another record low, this time for the smallest winter maximum, could be on its way; watch this space.

Meanwhile, the ice volume, as calculated by the University of Washington's Polar Science Center, shows not just a steady decrease over the last couple of decades, but a decrease that's accelerated in the last few years.

Graph of Arctic ice volume from University of Washington

If it is accelerating, then it would be good to know why.

But here, science inevitably has to play catch-up. Analyses of weather and climate depend on data, which must by definition come from the past; and you need a fair bit of data before you can start extracting rules.

But the slow build-up of greenhouse gases, along with albedo changes and perhaps influences from events further south, may be altering the rules as we go along.

A month ago, the Northern Hemisphere had the same kind of "upside-down" temperatures that we saw for large chunks of last winter, with the Arctic Oscillation in a "negative phase", bringing snow to western Europe and leaving parts of the Arctic itself basking in unseasonable warmth.

See this often enough, and the question of whether we've entered a new regular weather pattern begins to be asked.

It's currently unanswerable. But in the words of NSIDC:
"It may be that with a warmer Arctic, old rules regarding links between the atmospheric pressure patterns and sea ice extent no longer hold."
What all this means for Greenland, and hence for sea levels globally, is less clear - and we're not likely to have answers before the next Intergovernental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2013-2014.

Already, a fair proportion - I won't claim to know the exact figure, but I'd estimate it's over 90% - of Arctic researchers believe that for the region as a whole, the canary is already toppling off its perch.


Mural Dyslexia: Is Blindness on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Public Health Contagious?

Mural Dyslexia: Is Blindness on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Public Health Contagious?

by David Doniger, NRDC's Switchboard, January 31, 2011'
In fall 2007, newly-appointed Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke to a Wyoming summit on energy and climate.  Barrasso said:
I had an old medical professor, Dr. Milt Davis. He said “you never want to be diagnosed with mural dyslexia.” I asked him what he meant. He said “mural dyslexia is the inability to read the handwriting on the wall.”
Sen. Barrasso continued:  “You can harbor doubts about the science, but the political and market realities are under no such illusion – the writing is on the wall.”  He said:  “Washington is pathetically behind and lagging on a coherent energy picture. . . .  And states, private industry and public institutes are forced to work around the irresponsible absence of action on a federal energy policy.”  And Barrasso added this:
The energy debate of our generation is carbon. Period. You can agree or disagree with Global Warming theories, but no one can wish the issue away. And the public policy debate about carbon has dramatic effects on Wyoming 's future – our state, our communities, our jobs, our families.  Period.
Barrasso’s was a promising start.  But it didn’t last.  Barrasso moved quickly from “carbon free” to “free carbon.”   In 2010 the man who had seen the writing on the wall became part of the wall.  Sen. Barrasso fell into lockstep behind Sen. Mitch McConnell and helped kill last year’s climate and energy legislation.  
Now there’s an epidemic of mural dyslexia.  Some 123 members of the House of Representatives have cosponsored bills that, as my colleague Pete Altman writes,choose polluters over children's health. These “Bad Air Bills” would stop EPA from doing its job to protect our health from life-threatening air pollution – three by blocking any safeguards against carbon dioxide and the other pollutants that drive dangerous global warming, and a fourth by blocking needed cuts in toxic mercury, soot, and smog pollution. 
These bills are just warm-up acts.  In recent weeks, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has gone out of his way to partner with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, whose screeds against the climate change “hoax” used to make even members of his own party wince. ClimateWire reports that Upton and Inhofe will soon unveil a bill to “strip EPA of its authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants, refineries and other stationary sources.”  In their own words, Inhofe and Upton issued thisstatement, together with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), chair of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Clean Air Act:  “[I]n the coming weeks, we will outline a path forward to permanently eliminate the threat of greenhouse gas regulation through the Clean Air Act.” 
According to The Hill, Rep. Whitfield suggested the bill will come in late February or early March and “will be a broad indictment of the EPA’s policies. It will touch on the EPA’s air transport rules, its new source review requirements and its plans to impose new greenhouse gas standards large facilities.”

