Trump’s Monumental Course Reversal

Trump’s Monumental Course Reversal

As part of his program to remove the government’s boot-heel off the neck of state governments and American workers and businesses, candidate Donald Trump promised to review and, where appropriate, reverse where he felt it was justified, national monuments declared not just by Obama but going back two decades. As I discussed here, using the Antiquities Act has been a favorite technique of many presidents to satisfy pressures from environmentally powerful constituents.

Within months of taking office, Trump issued an executive order directing then-Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke to review all presidential monument designations or expansions of more than 100,000 acres since January 1, 1996, to ensure they were limited strictly to the smallest area necessary to care for the objects or features to be protected. At the time, Trump called the size and number of national monuments created by Obama “an egregious abuse of power.

Going back to January 1, 1996, was not coincidental. At that time President Bill Clinton created the 1,880,461-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, in Utah, also against the state’s entire congressional delegation’s wishes. The Grand Staircase declaration was as controversial in its time as the 2016 Bears Ears designation by Obama.

By September 2017, Zinke recommended the president shrink the size and/or modify the management of at least 10 national monuments. In particular, Zinke recommended reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou. He also recommended shrinking two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean and amending the proclamations for 10 monuments to allow for various commercial activities previously allowed in these areas but now restricted.

On December 5, 2017, Trump reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument by approximately 800,000 acres, to just over 1 million acres, and shrunk the Bears Ears National Monument from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres.

Stop Pretending to Cut Carbon Emissions. Engineer a Solution.

Stop Pretending to Cut Carbon Emissions. Engineer a Solution.

From James Conca at Forbes:

Since we are failing to curb global carbon emissions at all, we are left with using our huge brains, which got us into this problem in the first place, to try to wangle our way out of it.

Whether that’s solar engineering [sending back a small fraction of sunlight] or cloud seeding to reduce incident solar radiation, or reforestation, or carbon capture and sequestration from burning fossil fuels, or ocean iron fertilization or putting huge mirrors in space, humans think we can engineer our way around any issue. The best most direct strategy, that has the least bad side-effects, is to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere and make something useful out of it – like fuel – that would further lessen the burden on the environment.

One company is already doing that.

Based in Canada, Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture system directly removes CO2 from the atmosphere, purifies it, and produces a pipeline-ready compressed CO2 liquid using only energy and water. This CO2 can be combined with non-fossil fuel-generated hydrogen, to produce ultra-low carbon intensity hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and Jet Fuel-A.

“California’s Dark Ages”

“California’s Dark Ages”

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Californians are learning to live like the Amish after investor-owned utility PG&E this week shut off power to two million or so residents to prevent wildfires amid heavy, dry winds.

For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento.

Suddenly, Californians are learning to love fossil fuels. Stores have experienced runs on oil lamps—yes, those still exist—and emergency generators fueled by gasoline, propane or diesel.

Most batteries that store solar power can’t keep homes charged for more than a day during a blackout, and most electric-car owners won’t have enough juice to escape the power outage. Still, liberals in Sacramento want to abolish fossil fuels.

What ‘Environmental Studies’ Means These Days

What ‘Environmental Studies’ Means These Days

From a Bates College (Maine) ad for an assistant professor in environmental studies:

We seek a scholar or scholar/practitioner in cultural studies, literature, or performing/studio arts who is attentive to hierarchies of power and privilege and can offer cross-cultural and/or transnational perspectives on environmental traditions.

Fields and research approaches are open, but could include: critical race theory, ecocriticism and nature writing, ecofeminism/feminist environmentalism, energy humanities, indigenous and post-colonial/decolonial/decolonizing environmentalisms, posthumanism and animal studies, and queer ecologies. Applicants with a demonstrated record of working successfully with a diversity of students, including underrepresented and marginalized populations, are encouraged to apply.

We specifically seek applications from individuals with the ability to contribute to the continuing commitment of both the Environmental Studies Program and Bates to equity and inclusion, social and cultural diversity, and the transformative power of our differences.

HT-Campus Reform

Monumental Abuse of the Antiquities Act, Part I

Monumental Abuse of the Antiquities Act, Part I

The 1906 Antiquities Act was one of the most ill-considered laws ever written, giving presidents dictatorial power to declare large swaths of the public’s land off limits to a variety of uses normally allowed on federal lands. Under President Barack Obama, this power turned into a monument acquisition spree.

