|The Week That Was
July 8, 2000
If you missed seeing "What's up with the weather?" on NOVA/Frontline on PBS, you didn't miss much - according to the Cooler Heads Coalition. But then again, it was much more balanced than most of these "environmental specials."
BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS IN THE EPA?
As the Supreme Court takes up the question of B-CA, here is an interesting comment from a former official of the White House Office of Management and Budget (which should be read with a glossary).
"I'm not sure what the reference is to on the matter of Congress prohibiting benefit/cost analysis. There is no such language in either RCRA or CERCLA. In fact, CERCLA explicitly mentions that cost should be a factor in decision-making, as does EPA's National Contingency Plan implementing CERCLA. Unfortunately, EPA wrote the NCP such that cost matters only for "equally protective remedies" - a null set if you look hard enough. We fought long and hard with the Bush administration EPA over this language, and lost. Ironically, CERCLA has gotten a little less goofy in the Clinton administration.
"EPA closed the door to B-CA in RCRA in its 1980 implementing rules, stating that it interpreted Congress' silence to be equivalent to a prohibition. In the legal climate at the time, judges "filled in the gaps" where Congress could not muster a majority to approve stupid legislative language. I don't recall whether there was a serious legal challenge to EPA's 1980 RCRA rules, but it would have lost in this environment. Had EPA issued the same rule after "Chevron," a challenge also would have lost, because the courts would have deferred to EPA's interpretation and not judged it to be arbitrary and capricious. Further irony: The RCRA program also has seen waves of common sense since 1993 - repeated efforts to chip away at the stupidities that prior Reagan and Bush administration office directors put in place. They are hamstrung at every turn by the enviros and the waste management lobby, which makes a killing on the status quo."
THE INSIDE DOPE FROM LOS ALAMOS
A wildfire is more than a fire; it is a high-temperature blast wave consuming everything in its path. So when we contemplate government remedies for "global warming," remember the Cerro Grande holocaust set by the National Park Service to forestall presumably worse disasters. The "controlled burn," started Thurs 5/4/00 under impermissibly low-humidity/high-wind conditions, was allowed to burn for 3 days before the alarm bells were rung. A call to the NPS fire-fighting central early Friday am 5/5/00 was answered by a machine incredibly advising callback during normal business hours. The senior official making the call let it go at that.
Here is some cheerful news from Peter Melchett (in Millennium 2000, pg. 14), executive director of Greenpeace UK, writing about a brighter tomorrow. He sees the end of the oil business just around the corner. "The clear conclusion from climate science is that fossil fuels will have to be phased out before they run out. The major challenge for government energy policy is two-fold: How to insure that most oil, coal, and gas reserves remain under the ground, and how to phase in the use of renewable energy The global wind industry is already worth $2.5 billion per year. Average annual growth of 40% over the last 5 years for wave and solar the future is equally bright. The UK government's energy advisor recently estimated that exploitation of the world's wave resource will result in total capital investments of over $800 billion. BP Amoco expects solar photovoltaics to be cost-competitive with conventional fuels across the world within a decade Most recently, the ruling in the UK High Court over the European Union's Habitats Directive has made all new oil licensing in the UK illegal until the government fully implements the directive up to 200 nautical miles offshore. The court has also ruled that seismic testing is likely to harm whales and dolphins, a finding that should lead to new restrictions."
And this man is an Earl. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry Maybe it is a good idea to do away with the House of Lords.
GOOD NEWS FOR PLANKTON
And now for some really good news from under the Antarctic Ozone Hole. The New Scientist (Feb. 19, 2000) reports that the AOH may not be damaging life in the ocean below after all. And that the food chain is safe. A team lead by Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University found that the effect of the AOH was to decrease primary production by only 1%, significantly less than other estimates, which have been 10% or more. Arrigo's study looked at the big picture of UV-B for the whole ocean, including the effects of clouds. Raymond Smith, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, believes marine plankton have adapted to cope with the hole. "It's obvious that [the impact] isn't going to be catastrophic," he says. "We've had the ozone hole for a decade and a half and the system is still there." But then he continues: "Right now, they're keeping up, but if the problem gets worse, who knows?"
Yes, Ray, there is a cloud to every silver lining.
After being slapped by Western Fuels with a SLAPP ( Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit for commercial defamation, Ozone Action and co-defendants claim that its purpose is to stifle public discussion of Global Warming.
You've got it all wrong, fellas. The law suit will provide a forum for a very public discussion. So what are you afraid of?