For good measure, Inhofe will join Sen. Barrasso to introduce, as early as today, “a much broader bill that would bar the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under any existing environmental law.”  Carbon pollution would be exempt not only from the Clean Air Act, but also from laws to assess environmental impacts, protect endangered species, or save energy and reduce our oil dependence.  The bill may also seek to preempt states from acting within their own borders and to prevent state and federal courts from giving any justice or redress to victims of carbon pollution harms.  “I think you'll find the Republicans are pretty lock step in this,” Sen. Inhofe said.
At the same time, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is negotiating with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to broaden his bill, which thus far would ban EPA carbon safeguards for two years (Inside EPA, subscription).  She wants to erase the modest measure that took effect this month, calling on the biggest new power plants and factories to install available and affordable carbon controls. 
All these bills are based on a pair of big lies.  The first is that EPA is engaged in an “unconstitutional power grab” trying “to regulate that which it has been unable to legislate.”  No, EPA is doing its job under the Clean Air Act, a law enacted by Congress, which (as the Supreme Court has found) directs EPA to act when science demonstrates that pollutants endanger our health and welfare.   The second big lie is that EPA’s modest plan for curbing dangerous carbon pollution “will kill millions of jobs” and “poses a significant threat to job creation and economic recovery.”  But EPA is not allowed to make businesses take steps that are too costly or that would hurt the economy – Clean Air Act safeguards have to be both achievable and affordable.  And despite cranked-upprophecies of doom – rightly rejected as unproved by the federal courts of appeals – the economy did not collapse when these measures went into effect on January 2nd.
Some of these bills may be just theater, intending by hyperbole to make something like Sen. Rockefeller’s two-year delay, or a year-by-year funding rider, look good by comparison.  But in substance, these supposed short-term delays are no different, and no better, than the Upton-Inhofe-Whitfield “permanent” ban.  One-year funding riders, and two-year delays like Sen. Rockefeller’s, are like letting roaches into your house – once they get into legislation it’s very hard to get them out.  A one-year rider blocking new fuel economy standards was robotically extended five times, contributing (as my colleague Dan Lashof has noted) to the conditions that bankrupted two of our car makers when gas prices rose and all they had to peddle was gas guzzlers.
Sen. Rockefeller says he wants neither a one-year delay nor a permanent ban:  “What worries me,” he said, is that we’ll “get a bill which abolishes EPA, strips them of all funding, and I'm not for that" (Environment & Energy News, subscription).  Rockefeller used to say that a two-year delay would give Congress time to complete work on comprehensive climate legislation, but everyone knows that’s not happening in this Congress.  So now he says his two year delay is just the right amount of time to allow the development of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).  But as Lashof observed, the main effect of a two-year delay: 
would be to stifle the private sector investment essential to commercializing this technology.  The climate legislation passed by the House in the last Congress would have accomplished the goals Senator Rockefeller has endorsed, including providing very generous support for deploying CCS technology.  But the Senate didn’t even bring the bill up for a vote, in part because of Rockefeller’s objections. The likelihood is that two years from now Senator Rockefeller will still be arguing we need more time for the development of CCS. 
As Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), ranking member and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, underlined at a hearing last week, blind opposition to EPA’s doing its job under the Clean Air Act actually hurts American businesses and hurts our economic recovery: 
We need to remember that federal regulations also play a vital role in growing our economy and protecting our health and environment. . . .
Members who were on this Committee last Congress may remember our first hearing.  Like today’s hearing, our focus two years ago was on how to build a strong economic future for our country.  We invited nine CEOs from our nation’s leading manufacturing and energy companies to testify.
And what they told us was that they needed Congress to pass comprehensive energy legislation so they could plan and invest for the future. They told us that sensible, market-based regulation of carbon emissions would spur billions of dollars in new investments. 
Here is what Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, told us:  “It is critical we know the rules of the road of climate change as soon as possible to make sure that we are making the right investments.  Regulatory uncertainty is postponing investments and … [i]t's postponing the creation of jobs from apprentices to engineers to Ph.Ds.”
Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, was asked last week to lead the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  He told us the same thing:  “Certainty in the investment world is critical to success.  And what we lack today is certainty. … I am a capitalist, pure, plain, and simple.  And I just think the system we have today is untenable over the long term insofar as … the science is so compelling on global warming.”
What these CEOS were telling us is that they needed more energy and carbon regulation – not less – so they would know the rules and plan and invest for the future. 
They understood what Alan Greenspan forgot:  regulation is often needed to promote jobs and economic prosperity.
As Dan Balz wrote in the Washington Post yesterday, there are clear signs already that the House Republicans are running far to the right of public opinion:  “The two pillars of the Republican response to Obama's speech – the record deficits and a warning that the size and scope of government threaten economic prosperity and individual freedom – fell farther down the list of worries in the NBC-Wall Street Journal survey.  A fifth of respondents cited the deficit, and only 14 percent named the role of government.” 
By contrast, in a poll conducted this fall for NRDC, Opinion Research Corp/Infogroup found that 82 percent of Americans support the work of the EPA. And 73 percent support “protecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority” to “take steps that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities and other major industrial polluters.”
The Republicans overreached in the Gingrich Congress, when they misgauged the depth of public support for protecting health and curbing dangerous pollution.  Will they overreach again?
The handwriting is still on the wall.