The Antiquities Act grants the president discretionary power “to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest … to be national monuments.” Congress originally passed the law as an emergency measure to prevent the looting of antiquities on Indian lands. It was intended, as the debate surrounding it shows, only to be used when public lands or artifacts faced immediate threats of destruction and the normal pace of congressional action might take too long to prevent harm.

Are You Willing to Bet Money on  Your Environmental Views?

Are You Willing to Bet Money on Your Environmental Views?

Andrew McAfee is offering to take a number of bets centered around predictions and implications from his new book More From Less

  • In 2029, the US will consume less total energy than it did in 2019.
  • In 2029, the US will produce less total CO2 emissions than it did in 2019, even after taking offshoring into account.
  • Over the five years leading up to 2029, the US will use less paper in total than it did over the five years leading up to 2019.

HT to Alex Tabarrok.

A Moratorium on Fossil-Fuel Leasing Would Be Disastrous

A Moratorium on Fossil-Fuel Leasing Would Be Disastrous

Shawn Regan of PERC on presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan to issue a moratorium on fossil-fuel leasing. Writing in the National Review:

Such a policy would mean no new drilling on the 97 million federal offshore acres and 113 million onshore acres that are currently available for leasing. It would also mean no new drilling on areas that are under existing leases, which have ten-year terms and require permits for each well drilled. It could also apply to export facilities and pipelines, such as those transporting new exports of liquefied natural gas, that cross federal streams and rivers deemed “waters of the United States.”

A moratorium would effectively end drilling on public lands and waters, which in 2018 produced more than 2 million barrels of oil per day and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, generating nearly $9 billion in federal revenue. It would also handcuff America’s private energy sector by limiting its ability to deliver its products to market. “No country in the world has ever abandoned a natural resource of this proven value,” says energy-law professor James Coleman of Southern Methodist University.

It would be a shift from the Obama administration’s program:

Warren’s pledge illustrates just how far Democrats have diverged from the energy and climate policies of the Obama administration. President Barack Obama presided over, and often championed, a rapid increase in U.S. oil and gas production, driven primarily by the rise of fracking, which has enabled the United States to become the largest oil and gas producer in the world. This has led to cleaner air and lower carbon emissions, cheaper energy, less dependence on foreign imports, a manufacturing renaissance, and massive economic benefits to American consumers. By one estimate from the Brookings Institution, fracking has improved the economic well-being of U.S. consumers by roughly $75 billion per year.

Steven Hayward on Greenland

Steven Hayward on Greenland

Steven Hayward on Greenland:

Citing the Economist, Hayward notes that yes, Greenland is losing more than 200 cubic kilometers of ice (0.007% of its total volume) a year, three times past estimates.

Wait—hold on a minute: Greenland is losing only 0.007 percent of its ice per year right now? That’s what we’re supposed to be panicking about? At this rate, it will take 7,000 years for Greenland to lose half of its ice mass. Even if the rate more than doubles, it will still take around 3,000 years. Trump better lower his bid for Greenland.

H-T Myron Ebell

Authors of Shocking Climate Change Story Retract It

Authors of Shocking Climate Change Story Retract It

Authors of an article in Nature, a premier scientific publication, have been required to retract an article published in October 2018 arguing that the ocean was absorbing sixty percent more heat than previously thought. That finding suggested that global warming is much more severe than predicted by prominent scientists.

The article was widely publicized by such media as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, and others.

“Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming,” was the Post’s headline. “The findings mean the world might have less time to curb carbon emissions.”

Within days, however, the Post and the Times modified their stories; the Times even changed the headline to a more tepid “Scientists Find a New Way to Take the Oceans’ Temperature.” The Post published a new story that explained why.

To the New York Times: No, Bottled Water Is Not Sucking Florida Dry

To the New York Times: No, Bottled Water Is Not Sucking Florida Dry

Florida has a water problem that is revealing something very self-destructive about environmental groups and science journalism. Case in point, the September 15 New York Times article by Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec headlined, “Bottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry.” 

The water bottler, of course, is the Swiss multi-national company Nestlé. The opinion piece jumps on the bandwagon whose riders have for decades ballyhooed Nestlé as the archetypal evil corporation. Says the article’s subtitle: “The state’s aquifers are shrinking, yet corporations want to appropriate even more of them.”

The Times’ writers egregiously omit the most important facts while larding the piece with innuendo and misleading or untrue but self-serving statements. Example: “The state and local governments have continued to issue water bottling extraction permits that prevent the aquifer from recharging.” Is it quibbling to note that the aquifers do recharge, but apparently not 100 percent? More seriously, it’s simply false to say the bottling of water prevents the full recharge since bottled water is about 1 percent or less of total extraction.

Take the Climate Change Quiz

Take the Climate Change Quiz

From the Global Warming Policy Forum:

You are terrified about climate change! So you have joined millions around the world for Greta’s school strike for the climate. This is not anything to do with skipping lessons of course, you feel passionately. But have you got your facts straight? Time to find out…

 

  1. By how many degrees Celsius has the world warmed in the past twenty years?
    • a) 0.3°C ~ b) 0.8 °C ~ c) 1.5°C
  2. By how many degrees Celsius has the world warmed since the pre-industrial period?
    • a) 10°C ~ b) 3° C ~ c) 1°C

See all twelve questions here.

Zimbabwe Parks Director Opposes Hunting Ban

Zimbabwe Parks Director Opposes Hunting Ban

Director General of the Zimbabwe parks authority opposes U.S. law banning importation of big game trophies.

“I want to make it clear that U.S. lawmakers advocating for this legislation, to ban the importation of many big game species into the United States, are giving more credence to the baseless rhetoric of anti-hunting activists than to the carefully collected data gathered and analyzed by national wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.”

 

Trump’s ESA Changes: A Good Start

Trump’s ESA Changes: A Good Start

Environmentalists’ knee-jerk reactions to the Trump administration’s regulatory  changes under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) were as predictable as they were misguided. Environmentalists claimed the changes violate the law and gut protections—leaving vulnerable species otherwise on the road to recovery at risk of annihilation.

Sadly, the mainstream media, which seems to treat as revealed truth every study, press release, pronouncement, and tweet from environmentalists, especially if it’s critical of the Trump administration, parroted these claims.

Based on environmentalists’ and the press’s reactions, you would think the ESA had a glowing track record of success in bringing species back from the brink of extinction, but nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, the ESA has been a costly fiasco.

About this blog

This blog is about appreciating the environment and protecting it using the tools of economics. Your blog manager is Jane Shaw Stroup, a former senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

We are grateful to the Goodman Institute for providing this opportunity.

Popular Topics

Endangered Species
Parks
Wildlife
Property Rights
Environmental Management
Climate Change
Global Warming
Federal Management
Habitat
Hunting
Pollution
Water
Regulation
Energy

Our Authors

Contributors to this blog, in addition to Jane Stroup, include:

What’s Going to Happen at the UN Climate Summit?

What’s Going to Happen at the UN Climate Summit?

From Reuters:

Climate activists hope to bring U.S. capital to standstill on September 23. Environmental groups, including Extinction Rebellion, said on Wednesday they plan to shut down traffic in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23 and bring daily life to a standstill to demand action by U.S. politicians on tackling climate change.

But Heartland wants to see a debate instead.

 

Is Privatization the Solution to Amazon Fires?

Is Privatization the Solution to Amazon Fires?

From Mary O’Grady in the Wall Street Journal:

In August 2016 Reuters reported on a study by the nonprofit Climate Policy Initiative that linked the absence of land titles in the Amazon to conflict and environmental degradation. “Without clear titles proving land ownership, farmers have less incentive to make new investments, improve productivity or protect the environment, said the CPI, a San Francisco-based group with operations in Rio de Janeiro,” Reuters wrote.

 

War on Plastics: A Waste

War on Plastics: A Waste

Long gone are the days when (as in the award-winning movie The Graduate) a future father-in-law would tell his future son-in-law there is a great future in plastics.

Over the past decade several cities and states have considered or imposed bans on so-called “single use” plastic bags. Recently, some jurisdictions have considered or imposed restrictions on Styrofoam carry-out containers, drinking straws, and plastic utensils.

The assault on convenient plastic started in California nearly a decade ago and has spread across the nation. Some cities and states, with legislators who respect freedom of choice, have resisted the siren call to ban plastic. Indeed, some states have even gone so far as to bar cities from banning or otherwise restricting, taxing, or penalizing the use of plastic bags.

Where the Media Go Wrong on Climate Change

Where the Media Go Wrong on Climate Change

Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He recently discussed misinformation in the media.

On Amazon fires:

The rainforest itself does not burn in response to global warming, and in fact warming in the tropics has been so slow that it is unlikely that any tropical resident would perceive it in their lifetime. This is not a climate change issue; it’s a farming and land use issue.

On Greenland melting . . .

Protecting Our Natural Surroundings

Protecting Our Natural Surroundings

I divide environmental topics into two sometimes overlapping groups, “romance” and “sludge.” The romance sector includes parks, forests, wildlands, wilderness, wildlife, and scenic vistas. These treasures grace calendars and coffee table books. Most educated and comfortable adults, even committed urbanites, are attracted to and want to protect this sector.

The second division is sludge. This term refers to nasty stuff that is often the necessary byproduct of legitimate productive activities such as food processing, mining, and manufacturing. These are spillovers from legitimate and useful activities.Economists call this category negative externalities. They ask: How might we efficiently reduce them—or even better, convert them into useful products?

That’s exactly what environmental entrepreneurs did when they converted the wood waste and scrap from lumber mills into valuable wood panels. Those panels replaced plywood—which had replaced boards formerly cut from old growth trees. Lesson here? In a market process economy, superior substitutes naturally evolve.

We can’t live without some sludge; it’s inherent in living and using products from the earth. While recognizing this, I choose to work in the romance arena. Had I elected to focus on sludge, I’d live in Boston and study its harbor. Instead, I live on a ranch between Bozeman and Yellowstone Park and study my surrounding habitat. Thus, I work in the tradition of America’s first conservationists.

America’s old-line conservation organizations were primarily concerned with the romance sector of their environment, largely with protecting wildlife.

Are We Getting More Severe Weather Events?

Are We Getting More Severe Weather Events?

From my latest at Town Hall:

Hard data, collected over decades, show no increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes over the past century. Additionally, droughts are not more common, severe, or of greater length . . .

In recent decades, flooding has become more common in some places, while it has declined in other regions. Yet evidence indicates manmade land alterations, such as channelizing streams and rivers and filling areas with impervious surfaces (concrete, buildings, and parking lots) are mostly responsible for the flooding, not modestly warmer temperatures or increased rainfall.

Although severe weather events have not become more extreme, the mainstream media and environmental zealots have resorted to endless fearmongering campaigns to make the public believe this is happening because of climate change.

 

Is Recycling Useful or Just Garbage?

Is Recycling Useful or Just Garbage?

From Michael Munger’s paper for AIER.

Should we recycle aluminum cans? Probably, because the price of recycling aluminum compares very favorably to using virgin materials, the mining and smelting of which are expensive in terms of energy and harmful to the environment.

Should we recycle toilet paper? We could, at some price. But it’s likely not worth it, because it can be composted, it would be awfully hard to clean and sort, and in any case paper products are actually a renewable resource, rather like wheat. You rarely hear someone saying, “Save the wheat! Give up bread!”

 

New Rules on Endangered Species: Did the NYT Get it Wrong?

New Rules on Endangered Species: Did the NYT Get it Wrong?

New York Times: Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species.”

The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection.

No, according to PERC; “The New Endangered Species Act Rules Explained.”

This rule-change does not allow economic impacts to affect whether a species is listed as endangered or threatened. Indeed, the rule explicitly “acknowledge[s] that the statute and its legislative history are clear that listing determinations must be made solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available” according to five statutory factors. Thus, the rule gives the agency no authority to decline to list a species based on the economic impacts of such decision. If the agency attempted to do so, it would violate the statute and the rule.

Are Global Skeptics Dying Off?

Are Global Skeptics Dying Off?

Richard Lindzen, emeritus professor of meteorology at MIT, suggested at a recent meeting that prominent scholars  who were skeptical about global warming are being replaced by a generation of students of climate science—which, he says, is often not science at all.

For the past 30 years, ever since global warming became a public issue, Lindzen has questioned the apocalyptic view of climate change. As the topic rose to public attention in the late 1980s, Lindzen was so prominent that his views could not be ignored. Richard Kerr wrote in Science magazine in 1989 that “no other U.S. skeptic has such scientific stature.”

But over time, Lindzen became a target of hostility from advocates of global warming extremism. More disturbing perhaps were sometimes subtle attacks by his colleagues, including editors of peer-reviewed journals. For example, as he recounted in 2008, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a paper, written with colleagues, that found a strong cooling effect from clouds. But the Bulletin then published a paper disputing this cooling effect without giving Lindzen and his coauthors the opportunity to respond in the same issue (the normal practice). And American Scientist, the journal of the scientific honor society Sigma Xi, refused to publish an article by Lindzen unless he found as a coauthor someone who differed with him on global warming!

Joseph Bast on Climate Hysteria

Joseph Bast on Climate Hysteria

By Joseph Bast

Reading Dick Lindzen’s comments (summarized above) just makes me feel even more tired and cynical than usual . . . which is saying quite a bit.

Dr. Lindzen is a brilliant and courageous scientist. Like so many others he laments that global warming skeptics aren’t better organized or, if practicing scientists, didn’t rally against the invasion of their respective scientific disciplines by environmental activists and socialists. He knows why they didn’t—the other side was unified in seeking an end (ending reliance on fossil fuels) to which climate science was just a means. Skeptics agree on a question of means—that science ought not be weaponized in a political debate, that “climate science” isn’t really science at all—but disagree on the end (libertarians think it’s about preserving energy freedom).

Experience demonstrates that agreement on ends is a stronger organizing tool than agreement on means.

Their side tapped hundreds of millions of dollars in grants from liberal foundations and raised from “crisis of the month” direct mail campaigns, plus the nation’s universities, already captured by the left, for an almost bottomless pool of free manpower, venues, and more funding. Our side could barely afford to hire any staff or even pay for travel expenses to bring our wide-flung alliance together a few times to share ideas.

Is It Too Late to Stop Global Warming?

Is It Too Late to Stop Global Warming?

This is Dick McKenzie, writing in Regulation magazine:

The gremlin in climate scientists’ gloomy narrative is the prospect of a “tipping point”: an abrupt worsening in environmental change, looming in the next dozen years or (at most) the next few decades—if the tipping point has not already been reached. Once climate change has “tipped,” global warming (and an array of other changes in the global climate) will be self-perpetuating, self-accelerating, and irreversible, no matter how drastic the adopted future emissions-abatement policies are….

 

Beyond the tipping point, many scientists say, there is one inevitable outcome: environmental Armageddon, at which point the climate will become so degraded that all of life will be hellish, if species can survive that long. Effectively, Earth will gradually become a second Venus, which at one time, long ago, was likely as habitable as Earth, but is not today because of its (natural, not man-made) greenhouse-gas self-perpetuating cycles. Venus’s surface temperature is now close to 900 degrees.

Regulation is published by the Cato Institute.

No. That’s not a misprint. It’s the same think tank that has been telling us for years that climate change is no cause for alarm.​

What Went Wrong with the Obama-Era “Waters” Rule?

What Went Wrong with the Obama-Era “Waters” Rule?

In his new PERC policy paper, R. David Simpson reports on his experience reviewing the cost-benefit analysis of an Obama-era regulation defining “WOTUS.” (In Washington lingo, that is “waters of the United States.”) Simpson, an economist formerly with the Environmental Protection Agency, expresses regret that he did not press harder to improve the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of the rule, issued in 2015. The rule was designed to extend the federal government’s jurisdiction over U.S. waters under the Clean Water Act, bringing relatively isolated streams and wetlands under government regulation.

Is There an Extinction Crisis?

Is There an Extinction Crisis?

Does the world face the extinction of 1 million species due to human activity? A UN Report says so.

An intergovernmental group sponsored by the United Nations announced that the world is facing the extinction of 1 million species, all because of human activity. “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating,” said its news release.

Is the Media Lying about Climate Change?

Is the Media Lying about Climate Change?

“The media, for whatever reason, has chosen a role for itself as a cheerleader for climate boondoggles. And the more specialized the media . . . the more completely it will devote itself to misleading the public about the true nature of the climate challenge in our democracy.” Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal.

GET OUR NEWS
TO YOUR INBOX

You have Successfully Subscribed!